What Do All These SEM Acronyms Mean Anyway?

By Avelyn Austin | Feb 18, 2009
More Articles by Avelyn


Andy RooneyAndy Rooney is a classic in my book; I have yet to see a 60 Minutes that didn’t conclude with a passionate commentary done by Mr. Rooney. In his commentary last Sunday, “Andy Is Stumped By The Headlines”, he joked about how impressed he was by a speech given by the newly elected Secretary of the Treasury because “… he [The Secretary] used so much language I [Rooney] didn’t understand”. This got me thinking about the language that I myself use, especially at work. I ramble off SEM acronyms at SEO and PPC clients all day long and sometimes forget that they may not know what it all means. So, out of respect for Andy Rooney and the individuals who read our blog but don’t always know what we’re talking about, here’s a basic list of SEM acronyms we’ve used and what they mean:

  • SEM – Search Engine Marketing – A form of Internet marketing that seeks to promote websites by increasing their visibility in search engine result pages.
  • SEO – Search Engine Optimization – 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.
  • SERP – 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.
  • PPC – 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.
  • CTR – Click Through Rate – The number of clicks that an ad gets, divided by the total number of times that ad is displayed or served. (Represented as: total clicks / total impressions for a specific ad = CTR). For example, if an ad has 100 impressions and 6 clicks, the CTR is 6%.
  • CPC – Cost Per Click – 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.

Although this list may be seen as “elementary” for the average search engine marketer, I hope that it has at least shed light on the fact that we can’t assume our audience always understands what’s coming out of our mouths.

*The majority of definitions used in this blog are from the SEMPO: Search Engine Optimization and Marketing Glossary.

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