# – This is a hashtag symbol. See “hashtag.”
301 Redirect – A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect which passes nearly 100% of “link juice” to the redirected page. 301 refers to the HTTP status code for the redirect. In most instances, a 301 redirect is the best method for implementing redirects on a website.
404 Error – “File not found” code for a web page that is displayed when a user attempts to access a URL that has been moved, renamed or no longer exists. Designing a custom 404 error page has many benefits from SEO to increasing conversions to simply delighting your users.
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”
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.
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.
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.
Bing Ads – The pay-per-click (PPC) search-engine advertising program provided by Microsoft in conjunction with its Bing and Yahoo! search engines. As of June 2015, Bing Ads has 33% market share in the United States.
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 – See “Social Bookmarking“
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.
Click-Through 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.
Connections – See “friends”
Content – Any text, image, video, audio, app or other material published on the Internet for audience consumption.
Content Marketing – Content Marketing is a type of marketing that involves the creation and publishing of online material (such as articles and blogs, videos, social media posts, even podcasts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to attract prospects by providing value and stimulating interest in the company's products or services.
Conversion – The 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%.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) – Conversion Rate Optimization is a qualitative experimentation method of increasing the percentage of visitors to a website which then take some desired action on a webpage, such as converting into a customer. It is commonly referred to as CRO.
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 (CPC) – 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 – See “Cost-Per-Acquisition”
CPC – See “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 Roman numeral for the number 1,000.
CRO – See “Conversion Rate Optimization”
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 – See “Click-Through Rate”
Customer Equity – See “Lifetime Value“
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.
De-listing – See “ban.”
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.
Display Advertising – Display advertising is the advertising of clickable graphics (e.g. banner ads) on websites that match your business sector or market. For example, a clothing brand might run banner or sidebar ads on a fashion blog – this is display advertising.
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.
Doorway Page – See “Gateway Page“
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.
Flickr – A media-hosting network where users can upload and share image files. It is the largest photo-storage and photo-sharing site on the Web. Useful as a publishing platform for photographers.
Forum – An online service dedicated to user conversation through written comments and message boards, often related to customer support or fan engagement. Niche forms are common, such as Warrior Forum for marketers, or the Harmony Central Forums for musicians.
Friends – Individuals connected to one another’s profiles on a social networking site, most frequently used in association with Facebook (e.g., Facebook friends).
Gateway Page –A low-content page traditionally created expressly for the purpose of ranking on a search engine. Usually very keyword-heavy and user-hostile, most search engines now frown on these pages.
Groups – Micro-communities within a social networking site for individuals who share a particular interest. Both LinkedIn and Facebook 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 word or phrase with no spaces preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) which is used to identify messages on a particular topic. Especially relevant on social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram. For example, searching Twitter for #DigitalMarketing will show results with tweets about digital marketing where the author used the hashtag #DigitalMarketing.
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.
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.
Instant Messaging – A service where individuals can communicate through a real-time, text-based interface over an Internet connection. The exchange of small files and screen-sharing are also typically available on these platforms. AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) is one of the most famous (and original) American examples of this software. Many other software programs provide this functionality, including Skype, Facebook, Gmail, and corporate videoconference clients.
Key Performance Indicator (KPI) – A quantifiable data point used to evaluate the success of an organization, employee, etc., in meeting objectives for performance. Also see North Star Metric.
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.
Lifetime Value – Also known as Customer Equity, Lifetime Value is the monetary and strategic value which a given customer is likely to create for a company during his or her lifetime. A customer can create value for the company in at least three different ways: 1) by directly generating revenues (and profits) for the company through the purchase of the company's products and services (direct value), 2) by promoting the company's products and services to other buyers (communication value), and 3) by providing the company with information that can help increase the effectiveness and efficiency of its operations (information value).
Link Juice – A slang term referring to the amount of SEO utility (aka, juice) a given link has. Links from well-known, trusted websites pass on more “juice” to websites on the receiving end of a link.
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”
Link Farm – A website exclusively devoted to listing a very large number of links without groupings, categories, or structure. These sites are largely discredited by major search engines, and your site’s engagement with one can potentially lead to ranking penalties.
