How to Leverage Search Engine Marketing to Increase Leads & Brand Awareness

May 16, 2022 | 4  min
author Pyxl Development

Search Engine Marketing, or SEM, has become a buzzword in digital marketing. SEM can range from simple to complex, depending upon your industry and what you are trying to achieve through your search engine marketing efforts. Strategically, using search engine marketing’s advanced targeting will benefit your company by increasing leads and brand awareness.

Wait, What is SEM?

Before we get into the details, for those of you who are just learning what SEM is or for those who need a refresher, SEM is “a form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) primarily through paid advertising,” according to Search Engine Land.

SEM consists of Google Ads (formerly known as Adwords), Bing ads, and any other advertising platforms that involve a search engine. Pay-per-click, display advertising and retargeting are factors that should be considered in a full digital marketing strategy. You’ve likely encountered the word PPC or Pay-Per-Click, which primarily pertains to search advertising. SEM (I know, the acronyms -_-) is search advertising PLUS display and/or retargeting efforts.

SEM is, as best as we can explain, a word for a well-rounded, thoughtful and omnipresent digital marketing strategy to highly target and advertise to consumers on search engines and across the internet to drive brand awareness, qualified leads, and/or product sales.

How To Use SEM To Your Advantage?

A strong SEM strategy will provide your business with leads or sales at a lower cost than traditional marketing due to the favorable pay-per-click method – you are only charged when someone clicks on or engages with your advertisement. In addition to being cost-efficient, you have complete control over targeting your audience with results in a unique, customizable experience for each buyer persona or product line. We’ll discuss different types of targeting methods and how you can use them to take your company’s SEM campaign to the next level.

In a standard SEM platform, targeting methods include keyword targeting, geo-targeting, interest-based targeting, demographic, custom-built audience lists, and remarketing lists. All of these can be used solely on their own or together to increase relevancy and improve the campaign’s targeting. The campaign targeting methods used will vary depending on what you are trying to achieve and the type of industry your company belongs to.

How to use keywords in SEM?

Keywords are the backbone of any paid media campaign. Keywords can be very broad or very focused depending on the goals of your campaign. To start, we recommend using broad match modified keywords, and as time goes on, optimizing based on performance, resulting in a more focused campaign that uses phrase match & exact match keywords. Broad match modified keywords improve the campaign’s relevancy to help paid media spend be efficient.

Broad match 

This is the default match type that all keywords are assigned. Ads may show on searches that include misspellings, synonyms, related searches, and other relevant variations.

Broad match modified 

Similar to broad match, except that ads will only show when words designated with a plus sign (+security +system) or close variations are in the search query.

Phrase match 

Ads will show when a search matches a phrase or close variation of the phrase that you have assigned.

Exact Match 

Allows you to show your ad when a searcher types the exact word or phrase you are bidding on.


This is another method to leverage success in SEM. Geo-targeting can range from targeting a specific zip code to targeting an entire country or multiple countries. For most SEM campaigns, targeting an entire country and even a region doesn’t make sense which makes the highly focused geo-targeting capabilities a benefit of using SEM. If you manage a small business, only operating in one location, you could set your SEM campaign up to only target the area your business has a presence in or set a radius around your business location.

Google Ads, one of the most popular SEM platforms, allows you to serve ads to people who are interested in a certain topic or people who fit a certain demographic. This feature really allows you to hone in on your core audience and show ads to people already known to be interested in what you are offering or trying to build awareness around.

Customization is also a possibility in SEM campaigns in the form of remarketing lists and custom-built audience lists (or Customer Match Audiences). Remarketing pixels are placed throughout your site or on a specific landing page to serve display ads to people, later on, to continue to keep your brand or product top-of-mind. Custom-built audiences work by uploading a list of email addresses of people you would like to serve ads to, this allows you to have complete control over who exactly you are targeting.

How to Use SEM Targeting to Your Advantage

As you can tell, a lot of options exist when it comes to setting up a campaign – no singular SEM campaign is going to be the same as the other and that’s what is so exciting – it’s customizable based upon business goals, expertise, and strategic-targeting.

Using the methods above will allow you to create a highly sophisticated campaign that only costs you money when someone engages with your ad or is taken to your website. In theory, if you create a relevant, highly-targeted campaign, then you will drive leads or product sales at a low cost-per-conversion leading to a high return on investment for your marketing efforts.

We can help you develop a SEM strategy that will work for your company! Let’s talk!

Updated: May 16, 2022

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