Digital marketing

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) directs traffic from ads to a website. These are often called paid searches and are the first results on Google or other search engines.

Search engine marketing, or SEM, is a form of digital marketing that involves promoting websites and product pages by increasing the visibility of search engine results. By bidding on keywords, your website or online store ends up at the top of the search results when someone searches for your products or services.

The opposite of SEM is search engine optimisation (SEO), where you create content and optimise website structure to earn a higher place in the search results. Websites that are search engine optimised will climb organically in the search results. With SEM, you buy the top positions and get an immediate effect.

Do you want to be at the top of the search results with Google Ads? Our consultants can help you all the way to the top. We have extensive experience working with several large national and international clients.

Google Ads and Bing Ads

Search engine marketing is usually done through Google’s own advertising system Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords). For the search engines Bing and Yahoo!, the advertising system Bing Ads is used. With these, anyone can go in and bid on ad space for specific keywords.

SEM is an effective form of digital marketing because advertisers reach out to people who are actively searching for their products, services or brands. In other words, they will meet the target group who are already looking for what the advertiser offers.

Andreas Melsom Vaa, Paid Media Specialist

Google Ads results: ROAS and CPA

Around 20-30% of those who perform a written search in Google click on the ads that appear at the top. The average clickthrough rate (CTR) per ad across industries is around 2%. The remaining click on the organic search results. To create more conversions over time, you should use both SEO and SEM.

The click-through rate on some searches with a high purchase intent may be as high as 65% on paid ads.

Read on to learn more about Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) and Cost Per Action (CPA) or contact us to discover how we can accelerate your online business with SEM.

How to get to the top of the search engine results pages

Want to appear at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs)? Here are some aspects to consider.

1. Focus on the keywords that are relevant to your business

It‘s essential to bid on the right keywords for your business in paid search. Keyword research is an essential part of any search engine marketing project. You have to find the most relevant and important keywords, but you also need to target the right customers. If you are B2B, you should try to avoid keywords that compete with B2C. 

2. Make sure your ads are relevant

Paid search is about paying to get visibility in search engines, but it’s also vital that your ads are relevant. This is measured in Google’s Quality Score

You need to include keywords in your ad text. You also need to ensure that the landing page corresponds to the ad. If the advertisement is about something else entirely, Google will consider your ad irrelevant, and it will not appear as frequently.

3. The value of a conversion: Ensuring profitable advertising

With SEM, you buy visibility for strategically selected keywords, and the result is usually measured in conversions. In connection with SEM and Ads, the value of the customer is equal to the profit from the sale. For example:

  1. Ida sells a set of cross-country skis for 1000 kroner.
  2. Ida’s fixed expenses in materials and production are NOK 600.
  3. Ida is left with 400 kroner.
  4. Ida knows that the cost per conversion should be less than NOK 400.

Search Engine Marketing

Terms in search engine marketing to know

Do you find paid search confusing? Below are some important terms that we use in search engine marketing.


ROAS (return on ad spend) and CPA (cost per action) are two key concepts to consider for those who market products or services with SEM. ROAS is the amount of value you generate based on the total cost of your ads. A higher ROAS indicates that the campaign is doing well.


CPA is the total cost of the ad divided by how many conversions the ad generates. In other words, it gives an idea of whether the advertising for a specific product or service costs less than the income from the sale of the product/service. A low CPA indicates that expenses are lower than profits.

By keeping an active eye on these measurements and constantly adjusting how much you spend vs return generated, you will gain a greater insight into your own marketing strategy and how profitable the advertising is for the company.

PPC: Pay Per Click

It basically costs nothing to run ads with the search engines when working with SEM. These instead work according to the PPC payment model. The cost is determined by how many people click on the ad. The advertiser’s price is adjusted according to how well the ad performs and how much activity the ad creates.

CPC: Cost Per Click

CPC (cost per click) is another important term within SEM. Because the search engine advertising market works like an auction, you also have to pay for a good placement. You set an average price and a maximum bid you are willing to pay for ad placement.

If the keyword you are looking for is highly competitive, the price of a good placement will also be higher. However, CPC is just one factor that determine where the search engines choose to place your ad in the rankings. Quality Score is a larger assessment of the ad’s relevance, conversion expectation, and website quality.

See the value and potential of your ads

By knowing the value of your customers, you can easily keep track of whether campaigns, ads and keywords are profitable for your business. We can help you with this.

Contact us today for a chat!

SEM with Journey Agency

Journey Agency has worked extensively with search engine marketing (SEM).

The most important thing we look for when doing a quality assessment of an Ads account is:

  • Has conversion tracking been set up in either Google Ads or Analytics?
  • Is the conversion price acceptable? (We have seen examples where the customer pays NOK 15,000 in Ads advertising to trigger a conversion worth NOK 400).
  • Has the agency set up remarketing – so that one can easily target ads to the company’s customers or visitors to the website?
  • Do your Ads campaigns have a consistent high-quality score?
  • Is the account sufficiently optimised, and are important functionalities such as ad extensions, Google Shopping, dynamic retargeting, etc. set up?
  • Is the account maintained weekly?
  • Does the account use negative keywords to filter out unwanted searches?

Digital marketing is an organic and vibrant process. With constant and skilled work, you can achieve enormous results. We love SEM and PPC (pay per click) advertising. Contact us if you want top rankings or are considering changing agencies.

Get in touch with us today