Check out the Trinity Web Media & Development glossary of common used digital marketing terms. Our handy cheatsheet will help you get a handle on Digital Marketing and Web Development jargon and eliminate any disconnects in your marketing conversations.
#– This symbol represents a tag for categorization on Twitter. See “hashtag.”
301 Redirect – Code meaning “moved permanently,” used to point browsers, spiders, etc. to the correct location of a missing or renamed URL. Pages marked with such a code will automatically redirect to another URL.
404 Error – “File not found” code for a Web page that displays when a user attempts to access a URL that has been moved, renamed or no longer exists. Used as a template for missing or deleted pages, designing a custom “404 page” in a user-friendly way can help people stay engaged with your site even when a given page turns up blank.
Abandonment Rate – See “bounce rate.”
Acquisition – Refers to the point in time when a visitor to a website becomes a qualified lead or customer.
Acquisition Cost – See “cost-per-acquistion.”
AdCenter – See “Microsoft adCenter.”
AdSense – Google AdSense is a pay-per-click advertisement application which is available to bloggers and Web publishers as a way to generate revenue from the traffic on their sites. The owner of the site selects which ads they will host, and AdSense pays the owner each time an ad is clicked.
AdWords – The pay-per-click (PPC) search-engine marketing (SEM) program provided by Google.
Aggregator – An Internet-based tool or application which collects and curates content (often provided via RSS feeds) from many different websites and displays it in one central location. Google Reader is one popular example of an aggregator.
Akismet – A widely used application for blogging platforms, such as WordPress, that functions as a filter for trapping link spam, comment spam and other forms of undesirable user-generated content.
Alerts – Notifications that can be set up for various search terms, events or website actions. These are often sent to an individual via email, e.g., whenever a company/product name appears on the Internet in newly published content. Alerts are usually sent to an individual via email.
Algorithm – Mathematical rules and calculations a search engine uses to determine the rankings of the sites it has indexed. Every search engine has its own unique, proprietary algorithm that gets updated on a regular basis. Google’s famously has more than 200 major components.
ALT Attribute – A line of text used to describe the content associated with a non-text based file, typically an image. A traditionally strong correlation exists between use of keywords in these attributes and high rankings for the pages that contain them.
Anchor Text – The non-URL text that is displayed in a hyperlink. For example, in this hyperlink to Fathom’s website, “Fathom’s website” is the anchor text. Careful use of anchor text can produce both reader and SEO benefits.
Avatar – A graphical representation of a real person, often seen in user profiles for online forums, social networks or chat/instant-message services. Avatars can be two-dimensional images, representing the author of a blog or microblog; or they can be three-dimensional figures, occupying space in a virtual world, such as Second Life.
Backlink – See “inbound link.”
Ban – Removal from a search index when a page and/or entire website is deemed inappropriate for a given engine’s results, usually on a temporary basis until the offending site corrects itself.
Banner Ad – Graphical image or small animation file embedded within a Web page and used for advertising, often containing a link to other sites, products, etc.
Blip – A “blip” can refer to a music or video clip which a user has posted via the popular media hosting sites, Blip.fm and Blip.tv.
Blog – Short for “weblog,” this is a special kind of website for self-publishing, often done by the owner of the site (the “blogger”), but sometimes by a committee of authors who rotate by day, for example. Blogs typically record and categorize all content updates by date/time and topic for easy tracking by readers. The posts appear on a blog’s homepage in reverse-chronological order (thus the original term, “weblog”).
Another feature of blogging is a space reserved for comments (usually following every post). These interactive sections can often be longer, and sometimes more interesting, than the original post. Visitors can view regular blog updates by going to the actual site or using an RSS feed aggregator like Google Reader.
Blogger – An individual who generates content for blogs, either personal or professional. Reasons for being a professional blogger are many: delivering timely commentary; showcasing expertise; engaging with audiences and fellow bloggers; and building personal brands. Some professional bloggers generate levels of esteem and prestige equivalent to that of journalists, an occupation which has also found value in blogging for the above reasons.
