Search Engine Marketing (SEM) aims to improve your website’s visibility on search engines. This typically involves using pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements to ensure that your website appears in the first few results on search engine results pages for specific keywords. In this article, we’ll cover 10 of the best SEM resources that cover the basics of SEM and provide applicable SEM and PPC hacks to improve your website traffic dramatically.

screenshot of a search results page with PPC ads and organic search results

PPC ads are marked and appear on the top of search result pages.

Why should you learn search engine marketing? SEM and PPC play a crucial role in many online strategies as they effectively get your website to rank highly and more quickly, especially if you are still building up your organic traffic. PPC ads appear as search results with an “Ad” next to the page URL. Websites that rank higher typically get more traffic, receive more leads and generate more revenue.

screenshot of Google’s Introduction to SEM page

#1 Google’s Introduction to SEM

Learn directly from the source with Google’s Introduction to Search Engine Marketing! Google accounts for 83% of the search engine market share (Statista), making it the platform of choice if you want to see your search ads by the most people.

This Google marketing programme is one of the best SEM learning resources aimed at complete beginners. It covers the following topics:

  • Introduction to SEM
  • The SEM Auction
  • What Makes a Good Keyword
  • Ways to Make Your Ads Stand Out

The course is entirely free and consists of 4 lessons with an estimated runtime of 20 minutes.

Explore Google’s Introduction to Search Engine Marketing course.


screenshot of the paid search category in Semrush’s blog

#2 Semrush Blog: Paid Search Category

Regarding SEM learning resources, reading blogs from reputable SAAS companies can be one of the best ways to learn and pick up practical PPC hacks from industry experts. Semrush is one of the most widely used SEM tools, favoured by digital marketers and website owners worldwide.

The Paid Search section of their blog is chock full of high-quality articles covering the latest SEM techniques, case studies, PPC hacks and more.

Explore the Semrush blog on Paid Search.


screenshot of the PPC category in Moz’s blog

#3 Moz Blog: Paid Search Marketing (PPC)

Like Semrush, Moz is a company that develops an all-in-one Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) tool for digital marketers. While the company is primarily known for its SEO expertise, there is significant overlap as robust SEM strategies often involve SEO best practices and PPC working in tandem.

The PPC category on the Moz blog consists of articles written by Moz staff and guest posts from directors and digital marketing consultants from various agencies. They share PPC hacks and how to get the most out of your PPC tools.

Explore the Moz blog on Paid Search Marketing (PPC).

screenshot of the landing page for HubSpot’s Ultimate Guide to SEM

#4 HubSpot’s Ultimate Guide to SEM

Keeping up with the trend of blog articles as excellent SEM learning resources, HubSpot is a SAAS company that develops CRM and marketing integration tools. While the company focuses primarily on inbound marketing, they recognise that a mix of organic and paid traffic is the best strategy to attract traffic over the long term.

That’s where HubSpot’s Ultimate Guide to SEM comes in. The article is a 9-minute read that takes you through everything you need about SEM. It covers how the ad auction works, best practices for keywords and ad copy, and a list of popular SEM and PPC tools for you to check out.

Explore HubSpot’s Guide to SEM

screenshot of Wordstream’s PPC University homepage

#5 WordStream’s PPC University

WordStream provides online advertising tools, services and solutions to small businesses. Their PPC University page is hands down one of the most comprehensive SEM learning resources available online. Perfect for beginners looking for a free structured guide to pay-per-click marketing.

WordStream’s PPC University is split into six sections:

  1. PPC 101
  2. PPC 102
  3. Advanced PPC
  4. Social Ads 101
  5. Facebook Ads
  6. Guides

Each section consists of several smaller bite-sized guides focusing on a particular topic. This makes it easy to organise your learning over several sessions and pick up where you left off. For beginners progressing quickly or even experienced marketers looking for a refresher — PPC University is excellent because they offer advanced topics like remarketing and bidding strategies once you’ve mastered the basics. The social ads section also looks in-depth at relevant SEM and PPC tools you can explore for specific platforms.

