What Is SEA and How Can Your Business Benefit From It?

In our digital age, it is important for businesses to maximise their visibility online to attract new customers and increase sales. One effective means of achieving this goal is SEA (Search Engine Advertising). But what exactly is search engine advertising about and how can SEA contribute to your business’s success?

In this article, we’ll introduce you to the topic of search engine advertising, shed some light on the difference between SEO and SEA and point out how online businesses can benefit from implementing SEA.

What is SEA?

In short, SEA stands for Search Engine Advertising and refers to ads that are displayed in search engines, such as Google or Bing.

Usually, ads are displayed in the search engine results pages (SERPs) above or below the organic search results.

example of sea in google

A search for "wood watch" shows a sponsored ad in the first position of the SERPs.

Just like with organic SERPs, the ranking for ads in search engines is based on specific keywords or other factors in question with regard to the respective target audience.

With the help of search engine advertising, websites and business can increase their visibility and draw the attention of potential customers towards their products or services.

How does search engine advertising work?

Since we are talking about a form of paid marketing, those wanting to have their ads displayed in Google or other search engines, need to pay to get their ads at the top or bottom of the search results pages.

Doing this, advertisers need to place bids on relevant keywords.

The respective billing is then calculated on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis, meaning that advertisers pay for every click that their ad generates.

Retailers and others wanting to promote their services or products on Google, for instance, will have to use Google’s dedicated advertising platform Google Ads.

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To display ads on Microsoft owned search engines such as the Bing search or Yahoo, advertisers have to turn to the Microsoft Advertising platform.

Recommended Reading:
Microsoft Ads: Better than Google Ads?

How much does SEA cost?

illustration of search egine results

Source: shutterstock/TarikVision

The cost of search engine advertising can vary depending on the platform used.

With Google Ads, for instance, billing is usually based on a cost-per-click (CPC) model as mentioned above.

How much you end up paying per click after all, however, will heavily depend on several factors. These include:

  • the advertising budget
  • the competitive situation in the respective industry
  • the quality of your ads and keywords
  • the desired reach and visibility
  • the performance of your landing page (good performance is rewarded with lower CPCs)

Fortunately, when implementing SEA, you can set a daily maximum budget you want to spend. This allows advertisers to keep track of their ad spending.

💡Note: When using SEA to promote your products or services, make sure to monitor your campaigns on a regular basis and, if need, make adjustments to get the most out of your invested budget.

Is SEA basically the same as Google Ads?

As Google Ads is one of the most well-known and popular advertising platforms, many people assume that search engine advertisements basically refers to Google Ads.

For sure, having the largest market share among search engines, Google is usually considered the biggest search engine in the world.

However, Google Ads is just one of the platforms through which one can carry out search engine advertising.

In fact,Google Ads and SEA are not one and the same.

As we mentioned earlier, there are also other popular search engines like Bing or Yahoo that offer advertising opportunities. These are also considered SEA platforms and advertisers can find success there as well.

Nevertheless, due to its enormous reach and market share, Google is often the first choice for companies to start SEA campaigns.

Google Ads offers a variety of advertising formats, such as text ads, display ads, shopping ads, and video ads.

This enables you to place targeted ads and address your target group based on various criteria such as keywords, demographics, devices or locations.

Recommended Reading:
5 SEA Mistakes You Absolutely Need to Avoid

What is the difference between SEA and SEO?

SEA and SEO (short for “Search Engine Optimisation”) are two different approaches towards improving a website's visibility in search engines.

While search engine advertising involves paid advertising, SEO aims to improve a website’s visibility in search engines organically (for free).

example of sea and seo in SERPs

In the example above, the first result is a sponsored SEA advertisement and the second result is an organic (SEO) result.

SEO involves the continuous optimisation of content, technical aspects, and other factors on a website in order to achieve a better ranking in organic search results.

The main difference is that SEA allows for instant visibility through ad placements, while even the most effective SEO measures take time and call for regular optimisation in order to achieve a good ranking in Google or other search engines.

By law, SEA must be labelled as ads. This label is usually found at the top of the ad.

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How can your business benefit from search engine advertising?

Search engine advertising is an important part of a successful online marketing strategy.

Here are some reasons why you should include search engine advertising in your marketing efforts.

Increased visibility

Using search engine advertising, businesses stand the best chance to have their website displayed at the top of the search engines’ results pages. With a well thought out SEA strategy, they are almost guaranteed to increase the visibility of their brand, products, and services.

It's worth noting that many SEA platforms, including Google and Bing, offer advertisers options to improve their ad performance with tools called "ad extensions".

Ad extensions include things like:

  • prices
  • phone numbers
  • locations
  • additional texts
  • additional sitelinks (i.e. links to specific pages on your site)
  • star-ratings

In the following example, you can find a Google Ad with an ad extension for service ratings (i.e. seller ratings), which are based on your average review score:

example of ad extensions in google sea

In the example above, a search for reviews for a particular brand triggers an ad that displays ad extensions including star-ratings and additional sitelinks. This ad takes a big portion of real estate in the SERPs and can expect better results than a standard SEA advertisement.

By including additional information such as a telephone number or star-ratings from reviews you've collected, you're adding more visual/informative elements to your ads. This tends to help grab your audience's attention even more and, thus improves your ad's performance.

Learn more about ad extensions in our ad extensions overview:

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Targeted customers

Google Ads, Microsoft Ads and other advertising platforms enable businesses to properly target their target audience by using relevant keywords and demographics.

Targeting the right people will then lead to achieving a higher conversion rate.

Fast results

In contrast to the implementation of search engine optimisation (SEO), SEA usually leads to fast results.

Within the advertising platform you chose, you can measure and keep track of the clicks and conversions that your ads generated as soon as your ad campaign is launched.

You’re provided with detailed KPIs that you can use as a basis for your analysis to evaluate the success of your ad campaigns.


Search engine advertising (SEA) is an essential part of the modern online marketing that allows businesses to increase the visibility of their website in search engines and target potential customers.

With the help of SEA, you can strengthen your company's online reach through targeted ads and thus achieve your business goals.

However, a well thought-out strategy is needed in order for you to actually achieve this.

SEA requires regular monitoring and adjustments of the ad campaigns you create. This is the only way to ensure that your ads will end up being successful and to make sure your visibility improves sustainably.

💡Note: Your business will achieve the best possible visibility, reach and conversion rate if you implement both SEA and SEO.

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This article was originally published on the German Trusted Shops blog: Was ist SEA und wie kann es Ihren Umsatz erhöhen?


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