How many times do you Google for information each day?

Many, I guess. It is natural for a marketer to put her/his advertising budget in the search engines to reach the target audience. This is the simplest way of saying SEM Search Engine Marketing, i.e. showing your ads in a prominent position in the search engine result page (SERP), either by paying Google (Paid Search or Pay-Per-Click PPC ad), or by tweaking your webpage to rank high (SEO Search Engine Optimization).

Google Search result page

Before we go into more details, let’s see what happen when you do a search on Google:

How Google search works

What the video is telling is: Google uses its own algorithm to determine what web pages and their ranking to be displayed when you search for a keyword. This algorithm is constantly evolving according to Google, so that they can provide you the most useful and relevant information for your search.

SEO – produce useful and relevant web pages to rank high

Now that we know Google wants to provide the most suitable results to users. By “most suitable” it means many parameters are considered, including relevancy, trustworthiness, user experience, speed of web page, etc. Therefore, the exercise of SEO, in simple terms, is to optimize all these parameters so that Google will find your website “most suitable” to users.

It does not involve paying money to Google, as they explicitly mentioned that they do NOT accept any financial sponsor to adjust the organic rankings.

This is a long-term exercise which require consistency, patience, knowledge, technical expertise, etc. In addition, other similar websites may also be optimizing their pages at the same time. That means it is not a once-and-for-all project.

PPC / Paid Search – reaching target audience with the right set of keywords

For immediate result, you can always run Paid Search campaign. Say you are selling print T-shirt online. The easiest way is to start “buying” the keywords, like “T-shirt”, “Print T-shirt”, “casual wear”, etc. and have your ad displayed when someone searched these terms. You don’t have to pay, until someone clicks your ad, so the term “Pay-Per-Click”.

As you can imagine, there could be many people wanting their ads to be shown for the same keyword. So, Google adopted the “bidding” system. If you are willing pay more for a click, your ad will be more likely to be shown.

There are also other factors that determine if your ad could be displayed, like the relevancy or user experience. You can get more details at the official Google Skillshop.

Google Skillshop screen
How to do PPC and SEO

You may manage your own PPC campaign using the Google Ads tool. The interface is intuitive. If you want to focus on your own work, there are many agencies in the Hong Kong market that can help you. Typically, these agencies will help you to choose a set of keywords and setup the campaign for you. They may charge 15% - 40% of your ad budget as management fee.

For SEO you may need to spend significant time to DIY as it involves more in-depth knowledge and experience. Alternatively, you can get professional service in the market. Normally these agencies offer a 6-month or 12-month package and get your webpage in the first page of SERP for 60% - 80% of your selected keywords. Just shop around for the most suitable one.


SEM is one of the most important ways to grow your business. Understanding the details could bring enormous benefits to your long-term success. This article is just a quick start. Stay tuned with us for upcoming online courses or webinars for more.

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