Explore WordStream’s PPC University

screenshot of Search Engine Journal’s Monthly Column: Ask Me Anything About PPC

#6 Search Engine Journal AMA About PPC

AMA is short for “Ask Me Anything”. Search Engine Journal’s Ask Me Anything About PPC is a monthly column where the experts at Search Engine Journal (SEJ) answer questions about PPC sent in by readers.

This is an excellent SEM learning resource because the questions come from people from different backgrounds with questions about PPC in real-use cases. If you’ve been doing SEM and PPC on your own and are feeling stuck — it’s worth bring the columns; you might find someone with the same questions you have! You might discover some proper SEM or PPC hacks to apply to your business.

Overall, the SEJ Ask Me Anything About PPC is a standout SEM learning resource for its many SEM questions from real-world scenarios.

Explore EJ’s Ask Me Anything About PPC


screenshot of the homepage of PPC Hero blog

#7 PPC Hero’s Blog

PPC Hero is a PPC-specific blog that publishes educational content to advance the digital marketing community. Their audience ranges from beginners to advanced PPC professionals and comprises freelancers, in-house managers and other agencies.

With a name like PPC Hero, they sound like a great SEM learning resource! Guest authors contribute all articles but must undergo vetting to ensure they meet PPC Hero’s requirements and guidelines.

The Hero establishes various content, including best practices, how-tos, strategies, case studies, research findings, experience and learnings. According to PPC Hero, they don’t publish opinions without action or generic and vague content.

Explore the PPC Hero Blog

screenshot of the landing page for Ahref’s Beginner’s Guide to Pay-per-click Ads

#8 Ahref’s Beginner’s Guide to Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Ahref develops one of the most popular SEO tools amongst digital marketing professionals for link building, keyword research, competitor analysis, rank tracking and site audits. They are a reputable company in the digital marketing space with extensive expert knowledge in getting webpages on search result pages.

If you are searching for SEM resources from an authoritative and reliable source, consider Ahref’s Beginner’s Guide to Pay-Per-Click Ads. From a basic introduction to PPC and its benefits to walkthroughs on setting up your very own Google PPC campaigns — this is an excellent learning resource that contains useful theoretical and practical knowledge and applicable SEM hacks you can use for your business.

Watch Simplilearn’s PPC Tutorial for Beginners


Google Ads course, Google PPC, how to create ads on Google, SEM

Bonus: Learn from Industry Professionals at FirstCom Academy

While you can learn a lot from the 10 SEM learning resources outlined in this article, you can pick up relevant SEM and PPC skills much faster by learning from experienced industry professionals.

FirstCom Academy’s Google PPC and Display Ads course is a WSQAcademy’sd and SkillsFuture Credit-eligible course ideal for marketers, entrepreneurs or business owners looking to grow their website traffic and revenue as quickly and efficiently as possible. Expert SEM practitioners with real-world experience will teach you how to set up, launch and analyse PPC campaigns according to best practices. The course is in-person so that you can get immediate answers to any questions!

Interested? Enroll in the Google Marketing Program today!

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • SEM and PPC play a crucial role in online strategies as they effectively get websites to rank highly and more quickly, especially when still building up organic traffic. Higher ranking websites typically receive more traffic, leads, and revenue.

  • Google's Introduction to SEM course
  • Semrush Blog's Paid Search Category
  • Moz Blog's Paid Search Marketing (PPC) section
  • HubSpot's Ultimate Guide to SEM
  • WordStream's PPC University

  • Introduction to SEM
  • The SEM Auction
  • What Makes a Good Keyword
  • Ways to Make Your Ads Stand Out

  • PPC University is a comprehensive, free online learning resource for beginners looking for a structured guide to pay-per-click marketing. It covers topics from PPC basics to advanced strategies and social ads.

  • It is a monthly column where experts from Search Engine Journal answer real-world PPC questions submitted by readers, providing insights and solutions to common challenges.

  • The course is taught by expert SEM practitioners with real-world experience
  • Participants learn how to set up, launch, and analyze PPC campaigns according to best practices
  • The in-person format allows for immediate answers to questions
  • The course is WSQ-accredited and SkillsFuture Credit-eligible

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