Digital Marketers Specializing in Search & Social for Media & Business

Digital & Search Marketing Glossary

List of online and search marketing termsAbove the fold (ATF): Once a webpage has loaded, the part that is visible at the top part of the page, that does not require any scrolling downward. Originally a term from print media, such as a folded newspaper. Typically advertising and content that appears “above the fold” is the most visible and therefore also the most expensive to purchase that that which appears “below the fold.”

Banner advertising: Graphic online advertising. It can include flash and animation, but the most typical banner is a static ad that is 468 X 60 pixels in size, usually appearing at the top of the page. Other standard banner ad sizes can be found at the Internet Advertising Bureau’s site.

Canonical tag: A meta  tag (see below) recognized by Google, Yahoo and Bing that tells the engines which version of similar pages on a site is the original or “real” version so that they will ignore all other versions and not give the site duplicate content penalties (see below). Note: multiple versions of a page are often created by dynamic content management systems and can be very problematic. The canonical tag helps to manage this problem more effectively.

Convergence: As it pertains to media, convergence is the concept that brings together information technology and telecommunications  companies with more traditional media like television and newspapers, and content creators from all these worlds. The end result can include products like Web TV (see below) and other types of “on demand” content delivered on multiple platforms including cell phones, televisions, gaming systems, and more.

Cookie (also tracking cookie, browser cookie, or HTML cookie): A cookie is a small bit of text that a website puts on your computer through your web browser when you visit. Cookies allow websites to recognize visitors when they return for authentication, personal preferences for a site and other information to provide a more streamlined experience. They can also be used to track web browsing patterns and behaviours. Because of privacy concerns, most web browsers let users choose whether to accept cookies or not.

Description meta tag: A meta tag (see below) that provides a short description of a webpage. Some engines, like Google, use this as the description in their search engine results page (see below).

Duplicate content penalties: In the past, a dubious promotional technique was to create multiple versions of the same page with slight differences to target a variety of search engines and variations of a phrase without having to create new content. This practice cluttered search results with what was essentially the same information over and over again, devaluing the engines as a useful tool. Today, sites that use multiple versions of the same page incur overall ranking penalties for “spamming” the results and may even by completely banned in extreme cases.
Duplicate pages are usually defined as pages with the same (or very similar) text content but with different URLs. Unfortunately, many dynamically generated content management systems can create this situation. These sites do not intend to “spam” the search engines, but may be penalized anyway. The canonical tag (see above) was created to address this issue.

Ezine (also zine): A magazine that delivers its content through digital channels.

Flash: A multimedia platform for animation and the interactive programming of websites, currently provided by Adobe Systems Inc. One of several technologies that are not particularly search friendly and that should be well balanced with text content to do well with Internet search engines.

Frames: A method of creating a website in which all content appears inside a programmed frame. Creates a standardized look, but is very search unfriendly with only content in the enclosing frame being accessible for Internet search. To the engines it appears your site is one page only.

Geo-targeting: Targeting based on geographic information. Typical of many niche marketing campaigns with an audience that comes from a specific geographic region only.

Inbound link (IBL): A hypertext link that points to a website. One of the key factors by which Google and the other search engines typically judge the relevance of a web page for a specific search query.  Not only is the link itself important but also the content of the page on which it appears and how many other links are on that page.

JavaScript: A programming language used on many websites that is not typically very search friendly and can get in the way of the search engines thoroughly indexing a website. It is often used for drop down navigation. If this is the case it is important to mirror the primary JavaScript navigation with hypertext links that are easy for the search spiders (see below) to follow.

Key performance indicators (KPL): Numbers reflective of the goals of an organization that measured over time show the successes and continued challenges in a business. Typically these are not the raw data seen in web analytics or metrics (see below) but provide a more complete context as rates, percentages, averages, or ratios. Some typical KPI for both a website and an online marketing campaign include:

  • Click thru rate (CTR): a percentage of times an ad or link is clicked on versus the number of times it is viewed.
  • Conversion rate: the rate at which an action is completed versus the number of times a page is viewed or visited
  • Cost per action (CPA): the average cost per desired action for an advertising campaign (determined by the total budget spent divided by the number of actions)
  • Cost per click (CPC): the average cost per click or visit for an advertising campaign (determined by the total budget spent divided by the number of clicks/visits)
  • Cost per lead (CPL): the average cost per lead (determined by the total budget spent divided by the number of leads tracked)
  • Cost per sale (CPS): the average cost per sale (determined by the total budget spent divided by the number of sales tracked)
  • Cost per thousand impressions (CPM): the cost per 1,000 adviews or impressions (see below) (determined by the total budget spent divided by the number of impressions divided by 1,000) – this is a very typical measure of ad buying as well

Keyword meta tag: A meta tag (see below) that should provide a short list of a descriptive, relevant key words and phrases about a page. Much abused in the past, the importance of this tag has decreased significantly but it does not hurt to optimize it to help inform secondary search engines about a page’s content.

