Paid Search Marketing vs SEM


SEM and Paid Search Marketing or PPC are quite common terms used in digital marketing. In fact, these two terms are used interchangeably or as acronyms, causing much confusion as to which one is better. Or, should you choose one over the other, or both?

Here, we have come up with everything you need to know about Paid Search Marketing vs SEM. Hopefully, this information will help you make a more educated decision while allocating a budget for digital marketing.

PPC or SEM: An Overview

Before we dig deeper into understanding these two terms, let’s have a quick overview.

PPC or Pay-Per-Click, or paid search marketing is a type of online advertising. On the other side, SEM or Search Engine Marketing is a wide term that includes several marketing techniques (like paid or unpaid SEO) under its umbrella to improve the visibility of a website.

SEM is considered a parent term under which the paid marketing techniques, like SERM (search engine reputation management) or PPC Process, are covered. Thus, it won’t be wrong to say that any kind of paid or unpaid campaign conducted by the brands to improve the search engine results is SEM.

But, the room for confusion originates from the fact that both SEM and paid search marketing are related to promotions via a search engine. Let’s have a closer look at these terms to eliminate this confusion. Also, Visit the latest tech blog.

How Does PPC or Paid Search Marketing Exactly Work?

PPC got its name for a simple reason. This technique uses the formula to gauge the price of an Ad. Then, an advertiser would pay a fee each time someone clicks that particular Ad, no matter what the outcome is.

Thus, unlike a Display Ad or banner, you don’t pay for the Ads on the SERP directly. Instead, you will pay whenever a user clicks that Ad to reach your website.

How does it work?

PPC works based on the keywords. Google gives each search term or phrases a value depending on how commonly they are used in the adverts. A PPC advertiser bids on specific keywords that play a crucial role in determining what the CPC will be. Or, they can also pay a fixed amount per click depending upon the publisher they are working with.

Your PPC Ads are displayed on the edges of the window when you search. They are marked as Ads or sponsored Ads and are seen as the first listings in the SERP.

What Are The Advantages?

The most significant benefit of PPC is that you pay for the space in the search engine results. So, you can rest assured that your Ad will be mentioned in the search results. PPC is easy to set up and understand compared to the other complex digital marketing techniques, like SEO.

You can set a daily budget based on how much you want to spend on the PPC campaigns. The search engine will run your Ads until you get enough clicks to hit your daily budget. The more clicks you get; the more chances you have to increase revenue.

Google Ads, a form of PPC or paid search marketing, allows showcasing the Ads outside Google via Google Display Network. Thus, you can select the websites from this wide network and present your Ads to the audience who might not have searched for your products.

However, PPC only guarantees visibility. You pay for the clicks regardless of the outcomes. So, you have less control over the quality of the traffic you get.

How Does SEM Work?

As already mentioned, SEM covers all the paid and unpaid digital/search marketing tactics. And, the prime goal of Search Engine Marketing is to boost the visibility of your website on the search engines.

SEM is done on the company’s website itself. For this, the team needs to make sure that the website is optimized via SEO (i.e., the website contains high-quality content, right keywords, responsive design, etc.).

Once all these things are in place, the website gains respect in the eyes of the search engine and gets authority. It improves the chances for a website to appear high in the SERP and get more clicks.

However, putting all these things together to run an effective SEM campaign is complex. Thus, businesses hire companies to do SEM for them. In paid SEM strategy, brands bid on the most popular keywords.

Based on how much the brands pay, the website is shown as an Ad in the SERP. These search results are only visible to the target audience.

What Are Its Advantages?

SEM provides manufacturers with a great opportunity. Suppose a user searches for you online with the intent of finding the most accurate information. If your content connects with them, they will click your website, and you can send them marketing messages.

Paid SEM gives instant results. However, they are short-term because they run only for a specific duration of the campaign. Thus, they are seen to have low credibility. Therefore, a blend of paid and organic SEM strategies is recommended.

Which One Should You Choose?

Ideally, you should include both PPC and SEM in your online advertising campaign. While paid search marketing helps get you in front of the audience quickly, SEM provides you with high-quality, long-term traffic if done correctly.

When you use PPC alone, no doubt, you will get quick wins. But, you are unlikely to get the same visibility in the long run. On the other hand, when you use unpaid SEM alone, it will be a long, laborious task.

You can start with effective organic search marketing (SEM) to get organic visibility, clicks, and conversions. However, make sure to include PPC and SEO in your strategy to ensure the balance and reap the best results.


Both paid search marketing and SEM are an essential part of digital marketing. PPC marketing strategy is good for the short-term, whereas SEM ensures long-term results and builds your credibility over time. However, in order to run an effective marketing campaign, you should include PPC and the best SEO tactics in the SEM.

Furthermore, regardless of the marketing strategy you choose, make sure to understand what the customers are searching for. Or which keywords should you target? You can talk to a digital marketer to know how to allocate the budget to different marketing techniques for the best results.