Dealership Marketing

SEM, SEO, PPC, CPC..please define

I had a nice conversation with someone the other day and we were talking about how it’s so easy to get all these acronyms mixed up. You read an article in one magazine that talks about SEM and the next article you read refers to what seems to be the same thing as SEO. I myself have even been guilty of using different acronyms but not necessarily clarifying with the right terms.

So, I thought I would put together a few of the common acronyms to help clarify. I know these might seem elementary and obvious to many of us but it’s easy to get confused or just forget sometimes.

So lets review;

Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
The term used to describe the technique of preparing your dealerships website to enhance its chances of being ranked in the top results of a search engine once a relevant search is undertaken. A number of factors are important when optimizing a website, including the content and structure of the website’s copy and page layout, the HTML meta-tags and the submission process. This can also be referred to as Search Engine Positioning (SEP). Some companies commonly include SEO under the same umbrella as search engine marketing (SEM).

Search Engine Marketing (SEM):
The act of marketing your dealership website via search engines, whether this be improving rank in organic listings (search engine optimization), purchasing paid listings (PPC management) or a combination of these and other search engine-related activities (i.e. local listings, the new Google local coupon or link development). SEM is not always include SEO, so be sure to clarify this when you are speaking with an SEM vendor.

Cost-per-Click (CPC) or Pay-per-Click (PPC):
This is where an advertiser (or you the dealer) pays an agreed amount for each click a consumer makes on a link leading to your dealers web site. This is also known as “Paid Placement.”

Organic/Natural Listings:
Listings that search engines do not sell (unlike paid listings, CPC and PPC). Instead, your dealer’s website appears solely because the search engine has deemed it editorially important for your web site to be included. There is where your dealers’ website SEO comes into play.

There you have it. If anyone would like to share some thought or comments, please do so.

Founder of DealerRefresh - 20+ Years of dealership Sales, Management, Training, Marketing and Leadership.

Congrats on the new layout of your blog! It's very "Web 2.0". As you know DealerOn's blog was recently released as well. I just posted a video that I think you and your blog readers will really get a kick out of.

"Funny Auto Dealer Ad - What Car Commercials Want To Say But Can't!"

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To view the video go to

Keep up the great work with your blog. We all appreciate it.

Ali Amirrezvani
President & CEO

Finally, a clear definition of SEO and SEM! Thank you for help clearing this up.

I find the acronym dilemma, certainly wide-spread and very confusing for many. Our company; Auto Dealer Traffic, Inc., provide SEO & SEM service for dealers, but we assume that everyone knows what we are talking about because we are living it every day.

Thanks for your great blog!

Mark Boyd
Auto Dealer Traffic, Inc.
[email protected]

614-340-5779 o
541-990-9090 c