Glossary of Online Marketing Terms

Here are brief explanations for internet marketing terms commonly used by online marketers.  Questions?  Feel free to contact us.

Detailed explanations can also be found online by Googling for the phrase ‘+definition’ (replace with the actual term) or searching on, the excellent free online encyclopedia.

Also known as email address, this identifies a location to which e-mail messages can be delivered.

Advertising Network
A service where ads are served centrally through one company, and displayed on a network of websites that each contract with that company for a share of revenue generated by ads served.

Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a method of promoting web businesses (merchants/advertisers) in which an affiliate (publisher) is rewarded for every visitor, subscriber, customer, and/or sale provided through his/her efforts. Commonly, the affiliate will utilize his Web site or other traffic generation techniques to direct Web visitors to another site (the affiliate program sponsor).  The affiliate is compensated with a commission for every time a referred visitor makes a purchase (or other call to action).

See Ranking Factors.

Anchor Text
This refers to the visible text of a clickable hyperlink. The text gives visitors and search engines important contextual information on what the page being linked to is about.

Article Marketing
Article marketing is a type of advertising by writing short articles related to business niches and submitting to article directories or publishing the articles on websites. It is effective in generating targetted traffic and typically cheaper than other forms of paid advertising.

Article Submission
Article submission is the process of making articles freely available for distribution and publication in the marketplace.  Articles can be submitted to article directory websites which will publish the article to a wider audience. Each article contains a ‘bio box’ and ‘by-line’ which include references and contact information for the author’s business. Well written content articles released for free distribution have the potential of gaining the author business credibility within his or her market, as well as new clients.

An autoresponder is a computer program that automatically answers e-mail sent to it. They are commonly used as e-mail marketing tools, to allow businesses to immediately provide information to their prospective customers and then follow-up with them at preset time intervals.

Bandwidth is the amount of internet traffic going through your website. If you have e-books, audio files or video files that your customers download, you are going to need a fairly large bandwidth allowance.

A short form for ‘weblog’. A web page that is updated like a diary, with the most recent writing first. Updates are usually done using blogging software like WordPress, instead of being maintained by hand. Blogging software typically combines text, images, links and comments from other bloggers into the blog.

A web browser is the software that you use to view pages on the web. Internet Explorer is the most common browser, though other browsers like Firefox and Safari (for the Macintosh) are popular as well.

A web browser’s cache is where it keeps files that it has downloaded from the web and might need to use again. A site’s logo and navigation graphics may be stored in the cache, for example, so that they don’t have to be downloaded again each time you go from one page of the site to another. This happens automatically.

CGI or Common Gateway Interface is a technique for a Web server to run an executable file to generate dynamic HTML content and return it to the visitor’s browser. Web servers often have a cgi-bin directory at the base of the domain, to hold these executable files.

An Internet feature that allows two or more people to communicate live via typing messages into a message window.  Chats are also increasingly being used by companies as an instant support channel.

Click Through Rate (CTR)
The ratio of the total number of clicks on a link divided by the total number of impressions. This is a fundamental metric used by web marketers to measure the performance of ad campaigns.  A higher CTR is desirable as it indicates a match between searcher intent and ad campaign targeting.

Cloaking is a black hat search engine optimization (SEO) technique in which the content presented to the search engine spider is different from that presented to the users’ browser. This is done by delivering content based on the IP addresses or the User-Agent HTTP header of the user requesting the page. When a user is identified as a search engine spider, a server-side script delivers a different version of the web page, one that contains content not present on the visible page. The purpose of cloaking is to deceive search engines so they display the page when it would not otherwise be displayed.

Content Network
A network of websites that have agreed to show ads on their content webpages, in exchange for a share of revenue generated.  Examples of content networks are the Yahoo Publisher Network and Google AdSense.

Contextual Advertising
Advertising that is targeted to a web page based on the page’s content, keywords, or category. Ads in most content networks are targeted contextually.

This is sales lingo for a new sale, i.e. converting a lead into a paying customer. The definition is expanded online to include the concept of web conversions – any measurable, successful outcome of a web visit – such as registering for a free seminar or downloading a report.

Conversion Rate
In the online context a marketing term that measures the volume of sales versus the total number of visitors your website has received over a period of time.

