What is SEM

Table of contents

What is SEM

SEM or Search Engine Marketing is an online marketing strategy that consists of increasing the visibility of our website in search engine results (SERP) either through pay per click (PPC) or SEO.

It is important to note that nowadays when we talk about SEM we are often referring exclusively to the pay-per-click part.

For this reason, SEM is often referred to as PPC. Although this term is inaccurate.

sem ads example

Why it is Important

With more and more people searching, researching and buying products online, search engine marketing or SEM is a cornerstone of any digital marketing strategy.

Especially if your company focuses its activity on the retail sector.

And the fact is that:

About 48% of the web traffic of the largest Spanish eCommerce comes from search engines, compared to 40% of direct traffic.

And this percentage is much higher in those whose brand is not so well known.

main web traffic acquisition channels

Difference between SEO and SEM

The main difference between SEO and SEM is this:

The clicks achieved in SEO are free and come only from the organic results presented by these.


These clicks do not have a direct cost associated with them and are obtained thanks to organic positioning strategies where we optimize our website to win the favor of search engines.

Thus, over time, it is possible to position content among the top positions.

Meanwhile, SEM makes use of both SEO and ad space (PPC) to achieve results right from the start.

SEM efforts add value immediately and also offer lasting value over time.

So to speak, it combines the advantages of both worlds: SEO and PPC.

What is relevant in SEM strategies is to create a good balance of paid and organic traffic without cannibalizing keywords.

However, starting with this strategy is much more expensive, since it involves a much higher investment.

In conclusion:

Search Engine Marketing is a powerful lever for capturing web traffic in many industries and niche markets.

While visibility on other channels such as social media or direct traffic depends largely on your ability to viralize content or generate brand recognition.

SEM gives you access to a large number of motivated users.

Links and recommended reading:
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is SEM?

SEM is an essential part of digital marketing to gain visibility and capture web traffic from users’ searches. If you want to learn how to boost the visibility of your website, it is necessary to understand how it can help you launch your project.

What does SEM include?

SEM includes two main components: SEO and PPC. Both can be used together or separately, taking advantage of their advantages and complementarities. Whenever a project is started from scratch it is advisable to consider the combined use of both.