Digital Marketing covers a lot of topics: web design and development, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Conversion Rate Optimization, PPC and more! It can get a bit confusing. Here to cast some much needed light on the matter is our list of digital marketing terms and their definitions.

This isn’t exhaustive (yet), but we will continually update it with new terms and definitions.

A

Active Link Building (ALB)

The creation of links through outreach and engagement efforts, as well as creating citations for your company in order to build a digital footprint. Citations create a link foundation for your website, while outreach and engagement provides long-term benefits akin to digital public relations.

AdWords

Google’s Pay Per Click advertising platform, which allows participants to post ads alongside search results. It’s useful if your site uses highly competitive keywords that are hard to rank for organically. It’s more expensive than Yahoo or Bing, but that is because Google comprises about two-thirds of all searches.

Affiliate Links

Special links that go to an advertising company’s site. Affiliate links are used to track traffic from the advertiser’s site. Affiliates receive rewards for using these links.

Ajax

Shorthand for the combined programming language of “Asynchronous JavaScript and XML,” Ajax is used to exchange data with a server and update parts of a website without reloading the whole page. It’s a useful tool for Contact Us forms and other methods of data collection that you want to occur without taking the user to a new page.

Algorithm

The calculation process used by search engines that determines what pages to display for each individual search. Shifts in the algorithm (especially Google’s) can significantly impact search rankings, especially if a site receives a manual penalty for bad SEO practices.

Alt Text

Short for “alternate text” that describes a graphic or image. It’s sometimes seen when hovering a cursor over the image. Used to describe what an image is to search engines, since search engines cannot “see” like humans. It is important to add alt text to all images to optimize SEO.

Analytics

Usually referring to Google Analytics. More broadly, it refers to any data results from collecting, sorting, and analyzing data for visits to (and actions on) a website. Useful for tracking patterns and determining performance of different pages on the site and other marketing actions.

Anchor Text

The word or words that are linked back to your site.  There are four types of anchor text:

  1. Money (product or service like “dentist,” “truck,” “rental equipment”)
  2. Brand (your company name)
  3. Compound (your company name + Money keyword)
  4. Other (ex. – “click here”)

If you wanted to rank for “marketing,” it was common to build many links to your site with “marketing” as the anchor text.  That tactic was quickly abused, forcing Google to consider your industry norm to determine if your anchor text is spammy or safe.

Contrary to what many say, there’s no magic ratio of Money terms to Brand and so on. Your safe ratio depends on your industry. If your main competitors have 10% Money keywords, 40% Brand keywords, 20% Compound, and 30% Other, then your link profile should do likewise.

API

Short for “Application Programming Interface.” In web usage, APIs are programs that facilitate sharing of content and data by allowing other software programs (usually browsers) to communicate with each other. For example, Yelp! uses data collected from the Google Maps API instead of generating their own map data.

 

ASP (Classic ASP)

Active Server Pages, also known as Classic ASP, was introduced by Microsoft and was the first server-side scripting language. It allows programmers to build dynamic websites, web applications, or web services.

 

ASP.NET

The new generation of ASP. It is not compatible with Classic ASP, but ASP.NET may include Classic ASP. ASP.NET has better language support and is normally written in Visual Basic or C#.

 

Authority

A website that has high trust for a specific search term. Authority stems from inbound links from trusted sites. Having high authority often results in better ranking in search engine results.

 

Authority Site

A website with a high amount of trustworthiness, PageRank, and a favorable position in search results. Authority sites tend to have links from many other top-tier sites, creating a powerful synergy. An example of an authority site would be Wikipedia or The New York Times.

B

Backlink

A link entering a page or site from another page or site. For example: a link entering optimal-marketing.com from moz.com. Backlinks can contain link juice and help or harm a site, depending on the referring site’s trustworthiness.

 

Backlink Profile (BLP)

An in-depth analysis of backlinks to a website in order to determine the type of “neighborhood” it resides in. If a site has backlinks from trusted, high-ranking sites, it will have a good BLP. Backlinks from paid links, link networks, or spammy sites will generate a poor BLP.