Small files that websites can store on your computer to let them ‘remember’ you. When you log into a website and you’re still logged in when you go back there later on, that’s because the site gave your browser a cookie. Cookies are also the basis of how merchants recognize the affiliate(referer/source) of an affiliate generated sale.

Cost Per Conversion
Describes the cost of acquiring a customer, typically calculated by dividing the total cost of an ad campaign by the number of conversions. The definition of “Conversion” varies depending on the situation: it is sometimes considered to be a lead, a sale, or a purchase.

Cost Per Thousand (CPM)
CPM or Cost Per Thousand is where advertisers pay for exposure of their message to a specific audience. CPM costs are priced per thousand. The M in the acronym is the Roman numeral for one thousand.

Cost Per View (CPV)
CPV or Cost Per Visitor is where advertisers pay for the delivery of a Targeted Visitor to the advertisers website.

Cost Per Click (CPC)
CPC or Cost Per Click is also known as Pay per click (PPC). Advertisers pay every time a user clicks on their listing and is redirected to their website. They do not actually pay for the listing, but only when the listing is clicked on. This system allows advertising specialists to refine searches and gain information about their market. Under the Pay per click pricing system, advertisers pay for the right to be listed under a series of target rich words that direct relevant traffic to their website, and pay only when someone clicks on their listing which links directly to their website. The majority of text ads served by search engines are billed under this model.

Cost Per Action (CPA)
CPA or Cost Per Action or Cost Per Acquisition advertising is performance based and is common in the affiliate marketing sector of the business. In this payment scheme, the publisher takes all the risk of running the ad, and the advertiser pays only for the amount of users who complete a transaction, such as a purchase or sign-up.  Many affiliate programs utilize this model.

This is the best type of rate to pay for banner advertisements and the worst type of rate to charge.

Cost Per Lead (CPL)
CPL or Cost Per Lead advertising is identical to CPA advertising and is based on the user completing a form, registering for a newsletter or some other action that the merchant feels will lead to a sale.

Cost Per Order (CPO)
CPO or Cost Per Order or Cost Per Sale advertising is based on each time an order/sale is transacted.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a stylesheet language used to describe the presentation of a document written in HTML. It is designed primarily to enable the separation of document content (written in HTML or a similar markup language) from document presentation (written in CSS).

Description Meta Tag
A meta tag that provides a summary of the page.  Search engines commonly index the content of this tag, so it is a good idea to include it in your optimization efforts.

Domain Name
Referred to informally as “web addresses”, this ia a name that identifies a computer or computers on the internet. These names appear as a component of a Web site’s URL, e.g. This type of domain name is also called a hostname.

Also known as Bookmarks, this is a browser function which enables you to save links to pages that you’d like to visit again.

A browser plug-in developed by Macromedia that displays animations and animated websites.

FTP or File Transfer Protocol
The usual method of uploading files from your computer to a web server.

Delivery of content or ads specific to the  geographical location of the searcher. Specifying the target geo-location allows advertisers to specify where ads will or won’t be shown based on the searcher’s location, allowing more personalized and localized results.

Google Bot
Google uses several user-agents or “bots” to crawl and index content for the Google search engines. Also known as spiders, all Google bots are named with a standard nomenclature starting with “Googlebot”; e.g. “Googlebot-Image” refers to the bot that crawls webpages for Google’s image search index.

A request for a file from the web server. Available only in log analysis. The number of hits received by a website is frequently cited to assert its popularity, but this number is extremely misleading and dramatically over-estimates popularity. A single web-page typically consists of multiple (often dozens) of discrete files, each of which is counted as a hit as the page is downloaded, so the number of hits is really an arbitrary number more reflective of the complexity of individual pages on the website than the website’s actual popularity. The total number of visitors or page views provides a more realistic and accurate assessment of popularity.

Hypertext Markup Language. The language that web pages are written in.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Theoretically, the way that HTML pages are sent between a server and a browser, although in practice HTTP is used for sending all sorts of data, including graphics and file downloads. Many files should really be provided using FTP, but HTTP is considered to be easier and faster.

https or secure HTTP is a system designed by Netscape Communications Corporation to provide authentication and encrypted communication and is widely used on the World Wide Web for security-sensitive communication such as payment transactions and corporate logons. It makes use of a different default TCP port (443) and an additional encryption/authentication layer between the HTTP and TCP.

