Search engine marketing: what is it and how do I deploy it for my clients?

Search engine marketing: what exactly is it? Many know vaguely something about search engine optimization and at the same time more about marketing (performed, for example, by an SEO specialist or agency). But what exactly is the combination of the two? In this article, I’ll take you through the search engine marketing world and tell you why this is a godsend for your organization (without always outsourcing it). Read on quickly!

What is search engine marketing?

Search engine marketing is the optimization of paid (SEA) and non-paid (SEO) search results in the search engines (e.g., Google). So the difference is largely about the location of the results. Therefore, a search engine agency also specializes in these two facets: SEO and SEA. At a search engine agency, SEO and SEA specialists work together to optimize a website in search engine results.

What is search engine marketing?

Search engine marketing falls under what is known as pull marketing. A person (customer/searcher) enters a search query into Google. On this, ads related to that keyword are then displayed. Search engine marketing is a relatively inexpensive, sustainable and effective method of marketing.

There are several facets of importance to good search engine marketing. This depends on the campaign goals, the popularity (strength) of the website and the budget to be spent. You perform optimizations to a website’s content and technology and spend time on link building.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO stands for “optimization for search engines. This process involves improving your website’s visibility in the natural, or unpaid, search results. The primary goal of SEO is to make your business more visible in search engines, leading to better online findability by your target audience. This is achieved by applying strategies that make your website and key pages rank higher in search results. SEO should be seen as a long-term investment, leading over time to stable and high positions in search results.

Although the top position in organic search results is very valuable, it is not always at the top of the page. Often these positions are preceded by some paid ads. Nevertheless, a high position in organic search results can contribute significantly to website traffic and, in many cases, a higher conversion rate. Effective SEO also ensures that your website is optimized for visitors, which increases the likelihood of conversions.

Search engine advertising (SEA)

Above the organic search results are the paid ads. Search engine advertising, or SEA, produces results faster than SEO. After all, you pay for the prominent positions in search results, which leads to immediate visibility. However, setting up ad campaigns effectively requires finesse.

Making sure your ads reach the right audience at the right time is crucial. Moreover, your website must be optimized to convert these visitors into customers. Google is generally the most relevant search engine for such ads.

The differences within search engine marketing

AspectSEO (Search Engine Optimization)SEA (Search Engine Advertising).
CostCost-effective in the long run; no cost per click.Cost per click; requires direct budget for ads.
Time period for resultsLong-term; it can take weeks to months to see effects.Short-term; results are visible almost immediately.
Traffic TypeOrganic traffic.Paid traffic.
SustainabilityResults can be sustainable.Results are often sustainable only as long as you pay.
MeasurabilityResults are measurable, but changes are often gradual.Results are immediately and accurately measurable.
FlexibilityLess flexible; adjustments may take time to become effective.Very flexible; campaigns can be adjusted quickly.
TargetFocused on improving the overall quality and content of the website to rank higher.Focused on rapid traffic generation and visibility.
StrategyLong-term strategy focused on building authority and relevance.Short-term strategy focused on immediate visibility and sales.
The differences within search engine marketing.

The benefits of search engine marketing

Search engine marketing, which includes both SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEA (Search Engine Advertising), offers several benefits for businesses and websites. Here are some of the key benefits:

  1. Increased visibility
    • SEO and SEA increase your website’s visibility in search engine results.
    • This leads to more brand awareness as your website is seen more often by users.
  2. Directed traffic
    • By targeting specific keywords, SEO and SEA attract visitors who are actively searching for products or services you offer.
    • This increases the likelihood of conversions because the traffic is more relevant.
  3. Measurability
    • Tools such as Google Analytics allow you to accurately track and analyze the performance of your search engine marketing campaigns.
    • This allows you to optimize campaigns and improve your ROI (Return on Investment).
  4. Relatively cost-effective
    • SEO is relatively cost-effective because it generates organic traffic without direct payment per click, as with SEA.
    • SEA provides control over ad spending and an opportunity to manage budgets efficiently.
  5. Long-term
    • SEO offers sustainable results. Once properly positioned in the search engines, your website can generate consistent traffic.
    • SEA offers immediate results, ideal for short-term campaigns or special promotions.
  6. Improving user experience
    • SEO requires optimizing the website, which often leads to a better user experience.
    • Faster load times, mobile optimization and improved content are all part of SEO, which improves the overall experience for visitors.
  7. Competitive Advantage:
    • By using search engine marketing effectively, you can stand out from competitors.
    • It helps your business to be prominent in search engines, allowing you to stay one step ahead of competitors who invest less in this.
  8. Flexibility:
    • SEA campaigns can be quickly adjusted based on performance, market trends or changes in business strategy.
    • SEO strategies can be adapted to respond to search engine algorithm updates and changing market conditions.

