SEM & SEO Glossary

Search engine marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), like other specialized fields, are full of jargon. Below is a list of essential terms you should know if you manage a website.

What is:

A/B test or split testing A method of running 2 or more versions of an element in an ad or landing page in order to determine which has a better outcome. The tester waits for enough data for a statistically significant difference in behavior.

Above the fold The fold refers to the bottom of a computer screen. So, above the fold means content that can be seen without scrolling.

Ad extensions Google Ad Extensions allow you to expand your ad with more details about your business. See more about Ad Extensions.

Ad impression an ad impression is counted each time your ad is seen, even if no action is taken.

AdSense Google AdSense is a program for website publishers to include ads from the Google Display Network on their website to earn advertising revenue.

Algorithm A complex equation used by search engines to determine a website’s rank.

Bounce A bounce is a single-page session on your site with no interactions.
Bounce Rate is single-page sessions divided by all sessions, or the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page before leaving your site.

Branding The word has its origins in leaving a mark with a branding iron! In marketing it refers to promoting a particular brand name, logo or design so that it is distinct from other brands and more familiar to users.

Canonical link or canonical tag is used in website code to inform the search engine which page of two similar versions of a page is the master copy that should be included in the search engine index.

Click-through As relating to search engines it is the action of clicking on a link in search engine result pages to visit an indexed site.

Click-through rate is the percentage of all impressions in which an ad or search engine result was clicked to visit the website.

CMS Content Management System used for creating and editing websites. Popular CMS platforms include WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal, Squarespace & Wix.

Conversion is the action of a website visitor completing a desired goal, such as filling out a form or making a purchase.

CPC Cost Per Click. With digital ads it refers the pricing model of charging for ads based on ad clicks.

CTR Click-Through Rate. The number of clicks that your ad receives divided by the number of times your ad is shown.

Display ads refers to banner graphics. Google Display Ads are the sponsored results that appear on various websites throughout the Google Display Network. See more on Google Display Ads.

Frequency Cap (FC) restricting the number of times that your ad is seen by a user.

Geo-targeting delivering different content or advertisements to consumers based on their geographic locations.

Google Ads, formerly Google AdWords – an advertising platform that can be used to manage search ads, display ads, videos ads and shopping ads.

Google Ad Grants A program for registered charities to display text-based search ads below the paid search ads in Google search results pages.

Hamburger Menu An icon consisting of three horizontal lines to toggle open a menu. This is usually used to show a cleaner website design or to conserve space as on a mobile view.

Impression Share is the percentage of impressions that your ads receive compared to the total number of impressions that your ads could get. Impression share = impressions / total eligible impressions.

Index The catalogue of web pages maintained by a search engine. Another meaning is the default page or home page of a website.

inlink or inbound link is a link from another website to your website. The number and quality of inlinks affect the search engine ranking of your website in organic search results. See more on Authority Building Strategies to improve the inlinks to your website.

Keyword a word or phrase entered in search engines to find information, products and services. Keywords form part of a search engine query. Optimizing a website to include popular relevant keywords is an important aspect of SEM.

Keyword Prominence How prominently keywords appear in the text of a web page. Title tags, headers, the beginning of paragraphs and hyperlinks, are just some of the places keywords should feature prominently.

KPI Key Performance Indicator

Landing Page also destination page. This is a single web page that is the destination from an ad or link. The page is often optimized for keywords and optimized to lead users to a specific goal such as capturing a lead, or making a purchase.

Link Popularity The number and quality of inbound links that a site has.

Long Tail refers to the large number of detailed keywords that are searched in small quantities as contrasted with the small number of main keywords with high search volume.

Meta Tags or meta data provides information about a webpage in the HTML source code. This information can be read by search engines but is not visible on the web page. Examples include title tags, meta descriptions and canonical tags.

Negative Keyword prevents your ad from being triggered by a certain word or phrase. Your ads aren’t shown to anyone who is searching for that phrase.

On-page SEO or on-site SEO refers to making changes to your website, such as optimizing pages of your site for keywords in order to improve ranking for those keywords in search engine results.

Organic Search refers to search results that are not paid. Search engines determine the ranking of websites in search results based on editorial ranking factors to show the most relevant results at the top. Paid search results appear above organic search results and are labelled as such.

Page Speed refers to the loading time required for a web page.

Placement also called positioning or ranking is the process whereby a search engine places websites in an order so that the most relevant sites appear first in the search results for a particular query.

PPC or CPC Pay Per Click or Cost Per Click is a pricing method for advertising where the advertiser pays the ad network or publisher a fee per click on their ad. In Google Search Ads for example, competitors “bid” for the highest position on search terms based on a PPC fee that they are willing to pay.

Pre-roll a promotional video which appears before the video that the user has selected to play.

Quality Score estimate by Google ads of the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing pages. Higher quality ads can lead to lower prices and better ad positions. Quality score can be improved, for example, by including the keyword that you are bidding on in the landing page that you are sending traffic to.

Query A word, a phrase, or a group of words used to pass instructions to a search engine or a directory in order to locate websites.

Referrer or referral traffic is traffic from visitors who click on a link from another website that leads to your site. Traffic reports often have traffic sources which include organic traffic, traffic from ads, referral traffic (from other websites) and traffic from social sites.

Relevancy How well a web page provides the information a user is looking for, as measured by the user.

ROI Return on Investment is a calculation of how much profit you’ve made from your ads compared to how much you’ve spent on those ads.

Run of Site is ad placement on every page of a website as opposed to placement on specific pages.

Search Ads paid search engine results that appear above organic search results. See more on Google Search Ads.

Search Engine A search engine is a server or a collection of servers dedicated to indexing internet web pages, storing the results and returning lists of pages which match particular queries. The indexes are normally generated using spiders. Google is a search engine

SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing and refers to the combination of search engine optimization (SEO) and search advertising. See more on SEM

SEO Search Engine Optimization is the process of increasing traffic to your website by improving your ranking in organic search engine results. See our SEO Basics guide and our Advanced SEO guide.

SERP Stands for Search Engine Results Pages.

Sitemap a page that lists and links to all the pages on your website.

Spamming The use of redundant or unethical techniques to improve search engine placement and give irrelevant pages high search engine ranking. Also means sending unsolicited or unwanted messages.

Spider The software that scans documents and adds them to an index by following links.

Traffic The visitors to a web page or website.

Unique Visitor refers to a user who visits a site at least once within the reporting period.

UX Abbreviation for User Experience

White Hat SEO refers to website optimization to improve ranking in search engine results while maintaining the integrity of the website and respecting guidelines put in place by search engines.

WYSIWYG stands for What You See Is What You Get. Refers to interfaces for making website changes without having to see website code.

XML Sitemap is a webpage set up with links to all pages of your website specifically for search engine spiders to facilitate the indexing of your website.

YOY stands for Year Over Year and refers to the comparison in reporting of the current year to the same period in the previous year.