Blogroll – A list of recommended or similar blogs that a blogger lists on his or her own blog as a resource for the audience.
Bookmarking – The act of saving a website address for future reference. This can be done individually on an Internet browser, such as Mozilla Firefox, or through a dedicated social bookmarking site, such as del.icio.us. Social bookmarking allows visitors to easily share groups of bookmarks with each other across computers regardless of browser, as well as comment on and rate the stored content. Other social bookmarking sites include Digg, StumbleUpon and Mixx.
Bounce Rate – Refers to the percentage of a given page’s visitors who exit without visiting another page on the same site. This term is often used in e-commerce in conjunction with merchandise shopping carts. Also known as “abandonment rate.”
Broken Links – Links to pages which no longer exist or have been moved to a different URL without redirection. These links usually serve pages with the “404 error” message (see “404 error”). Incidentally, most search engines provide ways for visitors to report on broken or “dead” links.
Categories – Ways to organize content on a site, especially blogs. One typical way to store both current and archival blog posts is by an alphabetical list of topical categories.
Click-Thru Rate (CTR) – The percentage of people who actually click on a link (e.g., in an email message or sponsored ad) after seeing it.
Cloaking – A prohibited practice of tricking a search engine into indexing different content than the user actually sees. In essence, it is serving one version of a page to search engines (for intended SEO benefit) and another to humans. Often the content is entirely unrelated to the actual topic/theme of the rest of the site.
Collaboration – In reference to Web 2.0, this concept states that shared contributions of large numbers of individuals, using social media tools, is a main driver of quality content on the Internet.
Collective Intelligence – The idea that a community or group of individuals is more efficiently capable of higher thought processes than an individual. Social-media applications of this concept include online communities which provide user-created informative content, such as Wikipedia.
Comments – Comments are content generated by users in response to an initial publication, most notably blog posts. These are usually posted below the blog entry, and can often be vehicles for creating advanced levels of discussion that increase the lifespan of blog posts. Comments are also typically associated with news articles, videos, media-sharing sites, and Facebook posts.
Congoo – Congoo is a news-sharing social network that offers free subscription content across hundreds of broad and niche topics.
Connections – See “friends.”
Content – Any text, image, video, audio, app or other material published on the Internet for audience consumption.
Contextual Link Inventory – An extension of search engines where they place targeted links on websites they deem to have similar audiences.
Conversion – A desired action taken by a website visitor, such as making a purchase, registering for an event, subscribing to an e-newsletter, completing a lead-gen form, downloading a file, etc.
Conversion Cost – See “cost-per-acquisition (CPA).”
Conversion Rate – This is the percentage of visitors to a site or ad who actually take a further action, like buying a product or filling out a survey. For example, if your primary goal is to collect survey data through your site, and 20 people visit it, but only 5 people complete the survey, you have a conversion rate of 25%.
Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA) – Represents the ratio of the total cost of a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign to the total number of leads or customers, often called “CPA” or “conversion cost.”
Cost-Per-Click – A method of paying for targeted traffic. For a fee, sites like Google or Facebook direct traffic to your site. You agree to pay a set amount for every click.
CPA – An abbreviation for “cost-per-acquisition.”
CPC – An abbreviation for “cost-per-click.”
CPM – This is the “cost-per-thousand” views of an advertisement. Often, advertisers agree to pay a certain amount for every 1,000 customers who see their ad, regardless of conversion rates or click-thrus. The “M” in “CPM” is derived from the Latin word for 1,000 (mille).
Crawler – An automatic function of some search engines that index a page, and then visit subsequent pages that the initial page links to. As the cycle continues over time, search engine crawlers or “bots”/“spiders” can index a massive number of pages very quickly.
Crowdsourcing – In the context of social media, this is a process used by many social bookmarking sites where individuals are allowed to vote on news stories and articles to determine their value and relevancy within the site. Related to other social media concepts such as collaboration and collective intelligence, it can also be a research tool. Due to its significant popularity, this new word famously has entered standard English dictionaries in recent years.
