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What is Search Engine Marketing ?

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a genre of internet marketing that promotes websites. The world of search engine marketing is replete with acronyms, so it will be beneficial to know their meanings, to understand search engine marketing. It promotes websites by increasing reader visibility in search engine result pages (SERPS), by various means: using paid placement, paid inclusion and advertising within a context. By using specific links and keywords about the website, the site is optimized for a higher ranking in search engine results. This is called search engine optimization (SEO). Conditional on how it is used, SEM can be a blanket term for marketing a website, which can include an SEO, or it can target only paid components.

The largest SEMs are Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing and Microsoft. For the past several years, SEM is growing faster than traditional advertising, and other forms of online marketing. It is a technologically complex form of marketing, so now there are agencies that specialize in search marketing.

Marketing History

In the late 90s, search engines were developed to assist people find information readily, as the numbers of websites spread like a wild fire. To fund their businesses, search engines invented the pay-per-click program, and other means. Pay-per-click has become a primary money-maker for Yahoo! Search Marketing. Google has the AdWords program. Due to the power of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft joined forces, to compete with Google in 2010.

SEM Today

Today, there are SEM consultants, who educate and assist businesses in search engine advertising. The new-coined word “Search Engine Marketing” was created by Danny Sullivan in 2001.
SEM as Social Media Marketing (SMM)

In commercial advertising and marketing circles, SEM means only pay-per-click advertising. This excludes other forms of SEM, such as Search Engine Optimization and Search Retargeting.
Still another part of SEM is Social Media Marketing (SMM), which involves exploiting various social media to persuade consumers that one company or service is better than another).

SEM Ethics

Search advertising that is paid has had controversy. How search engines present advertising on their search result pages has spawned many reports by Consumer Reports Web Watch.

In 2002, the Federal Trade Commission, after a complaint by Ralph Nader’s Commercial Alert (a consumer advocacy organization), regarding the needed disclosure of paid advertising on search engines.

Trademark infringement has been another ethical concern for SEM. It has been argued whether third parties should have the right to bid on their competitors’ brand names. Google changed its policy in 2009 on this. It now allows third parties to bid on branded names, reportedly, as long as they provide information on the trademarked name.

By March 2011, companies were being penalized by Google for buying links. Search engine marketing is not involved with link buying, and targets only organic SEO and pay-per-click (PPC) management.

SEM Tools

There are four classes of valuable tools for you optimize websites.

1. Keyword research and analysis: be sure the site can be indexed in the search engines; find the most r popular key terms for the site; and use those key phrases on the site in a way that will build traffic

2. Website popularity: show how much presence a website has on search engines through the number of pages of the site that are indexed on each search engine (saturation) and how many times the site is linked to by other sites (popularity). Generally, the more Web presence you have, the easier it is for people to find your site. Key tools measuring various aspects of saturation and link popularity are Link Popularity, Market Leap’s Link Popularity and Search Engine Saturation and Top 10 Google Analysis.

3. Back end tools: Web analytic tools help you to be aware of what’s going on with your website, and quantify your website's success. They range from simple traffic counters to tools that work with log files. There are also more sophisticated tools, which are based on what’s called page tagging, such as JavaScript.

4. Who Is tools: show you who owns a website. It can give precious information relating to copyright issues. A useful tool of this type is Who Is Source, ARIN. Use the Who Is tools to research legal issues.


Search engine marketing is very complex and sophisticated, and involving so many pertinent acronyms, however, if you plan to build your website business, it behooves you to learn the meaning of all these terms, and how they can assist you in developing your business.



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