SEO : How does paid referencing work in 2022 ?

Paid referencing is a web-marketing lever designed to connect your ads with Internet users who have typed in the queries concerned. The most widely used paid marketing campaigns are CPC (or cost per click) campaigns. This is a fairly simple auction system to understand: you bid to place an ad in the sponsored links of a search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) for keywords related to your offer, then you pay the search engine a small commission for each click.

CPC may seem very expensive, but in reality in a well-designed campaign, it’s quite the opposite. Indeed, if the keywords chosen and the landing pages are relevant, your potential customers will only see your ads when they are looking for the specific products or services that you offer. Because of this, they are much more likely to convert.

To appear in the sponsored links, one must participate in an auction and compete with other bidders for advertising space. We can then wonder why should we embark on paid referencing when we can position ourselves for free with natural referencing.

What is the difference between SEO and SEA?

The advantages of natural referencing  

regular traffic

Indeed the natural positions on the search results bring you a regular flow of visitors every day, it is unlikely to vary except Google penalties or an algorithm change that you did not anticipate.

A better brand image

A well-positioned site reassures Internet users. The fact that your website is visible on search results increases user confidence and contributes to the notoriety of your company.

The sustainable character

Natural referencing makes it possible to capitalize on the efforts made and to reinforce the visibility of a site in the long term.

The disadvantages of SEO

It takes time and is not free

To say that natural referencing (SEO) is free is actually a received idea. Indeed this lever requires a lot of time, effort and knowledge to gain and maintain good positions in search engine results. These human resources, but also material resources (crawl tools, semantic analysis or links, etc.) are therefore anything but free for your company, especially if your site is new to the web. It takes several months to gain enough authority on a domain to position yourself on the first pages of Google.

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The advantages of paid referencing

Instant visibility

Paid Search (SEA) can help get the site off the ground while SEO develops. The main advantage is to be able to be first on Google on the keywords you have selected, and those as soon as your website is put online.

Measurement and tracking

Thanks to the statistics, you can know at any time what your campaign brings in terms of leads and also know the budget spent.

Qualified traffic

A good setting of your campaigns on an appropriate keyword allows you to obtain qualified and relevant traffic to increase the conversion rate.

The disadvantage of paid referencing (SEA)

Its cost

The stronger the competition, the more money you will have to spend! 

Another disadvantage, as soon as you stop your campaign, you immediately disappear from the search results.

What are the different types of levers in paid referencing?

The world of paid search can be a bit confusing, filled with acronyms and technical jargon. The two easiest ways to categorize paid ads are to divide them into “search” ads and “display” ads. Search ads are designed to appear when the consumer has already typed their query into search engines. He is “captured” when he expresses his need. The most common ads are of course those from Google Ads that appear above the organic results. “Display” ads appear retrospectively and in other media. They can, for example, take the form of advertisements that are displayed before watching a Youtube video or banners that appear alongside content on a site.

Often, the display and the search are intertwined and it is difficult to distinguish them for neophytes. Let’s take a look at the different types of ads.

Search announcements

CPC search engine ads

These types of ads appear in search results just before the natural results. Depending on the cost of the ad and the search engine, they may appear above, to the right, or below the organic ads. Search engines are required to identify these ads as paid content. Google AdWords has the largest market share of these ads, but Yahoo and Bing also have their own advertising platforms.

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All operate from an auction system. The more you want to appear in the SERPs (search engine results page), the more you will have to pay. Keywords with little competition are cheaper. It is possible to target these ads in several ways, by location, by time of day or by using negative keywords.

The big advantage of this type of ads is that the KPIs are easy to follow and measure. Establishing a budget is much easier than for SEO and you can target certain product categories very precisely.

Google Shopping

Google Shopping ads work quite similar to traditional CPC ads. They work on the basis of targeted keywords, which are also very easily measurable. Thanks to the photo of the product that appears, Google Shopping often shows a higher click-through and conversion rate than Google Ads. However, you must follow the strict rules and processes that Google imposes, especially when importing data feeds. By mixing Google Ads and Google Shopping , you are sure to get a huge footprint on the first page of Google (provided of course you manage the campaigns properly).


Remarketing / retargeting

Retargeting ads combine, to some extent, search and display. It is indeed a practice of displaying an ad based on the browsing history of the user. That’s why if you’re looking for blue shoes, you’ll suddenly see lots of banner ads for blue shoes on the sites you visit, even if they’re not related to shoes. Re-targeted content usually comes in the form of traditional advertisements. Retargeting is a great way to increase brand awareness. This lever is a little more complicated to set up than Google, Yahoo or Bing Ads, but it is known to be very efficient.


Paid ads on social networks and media

Most social media platforms offer advertising space. For several years, Facebook offered classic display ads, but their ROI was not satisfactory. To retain its customers, the giant had to change the form of its paid ads. This is how the “promoted” and “sponsored” content on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram was born, which is now very successful.

Ads on Facebook

Facebook is the social media with the largest user base in the world, which offers a very reliable advertising platform. Its enormous audience potential, combined with its multiple detailed segmentation options, make it an ideal medium to integrate into your digital strategy.

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Ads on Instagram

Instagram is an extremely visual social medium, where users tend to follow many pages. Ads display like a regular post, which provides great visibility.

Ads on Twitter

This social network, although a little less popular, also offers very interesting advertising options. They make it possible to create campaigns adapted to different objectives (conversion, leads, application installations, etc.) and to potentially increase the audience of the site.

Ads on Youtube

Paid ads on YouTube are the closest to traditional advertising seen on television. They make it possible to capture a larger audience, but a little less targeted than for other social networks.

Ads on Linkedin

This professional social network offers a large user base and provides an advertising solution for those looking to reach a corporate audience (BtoB marketing).

Ads on Gmail

Google recently made the Google Mail inbox open to all Google Ads users. This means that it is now possible to find sponsored content at the top of your email box. These ads use search history and cookies, as well as the content of your inbox to better target your ads.


Paid referencing therefore has several aspects that can be complementary. It is ideal for getting started and maintaining your notoriety afterwards. We must nevertheless keep in mind the famous adage “you should not put all your eggs in one basket”! An SEO strategy is essential, in which case, the day you run out of budget for advertising, you will become totally invisible on the web. It is therefore better to use paid referencing as a springboard, and subsequently as a complementary lever to SEO.

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