CTR – An abbreviation for “click-thru rate.”
Dashboard – Any area of administrative control for operating applications, especially social media settings, blogging software, and user profiles for websites that offer multiple customization options
Directory – An index of websites where the listings are compiled by hand, rather than by a crawler. Whether general or niche-oriented, the best of these sites are structured, reviewed and regularly updated by humans with transparent editorial guidelines.
DMOZ – Also known as the Open Directory Project, this continually expanding directory is run by volunteers. It claims to be the largest (and is one of the most famous) of the human-edited directories.
DNS – Stands alternately for “Domain Name Service,” “Domain Name Server,” and “Domain Name System”: the DNS is a name service which allows letters (and numbers) that constitute domain names to be used to identify computers instead of numerical IP addresses.
Entry – A piece of writing posted to a blog, microblog, wiki, or other easy-access Web publishing platform.
Facebook – A dominant, free-access social-networking site which is available to companies and any person 13 years of age or older. Facebook was initially non-commercial and limited to students with a college email domain, but has since expanded to accommodate fan pages, paid advertising, and e-commerce stores.
Flash – Refers to a form of video software developed by Adobe Macromedia that creates vector-based graphic animations that occupy small file sizes.
Forum – An area on a website (or an entire website) dedicated to user conversation through written comments and message boards, often related to customer support or fan engagement.
Graphical Search Inventory – Images and banner ads that are tied to particular search terms on a search engine. They are then displayed to the user after a related search term is entered.
Groups – Micro-communities within a social networking site for individuals who share a particular interest. LinkedIn groups are a particularly notable example of this phenomenon.
H-Tags (H1, H2, etc.) – Also known as “header tags,” these page elements represent different levels of headings in HTML. From the largest (H1) to the smallest (H6), these define the titles/headings and sub-headings of Web copy. For SEO and reader benefits, headers should contain keywords wherever possible.
Hashtag – A symbol (#) placed directly in front of a word or words to tag a post on Twitter. It is often used to group tweets by popular categories of interest and to help users follow discussion topics.
HTML – Hypertext markup language (HTML) refers to the text-based language which is used to create websites.
Hyperlink – Known as “link” for short, a hyperlink is a word or phrase which is clickable and takes the visitor to another Web page. This page can be within the same site or on a completely different site. Instead of a full URL string, a word or phrase is typically displayed in the body copy for the linked page (see “anchor text”), which can bring both reader and SEO benefits.
iFrames – Also known as simply “frames,” these HTML tag devices allow 2 or more websites to be displayed simultaneously on the same page. Facebook now allows companies to create customized tabs for its fan pages using iFrames, a process which developers find much easier than using the previous “FBML,” or Facebook markup language.
Impression – An instance of an organic search-engine listing or sponsored ad being served on a particular Web page or an image being viewed in display advertising. In paid search, “cost-per-impression” is a common metric.
Index – The actual collection of data and websites obtained by a search engine, also known as “search index.”
Inbound Link – A link from another website directed to yours, also known as a “backlink.” Related marketing areas that focus on inbound links include link popularity,social media and online PR, all of which explore ways to collect quality links from other websites.
IP Address – This series of numbers and periods represents the unique numeric address for each Internet user.
Java – Java is a powerful programming language which is independent of platforms, meaning it can run on multiple computers and operating systems.
Keywords – The terms that a user enters into a search engine. They can also signify the terms a website is targeting to rank highly as part of an SEO marketing campaign.
Keyword Density – The proportion of keywords to the total number of words in the face copy of a website.
Keyword Proximity – The relative placement of keywords in prominent areas of a Web page, including the distance between keywords in the visible text.
Landing Page – A stand-alone Web page that a user “lands” on, commonly after visiting a paid search-engine listing or following a link in an email newsletter. This kind of page often is designed with a very specific purpose (i.e. conversion goals) for visitors.
