SEM fundamentals

SEM Fundamentals: Search Engine Marketing Strategy – An Overview 

Table of Contents

A Search Engine Marketing or SEM strategy uses search engines to increase traffic, visibility, and engagement to your brand & social media websites.

Setting up a business online is only winning half of the battle. 

For all businesses to thrive and succeed online, they must know a thing or two about search engines – how it works and how to optimise their content; SEM fundamentals.

Some may find relief knowing that their online presence are getting these traction that it needs, but the real challenge is turning these engagements into revenue. 

If you are one of the millions of entrepreneurs who venture into online marketing, you understood how tight the competition is out there. Getting Google’s attention to rank you on first page demands more than just blood, sweat, and tears but search engine marketing as well. 

Let us explain more about Search Engine Marketing. How it works and how you can maximise it to ace your brand’s website online presence. 

What is SEM?

Search Engine Marketing or SEM is the process of gaining website traffic by purchasing ads on search engines. 

This marketing strategy is the alternate term for paid search or pay per click (PPC). Unlike the search engine optimisation or SEO that refers to organic search, SEM is exclusively identified as a paid search advertising. 

SEM Strategy

Paid search ad optimisation is the heart of SEM strategy. With a brilliant and solid goal in mind, you must know how paid ad platform’s function and how to properly manage variables that affect performance, such as keywords, budget, and copy, in order to develop a good strategy.

Factors you should add into your SEM strategy for a successful paid ad:

  • Account and Campaign Structure
  • Ad Copy
  • Keyword Intent
  • Keyword Volume and Competition
  • Keyword Cost

How SEM Works

SEM is a game of keywords. Advertisers bid on keywords that people use to type in when looking for a specific item or service on search engines with the hopes of seeing their adverts alongside those search queries. Advertisers will only pay for the clicks that they got.

These ads or commonly known as pay-per-click ads, come in various forms. Such as:

  • Search Ads
  • Display Ads
  • Shopping Ads
  • Video Ads
  • App Ads

Why SEM is crucial to your business?

Search engine plays a significant role in ensuring you meet your brand’s prospect clients out there. 

In 2016, an SEO statistics released by Profound Strategy, revealed that 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine. The percentage itself clearly illustrates how influential the use of search engines in the success of your brand online. 

It is an advantage that you know the basics on how to use it to take your website’s online presence to the next level. 

There are so many strategies that offer quick and easy ways to gain customers that may urge you to adapt, but only to find out its one of those black hat processes that harms your reputation online. 

Though search engine marketing requires much effort, resources, and time, you cannot deny the fact that it is a game changer in the digital marketing. 

SEM Account and Campaign Structure

Managing and analysing SEM account structures is a nightmare. That’s why, in order to achieve optimum efficiency, scalability, and organisation, we usually rebuild account structures from the ground up.

You need to figure out what your SEM goals are before you get into the nitty gritty of account structure organisation. If you are eyeing the use of SEM to get people to download your app, sell things on your e-commerce site, or generate leads for your company, ensure that you understand what your customers want and define the market you want to reach.

The account structure

The account structure describes how you arrange all of your SEM campaigns. For every SEM campaign the account structure is the same. The targeting and keywords can be set up inside the specific categories – Campaigns, Ad Groups, Keywords, and Ads are all part of the account structure.

The Campaign Structure

Take your keywords and group them into campaigns once you’ve decided the keywords that you are going to use which will speak the closest to the intention of the audiences you want to reach. Because you determine the cost at the campaign level, campaigns should organise your keyword buckets so you can set budgets for each groups of keywords, it is important to keep your group of keywords thightly themed..

This is where you can make your own strategic budget allocation. If you want to optimise reach, you can pay more on upper funnel keyword sets, or spend less on lower funnel keyword sets if you want to acquire the most efficient conversions.

Google Ads Account

Google Ads is a Google-owned online advertising network.

Google renamed it into Google Ads from Google Adwords in 2018 as the search engine firm redesigned the service.

The basic principle stays the same: when users search for a term, the results of their query appear on a search engine results page (SERP). A paid advertisement that targeted that term could be among the results.

Google Ads use the pay-per-click (PPC) model. That is, marketers target a certain keyword on Google and place bids on it, competing with other marketers who are also targeting the keyword.

Your bids are “maximum bids,” or the most amount you’re willing to spend for an ad.

For their bids, marketers have three options:

  1. Click-through-rate (CPC). When a user clicks on your ad, you pay this amount.
  2. Price-per-mille (CPM). How much per 1000 ad impressions do you pay?
  3. Per-engagement cost (CPE). How much you spend when a person clicks on your ad and takes a specified action (signs up for a list, watch a video, etc).

Google combines the bid amount with a Quality Score evaluation of your ad to calculate your Ad Rank. Google claims that:

“A Quality Score is a measurement of how well your adverts, keywords, and landing pages are. Lower rates and better ad positions can result from higher-quality ads.”

The score ranges from one to ten, with ten being the best. The greater your score, the higher you’re ranking and the less time you’ll need to convert. 

Your Ad Rank is the position your ad will show on the search results page based on your Quality Score and bid amount.

When a person sees the ad and clicks on it, the marketer is charged a tiny fee (thus pay-per-click).

How to Run Google Ads Campaign

Here is a vivid step for you to run your campaign ads, according to Google.

