SEA Know-How: How to use search engine advertising unerringly!

17 min

Search engine advertising is a quick way to generate attention. Nevertheless, there are some pitfalls that you should know before you use it. We will show you how to use SEA skillfully, how the entire search engine advertising process works, and when it really pays off for you and your company!

What is SEA?
What is part SEA?
What’s the difference between SEO, SEA, and SEM?
How does search engine advertising work on Google and Bing?
What does search engine advertising cost?
When is search engine advertising the right choice for your business?
At a glance: Pros and cons of search engine advertising
How you benefit from working with an SEA agency
Conclusion: Why should companies use search engine advertising?

What is SEA?

SEA is the short form of Search Engine Advertising. It is therefore a subfield of online marketing and belongs together with SEO to the subfield of search engine marketing. Even though you may never have heard of the term SEA, you certainly know the resulting output, the elements of which are each marked as “ad” on the web. As part of an online advertising strategy, these are planned and implemented in the field of search engine advertising as well.

What is part of SEA?

As part of search engine advertising, you can place various types of ads on various platforms. Microsoft Advertising or even Google Ads are the most common examples here. The advertising can take on many forms and be displayed as text or product ads. Text ads are the most common form of display.

What is the difference between SEO, SEA and SEM?

SEO, short for search engine optimization, deals with all measures that help to make a website or online store more visible. It can be technical, but also content optimizations that make sure your organic rankings improve in the SERPs.

SEA, short for search engine advertising, on the other hand, aims at paid placements in the SERPs. It includes all measures that focus on conversions: Whenever a user searches for a specific search term, a matching ad is served to them.

SEM, short for search engine marketing, refers to the sum of all online marketing measures, which can take place via web search engines. The focus is on attracting website visitors to maximize traffic and increasing web presence.

(search engine optimization)
Content and technical optimization of the website and dissemination of web contentImproving visibility on the web, rankings and organic traffic
(search engine advertising)
Advertisements within the search enginesConversion increase and paid traffic
(search engine marketing)
All measures of online marketingAttracting website visitors and increasing web presence
SEO, SEA and SEM at a glance

Excursus: Where are SEA and SEO elements played out on Google?

Advertisements are always played out above and sometimes below the organic search results (SEO elements, marked blue in the image) in Google Search. You recognize these elements by the label “ad”.

The image shows a screenshot of the Google search for the keyword "buy jeans pants ladies". Here, both text (marked in red) and product ads (marked in orange) are displayed, which are shown above or next to the organic search results (marked in blue).
Here you can find paid ads in Google Search

How does search engine advertising work on Google and Bing?

SEA on Google and Bing is basically built on keyword advertising. That is how it works: Users search for a specific keyword that advertisers have previously booked into their ads account to signal to the search engine that they are running ads for that topic. The algorithm goes into an auction with different competitors with the pre-determined bid. Therefore, in order to place targeted ads, you should have thoroughly researched which keywords are relevant to you. A keyword research will help you to do so.

Depending on how high you bid in the auction on various keywords, it will be decided on which ad position your ad will be played out. But this is not the only decisive factor. In addition to the bid itself, the following points also factor into the positioning:

This auction occurs new each time a search query is submitted by a user.

The auction process of an advertisement

Factors influencing positioning

With your bid, you specify what you want to pay maximum for a click on your ad. It is important to know that you really only pay for one click and not the impression. This is the so-called cost-per-click (CPC) method. It is common practice for charging for search engine advertising.

The ad quality provides, among other things, information about how relevant an ad is to a particular search query and whether the website it links to creates added value for the searcher. For this, Google has developed its own quality factor (QF), which the search engine uses to weight ads.

Last but not least, the expected effects of the ad factor into the positioning. This means: when you create the ad, you can add more information, such as phone numbers, complementary links, etc. These so-called ad extensions should have a positive effect on the performance of your ad. Then they will also improve your ranking.

If these three factors are taken into consideration, you may be able to beat out your competition and get a better positioning on Google, despite lower bids.

Factors influencing positioning and how ads are played out

How does targeting work in SEA?

