Search Engine Marketing: Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the process of gaining web traffic and increasing online visibility with paid efforts, like Pay Per Click (PPC), and organic efforts, like Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

The idea is simple. The more traffic a site gets, the more sales it can make.

People interested in buying a product or service go online to do research or look for the product directly. The vast majority of them (93%) begin looking with a search engine.

However, these users are very selective. The first ranked result gets the lion's share of web traffic. According to a study reported by Search Engine Watch, the number one ranked result on a Google search engine results page (SERP) gets 33% of traffic. The second gets 18%, the third gets 11%, and the traffic continues to decrease exponentially from there on out. The vast majority of people (75%) don't even go past the first SERP.

SEM marketing uses strategies and tactics to get a website to rank in these top spots, where it'll get more web traffic. The more web traffic the site gets, the more leads it'll get. The more leads a site gets, the more sales opportunities it'll have.

SEM primarily takes two different forms: organic SEM and paid SEM. Oragnic search marketing uses tactics, like SEO, to get a website to rank in the top search results, and is the most effective way to increase a site's traffic. However, organic rankings take time, so search engine marketers will use paid search marketing tactics, like PPC, to supplement the site's traffic until its organic efforts begin showing results.