 

Blog

Short for “web log,” a blog is a site (or part of a site) which provides users with a series of chronological content. Blogs are usually managed using a Content Management System like WordPress, which allows users to focus on creating content instead of coding new pages for each blog post.

 

Bookmark

Link to a website saved for later reference in your web browser. Because people share websites through social bookmarking sites like Delicious.com, having links to your site in such bookmarks can demonstrate to search engines that people value your site.

 

Bounce Rate

The percentage of people who leave your website without visiting any other pages. A high bounce rate often indicates users are not seeing what they expected, or that the page does not provide a helpful or enjoyable user experience.

 

Broken Link Building (BLB)

Broken link building involves finding sites linking to lost resources or web pages, recreating them, and submitting them to the webmaster to fix their links. Building broken links provides a way to help others and increase your site’s domain authority by getting links from reputable, high-authority sites.

C

Cache

Temporary stored data about your site such as content, images, or documents. A website cache helps reduce bandwidth usage and reduces server loads, which helps load a website faster.

Canonical (rel=canonical)

Refers to duplicate content and how to deal with it. Adding rel=canonical to a page tells search engines that a page is the correct version in case there is duplicate content. This matters because search engines will often index content like www.yoursite.com and yoursite.com as the same thing. Be careful not to overdo this on your site, or you risk diminishing its effectiveness.

Click Fraud

Malicious clicking of Pay Per Click advertisements, causing the advertiser to pay the ad agency that published the ad without cause.

 

Click Through Rate (CTR)

The percentage of users who click on your ad. CTR is calculated by the number of clicks that your ad gets divided by the number of impressions (times it is viewed).

 

Comment Spam

Commenting on blog articles and linking to your site with money keywords. This is a black hat SEO tactic and definitely not advisable.

 

Content

Text (“copy”), images, graphics, videos, etc. Design, advertising and navigation elements are separate. If your site has poor content, people will likely leave without converting.

 

Content Management System (CMS)

Programs that facilitate the creation or editing of content on the web without the user having to understand coding. Examples include WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc.

 

Conversion

Completion of an action taken on your website by a user such as a purchase, form submission, phone call or video being played. For example, a user reaching the “thank you” page after making a purchase is a conversion, but adding an item to their cart is not a conversion. Conversions can either be macro-conversions – which tend to have direct, obvious revenue implications – or micro-conversions, which are relevant steps in the buying/contact process but don’t directly result in revenue.

 

Conversion Rate

A popular web analytics metric that measures the percentage of users who trigger a conversion. Having a high conversion rate shows that users are completing actions on your site that you want them to perform.

 

Cost per Acquisition

Calculation of how much money must be spent on marketing to acquire a new customer or lead. Determining CPA is important for determining which marketing channels are most effective for your business. An example of a CPA calculation is Pay Per Click advertising, wherein the CPA is determined by CPC divided by Conversion Rate.

 

Cost Per Click (CPC)

The amount an advertiser pays per click on their ad. The more popular the term, the higher the competition and the higher the CPC.

 

CPM (Cost Per Thousand Impressions)

Common metric used for evaluating value/cost of Pay Per Click advertisements. The M comes from the Roman numeral for 1,000.

 

CSS

CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, is the language that defines how the elements on a website are displayed. It includes elements such as layout, colors, and fonts.

D

Dimensions

Qualitative measurements of analytics. Examples of dimensions include location, traffic source (paid search, organic search, AdWords, direct, referral), and new/returning visitor. For numerical web analytic measurements, see Metrics.

Directory

A site consisting entirely of directory pages. Examples include Yahoo, DMOZ, and Yellow Pages. Can be helpful for getting people to find your site, but not very useful for converting customers.

 

Do-Follow Link

A link that tells a search engine to visit the linked URL and to pass it link juice.

