Do you know the most common search engine marketing terms?  How about the difference between CPC and CPM?  We understand it can be confusing, and we’re here to help!  Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is also sometimes called Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC), and is one of the many fully-managed services that Refined Impact offers.

Search Engine Marketing by Refined Impact™

Here’s a guide to some of the most commonly used search engine marketing terms.


Audience (aka Target Audience or Demographic): A subset of potential customers that you try to reach with your search engine marketing.

Click-through rate (CTR): The percentage of people who clicked an ad after seeing it appear in search results.

Conversion: The desired action that a person will take after clicking on an ad. Conversions could be measured as leads, purchases, subscribers, phone calls, or walk-in visits.

Cost per acquisition (CPA):  Also known as Cost per Conversion, this is a calculation of the total cost divided by the number of conversions over a set period of time.

Cost per click (CPC): The price an advertiser pays for a click on an ad from a potential customer.

Impressions: The number of times an ad is displayed as a result of a search on a search engine, or through display (image) advertisement.

Keyword: Words or phrases that search engine marketing campaigns are based upon.  The keywords in your campaign are what trigger certain ads to be displayed to the end user.

Landing page: Often the most important part of a search engine marketing campaign, a landing page is the page on your website where potential customers arrive after clicking on an ad.  RI Pro-Tip: This should almost always be a page developed specifically for your advertising, and NOT your home page!

Optimization: The process of enhancing an ad’s performance by adjusting aspects of the campaign. This includes modifying bids, changing keywords, adding targeting, and testing changes to landing pages.  This is a core component of Refined Impact’s Digital Advertising service, and the reason our partners have such great success in the search engine marketing campaigns we develop and manage.

Pay per click (PPC): Also known as pay-per-click advertising, this is a more commonly used term for search engine marketing and paid search. It also describes the billing method for this kind of advertising, where the advertiser is charged “per click” on their ads.

Search engine marketing (SEM): The process of advertising on search engines, which involves bidding on keywords to make your ads appear on the first page of search results. Also known as PPC, paid search and search advertising.

Targeting: An essential aspect of a search engine marketing campaign that focuses on a subset of possible audiences. Targeting works like a set of filters, and can be set based on criteria such as geography, time, age, gender, or a combination of these identifiers.

(Glossary of search engine marketing terms and definitions via Bing)


I hope you found this post helpful, and that you’ve learned some new things about search engine marketing!  If you feel overwhelmed by SEM for your business, or just need someone to maximize the effectiveness of your marketing budget, apply to become a Refined Impact partner and let us take care of the heavy lifting!