When it comes to online marketing, SEM, or “Search Engine Marketing”, is a basic concept that everyone needs to understand. If you are a beginner interested in paid search, learning about SEM is a good place to start.

Although SEM was once used to refer to both SEO (search engine optimization) and paid search activities, the industry now generally uses SEM to refer to paid listings. Search marketing is the term used to refer to both SEM and SEO. PPC (pay-per-click or pay-per-call), CPC (cost-per-click), paid search advertising/ads, and CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) are all terms that people commonly use to refer to SEM activities. Although each of these are not exactly the same, the similar purpose and result make them all fall under the same category. It is in your best interest to do further research so that you can properly identity these different parts of the search engine market.

PPC platforms, such as the very popular Google AdWords, are used in order to advertise and learn about the world of paid search. Bing Ads and Yahoo are also fairly popular platforms as well as several other major social networks known as “2nd tier PPC platforms”. Some of these platforms cover general paid search trends and post news about SEM along with tutorials on how to get started using PPC ads. Another way that you can find useful tips about paid search is through Google’s “Insider’s Guide To AdWords”. Although outdated, the guide still has many tips that can be a useful introduction to beginners. A more recent video on how to use Google AdWords’ PPC auctions was released in 2014 and is available on YouTube.

Other resources, such as websites geared specifically towards online marketing and paid search as well as articles about PPC, can be very useful in understanding SEM.