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What is search engine advertising (SEA)?

Here’s a breakdown of search engine advertising, including how it works and why you need to get on board today.

If you’ve searched for anything online in the past seven days, it will have been one of more than 1,750,000 Google searches that Australians make every week.

Increasingly, when Australians are looking for goods or services, information and advice, they turn to a search engine. And that’s exactly why an increasing number of businesses are turning their attention to search engine advertising (SEA).

Last year, We Are Social released a report that showed that 98 per cent of Australians between 16 and 64 years used a conventional search engine in a single month. That’s probably not overly surprising, but what’s making marketers sit up and pay attention is that about 10 per cent of the study’s respondents reported purchasing something online as a result from search.

Here’s a breakdown of search engine advertising, including how it works and why you need to get on board today.

What is search engine advertising?

Search engine advertising allows businesses to place ads among the search results in search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

Search engines display the ads when people search for specific words or phrases, identified by businesses as being those likely used by people searching for the products and services they sell.

Businesses pay a fee every time someone clicks on their ad.

What are the elements of a search engine ad?

Search engine ads feature a number of elements designed to encourage the user to click through. These include an enticing headline, a display URL that gives the user an idea of where they’ll be taken, and a couple of lines of description text which tells the user why this result is going to lead them to a webpage that can resolve the issue they have or deliver what they are looking for.

All these elements are carefully crafted to make the ad stand out as the answer to the user’s query based on the words they searched, and often involve keywords and the purchasing of Google AdWords.

Search engines also offer ad extensions, which allow businesses to create ads that take up more space and are designed to be more visible on the search result page.

How does search engine advertising work?

SEA works on a bidding system.

Advertisers nominate words or phrases most likely to be used by people searching for a product they provide and pay a price depending on how many other companies are bidding on the same word and phrase, and where businesses want to sit in relation to their competitors on the search results page.

Like most things associated with search though, it’s not that simple. The price you bid for may not be the price you pay or what determines the exact positioning of your ad.

The SEA algorithms also rate the relevance of your website or landing page, and factor that into the placement.

There are also a number of ways you can nominate to pay for your advertising, such as:

  • Cost-per-click (CPC), which is when the advertiser is charged a fixed amount each time a user clicks on the ad
  • Cost-per-acquisition (CPA), which is when the advertiser is charged a fixed amount each time a user triggers a specific action
  • Cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM), also called ‘cost per mille’, which is when an advertiser pays for every 1000 page impressions
  • Cost-per-view (CPV), which is specific to video and is when the advertiser is charged every time someone watches a clip.

The benefits of search engine advertising

The most compelling reason businesses use search engine advertising is that it is targeted and hits warm leads. You are serving ads to people who are quite literally already looking for your products or services.

Search engine ads are less intrusive that other forms of advertising, such as banners, and look and feel like organic search results, meaning people are more open to clicking on them.

Setting up SEA is also quick and easy, and ads can be refined or altered at any time during a campaign, depending on results or changes in your business offering or the sector you work in.

Results are instantaneous and easy to analyse throughout or following a campaign, provide great data about your potential customers, and all this can be fed into future marketing campaigns.

Reaching the top of search pages

There is a limited number of top positions in organic search results, and reaching the best positions requires a lot of SEO expertise.

Assemblo is a full-service marketing agency based in Melbourne, and we create holistic marketing strategies that incorporate SEO tactics to help your business improve its search engine rankings.

To find out how we can help your business, give us a call on (03) 9079 2555 or send us a note via the contact form below

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