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Search engine marketing (SEM), SEO and SEA

7 min


In today's digital world, it is of great importance for companies to be present on the Internet and to have good visibility on search engines. Search engine marketing, or SEM for short, encompasses all measures aimed at attracting qualified visitors via search engine results pages. SEM can be divided into two sub-areas: search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine advertising (SEA). SEO deals with organic search results, while SEA deals with paid advertising spaces within search engine results pages (SERPs). In this article, we will go into more detail about both sub-sectors and highlight the advantages and disadvantages of SEM.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is an important part of SEM and deals with organic search results. It is about making the website more visible so that search engines will show the site higher up in an organic search, bringing more visitors to the site. Optimizations include eliminating error messages in the console, maintaining load times, mobile optimization, accessibility, and applying best practices.

Search Engine Advertising (SEA)

SEA deals with paid advertising spaces within search engine results pages (SERPs). Probably the most relevant service to place ads is Google Ads (formerly AdWords). With some budget, the page can be suggested high up and very prominently, so that the user sees and hopefully visits exactly this page first.


SEM is a conceptual summary of online marketing to shed some light on the subject. SEM has long been used only in English-speaking countries, but now it is appearing more and more often in German-speaking countries as well. SEM thus includes SEO and SEA.

Advantages of SEM

Whether via an organic search result increase or by means of paid advertising, both generate effort and ultimately costs. Here are some advantages, why it is worthwhile to invest in SEM despite the costs.

Higher number of visitors

The vast majority of websites are found and visited via search engines. Only very few websites are called up directly via URL. If you increase the positioning of your website, the number of visitors will also increase.

More qualitative visitors

Search engines try to suggest the most suitable results for the user. By means of a keyword research or analysis, it can be shown which words the searchers have to enter in order to get the page suggested. Advertising can also be targeted to a tailored audience, so that exactly the desired target audience is addressed and directed to the page.

Efficient customer acquisition

Statistically, more quality visitors lead to more customers or more deals, depending on what the Internet service entails. SEM can be used to drive potential customers to a website that matches their search behavior and interests. Through specific targeting, ads can be targeted to a tailored audience to appeal to the desired audience and drive them to the site. SEM allows businesses to target prospects and turn them into potential customers, resulting in more efficient customer acquisition.


In addition, SEM also offers the advantage of acquiring potential customers in an efficient way. Statistically, a higher number of qualitative visitors also means more customers and more deals. By means of SEM, potential customers can be directed to the site in a targeted manner, which ultimately leads to an increase in sales.

However, there are also some disadvantages of SEM. For one, it is not completely transparent. Search engines such as Google offer some tools and possibilities to check how well one's own page is indexed, but the data obtained in the process does not give any effective value and can only be understood as a rough estimate or aid. When optimizing the page in the area of SEO, it can take a few days until the tools provide meaningful results. Whether and to what extent the optimizations have brought something, is best seen by means of an analysis tool, which shows the page views processed to see whether now more visitors come to the site than before the optimization.

Another disadvantage is that companies without their own SEM experts cannot fully cover the topic. However, there are companies that can take some of the burden off of SEM. They can set up the initial help and analysis tools and do some initial analysis. Often, however, adjustments to the site itself are needed, for example in the form of blog articles written by company employees. Search engines index every word on the page, and those words affect the positioning on the search results page. So those people who put text on the page absolutely have to be brought on board, or at least trained.



In summary, the Internet offers great potential for attracting new customers. If a company depends on customers or wants to offer its services on the Internet, then search engine marketing is a very important issue. A site that cannot be found will not have any visitors. Similar to offline business, online business also needs to think about how to effectively bring its services to the customers. In this context, search engine marketing plays a central role, as it optimizes the positioning and findability of the website on search engine results pages, thus enabling a higher number of visitors and more efficient customer acquisition.

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