Online Marketing Terms

Updated 12-18

Online Marketing Terms –

Every business owner should know!

One of my biggest pet peeves of being a business consultant is how often I hear that business owners hired a marketing firm or person to help them and they have no idea what the person or company was doing for them. I would ask what they were suppose to do and they’d say help with SEO. But when they would tell me what they did, it would have nothing to do with SEO.

Here is a list of online terms and what they mean. Each term may have a more in-depth meaning and can be broken down further, but I wanted to explain them in layman’s terms to give you a good, basic understanding of what they are. The most important thing to know is if you don’t understand what it is that a consultant is going to do and they can’t explain it in a way you understand, then don’t work with them.

If there is anything you don’t see on this list that you have questions on, please let me know.

A/B Testing – This is the process of comparing two variations of a single variable to determine which performs best in order to help improve marketing efforts. This is often done in email marketing (with variations in the subject line or copy), calls-to-action (variations in colors or verbiage), and landing pages (variations in content).

Above the Fold – The part of the page you can see without scrolling down or over. The exact amount of space will vary by viewer because of screen settings. You often pay a premium for advertisement placements above the fold, which will add to the costs of internet marketing services, but may also add to results.

adCenter – Bing Ads powers paid search results on Microsoft’s bing, Yahoo!

Ad Extensions –Added information that is included in your text ad. These can include extra features about your business, such as your location, phone number, links to certain product or services pages, and call-outs.

Advertising Network – A group of websites where one advertiser controls all or a portion of the ads for all sites. A common example is the Google Search Network, which includes AOL, Amazon, (formerly Ask Jeeves), and thousands of other sites. In Google AdWords, they offer two types of ad networks on the internet: search and display (which used to be called their content network).

AdWords – AdWords is Google’s paid search marketing program.

Affiliate Marketing – A type of internet marketing in which you partner with other websites, individuals, or companies to send traffic to your site.

Aggregate Data – Data that details how a group of consumers interacts with your marketing efforts or websites. This can be how an audience views videos, ads, pictures, etc and what actions are taken after viewing. This can give a comprehensive view of how your target market is engaged, as a whole, through marketing efforts, as opposed to individualized consumer data.

Algorithm – The term search engines use for the formulae they use to determine the rankings of your Natural Listing. Search engines will periodically send a Spider through your website to view all its information. Their programs analyze then analyze this and other data to value your site and fix whether or not, and how high or low pages on your site will appear on various searches. These algorithms can be very complicated (Google alone currently uses 106 different variables) and search engines closely guard their algorithms as trade secrets.

ALT Tags (Meta Tags) – HTML tags used to describe website graphics by displaying a block of text when moused-over. Search engines are generally unable to view graphics or distinguish text that might be contained within them, and the implementation of an ALT tag enables search engines to categorize that graphic.

Analytics– Also known as Web Metrics. Analytics refers to the collection of data about a website and its users. Analytics programs typically give performance data on clicks, time, pages viewed, website paths, and a variety of other information. The proper use of Web analytics allows website owners to improve their visitor experience, which often leads to higher ROI for profit-based sites.

B2B – Business to business. This refers to businesses that service other businesses and not direct to the end consumer.

B2C – Business to consumer. This refers to businesses that sell directly to the end consumer.

Backlinks – Links from other websites pointing to any particular page on your site.

Banners – Picture advertisements placed on websites. Such advertising is often a staple of internet marketing branding campaigns. Depending upon their size and shape, banner ads may also be referred to as buttons, inlines, leaderboards, skyscrapers, or other terms.

Behavioral Targeting (BT) – An area of internet marketing becoming increasingly refined, behavioral targeting looks to put ads in front of people who should be more receptive to the particular message given past Web behavior, including purchases and websites visited. The use of cookies enables online behavioral targeting.

Bing is Microsoft’s search engine.

Blog – Short for Web log, blogs are part journal, part website. Typically the newest entry (blog post) appears at the top of the page with older entries coming after in reverse chronological order.

Bounce Rate – The percentage of people who visit your website but leave without visiting any other page.

Buyer Persona – also known as Customer Profiles or Customer Avatars. Fictional depiction of your target customers that serve as a valuable points of reference for various digital marketing strategies. Marketing professionals take considerations from buyer goals, industry research, customer data, demographics, and natural human behaviors when forming buyer personas. The ultimate goal of this practice is to create an image of your ideal customer. That way, you can personalize your site layout, develop new content, or tailor any marketing strategies to increase the chances of acquiring the customers you need to grow your business.