Link Popularity – A measurement of the number and quality of sites that link to a given site, especially as cataloged in a search-engine index.
Link Text – See “anchor text.”
LinkedIn – A business-oriented social networking site for professionals. Much like Facebook, LinkedIn allows members to connect with other users on the network, share status updates, and participate in groups and chats, although with a career focus.
Listings – A listing is a website’s presence in a search engine or directory, and is not necessarily indicative of its search-engine positioning.
Meta-Search Engine – A search engine that does not compile its own independent results, but rather pulls data from two or more search engines, such as Dogpile.com.
Meta-Tags – Also called meta-data, this information found in HTML page headers used to be the bread and butter of SEO marketing tactics. Still used today despite widely perceived diminishing relevance to search-engine rankings, the most common are the “title,” “description,” and “keyword” tags (see below).
Meta-Description Tag – A tag on a Web page located in the heading source code containing a basic description of the page. It helps search engines categorize the page and can potentially inform users who come across the page listing in search results.
Meta-Keywords Tag – In the past, this tag allowed page authors to insert a massive list of keywords related (and occasionally unrelated) to a page in order to game search-engine results. Today, this tag’s potential to influence rankings has diminished to the point where it is widely disregarded by major search engines.
Microblog – A microblog is a social media utility where users can share short status updates and information. The most famous example is Twitter, which combines aspects of blogs (personalized Web posting) with aspects of social networking sites (making and tracking connections, or “friends”).
Microsoft adCenter – The pay-per-click (PPC) search-engine advertising program provided by Microsoft in conjunction with its Bing search engine, now also populating Yahoo! search results.
Mirror Site – Duplicate copy of a website already in existence, used to increase response time for high-volume sites.
Natural Listings – See “organic listings.”
Nofollow – “Nofollow” is an append which is coded into the HTML markup of a hyperlink. It is used to prevent a search engine from indexing a link to a particular Web page. Some strategic uses of external “nofollow” are associated with link popularity management, e.g., for site owners that do not want to give full “follow” credit to links posted by users in their forums or blog comments.
Open-Source Software – Computer software with a special license that allows users in the general public to edit and improve the source code. Famously exemplified in the Firefox Web browser and Wikipedia encyclopedia, it is an example of the kind of collaboration that is encouraged under the Web 2.0 ethos. Contrast with closed, propriety software that does not share its codebase beyond an exclusive group of authorized developers.
Organic Listings – Also known as “natural” listings, these are search-engine results that have not been purchased. They are calculated solely by an engine’s algorithm and are based on the merits of the listed pages. Typically, most search engines will display several sponsored ads related to search terms (often separated by background color or otherwise highlighted) before displaying the non-paid listings.
Outbound Link – Any link on a Web page to an external Web page.
PageRank – A former proprietary method of Google (now disavowed) for measuring the popularity of a Web page. Much-debated in the SEO community, the measurement is believed to be influenced chiefly by the number and quality of inbound and outbound links associated with a given page. Updated infrequently, this rank was indicated as a number between 1 and 10 most commonly displayed in a green bar chart in the Google toolbar add-on for browsers. The SEO community consensus opinion is that the measurement was nothing more than Google’s incomplete assessment of the relative strength of a website.
Paid Listings – Listings sold to advertisers for a fee. Also known as “paid placement.” See “pay-per-click.”
Paid Placement – See “pay-per-click.”
Pay-For-Performance – A paid-search system nearly identical to (and essentially synonymous with) pay-per-click.
Pay-Per-Click – Also known as “PPC,” this type of paid search marketing involves placing advertisements that run above or besides (and occasionally below) the free search-engine listings on Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. Typically, to get the highest position among these ads, website owners place a per-click bid. It’s not uncommon to participate in a bidding war for coveted top spots. For example, if a website’s listing is among the top 3 advertisements on a page, the same ad appears in the same location on partner websites. Some marketing firms, including Fathom, provide bid management services to get the most value for each search term.
