What is Search Engine Advertising?

In order to understand the concept of Search Engine Advertising it is vital that we look further into the concept of the Search Engine itself.

A Web Search Engine is a particular type of program which is designed to send out a spider to fetch as many documents on the web as possible. Another program, called an indexer, then reads these documents and creates an index based on the words contained in each document. Each search engine uses a algorithm to create its index so that, ideally, the most relevant results are shown on the search engine results page for each search query.

We can find a variety of Search Engines throughout the World Wide Web. Some of the most commonly used Search Engines are Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yandex and Baidu. In our article we will mostly be focussing on Google since it is the preferred Search Engine for most of Ecommerce Wiki's readers. Moreover, other search engines tend to follow Google's lead on new features and developments.

Apart from the Search Engine results based on the relevancy algorithm, often called organic or natural results, there is another set of Search Engine results that may appear with a particular Search Query. Now we have arrived at the concept of Search Engine Advertising, also called SEA. SEA is often referred to as PPC (pay per click) advertising, but strictly taken, PPC advertising is also possible on other platforms, such as Facebook.

How does Search Engine Advertising work?

When Internet users are looking for something and don’t know yet where to get it, they usually start their search on a Search Engine, such as Google. Based on the type of search query Google shows two types of search results: organic and sponsored results. The sponsored text ads are above and below the organic results, with a maximum of 7 ads per search result page (4 above and 3 below). These ads are recognizable by a yellow or green label with "Ad" before the URL. In addition to text ads, Google might also show Google Shopping results. These Google Shopping results have a different format, as there's no text, just a product image, price, title and seller. All sponsored results are linked to the specific keywords of the user, therefore they only appear when these keywords are entered in the search bar.

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