SEM Glossary of Terms
Anvil is often asked to explain search engine marketing (SEM) strategies, tactics and terms. The following search engine marketing glossary of terms was compiled and edited by Anvil and includes a variety of sources named at the bottom of this page.
A method of testing by which a baseline control sample is compared to a variety of single-variable test samples. This method has been recently adopted from direct marketing within the interactive space to test tactics such as banner ads, emails and landing pages.
Assigning a value or credit to each marketing channel that plays a role in influencing conversions.
A series of steps or actions a user must take in order to complete the desired conversion action (i.e. eCommerce shopping cart).
The art and science of maximizing the percentage of website visitors that become customers or leads through quantitative testing. For more information, read Anvil’s conversion optimization article or download our Conversion Optimization Cheat Sheet.
The first web page a visitor arrives at on a website. Landing pages are where visitors arrive when they click on a search result or online advertisement and should contain content relevant to the searcher’s query or ad text.
The use of technology to generate, nurture, score and qualify leads using customized, multi-touch marketing communications tailored individually for each contact. For more information, download our Marketing Automation Cheat Sheet.
A process by which more than one component may be tested in a live environment. It can be thought of in simple terms as numerous split tests or A/B tests performed on one page at the same time. See A/B testing definition for more information.
Search Engine Optimization
A mathematical formula used by search engines to determine which web sites in their database to present in search results, in which order. While search engine algorithms change regularly, primary on-page factors include keyword placement and source code optimization. The primary off-page factor is link popularity.
The reputation of an author being highlighted in and influencing search engine results. Google introduced AuthorRank in 2012, which allows them to ensure the relationship between author and content is valid. For more information, read our Google Authorship blog post.
Web content that has more than one possible URL. Having multiple URLs for the same web content causes issues with duplicate content.
In terms of search engine marketing, this is the act of getting a search engine to record content for a URL that is different than what a searcher will ultimately see. Most search engines have explicit rules against unapproved cloaking. Those violating these guidelines might find their pages penalized or banned from a search engine’s index.
The component of a search engine that indexes web sites automatically. A search engine’s crawler (also called a spider or robot), copies web page source code into its index database and follows links to other web pages.
Content that appears on the Internet in more than one place. Duplicate content dilutes the page’s authority.
The collection of information (contained in a large database) a search engine has that searchers can query against. With crawler-based search engines, the index is typically copies of all the web pages they have found from crawling the web. With human-powered directories, the index contains the summaries of all web sites that have been categorized.
A text or graphical hyperlink from one site to another. Google and other search engine
algorithms consider a site’s popularity based on the quality and quantity of inbound links from relevant third party sites to help determine search positioning. See “Link Popularity.”
Locating, reclaiming and fixing broken inbound links to a website.
Search engine results tailored by region/location, based on the searcher’s location or intent. Local search results may include business ratings, reviews, maps and driving directions. For a more in-depth look, download our Local Search White Paper.
The Long Tail:
In relation to search engine marketing (SEM) the Long Tail refers to the keyword phrases that are highly detailed and specific and may generate low volumes of searches and traffic, but add up to generate a majority of traffic for sites with deep content or product SKUs.
Information placed in a web page not intended for users to see, but instead typically passes information to search engine crawlers, browsers, software and some other applications. Types of tags include meta description, keyword tag, robots tag and title tag.
An evolving branch of information retrieval services that is centered on the convergence of mobile platforms and mobile handsets or other mobile devices. The services allow users to find mobile content interactively on mobile websites. For more in-depth information, download our Mobile Marketing White Paper.
A collection of technologies that allow publishing of search results in a format suitable for syndication and aggregation. It is a way for websites and search engines to publish search results in a standard and accessible format. Originally developed by Amazon and recently adopted by Yahoo!, OpenSearch relies on abstract-based microformats (dataRSS, eRDF, FOAF, GeoRSS, hCard, hEvent, hReview, hAtom, MediaRSS, RDFa, XFN, etc.) to integrate syndicated content into search results.
