To make a website more visible on search engines, search engine marketing (SEM) uses different methods and tactics. Putting websites and their pages at the top of search results pages is the point of SEM. It brings in more appropriate organic traffic.

Digital marketers and companies know what the types of search engine marketing are and how to utilize them. If you know about the main types of SEM, you can make a good plan that targets users at different points in their buying journey.

Types of Search Engine Marketing

Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)



Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising refers to sponsored advertisements displayed by search engines. It works on an auction-style system where advertisers bid on keywords relevant to their offerings.

When a user searches for one of those keywords, the highest bidding advertiser gets a sponsored ad placement at the top or side of the search results page. Marketers only get charged when users click their ads.

PPC helps reach users actively searching for products or services and thus allows targeted marketing. Popular PPC platforms include Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising, and Amazon Marketing Services. The benefits of PPC advertising include:

  • Generating quick results and sales opportunities
  • Allows granular control over spending by setting daily budgets
  • Provides insights through data like click-through rates and cost-per-click
  • Useful for boosting brand awareness and reach

The downside is that PPC ads involve continuous costs, which can add up. So, the return on investment must be tracked closely.

Local Search Engine Optimization


Local Search Engine Optimization


Local SEO refers to optimizing websites and landing pages to rank better for searches within specific geographic regions like cities and states.

The goal is to be discoverable by searchers looking for local products or services on engines like Google and Bing. According to surveys, over 50% of mobile users search for local information on search engines before visiting stores.

Local SEO tactics include:

  • Business address, phone, and NAP (name, address, phone number) consistency across directories
  • Area served, and service radius mentions
  • Optimized Google My Business page
  • Positive local reviews and citations
  • Locale-specific landing pages and content

Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO)


Organic SEO


Organic SEO tactics try to make your website rank higher and be seen more on search engines. The goal is to make good pages that people will find useful when they are looking for things that are related.

Keyword research, optimizing page content, technical site checks, and building trustworthy external links are some of the strategies that can be used.

People click through to organic listings the most because they are the most appropriate free results for their search queries. Organically ranking high on the results page brings more people to your site, lowers the cost of new customers, and builds trust in your brand.

The goal of SEO is long-term growth by making material naturally appealing to both people and search engines.

The Differences Between SEM and SEO

While SEM and SEO have similar end goals, they work in distinct ways. Their key differences are:


  • SEM aims to increase paid visibility through sponsored results, ads, and listings.
  • SEO seeks to boost organic visibility through content quality and relevance.


  • SEM allows granular control over paid listings by adjusting bids and budgets.
  • SEO relies on indirect optimization of different elements, hoping to influence rankings.


  • SEM has definitive monthly costs in the form of Pay-per-click spending.
  • SEO involves mainly sweat costs for optimization efforts.


  • SEM leads to faster website traffic since paid placement puts you at the top instantly.
  • SEO takes months of sustained effort before you climb up in organic results.

SEM gives you instant visibility to complement SEO, which takes time to build authority. The two work best together, with SEM bringing in revenue until SEO starts pulling in organic traffic.


We explored the answer of what are the types of search engine marketing. These types of search engine marketing can be leveraged simultaneously to drive relevant web traffic for different business scenarios.

Pay-per-click advertising offers precise targeting and measured costs for maximum return on ad spending. Local SEO builds visibility for location-specific searches and helps multi-location entities stand out. Organic SEO aims for long-term gains by consistently creating high-quality and share-worthy web pages.

SEM differs from SEO in that it focuses on paid placements to get immediate visibility. In comparison, SEO plays the long game of trying to rank web pages organically.

Having an integrated strategy involving both SEM and SEO creates short-term revenue opportunities while establishing domain authority.