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Paid search glossary being referenced during inbound marketing meeting

Paid Search Glossary & Tips On Getting Started With Google Ads

November 7, 2022

By Aaron Lyles

Google Ads is the largest advertising platform on the internet. If you want to build your brand message and promote your business, you need paid media to be a strong component of your marketing budget.

Google Ads, like all paid media, empowers your business to significantly shorten the time to measurable results. This is invaluable for those taking an agile approach to marketing.

Although organic search is important and ultimately forms a key part of the foundation of a holistic marketing strategy, it takes an open-ended amount of time and effort to rank a webpage so it appears near the top of organic (non-paid) results in search engines. Even when the traffic does eventually come, sometimes it doesn’t convert well simply because of misalignment among visitor intent, target keywords, marketing offers, and on-page conversion factors.

Paid search is the solution. Paid search empowers agile marketing where marketers can implement and test keywords, offers, targeting, and messaging extremely quickly saving hundreds or thousands of hours it would otherwise take to generate equivalent results through organic marketing efforts. Furthermore, paid search accomplishes this for a fraction of the total cost.

Google’s advertising doesn’t just reside on the Google search engine—it encompasses millions of websites, reaching over 90 percent of the global internet. Google can place your ads across its Display Network, which includes those millions of websites as well as Google properties such as YouTube and Gmail. 

As you might imagine, Google Ads is a tremendous platform. Below, we use our more than 10 years of experience with Google Ads to provide bite-size introductions to the most important elements of this profitable marketing tool.

Paid Search and Google Ads Terms

Above the Fold

The part of a webpage that is visible before a visitor scrolls. Anything that can only be seen by scrolling is considered below the fold. The term “above the fold” originates from the print newspaper industry where it refers to all content on the front page that is literally above where the paper would be folded in half. The significance of the area both then and now is it is the first thing an audience sees, making it a vital space for grabbing attention.


The bread and butter of Google Ads (go figure). In each ad, you write your messaging in the form of two headlines, a description, and a URL (your web address).

Ad Delivery

A paid-search option that determines how you’d like to distribute your paid ad budget over time. There are two approaches: standard and accelerated. Standard ad delivery evenly spreads your budgeted spend throughout the given period. Accelerated shows ads every opportunity it can. The only downside to an accelerated approach is that in some cases, if the budget is not high enough, your ads will stop running sooner rather than later simply because the maximum defined budget has been reached.

Ad Groups

Ways to categorize the most important topics within a single campaign. It is essential to know the most important types of keywords you want to target, and then create an ad group for each. The ad groups will contain the ads specific to that keyword category.

Ad Pricing Model

The way advertisers pay for advertising. Common approaches include CPM, CPA, CPV, and CPC (see more on these terms below).

Ad Position

Where your ad shows on the search results page among competing ads. The ad closest to the top of the page is position No. 1, the second-highest ad is position No. 2, and so on. Ad position is an average.

Ad Rank

An invisible paid search metric used by Google to determine your ad position and how much you must pay.

Ad Rotation

A setting that determines how the search engine should prioritize which ads in an ad group should be displayed.

Ad Scheduling

A paid search setting that defines what days and times to show your ads.


A group of people that have visited one or more specific webpages or taken some specific action. These groups (lists) can be used to complement remarketing efforts and your Display Network.

Automatic Bidding

A bidding approach in which you allow the advertising platform (e.g., Google Ads) to automatically manage your bidding in order to generate the greatest number of clicks for your defined budget. You may also define a maximum cost per click that you’re willing to invest.

Broad Match

An approach through which the search engine displays your paid search ad to people searching the widest range of variations of your keyword. For example, an ad with a broad match for “used cars” would also match “pre-owned automobiles.” Broach match is the default choice for keyword matching. Broad match is often used by advertisers for research purposes (i.e., to see what else people may be searching for and how they interact with ads and landing pages).

Broad Match Modifier

A paid search keyword that is required to be part of an otherwise broad match search query for an ad to display. Modifiers are immediately preceded with a plus (+) sign (e.g., formal +shoes).


One or more ad groups that share ad rotation, geotargeting, budget, and other ad settings. In every Google Ads account, you can set up campaigns including search, display, remarketing, shopping, and video. These house ad groups, ads, and keywords.

Change History

A paid search feature that enables you to see the changes made to your account over time. This is powerful for troubleshooting changes and pinpointing when ad settings may have changed.

Display Campaign Optimizer (DCO)

A Google Ads tool that attempts to increase conversions on the Google Display Network through automated campaign management.

