December 29, 2017 | Sarah Danks

Top Pay-per-click Jargon

Pay-per-click (PPC) isn’t new, by any means. Even though it’s been around and marketers have been using it for years, it can still be tricky navigating the complex waters of the sea that is paid search. Some terms can be confusing, and actually executing said words in real practice can be a challenge.

We’ve compiled some of the top terms of PPC marketing that even noobs should know.

Here they are, in no particular order. Take a look:

  • Quality Score
  • Conversions
  • Landing Page
  • Remarketing
  • Keywords
  • Audience
  • Ads
  • Campaign
  • KPI
  • ROI

We’re not delving deep into these PPC aspects, but we’ll give an overview.

Quality Score

Quality Score is a number that Google assigns to keyword and ad pairings within AdWords. It’s the litmus test of whether or not you’re good at matching the keywords you’re bidding on to the ads you’ve written that support those keywords.

If you’re doing it right, your Quality Score will be high, which means you’ll pay less for clicks and your ads will be better positioned. Yay! Of course, the opposite is also true: low Quality Scores will cost you more money and your account could struggle.

In our many years of PPC experience, we’ve come to realize there’s more to Quality Score than meets the eye…

…in fact, there are two aspects of Quality Score that Google doesn’t openly acknowledge:

  1. Overall account Quality Score. If your keywords historically have above-average Quality Score, when you add new keywords into the account they “inherit” the account Quality Score at first. (You still have to work to make those keywords retain that Score or improve, but to begin with they start out at the account’s Quality Score.)
  2. Industry related Quality Score. We’ve actually witnessed this firsthand, and brought it up to a Google representative on a phone call. Said rep was extremely reluctant to confirm, but after some pressuring he finally ‘fessed up that yes, there are industry related Quality Scores. Over time, Google has seen that certain industries don’t perform well with AdWords. When a new account in one of those industries gets built and launches, they don’t start off with good Quality Score. E.g., law firms: for whatever reason, law firms start off with below-average Quality Score, which means they pay more for clicks (until you can improve the Quality Score).
    Again, we’ve seen this, but Google hasn’t acknowledged it publicly.

We’ve been asked by clients before, “Do you optimize for Quality Score?” And the answer is always no. Why?

We might have a keyword with a Quality Score of 10, but it doesn’t generate many leads…

…while sometimes a keyword with a Quality Score of 5 will bring in a high percentage of leads. Obviously we want to improve that keyword’s Quality Score to do even better, but we focus on optimizing around the conversion; not the number of the Quality Score.

The foundation of Google’s Quality Score is to offer visitors the best ads possible. That said, Quality Score is completely blind to the end goal of the campaign itself — whether that be sales, leads or branding views.

The important thing to remember about Quality Score is that it’s a number to pay attention to, but don’t obsess over it — focus on optimizing for conversions.


A conversion is, quite frankly, what makes the marketing world go ’round. You can set up the fanciest PPC account ever, but if it’s not converting clicks into customers, you might as well fold.

Now, a conversion doesn’t have to mean someone purchased something. There are many different ways to convert visitors, depending on your business and what you want the visitors to do: get them to download a PDF/white paper, have them watch a video, entice them to fill out an online form, ask them to phone your business, etc.

You need good keywords, leading to good ads, but they must lead to a good landing page. That’s where you convert your visitors.

Landing Page

This term — as with many in marketing — can have many meanings. In the simplest sense of the definition, a landing page is any web page a visitor can “land” upon. That can be any page on your website they find in a search engine results page (SERP); in this case we’re talking specifically about PPC landing pages.

As Oli Gardner is wont to say, “Never Start a Marketing Campaign Without a Dedicated Landing Page.” I.e., do not send all your traffic to a page on your website. Design a landing page that exists solely to convert visitors based on what they were searching for.

Once you’ve determined your audience’s emotional state, attracted them with the keywords they’re searching for, and written ads that speak to their needs, they’ll enter on your landing page and this is where you can further use physiology to convert them.


If you’re doing anything on the Internet these days, you know — in a rudimentary way, at least — what remarketing is. You’ve seen it…

…but how does it just show up? You don’t have to perform a search for it to find you. Oh no.

Thing is, once you land on a website that’s engaged in remarketing you’ll be followed on your journey around the web.

(I need new glasses AND new cowboy boots, so I’ve been looking into them — and here they are, following me around the Internet.)

That said. If you want to use it as part of your PPC efforts, there’s a way to retarget prospects so you’re actually marketing and not just stalking. Marketing properly with this form of paid search means getting your product in front of people who’ve made it partway through your funnel but fell out.

They’re interested! So hit ’em up again.

There’s a science behind proper remarketing; unfortunately not all businesses — or marketers! — have figured that out yet.

Stalking is remarketing gone bad. E.g., a visitor to your website came, saw, and purchased. They converted, yay! And then you continue to follow them around the web, stalking them with ads for the same product they just purchased. NO. Don’t do this.

Or, let’s say you just visited a website’s home page and then left for whatever reason. Who knows why you left, or what you were looking for…

…but you get bombarded with ad after ad for something you might not even be interested in purchasing.

Since the ads are triggered by a cookie you picked up on the website in question, and not because you searched for specific keywords, the only way to get rid of the ads following you around is to get rid of all cookies on your computer.


