Search engine marketing: Are you already ranking or still being searched for?
All eyes on SEM!


Every day, people around the world place around 3.5 billion search queries online, of which around 200 million come from Germany.* Reason enough to think about your digital marketing strategy and search engine marketing.

We have already reported on the importance of content marketing and storytelling. Content plays an important role in online marketing. After all, in the end it’s always about the content, the substance for the users. Which message is transported via which media in which way?
To ensure that this message is also found, people primarily use search engines in addition to social media platforms.

Since we find the topic so exciting and it is very complex and far-reaching, we will highlight search engine marketing in three parts. Part one will be about search engine marketing (SEM) in general. In part two we will look at the sub-area of search engine optimization (SEO) and in part three we will dedicate ourselves to search engine advertising (SEA).


What is this article about?


Because the topic is so multifaceted, one cannot avoid using one or the other technical term. We have linked the most important terms to our SEO and SEA glossary so that you do not lose track in the jungle of different expressions in search engine marketing.


Most important touchpoint: the search engine


The most widely used search engine in the world is Google, so search engine optimization and advertising is often geared towards Google and predominantly follows its guidelines. Of course, there are plenty of other search engines, but for broad online marketing you will not get past the Californian giant with a global market share of 78.6% (desktop) and 88.45% (mobile, as of 2021). In Germany, the figure is even slightly higher: 84.17% with a desktop device versus 96.66% in mobile search.


What is search engine marketing (SEM)?


Search engine marketing (SEM) ensures the visibility of websites in search engine results. This involves both organic search results (SERPs) and advertisements.


What does SEM include?


What measures can companies use to appear in search results on Google and the like? Search engine marketing comprises the two sub-areas SEO (= Search Engine Optimization) and SEA (= Search Engine Advertising). While these two categories follow similar rules when it comes to keyword research and snippet optimization, they differ in their strategy.

SEO ais to optimize organic rankings. The good news is that it’s practically free, but it requires discipline and patience to see results. Therefore, it is advisable to professionally set up with an SEO strategy and plan the necessary resources for this.

SEA, on the other hand, is the optimization of search engine advertising, which can be visible both above and below the organic search results. Moreover, ads can be displayed not only on search result pages, but also in videos, banners, or on partner sites of the advertising network (e.g., Google).


SEO and SEA: What is the added value of SEM for companies?


The biggest potential of SEM is obvious: visibility. Anyone who can’t be found via search engines is practically invisible online. And who can afford to be invisible? If you know your target group and know what they are looking for and with what intention, you are already in a very good position for SEM. After all, the first step after defining the target group and the customer journey is always keyword research. This applies to both SEO and SEA.


Long-term opportunities with SEO

SEO should always be considered when creating web content. What counts here is: If you optimize for the user, you also optimize for the search engine. Content should always be written for people and not (only) for the machine. Nevertheless, it is at least worth knowing where to place the defined keywords so that the machine can also understand the structure and content of your website in the best possible way.

The focus of SEO is always long-term. Anyone who expects a new website or a website relaunch to rank on page 1 on Google immediately after publication is unfortunately on the wrong track. You need some patience and a regular review of the actions to continuously improve rankings. The crawler of a search engine needs some time to index your site and compare it with similar content of other sites to then determine a ranking. Since the competition doesn’t sleep either and page content behaves dynamically, the crawler has to compare and weigh up again and again.


Short-term booster with SEA

If you need quick visibility, it is a good idea to rely on SEA. With the right budget, display advertising has the potential to push your website in a targeted way in the short term and drive branding. Organic results can also be positively influenced by SEA if companies have established themselves as experts in their field.

The targeted use of both sections leads to the optimal search engine marketing strategy. If you focus on SEA and SEO, you will benefit from maximum visibility in search engines and can perceive added value in both the short and long term.


*Figures refer to data from Google, the world’s most widely used search engine.