SEM, PPC, Paid Search and Search Engine Marketing; if you aren’t familiar with these terms and your business relies on a website for business growth – keep reading. This article unpacks Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and how it may be incredibly beneficial to your business.

What is a search engine?

You might need to start right at the very beginning. No problem! A search engine is software that searches a database of information depending on the user’s query. The search engine that you are likely most familiar with is Google, however, there are a number of other search engines available for use including Yahoo, AOL, Bing and

What is SEM?

SEM or Search Engine Marketing, simply put, by the team at Search Engine Land, “is the process of gaining website traffic by purchasing ads on search engines.” The team go on further to explain that SEM previously encompassed both Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and paid search activities, however, SEM now only refers to your paid search endeavours to boost visits to your website. SEM can therefore also be referred to as “Paid Search.”

You are likely served paid advertisements via the search engines that you use on a daily basis. These are the results that come up towards the top of the page after you’ve typed in what you are searching for. On Google these are ear-marked with ‘Ad’ in the top left corner. The results appearing further down the page are known as organic results.


A vital component in search engine marketing is keywords. These are the search words or phrases that are put into the search engines search bars by consumers utilising the search engines. It is evident that consumers who are searching for keywords that relate to your services or products are the consumers that are more likely to purchase your products or request your services.

Pay Per Click (PPC)

Pay per click or CPC is the billing format that search engine marketing utilises. Advertisers only pay once their advertisements have been physically clicked on by users.

Interested in knowing more?

Google have developed a Digital Skills for Africa course where you can get training on a variety of digital topics including SEM. Further to that feel free to reach out to This Life Business Solutions for any additional search engine marketing queries you may have.