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Which Metrics are Best in SEM?

Which metrics are best in SEM? There are so many numbers and metrics available with online marketing and advertising.

So much so - that marketing jobs are now considered to be the “new finance jobs.” The reality is that every dollar spent through online advertising can be tracked and accounted for. In SEM, what are the key top-level metrics that you should focus on for optimizing your adCenter or AdWords campaigns.


  1. Click Through Rate [CTR]: The basic.
    CTR is simple, how many clicks per impressions did your ad/keyword receive.


Why it is important: CTR is a good measure of your ad’s effectiveness. How well does your ad catch the eye? This metric is good for testing ad copy. Learn to love it.


  1. Conversion Rate: The start of something good.
    Conversion rate requires that you have conversion tracking enabled on your landing pages [which you should]. Assuming you do: Conversion rate tells you how many conversions occur per click received on your ad.
    Why it is important: Conversion rate is indicative of your landing page’s performance. Does the user get the expected landing page when clicking on an ad served by their query? Your landing page is an opportunity to sell your company or service. Don’t go over the top, but be thoughtful on your content.


  1. Conversions Per Impression [CPI]: The overall indicator.
    CPI is simple enough, per given impression – how many conversions were received. This tells you how well your:  keyword matches the query, which meets the user’s expectation/intent, that directs them to a landing page that resonates, and results in a conversion.


Why it is important:  By quickly doing this analysis, you can get an overall health check of your SEM campaigns. By itself, it isn’t indicative of any one symptom. But if measure overtime, you can tell if overall performance is improving or decreasing. Note: neither adCenter nor AdWords UI provide this metric, time to bust out the calculator.


  1. 4.       Exact Match Impression Share: Me vs. the World.
    Exact Match Impression Share is the percentage of impressions for an exact query that your keyword matches, and displays on the paid portion of the search engine results page [SERP].


Why it is important: This metric provides insight into how well your campaigns are faring against your competitors. If you’re below 100%, then you Quality Score or budget could be holding you back.


These are four extremely important metrics, but which is the best? Answer: All of them. No one single metric can diagnose if something is going well, or not. That is why all must be consider. If your CPI is low, and your Exact Match Impression Share is large, the CTR will likely be low, as such, you should change your ad copy or revisit your landing page. If you CTR in high, but your CPI is low, time to test new landing pages. In short, think of each metric’s strength, and how another metric can fill in the remaining gaps. In tandem, all of these metrics will ensure success.

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