Higher Education Internet Marketing Cheat Sheet

By October 23, 2013 No Comments

If you are a professional Internet marketer, whether directly involved in Higher Education Internet marketing or not, this post may seem a little rudimentary. It is merely a glossary of basic terms in order to educate those who are beginners in the field or professionals in surrounding fields who wish to understand the concepts and acronyms they hear in presentations and read in articles. This blog post is also to help our readers to fully understand the terms and acronyms we use throughout our blog and to better grasp the industry of search engine marketing as a whole.

1. SEM

SEM stands for search engine marketing, the over arching term which includes both SEO (search engine optimization) as well as PPC (pay per click) campaigns. The main goal of search engine marketing is to optimize websites to rank as highly as possible on the SERPs (search engine results pages.) Search engine marketing is an evolving field because of the new tools and analytical software available, as well as the constantly changing rankings formulas of search engines.
If you have read this far, you are doing great, also you are probably not one of those professional Internet marketers I mentioned early. Don’t you despise when you are in a meeting and terms and metrics are mentioned that you do not fully understand but don’t want to stop the presenter to clarify every other word because it would halt their presentation, as well as make you look bad in front of your co-workers—many of which are just as in the dark as you are? I had similar experiences when I entered this field, and still do at times as I am working my way through the various facets. So let’s break down these CPC’s, PPC’s, CPL’s, CTR’s, and grasp such concepts as display advertising, content marketing, and remarketing.

Acronyms of Alliteration

When discussing aspects of search marketing or presenting a Google Analytics report, many marketers may blow through terms such as CPC, PPC, CTR, and CPL. Because of the impressive number of C’s and P’s in these terms, it is relatively easy to get them mixed around when hearing sentences such as:
In regards to our new PPC efforts, we are seeing a high CPC but maintaining our average CPL as seen in the other PPC campaigns due to the great CTR to our landing pages.
Now say that ten times fast. These terms are actually relatively easy to understand when not presented in a quick riddle-like fashion. Let’s break them down briefly one by one.

PPC (Pay Per Click)

This is the cost structure of most search marketing campaigns. Some also offer a payment structure based off of impressions (number of times the ad is shown), but many times costs are based off of the number of times a consumer clicks on an advertisement. Once the user has clicked and is sent to your website, you can generally track them with Google Analytics and see where they go and what they interact with.

CPC (Cost Per Click)

This term is quite simple to understand once written out. CPC is merely the amount a company is paying per click on their advertisements. There are a few ways to keep this as low as possible including optimizing your ads to earn a high quality score. A high quality score refers to how well Google thinks your ad represents your website and landing page. With a high quality score, Google will allow your ad to rank higher with a lower bid.

CPM (Cost Per Mille)

This term, like CPC, is used to measure costs associated with advertisements. Per Mille is Latin for per thousand, so this metric the costs associated per thousand impressions. This cost structure is most affective in highly targeted campaigns where a high number of clicks are expected. If you are targeting a broad audience, such as during a Facebook campaign, you will most likely want to stick with a CPC style campaign.

CTR (Click Through Rate)

A click through rate describes the number of individuals that see your ad impression who actually click on the ad. This will show you if your ad is relevant to the individuals it is placed in front of.

CPL (Cost Per Lead)

This term is also coined CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) and simply describes the costs of your budget that went into receiving a single lead or conversion. A student filling out an application or entering their information into an online form may determine a lead. Cost per lead for higher education Internet marketing, specifically for PPC efforts, can be in the hundreds of dollars, but can pay off well with the enrollment of new students.

Additional Terms to Keep in Mind

Now that we have covered those groups of letters, let’s get in to a few terms that may accompany these acronyms in an Internet marketer’s jargon-lined explanation. With all these terms mastered, you will be able to not only grasp the entirety of the presentation, but also shoot a few questions back their way to clarify.

Display Advertising

This style of advertisement is the banner ads you generally see in the header or sidebars of web pages. For example, if you go to http://searchengineland.com, in the header, to the right of the logo, there is a large banner ad, which for me when clicked takes me to http://www.ppcbenchmarkassessment.com. This banner ad is part of Google Adword’s Display Network, which can run alongside a traditional Adwords campaign.

Content Marketing

This style of marketing is utilized to generate traffic to a website, as well as to build a strong backlink profile. I went into detail in my post titled, “Higher Ed Content Marketing: 10 Types of Content.”


Remarketing is an interesting and relatively new addition to Google Adwords. It involves targeting visitors who have visited your site but not converted. Google utilizes its display advertising spots on various websites to keep trying to entice you to return. You may see this during your time online. For example, I have recently visited USC’s Master of Communication Management program page and now while I am visiting various websites, I generally see ads directing me towards their program page once again.
This cheat sheet can be reviewed and used to help you get through fast pace presentations by professionals in this field. Many times Internet marketers do not mean to speak a different language, but when they deal with these terms daily, it becomes first nature to breeze through them and not take the time to spell out cost per click or click through rate. I hope this guide helps explain the basic terminology surrounding SEO, as well as gives current professionals a hint at a few terms that may need to be clarified during their next presentation.

  • Join the
    Higher Ed Marketing
    Journal Newsletter.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.