Internet Marketing glossary
Have you ever wanted to know what an Internet Marketing term means? Well the SearchPath Glossary is here to help.
Below are a selection of common internet marketing terms with a short explanation for each. This list is by no means exhaustive; if you have any suggestions to make, please contact us.
301 redirect - This is the preferred method for redirecting a page on a site. A 301 is a permanent redirect; a 302 is temporary redirect. Best practice for SEO is to use a 301 in most cases. Most, but not all Page Rank is passed through a 301.
404 page - This is the status code when a webpage is not found. 404’s are a good opportunity for branding; they can be made individual to your website and even amusing. Not just – “Page Not Found.” Boring!
Above the fold – This refers to the space on a webpage that is visible on a monitor when a visitor first lands on the homepage. Its good practice to have key information, branding, and not too many ads above the fold to increase website stickibility and to reduce bounce rates.
Absolute link - A link that shows the full URL of a link. Contrast with a relative link, which only shows part of the URL of the link.
Adwords - Google's PPC advertising interface.
Adsense – Google’s contextual advertising network. You give Google ads and keywords, and they put your ad on relevant sites. Adsense ads can be identified by the “Ads by Google” tag line next to the banner ad.
Affiliate marketing – A process whereby websites place ads for other people’s products on their site. When someone clicks on the ad and buys something, the publisher gets paid. Its a cost per action service.
Alexa - A web company that uses its toolbar to calculate web rankings. Considered to be pretty inaccurate stats, due to the fact that the people that have downloaded the Alexa toolbar are a skewed representation of the internet population.
Algorithm - A set of formulae used by search engines to generate (hopefully) relevant and useful search results in the SERPS.
Web analytics - The study of website traffic and activity. The most popular analytics tool is Google Analytics.
Anchor text - Also known as "link text", this refers to the words or phrases that users click on to connect to a website via a hyperlink.
Banner Ad - A fixed fee ad displayed on a website. An older more traditional form of web advertising, banner ads are now generally considered as a less effective and less flexible method than PPC advertising.
Behavioural targeting – A process whereby ads are shown, using cookies, that are relevant to the user. So if you have been visiting travel sites, a site that you visit subsequently that has behavioural targeting will see the cookies on your machine and show you travel related ads.
Blacklisting - A penalty incurred by websites who contravene the search engines' guidelines on best practice. Usually a temporary measure, blacklisting involves a website being taken out of the search engine listings for a period. The website is then usually added back to the listings once the offending content is amended. Perhaps the most prominent example of blacklisting in Google was in 2006 when BMW Germany was punished for using doorway pages.
Blog comment spam – A common form of webspam, where computer programs cruise the internet looking for blogs that take comments. The program then fills out the contact form with a useless comment like “Great post!”, and attempts to get a link back to their site. Comment spam causes a lot of problems for blog owners, and in fact all web users. Don’t do it!
Blog networks – Basically a type of link farm, a blog network is, as the name suggests, a network of blogs all built and linked together with the purpose of artificially influencing search engine rankings. The blogs usually have no real content, just spun crap to make it look as if they are legitimate. Blog networks are the black hat tactic du jour, and were heavily hit by the Penguin Update recently. Steer clear if you want to succeed long term!
Cloaking - The method of presenting content to the search engines than is different to what the physical viewer sees, in order to improve a site's ranking in the search engines. Cloaking is considered an unethical form of SEO and is liable to punishment by the search engines.
CMS – Content Management System. A type of website back-end where uploading content to the site is not done through normal technical channels, but through a user-friendly interface. Having a CMS means a client doesn’t have to contact their web company each time they want to add content to their site.
Content marketing – The process of producing and marketing content as part of a website’s promotion strategy. Content marketing is seen as a core concept in white-hat SEO, as pioneered by industry figures like Rand Fishkin, Will Critchlow and Eric Ward. The core link building concept behind content marketing is that of earning, not just “getting” links.
Cutts, Matt – The head of the webspam team at Google. Also the chief spokesman at Google for all things SEO related. Many SEO’s take what Cutts says as gospel. Cutts used to announce his Google commandments on his blog, but is now more commonly found on the Google Webmaster Channel on YouTube.
