Google Ads 101: Common SEM Terms

Google Ads 101: Common SEM Terms

It is the purpose of this reading to introduce basic terms related to search engine marketing (SEM) in Google Ads. It will be easier to understand future SEM-related content on this platform if you are familiar with these terms.

Related: Google Search Console

Source: Digital Garage

Common Advertising Terms

  1. Digital advertising: communication made by a company to promote its brand, product, or service using various platforms and online channels.
  2. Traditional advertising: non-digital placements, like newspapers, radio, TV, or billboards.

Google Ads 101: Common SEM Terms

  1. Clicks: interaction with an ad and online user. Clicks can help you understand how well your ad is appealing to people who see it.
  2. Impressions: how often your ad is shown. An impression is counted each time your ad is shown on a search result page or another site in the Google Network.
  3. Organic results: search results not paid for by advertisers.
  4. Paid results: search results that advertisers pay to show whenever a user runs a search containing certain words or phrases (known as ‘keywords’).
  5. SERPs: search engine results pages, which are Google’s response to a user’s search query.
  6. Visitors: the total number of times people have been to your website or app as a result of clicking your ad.

Digital Advertising Terms

  1. Landing page: the webpage where people end up after they click your ad.
  2. Optimization score:  an estimate of how well your Google Ads account is set to perform. Optimization score runs from 0% to 100%, with 100% meaning that your account can perform at its full potential.
  3. Targeted location: the towns, cities, or countries where your ads will appear.

Google Ads bid strategies

  1. The key to a successful Google Ads campaign is determining the correct bid strategy
  2. Throughout this section of the reading, you will learn about bid strategies and the different types you can use.

What is a bid strategy?

A bid strategy is designed to help achieve campaign goals based on budget.

The most basic bid strategy is Manual Cost Per Click (CPC). With manual CPC bidding, you set your own maximum cost per click for your ads.

Alternatively, automated bidding strategies allow Google Ads to automatically set bids for your ads based on an ad’s likelihood to result in a click or conversion that helps you achieve a specific goal.

What is Smart Bidding?

Smart bidding is a subset of automated bidding strategies. These strategies use machine learning to optimize for conversions or conversion value with each auction, and they factor in a wide range of auction-time signals such as the user’s device, location, time of day, remarketing list, language, and operating system.

This means that based on these factors and the context of every search, the bid strategy automatically determines whether or not to bid, and how much to bid.

Types of bid strategies

Bid StrategyDefinitionGoal
Maximize conversion valueThis bid strategy uses advanced machine learning to automatically optimize and set bids. It also offers auction-time bidding capabilities that tailor bids for each auction.Increase business value
Target ROASAn optional target to maximize conversion value, this bid strategy analyzes and intelligently predicts the value of a potential conversion every time a user searches for products or services you’re advertising. Then, it automatically adjusts your bids for these searches to maximize your return on them. Ideally, this means if the bid strategy determines that a user search is likely to generate a conversion with high value, Target ROAS will bid high on that search.Increase business value
Maximize conversionsMaximizing conversions automatically sets bids to help get the most conversions for your campaign within your budget.Increase sales or leads
Maximize clicksThis automated bid strategy sets your bids to help get as many clicks as possible within your budget.Increase website visitors
Target CPATarget CPA is an optional target to maximize conversions. This bid strategy sets bids for you to get as many conversions (customer actions) as possible. When you create the Target CPA (target cost per action) bid strategy, you set an average cost you’d like to pay for each conversion.Increase sales or leads
Target impression shareThere are 3 options for the target impression share strategy, depending on where you want your ads to show: on the absolute top of the page, on the top of the page, or anywhere on the page of Google search results. Google Ads automatically sets your bids to show your ad, based on your placement settings.Increase awareness and visibility
Cost per 1000 impressions (CPM)With this bid strategy, you’ll pay based on the number of impressions (times your ads are shown) that you receive on YouTube or the Google Display Network.Increase awareness and visibility
Cost per view (CPV)This is the default bid strategy to set the amount you’ll pay for video ads in Google Ads. With CPV bidding, you’ll pay for video views or interactions.Increase awareness and visibility
Types of bid strategies

Selecting a bid strategy

While creating a campaign, Google Ads guides you to choose a bid strategy by asking a series of questions to determine your campaign goals. This is useful if you are unfamiliar with specific bidding strategies.

However, the website offers the option to select a bid strategy directly. Once selected, users can choose specific bidding strategies from a drop-down menu.

Google Ads bidding options during the campaign-creating process.

Google Ads bidding options during the campaign-creating process.


With so many to choose from, bid strategies can sometimes be confusing to navigate. To make your decision easier, be sure to identify what your goal is first and then match it to the appropriate strategy. Choosing the right strategy often takes trial and error, so don’t worry if your selected strategy doesn’t work initially. You can always apply what you’ve learned from previous attempts to your next campaign.

