Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing, or SEM, is the collective process of using organic traffic to create new leads and increase brand awareness. In essence, you are creating demand out of the organic search traffic that your website receives. 

What is Search Engine Marketing?

Search Engine Marketing focuses on generating demand for the business through the traffic that is coming daily from organic search. Once optimized, a business’s website can generate a lot of traffic. But, without a strategic approach to using that traffic to create demand, the final results will fall flat. 

SEM focuses on incentivizing search traffic to engage with the brand. By matching brand values and offers to each type of search traffic, a website can be used to create tangible business value. 

Why SEM for Your Business?

Optimization means nothing without creating results. And yet, even the greatest SEO strategy and implementation won’t create tangible business results. 

Many businesses focus on SEO to grow their organic traffic, but then wonder why it doesn’t produce any tangible results that impact the business. Oftentimes, this is because they focused on SEO only, without layering in a marketing strategy. 

SEM takes all of that hard earned traffic and turns it into leads. These leads can be nurtured and later turned into engaged customers and brand ambassadors. 

But, without the marketing efforts, this traffic will just come and go every day. 

SEM Basics

Organic traffic is coming, but what do you do with it? Good search engine marketing starts with understanding the different types of traffic that you are generating, and then knowing how to engage with each type.  

Top of the Funnel (TOFU)

Top of the funnel traffic is at the exploratory stage of their journey. As it relates to your product or service, they are just exploring the high level concepts of what it is and why they might need it. 

This viewer is looking to learn more about the subject that your brand works in. They are not ready to buy, but they are hungry for more information. 

Engaging this channel with highly informative content on your blog, and then turning them into leads with in-depth e-books and free downloads works great. The goal is to educate them so that they can feel comfortable to make a decision about your product down the road. 

SEM must step in here to ensure that there is a process in place to turn TOFU leads into customers in future months. 

Middle of the Funnel (MOFU)

Middle of the funnel traffic understands the topic from a broad standpoint, but is looking to understand the finer details of what is important. Typically this viewer knows about your product, but not necessarily all of the things that distinguish you from your competitors. 

This viewer is typically wrestling with one or two objections that are keeping them from making a purchase decision. They haven’t decided on which product to buy, but they are getting very close to knowing they want to make a purchase. 

Engaging this channel with relevant content that displays your product in action and solving the target audience’s problem works really well. Whether it be a webinar or live demonstration on your Instagram channel, the goal is to overcome their objections. 

SEM is required at this stage. Without it, viewers will come and go without having their objections overcome. 

Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)

Bottom of the funnel traffic is ready to buy – they are just trying to determine who to buy. This viewer needs to be shown what makes your product unique, while also feeling comfortable with making a purchase decision.

Organic traffic produces a lot of BOFU viewers, because the viewer is often comparing one brand’s features to another. 

Engaging this channel involves giving high touch product demonstrations and comparisons. You have to meet the viewer exactly where they prefer to engage, and you have to clearly communicate what differentiates your brand. 

SEM is vital at this stage. A clear marketing strategy that takes organic traffic and highlights the brand creates high value leads. 

Important SEM Factors

There are several key strategies that work effectively on organic traffic visitors. These marketing techniques highlight your brand while simultaneously helping the viewer. 

Lead Magnets

Turning traffic into leads starts with creating one or several lead magnets. These lead magnets need to be value adding to the target audience, and the need to be high impact. 

Different lead magnets work for different audiences. Some prefer video, others e-books. Some audiences are wary to share their information, while others are excited to engage with a helpful brand. 

Lead magnets also have to simultaneously guide the user closer to the brand and what the brand sells. An offer that is trendy and gets downloaded frequently, but doesn’t lead the viewer closer to the brand, falls short in the end. 

SEM must focus on creating compelling lead magnets that attract the right type of audience and yet convert well. Then, they must put those leads through a process that moves them closer to the brand and what it sells. 


Organic search creates a lot of eyeballs, but not all viewers are the same, and the same can be said for your leads. If you treat all leads in the same manner, odds are most won’t take action and engage with your brand. 

Lead segmentation involves dividing your lead pool into smaller, more refined segments. These segments are usually based on groups that have similar characteristics, and allows you to speak more directly into their desires and needs. 

Through a clear understanding of the brand and its target audience, combined with good top, middle, and bottom of the funnel marketing, SEM can skyrocket your lead conversion rate through proper segmentation. 


Organic search is a tremendous driver of traffic, and learning how to turn those viewers into leads is vital. Moving them throughout your different marketing channels allows you to create cohesion.

SEM ties your web content, blog, social media, and email marketing channels together in a singular, cohesive strategy. Moving leads across different channels in order to best engage with them maximizes the impact they will have on the brand. 

In addition, delivering the right message to the right person at the right time in the right medium delivers the maximum result. 

In the end, hyper engaged leads that want what your brand sells is what you will have. 

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