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.
LTV – See “Lifetime Value“
Marketing – According to the American Marketing Association, marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
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”).
Mirror Site – Duplicate copy of a website already in existence, used to increase response time for high-volume sites.
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.
North Star Metric – The North Star Metric is the single metric that best captures the core value that your product delivers to customers. Optimizing your efforts to grow this metric is key to driving sustainable growth within your company.
Oath – Oath is a holding company of sorts for a diverse and premium set of consumer media as well as business-to-business advertising brands across display, video, and mobile. It includes brands like Yahoo!, AOL, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Tumblr, Engadget, and Microsoft’s consumer properties including MSN, Outlook.com, Skype, Windows, and Xbox.
Open Graph Tags – Open Graph tags are meta tags which allow you to control the summary content that is displayed when a page is shared on Facebook.
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 – 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.
P4P – See “Pay for Performance”
PageRank – A former Google method 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 – Pay for Performance Advertising, or P4P, is a term used to define a pricing model whereby a marketing or advertising agency receives payment for each new lead obtained through its online marketing efforts.
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.
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.”
Query – The term(s) entered into a search engine by the user.
Quora – The question-and-answer website, quora.com. Great for getting backlinks and establishing expert status in a domain by answering user questions.
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.
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.”
ROAS – An acronym for “return-on-advertising-spend.” It represents the dollars earned per dollars spent on the corresponding advertising. To determine ROAS, divide revenue derived from the ad source by the cost of that ad source. Values less than one indicate that less revenue is generated than is spent on the advertising.
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. In marketing we use RSS to aggregate content for reading and curating to social media.
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) – Search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of Internet marketing that increases a site's visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) through both organic search methods and advertising. SEM includes SEO as well as other search marketing tactics.
Search-Engine Optimization (SEO) – A subset of Search Engine Marketing (SEM), SEO is a process of using both on-site and off-site tactics to ensure the highest possible positioning on desired search-engine results pages. On-site SEO, also known as on-page SEO, includes content, copy, design, and structural adjustments. Off-site SEO, also known as off-page SEO, includes the procurement of backlinks, or inbound links.
Search-Engine Referral – This statistic represents visitors that have clicked through to your site from a SERP listing.
Search Query – The precise word or phrase(s) entered into a search engine by a user.
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.
Sitemap – See “XML Sitemaps“
SlideShare – A popular presentation and document-sharing social network, especially useful for B2B and LinkedIn marketing.
Social Bookmarking – 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. StumbleUpon is an example of a social bookmarking site.
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).
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 nomenclature for a post made on the microblogging site, Twitter. Tweets can be up to 280 characters long and typically consist of random status updates, news, commentary, or anything an individual wants to communicate to his or her followers in a given moment.
Twitter – Twitter is a microblogging platform which allows users to create profiles, share short updates (tweets) on a timeline, and engage with other users, much like a social-networking site.
Twitter Card – A Twitter Card is a small collection of proprietary meta tags which allow you to include rich photos, videos, and media experiences to Tweets that include a link to a URL.
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 same user 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-Generated Content (UGC) – 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).
Unique Value Proposition (UVP) – Commonly abbreviated as UVP, it is all about what your company has to offer the market that is unique to you. To define your UVP, simply consider the following: What best describes the benefit(s) you have to offer? How do you solve your customer’s needs? What distinguishes you from your competition? Now distill that into a single statement; that's your UVP.
VOIP – An acronym for “Voice Over Internet Protocol.” This technology allows a user to make phone calls (with potential video) via a computer with an Internet connection or a wireless-enabled mobile device. VOIP is essential for modern-day remote offices and working with consultants like myself. The most famous example of a VOIP provider is Skype.
Webconference – A virtual meeting of multiple attendees where audio and visual content (including screen shares or live video feeds) can be shared freely over the Internet. It is intended to approximate an in-person meeting for businesses with remote offices.
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.”
Yahoo! Answers – Like Quora, Yahoo! Answers is an online Q&A community where anyone can ask a question on any topic and get immediate answers from real people, which are in turn rated or voted on. Useful for establishing expertise in your field and driving traffic to your site.