To address your target group perfectly, there are so-called targeting options in search engine advertising. The most important factors here are:

  1. Language: Thanks to language targeting, ads will be played only in the local language of the searcher. Therefore, you should choose the right one here.
  2. Location: You can target your ads to specific regions. Depending on the country, state, city or region, clicks on ads can be more expensive or cheaper.
  3. Times of day and week: About your bid, you can influence on which day of the week or what time your ad should be played out.
  4. Remarketing lists: Through remarketing, you can address users who have already had contact points with you and your website. This way you can tailor your ads to their past behavoir.

Targeting helps you play tailored ads. So you prevent scatter losses and use your budget optimally. The clearer you have defined your target group, the better. If you are unsure about this, there is the possibility to observe them before targeting.


Use a target group analysis to get a clearer view!

By adding different target groups, this allows you to analyze their behavior and conversions probability against other target groups. Through this observation feature, you can evaluate whether your desired target group also corresponds to your real one. In addition, you can even open up further target groups and uncover hidden potential.

What are the goals of search engine advertising?

Similar to search engine optimization, SEA is also about bringing traffic to your website and increasing visibility. This pays off positively for your image and branding. In addition, search engine advertising clearly serves to increase sales and thus also turnover through generating leads. This expands your (potential) buyer group and also your customer base.

Can you evaluate SEA campaigns?

Of course, to realize the full potential of your campaigns, you should also monitor how well they are performing. So the short answer is: Yes, you can evaluate SEA campaigns, and you should definitely do so! It is important that you focus on different key figures. This way, you can guarantee comparability over a longer period of time. KPIs that you could use for evaluation purposes would be, for example, the following:

What does search engine advertising cost?

First of all, creating an ad is free of charge. Nevertheless, you have to pay for search engine advertising, of course. However, this is done indirectly and more or less on a success basis: in fact, you only pay if your ad is clicked. Thanks to CPC or pay-per-click (PPC) bids, you can determine what you want to pay for a click. You can also set a maximum daily or monthly budget to determine how much money you want to spend on your SEA campaigns.

However, you should keep in mind that your monthly budget can be used up before the end of the month, depending on the click price. If you use smart bidding strategies, such as maximizing conversions or a target CPA, the search engine will automatically set the bids for your keywords.

When is search engine advertising the right choice for your business?

Search engine advertising offers you the opportunity to be found quickly and targeted for relevant search queries. Regardless of whether it’s a product or service, you can easily draw attention to your advertising through prominent placement. So if you want to generate quick visibility, SEA measures are very well suited, because in contrast to search engine optimization, they already have a short-term effect.

At a glance: Pros and cons of search engine advertising

Prominent placementTemporary visibility
Instant visibilityHigher costs than SEO
Granular targetingLimited effect of keywords
Easy cost and success control
Flexible search engine marketing
Fast implementability

How to benefit from working with a SEA agency

Of course, you can also learn how to do search engine advertising on your own. However, it is never wrong to turn to an expert first. The professional support of an experienced agency creates a clear added value for you. The following advantages speak for themselves:

  1. SEA experts from an agency have great experience in dealing with the platforms and know exactly how campaigns are optimized
  2. Meticulous keyword research and the selection of the right ones are among their specialties
  3. Budget management is also in the best hands with these professionals
  4. You will also receive regular analyses and reports from the agency you trust, giving you an insight into the success of your campaigns
  5. The goal of SEA experts is to increase the conversion rate and boost your sales. The commissioned experts work on this at all times in your interest
  6. Consequently, you save a lot of time, which you can use for other tasks

Conclusion: Why should companies use search engine advertising?

Surely, you are aware of the fact that the number of visits and purchases via the internet is increasing. Products, services or information that users find here are an essential part of every customer journey and therefore crucial for the customer’s purchase decision. With the help of professional SEA, you can place your advertising prominently and quickly achieve more attention and traffic. This way you expand your potential user base. Thanks to the additional visibility you gain, users also remember you for a long time, which in turn strengthens your branding. Not a bad outlook, is it?


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