Online Marketing Terms

We’ve compiled a list of 92 terms that every online marketer should know and understand. Some of them may not apply to everyone but it is important to have an idea of the entire scope of the playing field.

FYI: All the terms displayed in this Wordle image are sized by the number of results on the web according to Google and linked to our definition further down the page.

A/B Testing

Running two different versions of an ad, site, landing page, design, or other variable to find out which version performs best.

Above the Fold

This term is a throwback to newspaper terminology. In internet marketing, this term is typically used to reference the area of a web page that is visible to a user without having to scroll. It is a good practice to get imporant parts of a design above the fold.


Microsoft’s pay per click ad system. It has a history of being user hostile, but if you can get past that, there are some opportunities for lower priced clicks compared to Google’s AdWords system.


Text and image ads that are targeted based on page content or the user’s browsing history. Site owners who place these ads on their site get a 68% share of the revenue from clicks on these ads. Some people refer to AdSense as webmaster welfare.

Advertising Network

A company or platform that allows advertisers to connect with websites in order to display advertisements. Normally ad networks take a cut of the money from the advertiser before paying the website owner for displaying the ads. These ads can range from being shown everywhere to being specifically targeted based on site content or user behavior.


Google’s paid advertising network. Most ads served from AdWords use a pay per click model but have also included affiliate ads, video ads, radio ads, and print ads.

Affiliate Marketing

Promoting a product or service for the purpose of being paid a commission for sending visitors that result in sales or leads. Most people who get into affiliate marketing don’t make much, if anything because they get into expecting quick and easy money only to find out that it can take hard work and large amounts of time.


In relation to internet marketing, an algorithm is typically used by search engines to determine how and where to display sites in search results based on a set of instructions built into the algorithm. Search engine algorithms are constantly changing and what they look for one day may be different the next.

Alt Attribute

In HTML, an attribute that is applied to elements such as img, area, and input tags which should descibe the purpose of the element it is used for. The text of the attribute is shown if the element cannot be shown. It can be of great use for visually impared users who use a screen reader. These users would hear the text rather than see the image or other element. For the record, this is NOT a tag and should not be referred to as a tag unless you are a noob.


Analytics allows you to view data that results from activities of users on your website. This data includes, but is not limited to, number of visitors, page views, conversions, visitor locations, how long visitors are on your site, how many times specific pages are viewed, and where your traffic comes from. Unfortunately, analytics data is not 100% correct no matter what platform you use for analyzing your traffic, so keep that in mind.

Anchor Text

The word or phrase used as the clickable part of a link in HTML. Anchor text is considered to be an important factor in how search engines rank pages within their results. If you abuse anchor text by using the same word or phrase too much, you can get bitch slapped by the search engines.


Image ads displayed on web pages

Banner Blindness

The theory that users ignore common ad types and positions as a result of those ads being irrelevant or uninteresting to the user.

Behavioral Targeting

Displaying ads based on the browsing or search history of a user. You’d be amazed at the ads that result from looking into travel to Thailand.


Microsoft’s latest attempt at coming up with a cool name for a search engine. Change that i to an o and they might have something.

Black Hat SEO

People who do SEO that typically goes against search engine guidelines. They also tend to either drive a nicer car than you or still live with their parents.


Originated from the term “web log.” A blog is typically a website that has content posted and displayed in reverse chronological order. There are blogs on just about every topic imaginable. Most rarely get many visitors other than the blogger’s mom or stalkers.


Short for robot, this is a software program that is used to carry out automated tasks such as crawling web pages for links and content. Googlebot is a bot that Google uses for crawling the web to populate their search results. Bots can also be used for malicious activity such as spamming forms, harvesting email addresses, or stealing content to republish.

Bounce Rate

The rate at which users enter a specific page of your site and then exit the site without viewing any other pages. A high bounce rate can be a sign of a low quality site but could also mean that the user’s query was answered and they did not need to navigate any further.


The identity of a company or product. Not limited to just a logo or company name. A brand triggers feelings, responses, and loyalty.

Buying Cycle

The path that a typical consmer goes through in order to decide on and analyze a purchase. The buying cycle can vary from product to product depending on the cost and risk of the purchase.


A stored version of a web page, typically by a search engine.

Canonical Tag

Code used by webmaster to tell search engines what the original URL is for content on the current page. This can prevent duplicate content from being indexed and having the wrong page showing up in search results.

Click Fraud

The act of artificially generating clicks on pay per click ads either manually or through the use of bots. It’s totally not cool

Clickthrough Rate (CTR)

The percentage of users who clicked on a displayed ad. A high clickthrough rate is typically a sign of a relevant ad or good ad placement.


A technique used for showing different inoformation to a search engine spider versus what a human visitor would see.


Content Management System. This is software that allows publishing of content on a website without needing to create or edit individual files for each piece of content. Great for enabling idiots to publish.

Comment Spam

Unwanted or useless comments posted to blogs in an attempt to get links or attention to the poster’s site. Many times they are inserted by bots or people with an endless supply of viagra.

