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Improving your understanding of common Internet marketing terms is essential knowledge for modern marketing campaigns.

When you’re using the web to market your business, it’s easy to get confused with the alphabet soup of different acronyms and other jargon.

Search Engine Strategies

You want to make it easy for potential customers to find your website using search engines like Google and Bing. The key to search engine success is effective SEO, SEM, and a flurry of other abbreviations.

Here’s a quick overview of the key terms and concepts to help you gain an understanding of the various options available, and give you a head start in determining which strategies will work best for your practice:

SEO (search engine optimization) – Techniques used to improve a website’s performance in search results. SEO focuses on organic or natural search, as opposed to paid ads.

SEM (search engine marketing) – Paid advertising on search engines. SEM usually refers to the pay-per-click text ads that appear on the search results pages of Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.

Pricing Models

Online campaign pricing is usually based on either the number of clicks your ads get or the number of times it is seen.

PPC (pay per click) – Your cost is based upon the number of clicks each ad gets, not the actual number of times the ad appears. Also called PPC (pay-per-click).

CPM (cost per thousand) – The cost is based on the number of times your ad is seen, defined as a set price per 1,000 impressions.

Typically, search engine ads are PPC while display ads are CPM. However, there are some exceptions.


Online ad campaign performance is evaluated using a number of different metrics. Some, such as impressions and clicks are pretty self-explanatory. Others need some explanation:

CTR (click through rate) – The average number of click-throughs (website visits due to clicking on an ad) per hundred ad impressions.

CPC (cost per click) – The amount paid to a search engine or web publisher each time one of your ads is clicked. The cost is given as an average CPC when the price per click-through is variable, as is often the case with search ads.

CPA (cost per action) – The cost an advertiser pays when a person completes a desired action, such as buying a product or filling out a contact form. Like CPC, the CPA is often an average cost over a given time period.

That covers the basics. But, of course, there’s a lot more to learn. Here’s a great online dictionary of Internet marketing terms that goes into much greater depth.