SEM Account Glossary of Terms

To start off our SEM Key Concepts series, we’re going to cover the basics with a glossary of key terms every marketer should know. Let’s dive in:

General SEM Account Terms

Query/search term: This is the actual phrase written into the search engine by the user. “Flights to Jamaica” is a search term or query.

Keyword: Marketers bid on keywords to trigger their paid search ads when the corresponding query is entered by a user. Keywords can be phrases or single words. 

For info on keyword match types, check out this post. 

Ad group: A group of keywords associated with a set of ads.

Campaign: A group of ad groups.

Destination URL: The page that users are taken to when they click an ad. Also known as a landing page.

Max bid: This is the highest amount that the marketer is willing to pay for a click when their ad shows. This is not necessarily how much the marketer WILL pay, you just have to bid higher than the next person for your keyword to be triggered. You’ll never pay more than your max bid though. 


KPI: Key performance indicators. The most important metrics to determine account success as determined by the marketer or their client. 

Impression: A measurement of the number of times an ad has been shown to a user. 

Click: When a searcher clicks on an ad and is redirected to the destination URL of an ad.

CPC: Cost Per Click Costs divided by clicks.

CTR: Clickthrough Rate. Clicks divided by impressions

Conversion: A conversion is a product sale, a lead form completion, a download, a video view, or  any other action taken by a user that is the goal of the advertising campaign.

Conversion rate: Conversions divided by clicks

ROI: Return on investment. How much you earned minus how much you spend.

ROAS: Return on ad spend. Similar to ROI, but expressed as a ratio.

CPA: Cost per acquisition/conversion. Cost divided by conversions.

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