Content Network

A group of sites that show ads served by an ad network in exchange for a portion of the ad revenue. Sometimes this can refer specifically to Google and their AdWords system showing ads through publisher sites that are in their content network.

Contextual Advertising

Advertising that is served based on the content of the page or a user’s query.


An action that a visitor performs that is tied to the goal of a page or site such as a sale, filling out a form, or calling a phone number.

Conversion Rate

The rate at which visitors to a page or site end up performing an action that is the goal of the page or site. Also, the rate at which you buying a drink for women at the bar results in them going home with you, which is a 0% conversion rate.


Those things that Cookie Monster craves. Actually, in the context of online marketing, a cookie is a file that stores information such as site preferences, shopping cart contents, or authentication data so that you can stay logged in on sites. Cookies are also heavily used in affiliate marketing to track which affiliates sent referrals that should result in commissions.

Cost Per Action (CPA)

An advertising model where the advertiser pays for an action such as purchasing a product or filling out a lead form. This is used heavily in affiliate marketing.

Cost Per Click (CPC)

An advertising model where the advertiser pays the ad publisher for each click on their advertisement. This is a somewhat rare model to find outside of Google AdSense due to a high potential for click fraud.

Cost Per Thousand (CPM)

An advertising model where the advertiser pays the ad publisher a set amount for each time an ad is shown to users. The payout is based on 1,000 ad impressions which is where the M comes from in the term. M is the Roman numeral for 1,000. CPM advertising is employed heavily by ad networks.


Characteristics of a given group of people, such as website visitors. These characteristics can include age, gender, income, location, employment, and whether or not they drink milk out of the carton.


A unique identifier for a website that allows people to easily remember the location of a website instead of having to remember the IP address where the site resides.

Doorway Page

A page that is built for ranking in search engines for tightly focused search terms. In some cases, a webmaster may create a new doorway page for each and every keyword term they want to target. They are usually frowned upon unless there’s a very good reason to have them for users.

Duplicate Content

Refers to having the same or very similar content on more than one page. Duplicate content can have negative effects on a site and should be avoided if at all possible.

Email Marketing

Using email to market products or promote offers. Sometimes the people who recieve the emails have opted to receive those emails, but a large percentage of them are unsolicited SPAM. Benefits to email marketing are that it’s easy to track conversions, emails can be tailored to the user’s interests based on the data collected with the user’s email address, and it is a quick way to reach a large number of people.


I would honestly like to know who the idiot was that thought EPC should mean earnings per 100 clicks. Affiliate networks make heavy use of this term in this manner. My guess is that it’s to inflate the appearance of how much value there is in a given program because a $20 EPC looks way better than $0.20 EPC. Some people consider this to mean earnings per click, which is only logical, but who wants to be logical. You decide how you want to use it but just make sure you understand that the meaning depends on who is giving you the number.


A place where you can get rich on your fake farm while killing your fake mafia enemies. It’s also a good place to spam your friends with marketing because enough of them will feel guilted into liking your site about how to cook gourmet hamster that it will look like there’s actually value to it.


Flash is a platform that is used for animation on web sites. There are really very few good uses for Flash these days. Early on, entire sites were built in Flash, which led to crawling and indexing issues for search engines, broken navigation for users, and time wasting intros. Seriously, whoever thought Flash intros were a good idea, please raise your hand because I’m pretty sure there’s a long line of people who would like to punch you in the face.

Geo Targeting

Showing ads or content based on the visitor’s location. Remember those adult “dating” ads you saw that offered to hook you up with someone right up the street from you that looks 100 times better than anyone within 50 miles of your house? Those are geo targeted…and fake. #justsayin


If you don’t know what Google is, you probably should just crawl back into the cave you came out of.


Google’s automated software for crawling and collecting data from websites across the internet.

Heading Tags

These tags serve as headlines for web pages and sections within those pages. The h1 and h2 tags can be very important for helping search engines to understand the context of your page or site, so make sure that they are relevant to what they are being used for.


One of the most annoying and misused metrics ever. A hit is a request for a file. That doesn’t mean one request for a page equals one hit. It means that each and every image file, css file, javascript file, and whatever else you’ve crammed on your page is one hit. If you have a page with 100 images on it, that page will count as 100+ hits. This metric is easy to inflate and is completely misleading. Nobody should ever use hits as a metric for anything. It should just die and go away.


A server or servers that responds to file requests from visitors to a site.


The display of a single ad or page to a visitor.

Information Architecture

Organizing the structure of a site in a way that is logical and meaningful. It should accommodate both users and search engines. It can seem like rocket science until you really understand how it works.


The number of ad spaces or options available on a site.


A popular scripting language that is used for dynamic and interactive elements on websites. In the past, search engines have had a difficult time indexing content that is within javascript, but they are improving.


A word or phrase that is used to retrieve results from search engines. These words or phrases are used by marketers to determine what content needs to be on their site to attract the most attention from searchers.

Landing Page

A page that is created to attract traffic and convert that traffic for a specific goal.