In short, search engine marketing is an essential component of digital marketing strategies because it offers a wide range of benefits, ranging from increased visibility to better user experiences and cost effectiveness.

Search engine marketing consulting for organizations

Herewith my search engine marketing advice. Please note that this is general advice. For applicable and concrete search engine marketing advice, I recommend contacting me.

Draw up strategyEstablish a comprehensive and detailed search engine marketing strategy that aligns with business goals and target audiences.
Keyword researchConduct extensive research on relevant keywords and phrases for the organization’s products or services.
Apply SEO techniquesOptimize all the organization’s websites and web pages for search engines, including technical SEO, content SEO and off-page SEO.
Content marketingCreate high-quality, relevant and engaging content that appeals to both users and search engines.
PPC campaignsUse pay-per-click campaigns to gain more visibility for key keywords, especially when competition for organic rankings is high.
Local SEOPay attention to local SEO, especially if the organization has physical locations or focuses on specific geographic areas.
Mobile SEOMake sure the organization’s website is optimized for mobile devices, as more and more searches are conducted on mobile devices.
Link BuildingDevelop a link building strategy to improve website domain authority and rankings.
Data analysisUse data analysis tools such as Google Analytics to measure and improve the performance of search engine marketing efforts.
Continuous optimizationSEO and search engine marketing are continuous processes. Keep testing, learning and optimizing to improve results.
Search engine marketing advice and description.

The importance of search engine marketing

Online findability is more important than ever. During the corona crisis, stores were closed for long periods of time. There was a shift from offline, to online shopping. Corona has provided extreme growth in consumer spending. Dutch consumer spending rose to more than 6 billion euros. This represents an increase of 12%.

In addition, it is well known that searchers do not look beyond page #1 in search engines. The top 3 organic results are clicked the most. Here’s why you make sure your website lands on the first search results page.

Types of search engine marketing

In search engine marketing, there are two options. The first option is search engine optimization (SEO). The second option is search engine advertising (SEA).

Search engine marketing | Costs

Search engine advertising involves a Web site placing an ad on a search results page. This is also known as Search Engine Advertising. Google works with an auction system. With this system, you bid on a keyword. The higher the level of competition, the higher the cost of the ad. The most commonly used cost models are CPC, CPM and CPA. CPC means you pay per click on your search result. In the case of CPM, you pay per 1,000 impressions of the ad. With CPA, you pay per conversion.

Benefits of search engine advertising:

  • A website is directly at the top of the search results.
  • The results of an SEA campaign can be measured.
  • It increases the Click-through rate.

Disadvantages of search engine advertising:

  • Conversion revenue dries up when you stop the campaign.
  • No long-term results.
  • It requires continuous investment.

Search engine optimization involves optimizing a website to rank higher in organic search results. Organic search results are “free” as opposed to paid results.

Google’s algorithm determines how high a website shows up on the search results page. This algorithm consists of hundreds of so-called ranking factors. With search engine optimization, you improve a combination of these factors. Google ‘crawls’ website with a robot. This “crawler” scans and evaluates Web sites.

Search engine marketing | Most shown ads

Google’s ranking factors are divided into 3 components: link building, content and technology. Ranking factors in link building include the quality of backlinks, anchor texts and domain authority. Content includes creating winning landing pages that are readable. Examples of factors include keyword optimization, quality content and the level of relevance. The technical side of search engine optimization includes improving website speed, code cleanup and the security of a website.

Benefits of search engine optimization:

  • It’s free.
  • Website usability is optimized.
  • Visitors are relevant and generate higher conversions.
  • It is a sustainable strategy.

Disadvantages of search engine optimization:

  • Optimizing takes energy and time.
  • Optimization doesn’t stop there: there are regular updates from Google.
  • No guarantee of #1 positions.

The employability of search engine marketing

How can SEO marketing be used for your business? First, a good strategy can be devised to improve website findability. You share the Internet with millions of others. Chances are you are facing competition. To stay ahead of the competition, it is important to choose good SEO marketing.

It looks at numerous points to improve the findability of your website. Think of better text on your site, but also improving the speed and usability of the website.

Search engine marketing | Overview

All these improvements provide good results. In almost all cases, we start with a keyword analysis. This is one way to find out what your target audience is searching for. In other words, what do they type into the search bar of Google or another search engine? Based on this, the content on the website can be adjusted. Think better text, but also images and videos that complement the text.

Better results through search engine optimization

So the above things will ensure that your website is better found in the search engines. By performing optimizations on and around your website, you get “plus points” from Google, so to speak. These pluses will get you a higher position in Google’s search results pages.

Search engine optimization provides improved online findability. You need to spend less on paid advertising because the visitor finds you on Google instead of the other way around.

What is a search engine marketing campaign

With a search engine marketing campaign, it is extra interesting because in the first phase you bridge the time it takes SEO to get the right positions with SEA. With paid ads, you are immediately at the top, but you pay per click. Such a campaign would look like this.

  1. Starting phase with SEA
    • Goal: Generate immediate visibility and traffic to your website.
    • Actions: Set up paid advertising through platforms such as Google Ads. Select relevant keywords that match your product or service and set a budget.
    • Measurability: Monitor performance using KPIs such as click rate (CTR), conversion rate and cost per acquisition (CPA).
  2. Parallel development of SEO
    • Goal: Build long-term organic search traffic.
    • Actions: Optimize your website for search engines. This includes technical SEO, content creation, and link building. Focus on relevant keywords and provide quality, valuable content.
    • Time frame: SEO takes time. It may take several months before you see significant results.
  3. Transition period:
    • Assessment: As your SEO efforts begin to bear fruit, evaluate the results of your SEA campaign.
    • Adjustments: You may want to reduce or refocus your SEA efforts on other keywords or audiences, depending on your website’s organic growth.
  4. Long-term strategy:
    • SEA: Use SEA for specific campaigns, promotions, or to maintain visibility on highly competitive keywords.
    • SEO: Continue to focus on improving your organic ranking. SEO is a continuous process of optimization and adaptation to changing trends and search engine algorithms.
  5. Analysis and adaptation:
    • Data analysis: Use analytics to understand and improve the performance of both strategies.
    • Flexibility: Be prepared to adapt your strategies to changing market conditions, search engine algorithms, and the results you measure.

By using SEA and SEO together, you can build a powerful online presence. SEA provides immediate results, while SEO supports long-term sustainable growth.

Learn more about search engine marketing

Want to learn more about SEO, SEA and the combination of the two for your marketing plan? We are happy to explain other parts of SEO and SEA to you further on our site. Want an entire strategy and improvement of your website? Please feel free to contact me and we will discuss the possibilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

I get questions daily regarding working with an SEO specialist and the advantages/disadvantages of this possible collaboration. I have written out the questions asked and answers given below from my own experience in this area.

What are the benefits of search engine marketing?

As a business with a website today, you really can’t do without it: search engine marketing. Search engine marketing is the optimization of paid and non-paid search results in search engines, such as Google. Paid search results is called SEA: Search Engine Advertising. Unpaid search results is called SEO: Search Engine Optimization.

Search engine marketing is very valuable. Your potential customers are constantly searching for you, through Google. So being easily findable is an important matter. Namely, this means: reaching the target audience.

The benefits of search engine marketing are:

  • Serving customers through your website or web shop. You get results online. Through a well-functioning, relevant website, you serve your customers.
  • Lead generation. Google is getting stricter in who they show on the first page and who they don’t. They do this by judging in quality. So when you do good search engine marketing and this gets you to the top, it means that your website is well matched to your target audience and you can offer them what they are looking for.
  • Customer satisfaction. This point actually builds a bit on the previous point. When you provide a good website with quality content that is about the information they are looking for, you satisfy your potential customers.

What is the difference between search engine marketing and search engine optimization?

The terms search engine marketing and search engine optimization seem similar, but they are not. Search engine marketing is a side branch of online marketing because it is marketing that you do online. It includes all the marketing you do through search engines. Components of this are SEO and SEA. SEO is unpaid and SEA is paid (ads).

Search engine optimization (also called SEO, not SEA) is a free way to rank high in Google’s search results. With SEO, you optimize your website in multiple areas, so there’s a good chance you’ll rank highly in Google. This takes a lot of time and attention, but not money. Unlike SEA. This takes little time, but again takes a lot of money. By using SEO, your website will rank high in the organic search results.

Organic search results are those that do not have “Adv” in front of them. These are always listed below the ads. So organic does mean that the owner of the website did not pay for his or her spot. This place came about naturally. By now, many companies invest a lot in SEO, so it’s not very natural anymore, but that’s how Google sees it.

For which companies is search engine marketing interesting?

Search engine marketing consists of two forms: SEO and SEA. The two complement each other very well. SEA tells you exactly what people are looking for. In turn, you can use this information for your SEO optimization. This will save you a lot of time using keywords that don’t generate as much. SEA costs money. Therefore, when you want to combine these two forms within search engine marketing, as a company you need to have budget for this. SEO, rather than money, takes a lot of time and attention. So this is what you need to have as a company as well. Or again, budget so you can outsource this time to an agency, for example.

Companies looking to achieve both short-term and long-term results are apt to get started with both SEO and SEA. For example, you start with SEA, which puts your website right at the top. Next, invest in SEO so that you generate visitors in the long run. These visitors click on the regular, free search results.

What matters when choosing a search engine marketing agency?

Before going into business with a search engine marketing agency, it is wise to familiarize yourself with a number of different agencies beforehand. Read up on exactly what search engine marketing entails and check out the websites of the agencies you have your eye on. Then engage with the various agencies and ask critical questions.

When choosing a search engine marketing agency, it is important that you get a good feeling about it and trust the agency. After all, they optimize your website. As you have multiple interviews, you will find out the differences between them and which agency you feel most comfortable with.

Don’t forget to read the reviews on Google. And keep thinking logically. When something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. By asking critical questions, you often find out. The SEO agency you feel most comfortable with is probably the SEO agency that best fits your business or website and can help you best with SEO.

What is the meaning of CPC, CTR and CPM?

CPC is the abbreviation for Cost Per Click. This term has to do with online advertising where the advertiser pays for each click on an ad. This ad may consist of a banner, image ad, link or text ad. The amount the advertiser has to pay for one click is called the CPC. CPC is also called PPC: Pay Per Click. There is a slight nuance difference here, though. PPC is primarily used when you are a provider of the advertising model and CPC when you are the advertising party.

CTR is the abbreviation for Click Through Ratio. This shows a percentage that indicates how much a link or banner is clicked. You calculate the CTR as follows: (number of clicks / number of impressions) X 100 = CTR. The CTR is a signal to Google indicating how well your page matches the search query. When it matches well, it means Google will give you a higher ranking in search results. After all, Google wants to keep the user happy, so shows the best results in searches.

Finally, CPM. CPM stands for Cost Per Mille. This is an online payment model for ads. It is also sometimes called Cost Per Thousand. The amount attached is the amount the advertiser pays per 1,000 impressions. When you plan to advertise online, you will, without fail, have to deal with this abbreviation.

What are 5 golden ground rules in search engine marketing?

Search engine marketing is something we can no longer ignore. As much as 93% of all traffic comes from a search engine, and 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results. So no further explanation is needed. For if you want to get started with search engine marketing yourself, here are the 5 golden ground rules first:

  • Keyword research: keywords are the most important element. Each page needs a specific keyword.
  • Title tags: each title must contain the keyword. This is because this is how Google recognizes the relevance of the content.
  • Meta description: this is always displayed below the title of a web page in Google’s search results. The keyword should also be included in this. In fact, most users always read the meta description before clicking on the web page.
  • Relevant, quality content: write relevant content that answers user questions. The ideal length of a text is about 1,600 words.
  • SEO Audit: do this regularly to maintain website productivity levels and discover and improve weaknesses.

Where can I go for search engine marketing advice?

For search engine marketing advice, you can always turn to a search engine marketing agency. Some agencies provide a free quick scan, for example. A quick scan quickly identifies areas for improvement of a website. This gives a good indication of areas of benefit.

A search engine marketing agency can take either the consulting role, the operational role or both. That choice is up to you.

What is search engine marketing anyway?

Search engine marketing is the optimization of paid and non-paid search results in search engines, such as Google. Paid search results is called SEA: Search Engine Advertising. Unpaid search results is called SEO: Search Engine Optimization.

It’s all about online findability. (Potential) customers are looking for you through search engines. So search engine marketing is also about automatically reaching your target audience and is indispensable for many websites and businesses today.

Is it search engine marketing or search engine marketing?

Search engine marketing. Two words.

Senior SEO-specialist

Ralf van Veen

Senior SEO-specialist
Five stars
My clients give me a 5.0 on Google out of 75 reviews

I have been working for 10 years as an independent SEO specialist for companies (in the Netherlands and abroad) that want to rank higher in Google in a sustainable manner. During this period I have consulted A-brands, set up large-scale international SEO campaigns and coached global development teams in the field of search engine optimization.

With this broad experience within SEO, I have developed the SEO course and helped hundreds of companies with improved findability in Google in a sustainable and transparent way. For this you can consult my portfolio, references and collaborations.

This article was originally published on 3 April 2024. The last update of this article was on 22 November 2023. The content of this page was written and approved by Ralf van Veen. Learn more about the creation of my articles in my editorial guidelines.