 

Domain Authority

Domain Authority represents Moz’s best prediction about how a website will perform in search engine rankings, using a logarithmic scale of 1-100. Use Domain Authority when comparing one site to another or tracking the “strength” of your website over time.

 

Domain Name

In general, a domain name is the URL of a website that you type into the address bar. It is possible to have websites with the same name, but different top level domains (TLD) such as example.com versus example.net. Ideally, a domain name will be unique to your brand and business without being too broad that a user might misunderstand it.

Examples of good URLs include:

  • autotrader.com
  • weather.com
  • pizzahut.com

Domain Registration

Sometimes also referred to as “domain hosting,” domain registration is the process of purchasing a domain name from a registrar for use with your website. Having a domain allows your website to be accessed using a human-friendly URL like optimal-marketing.com instead of a confusing IP address like 192.187.25.64.

Domain hosting is different than web hosting, although many companies provide both services bundled together (often offering a free year of the domain name when you purchase website hosting from them).

Examples include: GoDaddy, NameCheap, etc.

E

E-commerce

A method of selling products or services from an online store/website. Can be useful for small business owners looking to expand retail services beyond their physical storefront.

F

Fold, the

The “fold” is the point on a website where the page is cut off on the user’s screen. Much like a newspaper, having the most important content above the fold is critical to ensure that visitors see the most important information, and because search engines also place priority on “above the fold” content.

 

FTP

File Transfer Protocol. A process for uploading and transferring files to/between servers.

G

Guest Blogging

Writing an article for a website other than your own either for free or for payment. This was a favorite SEO tactic for getting links from strong sites back to your site. However, as of January 2014, the head of Google’s Web Spam team (Matt Cutts) said to stop guest blogging for links. Despite this change, it’s still valuable for branding and traffic, but shouldn’t be a primary SEO tactic.

H

Head Terms

Short, common search terms, like “car,” “banking,” or “pizza.” Head terms are often difficult to rank for due to being used frequently by many sites. Because of this, “long tail” terms can be helpful supplementary keywords. Examples of long-tail keywords include “four door sedan with hatchback,” “banking locations in Appleton,” and “best pizza places in Appleton.”

 

Header/Subheader

Text on a web page used as a the main or secondary topic sentence for that page. Usually formatted as large, strong fonts that grab the reader’s attention. Search engines also place value on pages that have headers which match the page content. It is important to note that using an image of text in the header instead of actual text does not provide any SEO benefit because search engines can’t “see” images.

 

Hidden Links

Trying to hide a link by giving the anchor text the same color as the background.

 

HREF

An HTML attribute used to create clickable links on a website.  Entering the code <a href=“http://optimaldemo.com/~optimal-marketing.com”>Click Here</a> into an HTML editor would appear like “Click Here” on a web page.

 

HTML

“Hypertext Markup Language” is the standard markup language that allows you to create a website by adding formatting and other functionality to plain text. HTML is what the browser reads to display and structure the content for a user. Examples of HTML tags include: <html>, <img />, <h1>, <p>, <a href=>.

 

HTTP(S)

Hypertext Transfer Protocol (Secure). HTTP is a method of communication and navigation using hyperlinks. The Secure aspect (if present) indicates HTTP being overlaid with a security cryptography layer, usually SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). This added security ensures that communication is occurring between the right parties and without eavesdropping.

I

Impression

An ad being displayed or viewed. Occurs when a search engine serves your ad to users who entered your keywords.

 

Inbound Link

A link entering your site from another site. A link coming to your site from another site can improve your ranking if the referring site has high authority/PageRank/link juice.

 

Indexability

How “crawlable” your site is by a search engine spider/bot/crawler. If a site has lots of content that is blocked from being indexed, or difficult to index, the crawler may give the site a poor ranking.

 

Internal Link

A link from one page of your site to another page of your site. It is important to create internal links in a logical pattern, which will help visitors and search engines understand which of your pages are most important.

