SEO, SERP, CTR, PPC, What do all these Words and Acronyms mean?

Part of the You Can Learn Web Success Techniques series.
By Ken Brown
Editor, YouCanLearnSeries.com
Updated:
January 16, 2005

As you climb the mountain of search engine optimization you will be barraged by SEO terms that are disguised in simple 3 and 4 letter combinations. What do they all mean? Should I know what SEO, SERP, PPC and CTR mean? Are search engine professionals just selling me a bunch of meaningless jargon?

We will see if we can uncover some of the jargon and determine what is important and what is fluff. Obviously, the acronyms are important to some people, but what do they mean to you?

SEO - Search Engine Optimization - This is the process of preparing your site to rank high when people query a search engine for specific keywords. This is not an easy process. It requires you to understand the words people use to find information about your product. SEO is an ongoing process. You don't just optimize a page once and you are done. You have to continually analyze how well you rank on your keywords and then continually refine your pages to work best with the algorithms used by the different search engines. Each search engine has a different algorithm and over time the algorithms change.

SERP - Search Engine Result Pages - When you type in your keywords into a search engine's search box and click submit, the search engine reviews its database and returns the results to you. What you see is the "search engine result pages".

CTR - Click Through Rate - This is a mathematical formula for determining the percentage of people who view a web page and its ads compared to the number of people who actually click on an ad. It is expressed as clicks on ads / impressions of ads displayed. So if 1000 people go to a page with your advertisement on it and 10 people click on the ad then your click through rate is 10 / 1000 or 1%.

PPC - Pay Per Click - This is an advertising and marketing term. When you create an ad, usually a banner ad, there are many ways to pay for the ad. Some websites only charge you when someone clicks on your ad. This can be a big benefit to you, because only people that are interested in your services will click on your ad. It allows for direct marketing at its best. Your advertising and marketing dollars go only to the people that are most likely to buy your product or services.

SEM - Search Engine Marketing - This is targeting your marketing to the search engines. Meaning you use pay per click, and place additional ads in the search engines to enhance the power of the search engines to find you targeted customers.

Organic Search - Organic search is allowing the search engines to find your site through natural processes. This means that someone sets up a link to your site and the search engines find that link and give you algorithm points for that link. You create web pages with good content, strong keyword titles, keywords prominently used throughout the content, keywords that match content on the page and other search engine optimization procedures. This process is normally slow and requires good optimization skills to make it work more quickly than normal. Six months is a good starting point, but it could take longer.

Natural Search - Natural search is allowing the search engines to find your site through natural processes. This means that someone sets up a link to your site and the search engines find that link and give you algorithm points for that link. You create web pages with good content, strong keyword titles, keywords prominently used throughout the content, keywords that match content on the page and other search engine optimization procedures. This process is normally slow and requires good optimization skills to make it work more quickly than normal. Six months is a good starting point, but it could take longer.

CPM - Cost per thousand - This is usually expressed as cost per thousand impressions delivered. If you pay $50 for 10,000 impressions your CPM is expressed as $50/10 or $5 per thousand impressions.

Impressions - Every time your ad is displayed on a website.

Above the Fold - This is a term taken from the old days of Newspapers. When you receive a newspaper it is usually folded once. If you have an article on the front page does it start before the fold or is it folded under? Same theory applies to web pages only, if your ad appears without the user having to scroll down to see it, that is considered above the fold.

PR - Page Rank - This is a number from Google that is calculated from the number of links from other sites to your page. Some other factors that add to the calculation is the relevance of the page that links to you.

Text Link Ads - These are ads that are completely text based. They normally consist of a title, description and an URL. Many search engines and directories use text link ads. They are also popular to drive customers to your site as well as add important links to your site that will improve your page rank.

Banner Ads - Ads that normally have some image that when clicked will take a customer to your website. These are popular in drawing attention and with cute images and sales messages.

This is a list of some important keywords in the Internet and SEO marketing business. Learn these words and you are on your way to navigating the maze of the strange SEO acronyms. Whether it is cost per thousand, pay per click, Search Engine Result pages, click through rate or page rank, you are now better prepared to handle the strange terms and acronyms of Search Engine Optimization.

Next Lesson: Secrets of SEO

Secrets of SEO - This is the information that Search Engine Optimization specialists don't want me to print. This is so valuable you can make a career on just knowing this information and utilizing these search engine optimization techniques in your own pages and your customer pages. These are the secrets of search engine optimization -- SEO.

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