Search engine advertising (SEA) is a subsection of search engine marketing (SEM). While search engine optimization (SEO) focuses on improving findability through the use of keywords, SEA involves placing paid advertising directly in search engine results and on partner websites. The term “search engine advertising” is often used as a synonym for keyword advertising, which also gave rise to the term PPC (pay per click), which refers to the payment method used by advertisers.

Google’s dominance in the market has led to its Google Ads advertising platform becoming another term for search engine advertising. Despite the different manifestations, the concept is always the same: advertising is placed above, below or next to the search results.

However, the integration of ads into search results is not only possible with Google; Bing and Yahoo also offer such services. Since advertisers pay for their position in organic search results, this form of marketing represents a significant source of revenue for search engines.

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How does SEA work?

The principle of search engine advertising is quite simple. The first step in advertising a business on Google, Bing or Yahoo is to determine the search terms that are relevant to that business. It is therefore important to identify the main search terms used to find similar websites and offers. Once you have determined these keywords, you can start creating a draft text for your ad. Then you need to determine how much you are willing to pay to get a user to click on your ad. The position of your ad in the search results can also give you an advantage over your competitors, but this is only one of many factors that make a successful SEA campaign.

Since there is a lot to consider during the advertising process, an SEA specialist invests a lot of time in each phase of developing, executing and maintaining online marketing campaigns. In the early stages, it is important to consider budgets and regional constraints. The landing pages your ad links to then need to be optimized. Then, when the ad is placed, performance data can be analyzed and marketing methods fine-tuned.

For an ad to have the desired effect, advertisers often have to rewrite their text several times before they have created an appealing text with smoothly integrated keywords.

What is the difference between SEA and SEM?

SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing and is often equated with SEA (Search Engine Advertising). This is only partially true, as SEA is a subsection of search engine marketing. Another subset of search engine marketing is search engine optimization (SEO), which seeks to improve the ranking of websites in the organic space.

What are the costs for SEA?

Search engine advertising works on a cost per click (CPC) basis, meaning that the advertiser only incurs costs when a user clicks on an ad and is redirected to the landing page. Advertisers can determine the cost of each click, but the frequency of ad placement depends on the scope of the offer. The allocation of the advertising space is then decided by an auction, also known as real time bidding.

What is Real Time Bidding?

For each search query entered, the search engine checks the terms to determine which ads are relevant and helpful to the user.

If the search term contains a frequently occurring keyword, there are often several potentially matching ads that are evaluated for relevance in a split second. An important criterion in the selection of the ad in this case is the CPC bid of the advertiser, but the quality of the ad must also be taken into account in order to create the most helpful selection of results for the user. A particularly highly ranked ad is more likely to be displayed in the most prominent positions in a relevant search. Since the high-ranking ads are determined by their CPCs and quality scores, the value of the ad can be determined using the following equation:

Top placed ads = highest CPC bid x quality score

CPC bids

With CPC bids, advertisers set the maximum price they are willing to pay for a click on their ad. The higher the bid, the more likely it is that the ad will occupy a prominent position in the search results. In return, the Google advertising platform grants its advertisers a high degree of transparency and up-to-date information on rates in search engine advertising. Fixed monthly and daily budgets allow the advertiser to determine exactly how much money to spend on SEA campaigns each day. Google keeps the ad in the search results until the budget for the day is used up. For example, a $3,000 monthly budget can be broken down into $100 per day, but how many ads appear in search results depends on the cost per click. The cost per click depends on consumer demand and can vary from a few cents to several dollars.

The quality rating of Google

Google has introduced a quality score as part of its rating system to prevent low-quality ads with high bids from landing at the top of search results. This is based on the requirements of the users and takes their online behavior into account. A well-designed SEA campaign with quality content will rank significantly higher in search engines because it is helpful and inviting to the user. It follows that a high CPC bid is not the only factor in creating a successful ad. Google’s quality score rates the following factors as essential to an effective advertising campaign:

Expected click-through rate: This is based on how often the ad is placed (impression) and how many clicks an ad achieves. Ads that have a high click-through rate are considered more relevant.
Landing page quality: If a user arrives at a link target via an ad that has been awarded for its relevance, transparency and user-friendliness, the ranking improves.
Relevance of the ad text: Ads that appear in the top positions have titles and texts that perfectly match the search query. The more relevant the ad text, the better the placement.

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What are the goals of SEA?

Search engine advertising offers website operators the opportunity to place ads exactly where potential customers are looking for their desired products and offers. In this way, SEA uses ads to answer search queries instead of bombarding the user with unwanted information. If the ad text and the target page exactly match the user’s intentions, the search engine is less likely to consider the ad as spam. Since the highest placed ads are extremely relevant to the user’s search, search engine advertising is readily accepted by the majority of search engine users. SEA is therefore an effective tool for increasing website traffic, promoting brands and generating conversions.

Companies generally use SEA to achieve the following goals:

Increase traffic

The core goal of search engine advertising is to drive a stream of visitors to a website. SEA therefore offers itself primarily as a traffic source for new websites. In the fight for the first place, ads are ranked according to quality and relevance, but a high bid can also secure a place on the first page of results.

Increase brand awareness

Search engine advertising is an efficient marketing tool to increase brand awareness in its field. One goal of an SEA campaign should therefore be to populate keyword services with ads for one’s own product lines or services.

Generate conversions

Search engine advertising pays off especially when it contributes to the acquisition of potential customers (leads) or to increased sales of products and services. Advertising programs such as Google Ads enable website operators to determine exactly how often search engine ads lead to conversions, i.e. when a potential customer becomes a customer.

Is search engine advertising worth it?

Anyone considering investing in search engine marketing campaigns should weigh the extent to which an SEO strategy will help users achieve their goals and whether those goals can be better achieved through SEO. It should be remembered that Internet users prefer organic web search results; according to statistics, only 10 to 20 percent of users click on paid search results. Search engine advertising, therefore, cannot be considered a substitute for a natural ranking system; many companies consider SEA merely as an additional aspect of their marketing campaigns.

However, it is particularly useful for generating traffic using common keywords, especially when competition in organic search results is high, or for temporary promotions such as sales and offers. Since advertising with a search engine should be aimed primarily at conversions, it is recommended to target and respond to specific search queries. For example, an online shoe store should use the commercial search terms “buy shoes” or “order shoes online” in its advertising campaigns.

SEA advantages

Disadvantages of SEA

Fast results Current costs
Long range Relatively low click rates
Full control over the search result Very much competition

For which companies does SEA make sense?

Basically, a successful SEA campaign does not depend on the size of the company. The territory, the product and the available advertising budget should be the most important factors that determine the success of an SEA campaign. Smaller companies should therefore be careful to use search engine advertising only if they can make a profit from it.

It is recommended to limit the ad text to the description of the main product or service. SEA offers great potential for specialized services; since the ad space is auctioned by the search engine, the click price for an ad depends heavily on the competition. For this reason, it can sometimes be surprisingly inexpensive to advertise on a search engine if you are promoting a niche product. You can also advertise quite cheaply if you target your campaigns to long-tail search terms with low search volume.

With these requirements, SEA makes sense.

Short-term measures: Advertising measures can be implemented in the short term and deliver immediate results. This is especially useful for products or services that are not displayed in good positions in the organic space.

Efficient cost control: Witha set daily budget, you can control costs.

Measurability and optimization: The costs per lead or conversions can be calculated well

Regional or local targeting: SEA offers the possibility to target advertising in cities, relevant regions or around business locations. In this way, wastage can be minimized.

How online stores save CPC on Google Shopping s

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