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Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Natural referencing! and sponsored links


  • Increase awareness
  • Develop site traffic
  • Increase visibility on search engines
  • Use a new communication and prospecting channel

The concept

Google SEO

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is one of the major levers for creating traffic on the internet today. Search Engine Marketing is divided into:

  • Free natural referencing on search engines called search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Paid sponsored links found on the majority of search engines.

These are indeed two distinct components with specific objectives and methods.

Above all, it is important to remember an important notion: positioning. We cannot speak of good or bad referencing but of a good position on the engines according to the queries on which we wish to appear.

How to do?

Natural referencing

Natural referencing is at the origin of search engines. Search engines crawl the web and index web pages in their databases. Once the pages are indexed, they are positioned on the general index of the engine and will appear on such and such a request. SEO must therefore be optimized for pages to appear on the right queries.

For this, it is necessary to take into account 3 major notions in the optimization of its natural referencing:

  • content of the page,
  • construction of the page,
  • links pointing to the page.

The content of each page must be original and constructed. You cannot expect to rank well if you use content that has already been produced on the internet. Therefore, you need to come up with fresh, original, and information-rich content.

The construction of the page is also an important element. Your page must respect a certain number of web standards with regard to the programming language and its architecture. To enhance your content, you must respect the established rules: relevant titles, paragraphs, keywords…

The links pointing towards your pages represent a last major element of an effective positioning. All of these links are representative of the popularity of your site.

These 3 elements are inseparable! Working on just one element does not guarantee a noticeable improvement in search engine rankings.

It is not possible to buy its natural positioning or its insertion in the index on the majority of market search engines and it is mandatory to optimize the pages to appear in the indexes of these engines.

Sponsored links

There is another form of referencing: sponsored links. By definition, sponsored links are not free and require a budget to set up.

Sponsored links make it possible to buy a position on a request but the appearance of the result is not done on the general index of the engine but on the part specifically reserved for sponsored links.

Sponsored link campaigns allow you to easily place yourself on a large number of search engine queries, all depending on the budget allocated to these link campaigns. The cost varies according to several criteria:

  • the number of requests where you want to place yourself
  • the notoriety and the value of the word, the purchase of keywords being done at auction. The more requests there are for a keyword, the higher it will be and the higher the purchase cost will have to be to appear in the first results of sponsored links.
  • the number of times the link is clicked. Indeed, these campaigns respect the pay-per-click rule.

The strength of these campaigns is that they can be adjusted, improved or stopped at any time based on the results analyzed during the monitoring of these campaigns. Finally, sponsored links campaigns are largely customizable in terms of the content of the ads and their destination, all depending on the geographical location of the Internet user who uses the search tool.


Two tools for two very distinct strategies. On the one hand, natural referencing will be built over time in order to obtain long-term visibility. On the other hand, sponsored links campaigns are often presented to fill a deficit in the natural positioning or to appear on the occasion of specific events because the cost of these long-term campaigns on popular requests can quickly fly away.

Source: 7 stratégies e-marketing illustrées, within the framework of the Etoile Project, a European INTERREG 3A project financing with the support of the ERDF. License CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 FR. Independent translation and adaptation by Nicolae Sfetcu

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