SEM Campaign

What Is a SEM Campaign? Definition, Advantages and Examples

May 2021

SEM stands for search engine marketing. Though most marketers refer to it as a web positioning strategy, its more than that because it encompasses everything related to web positioning. There are even companies that refer to SEM as Search Engine Advertising (SEA).


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SEM Campaign


SEM has gained importance over the years. In today's digital world, we all use search engines almost daily. because of this, search engine positioning is incredibly important in order to get more traffic and gain visibility. Two ways to reach the top positions are:

  • Organic positioning (SEO). This strategy works through the content you create and the way you present it Based on this,  search engines use an algorithm that tells it which sites can best respond to a given query. For example, Google's algorithm is based mainly on relevance (web content) and authority (links from other pages). The set of techniques and tools used to position organically in the listings is known as SEO or Search Engine Optimization.
  • Payment strategies (SEM). Here you pay for the keywords you need so that you appear in the top position of related searches. Unlike organic listings, here the advertiser must pay a fee for each click they get. To get traffic by buying ads on search engines, you will have to turn to search engine advertising, such as Google Ads. This system is also called PPC (pay per click) or CPC (cost per click).


What Is a Search Engine Marketing or SEM Campaign?

A SEM campaign is an advertising strategy that generates ads in search engines such as Google, to position brands among the top results.


Strategy and planning are fundamental to guarantee the results of your SEM campaign so let's take a look at the key aspects of launching a successful campaign in Google Ads.

  • Keywords. When planning an SEM campaign, keyword research should always be one of the first steps. To get search engines to put your sponsored link first, you must buy the keywords users will search to find you. When a user types those words in the search engine, your website will show up as the ads activate (if the words entered coincide with the ones on your site). For example, if someone searches for "mountain boots" the first result will be a URL with an "advertisement" icon. This indicates that the company has bought the keywords "boots" and "mountain." Keep in mind you need to investigate your target audience before deciding which keywords you want to utilize. 
  • Clicks. Clicks redirected from the ad to your landing page. In other words, how many people have seen and clicked on the ad.
  • CPC. The bid or purchase of an advertisement within Google Ads works through CPC (cost per click). You can define a maximum CPC to ensure that you do not go over budget.
  • PPC. The PPC or pay per click is one of the advantages of SEM campaigns on Google Ads. Not only can you decide what you want to pay for each click, but you will only be charged when a user clicks on your link.
  • Impressions. This refers to the number of times an ad has been shown. In other words, how many searches of a specific keyword have prompted your ad to be displayed. This data is readily available on Google.
  • Relevance. Although you might pay to appear in top positions, Google always takes users into account. The content has meet the users' needs and they have to find the ad relevant and want to interact with it. If this happens, Google will help you get more traffic and more customers.
  • CTR or Click Through Rate. This is the percentage of people who saw your ad and interacted with it. If you have a good CTR, it means you have created suitable ads, which Google favors.
  • Quality Score or Quality Level. This is a score that Google gives you on a scale from 1 to 10. It determines if you are a successful advertiser depending on the relevance of your ads. The goal is to stay above 7.



How to Select SEM Keywords for Your Campaign

When planning an SEM campaign, keyword research should always be one of the first steps. Keywords are the foundation on which the SEM account, ads, and even landing pages are built.

To carry out a keyword study for SEM campaigns, take note of the following steps.


Analysis of the Product, Service, or Landing Page

Keywords should always be relevant to the product or service you are offering. Therefore, the first step is to draw up a list of two to ten main ideas that summarize the services or products you offer. In addition to studying your own offer, also take a look at your competitors' sites.


Using Keyword Tools

There are many keyword planning platforms on the market, such as SEMRush or Google's keyword tool. If you enter the basic ideas you defined in the previous section, the tool will provide a list of related keywords. To filter the results, you can segment by location and language.

One of the benefits of these tools is that they help with brainstorming and can give you a lot of suggestions that you would never have thought of. Of course, they can also offer suggestions that are not exactly related to the original search, which brings us to the next step.

Filtering and Selecting

From the list of keywords provided by the tool, you will have to filter out irrelevant words, group related keywords, and select those that have the highest number of searches and the lowest competition (meaning there aren't many advertisers bidding for the same word).


Once you do this, you will have the definitive list of keywords to optimize your SEM campaign. To get the best results, these keywords should be present both on your landing pages and in your ads.


Advantages of Creating SEM Campaigns for Your Business

Search engine marketing is a powerful tool that is suitable for almost all brands. In order for you to better evaluate when and how to include it, here are its main advantages

  • Greater segmentation. The more segmented a campaign is, the better chance you have of reaching your target audience. Google Ads allows you to segment your audience and create campaigns taking into account different characteristics such as gender, age, geographical location, interests and even hobbies.
  • Attracting traffic to your website. The campaign's main goal is to appear in the top results of search engines to generate even more traffic to your website.
  • Monitoring and measuring. Thanks to Google Ads, you can monitor the results of your campaign at all times. You can get detailed information on the behavior of your users, the number of clicks, impressions, etc.
  • Complementing SEO. By combining SEM and SEO you will have a complete digital marketing strategy. Neither SEM or SEO is better. It's actually the combination of the two that makes a strong digital strategy.
  • Controlling costs. When implementing a SEM campaign, you will have a high level of control. You can set the budget and only pay when the users interact with your ads.
  • Lead capture. The main function of SEM is to provide answers to people who have a need you can solve, in other words your target audience. This can lead to conversions and to building customer loyalty.


Most Important SEM Metrics

As with any other type of digital marketing, in SEM you can only optimize what is measured. That's why, before launching your strategy, you need to know which KPIs to look at to evaluate the performance of your campaigns.

Here are four key metrics to measure the success of your SEM campaigns.


Quality Score

The quality score measures the user experience with the ads, so the higher the quality score, the better the user experience. This metric is essential because Google Ads uses it to determine the cost and placement of ads

The quality score depends on three factors:

  • The quality of the landing page.

  • The quality of the advertisement.

  • The expected click-through rate.


Impression Share

The share of impressions tells you if users are seeing your ads. It is calculated based on the impressions obtained by an ad compared to the total number it could get.

A low impression share indicates that you are not taking full advantage of the ad. To remedy this, you need to raise the budget and bids, improve the quality score, or both.


Click-Through Rate (CTR)

The click-through rate indicates the frequency with which users who see an ad end up clicking on it. To calculate it, divide the number of clicks by the number of impressions. For example, if you have 5 clicks and 100 impressions, the CTR would be 5%.

Look at this metric for the different ads and keywords in your account. A low CTR indicates that the ad is not attractive enough for the user or that it is not really relevant to their search.


The number of conversions and the average value of each one allow you to measure the performance of your ads, as it indicates how many sales they have generated. This way, you will be able to correctly attribute the ROI of your SEM campaigns and measure their profitability.


To get the best results from your SEM campaigns, we recommend that you look for a Google Partner certified agency, like ours!

SEM and Google Ads Ebook

Pep Canals

Pep Canals

Data Scientists at Cyberclick. Responsible for SEM campaigns and Data Science projects.