Online marketing and social media terms explained

If you’re not familiar with the world of online marketing and social media, there are many terms that you may not understand. Here is a glossary of the most commonly used Internet marketing and social media marketing terms in alphabetical order.


AdWords – Google Ads is Google’s paid search marketing program, the largest such program in the world. For more information on Google Ads read our blog.

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

Algorithm – The term search engines use for the formula they use to determine the rankings of your natural listings. These algorithms can be very complicated and search engines closely guard their algorithms as trade secrets.

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

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


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

Banned – When pages are removed from a search engine’s index specifically because the search engine has deemed them to be violating their guidelines.

Banners – Picture advertisements placed on Websites.

Bing – Bing is Microsoft’s search engine, which replaced in June 2009. Bing results now power Yahoo!’s search for paid (except display; through Microsoft adCenter) and organic (except local listings) through an alliance entered into between the two Web giants in December 2009.

Black Hat SEO – Search engine optimization tactics that are attempted ways of tricking the search engines to get better rankings of a website. Using black hat methods will eventually get your site extremely low rankings or banned from the search engines.

Blog – Short for web log, blogs are part journal, part website. Blogs are becoming increasingly popular as forums for people to express their views to a potentially unlimited audience. Personal recommendations from bloggers with large or dedicated followings can greatly help a business. Likewise, complaints can drive away many potential clients. There is a variety of free and paid blogs software widely available to the public.


Click through Rate (CTR) – Number of clicks divided by number of impressions. Click through rate is a common Internet marketing measurement tool for ad effectiveness. This rate tells you how many times people are actually clicking on your ad out of the number of times your ad is shown.

Cloaking – Showing a search engine spider or bot one version of a web page and a different version to the end user. Most of the time cloaking is unapproved and can get your website banned or penalized.

Content Management System – Content Management Systems (CMS) allow website owners to make text and picture changes to their websites without specialized programming knowledge of software like Adobe Dreamweaver or Microsoft FrontPage.

CSS – CSS is short for Cascading Style Sheet. It is a way to move style elements off individual web pages and sites to allow for faster loading pages, smaller file sizes and other benefits for visitors, search engines and designers.


Description Tags – HTML tags which provide a brief description of your site that search engines can understand. Description tags should contain the main keywords of the page it is describing in a short summary.

Directories – A type of search engine where listings are gathered through human efforts instead of web crawling. In directories, websites are often reviewed, summarized to a brief description and placed in a relevant category.

DM – This is a Direct Message sent to a twitter user. In order for you to DM someone, that person must be following you. DMs don’t appear in the public twitter stream. They go directly to the receiver’s inbox.

eCommerce – The ability to purchase products online.


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

Follow – Choosing to follow someone means their tweets will appear in your home stream. You can also get their tweets sent to your phone as text messages.

Follower – If someone is following you, it means they have chosen for your tweets to appear in their home stream and they are most likely reading them.


Geo-Targeting – The ability to reach potential clients by their physical location. Geo-targeting allows advertisers to specify which markets they do and don’t want to reach.


# (Hashtag) – A hash symbol (#) is used to comment about a popular topic in a tweet so that people who are searching for that topic can easily find it. “Trending topics” occur on Twitter when a lot of people use the same hash tag. Anyone can make up a hash tag, however, not all of them become common trending topics. Only when a large number of people use the same hash tag is when it becomes a trending topic that appears on the home page of Twitter. Hash tags provide users are way to find out what the most talked about topics of the day are. Ex: @localsplash: Hooray it’s Friday! #TGIF

HTML – HyperText Markup Language, the programming language used in websites. D

Hyperlink – Often blue and underlined, hyperlinks, commonly called “links” for short, allow you to navigate to other pages on the Web with a simple click of your mouse.


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

Internet Marketing – Any of a number of ways to reach Internet users, including search engine marketing, search engine optimization and banner advertising.


Keyword – Keywords are words or a group of words that a person may search for in a search engine.


Landing Page – The first page a person sees when coming to your website from an advertisement. This page can be any page on your Website including your home page. Almost anytime you direct someone to your website from an advertisement, you should send them to a specialized landing page.

Link Building – The process of obtaining links from websites back to yours. This is a crucial part of search engine optimization.

