Search engine marketing is not just about SEO, search engine optimization, it is also concerned with SEA, search engine advertising. The two terms are often used separately but have much in common. We recently gave you tips for effective SEO, but this time we will zoom in on his cousin SEA, and the role that SEO still plays. Since Google is by far the most used search engine, and also provides the largest platform for SEA, we will focus on the ease of advertising through Google AdWords.
SEO vs. SEA
SEO is used to optimize your website to achieve a high position in the organic search results, whereas SEA involves paid advertising. Smaller businesses will be inclined to shy away from paid advertising. After all, why pay when you can be found for free with SEO?
Yet search ads offer a huge advantage. It is a rapid, direct method with guaranteed views. Search engine optimization is a much longer and ongoing process. You have to build a reputation, optimize your entire website, and continuously respond to updates from the search engines.
In contrast, SEA works quickly, your ads are displayed directly in the context you have chosen. Therefore, these ads are well suited to promoting temporary actions or shorter ongoing campaigns. The speed of ad placement will also show you immediately how effective your ad is, and you can easily make adjustments according to the results.
Compared with traditional advertising the big advantage of SEA is that you reach an audience that’s already interested in you. Thus the probability of conversion is high; indeed, as the ads are shown to people who are already looking for information about a certain topic or product, the chance is relatively high that they are interested (or become interested) in a purchase.
In addition, search engine advertising is also very cost effective. Your ad will be displayed based on keywords, but you only pay when the searcher actually clicks on it.
Quality comes first
This all sounds great, right? Rather than spend a lot of time and effort on SEO, you just throw an advertising budget at a campaign? Unfortunately this is not always the case. Although Google earns well from ads, they still put the user experience first. This applies not only to organic search results but also for the paid ads from AdWords.
This means that your ads receive a Quality Score. This score helps Google determine your ad position and also determine the cost you pay per click. A high Quality Score not only means being more effective, but also results in lower costs.
So how does Google calculate the quality of your ad and how can you capitalize on this? Google keeps the exact formula a secret, but it is clear that there are three factors that play a major role.
CTR: The click-through rate, or click-through ratio is an important quality indicator. For ads it is generally about expected CTR, which is determined on the basis of historical CTR of the keyword entered, the display URL in your ad, and the CTR of your ads and other campaigns (account history).
Relevant ad text: This is where a bit of SEO is involved. Your ad text must match the linked keyword, which must therefore appear in the text, in exact form or as synonyms. Of course a high relevance in turn creates again a higher CTR.
Relevance and quality landing page: The relevance and quality of landing pages are important factors. Maybe you think that this shouldn’t make that much difference, because after all, you’ve paid for the ad, but Google’s focus is on user experience and therefore they assess the underlying website. So for SEA your website must be optimized with a clear structure, original content and relevant keywords. It is also wise to make sure your ad text is also on the landing page.
Trend for the more advanced: personalized advertising
The high effectiveness of search engine advertising is due to effective targeting. First, you target an interested audience through keywords, but you can go a step further. Just as advertising on social media continues to target specific demographic groups or people with specific characteristics or interests, developing SEA provides even more opportunities to specify targets and personalize advertising.
Google AdWords enables the targeting of ads to people of a certain age, gender or location, or exclude a certain group. For a company with a specific target audience these were already convenient options. But the real value of target-oriented advertising is in providing personalized ads. You create different ads for different groups. So it makes sense to use different text for men and women. A man responds to different words than a woman, just to name one example.
Personalizing SEA is easier and more transparent. So called IF features were added to Google AdWords last February which enables you to specify different text for the headline or description when a specified condition is met within a single ad. So you no longer need to create a separate ad or ad group for each situation. Currently it only works to distinguish between desktop and mobile, or for a target list group. We expect Google will also implement these IF functions for demographics, location and time.