March 28, 2013 / SEM Tools

Back in the day we used to confuse each other about what acronym for Search meant what. Some agencies and companies called Paid Search “SEM” while others argued “SEM” referred to the search marketing umbrella of Paid, Local, Feeds and Organic search. (I agree with the latter, still).

Today our conversations are different as the landscape has changed even further and it isn’t as much about the acronym but more about “What does Search Marketing encapsulate?” Search is a focal point of digital marketing and typically a last click before a conversion. But many actions and consumer behaviors lead up to that last click and influence SEM and therefore naturally find their way into a Search Marketers planning and execution strategy. As digital marketers get more sophisticated through analytics and big data, we can also better understand the multi-click behaviors and channels used to be more holistic in planning.

As a connective tissue of digital media and your brand destination, it has the inherent touch-points that leads to planning and executional extensions of search marketers. We live in a social and mobile world so those are logical expansions points from our traditional SEM buys.

In a given consumer decision journey, s/he will go through a variety of searches over a period of time. Searches will take place on a search engine, then a brand’s website, maybe a consumer review site, if retail – a shopping engine to compare prices, a social network to get advice and opinions of people they know and trust and then another final search to purchase online or a mobile search while running errands to find the nearest store location. So what just happened?

1. Search Engine (Paid and/or SEO)
2. experience
3. Review Site / Shopping Engines
4. Social media
5. Local Search / Mobile Search
6. Didn’t convert? Retargeting





This is just one example that is a fairly routine showing the multiple stages and destinations a consumer could take prior to purchase.  Our jobs as search marketers are to ensure our clients’ products or services appear throughout any relevant search within that cycle (note: relevant and cost effective).   Our jobs have expanded from simply focusing on the top search engines and publishers on our desktops to a much more diverse landscape or targeted and sophisticated opportunities.

Each search within the example is a slightly different intent and mindset as the consumer drives closer to the decision.  As marketers, it is our duty to provide relevant ads and experiences (web pages, offers, messaging) that align with the psychological intent at that very moment.


And if the consumer didn’t purchase then?  Well that’s when retargeting would seal the deal.  Yes, another tactic that (could) fall under the helm of today’s search marketer.

Today’s search marketing has evolved because our world has evolved from being analog, to digital, to social, and now mobile.   SEMPO’s organization and mission has evolved as well to envelop these areas and deliver education, research, training and networking opportunities across these broad areas of Search and Social Marketing.


Lindsay Blankenship
SEMPO Board Member

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  1. There are many tools and services available to help the day to day management of your internet marketing campaign. Focus on the the internet marketing avenues that produce the greatest return on investment (search, email, shopping search, and one other will usually work. Don’t test new methodologies work in proven areas. Learn to say no to things that are overlapping what your already doing. You can always generate better results. It is overload when you dont.

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