J

JavaScript

An object-oriented programming language commonly used to interact with website elements. It’s the most popular programming language in the world. In its simplest form, JavaScript allows programmers to change, edit, create, or delete HTML elements on the fly.

 

jQuery

jQuery is a lightweight JavaScript library that makes using JavaScript on a website much easier. It can manipulate HTML and CSS, as well as create effects and animations. In addition, jQuery has a vast amount of plugins you can download such as image sliders, video popups, and custom animations for elements on your website.

K

Keyword

A word or phrase that people search for in search engines. Examples include “dentist,” “lawnmower,” “local concerts,” etc.

 

Keyword Stuffing

Google’s Panda update penalized this a while ago. It’s the tactic of cramming as many Money keywords as possible into a website. Though your site should be written with keywords, you need to be strategic and consider your readers. They’re the ones who buy your products or services, not a search engine. Make sure you’re writing to them first.

 

KPIs

Key Performance Indicators. KPIs are metrics used by businesses to quantify objectives and measure how successfully the company is moving toward those objectives.

l

Landing Page

The first page a user sees when they visit your site. It’s most often used to describe a specific page that a PPC ad links to directly from the SERP. Landing pages are critical for converting customers.

 

Link

A connection from one webpage to another. They connect your website’s pages to each other and connect your website to others. Links can be text, images, or videos.

Types of Links:

1. Editorial Accumulation – Links that are given naturally by sites and pages that want to reference your content or company. These links require no specific action from the SEO, other than the creation of citation-worthy material and the ability to create awareness about it to relevant communities.

2. Manual Suggestion & Approval – Emailing bloggers with links, submitting sites to directories, or paying for listings of any kind fit into this group. The SEO must create a value proposition with the link target and complete that transaction manually (whether it be filling out forms for submissions to a website award program, or convincing a professor that your resource is worthy of inclusion on the public syllabus).

3. Self-Created, Non-Editorial – Hundreds of thousands of websites offer any visitor the opportunity to create links through guestbook signings, forum signatures, blog comments, or user profiles. These links are typically quite low in value, but can, in aggregate, have a significant impact. However, automatic methods of generating these links is certainly spamming, and even the manual creation of such links is frowned upon by many site owners and search engines. Exceptions abound, and for those sites that offer these options and don’t use the rel=”nofollow” attribute on outbound links, there can be opportunity.

Link Bait

A web page, article, or online asset created in order to attract incoming links, often from social media sharing. Good link bait may garner links from a high authority site, which can boost your site’s ranking by increasing its Domain Authority.

 

Link Building

Any of several activities performed to get other people/sites to link to your site. Link building is a vital part of helping strengthen your site’s credibility in the eyes of people and search engines.

 

Link Graph

The link structure of a particular website. Lets you see what kind of “neighborhood” your site is in, and whether you should consider detoxing it by removing links from disreputable sites.

 

Link Juice

Power or value passed to a site from another site. It can help a site’s ranking if the linking site is reputable. If the site isn’t trustworthy (i.e. – spammy), then the link juice can damage a site’s visibility in search engine results.

 

Link Network

A group of sites created only to send links to each other to boost ranking.

 

Long Tail (Keywords)

Key phrases that are very specific (ex. “lease price red 2012 Toyota Camry”) instead of broad (ex. “Toyota lease”). Long tails are valuable because people tend to search in question or sentence form, not simply with a word or two. Using a city or region can help when trying to rank for a popular keyword like “banking.”

 

Low Quality Links

These are links to your site from penalized domains, shady directories, link networks, pornography or gambling sites, and more. Tools can help you identify most low quality links, but you often have to manually review them to make sure they’re safe.

M

Meta Description

A brief description of the contents of a page on a website. This description is usually displayed below the title in search results so users have an idea of the content on a page before they click on the link.

 

Meta Keywords (Obsolete)

The keywords used by search engines to determine a page’s topic.

 

Metadata (Meta tags)

Information that tells search engines about your website, including description, title, author, publisher, and more. Having accurate metadata is key to helping search engines understand your site’s content, properly index it, and display your site for relevant queries.

