Search marketing glossary

In light of the relatively young and still growing search engine marketing industry, no governing body has yet to officialize key term definitions. The BIGSHOT house definitions offered below are the most objective and widely accepted by major SEM industry leaders.

General search engine marketing terms & acronyms

Sponsored search terms & acronyms

Search engine optimization terms & acronyms


General search engine marketing terms & acronyms

Definition of Directory

A directory is a type of search engine organized in categories that contain website listings manually submitted for free or paid inclusion and reviewed by human editors or automated filtering, e.g.,

Definition of Keyphrase

A keyphrase is a string of keywords, e.g. kansas city plastic surgeon, or lap band surgeon.

Definition of Keyword

A keyword is a search term that is relevant to a website's line of products and/or services, e.g. bariatrician for a weight loss surgeon's website.

Definition of Landing Page

A landing page is a specific web page designed as a visitor point of entry that typically contains a targeted selling proposition and a call to action that relates to the original search query.

Definition of Search Engine

Depending on the type, a search engine is a web-based service that locates relevant content within its index of web-crawled sites and/or paid advertising from its advertiser base.

Definition of Search Query

A search query is the keyword or keyphrase that search engine users type into the search box.

Definition of SEM

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the umbrella term for internet marketing on search engines (a.k.a. web, online marketing, or advertising), which includes 1) sponsored search and 2) search engine optimization (SEO).

Definition of SERP(s)

Search Engine Result Page(s) (SERP), where results of a search query are listed.

Definition of Traffic Analytics

Traffic analytics a.k.a. web analytics, is a website tracking system that reports information on visitors such as traffic origination, on-site behavior, visit paths, and the technology used to access the site, e.g. Google Analytics.

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Sponsored search terms & acronyms

Definition of Keyword Bid

A keyword bid is the dollar amount that an advertiser is willing to pay to display an ad relative to the competition.

Definition of Broad / Advanced Match

Broad / Advanced Match is a keyword matching option that allows ads to show under search queries that contain the actual keywords that are bid on, as well as variations such as synonyms, singular/plural forms, keyword order, e.g. when broad / advanced match is on, the keyphrase kansas city bariatric surgeon will trigger an ad impression under the search query best bariatric surgeons in greater kansas city area.

Definition of Click-Through

A click-through is an instance of a web user who has clicked on an advertisement and arrived on the advertiser’s landing page.

Definition of CTR

The Click Through Rate (CTR) is the percentage of clicks to impressions, e.g. if 5 users clicked on an ad out of the 100 times that it displayed, the CTR is 0.05 or 5%.

Definition of CPC

The Cost Per Click (CPC) is the actual click cost, equating to the exact or lower amount of the advertiser’s maximum keyword bid depending on ad performance, quality score, and competing bids.

Definition of Geo-Targeting

Geo-targeting is a sponsored search campaign feature that allows advertisers to restrict ad distribution only to users with an IP address registered at an Internet Service Provider (ISP) with addresses assigned to a Designated Market Area (DMA), manually designated cities, or within a custom radius or polygonal range.

Definition of Impression

An ad impression is the instance of an ad showing in a SERP or a page belonging to a search engine's content network.

Definition of Negative Keyword

As a broad / advanced match buffer, negative keywords function as a filter to prevent an ad from showing under unwanted irrelevant search queries, e.g. for a hospital, if supplies is set as a negative keyword for the keyphrase kansas city hospital, the search query hospital supplies in kansas city mo will not trigger an ad impression.

Paid inclusion consists in paying a search engine or directory for indexing and preferential ranking in the SERPs.

Definition of PPC

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) refers to a form of sponsored search advertising where advertisers are only charged when their ads are clicked on by users.

Sponsored search a.k.a. paid search, involves paying a search engine for ad placement in a SERP section dedicated to paid listings. Sponsored search is independent of organic site ranking.

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Search engine optimization terms & acronyms

Definition of Organic Listings

Organic listings a.k.a. natural listings are the non-paid search results based on algorithmic ranking.

Definition of Page Indexing

Page indexing refers to the web crawler action of tracking keyword-rich web content and storing a copy of it into the search engine's database for later retrieval by users seeking such content.

Definition of Ranking Algorithm

Ranking algorithms (often abbreviated to algo) are a well-guarded black box proprietary mathematical formula that search engines utilize to calculate site ranking in the SERPs for each search query.

Definition of SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a subset of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) that aims at facilitating site crawling and influencing a more prominent search engine organic ranking with an end goal of driving traffic from natural listings.

Definition of Web Crawler

Web crawler a.k.a. web bot, spider, or harvester, is an automated program that reads web documents and tracks web content for indexing.

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