Conversion - The process of turning a prospective customer into one that makes a commitment or sale. In web terms, it is the result of a visitor to a website moving from browsing the site to making a purchase or filling out a contact form
Cost-per-click (CPC) - The price charged to the webmaster/site owner by search engines each time a PPC advert is clicked.
Click-through-rate (CTR) - The rate at which a PPC ad is clicked, compared to how many times it is viewed (impressions).
Crawlers (spiders or bots) - Software used by search engines to locate, scan and index web pages.
CSS - Stands for Cascading Style Sheets. Used in conjunction with HTML to create styling in webpages.
Deep link ratio – The ratio of the number of links pointing to a home page, compared to the number of links pointing to the rest of the site. Its good SEO practice to have a good number of links pointing to your internal pages, not just to your home page (where most links will point).
Directories - Sites that organise sites by topic, to allow users to find content. Can be paid or free.
DMOZ – The Open Directory Project is the largest of all human edited directory sites. Getting a link from DMOZ is considered a bonus, if you can get it – these days it is virtually impossible to get on the venerable directory. I have submitted various sites to it over the years with little success...
Editorial link – A link freely given by the owner of a site, not one that has been bought or bartered. Editorial links are the links that are sought after by SEOs, as they are the one that Google values highly.
Email marketing - A method of promoting a brand or product via the medium of email contact with prospective or current customers. The prominence of email spam in today's web (some studies estimate the percentage of email that is spam to be as high as 90%) has led to the rise of the idea of more targeted "permission" marketing, rather than mass mailing.
Email Spam (spamming) - Mostly used in the context of email, where unsolicited email is distributed en masse to people who mostly don't want to receive it. Some say spam email is killing the internet, with some inboxes getting clogged up with hundreds of spam emails daily. The continued prevalence of spam is down to the fact that it costs virtually nothing to send out a million emails, and even if a mailing prompts a 0.0001% response rate, the spammer is making money.
Ethical SEO (White Hat) - Search Engine Optimisation that follows the guidelines set out by search engines, which are in place to maintain the quality and relevance of the search results. Ethical, or white hat SEO sets out to maintain the integrity of the internet, and does not attempt to artificially manipulate search results.
Fair Use – An exception for the normally restricted use copyrighted material, which allows webmasters to use small sections from books, papers, and websites on their sites, without requiring permission from the copyright holder. What in practice actually constitutes fair use is often open to debate.
Firefox – Popular open source web browser. There are thousands of add-ons for Firefox, and it fully customisable, which is one of the reasons it is becoming the number one browser on the web.
Flash- Flash is a programming language used in for web based animation and games. Flash can greatly enhance the appeal of a website, and can make excellent link bait. The user must have a free plug-in installed in order to view Flash items.
Google Advertising Professional – A qualification awarded by Google to those deemed, via an online test, to be proficient in Adwords.
Googlebombing - The process of a number of sites linking to one site with the same anchor text in order to raise its ranking for that phrase. The most famous example was in 2005 when so many people linked to the White House biography page of George Bush using the anchor text "miserable failure" that the page rose to number 1 in Google for that phrase.
Google Dance – This refers to the old changes that used to take place in the Google algorithm every so often. In recent years this occasional change has been replaced by “Everflux”, which means the Google algorithm is constantly updated and is always changing.
Hidden text – A pretty old skool black-hat/spam tactic, where tiny text or text that is the same colour as the background of a site is placed to be visible to search engines, but not users. The hidden text is usually stuffed with keywords. This tactic is not used as much these days as it used to, due to the fact that search engines have become very adept at spotting such simple black hattery.
Hits- A term used to measure website traffic, "hits" is often used in lay circles when talking about website traffic, but is not the most accurate measurement.
HTML - Stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. The language used to create web pages.
HTTP – Hypertext Transfer Protocol – is the main protocol used on the internet to exchange information between web servers and browsers.
Information architecture - Designing, categorizing, organizing, and structuring content in a useful and meaningful way. Good information architecture considers both how humans and search spiders access a website.
Internal linking - The process where by words or phrases within a web page are linked to other pages in the site. Internal links are considered important in SEO terms, as they are often spidered and displayed by Google.
