What is search engine marketing? An overview of SEA, SEM and SEO

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SEO and SEA are terms that are considered for almost every Internet presence and are discussed during a digital strategy planning. These two marketing measures are elementary components of search engine marketing. In this context, terms such as SEM, SEO and SEA predominate. But what is search engine marketing? Are all these topics equally relevant for you? What are the technical requirements for search engine marketing? We have summarized the most important facts for you.

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What is Search engine marketing? - One term, many facets

As a subarea of online marketing, search engine marketing measures generally aim to increase the Visibility in search engine results. An important goal that the operators of Online stores and owners of websites. Because top positions in the results of search engines stand for more Traffic on the own side. The subsectors of search engine marketing (SEM) are:

  • SEO - Search Engine Optimization or search engine optimization
  • SEA - Search Engine Advertising or search engine advertising
What is search engine marketing? These are the components: SEO and SEA.
What is search engine marketing? These are the components: SEO and SEA. (Image: founderplatform.com)

Why search engine marketing?

In general, the search engines today determine to a large extent the success of an Internet page or a web presence. The measure of success lies, among other things, in the Number of visitors to the website. Success can also be determined by other factors. For example, how high the Conversion rate is. This means that the extent to which visits lead to a purchase or booking on the respective website is examined.

The search engines are algorithms that have become more and more "intelligent" over time. There is no end in sight to their further development. If an Internet user uses the search engine to find a certain term (Keyword), the search engines throw up results for the search.

The search engine ranks pages in a specific order. This is preceded by an evaluation process of web pages. The algorithms analyze the pages according to certain specifications that are subject to a constant process of change. For example, content, links and certain characteristics of the page are checked.

The better a website is rated by the algorithms, the higher this website appears in the search results.

This means that the user has a high probability of finding an answer or solution for the entered search.

Organic search engine results

A basic important classification in search engine marketing concerns how the results in the services of search engines are created. Organic results and thus organic traffic is generated by Internet users searching for specific keywords. We primarily influence the rankings in these searches with measures of the Search engine optimization (SEO) influence. These measures are of different types.

In SEO we talk about the organic search results
In SEO, we talk about organic search results. (Image: veuhoff.net)

High quality content, valuable linking and technical activities form one unit. Search engine optimization can take place on the page and off the page. In the technical area, for example, it is about optimizing loading times and giving the visitor a pleasant User experience to offer.

Purchased advertisements

The organic search results are supplemented by targeted paid advertising. These measures are referred to under the abbreviation SEA summarized. In this context, we often talk about advertising. This refers to ads in search engines such as Google. In this context, time-limited campaigns are controlled via booked keywords.

What does SEM actually stand for?

The abbreviation SEM is used on the one hand for the entire field of search engine marketing. This definition includes both SEO and SEA. Some Experts define SEM more narrowly. They mean the paid ads that are displayed in the search engines.

Other important terms in search engine marketing

It is useful if you know other technical terms related to search engine marketing. Relevant in this context are for example:

PPC Advertising - this term covers payable forms of advertising in which payment is made per click. Google AdWords is one example.
Google AdWords - the Google advertising system allows you to target customers searching for specific keywords.

Better SEO first, then SEA or all at the same time?

There are different views on how the different areas in search engine marketing relate to each other. Some take the view that SEO has priority first. Others find SEA at least as important. Still others get into the various optimization areas at the same time. There is no standard answer to the question of the order. The respective prerequisites and circumstances must be examined in each individual case.

SEO and SEA or rather use them separately? Both and.
SEO and SEA or rather use them separately? Both and. (Image: omr.com)

Of course, search engine optimization is of great importance, especially in terms of optimizing the entire website. It is of little use to attract visitors to a page that is not convincing in terms of content and technology. Likewise, it plays a role that SEA measures are a own advertising budget need. Particularly when funds are tight, it is therefore important to weigh up whether efforts should first be put into SEO and then into SEA. Both areas are essential for success with the Internet presence.

What does search engine marketing have to do with customer acquisition?

Today, modern online marketing is characterized by the fact that customers and potential customers are accompanied by marketing on a longer path. This path is often referred to as Customer Journey is the term used to describe the customer journey. In practical terms, the customer journey stands for repeatedly bringing customers to certain Touchpoints where they are at the moment. For example, a potential customer has different interests than an existing customer.

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Marketing measures are very specifically tailored to the customer situation. It is not enough to win the customer once and then regard him or her as if it were a matter of course. Search engine marketing with its sub-areas SEO and SEA make up part of the support on the customer journey. If you improve the loading times of a website as part of SEO, among other things, this measure improves the customer experience.

An improved User Experience primarily addresses new customers, but also existing customers. Search engine marketing is therefore the generic term for a wide variety of measures. Search engine marketing is never complete. It must always be

  • changed conditions,
  • increased requirements of search engine algorithms,
  • new customer needs,
  • the requirements on an individual Customer Journey

adapt. The art of search engine marketing is to define and implement the right measures at the right time.
We are your contact for this. We combine technology and marketing. This enables us to develop the entire search engine marketing individually suitable for each customer.

Conclusion: Search engine marketing requires expertise

Many website operators and online stores invest a lot of money in advertising measures on the Internet. Nevertheless, success is often not forthcoming. This is because search engine marketing does not follow a clear concept. The measures are then scattered like grit from a tin can. It is easy to get bogged down.

Let us advise and guide you in developing a customized search engine marketing for your needs.


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