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SEM, SMM, PPC and Paid Search Marketing for Business


If you’re a business whose target audience is online then, you would have come across terms like SEM, SMM, PPC and Search Marketing.

These are the forms of paid marketing / advertising, also referred to as targeted advertising.

These days SEM, SMM, PPC and Search Marketing form a vital part of digital marketing strategy.

A large part of the advertising budget is being spent behind these forms of marketing / advertising. Companies now have departments and staff for digital/search/social media marketing.


Before we move any further, for those who are not aware of these terms, let’s have a quick look at the abbreviations first:

SEM means Search Engine Marketing, also known as Paid Search Marketing

SMM means Social Media Marketing and

PPC stands for Pay Per Click

In the very early days of digital advertising, SEO was considered to be a part of SEM. But as time progressed, SEM was distinguished from SEO and it fell into the paid advertising / marketing area.

Types of paid advertising via SEM and SMM:

Paid Search Ads – This means you pay ‘x’ amount (normally known as bid) to appear on the TOP of the search results.

For example, you sell Men’s T-shirts online and you want to drive people looking for “Men’s T-shirts online” to your website, you do so by targeting a certain set of keywords.

In this case, you would probably place ‘x’ amount bid for the keyword “mens tshirts”. So, next time when someone searches for “mens tshirts”, your website listing will appear on the TOP of the search results, but it will be distinguished as an AD. See example below:

Most of these advertisments are on CPC (Cost Per Click) or PPC (Pay Per Click) basis. This means search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing etc who place your adverts, will only charge you when someone clicks the link on the search results page. Cost per click depends on a variety of factors like keyword competition, volume, geographical location etc. To find out how much it would cost you for your desired keyword, use Google's keyword planner tool.

What is SMM (Social Media Marketing)

Social Media is in heavy demand and a lot of people use sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ on a daily basis and, some people are infact active on these websites 24/7. While millions of people use Social Media sites, it has become inevitable for businesses to advertise on these sites. It works the same way as it works with SEM or Paid Search Marketing. Here too, you only pay when someone clicks on your advertisement.

Some interesting facts about Social Media (Source: Google, Twitter and Wikipedia)

- The total number of users in the top 20 Facebook nations is a whopping 682.5 million, or 72% of total Facebook users globally

- 271 million monthly active users on Twitter

- As of June 2013 [update], LinkedIn reports more than 259 million acquired users in more than 200 countries and territories

- Google counted 540 million active users who used at least one Google+ service, of which 300 million users are active in "the stream"

What is the process of paid search marketing?

1. You (Advertiser) choose the keyword that you wish to target on Search Engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing

2. Use keyword planner tools to get an estimate of the cost, traffic / volume

3. Place your advert

4. You pay to search engines when someone clicks on your advert

What are the benefits / advantages of paid search or social media marketing?

1. Your business gets TOP level exposure on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing

2. Targetted advertising

3. Instant Traffic

4. You can reach out to worldwide audience

5. Geography based targetting

6. Global branding and promotion

What are the flipsides / disadvantages of paid search or social media marketing?

1. Too complicated (Need to hire a specialist resource or outsource it to an expert, resulting in overhead / additional cost)

2. SEM, SMM and PPC are expensive

3. Large section of the audience don't pay attention / focus to paid adverts and trust and click on organic / unpaid results more often. They tend to ignore sponsored advertisements

4. If you hire a wrong resource or an expert who doesn't execute your campaign properly then, you're in for a ride. You could probably end up draining out your entire marketing budget


Bottomline: It is always advised to take help of someone who is an expert in SEM, SMM, PPC and Search Marketing, to save time and costs. But be very careful and analyse Pros and Cons of paid search marketing, SEM, SMM and PPC before investing. You'll save yourself a lot of time and money if you do that.



Source: Self

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Smit Shah

Smit is the Owner of, an avid blogger and likes to write about Contracting, SEO and Social Media.

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