SEM (Search Engine Marketing)



Search Engine Marketing or SEM for short is an online marketing methodology in which money is paid to a search engine such as Google or Bing to place advertising inside search results in the form of a link which typically appears at the top of the page or on the sidebar of the results it is also known as Pay Per Click Advertising.

As of October 2016, Google led the global search engine market with an 89.3 percent market share. Google (73.7 percent ) and the Yahoo/Bing (26.3 percent ) partnership accounted for nearly 100 percent of U.S. search engine spend in Q2 2015. Search engine marketing is also a type of business analytics that aims to provide useful information to organisations in order for them to find business opportunities and generate profits.

In the year of  2000, Google launched it’s Google AdWords programme, which allowed companies to place advertisements on search results pages.

Advertisers spent $24.6 billion on search engine marketing in the United States in 2007 according to Wikipedia. SEM can assist businesses in optimising their marketing efforts in order to reach a larger audience and create more customers.

Examples of SEM Platforms:

Google Adwords


Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) is a Google online advertising platform. Advertisers bid to show web users brief advertisements, service offerings, product listings, or videos.

It can place ads in search engine results, such as Google Search, as well as on non-search websites and mobile applications owned by third party companies and Google itself such as YouTube, Google Maps and other websites.

Google Adwords also contains options to specify targeting to a location or language ensuring ads are only delivered to the target audience.

Check out this page from AGR Technology if you would like someone to help with Adwords management.

Bing Ad’s


Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads, Microsoft adCenter, and MSN adCenter) is a pay-per-click advertising service that operates on the Bing, Yahoo!, and DuckDuckGo search engines through syndication deals. Bing Ads had a 33 percent market share in the United States as of June 2015.

As the popularity of search marketing grew, Microsoft began to develop its own system, originally branded as MSN adCenter, for selling PPC advertisements directly to advertisers it has since changed to Bing Ad’s.

The contract between Yahoo! and Microsoft expired in June 2006, and Microsoft began displaying only ads from adCenter until 2010. In January 2010, Microsoft announced a deal in which it would take over the functional operation of Yahoo! Search.

Yahoo’s partnership with Microsoft was modified in April 2015 to only feature Bing results on the “majority” of desktop traffic, leaving the company open to “enhance the search experience” on both desktop and mobile.
Microsoft will become the sole seller of ads delivered via Bing, while Yahoo! will sell its own ads via its new in-house Gemini platform.

Very much like the Adwords platform Bing contains multiple targeting options to target locations or countries as well as the device type and language been used by the searcher allowing advertisers to reach their ideal target audience.

Other notable mentions:

  • Baidu Advertising (Chinese Search Engine)
  • Yandex Advertising (Russian Search Engine)
  • Naver Advertising platform (South Korean Search Engine)

Comparison with SEO

SEM is often compared against SEO which stands for Search Engine Optimisation and is the process of improving a website’s visability in the organic unpaid search results not covered by paid advertising units.

The major difference between the 2 marketing channels is that SEM campaigns are billed on a per click basis whilst rankings in the organic search engine results don’t incur fees directly from the traffic generated making it a scalable option in many cases.

Overall both marketing channels compliment each other and each have their strengths when deployed in an online campaign.


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For additional content be sure to read other pages in our glossary and check out our software, online tools, videos and blog.


AGR Technology is an Australian based business providing value-added digital services to other business such as Pay Per Click Advertising, SEO, Software Development and more.

Other content from our glossary:

SERP (Search Engine Result Page)


UX (User Experience)

Google Panda Algorithm

Google Penguin Algorithm

Citation(s): 2021. Search engine marketing – Wikipedia. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 11 May 2021]. 2021. Google Ads – Wikipedia. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 11 May 2021]. 2021. Microsoft Advertising – Wikipedia. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 11 May 2021].