Categories – Words or phrases used to organize blog posts and other pieces of information, such as albums for photos. Categories are generally broader than tags and used in instances when there will generally be multiple posts or other data points per category.

Click through Rate (CTR)– # of clicks / # of impressions. Click through rate is a common internet marketing measurement tool for ad effectiveness. This rate tells you how many times people are actually clicking on your ad out of the number of times your ad is shown. Low click through rates can be caused by a number of factors, including copy, placement, and relevance.

Content Management Systems (CMS) – allow website owners to make text and picture changes to their websites without specialized programming knowledge of software like Adobe Dreamweaver or Microsoft FrontPage. Content Management Systems can be edited by anyone with basic word knowledge via an internet connection. No need for length or costly web development contracts or need to wait on someone outside your company to make changes.

Content Marketing – In opposition to traditional online advertising methods, content marketing is an inbound marketing practice that seeks to generate leads and traffic through the creation and distribution of content that caters to the needs of a defined audience of prospective customers.

Content Network – Each major search engine offers a form of a content network within its paid search interface, typically referred to as content networks.

Content Tags (Meta Tags)– HTML tags which define the essence of the content contained within them and readable by search spiders.

Contextual Advertising – A feature offered by major search engine advertisers allowing your advertisement to be placed next to related news articles and on other Web pages. Contextual advertising seeks to match Web content from the display page with your advertised search term(s).

Conversion Rate – This statistic, or metric, tells you what percentage of people is converting. The definition of a “conversion” depends upon your goals and measurements. It could mean a sign up for free information, a completed survey, a purchase made, or other.

Conversion Rate Optimization – Depending on what your site deems as a conversion, there are steps that can always be taken to improve the likelihood that visitors to your site will perform a conversion driven action. Typically, this means changing certain aspects centered around the conversion. For example, if you have an ecommerce site, you may change the orientation of certain elements or their physical appearance like the color of the “Add to cart” button or removing certain steps to make it easier to purchase an item. Conversion rate optimization relies heavily on A/B testing as what may work for one website may not necessarily work for another.

Cookie –  A small text file (up to 4KB) created by a website that is stored in the user’s computer either temporarily for that session only or permanently on the hard disk (persistent cookie).  Cookies provide a way for the website to recognize you and keep track of your preferences.

Cost per Acquisition (CPA) – An online advertising cost structure where you pay per an agreed upon actionable event, such as a lead, registration, or sale.

Cost per Click (CPC) – A common way to pay for search engine and other types of online advertising, CPC means you pay a pre-determined amount each time someone clicks on your advertisement to visit your site.

Cost per Impression (CPM) – A common internet marketing cost structure, especially for banner advertising. You agree to pay a set cost for every 1,000 impressions your ad receives.

Crawler (Spider)– Component of a search engine that gathers listings by automatically “crawling” the Web. A search engine’s crawler follows links to Web Pages. It makes copies of those pages and stores them in a search engine’s index.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – Software solutions that help enterprise businesses manage customer relationships in an organized way. An example of a CRM would be a database containing detailed customer information that management and salespeople can reference in order to match customer needs with products, inform customers of service requirements, etc.

Digital Marketing Funnel – A marketing funnel that is strictly online. How companies attract and retain clients through search marketing.

Domain Name – A website’s main address.

Doorway Page – A Web page created to rank well in a search engine’s organic listings (non-paid) and delivers very little information to those viewing it. Instead, visitors will often only see a brief call to action (i.e., “Click Here to Enter”), or they may be automatically propelled past the doorway page.

Drip Marketing – An electronic form of marketing communications that are written in advance of delivery, and then sent to prospective customers or current customers at pre-determined intervals in their buyer or customer journey. Typically, these email messages are sent one at a time, about one specific product or service, with a pre-determined amount of time between the next email being sent.

Ecommerce – The ability to purchase online. eCommerce also goes by other super-snazzy names like etail. Website features that allow ecommerce are commonly called shopping carts.

