Glossary of online marketing terms and concepts

Professional marketers make a set of holistic measurements over time that include an analysis of website traffic, visitor behavior and customer searches, search engine ranking, social media shares, and an analysis of the kind of distribution a company’s content receives. Testing and analysis provides useful information on all marketing efforts combined, to establish a new company or grow an existing one. Professional marketers use these well-established metrics to determine how best to grow a business and increase profits through the development of successful online marketing campaigns.

This glossary of online marketing terms and concepts was created for people seeking information about online marketing. For Do-it-Yourself marketers or those interested in gaining the knowledge to work more effectively with a professional, understanding the following concepts and terms is extremely useful. The first section of the glossary describes important concepts of online marketing. The second section defines the most common terms used by the industry.

Online Marketing Concepts

Online / Internet Marketing:
Internet Marketing enables businesses to reach Internet users and attract them to their company’s website. Common marketing methods include Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Search Engine Optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) ads, banners, affiliate advertising, and marketing within social media communities.
Inbound Marketing:
Many businesses utilize Outbound Marketing and invest in direct mail campaigns, cold-calling, different forms of advertising, or media buys. Outbound Marketing pushes a brand’s message “out” and hopes to reach the right audience to generate leads and sales. In contrast, Inbound Marketing is the process of creating and distributing content for driving traffic “in” to a company’s website. Once visitors arrive, Inbound Marketing uses content specifically designed to develop contacts that generate fresh leads and new sales.
Driving Traffic:
A website that’s easy to navigate is a critical element of Inbound Marketing; however, successful marketing campaigns also develop the following strategies to drive traffic to a site:

  • An effective keyword strategy
  • Regular distribution of high-quality content optimized for keywords
  • Content promotion within social media communities
  • Marketing blogs
  • Guest posts on blogs within a business niche
  • Simple landing pages that encourage visitors to leave contact information or make a purchase
  • Effective Calls to Action
  • Content designed to generate leads and conversion to sales
  • Targeted messages
  • Lead nurturing
Content Marketing:
The creation of high-quality content optimized with keywords to attract readers interested in specific topics. The content provides links to products or services that relate to the reader’s topic of interest.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM):
The actual marketing of websites through search engines, SEM includes improving a site’s search engine ranking through the purchase of paid listings and other activities. Through affiliate links, feeds, and link development SEM increases the ability of a website to be found and listed at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs).
Nearly interchangeable with search terms, keywords or keyword phrases are a word, group of words, or string of words Internet users type into a search engine to find specific information or solve a specific problem. Once keywords are identified, they are used as topic generators to create website content. A successful marketing strategy incorporates the most popular and very specific keywords into website content. Keyword strategy is the process of determining which topics are most relevant to a specific target audience, and then designs content based on those topics.

Keywords are used in creative ways for structural composition; however, they must be based on logic and reader comprehension. They are used in a way that showcases a business in a given industry or niche. Rather than utilizing common keywords in a given industry, long-tail keywords focus on niche terms or phrases that are easier to rank for in Search Engine Optimization. Long-tail keywords can account for up to 60-percent of website search traffic.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
SEO is a process that increases the amount or quality of traffic driven to a website from a search engine through organic, unpaid searches. This marketing strategy considers how search engines generate results and utilizes content, links, and associated tags of a website to increase search engine ranking. SEO ensures a company’s website is listed at the top of an Internet user’s search engine results page (SERP).
Social Media Marketing (SMM):
Social media networks are web-based communities of people with common interests. Participants share and sometimes create their own content using social media channels. A type of marketing designed to create and perpetuate a brand’s story, SMM helps companies reach their marketing goals by engaging consumers that utilize:

  • Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn
  • Bookmarking through Digg and Stumbleupon
  • Media sharing through Flickr, Pinterest, and YouTube
  • Reviewing and rating sites such as ePinions and BizRate
  • Blogs and forums
  • News aggregators
  • 3D virtual-networks such as SecondLife and ActiveWorlds

Content created for these channels can be optimized to drive traffic to a company’s website or simply to increase brand awareness and exposure. Once created, content is shared by participants significantly increasing its reach.