Inbound Links
Also known as back links, these are incoming links from other webpages to your webpage.  Inbound links from external websites are highly valued by search engines performing link analysis when they rank search results by relevance.

The process by which a search engine spider navigates through all the content on your website, and stores each keyword, together with information on which webpages the keywords can be found into an index.  This information is utilized when you make a search query, which then checks the index for relevant results.

IP Address
An IP or Internet Protocol address is a unique address that computers use in order to identify and communicate with each other. Each block of IP addresses is allocated to a certain ISP in a certain country, meaning that you can use them to tell roughly where your web visitors are from. There are plenty of free databases that map IP address to physical locations, letting you break down your visitors by country or even, in many cases, by state.

Internet Service Provider. The company or institution that provides your computer with access to the Internet, usually in exchange for a monthly fee.

KEI or keyword effectiveness index is a number that provides a comparison of the number of searches for a keyword against the number of search results, to determine the competitiveness of optimizing on that keyword.  In general, a higher number is better.

Keyword (or Keyphrase)
A particular word or phrase that search marketers expect searchers to enter frequently as a query. Many advertising networks offer advertising targeted by keywords, so that ads will only show when a particular keyword is entered.

Keywords Meta Tag
This meta tag used to be popular as a means of describing keywords related to the webpage.  Its use is debatable today, but it probably would not harm to include it in your optimization efforts.

A sales lead is the identity of a person or entity potentially interested in purchasing a product or service, and represents the first stage of a sales process. Sales leads come from Internet marketing or other offline marketing. Once a visitor is qualified as a lead this is the entry point of a sales tunnel or funnel. Sales resulting from leads are termed conversions.

A link is some text on one web page that will take you to another page if you click on it.

Link Bait
Editorial content with a “hook” or element of sensationalism posted on webpages and submitted to social media sites with the aim of achieving viral and word-of-mouth distribution.

Link Building
The process of building up the quantity of quality links from external websites to your website, in order to boost website authority and search rankings.  Link building campaigns can be one-way, or involve buying links, reciprocal (two-way) linking or barter linking.

Mailing List
A mailing list is a collection of names and addresses used by an individual or an organization to send material to multiple recipients. Internet marketers use mailing lists to send offers, newsletters and other announcements to visitors who have opted to receive them.

Meta Tags
Information placed in the header section of a HTML webpage, providing information not visible to humans but utilized by search engines to aid in webpage indexing. Examples of tags include the Title, Description and Keyword meta tags.

MySQL is a free, open source database. It is available on most web hosts and often used to power small to medium web applications and websites.

Online Advertising
Online advertising is a form of advertising utilizing the Internet and World Wide Web in order to deliver marketing messages and attract customers. Examples of online advertising include contextual ads on search engine results pages, banner ads, advertising networks, e-mail marketing and other forms of advertising like article marketing.

Open Source
Open source software is software which makes its source code freely available. This is intended to give you more freedom to modify the software however you want (or pay someone to modify it for you), instead of tying you to a company and relying on them for updates. In practice, this means that the software is available for download at no cost. for more information.

Page View
A page view (PV) or page impression is a request to load a single page of an Internet site. On the World Wide Web a page request would result from a web surfer clicking on a link on another HTML page pointing to the page in question. This should be contrasted with a hit, which refers to a request for a file from a web server. There may therefore be many hits per page view. A visitor to a website can generate one to many page views.

Portable Document Format. A document format that aims to reproduce text exactly the way it would appear on a page. Viewable in web browsers using a plug-in, but disliked by many users because it can be very slow.

Stands for ‘PHP: Hypertext Processor’. A very easy to learn and easy to use scripting language that is one of the most common on the web, helped along by the fact that it is also free. It is most often used in quite simple ways, such as retrieving text from a database and adding it to a page.

Quality Score
A score used by ad networks to determine the pricing and ranking of display ads.  It is calculated on a range of factors including ad click-through-rate (CTR), relevance of the landing page, historical keyword performance, and other undisclosed attributes.  Google and all the other major ad networks use the concept of quality score in their ad display algorithms.

Ranking Algorithms
The algorithms that search engines use to deliver ranked results to a query.  Search engines utilize hundreds of algorithms in tandem to deliver ranked free and paid search results in response to keyphrase enquiries.