Listings that search engines do not sell (unlike paid listings). Instead, sites appear solely because a search engine has deemed it editorially relevant
for them to be included . Paid inclusion content is also often considered “organic” even though it is paid for. This is because that content usually appears intermixed with unpaid organic results.
A file used to keep web pages from being indexed by search engines. The Robots Exclusion page provides official details.
Real simple syndication (RSS) is an easy way to distribute content via the Internet. For email marketers, it is a way to distribute messages while avoiding spam filters. Typical applications include email newsletters, blogs or even web sites.
A collaboration by Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! to improve the web by creating a structured data markup schema supported by major search engines. On-page markup helps search engines understand the information on webpages and provide richer results.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
The act of altering a web site so that it does well in the organic, crawler-based listings of search engines. In the past, has also been used as a term for any type of search engine marketing activity, though now the term search engine marketing is more commonly used as an umbrella term. For a more in-depth look, download our SEO White Paper.
Search Engine Results Page (SERP):
The list of results generated by a search engine in response to a keyword query based on weighted elements in each engine’s algorithm. Listings that appear on SERPs include organic search listings, sponsored listings, images, maps, news, videos and suggested search refinements.
The ability to personalize SERPs based on personal profile information, settings or location (IP address).
A list of URLs on a site that helps search engine crawlers easily find the pages for indexing. Sitemaps are the best insurance for getting a search engine to learn about your entire site.
Google’s process of blending listings from its news, videos, images, local, etc. among those it gathers from crawling web pages.
A collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications. Analyzing and identifying correlations in these complex data collections allows businesses to operate effectively, make decisions, reduce risks, and serve customers. For more information, read our Big Data blog post.
This is the rate of visitors that enter your site, and leave within the first 5 seconds (as calculated by Google Analytics) without viewing another page.
A site visitor completes a desired action. Generally a download, signup, purchase, etc.
The relationship between visitors to a web site and actions considered to be a “conversion,” such as a sale or request to receive more information. This metric is often expressed as a percentage
Key Performance Indicator (KPI):
Defines and/or measures progress towards company goals.
The number of times a page (an analyst-definable unit of content) was viewed.
Historically associated with sales and marketing efforts; when applied to SEM efforts, refers to numerical, percentage or ratio of revenue generated over total cost of activities. ROI typically factors in paid placement and associated management costs, but a more detailed analysis may factor in profit (true cost). If ROI is measuring paid placement only, it is typically referred to as return on ad spend (ROAS).
A visitor that interacts with a site. They may interact more than once, but within analytics reporting, they are only counted one time.
Interaction by a site visitor. The session ends when the visitor leaves the site.
The measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of internet data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage. For a more in-depth look, download our Analytics White Paper.
The creation and sharing of valuable content meant to attract, acquire and engage potential customers. Additional information can be found in our Content Resources article.
Graphic visual representations of information to present complex information quickly and clearly. Used as a content marketing technique.
Any content or feature within a website that somehow baits viewers to place links to it from other websites. Matt Cutts defines link bait as anything “interesting enough to catch people’s attention.” Link bait can be an extremely powerful form of marketing as it is viral in nature and can impact visibility in search results.
Content and media delivered through channels that a brand owns. Digital properties such as website, blogs, mobile apps and social media profiles are considered owned media.
Technical documents used primarily to generate leads for business-to-business technology companies. The technical papers typically include industry research, statistics and deep technical information. Download Anvil’s SEO White Paper for an example of how it’s done correctly.
A web-based pay-for-performance program designed to compensate “affiliate” partner web sites for driving qualified leads or sales to a “merchant” web site. Typically, the merchant pays a percentage of any sales resulting from any click through (via banner or text link) to their web site from an affiliate partner’s web site. Service providers help track and manage payments.
Click-through Rate (CTR):
The percentage of those clicking on a link out of the total number who view the link or text ad.
A type of internet crime that occurs in pay per click online advertising when a person, automated script, or computer program imitates a legitimate user of a web browser clicking on an ad, for the purpose of generating a charge per click without having actual interest in the target of the ad’s link.
