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Written by Finn Ruijter, 17 May 2019

What is SEA (Search Engine Advertising)?

SEA is one way to create a regular flow of visitors to your site. But what exactly is SEA and is it a good solution for your site?

SEA is the abbreviation for Search Engine Advertising. In simple Dutch: advertising in search engines. You then pay for a “high ranking” that immediately gets you more visitors to your website. SEA is also sometimes called SEM: Search Engine Marketing.

One of the biggest advantages of SEA is that it gives you a quick win. Therefore, in a healthy marketing diet, SEA should not be missing.

Types of SEA ads

The ads pop up when someone posts a search in Google or Bing, for example. Above and/or beside the regular search results, you then see ads, which are almost identical to the organic search results. The only difference is that they are marked green with the word “Advertisement.

Apart from the well-known example of search results pages, there are more places where you can have SEA ads placed. For example, you can have text ads or banners appear on certain network websites, such as on a blog in your niche or in a digital trade magazine.

If we look specifically at Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords), we see that in addition to the aforementioned spots, it also offers advertisers two other channels: YouTube and Google Shopping.

Difference between SEA and SEO

SEA is the counterpart of SEO: Search Engine Optimization. SEO, or search engine optimization, involves optimizing web pages so that they get the highest, organic search engine ranking possible. A ranking you don’t have to pay for – at least not to the search engine.

SEA is done on a Pay Per Click (PPC) basis. The investment involved is the argument for many companies to choose SEO, even though it can take months for a page to find a stable ranking.

But then companies often forget that SEO also comes at a cost, whether they put many hours into optimizing their website themselves or hire an SEO specialist to do so.

Who offers SEA?

In most countries, including the Netherlands, Google dominates the SEA landscape. The Google program in which webmasters can set up their advertising campaigns is called Google Ads.

The global No. 2 search engine is Bing. 1 in 11 searches in the Netherlands uses the Bing network, Microsoft said. The Bing Ads platform allows webmasters to place their ads in search results, as well as on websites from the partner network.

How does SEA work?

SEA is basically an auction: you bid with other webmasters for clicks from visitors. For example, you can choose to pay up to $0.50 for every click from people searching on “price plumber.

What place your ad gets in relation to other advertisers is calculated with a simple formula: maximum bid x quality score. So you can set the bid, but you have to earn the quality score.

That quality score depends on several factors. Of these, relevance is a very important one: the more relevant the keyword is in relation to the ad and landing page, the cheaper is the final price you pay per click.

The benefits of SEA

  • Immediate Results
    Unlike SEO efforts, SEA delivers immediate results. After all, you are immediately at the top of the search results. That means you get more visitors immediately.
  • Getting a grip on costs
    With programs like Google Ads, you know exactly how much you’re spending. You set the budget and Google adjusts the impressions accordingly. The is result is an easily predictable number of clicks.
  • Determine who sees your ads
    Both Google Ads and Bing Ads allow marketers to target their ads to a narrow audience. Select by demographics such as age, gender, education level and region to show ads only to the people most likely to buy your product or service.
  • Also for remarketing
    Remarketing or retargeting is targeting people who previously visited your website. Google allows you to upload customer data and show ads specifically to customers who dropped out just before checkout, for example.

There is also a downside…

It’s not all roses in SEA land. For as much as Google does its best to make Google Ads approachable for business owners (think free coupons), starting a campaign can cause a lot of headaches.

There are so many options, and it’s so easy to pay more than you need to, that you can have a day job getting really good at Google Ads.

No wonder even companies with marketing departments like to outsource this specialized work. This ensures that their quality score remains high and they do not overpay for clicks. In trade jargon, this is how marketing budgets get the best return.

What can SEA do for your website?

If used properly, SEA can produce spectacular results. Proper targeting, writing the perfect ad copy and creating the right landing pages requires a certain amount of knowledge and also a lot of time.

Therefore, as specialists in converting websites, we build on Yellowhawk’s knowledge and experience. This team of performance marketers holds offices with us, giving clients like you a turnkey solution for SEA. This collaboration allows entrepreneurs to keep their hands and heads free to focus on what they do best.

Wondering what SEA can do for your website? Then contact the guys at Yellowhawk with no obligation. They enjoy sparring with fellow entrepreneurs like you.