Display URL

The web address as displayed in your ad. The display URL is distinct from the destination URL and often but not always different. The value of display URLs is that they allow for shorter, more meaningful URLs to be shown to the ad audience.

Editorial Review

The review process the search engine conducts on all new advertising to ensure policies are followed.


A single word or phrase bid on for your ad to show when that keyword is searched by search engine users. Once they are in the system and the ads are running, your ads will show up when those keywords are searched if your bid amount and quality score are sufficient. Because user behavior is unpredictable, it’s important to test your ads often.

Manual Bidding

A bidding approach through which you define the maximum CPC you’re willing to pay for an ad. Manual bidding is the default bidding option. The alternative to manual bidding is automatic bidding, which automatically sets your bids to help get as many clicks as possible within your budget.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Another term for paid search. This form of online marketing involves the promotion of web properties by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages and through paid ads.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The process of developing content and designing webpages to attract more organic and/or paid traffic from SERPs. There are hundreds of known and unknown factors that impact a webpage’s SEO, but SEO is fundamentally about making content that is deemed most relevant and useful for search engine users on their search queries.

Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

The search engine pages that display search results in response to a user search query. SERPs typically display both paid and organic (non–paid) results.

Search Network

Third-party websites where ads can display if elected.

Search Partners

Third-party websites that display PPC advertisements on the search network. Advertisers can choose to not display ads on all search partner sites but cannot choose to only display ads on specific partner sites.

Search Query

The text a user enters in the search bar when searching on a search engine. When a query includes keywords you are bidding on, your ad is potentially displayed on the SERP, depending on your paid search configuration.

Search Query Report (SQR)

Shows the actual search queries that have triggered paid search ads. Also referred to as the search terms report (STR), the SQR is a great tool for identifying irrelevant queries that should be blocked in the future and finding new profitable keyword ideas.

Paid Search Metrics You Need to Know


The maximum amount you are willing to pay per ad-click. All other factors being equal, the higher the bid, the higher the likelihood of your ad being displayed in a preferred position (e.g., ad position No. 1). That said, all things generally aren’t equal. The bid amount is only one of multiple factors that influence the likelihood that your ad will be shown over your competitors’ ads.

Bounce Rate

The percentage of visits to a webpage (i.e., sessions) during which the visitor leaves without interacting with the page. Higher bounce rates are indicative of lower perceived relevance and negatively impact your quality score.


The number of times someone clicks an ad. With PPC advertising, clicks are important because they are a cost driver, thus impacting cost per lead and customer acquisition cost.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

The percentage of times someone clicks on your ad out of the total times your ad is displayed in search results. CTR = clicks / impressions. CTR is a key driver of quality score. Generally, the higher your CTR, the more relevant your ad is considered. 


When someone follows a specific predefined action. Most often, the action is taken as a result of an explicit call to action, but it could be any action you intend for someone to take.

Conversion Rate (CR)

The rate at which people convert. CR is calculated by dividing your total conversions by total ad clicks. CR = conversions / ad clicks. Different industries have different averages. For example, an average e-commerce CR might be 2-4 percent 

Cost per Acquisition (CPA)

Generally used as synonymous with CAC (see below). However, CPA can also refer to any other specific type of acquisition, such as lead or user. When used, it’s always good to clarify the specific type of acquisition being referenced.

Cost per Click (CPC)

The average price an advertiser spends for each click they receive. When working in the Google Ads platform, you can review the data at a granular level, down to the CPC by keyword. The cost per click often heavily relates to the positioning of an ad.

Cost per Lead (CPL)

The average amount invested per lead generated. CPL is a very important leading marketing metric that you should track as part of any marketing initiative to help monitor effectiveness. That said, CAC is even more important because it measures the cost per newly acquired customer, which does not always correlate perfectly with CPL.

Cost per Thousand (CPM)

A pre-internet advertising term also used in digital advertising. CPM stands for cost per mille, and mille means one thousand. In digital advertising, the thousand usually refers to a thousand ad impressions 

Cost per View (CPV)

The average cost an advertiser pays for a video view. Views are counted when someone watches either 30 seconds of a video ad or the entire video if the video is shorter than 30 seconds. CPV bid defines the most an advertiser is willing to pay per view.

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

The marginal amount invested to get a new customer on average. CPA is an alternative term often used synonymously with CAC.

Daily Budget

The maximum you’re willing to spend on your paid ads per day. Your daily budget is equal to your monthly budget divided by 30.4. It’s important to note that Google will spend as much as 20 percent on any particular day but won’t exceed your monthly budget.


