Search Engine Marketing Basics – SEO and SEA

When you say “Search Engine Marketing”, you are usually putting different topics under one roof. In any case, you are talking about search engines that sort out different information from the Internet and thereby bring it to the users. Sounds like a great tool for online marketing and of course it is one. But how straightforward and unambiguous is this form of marketing? – My opinion beforehand: “The favorite answer of the legal advisor is often that of an online marketer – it depends” – Right: It always depends on the target setting!

However, this broad conceptual perspective is less a problem than an exciting challenge that can offer an infinite number of possibilities. In this short article, I would first like to deal with the definition of the term, so that interested parties, decision makers and marketing managers know which areas can be used in what way.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is divided into Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Advertising (SEA). SEM thus forms the umbrella term for all marketing activities relating to search engines. The following graphic, which uses a sports metaphor, illustrates the different characteristics.

The use of SEO and SEA

As it can be seen in the chart, SEO is committed to a long-term (keyword) strategy, whereas SEA can be used very quickly and flexibly. It is similar to a marathon and a sprint, whereas SEA can also be designed as a long-term measure. The short-term chances and flexible change possibilities result from the flexibility of the marketing tool SEA, which is missing in the area of SEO.

Why does SEO take longer to succeed?

Imagine the Internet as a small village with some shops and a market place. You stroll through the streets and notice that all shops have their own display, which is often redesigned differently. Based on this observation, you are more likely to go to those displays where you know that they are often redesigned. That’s how the Google Bot works! If you only create a new display every 3-6 months, you will teach the bot that it only has to visit every 3-6 months. Teaching the algorithm that from now on a new display will be presented more often, will take weeks and months.

Why is SEA flexible and fast?

In order to balance the above-mentioned circumstance, you can now buy some viewers of your display and thus intensively promote recently changed displays. These are so-called sponsored links that appear above the organic search results. In order to appear there, money must be paid to Google, therefore you are independent of the bot and can change the information in the ad in real time.

This shows that SEO pursues a long-term focus on relevant keywords and SEA can support this long-term strategy with purchased keywords. This requires a sufficient advertising budget, broad keyword research and fundamental knowledge of Google AdWords.

The next article shows the differences between these two tools on the “consumer side” resp. in SERP. This is the abbreviation for Search Engine Result Page and is also the focus of the following article. Release date: 31. May 2019

Limitation of this article

This article outlines the main differences between SEO and SEA. Most of my personal experiences and knowledge refer to the field of SEO and not to technical aspects like loading times, image sizes or CSS programming. Also backlinks, which can help SEO measures to get better results, were not taken into account. Basically this view can, in my opinion, be used as a basis in the predominant areas of search engine marketing. Nevertheless, it is possible that special aspects of the industry or the target settings have to be considered as well.

Matthias Nebel
Head of Digital Marketing

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