Return On Investment (ROI)
This refers to the amount an advertiser earns through advertising in relation to the cost of the advertising.

Robot Meta Tag
The robots meta tag is used to control whether search engine spiders are allowed to index a page, or not, and whether they should follow links from a page, or not. Meta tags are not the best option to prevent search engines from indexing content of your website. A more reliable and efficient method is the use of the Robots.txt file (Robots Exclusion Standard).

RSS stands for ‘really simple syndication’, and is commonly used by websites to syndicate out their news content. Invented by Dave Winer, one of the first webloggers, the format aims to provide a standardised way to obtain a website’s content, instead of forcing people to try to pick it out of masses of HTML. It is a simple XML (strictly, RDF) language designed to make it easy to describe content.

Search Advertising
Also known as paid-search advertising or sometime incorrectly as search engine marketing (SEM).  Advertisers bid to have their ads shown when searchers type in keywords related to their brands, products or services.  Most ads are sold via the PPC model, in which the advertiser is only charged when a user clicks on the ad or text link.

Search Engines
A search engine is an information retrieval system designed to enable users to find information stored on a world wide web. Popular search engines include Google, Yahoo and MSN.

Search Engine Marketing
A set of sales and marketing strategies to improve the position of a web page or website in the ranking results. This includes combinations of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Paid-Search Marketing .

Search Engine Optimization
SEO or search engine optimization is the set of techniques and methodologies that enables a search engine optimizer to improve the organic (free search, as opposed to paid search) rankings for a website. It includes technical tasks to ensure websites are easily found and indexed, as well as marketing-focused activities to make a website more appealing to users.

Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)
The results page searchers see after entering a keyword into the search box.  This page lists results ranked by relevancy, together with contextually targeted ads.

Social Media
A category of websites relating to providing social interaction features including user participation and user generated content (UGC). The include social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, social bookmarking sites like, micro-blogging sites like Twitter, social news sites like Digg and Reddit, and other sites centered on user interaction.

Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing also known as social influence marketing is the act of using social influencers, social media platforms, online communities for marketing, publication relations and customer service. Common social media marketing tools include Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.

Also known as web crawlers, spiders are programs crawl the internet, visiting web pages to collect information to add to or update a search engine’s index.  All the major search engines depend on spiders to gather information.

Uniform Resource Locator. A technical term for a whole web address, such as It is called uniform because you can use similar addresses to refer to entirely different kinds of resources: for example,file://c:/windows refers to your Windows folder, and refers to a folder on an FTP server.

Title Tag
A HTML meta tag with text describing a webpage.  This tag is displayed in the search engine results pages, and should be written in such a way that search engines are able to determine the important keywords for the webpage, and humans gain enough information in which to make a choice on whether to visit.  This is because this tag is often taken up as the link anchor text in the search engines.

Universal Search
Also known as blended search, universal search pulls from multiple search content sources including text, video, images and maps into a combined display on the search engine result pages.

A visit or visitor refers to an unique visit to a website by a human surfer. In technical terms it is a series of requests from the same uniquely identified client with a set timeout. A visit is expected to contain multiple hits (in log analysis) and page views.

Web 2.0
A term that refers to a virtual group of second-generation internet-based services. These include new technologies like Ajax and tools that let people collaborate and share information online, such as social networks, messengers, wikis and software as a service sites.

Web Analytics
Web analytics is the study of the behaviour of website visitors. In a commercial context, web analytics especially refers to the use of data collected from a web site to determine which aspects of the website work towards the business objectives; for example, which landing pages encourage people to make a purchase.

A website or web site is a collection of Web pages, images, videos or other digital assets that is hosted on one or several Web server(s) and accessible via the Internet.

Web Page
A Web page is a document, typically written in HTML, that is almost always accessible via HTTP, a protocol that transfers information from the Web server to display in the user’s Web browser.

World Wide Web
The World Wide Web (commonly shortened to the Web or www) is a system of interlinked, hypertext documents accessed via the Internet. With a web browser, a user views web pages that may contain text, images, videos, and other multimedia and navigates between them using hyperlinks.

The World Wide Web Consortium (three Ws and a C, so W3C). This is the standards body that is considered to be ‘in charge’ of the web, and decides what gets put in and taken out of the various versions of HTML, amongst other things.

Questions?  Feel free to contact us.