Internet Advertising - Any form of advertising that is located on the internet. The two main forms are banner ads and PPC advertising.
Internet Explorer – Microsoft’s web browser that became the most used browser in the world after the browser wars of the 90’s against Netscape. More recently, it has been losing market share to Google Chrome and Firefox.
Keyword – A word or phrase which users type into search engines to find information or products on the internet. Long-tail and brand keywords are more valuable than short generic keywords, as people typing long-tail and brand keywords (“Nike trainers”) are deemed to be further along the buying cycle than someone who types in, say, “shoes”. Locating your target keywords in your content on your web pages, so that search engines can find your content for your keywords, is an essential part of SEO.
Keyword density – Used to be a highly regarded element of SEO; less so now. It used to be that getting the exact right keyword density, such as 5.4% keywords on a page, was deemed essential by some internet marketers. IMHO, common sense should prevail – include the keyword (and variations and synonyms) a few times on a page, but don’t overdo it. Google is not stupid: past the first few mentions, it gets the idea of what you want that page to be about, and ignores the rest.
Keyword research – An essential part of the SEO process. Clients and SEOs will have ideas about what keywords are likely to be the most profitable; brainstorming is an important part of the process. Even more important is checking the data in Google’s Keyword Tool, which (imperfectly) displays the search demand for whatever keyword you enter into it. Spend time on keyword research, its time well spent. What you don’t want to happen is to spend time, money an effort on ranking for a term, and find out there is no traffic for it.
Keyword stuffing- An unethical "black hat" SEO practice that involves repeating keywords over and over in the text content of the site (either the meta tags or the main content) in order to artificially manipulate the search engine results. Keyword Stuffing is considered quite a quite primitive form of black hat SEO, one that is a leftover from the days when search engines were less sophisticated. It can still result in blacklisting by Google.
Landing Page - The entry page to a website once the user has followed a link. It is usually optimised for the phrases used in the advert or anchor text preceding the click.
Latent Semantic Indexing – Is a technology used by search engines to determine the relevance of a webpage for a given query based on the keywords and synonyms related to and surrounding the actual keyword in question, rather than just the keyword itself.
Link baiting – A link building tactic, pretty much the only one wholeheartedly approved by Google; link bait is content created and designed specifically to attract links to a website.
Link text - See anchor text
Meta tags - Sections of HTML code in a webpage that search engine spiders scan and analyse to assess the page's relevance for a given query. Originally very important in SEO, meta tags have declined somewhat in SEO importance, with the keywords meta tag being considered virtually redundant. However the title tag is still relevant to Google's algorithm, and the description meta tag is sometimes used in the organic listings so still plays a part in SEO.
Micro site - A website within a website, a microsite is usually used to promote a specific product that a company wants to promote strongly and in depth.
Niche – A sector of the market that a website focuses on to make a profit, or at least to capture an audience.
No follow – An attribute added to a link which prevents the Page Rank (link juice) from the link passing to the destination site. The no follow attribute was started by Google to prevent the buying of links. Also known as a “link condom”.
Online PR - Methods used to promote brands or products online. Tactics include submitting press releases to PR sites who syndicate them to various outlets.
Organic listings - The main listings in the search engine results pages (SERPS). These are on the left of the search engine pages, as opposed to the paid search (PPC) listings that are often at the top of the page and on the right. Websites in the organic listings are ranked according to the algorithms of the search engines, and do not pay for a listing. This enhances the integrity of the results. Factors affecting the organic listings include page content, meta tags and Page Rank (PR).
Page, Larry – Co-founder of Google. Currently Google’s CEO.
Page Rank (PR) - A very influential programming algorithm developed by Google founders Sergy Brin and Larry Page, used to calculate quality search engine results. The basic formula is widely known (it was part of a PhD project at Stanford University) and counts the number, relevance and quality of inbound links to a given site. It is considered to be the most important factor in SEO.
Paid inclusion – A process whereby search engines and directories charge for inclusion on their sites. Google has always been vehemently against this, yet has recently started to charge for Google Merchant Centre listings.
