SEM Campaign

What is a SEM campaign? Definition, advantages and examples


SEM responds to the acronym of Search Engine Marketing. Although most marketers refer to it as web positioning strategies, its definition goes much further. It encompasses everything related to web positioning, whether it's organic (SEO) or not. There are even companies that refer to the SEM as Search Engine Advertising (SEA) in the United States. In this case, we will also refer to the concept as the majority does.

SEM has gained importance over the years. In the digital society in which we live, we all have questions to ask the different search engines. Search engine positioning is important in order to achieve more traffic and visibility. Here are two ways to reach the top positions:

  • Organic positioning (SEO). This strategy works through our content and the way we present it. It is a medium / long term strategy.
  • Payment strategies (SEM). In this case we will pay for the keywords we need so that we appear in the top position.



What is a SEM campaign?

A SEM campaign is an advertising strategy that generates ads in search engines such as Google to position ourselves in the top positions of search results.

Giving Google as an example, to make a payment strategy to position ourselves, we will have to create a SEM campaign within Google Ads.

Before we start, let's see what are the main concepts of SEM campaigns in Google Ads: 

  • Keywords. A SEM campaign works with the sale of keywords. To get search engines to put our sponsored link first, we must buy the keywords for which we want users to find us. When a user types those words in the search engine, our website appears in first position. When a user searches in the browser, the ads activate if the words entered coincide. They are easy to identify, for example, if we look for "mountain boots." The first result to appear will be below the URL with the "advertisement" icon. This indicates that the company has bought the keywords "boots" and "mountain". Keep in mind that we have to investigate our target audience before deciding which keywords we want to be found with. In this way we will understand the way you look for your needs, and we can adjust our purchase based on it.
  • Clicks. Clicks redirected from the announcement to our landing page. In other words, how many people have seen the ad and clicked on it.
  • CPC. The bid or purchase of an advertisement within Google Ads works through the CPC (cost per click). It is the value that we define within the tool to mark how much we are going to pay for each click.
  • PPC. The PPC or pay per click is one of the great advantages of SEM campaigns through Google Ads. Not only can we decide what we want to pay for each click, but we will only have that expense at the time a user clicks on our link.
  • Impressions. This is the number of times the ad has appeared, that is, the number of times my ad is linked to a search. In other words, it's about how many searches of a specific keyword I've had, which is data that Google directly gives me.
  • Relevance. Although we pay to appear in the top positions, Google always takes users into account. The content has to adjust to what the users need. Throughout the process (search - ad - click), the user has to think that the ad is specifically created for them and that it wants to interact with them. If we are relevant, Google will help us to have more traffic and more customers. The next two points are about what it takes to become and stay relevant. 
  • CTR or Click Through Rate. This is the percentage of people who have seen my ad and interacted with it. If we have a good CTR it means that we are able to create suitable ads for the users' demand, which Google favors.
  • Quality Score or Quality Level. The quality score is the score that Google gives us from a scale of 1 to 10. It determines if we are good advertisers depending on the relevance we bring to the user. It is very important to be a good advertiser in the eyes of the search engine because this will favor us and we will have more profits. The goal is to stay above 7.


Advantages of creating SEM campaigns

  • More segmentation. The more segmented a campaign is, the better chance we have of hitting the nail on the head. The Google Ads tool allows us to segment our target audience. Meaning, we can create campaigns taking into account different characteristics such as: gender, age, geographical region, tastes and even hobbies.
  • Attract traffic to the website. The campaign's main goal is to appear in the top results of the search engines to have more traffic visiting our website. Thanks to the previous segmentation of the target audience, it will be much more qualitative.
  • Monitoring and exhaustive measurement. Thanks to Google Ads, we can monitor information about the results of the campaign at all times. Additionally, we will have detailed information on the behavior of our users: the number of clicks, impressions, etc.
  • Complements SEO. By combining SEM and SEO we will have a short digital marketing (SEM) and medium and long term (SEO) strategy. Neither SEM or SEO is better because it is the combination of these that makes a strong digital strategy.
  • Control of costs. By doing a SEM campaign, we will have absolute control when it comes to starting and finishing them. We will fix the budget and only pay when there is some interaction with the users.
  • Capture of leads. The main function of SEM is to be the answer to all those people who have a need that we can solve. The people who have these needs are those that form our target audience. We need to position ourselves at the top position in our target audience's search results to increase short-term web traffic and have more possibilities to transform client visits.

Examples of SEM campaigns

Imagine that we are a shoe company. The first thing we have to do when we create a SEM campaign is to define the goal we want to reach:

  • Sales: boost sales, whether online or in store.
  • Sales opportunities: encourage customers to take actions to generate sales opportunities.
  • Traffic to the website: get the right users to visit our website.
  • Consideration of the brand and the product: ideal if we want to make a branding campaign.
  • Coverage and notoriety of the brand: if we want to reach a large number of users and increase the notoriety of our product or service.
  • Promotion of the application: if we want to get more interaction between users and our application.

In this case, our main goal is to increase web traffic. Once we have marked the goal, we will see the types of SEM campaigns that Google Ads allows us:

  • Search: buy keywords to appear in the first search results.
  • Display: ads in the form of banners on different websites.
  • Shopping: sample of product inventory in the search engines.

There is a correlation between the objectives of the campaign and its typologies. For example, if we want to generate more sales, sales opportunities, or web traffic, it would be ideal to do search, display, or shopping campaigns. But, if we want to work on brand consideration and its notoriety and coverage, it would be better to work with a display.

In this case, as our main goal is to increase sales, we would do a search campaign. To make a search campaign, it is very important to take into account the type of agreement we want from our keywords.

We are going to analyze the 5 types of concordances by means of examples.

  • Broad agreement. If we bought the keyword "running shoes" with broad match, our ad would also go on searches for house shoes or sneakers for children.
  • Broad modified agreement. We will add the "+" sign to the keywords we are buying, so that Google understands that these concepts will always have to appear. Using the same example, we would do the following: + running shoes. In this case, if the user was looking for running shoes, our ad would appear.
  • Phrase match. By using the apostrophe symbol we are telling Google that the keyword we have purchased has to be searched as it is by the user, but there may be other concepts in front and behind it. If our keyword is "running shoes", our ad will appear in searches such as buying running shoes or cheap running shoes.
  • Exact match. Using the square brackets, this type of agreement will only appear when the user searches exactly the keyword we have purchased. For example: [running shoes]. In this case, if the user searches shoes for running or sneakers, our ad will not appear.
  • Negative agreement. Negative match serves to filter our ads. In other words, it allows us to filter searches that we think have no meaning for us. Following the example of the running shoes, if we include -cheap in the keyword, Google will understand that users looking for cheap running shoes will not find our announcement relevant, so it will not come out.

In this article, we have learned about SEM campaigns, the advantages of using them, and through examples, how we can elaborate them. Next you will find a tutorial on how to create the campaigns from the beginning and step by step. You will soon become an SEM expert!