Podcast – A series of audio or video content which can be downloaded and listened to/viewed offline (or a particular episode in that series, e.g. podcast #6 of The Sporkful). A podcast is essentially an asynchronous Internet version of a “broadcast,” but to a very specific audience of willing subscribers. Podcasts are sometimes created to provide stand-alone copies of existing radio or television programming (such as daily/weekly shows), but they may also consist of entirely unique content intended for devoted Web-based subscribers.
Pop-Up Ad – A form of advertisement which automatically opens (or “pops up” in) a new window in a browser to display an ad. Also seen in the form of “pop-under” ads, a slightly less intrusive version. These interruptive approaches to advertising are generally disliked (and therefore ignored) by Internet users. Many browser-based and stand-alone software programs exist to block these ads.
Position – Same as “rank” in reference to search-engine listings.
PPC – An abbreviation for “pay-per-click.”
Profile – A profile is a personal page within a social network created by a user for sharing with others on the network. The profile provides basic biographical information and often links to the profiles of the user’s friends/connections.
Query – The term(s) entered into a search engine by the user.
Ranking(s) – The position of a website’s listing(s) in search-engine results pages. The higher a rank for a specific keyword, the more generally visible a page is to search-engine users.
Rapid Inclusion – The indexing of websites in search engines and directories based on a per-page fee. As opposed to free submissions, where indexes are updated every few weeks (or less frequently), rapid indexing occurs every 48-72 hours.
Reciprocal Link – A link to a website that is reciprocated in the form of a backlink, often prearranged by sites with mutually benefitting audiences. If abused, e.g., two sites with no topical relation decide to link to each other (and many other sites) exclusively for the sake of linking, penalties from search engines could result. See “link farm.”
Redirect – See “301 redirect.”
Registration – The process of signing up to participate in an online forum, community or social-media network. At minimum, this act usually involves sharing a name and email address in order to set up a username and password.
Results Page – See “SERP.”
Robot – Also known as “bot.” See “crawler.”
Robots.txt – A small text file included on a website that directs a search engine to include/exclude specific pages from its index. It can be submitted manually to search engines to ensure the latest version is followed regardless of the “crawl cycle.”
ROI – An acronym for “return-on-investment.” ROI is the percentage of profit from a given digital marketing activity. For example, if you pay $50 a month for CPC advertising, and it leads to $500 in profit, your ROI would be 1000%.
RSS – “Really simple syndication” is the process by which content such as blog posts or podcasts can be updated regularly and syndicated to subscribers in feeds. RSS feeds enable users to access content updates from various outlets—e.g. their favorite blogs, news sites, and digital audio/video providers—all in one central location.
Search Engine – A website that allows users to search the Web for specific information by entering keywords. Can include paid or organic listings of websites and sometimes specific images, products, videos, music, place entries or other enhanced results.
Search-Engine Marketing (SEM) – A phrase sometimes used in contrast with “SEO” to describe paid search activities, SEM may also more generally refer to the broad range of search-marketing activities, either paid or organic.
Search-Engine Optimization (SEO) – The process of using website analysis and copy/design/structural adjustments to ensure both the highest possible positioning on desired search-engine results pages and the best experience for a given site’s users.
Search-Engine Referral – This statistic represents a visitor who arrives at a website after clicking through a search-engine results listing.
Search Term – The precise word or phrase(s) entered into a search engine by a user (also called a “query”).
SEM – An abbreviation for “search-engine marketing.”
SEO – An abbreviation for “search-engine optimization.”
SERP – An acronym for “search engine results page,” displayed after a query is entered on a search engine.
Shopping Search – A specialized type of search or dedicated search engine that indexes groups of products, prices and reviews for side-by-side comparison, especially helpful for shopping online.
SlideShare – A popular presentation- and document-sharing social network, especially useful for B2B marketing.
Social Media – Refers to all online tools and places that are available for users to generate content and communicate through the Internet. These media include blogs, social networks, file-hosting sites and bookmarking sites, among others.