EdgeRank – The algorithm Facebook uses to rank business / brand pages, groups, celebrity pages or individual accounts to determine which posts from those accounts will appear in the Newsfeed of users connected to those pages and profiles (or pages and profiles tagged in the posts). The higher the EdgeRank, the more likely your posts will appear in the Newsfeeds of your followers.

Enhanced Bidding – A feature specific to Google AdWords. When you select to utilize enhanced bidding, you’re giving AdWords the power to adjust your bidding in order to increase conversions. With this feature, you can pay up to 30% over the keyword bid that you set. Be careful with enhanced bidding – many search engine marketers will tell you that they have had poor experiences with cost per acquisition bidding within AdWords.

Exact Match – This is the most specific of the match types. With this type your ad will only show if the search term contains your keywords exactly as they are written.

Forum – A place on the internet where people with common interests or backgrounds come together to find information and discuss topics.

Geo-Targeting – The ability to reach potential clients by their physical location. The major search engines now all offer the ability to geo-target searches in their Pay per Click campaigns by viewing their IP addresses. Geo-targeting allows advertisers to specify which markets they do and don’t want to reach.

Google – the most popular search engine. Google has a lot of different tools to help both the person searching and businesses. I will not go into them here because there are too many, but they all are good. You can access them by searching Google Tools.

Hashtag- Formerly called the ‘pound sign’, this symbol (#) is used on social media (primarily Instagram and Twitter), as a way to group tweets or pictures by category or phrase. The ‘#’ is placed directly in front of the text.

Impressions – The number of times someone views a page displaying your ad.

Inbound or Incoming Links – See backlinks

Internet Marketing – Any of a number of ways to reach internet users.

Instagram – A social network for users to create images using a selection of filters and share with their followers.

Keyword –  Sometimes referred to as “keyword phrases,” keywords are the topics that webpages get indexed for in search results by engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

Landing Page – Refers to the page on which appears when a person clicks on a link, i.e. display ad, text link, etc.

Link Building – The process of obtaining hyperlinks (links or backlinks) from one website back to your own. Link building is important for successful SEO, but should not be your only strategy, as how search engines rank has changed.

Local Search – Local search allows users to find businesses and websites within a specific (local) geographic range. This includes local search features on search engines and online yellow page sites.

Local Business Listings – Each of the major search engines offer local business listings that appear next to maps at the top of the page on many locally targeted searches. Business may either submit new requests or claim existing local business listings if the search engines have already added the company to the results. Having a website is not required for having a local business listing.

Long Tail Keywords – Rather than targeting the most common keywords in your industry, you can focus on more niche terms that are usually longer phrases but are also easier and quicker to rank for in the search engines. Long tail keywords can amount for up to 60% or so of a site’s search traffic.

Meta Tags (see also keyword tags, description tags etc.) – Meta tags allow you to highlight important keywords related to your site in a way that matters to search engines, but that your website visitors typically do not see.

Microblogging – Microblogging refers to platforms allowing you to post information in snippets of 140 characters at a time via phone or Web. Twitter quickly became the dominant global player to the point where its name is synonymous with microblogging.

Mobile Friendly – In today’s world it is essential that your site is optimized for mobile users. The site display must be able to shrink down to display on a mobile device while still being functional and user-friendly.

Mobile Marketing– As cell phone technology advances, advertisers can not reach their target audience virtually anywhere. While mobile marketing is really just an extension of online marketing, it provides businesses many new opportunities and challenges.

Natural Listings (Organic results) – the non-advertised listings in search engines.

Opt-in – This type of registration requires a person submitting information to specifically request he or she be contacted or added to a list.

Opt-out– Here people are automatically signed up to receive contact, but can opt out of receiving newsletters, calls, etc. at any time.

Organic Listings –the non-advertised listings in search engines.

Outbound Links – Links on any Web page leading to another Web page, whether they are within the same site or another website.

PageRank – is a value that Google assigns for pages and websites that it indexes, based on all the factors in its algorithm. Google does release an external PageRank scoring pages from 1-10 that you can check for any website. There is a lot more that goes into page ranking which can be build out of a SEO strategy.

Paid Listings – Listings that search engines sell to advertisers, usually through paid placement or paid inclusion programs. In contrast, organic (natural) listings are not sold.

Pay-for-Performance – Term popularized by search engines as a synonym for pay-per-click, stressing to advertisers that they are only paying for ads that ‘perform’ in terms of delivering traffic, as opposed to CPM-based ads, which cost money, even if they don’t generate a click.

