An introduction to Search Engine Advertising

Most likely you’ve already heard of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), but Search Engine Advertising (or SEA as it is usually abbreviated) is a different form of marketing using the same platforms – Search Engines.

Search Engine Advertising is simply paid marketing advertisements on search engines, sometimes it is called Paid Search Advertising (or PSA).

Given Google’s massive market share in Australia, a lot of Search Engine Advertising methods here are targeting users on Google, but the other major search engines such as Yahoo! & Bing also operate their own Search Engine Advertising programs as well. For the basis of this blog, I will use Google as the platform for my explanations.

So how does it work?

With Search Engine Advertising, you pay for your ad to show up on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) when someone types in a keyword phrase that is relevant to your product or service.

Search Engine Advertising is a fantastic marketing activity to do alongside your Search Engine Optimisation campaign. For those of you who have Search Engine Optimisation, you’ll probably already know that it is a long term marketing solution and it can take 3 to 9 (even 12+) months for your site to perform well in the organic (“free”) search results. For many businesses, the delay in getting visitors to your site can take too long, which is where Search Engine Advertising comes to the rescue.

With Search Engine Advertising, you can bid on keywords relevant to your business, and when someone does a search, your ad can show up in the search results. If someone actually clicks on your ad, it takes them through to your website, and the game is on!

Once they’re on your site, it should hopefully do a good job of converting them into a lead and then it’s up to you to close the sale and earn that profit.

Typically, Search Engine Advertising are charged on a “Pay Per Click” (PPC) or “Cost Per Click” (CPC) model, rather than traditional advertising, which is typically charged by the number of possible eyeballs seeing or hearing it.

PPC can be very cost effective & highly targeted, simply because it doesn’t cost you anything to run and show your ads until someone actually clicks on them.

And people don’t click on PPC ads unless they’re actually interested in what the ad offers. This means you’re attracting potential clients who are not cold – they have already shown some interest in what you offer by virtue of taking the time to actively search on Google and actively click on your ads.

All Search Engine Advertising campaigns have certain things in common:

  1. A monthly budget for ad click charges (we call this “media spend”)
  2. A large list (often 500 – 1500) of targeted relevant keywords for your campaign to target
  3. They compete against other advertisers (via an auction process) for their ads to show (which typically means high competition markets cost more per click than low competition)
  4. The ad campaign can be tracked in depth, providing a measurable ROI
  5. PPC campaigns need ongoing optimisation & tweaking to perform at a high level – you can’t turn them on and forget about them for 3-6 months, or they’ll usually grind to a halt due to poor performance.
  6. Search Engine Advertising campaigns have great options to improve the performance of your ads – geographic targeting, time of day & which days your ads are shown, the language of the searcher (perfect for campaigns targeting non-English speaking people in other countries) and so forth. These can make sure the very best prospects see your ad.

Search Engine Advertising is a great tool to help a business to get targeted traffic to their website in a short time frame – with Search Engine Advertising, your website can be getting traffic, leads & even sales in days or weeks instead of months!

As for actually running your own Search Engine Advertising campaign, it is an area that we recommend you should outsource to a specialist for your marketing to be effective. This is because to have a successful campaign, you need to be aware of all the guidelines, rules and regulations around not only the platform but your advertisement content and your landing pages.

For more information about Webfirm’s own Search Engine Advertising program, check out our website, email us at or call us on 1300 932 3476 for a free consultation with one of our Online Marketing specialists.