Link Popularity – How many websites link to yours, how popular those linking sites are, and how much their content relates to yours The higher your link popularity, the higher your search engine ranking.

Local Search – A huge and growing portion of the search engine marketing industry. Local search allows users to find businesses and websites within a specific (local) geographic range on search engines.

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

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


META Tags – This this the keyword-rich title, description and keywords tags that are visible to the search engines but not to your website visitors.

Mobile Marketing– An extension of online marketing that focuses on consumers viewing ads or websites from their mobile phones.


Natural Listings – Also referred to as “organic results”, the non-advertised listings in search engine results pages.


Paid Search – Also referred to as Paid Placement and Pay Per Click, paid search marketing allows advertisers to pay to be listed within the search engine results pages for specific keywords or phrases.

Pay Per Click (PPC) – The most common type of search engine advertising cost structure is PPC search engine marketing. PPC advertising is when the advertiser pays a designated amount of money every time someone clicks on their ad. The amount of money each click costs is based on the location of the ad and the keywords used in the ad.


Query – Query is another term for “keyword” or “search term.” Within Google Ads, search query reports show the actual terms that searchers used to click on your ads, as opposed to the advertised keyword that is in your account. These two sets of words may or may not be the same.


Rank – How high a particular website appears on the search engine results pages. For instance if the search query is for puppies, a website with the URL will probably be ranked in position one or two on the results page.

Real Simple Syndication (RSS) – An increasingly popular new technology that allows information to be easily shared on websites or given directly to users per their request.

Reciprocal Link – A link exchange between two sites. Both sites will display a link to the other site somewhere on their pages.

@ Reply/Mention – The @ symbol is used to reply to or mention a twitter user. For example, if @localsplash tweeted something and you want to make a comment publicly, you could write @localsplash then the message. Local Splash will be notified of the “mention” but your tweet will also be able to be seen by all of your followers.

Return on Investment (ROI) – The key statistic for many companies. Measures whether your advertisements are generating profits and how much profit you will make given the money you had to pay.

Retweet or RT – Reposting a tweet that has already been posted on the Twitter stream. RT usually precedes the original poster to give credit. Here is an example of a retweet: RT @localsplash New blog post: Twitter for Dummie: 15 Common Terms Explained


Search Engine Marketing – All forms of marketing involving search engines – mostly search engine optimization and paid search marketing.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – This is making your website search engine friendly. It is typically difficult to do on your own because it requires extensive knowledge in the many aspects involved.

Search Engine Results Page – Search Engine Results Pages, or SERPs, are the web pages displayed by any search engine for any given search. They display both natural (organic) listings and pay-per-click ads.

Social Media – A type of online media where information is uploaded primarily through user submission. Many different forms of social media exist including more established formats like forums and blogs and newer formats like wikis, podcasts and social networking.

Social Networking – This is a type of social media. Social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter allow users to interact within the online community, sharing ideas, photos, news, events, etc..

Spam – Unwanted data sent via email or put on a website, usually for advertising purposes.

Spider – Search engines have spiders crawl through the linked pages of a website to gather information to include in the natural listings.


Tweet – A post made by a Twitter user. Tweets are limited to 140 characters.

Twittosphere -Twitter atmosphere. The collective group of everyone who uses Twitter.

Tweeple – People who use Twitter

Tweeps – Your Twitter friends. “Peeps” on Twitter.

Twitterati – A-list Twitter users or Twitter élite. These are people who have a lot of followers. Usually includes celebrities or people who are highly influential to other Twitter users.


Unfollow or De-Friend – This is when one of your followers decides to stop reading your tweets.

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

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


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


Web 2.0 – A trendy word for the Internet marketing services industry, but also a legitimate idea and movement: the Internet as a platform. Anything dealing with new media such as SEO, social media networks, wikis, etc. is considered part of Web. 2.0.

Webinar – A seminar online. These virtual seminars allow people from anywhere in the world to attend via an Internet connection. They offer tremendous opportunities for businesses to reach out to people over large geographic areas at low costs.

White Hat SEO – Used to describe certain SEO techniques that are accepted and allowed by search engines.

Wiki – A user-written, controlled and edited site. Anyone with web access can change information appearing on Wikis, which can be about broad or specific topics. The best known example is Wikipedia.