Contextual Link Ads/Inventory:
To supplement their business models, certain text-link advertising networks (like Google) have expanded their network distribution to include “contextual inventory”. Most vendors of “search engine traffic” have expanded the definition of Search Engine Marketing to include this contextual inventory. Contextual or content inventory is generated when listings are displayed on pages of Web sites (usually not search engines), where the written content on the page indicates to the ad-server that the page is a good match to specific keywords and phrases.
System where an advertiser pays an agreed amount for each click someone makes on a link leading to their web site. Also known as PPC or paid listings.
Cost-per-Thousand Impressions (CPM):
System where an advertiser pays an agreed amount for the number of times their ad is seen by a consumer, regardless of the consumer’s subsequent action. This term is heavily used in print, broadcasting and direct marketing, as well as with online banner ad sales. CPM stands for “cost per thousand,” since ad views are often sold in blocks of 1,000.
Paid Inclusion/Pay-for-Inclusion (PFI):
The act of purchasing the ability to be indexed by search engines. Unlike PPC, position within search results are not guaranteed, but unlike organic SEO, PFI guarantees a level of frequency in indexing and enables optimization and submission of large numbers of pages within a site. The end result is ideally a higher position in search results for larger, database-driven sites.
The ability to track offline sales through unique toll-free phone numbers. This service is ideal for offline-based businesses like plumbers, contractors and other service industries.
Stands for pay-per-click. See “Cost per Click” and “Paid Placement.”
Advertising program where listings are guaranteed to appear in response to particular search terms, with higher ranking typically obtained by paying more than other advertisers. Paid placement listings can be purchased from a portal or a search network. Search networks are often set up in an auction environment where keywords and phrases are associated with a cost-per-click (CPC) fee. For a more in-depth look, download our Pay-Per-Click White Paper.
An advanced technique that effectively targets previous visitors to your website via advertising on third-party websites.
Shopping search engines allow shoppers to look for products and prices in a search environment for rapid and easy comparison. Premium placement can be purchased on some shopping search indices via “XML feeds.”
A form of paid inclusion where a search engine is “fed” information about pages via XML, rather than gathering that information through crawling actual pages. Marketers can pay to have their pages included in a spider based search index either annually per URL or on a CPC basis based on an XML document representing each page on the client site. These feeds are commonly used for Shopping Feeds.
Digital Brand Management
Online Public Relations:
see SEM PR for a full description
Online Reputation Management (ORM):
The act of monitoring, addressing or mitigating undesirable search engine results or mentions in online media for a company or product. Techniques include generating new content and adding your message to existing detracting content through commenting or posting. For more information, visit Anvil’s Online Reputation Management article.
Search Engine Marketing Public Relations (SEM PR):
The art of leveraging traditional PR materials to increase visibility and traffic via a hybrid of interactive PR strategies & tactics
including SEO, PPC and SMO. Tactics may include press release optimization and distribution, article syndication and social media outreach.
Content that is shared on third party sites because of its quality and relevance. It is not paid for and does not appear on channels that the brand owns.
A social graph of all Internet users, which represents the global mapping of everybody and how they’re related. The term was popularized by Facebook in 2007.
An umbrella term that defines the various activities that integrate technology, social interaction, and the construction of words and pictures. This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends on the varied perspectives and “building” of shared meaning, as people share their stories, and understandings.
Social Media Marketing (SMM):
A form of internet marketing which seeks to achieve branding and marketing communication goals through the participation in various social media networks ( Facebook,Twitter, LinkedIn), social bookmarking (Digg, Stumbleupon) and social media sharing sites (Flickr, YouTube). For a more in-depth look, download our Social Media Marketing White Paper.
Any marketing technique that induces Web sites or users to pass on a marketing message to other sites or users, creating a potentially exponential growth in the message’s visibility and effect.
Definitions above draw on multiple sources, as well as original writing. Content used is copyrighted, and remains property of its respective owners: Anvil Media, I-Search Digest, SearchEngineWatch.com, and Wikipedia.
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