The number of times your ad is shown to potential visitors. In paid search, impressions displayed on SERPs are free because you only pay for ad clicks. However, impressions aren’t without value; they still have some residual brand awareness value because your ads will be shown far more times than clicked. 

Quality Score

A Google-calculated score that quantifies how relevant your ad is to your target keyword and landing page on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the lowest score. Multiple factors influence quality score, the most significant of which is CTR. Other factors that impact score include ad text, ad extensions, and landing page SEO. Quality score by default is 6.

Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

A standard metric used to determine ad effectiveness in terms of revenue. ROAS = ad attributable revenue / ad spend. Though there is no definite right ROAS, it’s good practice to always determine what your minimum acceptable ROAS is based on your goals and your business. It’s also good to note what time frame you will consider revenue for including in your ROAS calculation.

Search Volume

The estimated number of times a specific keyword is searched for on average every month by unique visitors. Search volume is often useful for determining the low and high performance potential of a keyword which informs investment decisions.

Google Ads and Paid Search Features Ad Extensions

Bid Adjustments

Allow the advertiser to adjust bids based on performance. Those areas include devices, schedule, geography, and audiences. If you see that results are stronger for desktop than mobile, for example, you will be able to increase the cost per click (CPC) so your ads have a better chance of exposure for those searching for your service on a desktop computer. 

Call Extension

An optional paid search feature that displays your phone organization’s phone number in the ad and gives it click-to-call functionality on mobile devices.

Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI)

A feature that allows you to automatically update ads with the specific keywords a visitor used to trigger your ad impression. This can help make your ads appear more relevant.

Enhanced CPC (ECPC)

An automated bid management approach designed to increase ROI by dynamically modifying bids on keywords the system determines are more likely to lead to conversion.

Frequency Capping

A paid search feature that enables advertisers to limit the number of times ads are displayed to the same person on the Display Network.


A paid search feature that allows advertisers to only serve ads in specific geographic areas such as cities, states, and countries. Also called location targeting, geotargeting allows advertisers to tailor offers and messaging to the different needs and cultures of different regions.

Product Listing Ads (PLA)

Paid search ads that include product information, such as pricing and images, without requiring additional keywords or ad text. PLAs appear under Google Shopping results automatically, where applicable.


The process of serving digital ads on third-party webpages to people who have previously visited your site. Also called retargeting, remarketing is extremely cost-efficient and is a good first-step initiative for those new to digital advertising. Remarketing pairs well with paid search.

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs)

A powerful element of Google Ads that enable advertisers to retarget people who have previously visited a specific webpage in the past with display ads on third-party websites. The repetition is imperative because the more often someone sees a message, the better chance that person has of remembering the message and becoming a prospect or customer.

Paid Search Tools for Google Ads Success

With the size of Google Ads and the number of advertisers on such a large network, there are many tools available to help enhance the experience. Here are some important tools you can begin using as an advertiser.


Gives marketers detailed control over and deep insights into many areas of lead nurturing and inbound marketing, from when the lead first enters through their entire journey of engagement with your business. HubSpot works with Google Ads, enabling you to see the leads that come in via paid search campaigns, which campaigns they come from, and the steps they take after acquisition. 

Google Analytics

A free website analytics tool used by marketers to understand the origin and behavior of site visitors. Google Analytics easily integrates with Google Ads to give you a broader understanding of campaign results. By importing site metrics into Google Ads, you can see details such as bounce rate, time on site, and others at the keyword level. Google Ad data is also reflected in Google Analytics.

Keyword Planner

Allows you to enter your website and keywords in order to see other related terms from a searcher’s perspective. You can also see the possible competition levels and budgets needed to compete on those keywords. Because the Google Keyword Planner is in Google Ads itself, you can choose the keywords you like from your instance of the tool and automatically add them to your campaigns.


A third-party competitive SEO intelligence platform that empowers marketers to see competitors’ average paid search spend, their search exposure, keywords tracked, and the overall health of their paid search campaigns.

Google Ads is an incredibly powerful tool in today’s digital landscape. In order to enjoy the full benefits of the No. 1 ad platform and to put your brand message in front of people searching for your product or service, it is important to continue learning and gaining as many insights as possible. 

Whether you have campaigns running that aren’t performing to the level you want or you haven’t yet started with Google Ads, SmartBug Media® can help. Contact us today to set up a consultation.

This blog was originally published in March 2020 and has been updated since. 


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Topics: Analytics, Lead Generation, Paid Media, Marketing Automation