SEO vs. SEA – which strategy is suitable for when and for whom?

When is SEO the right marketing method and when should you use SEA?

In this post you will find out what SEO and SEA actually mean and for what purposes you can best and most successfully use both methods.
Specifically, one tries with SEO to achieve a good placement of a website on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP, page in which all Google search results are listed) for certain keywords and search phrases. It must be kept in mind that search engines always want to present the user with the best possible result. When it comes to the sustainable improvement of organic visibility, three different aspects must generally be taken into account:

Content (articles, descriptions, blog posts, pictures, etc …)
OnPage optimization
User experience
Backlinks play an important role, as links from reputable sites are seen as a positive signal by search engines. The more high-quality backlinks a website has, the more trustworthy it is classified.

The OnPage optimization also has an influence on the ranking. This is understood to mean technical aspects such as the page structure or title and headings.

The user experience, in turn, says a lot about the quality of a website. Using various key figures such as the bounce rate or the average length of stay, the algorithm interprets the signals from the users and also takes them into account in the ranking.

In addition, your website should of course have interesting content and information that your potential customers are looking for. The more high quality content you provide on your website, the more trustworthy you will be rated by Google and the better rankings you will achieve.

What types of searches are there?
Search results for a transaction-oriented keyword
Search queries can basically be divided into two camps. Users either want to find information on the Internet, i.e. do research, or they want to buy a product. When a user makes a search query on Google, you always have to keep in mind that Google wants to present the users with the best possible result. According to this, it is easier for an online shop to rank under search terms that contain words like “buy” or “price” than an informative blog. In contrast, an online shop has a harder time when users only want to get information, i.e. there is no clear intention to buy through a search query.

Why is SEO so important?
SEO leads to more website visitors in the long term and in the long term, more visitors to your website lead to more customers, which has a positive effect on your sales. In addition, SEO delivers high-quality visitors to your site, since the users are obviously interested in the respective topics when they search for it on Google. With the free Google Analytics tool, also known as Google Analytics, you can analyze your target group and their behavior and thus optimize your strategy. You can get a complete SEO analysis here .


A Google Ads account is required to be able to advertise on search engines such as Google. As part of this service, advertisers have the option of bidding for specific keywords in an auction process. Google Ads also makes it possible to place the advertisements not only on the Google SERP, but also on external pages of the Google Display Network.

However, in addition to the bid submitted, other factors also flow into the algorithm of Google SEA Services. The highest bidder does not automatically receive first place – what matters is what is known as the AdRank. The following criteria are taken into account:

  • Amount of the bid
  • Advertising quality
  • Quality of the page content
  • Relevance (is there a connection between the advertisement and the offer on the landing page?) 

The AdRank determines which advertisement receives the highest visibility. As a result, it is not the highest bid that is automatically accepted, but rather the offer with the highest quality factor. 

An important key figure for advertisers is the cost per click – in the industry the term costs per click (CPC) is usually used for this. So you only pay the search engine if the potential customer actually clicks on the advert. In this way, the Google Ads auction system can be used to generate traffic.

Why is SEA important?

SEA has the enormous advantage that your website appears in the first place for certain search queries, and visitors come so much faster than by optimizing organic search. You also have full control over which search terms your ads should appear for. For example, as an online shop you can focus exclusively on search terms that contain a clear purchase intention. 

SEO vs SEA – what is

The big advantage of SEO is its long-term nature. The process delivers a constant flow of visitors, as the positioning obtained is quite stable. There is rarely a massive downgrading of the rankings, for example due to a penalty on the part of Google. This means that SEO is one of the few marketing measures that still has benefits after its application. Another advantage is that no huge sums of money have to be invested in marketing campaigns and still many visitors find their way to the website. In addition, the increased visibility also increases the brand image and the level of awareness of the website or blog enormously.

A good example of this is Wikipedia: Due to the high level of trust associated with the online lexicon, the site has good visibility on the Internet. Exactly the same thing will happen if a website is placed on many subject-relevant keywords through SEO and thus achieves good ranking in certain niches. Potential customers then automatically assign a higher value to the page and are very likely to become repeat visitors. The further you have advanced in search engine optimization, the easier it is for new content to achieve a good ranking directly.

However, it should not be overlooked that SEO is a very time-consuming process. Achieving good rankings takes months – sometimes even years – because you don’t get a good Domain Authority (DA) overnight. A lot of preliminary work and work is required because the entire website – and not just individual sub-pages – has to be optimized accordingly. This is also a continuous improvement process: as soon as the website has been made fit for the search engine, the process starts all over again. Since Google is constantly adjusting the weightings and the algorithm takes new factors into account, it is a “cat and mouse game”. Not to be neglected is the fact that every developed SEO strategy also includes a content strategy.

This is how SEO differs fundamentally from SEA. The great advantage of paid advertising is the immediate increase in traffic. So it doesn’t take a long time and countless factors such as backlinks, on-page optimization and user experience do not have to be taken into account. With SEA only the configuration has to be done and a bid submitted; The campaign can then be tracked using key figures and, if necessary, optimized.

Another advantage of SEA is the simple manageability of the marketing budget and the efficiency of individual campaigns. Search engine advertising allows you to address your target group in a very targeted manner, since, unlike SEO, you can choose the keywords. This increases the quality of visitors and leads enormously! As soon as the set budget is used up, however, no more advertisements appear and the artificially generated visitor flow ends abruptly.

If you only rely on SEO, you can achieve good rankings in the long term, but this does not happen overnight and is also associated with great effort.

SEA has the advantage that visitors can be won quickly for new pages, and you are very flexible. You can choose which search queries you want the ads to appear on. When optimizing the organic search results, this task is left to the Google algorithm. In addition, you can always switch your SEA campaigns on & off flexibly and forward users specifically to landing pages.

Nevertheless, a well-engineered SEO strategy is an absolute must for every website, and in our opinion it is more important than pure search engine advertising, since SEO is simply much more sustainable and long-term. Since SEA achieves better results if the website is already optimized for the search engine, a combination of both methods makes the most sense. It is most efficient if you invest time and effort in developing an SEO strategy and then supplement it with pay per click campaigns.


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