Search Engine Advertising Basics

SEM vs. SEA vs. SEO

The term search engine advertising (SEA) is often mixed with the terms search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO). The correct explanation is as follows.

SEM describes any form of marketing with which you can use a search engine such as Google or Bing to generate more website traffic. So it is not an independent marketing channel but rather a grouping of two marketing channels. 

In SEA you place advertisements in the form of text or picture in search engine providers such as Google or Bing. 

On the other hand, in SEO you write many articles in which you pay attention to certain keywords and so for these keywords you can be found higher up in the organic Google search.


Search Engine Advertising, short SEA, means booking text or image advertisements placed on search results pages or other websites. The Ad booking in the SERPs is based on bids on keywords for which the ads are placed. Good placements can be achieved by optimizing the text ads and the bids.

  • Clear control of advertising measures with predictable success
  • Measure to ensure traffic or branding
  • Can be part of a temporary marketing campaign
  • Many possibilities for targeting or retargeting
  • Can be part of remarketing
  • Identified as advertising

Goals in the SEA

Search engine advertising is usually part of a marketing or branding strategy. One of the first goals in the SEA is to increase the click rate, as the number of clicks on a website can be quickly increased by booking ad space. In addition, the conversion rate counts, especially for the SEA, as this ultimately determines how high the advertising costs and thus the ROAS is.

At the same time, search engine advertising can also be used to build up advertising pressure through impressions from display campaigns. Advertisements are predominantly booked by customers from the e-commerce sector, since SEA is aimed at the purchase intention of the users. Consequently, one of the main objectives is to increase conversions in the form of sales. But of course you can also use this for yourself as a charter company or travel agency. 

However, search engine advertising can also be used to gain newsletter registrations, downloads or ratings, i.e. leads. The scope of the measures in the SEA always depends on the amount of the advertising budget invested and on the actual search volume of the search terms booked. 

Google AdWords

Google AdWords is a product that offers marketers a wide range of SEA advertising opportunities. The principle of ad placement via AdWords is based on an auction. Advertisers bid on specific keywords or they pay for clicks on and impressions of display ads. Factors such as the quality of the target page, the quality of the ad texts as well as the relevance of the keywords and the positive history of the AdWords account play a role in the final placement of text ads or advertising banners. The banners or text ads booked via Google AdWords are always marked as advertising. The following forms of advertising are possible with Google


Classic text ads:

An advertiser selects keywords in which his text ads are displayed in a prominent position in the SERP. For this purpose, so-called campaigns are created, which consist of several ad groups. Each ad group is divided into ads for which keywords are stored. If a user searches for one of these keywords, the AdWords customer’s ad is delivered.

Shopping Ads:

With the so-called Shopping Ads (formerly Product Listing Ads), Google AdWords offers the possibility of placing product ads that are created directly from a product file generated by the customer.

Display ads:

Here, image ads or text ads are placed on platforms that belong to the Google advertising network. The registration for this network takes place e.g. over the platform Google AdSense.

Google AdWords offers the possibility to combine different advertising forms of the SEA with each other. This allows the simultaneous switching of PLA, text and display displays. The AdWords platform is one of the most widely used SEA tools in the world.

Video ads:

Google AdWords advertisers can also place ads on YouTube. Text or video displays are available for this purpose.
Gmail ads: If you use Google AdWords, you can also book ads in Gmail accounts. Payment is made by CPM or CPC.


Bing / Yahoo Ads

Together with Yahoo, Bing offers its own SEA platform. Bing / Yahoo Ads work similar to Google AdWords. Due to Google’s dominant market position, however, Google AdWords is mostly used for SEA in Germany and Europe. However, a comprehensive SEM strategy should also include the possibilities of advertising on Bing and Yahoo. This applies, for example, to the USA, where Bing has a much larger market share than in Germany.

Booking Models

Bookings of advertisements within the framework of SEA are made on the basis of different specifications:

  • CPC (Cost per Click): the advertiser indicates how much he is willing to pay for a click.
  • CPA (Cost per Acquisition): here the advertiser stores how much he is willing to pay for a conversion achieved by the advertising measures.
  • CPM (Cost per Mille): the advertiser shows how much he is willing to pay for 1,000 impressions of his advertisements.
  • Cost per call: here you can store how much an advertiser is willing to pay for a call at certain advertising portals, for example also at Google AdWords.
  • Cost per lead: Depending on the web portal, costs can also be agreed for leads such as subscribing to a newsletter or downloading a PDF.


Effects of SEA on SEO

Although search engine advertising is not considered as SEO, SEA may have an impact on the ranking of a website. Thus, SEA would be a kind of indirect SEO measure. If an online shop increases the advertising pressure through SEA and thus its reach and visibility, for example in the long run “direct-type-ins” of the shop name as a brand would have to be the result. The brand would thus be strengthened and, among other things, the trust of a website. At the latest since the Vince update the brand plays a bigger role in the SERP. For example, with the help of SEA, a web site can increase its awareness and thus, in the case of a successful campaign, obtain more traffic via the organic search, because the brand is known to many users and they opt for the better known URL in the SERPs, even though it may be worse ranked.

Through SEA, Google or another search engine also receives new data about visits to a website. Since values such as the click rate and the bounce rate are also included in the evaluation of a website, successful SEA measures can also lead to an increase in page quality. A direct consequence of SEA measures is also that a website or a web shop can become better known and access can be increased “offline” through word-of-mouth propaganda.

Share on facebook
Share on whatsapp
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on xing
Share on email

Be up to date

Get the latest news about the charter market once a week by e-mail.