Keyword research: The foundation of all search marketing, keyword research or search market research provides data on what language a target audience is typically using on Internet search to find what you are selling or providing. Keyword research usually includes multiple variations on a large number of terms related to a product or website and associates each phrase with an average number of searches and some idea of the online competition. This can provide direction as to what content to include on a website, which terms to bid upon in a PPC search campaign (see below) and what language should be used when writing about your product in almost any context (i.e. tagging, titles, press releases, and so on).

Link popularity: A measure of how many inbound links (see above) a website has. While there is no definitive way to gather this data, tools exist that can be especially valuable when comparing a site to the online competition and for identifying places to develop presence in terms of a competitive link building campaign.

Localization: An offshoot from geo-targeting (see above), localization is a determination of where someone or something is located. This data allows Google, for instance, to show someone in Toronto ads specific to Toronto or an iPhone to give its owner information about where the nearest Starbucks is located. Technology is rapidly evolving in this area meaning the content and advertising we see on our computers and mobile devices will likely grow more and more specific.

Meta tags: These are tags included in the programming of a webpage that provide structure and additional, non-visible information about the page. In terms of Internet search the most important meta tags are title tags, rich snippets, and canonical tags, and, secondarily, description and keyword tags.

Niche marketing: Marketing that targets a specific geographic, demographic or industry niche.

Online directory: A hierarchical and organized collection of websites. It can be a niche directory like for the film and TV production community or a general directory like the Open Directory Project or the Yahoo Directory. Some even define Wikipedia as an online directory due to the hierarchical way it organizes its information and references sites.

Online marketing (also Internet marketing and digital marketing): The use of the Internet and other digital mechanisms for the promotional purposes.

Online reputation management: The measurement and tracking of mentions of a brand, products or other associated identifiers throughout the Internet, allowing for quick response to positive or negative publicity.

Online video marketing: The promotional use of video on a company website and throughout other online distribution channels such as YouTube and Viddler.

Pay per click (PPC) search engines: Advertising on search engines where you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Such programs include Google AdWords and Microsoft AdCenter for Bing and Yahoo. Usually based on an auction model where the higher you bid helps your ad rank higher on the search engine results page (see below).

Personalization: Like localization mentioned above, personalization not only looks at where you or your computer are but also keeps track of all your past search history and other online behaviors in order to provide you with content and advertising that is the most relevant possible. Sometimes this information is provided voluntarily (such as through your Facebook profile) but it can also be gathered without you being aware through cookies (see above) and other records of your online activities.

Really simple syndication (also rich site summary or RSS): RSS is a standardized web feed format that allows frequently updated content (such as a blog or news website) to be easily uploaded to a reader or similar interface.

Return on investment (ROI): A measure of the return on investment for a website or marketing campaign taking into account all resources used (time, money, people) versus the end results (more traffic, increased brand exposure, sales, leads, and so on).

Rich snippets (also microformats or microdata or RDFa): Tags used in the programming of a webpage to define certain kinds on content. Properly formatted, they are recognized by Google and can enhance how a listing appears in Google search results. More information on these are available here.

Robots tag and robots.txt files: Like the canonical tag above, robots programming used to the primary way a website could advise search engines about which pages to follow and to index. While still in use, the canonical tag is more reliable and is the first recommendation to manage potential duplicate content issues.

Search engine: A computer program that is designed to retrieve information from a database, most commonly the Internet. The pages created by search queries are commonly called SERP (see below).

Search engine marketing (SEM): The use of search engines for marketing and promotional purposes. It most obviously includes organic, non-paid tactics like Search Engine Optimization (see below)  and paid advertising like Pay Per Click search engine campaigns (see above). However so many factors are part of Internet search today that everything from video and text content to online reputation to social media and more are part of a well round search marketing strategy.

Search engine optimization (SEO): The art and science of making a website search engine friendly. At its most basic it means using the right kind of text content for your target audience, providing the proper context in terms of onsite and offsite (or inbound) links and keeping technology out of the way.

Search engine results page (SERP): The webpage that is created in response to a query on a search engine like Google, Yahoo or Bing. The information included on these pages can include web pages, images, videos, PDF’s, newsfeeds, social network feeds and more.