 

Metrics

Quantitative measurements of analytics. Examples of metrics include Bounce Rate, Conversion Rate, Cost per Acquisition, and Revenue. The other half of measuring web analytics is Dimensions.

N

No-Follow Link

A link that tells a search engine not to visit the linked URL and not to pass it link juice. Useful for instances where the trustworthiness of the site being linked to is uncertain.

O

On-Page Optimization/SEO

The process of improving a website’s technical and visual elements to increase the likelihood it will rank well in search engine results for its topic. On-page, as its name suggests, includes elements of your pages such as the text, images, title tags, meta data, content, and internal links.

 

Organic Search Traffic

Refers to search engine traffic that occurs naturally. Visits to site by typing in the exact URL address (direct traffic) or coming from advertising programs (AdWords, Bing Ads, etc.) do not count as organic traffic.

P

Page Authority

Page Authority is a Moz metric, which predicts the likelihood of a single page to rank well regardless of its content. The higher the Page Authority, the greater the potential for that individual page to rank well in search results.

 

Page Title (Title Tags)

The word or words that appear at the top of your browser window. Page titles should be written to appeal to both users and search engines, with your most important keyword(s) as close to the front of the title as possible.

 

PageRank

An algorithm named after Larry Page, co-founder of Google, that assigns individual web pages a logarithmic value from 1-10 based on the inbound and outgoing links to that page. PageRank’s value as a standalone metric has decreased for several reasons: it is just a number without context; it is only one of many factors in determining search ranking; and it changes slowly, making it more useful as a legacy metric rather than a current indicator of authority.

 

Paid Links

A common SEO practice was to buy links on sites with high PageRank. These links are usually Money keywords and out of place (ex. – a dentist article linking to a car dealership).

 

Panda

A series of updates to Google’s ranking algorithm that targeted low quality or “thin” websites. It focused heavily on content quality, including fluff content, keyword stuffing, over-optimization, and other spammy practices.

 

PHP

PHP Hypertext Preprocessor is an open-source, server-side scripting language commonly used in combination with HTML for creating template engines such as WordPress. PHP is a free software and can be deployed on most web servers and operating systems.

 

Position

Refers to where your ad appears in comparison to other ads. For example, if your ad is in position “1,” then it is the first ad someone sees in SERPs.

 

PPC (Pay Per Click)

An advertising method where search engines like Google sell advertisements in their search results. The advertiser pays the search engine whenever a user clicks on their ad. Google AdWords is an example of PPC advertising.

R

Reciprocal Link(ing)

Symbiotic relationship where two sites link to each other. Often valued low by search engines due to the possibility of collusion between the two sites.

 

Redirect

Alerting a browser or search engine that a page location has changed and rerouting users/crawlers to a new page. This can be temporary or permanent. Often used when a site changes domains or when previous content is deleted and replaced elsewhere on the web. The most common redirects are 301s (permanent) or 302s (temporary).

 

Reviews

Reviews are when someone rates your business online with a comment about their experience. The most popular places to leave reviews are on Google Plus and Yelp. Reviews on Google Plus can be extremely beneficial because they show up in search results.

 

Robots.txt

A text document on a website’s server that tells search engines which folders not to crawl. Some search engines will still index these files so don’t put private files on a public server if you don’t want them indexed.

 

ROI (Return on Investment)

When used in web analytics, ROI is calculated by factoring multiple variables. ROI primarily focus on revenue and macro conversions (sales, form submissions, etc.) but can also determine cost/benefit of marketing channels/campaigns including email marketing, PPC advertising, phone tracking, and display ads.

 

RSS Feed

“Really simple syndication.” A subscription-based way for users to get content from a website or blog without having to visit the website itself. New content is automatically pushed out when new content is available. RSS feeds are typically free.

S

SEM

Search Engine Marketing. Includes SEO, PPC, and other services to improve the traffic and conversions on a site.

