You’ve most likely heard the term Search Engine Marketing and its acronym, SEM. Maybe you’ve even nodded along, feigning familiarity when you’ve heard it discussed. Or perhaps you have a vague notion of what it’s all about, but could really use help with the finer points.
Either way, we’re here to help. You certainly won’t be a pro when you’re finished reading our glossary, but you will have gained an understanding of the basics and, as a bonus, be able to sound like you haven’t just rolled off the virtual “turnip truck.”
|Glossary of SEM Terms|
Ad Rank is a Google AdWords metric that determines ad position and is a product of the bid amount, Quality Score, and expected ad extension impact. Recalculated each time an ad is chosen for an auction, ads with higher scores earn better positions.
Ad Position refers to where an ad appears on the search engine results page (SERP). Ads with the best ad rank earn the top (i.e., 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) positions.
Auction is what’s triggered every time a search engine user initiates a search that is relevant to keywords that more than one advertiser has bid upon. Those advertisers’ ads “compete” with one another for best ad rank and subsequently appear on the search engine results page (SERP) in the ad position they earn.
Bid Amount is the highest amount an advertiser is willing to pay per click. Bid amounts can either be set manually (by keyword, ad placement, etc.) or automatically (using various automated bid strategies). Depending on the quality of an ad, as well as that of the competition’s, actual cost per click (CPC) may fall well below the bid amount.
CPC (Cost Per Click) is the amount of money an advertiser actually pays when someone clicks on an ad. It is calculated within Google AdWords by dividing the numeric ad rank of the competing ad in the position directly beneath the clicked-on ad by the quality score of the clicked-on ad and adding one cent. So: Ad Rank of Ad Directly Below Ad Quality Score + $.01 = Actual CPC. This formula can differ slightly depending on platform.
CTR (Click-Through Rate) is the ratio of how many clicks an ad has received divided by the number of impressions it has had and can be used to measure both keyword and ad performance.
Impression occurs each time an ad is shown on a search engine results page (SERP) and refers only to an ad being seen, not clicked.
Keyword is a word or phrase that an advertiser chooses for its relevance to terms people enter into search engines (e.g., “winter coats” is a good keyword for someone selling parkas).
Landing Page is the page on an advertiser’s website that a user is routed to upon clicking an ad.
Negative Keyword is a word or phrase that an advertiser chooses in order to exclude certain search terms. For example, adding the word “free” as a negative keyword will ensure that an ad isn’t shown to people who are using the search term “free.”
PPC (Pay Per Click) is a model of internet marketing which involves advertisers paying for each click that brings a prospective customer to their website, rather than earning those clicks organically. In essence, paying per click means better ad positioning and greater ad visibility
Quality Score is a Google AdWords metric that measures an ad’s quality on a scale from one to ten by using three components (expected click-through rate [CTR], relevance, and landing page experience) to determine how useful the ad will be to the user.
Query is the word or phrase that someone enters into a search engine and, in the case of PPC advertising, triggers an auction.
SEM (Search Engine Marketing) refers to the use of both paid (PPC) and unpaid (SEO) advertisements on an internet search engine platform for the purpose of increasing traffic flow to websites, raising visibility, and cuing conversions.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a model of unpaid internet marketing which involves creating high-quality advertisements (preferably in large quantities) for the purpose of beating competing ads and winning clicks organically.
SERP (Search Engine Results Page) is the page that displays the results of a search engine user’s query.
Paid SEM is an around-the-clock proposition, since the online search landscape is ever changing. No matter how well constructed or effective your ad campaign is one day, that’s bound to change as (sometimes just a little) time passes.
Constant testing, metric analysis, and optimization is necessary to stay competitive, keep costs low, and engage users. Because of all the variables involved, we can’t stress enough that SEM is either something that should be studied thoroughly before attempting OR best left to experts.
StubGroup is a PPC advertising company who, as a Premier Google Partner, is ranked among the top 3% of all Google Partners, worldwide. We create and manage highly successful ad campaigns, for companies both large and small, across a variety of search engine platforms. We’d love to answer any questions you may have or schedule your company for a free evaluation, so feel free to reach out any time.