Search media: Our term for all forms of Internet search, using any device (laptop or desktop computer, smartphone, a tablet like the iPad, etc) and any possible website or technology (including search engines, social media, niche site search etc). Using this larger context, search media optimization is the process of making your site, product or brand as Internet search friendly as possible and search media marketing is the strategy of targeting any form of search to connect with a specific  audience.

Sitemap: There are really two versions of a sitemap:

  • One is a comprehensive list directory of pages of a website included for human visitors, almost like the index at the back of a book as a shortcut to navigation if you know exactly what you are looking for.
  • The second is a file is created to specifically to tell the search engines what pages of a site should be indexed. It is typically an XML file that lists the URLs for all the pages of a site with some minimal meta information. If a site is very video heavy, a specific video sitemap may be created. Google, Yahoo and Bing all have specific interfaces for uploading sitemaps which also provide webmasters with additional feedback. More information on sitemaps is located here.

Social media: Social media is any website or tool for Internet or mobile applications that allows human beings to share and discuss information. By this definition, text Bulletin Board Systems (BBS’), discussion forums, community websites, newsgroups, and other forms qualify as well as modern social networks like Facebook and YouTube (see below).

Social media optimization (SMO): The practice of optimizing a brand’s social media presence for marketing and publicity purposes.

Social networks: An online service, platform or site based on the social relationships between people. Such services often include member profile pages, a list of the other members to whom they are connected, as well as other tools, applications, and widgets. Some of the most popular currently are Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Spam: Originally a canned luncheon meat, spam became the term for unwanted or junk email. It now can mean any activity or strategy that tries to unduly manipulate and misrepresent a website for promotional purposes. In search marketing, you can be penalized and blacklisted for “spamming” the search engines in this way.

Spiders (also robots, bots and crawlers): The simple programs sent out by the search engines to crawl the Internet and gather data. They do two things, read text and follow links. Google’s spider is called the Googlebot and can be seen in web analytics programs.

Splash page: A preliminary page that is usually very graphics heavy with little or no text content that links only to the home page of a website. Often programmed exclusively in Flash. Always Internet search unfriendly.

Title tags: The most important meta tag (see above). Not only does it provide a webpage’s heading in its listing on the search engine results page, the keywords used also help to provide a larger context for the page’s content and can help improve its search ranking. It is important this be crafted very carefully. It should include a few keywords reflective of the page’s content, but without excessive repetition, and be very human friendly to encourage searchers to click on it.

Video blog (or vlog): An online video journal, diary, or newsfeed with frequently updated content.
Viral marketing: Marketing that inspires “word of mouth” to spread its message organically and without payment usually via the Internet or email. The original material generally evokes a strong reaction through a physical emotional response (tears, laughter, goosebumps, gasps) or a highly engaging “cool” factor.

Web analytics (also metrics): The numbers gathered by tools like Google Analytics to reveal key visitor demographics, user behaviour, marketing campaign data and website functionality. This raw data can also be used to determine some of the Key Performance Indicators indicated previously. These numbers include:

  • Impression (also pageview or ad view): A record of every time a webpage (or ad) is viewed or fully loaded. If a visitor goes to three pages of a website, that would count as three page views. The term impression comes from traditional advertising and was an estimate of the number of people viewing a certain media segment at a specific time. Because of web analytics the measurement of impressions is much more precise online.
  • Referrer: The URLS and websites that are visited just prior to coming to your website. Referrer data is a good place to identify potential partnerships and to track the success of advertising and sponsorship campaigns.
  • Unique visitor (or unique session): This is a count of each individual visitor during the specified timeframe. Over the course of a calendar month someone may visit a website multiple times, but in the month end report that activity would could as a single unique visitor. Considered by many one of the most accurate ways to measure  and analyze website traffic.
  • Visit (or session): Each web analytics program seems to define visits in a slightly different way. However, it generally means a single instance of a person (or their browser) coming to the website until they move onto another site, the browser is shut down or specific amount of inactive time has passed (in the case of Google Analytics this is 30 minutes), whichever comes first.

Web television (or web TV): A new format of media entertainment, originally distributed exclusively via the Internet, generally in a series of 9 minute (or less) webisodes (see below). Some of these web TV series have gone to on to be picked up by broadcasters and repackaged or recreated as longer form television series. Popular examples of this genre include: Prom Queen, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog, and The Guild.

Webisode: A single episode of a web television series.

Weblog (or blog): An online journal, diary or newsfeed with frequent, regular updates.


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