 

SEO

Short for “Search Engine Optimization,” it’s the practice of improving a site’s search engine visibility through on-page and off-page optimization. It has become necessary in order to market a website and position it to rank in SERPs for relevant keywords.

 

SERP

Search Engine Results Page. The list of websites you receive when search for something with a search engine.

 

Share of Voice

This is a brand’s or group of brands’ advertising weight expressed as a percentage of a defined total market or market segment in a given time period. The weight is usually defined in terms of expenditure, ratings, pages, poster sites, etc.

 

Sitemap

A file normally placed in the root directory of a server in XML format, which helps search engines navigate through a website.

  • Sitemaps can help direct internal link authority toward important pages
  • Sitemaps can use more descriptive anchor text for pages of your site, which help search engines understand page content
  • Sitemaps are helpful to both humans and search engines

Sitewide Links

When a link to your site is on many pages of a linking site. Common examples include sponsorship links, “created by” links in the footer, and affiliate links.

 

SMM

Social Media Marketing. Using social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Google+ to promote a brand or website. Useful for interacting with customers, creating brand loyalty, and other public relations purposes.

 

Social Media

Online technologies used to share information. Includes blogs, wikis, rating/review sites like Yelp!, and other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube. Because links from social media sites show up in search results, adding content to social media is helpful for SEO and branding.

 

Spider (bot, crawler)

A term for a search engine robot that “crawls” your website for information and adds it to their indexes.

 

Splash Page

Usually a heavily animated page with little text intended to catch a user’s attention. Pages like this are difficult for search engine spiders to navigate, and they often provide poor user experience due their long load time and distracting nature.

 

SSL

Secure Sockets Layer. A method of keeping data encrypted online using authentication keys to prevent eavesdropping or hijacking of information.

T

Text Link

An HTML link attached to text on a page, instead of being tied to an image or activated through JavaScript or Flash. These are the easiest links for search engine spiders to crawl.

U

Unnatural Country Ratio

If you’re a U.S. site selling to U.S. citizens, nearly all of your links should be from the U.S.  If half of them are from Asia, that’s unnatural and could tell Google that your site has many spammy or paid links.

 

Unnatural Link Distribution

When too many links go to your home page instead of your interior pages, or vice versa.  You won’t know what’s “natural” unless you see your competitors’ distribution.  It could also mean an unnatural ratio of Do-Follow to No-Follow links.

 

URL

“Uniform Resource Locator,” also known as a Web Address. A URL has three parts:

  1. Protocol – Usually HTTP(S), but also FTP or “mailto.. Whichever it is, it will be followed by ://. It determines how a resource is accessed.
  2. Host – Usually a site’s domain name, such as optimal-marketing.com.
  3. Location – Describes the path to the specific resource within the host. This is the part that comes after the domain name, and typically looks like “/digital-marketings-terms-definitions/”.

For example, the URL of this page is http://optimal.marketing/digital-marketing-terms-definitions/.

W

Web Hosting

Hosting for your website, or “web hosting,” involves purchasing space on a server that is constantly connected to the internet with high-speed wirings. Web hosting allows customers to delegate server maintenance, upgrades, and setup to the hosting company.

Examples include: Rackspace, HostGator, Bluehost, DreamHost, and more

White Hat / Black Hat SEO techniques

Drawing upon stories wherein the villains wore black hats and the heroes wore white hats, White Hat SEO follows industry best practices and is a long-term strategy. Black Hat SEO involves using hacking, spamming, link networks, and other illegal or underhanded tactics to quickly rank highly in search results. However, such tactics are highly vulnerable to bans and penalties.

 

Widget

A small, often interactive or dynamic, gadget that provides users with information or other interactions. A good example would be a widget showing a Twitter stream alongside a blog post or a Google Map on a Contact Us page. Can be useful as link bait if people find them unique or valuable enough to share.

X

XML

XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language and is designed to transport and store data. It allows developers to separate data from HTML to be displayed in a number of ways such as an RSS feed or as a smart phone application.