SEO glossary: Search engine marketing

In a nutshell: What is search engine marketing?

Search engine marketing (SEM for short) is an important part of online marketing. It includes all measures to position a website in search engines. The organic and paid areas are used here - also known as search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine advertising (SEA).


What is search engine marketing?

Search engine marketing is often referred to as SEM - derived from the English term "search engine marketing". It has become an integral part of online marketing, as it allows companies to position themselves in well-known search engines such as Google, Bing and others.


Search engine marketing (SEM) can be divided into two sub-areas:



The aim is to use search engine marketing to position your own website in such a way that traffic is directed to it. If traffic increases, individual goals can be achieved. If you sell products and services on the World Wide Web, you can draw users' attention to them so that SEM measures can increase sales.


SEO and SEA - how do the sub-areas of search engine marketing work?

Visibility on the Internet can be increased with both SEO and SEA. However, very different methods are used. While search engine optimization is aimed at organic reach, search engine advertising can be used to gain visibility in a paid way.


The aim of SEO is to design a website and optimize it according to certain criteria so that it offers high-quality content that is relevant to the target group. This includes the following areas, among others:


  • Optimization of meta data
  • Use of selected keywords
  • Improvement of page speed / loading times
  • Creation of high-quality content with added value
  • Building backlinks


SEA, on the other hand, involves advertisements for which website operators pay money. Companies can be placed above the organic search results in order to be more visible. Such ads are always marked by Google so that users can distinguish between organic and paid search results.


The role of search engine marketing in the marketing mix

If you want to remain competitive today, you have to rely on a marketing mix. This means that companies must take various marketing measures to strengthen their online presence and reach their target group.


Search engine marketing (SEM) is an important part of this marketing mix and comes with numerous advantages:


  • Greater visibility: SEO and SEA measures offer the opportunity to continuously increase your visibility on the web. You are present for users with relevant search queries and can therefore reach your target group and generate sales.
  • Measurability and control: The results of search engine marketing can be easily measured and tracked. In this way, companies can find out which measures are highly effective and where there is still room for improvement.
  • Flexibility: Search engine marketing can be flexibly adapted to the company. You can flexibly increase or decrease your budget for advertisements in the course of SEA, add new keywords and gradually improve your strategy. Of course, this also applies to all SEO measures.
  • Targeted customer approach: With SEM, companies can rank specifically for selected keywords. This allows them to be found by relevant users on corresponding topics.
  • SEM as the ideal complement to other channels: Nowadays, the multichannel approach is very much in demand. Search engine marketing is the ideal complement to other channels, allowing you to implement a holistic marketing strategy.


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SEO or SEA - which search engine marketing measures are suitable?

Search engine marketing is a broad field that comes with many possibilities. You may be inclined to favor one of the two areas - SEO or SEA. However, this is not advisable. A mixture of organic and paid reach makes sense. However, search engine optimization is more important, as it forms the basis.


With the help of SEO measures, you can help your website to grow organically. This ensures that users become aware of your content as it appears higher up in the search results.


Only when you have optimized your website for search engines should you move on to search engine advertising. Google Ads can give your website even more reach, attract more users and help you tap into a new target group.


Google Ads are particularly advisable if you want to promote certain parts of your website or draw attention to a special product. You can support all those pages that are not yet performing well organically.


In this way, you can create a very balanced search engine marketing strategy. This will help your website and ultimately your company to achieve great success.


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Which search engines are suitable for SEM?

Search engine marketing (SEM) is possible with almost every search engine. Google is way ahead and has a very large market share. This is also the reason why many marketers are fixated on the world's largest search engine.


But there are also exceptions. For example, if marketers want to address the American market and attract prospects and customers here, Bing is also suitable. The situation is similar if Russian and Chinese prospects are to be addressed. Yandex and Baidu are ideal for this.


SEO and SEA in detail - what does search engine marketing involve?

Both SEO and SEA are very extensive. If you want to take all possible measures in the course of search engine marketing, you have a lot to do. We have compiled the most important key points for both areas and also provide information about the opportunities that Google My Business can offer in terms of search engine optimization.


Search engine optimization (SEO) in focus

When you think of SEO, keywords are probably the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, they play an extremely important role. After all, without keywords, there are no search queries. Keywords actually only describe search terms that users enter in the Google search field in order to then have various results displayed. Whether you end up among the search results depends on whether your content is relevant to the search query. To do this, you need to carry out search engine optimization.


In addition to thorough keyword research, taking into account your target group and their search intention, the quality of the content also plays a role. The fact is that you need unique content with added value. Easy-to-read content that provides the desired information is the be-all and end-all.


Other areas that you should consider in the course of search engine optimization:


  • Backlinks: Links that come to your website from other websites, giving you authority and relevance
  • Technical SEO: fast loading times, encryption for secure data transmission, optimization of your content for mobile devices (keyword: mobile first)
  • Image SEO: the selection of suitable images and the creation of alt attributes
  • Meta data such as meta title and meta description


As search engine optimization does not happen overnight and is a continuous process, certain measures must be taken regularly. It means staying on the ball so that a good organic ranking can be achieved in the long term.


The possibilities of search engine advertising (SEA)

In addition to organic reach through search engine optimization, search engine advertising also proves to be extremely useful. As Google Ads are displayed above organic search results, SEO is often not enough. Many websites are no longer visible at first glance due to SEA, even though they occupy the top positions in the SERPs.


SEA is very extensive. Google Ads are provided with keywords. When a user searches for them, the ad is displayed. The price determines when your ad or that of your competitor is displayed. Behind this is a sophisticated auction system.


Before placing the ad, you determine the maximum amount you want to spend. If you are the highest bidder, your ad will be displayed. If a user clicks on your ad, you will incur costs ranging from a few cents to several euros.


Caution: SEA is not just about costs. The quality of your ad is also crucial. That's why writing good SEA texts is a topic in its own right.


Search engine marketing with Google My Business

Google My Business is an important service of the Google search engine. This service bundles numerous services that Google provides for companies. In particular, you can manage your local SEO here. A complete Google My Business profile helps you to be found via the following Google services:


  • Google Maps
  • Google search
  • Google+


A complete Google My Business profile not only includes your opening hours and contact details. A meaningful description text is also advisable. Include terms that potential customers from your area are looking for. You can also create entries with images to draw users' attention to new products and services or events.


Google works a lot with statistics. This also allows you to track the performance of your Google My Business profile. You will receive a regular report, but you can also view all relevant data in between.


Conclusion: What is search engine marketing?

Nowadays, search engines are the linchpin for attracting interested parties and potential customers. This makes it all the more important to master the individual elements of search engine marketing and position yourself in the organic and paid areas. There are basically two methods to choose from: search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine advertising (SEA), which are best combined in a clever way.


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