Marketing Blogs:
Marketing blogs showcase a business. As an Inbound Marketing campaign develops, a blog is an easy way to regularly publish optimized content and is a powerful marketing tool. Carefully organizing a list of initial topics will assist in cross-referencing topics to link to in future posts. Company training materials, customer questions, emails, and voicemail provide ideas for posts on an ongoing basis. Online communities already exist in nearly every industry and business niche. Posting as a guest on blog within these communities provides the opportunity to showcase a company’s expertise, leave a bio, and provide a link to a company’s site. Search engine ranking gets a slight boost every time a guest post generates a link to the company’s site.
Landing Pages:
A page on a company’s site that contains a form used to generate leads. Generally revolving around marketing offers such as newsletters, white papers, eBooks, or webinars, a landing page captures a visitor’s contact information in exchange for valuable information. Successful companies generate more leads and sales when they offer landing pages suited to the specific needs of consumers.
Calls to Action:
Calls to Action solicit desirable consumer behaviors. Text that urges readers to take an action such as “Download Now,” “Order Now,” “Buy Now,” or “Contact Us” is often placed on a clickable button that takes them to a page with the information they seek or encourages them perform a desired action. Successful landing pages are uncluttered, easy to read, contain only one Call to Action per page, and encourage consumers to make a purchase or leave their contact information.
Converting Traffic to Leads:
Driving traffic to a site, optimized content targets consumers looking for specific information. While visitors search for products and services, they also seek answers to their questions. When useful information is provided on a company website, trust develops and visitors are more likely to opt-in for programs, make a purchase, or leave their contact information. Once visitors land on a page, successful content with special offers target specific visitors (or groups of visitors) most likely to be receptive to the offer.
Email Marketing:
This type of marketing allows companies to send messages to lists of prospects or current customers to establish or maintain ongoing relationships. Often underutilized, email marketing is extremely cost-effective.
Lead Nurturing:
Lead nurturing is sometimes called drip marketing. This type of marketing uses an automated series of messages to encourage prospects during the early stages of the buying process. Lead nurturing delivers a brand’s message and can be triggered automatically when a visitor fills-out a landing page form or during various stages of the buying process.

Online Marketing Terms

Above the Fold:
The “fold” is an invisible line that runs across a web page. This line separates an area that’s more desirable for the placement of content from a less desirable one, because Internet users have to scroll down the page to view content below it. The exact amount of area above and below the fold varies due to user screen settings. Marketers often pay premium prices for ads placed above the fold and news feeds typically use this area to provide users with content that’s frequently updated. Content distributors use this area to syndicate web feeds that allow users to subscribe to a feed via RSS readers or e-mail applications. While search engines give some priority to content above the fold, having too much above the fold may be “seen” as unfavorable by Google, the most popular search engine (See Panda).
Absolute Link:
An absolute link provides the location of a file on the web. Absolute links include the protocol used to find the file, the server on which the file resides, the directory in which the file is located, and the name of the file itself. The following is an example of an absolute link:

<a href=""></a>
The formula search engines use to determine which results to display when an Internet user types words into a search field. Search engine algorithms are constantly changing; thus, the results displayed are constantly changing as well.
Algorithmic Results:
The ranked listings that search engines display in response to a query of their database. Algorithmic results are based on a site’s relevancy rather than advertising dollars. Algorithmic results appear next to paid listings in most search engines and are preferred by many Internet users. Improving a site’s algorithmic results is a major goal of Search Engine Optimization.
Alt Tag:
Tags written in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) that describe a site’s graphics. Since search engines are normally unable to “read” graphics or the text they contain, the implementation of ALT Tags allows search engines to categorize graphics. An Alt Tag consists of a block of text that’s displayed when a users mouses-over it. Business websites may soon be required to use ALT Tags to describe all the graphics on their sites in order to comply with the requirements of the American Disability Act.
Anchor Text (aka Link Text):
The HTML text of a link to another web page. In standard web design, Anchor Text is blue and underlined and changes to purple if the user has previously visited the page. Anchor Text assists a search engine in determining what the destination page refers to; it describes what the user will see after a click-through. As long as it’s done sparingly, utilizing keywords in Anchor Text is considered highly desirable for SEO.
Links from other web pages bringing Internet users to a company’s website. Backlinks are one of the three major elements search engines use in their algorithms to determine the relevancy of web pages. Sites with a higher number of backlinks usually rank higher in Search Engine Results Pages because when higher numbers of users use Inbound links to arrive at a site, the site is “seen” more favorably by search engines. Backlinks can be thought of as “votes” for a website and are a crucial element of SEO.
Bounce Rate:
The percentage of Internet users that arrive on a web page and immediately exits, or clicks away before navigating to another page.
Business-to-Business (B2B):
A form of marketing and website design for businesses that sell products and services to other businesses.
Business-to-Consumer (B2C):
A form of marketing and website design for businesses that sell products and services to consumers.
Below the Fold:
Below the invisible line that runs across a web page, below the fold is the area that’s less desirable for the placement of content because users must scroll down the page to view it. The exact amount of area above and below the fold varies due to user screen settings. Marketers often pay a lower price for content placed below the fold.
Click-through Rate (CTR):
A single view of content is described as an impression. CTR is a percentage that measures how many times Internet users click on a specific link based on the number of times content containing a link is viewed. A common tool used by marketers to measure the effectiveness of content, ads, and special offers, the Click Through Rate is calculated by dividing the number of clicks on a link by the number of page views, or impressions. A low click through rate may be caused by a number of factors including the content itself, its placement, and its relevancy.
Content Management system (CMS):
Content Management Systems aid in publishing, organizing, and managing website content. A CMS is utilized either in the form of software or a service. These systems aid in the management of a website by allowing marketers and website owners to edit text, graphics and advertising without computer programming knowledge or experience with web development software such as Adobe’s Dreamweaver or Microsoft’s FrontPage. Any user with basic word processing experience and access to the Internet can manage website content. Examples of common Content Management Systems include WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.
Conversion Rate:
The definition of “conversion” is dependent upon the goals of a website’s content. In general, a conversion can be defined as an action that signifies the completion of a desired action, or Call to Action, by a website visitor. A visitor converts when he/she asks for more information, makes a purchase, opts-in to a newsletter, special program or other offer, completes a form on a landing page, or downloads a file. Conversion rate is calculated by dividing the total number of conversions by total views of the page that elicits the desired action. When users delete cookies from their Internet browsers, conversion rates are skewed because repeat visitors are under-counted and new visitors are over-counted. Thus, when analyzing a site’s overall effectiveness, conversion rates are combined with other measurements.
Cost-per-Action (CPA):
A cost structure that’s based on a specific amount for individual actions visitors take on a website and payment depends solely on the actions that users perform. A cost is agreed upon based on conversions such as signing up for newsletters, subscribing to email lists, filling out forms to provide leads, opting-in to programs, filling out an online survey, or making a purchase. This type of cost structure rewards marketers for driving traffic to a website by paying for the completion of specific actions taken by site visitors.
Cost-per-Lead (CPL):
A cost structure that’s based on a specific amount for individual leads acquired by a website and payment depends solely on the number of leads a website generates. This type of cost structure rewards marketers for driving traffic to a website by paying for the number of leads generated by website content.
Cost-per-Sale (CPS):
A cost structure that’s based on a specific amount for the sales generated by a website. This type of cost structure rewards marketers for driving traffic to a web site but pays only for the actual purchases made by site visitors
Cost per Thousand Impressions (CPM):
Whenever a browser retrieves a web page a page view, or impression is generated. Another common marketing cost structure, CPM is normally used for banner advertisements. A set cost is agreed upon for every 1,000 impressions the banner receives. Search engine marketing (SEM) often involves a CPM cost structure. This type of structure rewards marketers solely for driving traffic to a page (M equals the Roman numeral for 1,000).
Cost-per-Click (CPC):
Sometimes referred to as Pay-per-Click, a Cost-per-Click cost structure is based on a specific amount per number of clicks that content generates.
Customer Relationship Manager (CRM):
An application that organizes and manages customer relationships. A CRM typically contains a database of detailed customer information. Managers and sales teams utilize the information to match consumer needs with new products and services or to inform existing customers of service requirements or upgrades.
Also known as robots or spiders, crawlers are computer programs used by search engines to locate and index the content of websites. Websites are “crawled” regularly to find new or updated content that is then stored in the search engine’s database.
Entry Page:
The page an Internet user sees when visiting a website for the first time.
Exit Page:
The last page an Internet user sees when leaving a website.
Inbound Links:
Inbound Links are text or graphical hyperlinks to a specific web page from other sites. Search engine algorithms consider a site’s popularity based on the quality and quantity of inbound links from third party sites to determine a site’s positioning on Search Engine Results Pages. Just as important as backlinks, Inbound Links are used by search engines to determine a site’s value to Internet users.
Key Performance Indicator (KPI):
Key Performance Indicators are the metrics used to track progress toward marketing goals. Typically kept on a dashboard, KPIs provide marketers with an overview of website performance on an ongoing basis.
Keyword Density:
The density of keywords or keyword phrases written into website content. To calculate Keyword Density, the number of times the keywords are used is divided by the total number of words in the content. Keywords or phrases are strategically written into content at a rate of 0.5 to 1.5 percent, to keep content from sounding unnatural or awkward. High Keyword Density, or keyword “stuffing” can negatively affect SEO and make content awkward to read.
Keyword Analysis:
This type of analysis will find and track the most effective keywords used in a company’s content. Allowing for adjustments as a brand’s story develops, Keyword Analysis is done on an ongoing basis to meet a company’s marketing goals. Keyword analysis is especially important to a growing business.
KISS Principle:
According to the KISS principle, most systems work best when kept simple. This maxim stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid. While this may sound comical as well as counterintuitive, it’s the most successful way to design pages for a marketing campaign. While pages can target a very specific audience or group of consumers, simplicity rather than complexity is typically the design goal. Avoiding complexity makes a site easy to navigate and pages that are easy to read lead successfully to a call to action.
Landing Page:
The first page a visitor sees when driven to a website by an ad or other Internet content. Although a Landing Page may be any page on a site including a homepage, a typical Landing Page contains a form used to generate leads and/or a Call to Action to elicit a desired response from the visitor. Landing pages generally revolve around marketing offers such as newsletters, white papers, eBooks, webinars, and webcasts. Many landing pages are designed to capture visitor contact information in exchange for valuable information. Websites generate more leads and sales when landing pages meet the needs of consumers looking for specific information and answers to specific questions. Specialized landing pages tailored to suit specifically targeted consumers or groups of consumers increase the likelihood of reaching a site’s conversion goals.
Meta Tags:
Meta Tags are the tools marketers use to highlight important information relating to website content in a way that’s recognized by search engines. Meta tags allow web page designers to state the information they prefer a search engine uses when listing a site. Inserted as HTML, Meta Tags are not directly visible to page viewers. They describe a given page and assist search engines in categorizing the page correctly. Not all search engines use Meta Tags and while their importance has increased and decreased in their value to Internet marketers over time, they remain an important element of SEO.
Meta Keywords:
Allow web page designers to add text to a page that assists search engines in the page ranking process. Although Meta Keywords are historically one of the most popular tools for content description, search engine designers quickly realized Meta Keywords were often inaccurate or misleading and sent Internet searchers to “spammy” sites; thus, some search engines no longer follow Meta Keywords.
Meta Descriptions:
Using a maximum of 160 characters, Meta Descriptions provide the opportunity to increase the likelihood content is displayed at the top of a Search Engine Results Page that’s displayed to a specifically targeted audience. Utilizing targeted keywords, these descriptions can increase the quality of traffic driven to a site, because search engines are better able to precisely match a specific search with relevant content.
Natural Search:
A search that returns search engine results based on the natural indexing of a website. Listings appear in Natural Search results solely because the search engine algorithm determines they are relevant to the query. Some search engines make it easy for Internet users to determine whether their search results are natural or paid, sponsored results.
Organic Search:
Searches based on an Organic Search occur when Internet users type specific search terms (usually keywords) into a search engine. Search Engine Optimization makes a website appear more prominent in an organic search because sites do not appear within the paid or sponsored placement area of the listed results.
Organic Search Results:
Search results placed on the left side of a page that are not shown over a colored background are known as organic, or natural search results. In contrast, listings that appear on the right side of a page over a colored background are paid or sponsor placed search results. Organic Search Results with unpaid listings and are generally favored by Internet users because they appear less like advertising.
Outbound Links:
The links on a web page that lead readers to another page. Outbound Links sometimes lead to pages on the same website, but in general, they lead visitors to other web pages on a different domain. Too many Outbound Links can negatively affect SEO.
Page Rank:
Page Rank ensures a site gets listed at or near the top of the list of search engine results. Each independent search engine has its own method of determining Page Rank. Google uses factors within its algorithm to assign a value to the pages and sites it indexes and also releases external Page Rank scores that can be checked for any website. The external Page Rank scores are not the same as internal Page Rank scores which are used to determine a site’s position when Google displays a list of results.
Released by Google to update their search engine algorithm, Panda updates are intended to discourage attempts made by “content farms” to claim high keyword rankings by generating large amounts of low-quality content that provides little value to Internet users.
Pay-per-Click (PPC):
Sometimes referred to as Cost-per-Click, a Pay-per-Click payment structure sets an agreed upon amount that is paid based on the number of clicks content generates.
Reciprocal Links:
A marketing technique that uses links between two businesses to benefit both, Reciprocal Links are common in co-op and collaborative marketing but can be used by any company. Popular among startups and small organizations as well as large, well-established businesses this form of marketing reduces the cost of attracting consumers to a new site and adds value to the experience of existing customers. Reciprocal Links can be arranged through marketing agencies and traditional types of networking at conferences and trade shows. Other methods include contacting the Webmasters of websites that relate to a business, authors of blog posts, and subscribing to email discussion groups.
Real Simple Syndication (RSS):
RSS creates a unique set of marketing opportunities. RSS technology allows the distribution of new content to Internet users with a subscription to a feed from a variety of websites via software within their web browser or email application. The technology is designed to send specific content to users who are automatically alerted when content gets updated.
Return on Investment (ROI):
A key calculation used by many businesses to determine the actual amount of profits their marketing strategies generate. A simple way to calculate ROI is:

