An Introductory Guide to the Language of Search Marketing

Tim Stauning - Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Did you realize search engines have been around for 25 years?

The first search engine was Archie (“archive” without the “v”), which launched in 1990 as an index of directory listings. More modern search engines came years later with AltaVista and Yahoo (1994), Google (1996) and Ask Jeeves (1997), which evolved into – minus the butler.

As people’s appetites for information have become increasingly insatiable, an organization’s ability to be easily found on search engines and provide solutions to people’s problems has become a business necessity.

Most of the people we speak with understand this fact. They use search engines all the time. But they don’t know how to use search to grow their business.

Understanding search marketing begins with understanding the basic language of search. Here is a list of foundational terms every business owner and marketer should know before diving into the vast search marketing pool.

  • Search Engine. A search engine is a program that uses sophisticated algorithms to locate and index information across the internet based on a user’s search criteria. Although most people associate the term with services like Google (where most search marketing occurs), most websites also have search engines to help visitors find specific information within that website.
  • Keyword. A keyword is a word or phrase that search users enter into a search engine to find a product, service or information. The search engine then lists the most relevant results based on that keyword.
  • Long Tail Keyword. This is a longer, more specific version of a keyword. For example, “painter” or “house painter” could be a keyword, while a long tail keyword could be “interior house painter in Mercer County, NJ.”
  • SERP. A Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is what appears when someone submits a query in a search engine. It includes the most relevant results as well as ads that target search terms used in that particular query.
  • SEO. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the use of a number of tactics to improve a company’s organic search ranking in order to increase or maintain website traffic. This will help you rank higher on all search engines without paying for advertising.
  • SEM. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) involves purchasing ads on a search engine to increase visibility and generate business leads on a website.
  • Landing Page. Technically, a landing page is the page a person “lands” on after clicking a link. In the world of search marketing, a landing page is built and designed to get a visitor to take a specific action (fill out a form, subscribe to a blog, download an eBook, make a purchase, etc.). Every SEM campaign should have a customized landing page.
  • PPC. Pay-per-click (PPC) is an advertising pricing model that requires an advertiser to pay a certain amount of money each time an ad is clicked, rather than paying based on how many times people are exposed to the ad.
  • CPC. Cost-per-click is exactly that – how much an advertiser pays when someone clicks on an ad. For example, if an ad with a CPC of $2 is clicked 50 times, the cost is $100.

According to April 2015 data from comScore, Google owns nearly two thirds (64.5 percent) of the search market, making it the most popular search engine by far, followed by Microsoft’s Bing (19.8 percent) and Yahoo (12.8 percent). Here are Google-related terms that you should know before launching a search campaign.

  • Google AdWords. Google’s paid advertising system that allows advertisers to use a CPC pricing model to place clickable ads in search results when potential customers search for certain keywords. These ads can appear on different parts of the SERP, including the top, bottom, or beside search results.
  • Google Analytics. This website statistics service from Google helps you analyze visitor traffic, better understand website visitors and their needs, measure conversions and sales, and test different strategies. These insights help you improve the effectiveness of your marketing and your website.
  • Google Trends. Based on Google search results during a specific time period, this service shows a search term’s popularity in different parts of the world in nearly real-time. It can also estimate how popular the term will be. Google Trends can be helpful when choosing keywords.

Search marketing, like any marketing tactic, can be overwhelming, but that shouldn’t stop you from taking advantage of the value it can provide to your business. That’s why we’re here.

As a WSI digital marketing consultant, I specialize in helping small-to-midsize businesses remove the risk and uncertainty from marketing so they can make more informed decisions and grow their company. If you’d like to learn more about search marketing and how your company can benefit, please give me a call at 609-750-0505 or email


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