1. Select your advertising objective and choose a goal.

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account.
  2. On the left-side menu, click Campaigns.
  3. Click the plus button, then select new campaign.
  4. Select your advertising objective for the campaign.
  5. Scroll down, then choose your conversion goals and click Continue.
  6. Click Add another goal to include more goals.
  7. Click the delete button to remove goals.
  8. Choose your campaign type and click Continue.

You may receive notifications based on your configuration options when you develop your campaign. These prompts you of difficulties that could cause your campaign’s performance to suffer or even prevent it from being published.

The campaign development navigation menu that emerges as you build your campaign gives you a holistic perspective of your work and highlights any notifications that you should pay attention to.

To simply analyse and fix potential issues with your targeting, bidding, budget, or other campaign parameters, go between the steps in the navigation menu. Learn about the elements that will assist you in creating a successful campaign.

2. Select a campaign type

Your campaign type determines the places online where customers will find your ads. 

  1. Select a campaign type. If you selected a goal, you’ll be given the options for the best campaign types to achieve it.
  2. If your campaign type has subtypes, choose one.
  3. Click Continue.
  4. You’ll be taken to a new page to select your settings, set up ad groups, and create your ads. Follow the guides below to complete these steps based on your campaign type:
    1. Search: Text ads on search results
    2. Display: Image ads on websites
    3. Video: Video ads on YouTube
    4. Shopping: Product listings on Google
    5. Discovery: Advertise within online feeds
    6. App: Promote your app on many channels
    7. Local: Promote your locations on many channels
    8. Smart: Simplify your campaigns

Best SEM Tools

You need reliable online tools or softwares to help you run a successful SEM strategy. Here are some tools our SEM specialists recommend you try. 

  • Google Trends
  • Google Ads Keyword Planner
  • Google Analytics
  • Ad Tracking Software


The SEM approach is all about what influence your brands and what factors contribute to your site’s rankings.

We’ve discussed what search engine marketing is, why it’s crucial to your organisation, and some considerations for the four types of SEM. This guide illustrates that SEO, search advertisements, social medias, and authority sites all fall under this category.

Please consider sharing this guide if you found it useful.

For future collaborations, you may book your appointment with us. Our SEO teams will help you figure out the best SEM strategy to increase brand awareness, strengthen site’s reputation, and get Google notice you!

Sign up and check out Roots Digital’s SEM services.

About Roots Digital

Roots Digital is an award-winning digital marketing agency headquartered in Singapore, specialising in eCommerce Marketing and lead generation. We are a Google and Meta Business certified partner working to deliver the best-in-class digital marketing campaigns from large enterprises and SMEs to growing start-ups.

Some of our core digital marketing services include SEO services, SEM services, PPC services, Google Analytics Services and more.

Feel free to reach out if you’re interested in working with us. Connect with us via our service enquiry form. You may schedule a call for more information and to know more about our digital marketing services.

PSG Grant For Digital Marketing – Save up to 70% on your digital marketing today!

Looking for a trusted SEO agency in Singapore? Schedule a consultation with us today.

About Roots Digital

Roots Digital is an award-winning digital marketing agency and SEO agency headquartered in Singapore, specialising in eCommerce Marketing and lead generation.

Some of our core digital marketing services include SEO servicesSEM services, Google Ads management servicesGoogle Analytics services and more.

Feel free to reach out if you’re interested in working with us. Connect with us via our service enquiry form. You may schedule a call for more information and to know more about our digital marketing services.

Looking for digital marketing grants for SMEs? Check out our pre-approved digital marketing solutions under the PSG digital marketing grant.

PSG Grant For Digital Marketing – Save up to 50% on your digital marketing today!

Picture of Ian Ong
Ian Ong
Marketing Director @ Roots Digital, a digital marketing agency in Singapore. Aka the guy responsible for growing the digital marketing agency.
Share This Article

Let's Explore the chapters

Chapter 1 :
Chapter 2 :
Chapter 3 :
Chapter 4 :
Chapter 5 :
Chapter 6 :
Chapter 7 :
Chapter 8 :
Chapter 9 :
Chapter 10 :
Chapter 11 :
Chapter 12 :
Chapter 13 :
Chapter 14 :
Chapter 15 :
Chapter 16 :
Chapter 17 :
Chapter 18 :
Chapter 19 :
Chapter 20 :
Chapter 21 :
Chapter 22 :
Chapter 23 :
Check out other posts we have
keyword research illustration
Digital Marketing Guide

Digital Marketing in Healthcare: Understanding PHMC Guidelines 2024

In 2014, 21-year-old Chinese student Wei Zexi was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma—a rare form of ...
Read More
landing page anatomy
Content Marketing

Turn Words Into Sales With These 10 Copywriting Frameworks!

As an entrepreneur, earning lots of sales is undoubtedly what you want. That’s why you’re ...
Read More
internal linking for SEO
SEO Guide

Internal Linking for SEO: What It Is, Benefits and Best Practices

When link-building comes up in SEO circles, it’s unsurprising that most SEO agencies talk about ...
Read More
SEO Guide

Mobile First Indexing: Definition and Best Practices

Source: Freepik Mobile search queries have consistently outpaced desktop searches since 2017, accounting for around ...
Read More
SEO Guide

Backlink Analysis Best Practises and How To Boost Your Backlinks

Source: Freepik Backlink analysis is an integral part of any SEO strategy. It’s a process ...
Read More
Content Marketing

Writer’s Block Begone: Write Easily With This Helpful Guide

Source: Freepik Writer’s block is a common phenomenon among writers. Whether you’re writing for your ...
Read More
Subscribe for weekly updates

Up to 50% support On digital marketing with PSG Grant