Gross Profit - Marketing Cost / Marketing Cost = ROI
(Gross Profit = Gross Revenue - Cost of Goods Sold)
301 Redirect:
A method of making one web page with a web address, or Uniform Resource Locator (URL) automatically redirect visitors to a new URL. When the web address of a page needs to be changed, applying a 301 Redirect makes the old address point to a new one. This ensures that search engines update their indexes and visitors that linked to or bookmarked the old web address automatically find the new address.
Relative Link:
When linking to another file in the same directory, it’s not necessary to write out the full URL, just the name of the file is required. With the use of Relative Links, search engine crawlers and web browsers automatically know where a file is located. Since they contain less code Relative Links can reduce the time it takes a page to download. The following is an example of a Relative Link:

<a href="name-of-page.html"></a>
Search Engine:
A website that behaves like a directory, or catalog of the Internet. Search engines index web pages and store descriptions of the pages in databases. When Internet users type in search terms, a query of the database is triggered that leads to a list of search results displayed for the user.
Search Engine Results Page (SERP):
Typically a display of ten results, the page that’s sent to the user after a query is made in the search engine’s database. The number of results displayed varies depending on individual queries and search engines.
Search String:
Advanced search terms combined into a series that will search the far corners of the web and retrieve valuable information at no cost. A Search String behaves like a code in a search engine. Custom Google Search Strings can be created and used to find hot topics to write about and can help generate ideas for the creation of new products and services.
A directory or index of a website that assists visitors in accessing various pages of a site quickly and easily. A Sitemap is often formatted like an outline informing visitors about key pages and subject matter available on the site.
Social Shares:
Many websites build-in the ability to use social networking channels or provide add-ons that make social sharing available. Since search engines integrate Social Shares they can increase links to a company’s site, boost SEO, and give a company’s content greater reach. For example, Bing takes into account the frequency that links are tweeted or retweeted when determining content relevancy. Google sometimes utilizes twitter in measuring relevancy and uses Facebook users’ authority in ranking content. Google also links authors and content via the AuthorRank System. AuthorRank allows users to add code to their posts, linking authors to content. In this way, Google establishes the authority and of an author. Social Shares occur free of charge to marketers.
Uniform Resource Locator (URL):
A URL is the exact web address that must be entered into the address bar of a user’s browser to view a web page.
Unique Selling Proposition (USP):
USP is a concept that defines successful patterns of marketing campaigns. According to USP, successful marketing involves special offers with unique propositions to consumers that entice them to switch to a new brand. Unique offers, designed to meet a specific need or fill a special niche often drive successful marketing campaigns.
Viral Marketing:
This marketing method involves the creation of interesting content and then encourages sharing. Free of charge to advertisers, this modern marketing method makes ads so interesting that viewers share them with others on their own. Videos and advergames are often spread through Viral Marketing via email and Social Shares. When content “goes viral” it can be viewed by millions of Internet users across the globe.
Media presentations published on the Internet that allow the distribution of a single source of content to reach many viewers and/or listeners simultaneously. A broadcast over the Internet, a Webcast can be distributed live or on demand.

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