Social Network – A site or community on the Internet where members can interact with one another and share content. This term is more or less used interchangeably with “social media” in reference to Internet marketing.
Spam – In email marketing, this refers to any message that is deemed by users or email providers to be an unsolicited commercial offer. Also called “junk mail.”
“Spam” may also refer to links or comments that are left on blogs, forums and message boards designed exclusively to steer users to a site for commercial gain. This kind of spam, generated by random visitors, is called “link spam” or “comment spam.”
In SEO, “spam” can be any Web page that a search engine views as harming the credibility of its results. Examples of these can include doorway pages, link farms, keyword stuffing, cloaking and other duplicitous or otherwise user-hostile practices. The standards for what constitutes SEO spam varies by search engine and current algorithm factors.
Spider – Same as “crawler.”
Style Sheet – A design template used for defining the layout of multiple pages within a website, most commonly seen in the form of “CSS” (cascading style sheets).
Submission – The process of registering a site with a search engine or Web directory. It does not guarantee inclusion, but can lead to it being reviewed or crawled. It offers no guarantee of ranking. The process can be done manually or by using commercial software packages.
Subscribing – The process of opting in to an email newsletter or adding an RSS feed to an aggregator (e.g. for reading blog updates).
Tag – A keyword (often in a string) which is attached to a blog post, tweet (see “hashtag”), social bookmark or media file. Tags help categorize content by subject.
Title Tag – A form of meta-data used by search engines to categorize Web pages by title. Search-engine algorithms traditionally value title tags to determine/categorize page content.
Tweet – A “tweet” is the special name for an entry made on the microblogging site, Twitter. Up to 140 characters long, tweets can consist of random status updates, news, commentary, or anything an individual wants to communicate to followers at that moment, including personal messages to other users or groups and links to external content (articles, photos, videos).
Twitter – Twitter is a microblogging platform which allows users to create profiles, share short updates on a timeline, and engage with other users, much like a social-networking site.
UGC – See “user-generated content.”
Unique Visitor – Also known as “absolute unique visitor,” this statistic represents visitors to a website that are counted once in a given time period despite the possibility of having made multiple visits. Determined by cookies, unique visitors are distinguished from regular visitor counts which would classify two or more visits from the sameuser as multiple visitors.
URL – “Universal” or “uniform resource locator,” this string of letters and numbers separated by periods and slashes is unique for every Internet page. A page’s address must be written in this form in order to be found on the World Wide Web.
User Sitemap – A page containing structured links to every other important page on a particular website grouped by topic or navigational hierarchy. These pages are equally useful for people and search-engine spiders alike, as they provide a categorized look at every page on a website at a glance (with hyperlinks).
User-Generated Content – Commonly abbreviated as “UGC,” it is any piece of content created by a member of a given website’s audience for use on that website and sometimes to be freely distributed on the Web. Wikis (and Wikipedia) are examples of UGC (see below).
Webinar – A Web-based seminar containing audio and video, often in the form of a slide deck.
Wiki – Refers to any page or collection of pages on the Internet or an intranet that can be easily edited by the public or a select group of registered visitors. Wikis are examples of collaboration. See “Wikipedia,” the most famous example of a wiki, below.
Wikipedia – A free, open-source, multilingual encyclopedia consisting of heavily edited user-generated content on topics of nearly every sort. The largest encyclopedia in the world, Wikipedia is administered by the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit group. One defining characteristic of Wikipedia is its insistence on not publishing original research, but rather being an authoritative clearinghouse of citations of other material already published on the Web.
XML Sitemap – An XML file for search engines containing a list of URLs on a particular domain. This file can be used to supplement regular indexing, where a bot/crawler goes out and visits each page of a site by itself.
YouTube – The most popular video-hosting and video-sharing site, it is also currently the largest search engine after Google (incidentally, also owned by Google). Users can view, upload and comment on video content for no charge, though companies can pay for sponsored promotion of videos or to have enhanced branding and design capabilities on their profile pages, known as “channels.”