These are what make the web go ’round. I mean, I guess if there were no words and just pictures or videos, the web would still exist, but let’s be honest — the majority of “content” out there is in the form of words.

And even if people want to watch videos or find images, the way they find them is by searching with words. Which ones you use, especially when purchasing clicks upon them, can make or break a campaign.

And, once you’ve compiled search phrases and terms relevant to your campaign, you’ve got to organize them into ad groups and determine what type of match types you’ll be using: broad, broad match modified, phrase, exact.

You’ll also want to find keywords for which you don’t want your ads to show. These are called “negative keywords” and are important: you don’t want to lose money by showing up for — and getting clicked on — terms that won’t convert your visitors.

You’ve got to know your customers — how they search, what terms they’re using to describe services or products, their intent when they do search, when they’re searching…

…there’s a lot more to keywords than merely assembling a couple quick lists of phrases you think might work. Know thy audience.


No, you’re not onstage performing improv, but you do want to impress your audience. Who are they? In general, your audience comprises your ideal customers. Your target market. The folks who’re consuming your content and — hopefully — converting into clients.

In the realm of PPC, they’re not arbitrary; you’re trying to attract them. Remember those keywords I mentioned? You need to know which of those your ideal audience are using when they’re searching for the kind of products/services you offer.

You also need to know what kind of people they are — women, men, vice president of a company, stay-at-home mom, city dweller, rural native, millenial, Baby Boomer, etc.

Without knowing who you want to attract to your ads, you’re fishing in the dark. Time to get down to the nitty gritty and research your ideal audience.

In the world of remarketing, audience has a different definition:

“A remarketing audience is a list of cookies or mobile-advertising IDs that represent a group of users you want to re-engage because of their likelihood to convert.”

You can break up your retargeting efforts into separate groups of visitors based on what they did — or didn’t — do on your landing page before leaving. For example:

Either way, whether in general for PPC or remarketing purposes, knowing your audience is important — and you need to write ads to entice them to take action.


Pay-per-click marketing is predicated on the idea of visitors clicking ads (that’s when you pay, you see). On the Search Network, said ads are driven by the keywords people are typing into the search bar; on the Display Network they show up on websites based off of content and how you’ve selected where you want them placed.

Either way, the ads have to entice people to click (again, the entire point of this type of marketing, hence the name).

It’s not enough to just throw some keywords together and hope it works; you need to write to the audience’s needs and pain points. Again, knowing them and why they’re searching is important to be able to write stellar ads for your campaign.


Per the dictionary, in the literal sense of this word, a campaign is “a systematic course of aggressive activities for some specific purpose.”

That sounds pretty threatening.

I like to think of a marketing campaign in gentler terms — more like a crusade. Knights in shining armor sitting astride their snorting chargers, brandishing their swords and ready to do good for the people…

…or something.


As it relates to PPC, a campaign is the entire structure of your account: the audience you’re targeting, the goals you’ve set for a specific timeframe and the money allotted to reach said objectives.

You can have entirely separate campaigns that have vastly different goals — the key is to set each one up to perform a specific purpose. After you’ve built your campaigns, you’ll need to outline the goals for each so you can track performance.


After conversions, you want to be tracking supporting key performance indicators. What are those? Whatever you want them to be: you decide what to track so you can monitor your campaign’s performance.

Okay, you don’t want to track just anything; here are some important key performance indicators to pay attention to:

  • Click-through Rate (CTR)
  • Cost-per-click (CPC)
  • Cost-per-acquisition (CPA)
  • Conversion Rate
  • Quality Score (remember we talked about that earlier? Yeah, it’s that important.)
  • Return on Ad Spend (RAS)

Every campaign is different, and every business has their own goals they’re striving to reach. To know if said objectives are being reached, you need to measure not only them, but the steps that lead up to achieving them.


Otherwise known as Return on Investment, this is what separates the men from the boys in paid search. You can be bringing in leads or sales like crazy, but are you making money or just spending it?

I.e., are you getting bang for your buck?

Online marketing isn’t cheap, so it’s extremely important to know if the investment is working or not. Are you turning a profit?

To answer that it’s a simple enough equation:

Seems simple, right?

But, beware. As Jeff Sauer points out in his article outlining true ROI measurement, the concept of “return” can mean many things to different people. He advises to be careful of the way we throw ROI around:

“You are better served to translate return on investment into the terms that really matter to the people running your business.”

Figure out what the true return on your marketing investment is, and focus on that.

Of Course There’s Much More to PPC…

These ten terms I talked about are the big, general, everyone-should-know, over-arching words to know before you get started; there’s obviously a lot more to pay-per-click than just these! For example:

  • Ad Groups
  • Text Ads
  • Display Ads
  • Google Display Network
  • Google AdWords
  • Bing Ads
  • Ad Extensions
  • Click-to-Call
  • Return on Ad Spend
  • Google Shopping Ads
  • Placements
  • Bid Modifier
  • Day-parting
  • Ad Rotation
  • RLSA
  • Location targeting

…just to name a few!

Knowing the important terms is one thing; putting them into practice is another.

The world of PPC is vast and can be confusing; it can take years to learn all the ins and outs and get really good at researching, setting up, and — most importantly — managing a successful pay-per-click account.




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