SEM Glossary

Whether you know nothing at all or think you know everything, the world of search engine marketing is a confusing, mind-boggling place that is constantly in flux. With information at your fingertips, stay educated with Wpromote University!

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AdSense is Google's contextual advertising network. Website owners can enroll in this ad serving program to allow text, image and video advertisements administered by Google to be on their sites. Revenue is generated on a per-click or per-thousand impressions basis and publishers share the profits from those ad clicks with Google.

AdWords refers specifically to Google's advertisement and link auction network. AdWords offers pay-per-click and site-targeted advertising for text and banner ads at the local, national, and international levels.

Bing Ads refers to Microsoft's cost-per-click ad network. Due to its relative newness in the industry of online marketing, it only has a limited market share as compared to Google AdWords.

In the context of a search campaign, a click refers to the single instance of a user clicking on an ad or listing and being delivered to a website. Thus, a click on an ad or listing results in a hit, or a visitor, to a website.

Contextual advertising is the term used to describe advertising programs that generate and display relevant advertisements on a site based on the specific content of that webpage. Google AdSense was the first contextual advertising program and remains the most popular.

A conversion is a measure of a quantifiable goal being achieved on a website. Of course, this will vary from site to site. It could be a sale transacted, a lead form filled out, or a phone call made to the company. A conversion is the most important metric in analytics because it is related directly to revenue generated for the business.

At the technical level, a cookie is a small data file (often URLs, Web addresses, etc.) created by a Web server and stored on a user's computer. The purpose of cookies is to help websites customize a visitor's experience, as well as allow affiliate program managers to track conversions.

CPA stands for "cost-per-action" and is defined as the cost to an advertiser for a specific action taken by a user in response to an ad. An "action" may be anything from an ad click to buying a product. It is a very useful way to measure the effectiveness of online advertising.

CPC stands for "cost-per-click." It is the specific amount that an advertiser is charged each time their ad is clicked. Most search ads and contextual ads are sold in auctions where advertisers are charged on a cost-per-click basis.

CPM stands for "cost-per-thousand impressions." This refers to how much an advertiser pays for 1,000 impressions (pageviews) of its ad, regardless of the consumer's subsequent actions. CPM is often used to measure how profitable a website is or will be.

CSS or "Cascading Style Sheets" is the language used to describe how an HTML document should be formatted. Both web designers and users often use CSS to create style templates that specify how different text elements appear on a webpage.

CTR is short for "clickthrough rate" and refers to the ratio of the number of clicks on an ad compared to the number of views. CTR is helpful in measuring an ad or link's effectiveness, as well as the relevance of a particular traffic source or keyword. Generally, the higher the clickthrough rate the better. Search ads tend to have higher CTRs than traditional banner ads.

Dayparting allows advertisers to adjust bids or pause and resume campaigns by hour of the day or by day of the week. This strategy involves bidding more when your target audience is available and less when they are unlikely to be available.

Flash content is a type of graphic animation used on websites to make them look rich and interactive. However, because flash contains minimal relevant content, search engines have more difficulty indexing and ranking websites that utilize it.

A hit is a single view of a webpage, web image, or file.

Used generally when referring to pay-per-click campaigns, an impression is a single instance of your ad being shown to a user on a search results page after being triggered by their search query.

A landing page is the webpage that a visitor arrives at after clicking on a link or advertisement. It is also referred to as a destination page, destination URL, or target URL.

Link building is the process of getting high quality websites to link to your website in order to increase link popularity and PageRank. Search engines consider websites with high quality inbound links to be more relevant, authoritative, and trustworthy, which helps boost the rankings of those in the search results.

Long tail keywords are keyword phrases (normally composed of 3 to 4 keywords) that are more precise and specific than singular keywords, and therefore have a higher value. When long tail keywords are searched, they are much more likely to convert to sales than more generic keywords.

One-way links are links to your site from sites that do not receive a link from your site in return. These are much more effective in increasing link popularity than reciprocal links because they show that other sites want to link to your site without receiving an inbound link in return.

Also known as "natural" rankings, these are the search results that are supposed to be the most relevant results to the search query in question. Unlike with PPC, you cannot control where you show up in organic rankings, and you do not pay each time a user clicks on your link. The rankings are based off of hundreds of factors, including the content on the site, the links from other sites to that site, the age of the site, and many more. Also unlike the paid links, these rankings can take years to achieve, and incumbent sites have a huge advantage over newcomers.

Founded in 1997, Overture was the pioneer of search marketing and PPC advertising. In 2003 it was bought by Yahoo! and subsequently branded as Yahoo! Search Marketing (YSM).

Pay-per-call is similar to pay-per-click advertising, but instead of offering a sponsored link, pay-per-call ads display a toll-free telephone number that the user can call. The advertiser therefore receives a phone call instead of a website visitor.

Also known as "sponsored links" or "paid search," pay-per-click ads are the text ads on the top and down the right side of the search results pages of nearly every major search engine. Each time a web searcher clicks one of these links, the advertiser pays the search engines anywhere from $.01 to $10 or more. The average is around $1-2 per click for positioning on the top of the page.

PageRank is the index used by Google to rank websites on a scale of 0 to 10. Using a complex logarithmic scale, Google determines the score based on a variety of factors, including link popularity.

A pageview is the term for a single page being viewed a single time by a single IP address. Thus, one unique visitor resulting from one click could explore a website, visit ten pages and tally ten pageviews.

A quality score is a measure used by Google to assess the quality and relevance of your ads and determine your keyword status, minimum CPC bid, and ad rank. The score is determined by your keyword's clickthrough rate and the relevance of your ad text, keyword, and landing page.

A query is the particular word or phrase that a searcher enters into a search engine.

Reciprocal links are links to another website placed on your site in exchange for links to your site placed on their website. Quality reciprocal link exchanges can be an effective way to build link popularity and boost search engine rankings if done effectively. However, reciprocal link offers of low quality should be avoided.

A referrer is the source a particular website visitor came from.

ROAS stands for “return on advertising spend,” and represents the dollars earned per dollars spent on advertising. ROAS is computed by dividing revenue derived from the ad source by the cost of that ad source.

ROI stands for “return on investment” and is a measure of how much return you will receive from each marketing dollar.

RSS stands for “Rich Site Summary” or “Real Simple Syndication.” It is a method of sharing content amongst different websites. Sites can syndicate "feeds" (content) and users can use an application known as an RSS reader to download these feeds.

Search engine marketing is the broad term that encompasses all efforts with regard to achieving leads and sales from search engines: PPC management, SEO, and landing page optimization generally all fall under the umbrella of search engine marketing, though the phrase is used quite liberally and in a variety of contexts.

Search engine optimization is the process of increasing a website's organic rankings. The process is complex and time-consuming, and includes improving website usability, content building, link building, social media and much more.

SERP stands for “search engine results page” and refers to the page on which the search engines display the results for a particular search query.

A sitemap is a visual model of the pages of a website. It is used to help search engines navigate through your website.

A unique visitor a single instance of a distinct IP address accessing a webpage or website in a period of time. As a metric, unique visitors are the total of all such instances. For example, in a given month a website may have 1,000 visits and 600 unique visitors. This means that some of those 600 unique visitors visited the site more than once, leading to 1,000 visits total.

URL stands for “Uniform Resource Locator” and refers to the unique web address of any webpage.

Viral marketing encompasses all self-propagating marketing techniques. Common channels of transmission include email, blogging, and word-of-mouth.

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