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Understanding Search Engine Marketing Terms [SEO, PPC, SEM, CPC, CPA and More]

By October 23, 2019 No Comments

Search engine marketing terms may sound like a mess of confusing acronyms and unfamiliar terms if you are not living and breathing the world of Search advertising or digital marketing. If that’s the case you’re in luck with this handy high-level, easy to understand guide to Search engine marketing terms. Here is a rundown of the most common acronyms you will see referring to search marketing today.

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) & PPC (Pay Per Click)

These terms are used interchangeably to refer to paid search engine advertising, but they are quite different, and neither of them specifically refer to this.

SEM stands for search engine marketing in the broadest sense this refers to the promotion of a website in the search results usually through paid search ads on Google, Bing, yahoo, and AOL (yes it still exists). SEO or Search engine optimization deals specifically with increasing organic rankings SEM includes paid advertisement.

PPC stand for pay per click which is a pricing model where advertisers pay per click on their ad. This model has been around since the 90s but gained widespread prominence until 2002 when google introduced it to their Adwords search advertising platform. Before this Adwords (now Google Ads) used the traditional media pricing of CPM which means cost per thousand impressions.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

SEO stands for search engine optimization is the systematic process of improving a website’s organic ranking on search engines through content, backlink building, user experience improvements and technical optimizations. That’s all well and good, you might say, but what does that really mean? Well, hypothetical reader, I’m glad you asked.

First off, it’s important to note the distinction between paid and organic results. Organic results are based on ranking factors which are proprietary to search engines and are not paid for. SEO only focuses on organic results. These organic results are a search engine’s product. But hold on now wait a minute, I thought google made billions off paid search results? Although this is true, it is not their product, it a revenue source, but their real product is organic search results that are high quality and relevant to the end users search query. Google search ads would be worthless if nobody went to their site and typed in searches. Traffic to google.com drives searches, searches drive traffic to your website and revenue to your business, that is if you come up on the SERP. If you want to learn more about Search engine Optimization explore the Digalitics Blog – we eat, sleep, drink and breath search.

SERP (Search Engine Results Page)

SERP stands for search engine results page is what you get when you type something into Google and you get a page of 10 organic results 3 map pack listings, some ads and maybe some structured data. What a rich and rewarding result for typing in whatever question comes to our minds.

CPC (Cost per Click)

CPC stands for Cost Per Click. In paid search you’ll often see this term on a report, although this is an important metric it’s also relative to your conversion rate. CPCs vary based on industry and competitiveness of keywords. Ultimately your cost per acquisition is how to determine your return on investment but know what you’re paying per click helps you break down the possible potential value of any given keyword based on the market.

CPA (Cost Per Acquisition)

In digital marketing CPA stands for cost per acquisition. This is the cost you are paying for each defined conversion. Conversion actions can be defined however you would like but it’s important to use a netric that can be monetized in order to accurately determine return on investment. Typically, ecommerce purchases, phone calls, form fills, and email leads are defined as conversions on paid or organic search campaigns.

CTR (Click Through Rate)

Click Through Rate abbreviated CTR is the number of clicks received vs the number of times an end user viewed your ad or organic search result. In organic search CTR is a user experience metric and is useful when optimizing titles, and meta descriptions. CTR can be useful in determining optimizations that need to be made to paid search ads and keyword targeting as well.

Match Type (Broad/Modified Broad, Phrase and Exact)

In paid search engine ads, match type is an option that helps determine when ads for your targeted keywords show up on the SERP. There are four different kind of match types which are:

  1. Broad Match – This means your search ad will show when someone types in your target keyword, phrase or something closely related including synonyms. This kind of match type is useful when starting an account in order to do a little search query analysis in order refine your keyword targeting. This type of targeting casts a wide net.
  2. Modified broad match – this is slightly more refined than broad match but still casts a wide net in search it’s noted by a + in front of each keyword. I. E. +Best +Search + Marketing +Article. this helps to slightly refine your targeting but still capture most related searches to your keyword.
  3. Phrase Match – This means that a search must include all the words in your targeted key phrase. For example, if I’m targeting “best search engine articles” and someone types in “best search engine marketing articles”, my ad will show. However, if they type “best search articles” my add will not show. As noted above phrase match targeting is noted by quotes.
  4. Exact Match – The search must include the key phrase, exactly as written in the exact order. For example, if “food near me” is being targeted and a search is made for “Food nearby” the ad will not show but if someone searches for “best food near me” the ad will show.

These distinctions may seem complex, but they are essential into refining your audience.

Meta description

Meta descriptions are your elevator pitch for selling your search engine result to get clicked on. There are so many potential results for any given search why should someone click on yours? Multiple studies show that title and meta description in conjunction with rank largely determine organic CTR. Remember to follow meta description best practices when optimizing this part of your web page.

Although not an exhaustive list this is a quick rundown on some common Search Engine Marketing Terms. At Digalitics, we take great pride in demystifying digital marketing. If there are any topics that you would like to see on the Digalitics blog, please let us know we’d be more than happy to share our knowledge.