Panda Update – A major update to Google’s algorithm, rolled out in 2011. The update was mainly targeted at sites with low quality content, such as content farms such as Mahalo and How.com. Panda also targeted sites with too many ads, and not enough content.
Penguin Update – Another major Google update, rolled out in early 2012. This one had a greater visible impact on SEOs and webmasters compared to Panda. Penguin was targeted at reducing webspam in the Google index, mainly by taking down thousands of blog networks, which are not real sites, but fake blogs all linked together in an attempt to trick Google’s algorithm and achieve page one rankings – webspam, in other words. Black hatters all over the web got very scared with Penguin, as they should be!
PHP – Hypertext Preprocessor – Open source server side programming language used to build websites.
PPC (pay-per-click) - A very successful method of online advertising, developed by Overture (now Yahoo search marketing) and perfected by Google. Instead of paying a flat fee for online adverts which appear on various websites (banner ads), search engine PPC advertising works on a pay-per-click system, whereby the webmaster only pays the search engine when a user clicks on his ad. Ads are triggered when the user types a phrase into the search engine.
Quality score - An algorithm used by Google in its Adwords PPC interface to rank search results. Google has said recently that Adwords ranking in the future will be based more around the Quality Score and less around the amount bid by the webmaster.
Reciprocal links - When sites exchange links. Reciprocal linking done properly between related sites always has a place on the internet, and is entirely right and natural. Unnatural, mass reciprocal linking is an old skool spam SEO tactic and should be avoided.
Robots (bots) - see crawlers.
Robots.txt – A file that lives on a web server. Used to tell search engines which pages not to crawl. Search engines do not always pay attention to robots.txt files – if you really do not want Google to find certain pages or files on your website, then remove them!
ROI (Return-on-investment) - The ratio of sales completed as a result of marketing or business to the amount spent on it. The success of PPC advertising has largely been down to its easily quantifiable ROI statistics (Click through and conversion rates).
RSS - Stands for Really Simple Syndication, and is a method of feeding information from a site directly into a user's bookmarks or to a reader (such as Google reader).
Safari - A popular Apple web browser
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) - The process whereby web pages are designed, built and modified with search engine results in mind. A branch of search engine marketing (SEM), SEO involves attending to the many factors involved in a search engine's algorithm including on page elements (such as meta tags and internal linking) and off page factors (the number of back links coming to a site - used to build Page Rank). The goal of SEO is high placement (preferably number one!) in the organic listings of search engines (especially Google).
SEO spamming - Also termed unethical or black hat SEO, this involves attempts to artificially influence the search engine results page (SERPS) to achieve high rankings. Spam methods include using hidden text and cloaking.
SERPS - Search Engine Results Pages.
Spiders - See crawlers.
Splog – web speak for a spammy blog, which has low quality, scraped or spun content on it, as opposed to genuine, useful content. Often made in bulk and linked together to make a “splog link network” which is a popular black hat tactic. Such link networks were heavily penalised by Google’s Penguin update.
Supplemental index – A secondary index of Google results, reserved for lower quality pages. As an SEO, you always want your sites to stay out of the supplemental index, sometimes referred to as the “Google graveyard”.
Title – The most important element in on-page SEO. Google uses titles like file tabs in a filing cabinet – as a quick referrer as to what the page is about. Because of this, it is vital to include your chosen keyword(s) in every unique title.
Traffic - The volume of visitors coming to a site. Usually measured using analytics.
URL – Uniform Resource Locator – the address for any given webpage.
Usability - How easy it is for users to use a website, and especially carry out desired actions on said site.
Viral marketing – Marketing aimed at spreading ideas quickly, often by email, blogging or especially word of mouth.
Whois – Whois is useful for finding the details of an owner of a website, it can provide contact details for such as person that would otherwise be unavailable.
Wordpress – Very popular open source blogging platform. Wordpress offers thousands of themes (page designs) and plug-ins (tools, widgets and add-ons) for users.
Xenu Link Sleuth – Free website crawling software, used to find broken links on a site. Can also be used to create a sitemap.
Yahoo Directory – One of the few places on the internet where almost any semi-decent site can gain a trusted link, for the princely sum of $299