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Category: SEO

What is Search Marketing (SEM) in 2021?

what is sem?

Date: 12.01.2023

Written By

Editorial Staff

I am a blog scientist by the mind and a passionate blogger by heart ❤️. Fountainhead of UpKeen. I am a freelance writer and lover of all things tech, crafting and general geekery. i am currently living in New York, United States.

Any company wishing to make itself known on the web must do everything to increase its visibility. To do this, Search Marketing is a must. What is it and why is it essential for your communication strategy? Answers to the following…

Table of Contents

What is Search Marketing?

Search Engine Marketing or SEM is an essential acquisition lever that allows any business to increase its visibility online. It brings together all the unstoppable techniques that allow a site to obtain better positioning in the search results displayed by search engines like Google.

What is Search Marketing (SEM)?

The SEM consists of:

  • SEO 
  • SEA

These two techniques are often considered contradictory, but quite the opposite. They are complementary and even have one technique in common: semantic audit. This term is none other than the search for the right keywords on which to position yourself.

What is SEO?

What is SEO and SEM?

SEO or Search Engine Optimization defines what is called organic backlink building. To develop a successful SEO strategy, you have to think about various points such as:

  • Optimization of editorial content: this implies the implementation of content marketing, the main strength of your website since it is he who will feed the pages.
  • External linking and netlinking: the establishment of links makes it possible to link the pages of a site to each other and to other sites on the web. When the links connect pages of the same site, we speak of internal links. When the links connect different sites, we speak of external links. There are two types of external links. Those that you send to other sites from your own site and those that other sites send to your site. In this second case, we speak of backlinks.
  • The keywords on which your content will be positioned: it should be noted that search engines use algorithms that allow them to understand the requests of Internet users. In the case of Google, for example, it uses its RankBrain algorithm. It is an artificial intelligence which has the capacity to measure the satisfaction of the users of the search engine. This is why it is important to target the right keywords in order to be better positioned in the SERP (Search Engine Result Page).

The combination of these three techniques allows to increase the traffic towards its siteNote that these methods are all free. It is up to you, your efforts and your persistence to accelerate the results. These may take a long time to come, but they are durable over time especially if you continue to work well with organic backlink building and associate certain techniques of paid backlink building with it from time to time.

What is SEA?

What is SEA and SEM?

SEA or Search Engine Advertising is what we call paid backlink building. It calls for the setting up of advertising campaigns which make it possible to increase the visibility of the site quickly.

Its effects can be described as immediate, but fleeting. The goal is to make the site appear among the sponsored links that search engines display at the top of SERP pages. These are the results before which we see the term “advertisement”.

As they are well placed on the results page, they are the first to be seen by Internet users. The chances of them clicking on it are higher, but be careful to present your ad well and make it eye-catching.

In practice, the application of SEA consists in buying (or rather outbidding) on ​​keywords on which your site will rank. This is called a Google Ads campaign.

SEA: what to do in 2021

Best practices, channels to use, formats to favor, strategies to apply… we tell you everything about what to do in terms of SEA in 2021. This is a non-exhaustive list of actions that could boost your turnover this year despite the current health situation. What is it about?

Should we strengthen its SEA efforts in 2021?

To the extent that you are looking to sell products or services, the answer is yes. But given the economic crisis left by the health crisis, would it really be wise to invest more in Google Ads campaigns? More than ever, the answer is also yes. We explain why…

Due to the pandemic and repeated lockdowns, online commerce is on the rise. Everyone now buys on the Internet and it would be a shame not to take advantage of it. How to take advantage of it? By delivering the right products at the right time to the right people. And of course, to ensure that these products are visible, hence the need to call on the SEA.

The question now is how to put in place a good SEA strategy that would allow us to make a return on our initial investment. The best solution is to adopt the good techniques that we will tell you about below …

Google Ads campaigns: do it yourself or hire the pros for SEM?

The first question we must ask ourselves this year is whether we should (or can) internalize Google Ads campaigns or whether it is preferable to entrust them to a specialized agency (outsource). The good news is that both options are good, but to make your choice you have to weigh the pros and cons of each.


Taking care of your Google Ads campaigns yourself allows you to limit expenses. You will also be able to exploit the market information collected on Google Ads and use it in other departments of your company as in the product marketing department.

Only, for internalisation to bring you positive spinoffs, make sure you have the necessary skills and expertise for SEA. It is also necessary to plan coaching sessions and regular training for the people in charge of this task, in particular the traffic manager.


In case you don’t have the skills to run your Google Ads campaigns or are struggling to achieve the expected good results, the best option is to hire a Google Ads agency.

Your internal load is thus lightened and the expert promises you positive results. To make a good investment, choose a compensation method that suits your budget and your strategy. Either you offer a classic mode, i.e. commission on the budget invested , or performance-based compensation, i.e. a commission on sales or registered leads .

Finally, since you will have to work with people outside the company, make sure that their services correspond to your needs. You should know that not all Google Ads agencies have the same objectives. Others prioritize profitability and performance while some focus more on creation and branding.

Use your budget intelligently for SEA

Even if you have a good budget to finance the SEA, you must use your money wisely, especially if you have opted for internalization. To do this, here are some tips:

  • Invest only in profitable keywords: take into account the Quality Score of each term to judge their performance
  • Ditch underperforming ads and use their budget to run new ads
  • Increase bids on high potential campaigns: spend more time and money on these campaigns before investing in new keywords
  • Refine your targeting and focus on really important targets: since local is the trend today, dig into geographic and demographic audiences

Techniques to apply for SEA

Techniques to apply SEA for SEM

As for the flagship techniques of the SEA to be adopted in 2021, we can mention a few, namely:


Promoting automation is no longer a novelty when it comes to Google since it has been promoting this technique for several months now. This year, he is sticking to his position and once again encouraging advertisers to use it. It is true that thanks to AI, we are often entitled to targeting that we have not thought of and yet interesting. Most of the time, automation is a big help in getting started with better campaigns especially when things get more complex.

