Visable 360
The B2B magazine for digital sales
Visable 360
The B2B magazine for digital sales

What exactly is … search engine advertising for SMEs?

Search engine advertising (SEA) describes advertising for enterprises, services and products by the use of the relevant services provided by search engine operators. The most well-known are ads placed above and below the search results.

The potential of search engine advertising for small and medium-sized enterprises

Search engine advertising, when combined with search engine optimisation (SEO), comprises the area of search engine marketing (SEM). While SEO improves the company’s own Web presence thanks to a higher positioning on the hits list, SEA is leveraged to increase visibility in a targeted way – and thus performance.

SEA is also considered keyword advertising, as the commissioned agency determines the keyword which, when searched for by users, leads to the appearance of the ad. The job is performed by specialised departments at the search engine operator; in other words, Google Ads for ads on Google and Microsoft Advertising (previously Bing Ads) for ads on Bing.

SEA ads do not compete with a good ranking based on targeted SEO. A good SEO ranking is achieved solely thanks to optimisation measures on the relevant website and only affects the so-called organic area of the search results. With SEA ads, the company purchasing and broadcasting the ad also purchases the excellent placement of the ad at the top or bottom of the hits list page.


Different ad designs

The ads booked for a fee with search engine advertising appear in different designs, but always at the top or bottom of the hits list. They usually appear as an ordinary hit-list entry, but also feature the word “Advertisement” or appear on a coloured background.

Payment model – flat fee or based on success

The standard unit for payment towards the search engine operator is always based on the number of clicks; service providers and agencies may have their own additional payment models. There are flat fee models and payment models based on success. The calculation can encompass

  • the time of broadcasting,
  • the number of contacts reached,
  • the clicks generated (cost per click, CPC) by broadcasting the ad or
  • the leads generated (leads, cost per lead, CPL).

For small and medium-sized enterprises, a scope for costs which is defined in advance provides the assurance that the marketing budget will be kept to.

The decision of which ad is broadcasted with which search engine operator ad is based on an auction model. Each company that wants to appear on the hits list when a pre-defined keyword is searched for offers a bid as part of the auction model. The highest bidder then receives the best placement and appears in the respective ad field. Costs accrue per click on the ad; they can vary in line with the demand of the keyword and the time the ad appears.

Should search engine advertising (SEA) bring attention to a concrete product or a special service, it is recommended that a landing page is created to give the interested searcher information directly instead of them having to go through the general website. In this way, the risk in minimised that the user coming from the SEA ad bounces before they find what they are searching for.

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