Pay per Click (PPC) (Also cost per click) – The most common type of digital advertising cost structures is PPC marketing. Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and many more search engines use PPC.  

Phrase Match – This match type is more specific than broad, but not as specific as exact. This bid type allows your ads to show for phrases that exactly contain your keywords or are close variations.

Pop-Under – An advertisement that opens in a new  window once you visit a particular page or take some other action.

Pop-Up – An advertisement that op-ups open new windows on your screen that partially or wholly cover your curren window.

Push Notifications – are messages that pop up on mobile devices, that originate from a specific app or server.

Query – Query is another term for “keyword” or “search term.”

Rank – How well a particular Web page or website is listed in the search engine results. For example, if there are ten results and your site is the third, you have a ranking of 3.

Reciprocal Link – A link exchange between two sites. Both sites will display a link to the other site somewhere on their pages. This type of link is generally much less desirable than a one-way inbound link. Too many of these will work against you and you should never buy links.

Return on Investment (ROI) – This is pretty straight forward: how much profit given the money you have had to pay.

ROAS — Return On Ad Spend. is a marketing metric that measures the efficacy of a digital advertising campaign. ROAS helps online businesses evaluate which methods are working and how they can improve future advertising efforts.

Run of Site (ROS) – A contract specifying Run of Site means that an advertisement can appear on any page, and usually in any open placement, of a particular website.

Search Engine – A program that searches for and identifies items in a database that correspond to keywords or characters specified by the user, used especially for finding particular sites on the World Wide Web. The most commonly known search engines are Google, Yahoo and Bing.

SEO – Organic traffic: Search Engine Optimization is making sure that your website is set up properly for when a search engine spiders your site. How well your website is set up will determine where you rank in a search. Taking the time to set it up properly will help your long term results of where you rank. SEO is a long term goal and will not help immediately. Important areas to look at when it comes to SEO is domain name, content, meta tags/titles, and links to name a few.

Search Terms – A search term is a word or group of words that a person types into a search engine to find what they are looking for.

SEM – paid traffic – is a form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) primarily through paid advertising.

Social Media – Are places where people visit to see social interactions of other people. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+ are examples of social media networks that one can join for personal or business use.

Spam – Can refer to unwanted data sent via email or put on a website to game a search engine.

Spider/spidering/Search engine search – Also known as a “crawler,” “robot” (bot) and “intelligent agent,” a spider is a program that searches for information on the Web. Spiders are widely used by Web search engines to index all the pages on a site by following the links from page to page. The search engine summarizes the content and adds the links to their indexes. Spiders are also used to locate Web pages that sell a particular product or to find blogs that have opinions about a product

Subdomain – Also refered to as a 3rd level domain is very simply, a domain that is part of a main domain. “” is a subdomain. “.com” is the top level domain, “directom” is the second level, and “www” is the third. Subdomains can be created at any time with no limit and with out a registrar. A common reason to create subdomains would be to differentiate a sector of your business such as “” or “”

Text Ad – An online advertisement that contains only written copy. Paid listings found on the results pages of the main search engines are currently Text Ads.

Twitter Retargeting – Twitter Tailored Audiences are used to create retargeting campaigns that can serve ads to people who have previously interacted with your brand.

Vlog — Video web blog. A blog in which the postings are primarily in video form.

URL – Uniform Resource Locator. These are the letters and symbols that make up the address of specific Web pages.

Usability – How easy it is for a user to navigate a website and find the information he or she is seeking.

Video Marketing – An online marketing strategy that leverages the consumption of videos by internet users to promote a brand, product, or service. Advertisers can now use video as a viral marketing strategy, as a corporate communication strategy, as a way to increase thought leadership and expertise, or even to live stream events.

Viral Marketing– A method of internet marketing that attempts to make advertisements so interesting that viewers will pass them along to others free of charge to the advertisers.

Web Browser – The program you use to access the internet. Common browsers include Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), Apple’s Safari, and Mozilla Firefox.

Webinar – “Web Seminar”. These virtual seminars allow people from anywhere in the world to attend via an internet connection. They offer tremendous opportunities for businesses to reach out to people over large geographic areas at low costs.

As the industry adds terms, I will update this list. Please feel free to check back a few times a year.