I want to first pay snaps to SEMPO, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organisation, who have one of the best SEM glossaries on the web, and which I have appropriated here for the purposes of this post.
The SEMPO glossary is very technical, however, and is very useful for SEO’s and SEM’s who are going to be working full time in the field, either as a consultant or inhouse SEO. But, for those people who need a more shallow view of search engine marketing, such as overarching marketing managers, content writers, or for those who are just getting started with their own online business, I thought I would cut the SEMPO glossary down to the least technical terms, and divide it into easy sections.
This glossary will enable you to speak to SEM practitioners, and not be lost in jargon.
The first section explains about Search engines in general – what they are, and a general idea of how they work.
The next two sections describe the two types of Search Engine Marketing – Search Engine optimisation and Pay Per click marketing.
Finally, there were a few general terms which are used all the time, but you might not exactly know what they mean.
This is not an exhaustive list, it is just the bare bones of what I think you need to know when starting out in SEM. For the full list, please visit the SEMPO SEM glossary.
SEM – Acronym for “Search Engine Marketing.” A form of internet marketing that seeks to promote websites by increasing their visibility in search engine result pages (SERPs). SEM methods include: search engine optimization (SEO), paid placement, contextual advertising, digital asset optimization, and paid inclusion. When this term is used to describe an individual, it stands for “Search Engine Marketer” or one who performs SEM.
1. About Search Engines
Search Engines – A search engine is a database of many web pages. Most engines display the number of web pages they hold in their database at any given time. A search engine generally “ranks” or orders the results according to a set of parameters. These parameters (called algorithms) vary among search engines; they are always improving in order to identify spam as well as improve relevance.
Algorithm – A set of rules that a search engine uses to rank listings in response to a query. Search engines guard their algorithms closely, as they are the unique formulas used to determine relevancy.
Index – A search engine’s “index” refers to the amount of documents found by a search engines crawler on the web.
Search Query – The word or phrase a searcher types into a search field, which initiates search engine results page listings and PPC ad serves. In PPC advertising, the goal is to bid on keywords that closely match the search queries of the advertiser’s targets.
Keyword / Keyword Phrase – A specific word or combination of words that a searcher might type into a search field. Includes generic, category keywords; industry-specific terms; product brands; common misspellings and expanded variations (called Keyword Stemming), or multiple words (called Long Tail for their lower CTRs but sometimes better conversion rates). All might be entered as a search query. For example, someone looking to buy coffee mugs might use the keyword phrase “ceramic coffee mugs.”
SERP – Acronym for Search Engine Results Page, the page delivered to a searcher that displays the results of a search query entered into the search field. Displays both paid ad (sponsored) and organic listings in varying positions or rank.
2. SEO Terms
SEO – Acronym for “Search Engine Optimization.” This is the process of editing a web site’s content and code in order to improve visibility within one or more search engines. When this term is used to describe an individual, it stands for “Search Engine Optimizer” or one who performs SEO.
Organic Results – Listings on SERPs that were not paid for; listings for which search engines do not sell space. Sites appear in organic (also called “natural”) results because a search engine has applied formulas (algorithms) to its search crawler index, combined with editorial decisions and content weighting, that it deems important enough inclusion without payment.
Rank – How well positioned a particular web page or web site appears in search engine results.
Reciprocal Link – Two different sites that link out to each other. Also referred to as Cross Linking.
Backlinks – All the links pointing at a particular web page.
Link Popularity – Link popularity generally refers to the total number of links pointing to any particular URL.
Linkbait – This is something on your site that people will notice and link to. By linking to your site, other sites are saying they value the content of your site and that they think other people will be interested in it, too.
Long Tail – Keyword phrases with at least three, sometimes four or five, words in them. These long tail keywords are usually highly specific and draw lower traffic than shorter, more competitive keyword phrases, which is why they are also cheaper. Oftentimes, long tail keywords, in aggregate, have good conversion ratios for the low number of click-throughs they generate.