However, there are times when the announcements start to fluctuate and in this case, returning to manual mode is required.

Does this mean that Automation is not necessarily a technique for everyone? The answer is yes. It must be understood that AI can only intervene effectively in a context that it has the capacity to understand. In other words, before you go for automation, you must first structure your account according to Google’s best practices. If you haven’t already, don’t be surprised to see the AI ​​act out of the box since you are deploying it on a still chaotic basis.

Offline conversions

Even though digitalization is on the rise, it should not be forgotten that sales are increasingly being made locally and offline. The numbers make it clear that over 30% of current mobile searches are local, and over 75% of mobile users who search locally go directly to the address listed within 24 hours.

This important portion of consumers should not be neglected if your business is concerned. Consider setting up Local Campaigns on Google Ads to increase offline conversions. This type of campaign aims to generate traffic at a physical point of sale. The geolocation signals will be used more to find out in which zone the Internet user is located and to display the results accordingly.

Local Campaigns can have various orientations. For example, you can invest more in a point of sale with great potential or in new stores that have recently opened. You can also focus on specific events.

Acquiring new customers

Google has already found a new expression for this: New Customer Acquisition or NCA” . That’s the new conversion goal he set for Google Shopping. The objective is to be able to set a Life Time Value for the acquisition of new customers. To do this, three elements can be used to know if it is a new customer or not. We cite :

  • The First Party data list: it is possible to import this list into Google Ads
  • Google’s native data: it is possible to open an analysis window spread over 540 days
  • Imported tags and data: it is possible to mark new customers and then apply the parameters intended for them

Whether or not you use this tool, always remember to differentiate between the cost of acquiring a new customer and the cost of acquiring an order.

Exploitation of product flows

This year, Google is offering more options to better leverage its Google Merchant Center product feeds in Local, Google Shopping and Display campaigns and its product feeds in app campaigns.

For the former, you must continue to publish more images in the ads to optimize the conversion and visibility of your ads on the search results pages. More images effectively means the ads are more engaging and take up more space, so it’s hard not to see them.

For the latter, this is a promising new format that must be exploited. The first tests conducted by Google showed 6% more installs on App campaigns using the product feed and 17% more interactions from visits to these apps. To exploit this new format, it is necessary to use deferred deep links. Thus, when the Internet user sees the ad and clicks on it, he will be able to install the application which will open directly on the product that interests him. Advertising is then even more effective.

Normally, all advertisers should have access to deep links very soon. Note that they generate twice the conversion rate.

Preferred formats For SEA

Preferred formats for SEA to Choose

Regarding the preferred formats for SEA 2021, we can cite Gallery Ads on Search and Showcase Shopping Ads. You have to understand that the visual is taking more and more place in digital advertising. Internet users are more concerned by beautiful images than by flashy slogans.

 The first thing to remember is therefore to take care of the images to be broadcast and their format.

Thanks to Gallery Ads on Search and Showcase Shopping Ads, Internet users do not have to launch specific requests. They’re only going to scroll through their Google feed to find new products and brands.

Note that Gallery Ads are a new format that Google has integrated into the Search Network. They are triggered automatically on mobiles. Their performance is important since they combine research intent and product visuals.

The Showcase Shopping Ads, in turn, will trigger only on Google Images search results, but they have the same efficacy as the Gallery Ads.

The channels to be exploited

Yes, in SEA, several channels can also be exploited and this year, it is especially necessary to turn to:

Google Display

In the past, we only knew the Display as a way to boost awareness. Today, it can also be used to launch Google Display campaigns. Difficult to master, consider using “Similar Converters” and “Custom Intent on competitors” to put more chances on your side.

The Similar Converters are the customers that Google considers similar to yours customers while Custom Intent refers to searches that a user has made on one of your competitors. As soon as a research has been done, take the opportunity to display your videos and your banner ads on the product sought.

Youtube video advertising

This year, we must also focus on performance targeting for Youtube Ads. Granted, they weren’t as prominent before, but starting this year, you have to use them to drive conversions.

Google Shopping Free

If you have a Google Merchant Center account, consider completing the free Google Shopping forms now to better rank your products. Note that only these sheets are free, but for the rest, the paid side remains. Remember that we are talking about SEA and not SEO.

KPIs to watch

How to react to the impacts of the Google December Core Update?

Launching a Google Ads campaign is not enough to sustain your business. You have to do regular monitoring and know how to interpret the performance indicators displayed.

But what exactly are the indicators to watch?

There is :

  • The lost impression rate: it indicates the number of times a competitor was displayed with a keyword that you chose because you did not do so
  • The Quality Score: it indicates the quality that Google gives to your keywords. Remember to do a global follow-up to be able to apply a bonus or a penalty and then pay the right price
  • The share of Business Brand and Non-Brand: take these two indicators into account instead of monitoring overall performance since both can show underperformance that needs to be remedied as soon as possible

And to be able to better use your budget while having the ability to monitor the performance of your campaigns, consider using monitoring tools.

SMO: another technique not to be overlooked

SMO: another technique not to be overlooked while implementing SEM

And since we are always talking about backlink building sites on the web, we must not forget the SMO or Social Media Optimization. Granted, it’s not really a part of SEM , but it does complement SEO effectiveness. Its use is also free for lasting results over time.

The overall objective of the SMO is to encourage users of social networks to click on links that lead to the site.

Nowadays, promoting your business on the web must imperatively go through social networks, because this is where the majority of Internet users are found.


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