101: Search Engine Advertising

SEA is an abbreviation for Search Engine Advertising which, simply put, means spending money to have your website placed at the top of the search results. However, things are never really that simple and SEA is a tricky skill to master. This article will try to help lift some of the confusion around the subject and give you the confidence to give it a shot (or to give you to the confidence to join the conversation at a dinner party when it changes to the subject of SEA, at the very least).

The importance of search engines

Dinner? Sounds great let me just look up what restaurants are in the neighborhood. Search engines are an integral part of our lives. We even have verbs in the dictionary especially for the act of looking something up via an online search engine. If you can’t think of one, just Google it. So it’s no surprise that advertising on these engines is big business. Whether it be Bing, Yahoo, or Google there are options for advertising on all of them. We will focus on Google due to the simple fact that it has a market share of 77%

Why organic search won’t always cut it

Google has special bars placed at the top and side of their search results page that show sponsored results. The search engine user can see that they aren’t organic results, but they have a good click-through rate nonetheless. SEA is the best choice for a business that is working in an overly saturated industry in which it is hard to get their site to the top of that search page organically. So, we’ve established where the ads are placed and the type of companies that would benefit most from them. The only question left is who picks which adverts are shown and how? There are thousands of companies vying for the same spot on a particular search results page – who gets the top spot?

Auctions, Ad ranking, and relevance 

There are a lot of dimensions to the choice process that Google has in order to filter out the adverts that are not as relevant. Google uses an auction system to rank the ads that appear on the search engine results page. They determine how much a business has to pay to appear at the top of the page for a certain keyword. The highest bidder gets the best spot. However, this is only part of the system. Ads are also subjected to Ad Rank, the advertising version of Page Rank. It ensures that the adverts shown are relevant to the user of the search engine. Ad Rank looks at expected click-through rate, landing-page experience, and relevance, and ad formats.

Want to know more?

We could go on and on about SEA; this article has only scratched the surface. Want to know more? Feel free to message us, and we can sit down together and see what we can do for you.

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