Metrics – A system of measures that helps to quantify particular characteristics. In SEO the following are some important metrics to measure: overall traffic, search engine traffic, conversions, top traffic-driving keywords, top conversion-driving keywords, keyword rankings, etc.
4. PPC Terms
PPC Advertising – Acronym for Pay-Per-Click Advertising, a model of online advertising in which advertisers pay only for each click on their ads that directs searchers to a specified landing page on the advertiser’s web site. PPC ads may get thousands of impressions (views or serves of the ad); but, unlike more traditional ad models billed on a CPM (Cost-Per-Thousand-Impressions) basis, PPC advertisers only pay when their ad is clicked on. Charges per ad click-through are based on advertiser bids in hybrid ad space auctions and are influenced by competitor bids, competition for keywords and search engines’ proprietary quality measures of advertiser ad and landing page content.
PPC Management – The monitoring and maintenance of a Pay-Per-Click campaign or campaigns. This includes changing bid prices, expanding and refining keyword lists, editing ad copy, testing campaign components for cost effectiveness and successful conversions, and reviewing performance reports for reports to management and clients, as well as results to feed into future PPC campaign operations.
ROI – Acronym for Return On Investment, the amount of money you make on your ads compared to the amount of money you spend on your ads.
CPA – Acronym for Cost Per Acquisition (sometimes called Cost Per Action), which is the total cost of an ad campaign divided by the number of conversions.
CPC – Acronym for Cost Per Click, or the amount search engines charge advertisers for every click that sends a searcher to the advertiser’s web site. For an advertiser, CPC is the total cost for each click-through received when its ad is clicked on.
CPM – Acronym for Cost Per Thousand Impressions (ad serves or potential viewers). Compare to CPC pricing (defined above). CPM is a standard monetization model for offline display ad space, as well as for some context-based networks serving online search ads to, for example, web publishers and sites.
CTR – Acronym for Click-Through Rate, the number of clicks that an ad gets, divided by the total number of times that ad is displayed or served.
Click Fraud – Clicks on a Pay-Per-Click advertisement that are motivated by something other than a search for the advertised product or service. Click fraud may be the result of malicious or negative competitor/affiliate actions motivated by the desire to increase costs for a competing advertiser or to garner click-through costs for the collaborating affiliate. Also affects search engine results by diluting the quality of clicks.
Impression – One view or display of an ad. Ad reports list total impressions per ad, which tells you the number of times your ad was served by the search engine when searchers entered your keywords (or viewed a content page containing your keywords).
Sponsored Listing – A term used as a title or column head on SERPs to identify paid advertisers and distinguish between paid and organic listings. Alternate names are Paid Listings or Paid Sponsors. Separating paid listings from organic results enables searchers to make their own purchase and site trust decisions and, in fact, resulted from an FTC complaint filed by Commercial Alert in 2001 alleging that the confusion caused in consumers who saw mixed paid and unpaid results constituted fraud in advertising.
Content Management Systems (CMS) – In computing, a content management system (CMS) is a document centric collaborative application for managing documents and other content. A CMS is often a web application and often it is used as a method of managing web sites and web content. The market for content management systems remains fragmented, with many open source and proprietary solutions available.
Usability – This term refers to how “user friendly” a web site and its functions are. A site with good usability is a site that makes it easy for visitors to find the information they are looking for or to perform the action they desire. Bad usability is anything that causes confusion or problems for the user. For example, large Flash animations served to a visitor with a dial up connection causes poor usability. Easy, intuitive navigation and clear, informative text enhance usability.
Conversion Rate – Conversion rates are measurements that determine how many of your prospects perform the prescribed or desired action step. If your prescribed response is for a visitor to sign up for a newsletter, and you had 100 visitors and 1 newsletter signup, then your conversion rate would be 1%. Typically, micro-conversions (for instance, reading different pages on your site) lead to your main conversion step (making a purchase, or signing up for a service).