SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing which, as we practice it (because some agencies treat SEM as a catch-all term including all sorts of online ads), means paid advertisements appearing in search engines. Thus, SEM includes both text ads and shopping ads which show up in search engine results but excludes ads published outside of search engine results such as banner ads and social media ads.
To a large extent, SEM requires the same know-how as SEO. Contrary to common knowledge, ad positioning is not a straight “pay-to-play” system where the top slots are auctioned off to the top bidders. Rather, Google bases ad placement not just on price but a more complex equation including quality. Google assigns a quality score to each ad based on factors such as the relevancy of ad copy and landing page in relation to the keyword plus the ad’s historical click-through rate. The higher the quality of the ad, the less Google charges the advertiser. That being the case, a top SEO agency like Cogney can significantly increase the efficacy and ROI of an SEM campaign.