What Is SEM? What Tools Does SEM Really Include?

What Is SEM? What Tools Does SEM Really Include?

SEM or Search Engine Marketing contains powerful tools to help businesses target sales and brands. So, what is SEM? I will help you decipher the unknowns about this concept.


1. What is SEM? A change in perspective on the concept of SEM

The question “What is SEM?” Currently, there is still a controversy with two different points of view. I will restate both views to help you understand and discuss.

The first view, derived from the original SEM concept that was first published in 2001:

SEM is the acronym for Search Engine Marketing, can also be translated as Marketing through search engines. This is a process to help website increase traffic thanks to the activities on search engines. At that time, SEM included both SEO and PSA (Paid Search Advertising).

This is also the concept of SEM that has been used in a series of books on Marketing.

The second view, was derived in the process of enterprises implementing SEM. And at that time, SEM was redefined to:

SEM is a process that helps websites increase traffic through paid search advertising tools.

With this new perspective, SEO is no longer a part of SEM. Along with that, a new term was born as Search Marketing. And Search Marketing will include both SEO and PSA.

At present, there is not any right or wrong claim on either point. But to continue the content flow below of the article, I will base on the original view of SEM. It means that SEO and PSA are two components of SEM.


2. What tools does Search Engine Marketing include? Trends in implementing new SEM

According to the first theories when Search Engine Marketing was born, SEM includes two extremely important tools, SEO and PSA. These are also two familiar concepts for most website owners. I will help you update the latest trends in SEO and the current PSA.

2.1. SEO – Search Engine Optimization

SEO Content – a trend that is “popular” by Google

To invest SEO website successfully, you need to know that today’s SEO thinking has changed significantly. It is not just a matter of optimizing the website interface, having strategic keyword sets, going backlinks, etc. In particular, Content Marketing plays a key role.

SEO needs a process – it’s inevitable. And now that Google has used the content quality factor as an important point to evaluate webiste, you also need to change now. Content on the website must direct to the value of the user, not just to impress with Google. But also to retain customers on the website.

In addition to focusing on the main keywords, you can also plan to SEO for the keywords in the content. The whole process from optimizing useful content on the website and SEO these articles to the top is called SEO Content.

Overall SEO – helping thousands of keywords to the top

Besides SEO Content, overall SEO is also a point to note. By implementing SEO with a large number of keywords, your website will get many benefits.

First, you can broaden your brand and reach potential customers on a larger scale. When the website has received a large amount of traffic. Combined with optimal factors to promote action on the website. So you can also increase brand recognition and order conversion rates.

Whether doing keyword SEO or overall SEO, I still focus on the true power within the website. That is the core.

2.2. PSA – Paid Search Optimization

In addition to PSA, paid search advertising is also known through a number of other terms such as:

  • CPC – Cost per click
  • CPM – Cost per thousand clicks
  • PPC – Pay per click
  • Paid search ads

To help advertisers optimize the effectiveness of campaigns on their platform. Google has been constantly updating new features. And the trend for future advertisers is all about automatic optimization, instead of manual manipulations like today.

Smart bidding – automatic bidding strategy combined with AI

Smart bidding is considered an achievement of AI application when defined by Google: “Smart bidding is a subset of automated bid strategies that optimize for conversion or conversion value. Smart bidding uses machine learning to optimize your bids to maximize conversions and conversion value across campaigns or portfolios. ”


You just need to tell Google what your campaign goals are. Smart bidding will help you figure out how to reach your goals with your existing budget. In addition, when using smart bidding, you are allowed to give many signals according to the user context such as device, location, browser, language… so that bid optimization activities take place better.

This will be a great choice for businesses just starting with Google ads. Or for those who don’t have too much time on campaign management.

3. SEM in Online Marketing strategy

Except force majeure circumstances that make you separate SEO and PSA in Marketing Strategy. Remaining symbiosis of these two tools will bring tremendous benefits to the website.

  • Firstly, the website also receives traffic from both sources. If you only invest in 1 of 2 channels, the reach of potential customers is certainly limited.
  • Secondly, according to a Google statistic, both an ad position and a natural search position appear to help increase 50% of clicks on websites.
  • Third, when you finish keyword research for an SEO or PSA channel. You can use this to set up the remaining channels. That saves you time.
  • Fourth, increase the level of brand awareness at the highest level. Although not 100% of customers access the website. But from the 2nd time seeing the brand onwards will help customers remember you.

So in each short-term or long-term strategy, how to maximize the benefits of Search Engine Marketing.

3.1. SEO and PSA in short-term Online Marketing strategy

In the short term, you may find paid search advertising implementation to be more beneficial than SEO. Because as long as you spend money on Google, the messages are immediately displayed. However, this case usually only applies to newly established websites. Or at the time you need to run programs in the short term.

But you must not ignore SEO at this stage. In fact, if you start SEO in parallel with running ads, SEO can also help optimize your campaign. Because when deploying SEO website, optimizing landing page is one of the important tasks. Thanks to SEO for a more standard landing page, Google will appreciate it will create the opposite effect to increase the quality of ads.

And there is no better time to start SEO as soon as you make a short-term strategy. At this time, there are advertising campaigns to help maintain a certain number of customers to prepare you for the long-term strategy.

3.2. SEO and PSA in the long-term Online Marketing strategy

If you think just having “instant noodles” campaigns helps you increase your potential customers, that’s a misconception. And you won’t know how to manage when your budget runs out, all your information stops showing.

So in this long-term strategy, you need to focus on SEO and take advantage of ads campaigns that complement this process. This is also a way to prevent you in case the ads stop running. Your website is still on the top and you can maintain a certain number of customers.

An example to help you better understand the role of SEO: Enterprise A, when it just finished building a website in September 2019, began planning to implement PSA and SEO. In the first 3 months, advertising campaigns bring the first customers to visit the website. At the same time, SEO related activities are also taking place.

Until 6 months later at 3/2020, this is a milestone for keywords to the top. At the same time, outbreaks of disease occur, businesses need to cut many costs. Including advertising fees. At this time, the website of the business is still maintained at high rankings thanks to SEO.


Last but not the least, thank you for your time on my blog!

With my answers around what the SEM concept is, how are your views? 

But you should remember that whether SEM includes both SEO and PSA, Online Marketing strategies always need a combination of both.

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