Resources for more information

Choosing the right bid strategy is important for the success of your campaign. For more information on bidding strategies, check out the resources below.

  1. Determine a bid strategy based on your goals
  2. Learn more about automated bidding
Source: Metics Media

How do Google Ads work?

As we’ve discussed, there are lots of different types of Google ad formats, from search ads to shopping and video ads. Regardless of the ad format, there are certain steps you’ll likely take when creating any Google ad.

You’ll learn about those steps in this article:

Your first step is to define your campaign goal.

Your goal is, what do you want to achieve with the ad? Do you want to make more sales? Get more leads? Increase website traffic? Or encourage people to visit your store? The goal you choose will inform other campaign options.

For example, imagine your goal is to increase website traffic. You’ll likely want to select a type of bidding, like “maximize clicks.” This will put your money, also called your ad spend, towards getting people to click on the ad.

You may also encounter the word “objective” instead of “goal,” such as “define your campaign objective.” For Google Ads, these words mean essentially the same thing. Remember, your goal or objective is what you want to ultimately achieve with this ad.

The next step is to choose your ad campaign type.

This determines where your ads will show and what they will look like. The word “campaign” has a specific meaning in Google Ads. Campaigns are ads that share a budget, location targeting, and other settings.

Campaigns are often used to organize categories of the products and services you offer. Your Google Ads account can have numerous campaigns operating at one time. Your second step is to choose the campaign for your type of ad, such as search, shopping, local, or video. Depending on which campaign you choose, your ads will appear in different locations.

For example, a search ad will appear in the SERPs and a video ad will appear on YouTube. A local ad can also be in Google Maps, websites, and YouTube.

Your third step is to set a budget for your campaign.

This budget sets the maximum you will spend. You can change it at any time. You will set a daily average budget that specifies how much you want to spend each day over one month. Google Ads will automatically optimize your campaign spending for the days of the month when you’re more likely to get clicks and conversions based on your bid strategy; For example, on days when search traffic is higher.

This means that on some days you might not reach a daily budget, while on others you might exceed it. However, you will never exceed your monthly spending limit.

The fourth step is to choose your bidding strategy.

If you select a campaign goal, you’ll see a recommended bidding strategy. Google Ads allows you to choose your bidding strategy to ensure that your campaign is designed to meet your specific goal. For example, you might choose to focus your bidding on conversions. You can also select an automated bidding strategy.

Many automated strategies use machine learning to improve ad performance. For Google Ads, think of machine learning as a set of software instructions that try to help the ad achieve its goal. An automated bidding strategy takes the challenge and guesswork out of setting bids to meet your performance goals.

In an automated bidding strategy, Google Ads sets bids for your ads based on the ad’s likelihood to result in a conversion or a sale. The machine learning software in automated bidding strategies learns as they go. As your ads get served to more people, the bid performance informs future bidding amounts.

The next step is to select your audience target.

Targeting helps define how narrow or broad your audience targeting will be, which is deciding who you would like to see your ads. With no targeting, your ads will have the widest reach. Narrowing the targeting of your ads lets you reach specific customers who are interested in what you have to offer.

Remember your customer personas? Now is the time to put them to use. Common forms of targeting in Google Ads include keywords, audiences, locations, topics, and devices.

While you can use the Google Ads tool to get ideas for targeting, typically, you’ll plan and determine these options before creating an ad. Planning ahead of time avoids making mistakes in the ad-creation process.

The sixth step is to just create your ad.

The primary text ad format is responsive search ads, and they’re composed of several headlines, descriptions, and a landing page URL. The engines then automatically test different combinations to determine which performs best. Don’t forget, creating your ad is only one part of converting a potential customer.

Your landing page needs to deliver what the potential customer expects to see when they click on your ad. Now, if they click on an ad and are confused by the landing page, you may lose that potential customer.

The seventh step is to set up your conversions.

To know if the ad is successful, you must learn if the potential customers are turning into paying customers. Conversion tracking can help track the actions that you want customers to take on your website. By tracking this data, you’ll be able to assess the effectiveness of your ads, targeting, and overall campaigns.

One way to track conversions is through a tool called Google Analytics. To track conversions, you’ll connect Google Analytics directly to your Google Ads account. You’ll learn more about Google Analytics in a course later in the program.

Before setting up any conversions, you’ll need to provide users with clear and comprehensive information about any data you are collecting about them. You’ll also need to get their consent to collect any data. Typically, this consent is gained through a website pop-up and agreement button.

The next time you see a pop-up about collecting any information, also referred to as the “cookie consent bar,” please read it. You may need to use something similar if you’re tracking conversions for a website.


That’s a lot of steps to create a Google ad! Now, when you start to create an ad, it may feel a little overwhelming at first. That’s okay! But once you learn the platform and create a few ads, you’ll understand the process and feel much more comfortable. Stick with it.

Also Read: Bing Webmaster Tools

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