Lifetime Value

The total amount that a customer is expected to be worth over the life of them being a customer.


A clickable reference from a web page to other documents, pages, or locations within the same page.

Link Bait

Marketing created for the purpose of gaining links to a web page. Crappy lists like this are an example of link bait.

Link Building

The process of acquiring links with the goal of using those links to improve search engine rankings.

Long Tail

A term used to describe keyword phrases typically 4-5+ words long that SEOs target to make themselves look good when they can’t compete for higher volume terms. A well structured site should naturally gain traffic from these types of terms without having to specifically target each one.

Meta Description

A short description that describes the content of the page that should help to reinforce the title of the page. This text is normally used for part of the page’s listing in search engine result pages.

Organic Search Results

The portion of the search engine results that are not paid and are based on relevance to the query.

Page Views

Each web page loaded by a visitor is considered to be a page view. Typically, more page views per visitor to a site is considered an indicator of quality.

Paid Search Results

The portion of the search engine results that are populated with advertisements from a pay per click system.

Pay Per Click (PPC)

An advertising model where advertisers are only charged for the ads when people click on the ads.

Quality Score

A scoring system that looks at an ad’s clickthrough rate, analyzes the relevance of the landing page, and many other factors to determine the quality of a page or site for the purpose of determining where a site should show up on search result pages for specific queries.

Reciprocal Linking

Linking between two sites for the purpose of improving search engine ranking for the sites. If done properly by linking between related sites, this can be an effective link building method. Most reciprocal links are not between related sites and most likely offer little value to the sites involved.


The source of traffic to a web page

Reputation Management

The process of controlling as much of the search results as possible for a brand, person’s name, or keyword.

Return on Investment (ROI)

A measurement used to determine how much profit is made relative to how much money is spent.


Really Simple Syndication is a format used to allow syndication of content from a web site. Sometimes referred to as feeds, they are allow people to use a “reader” to see a simplified version of recent content added to a site.

Search Engine

A system used for indexing and searching web content.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

The act of marketing a site through search engines using SEO and paid methods.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The act of attempting to get a website to show up in search results for keywords that relate to the site. Key parts of SEO are keyword research, copywriting, link building, branding, and information architecture.

Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

The page that is displayed to a user after submitting a query on a search engine.


A page used for assisting search engines in crawling through a site. On large sites, sitemaps may be spread over many pages. These pages contain lists of links to pages on the website that are intended to be crawled by bots.

Social Media

Sites that allow users to generate and share content with other users.


Unsolicited email messages or low quality content generated for the sole purpose of showing up in search engines but not offer any value to users.

Squeeze Page

A landing page created specifically for the purpose of getting users to fill out their name and/or email address and subscribe to some kind of offer.

Title Tag

An html element used to define the subject of the page. This is probably the most important on page SEO and marketing factor. The title tag is used for the clickable part of search engine listings. Each page title should be unique, descriptive, and written in a way that will attract clicks.


A social media site where attention whores post 140 character messages about their pets and where they are eating dinner.

Unique Visitor

A metric used to define one single unduplicated visitor to a site over a specific time period.


The address used for accessing a specific web page.


A term used to define how easy it is for a user to figure out how to get around and use a web page or site.

Viral Marketing

A marketing technique used to create attention that will continue to build as a result of people passing around the marketing piece through email, blogs, and word of mouth.


A metric that measures each person that visits a website.

White Hat SEO

A term used to describe SEOs that follow guidelines set up by search engines. Many white hat SEOs like to idolize an engineer from Google by the name of Matt Cutts.


A popular open source publishing platform that allows just about everyone and their dog to fill the web with junk that nobody should ever read.


A language used to structure the content of a web page.


A once powerful search engine that has now abandoned its search product and serves search results supplied by Bing.


Popular video site where users can view, post, and comment on videos.

Did we miss anything? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.

Google Blog Link Alogrithm CPA Googlebot Demographics Impression Bot A/B Testing Javascript url WordPress AdCenter Doorway Page Search Engine Analytics Twitter CMS ROI Canonical Tag Spam Cache Referrer Alt Attribute Banner Blindness AdWords Squeeze Page Click Fraud Content Network PageRank CPM Reputation Management Cookie CPC Contextual Advertising Duplicate Content AdSense Geo Targeting Brand Viral Marketing Behavioral Targeting Paid Search Results Email Marketing Landing Page YouTube SEM Inventory Buying Cycle Yahoo PPC Cloaking Title Tag Long tail Quality Score Link Building Comment Spam Banner Black Hat SEO RSS Conversion Rate Usability Domain Unique Visitor Bounce Rate SEO xhtml Anchor Text Conversion Visit Advertising Network Meta Description Flash Lifetime Value White Hat SEO Reciprocal Linking Above the fold Heading Tags Facebook Social Media SERP Page Views Keyword Information Architecture Clickthrough Rate Affiliate Marketing Organic Seach Results Bing Sitemap Hit EPC Link Bait
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap