Every industry has its buzzwords, jargon and acronyms and some work their way into general use but can still be confusing. Here are 19 definitions of some of the commonly used online marketing terms that you might find useful.
Google’s AdSense program is an easy way to display other business’s advertisements on your website and earn money when site visitors click or view the ads. Google provides the code you can put on your website, and they keep fresh ads displaying. You can set it and forget it and collect revenue.
Google’s AdWords program allows you to place ads for your business on Google search result pages, along the right side and at the top and bottom of the page, surrounding the “organic” list of results. Each ad needs to link to a landing page, usually on your website, and ideally created to exactly match what your ad says it’s about. You pay Google for each click on your ad.
An affiliate marketing program allows you to display other companies’ ads on your website, and earn money when visitors to your site click on the ad and visit or buy something from the advertiser. You can choose the companies whose ads you want to include on your site, and you can choose the size and location on the page. Different advertisers pay different amounts for clicks, leads or sales that come from your website.
A backlink is a link FROM another website TO your website. It’s an important factor in Google’s ranking algorithm. They look at the number of distinct backlinks to your site, the quality or authority of the site linking to you, and the context in which the link appears. With backlinks in 2015, quality
means more than quantity and having great backlinks is part of what Google looks for.
All analytics programs (like Google Analytics) can show you data about the visitors to your website. The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing the first page they land on. You should consider this along with “time spent on site” because sometimes people “bounce” after finding the info they were looking for, and it was a successful visit, even though they only viewed one page. How long were they on that page? That’s important too.
Many websites allow visitors to leave comments on articles or blog posts. When someone takes the opportunity to leave a comment that is self-serving, just to get a link back to their own website, this is considered comment spam. There are obvious ones (“Buy viagra cheap!”) and some are not so obvious, “This was a great article!” You can either disallow people putting hyperlinks in their comments, or you can set these links to be “no-followed”. (See definition below.)
Cost-per-action. In the world of online advertising, an “action” could be clicking on a link in an ad, tapping a phone number in an ad, submitting a form, viewing a page, making a purchase, etc. You, as the advertiser, pay only when a consumer takes one of the desired actions.
Cost-per-click. (See PPC) This is the amount of money the advertiser pays for each click on his ad. Generally an advertiser sets a budget, bids on keywords he wants his ad to show up for, and once his budget is spent, the ad no longer appears.
Cost-per-mille (thousand) impressions. This is a term that applies to display ads where the advertiser pays for impressions or the number of times his ad is displayed. Not only used in online advertising, this is an ad model that comes from print advertising.
Clickthrough rate. This is the measure of how many clicks a link in your ad or email received. For example, if you send out 1,000 emails with links to your website, blog or some other online asset, and 50 people click on a link in the email, it has a clickthrough rate of 5%.
The index is the billions of web pages that Google has crawled (read) and included in its vast database. If your website pages can be found in Google, then they are in Google’s index. If they cannot be found in Google, then either Google has been unable to crawl them for a technical reason, or they have been dropped out of the index for some reason. To find out if a page on your website is in Google’s index, type the full URL in the Google search field, for example: http://www.yourwebsite.com/services.html. If Google can’t find it, it’s not in their index.
When you put a link on your website to another web page (either on your website or on some other website), it indicates that you have a certain amount of trust in that web page. If your web page has PageRank, a little bit of your rank is conveyed with that link, and it’s something like a popular vote. You convey some of your PageRank to that other web page through the link. If you don’t want to convey PageRank with the link, then you would indicate in the code that it is a “no-follow” link. For example, you might want to allow comments on your blog, and allow people to include a link in their comment, but you may not want to vouch for that link, so you would make it a no-followed link.
PageRank is the trademarked term for the ranking system Google uses for each individual web page in its index. A page may have a PageRank of 0-10, with 10 being the highest PageRank a page can achieve. Named after one of Google’s founders, Larry Page, this ranking system counts the number of backlinks to a web page to determine it’s importance or popularity. To see a page’s PageRank, you can use the Google toolbar.
Pay-per-Click. (See CPC) In online advertising, it is the most common way to pay for your ad. Every time someone clicks on the link in your ad, you pay a certain amount. The cost of each click is determined by how popular and competitive the keyword is that you are bidding on. For example, if you want your ad to show up whenever someone types in “New York divorce attorney” you will pay more for each click than you would for “Waxahachie tax specialist”.
Really Simple Syndication. Often combined with the word “feed” or “feed reader”. It’s a method of allowing people to subscribe to or pull a feed from a web publisher and have that content emailed to them or aggregated to a reader on their computer or mobile device. A user can set up an RSS reader to pull content from multiple feeds, and a web publisher can set up an RSS feed to make it easy for users to subscribe. This eliminates the need for the user to visit multiple websites or blogs and instead have new content from his favorite sites delivered to him.
Search Engine Marketing. This term originally was used to describe the various ways a business can pay for online advertising in contrast with SEO (search engine optimization) which described the various ways one can organically boost one’s website visibility and ranking in the search engines for free. Today SEM is the term often applied to the whole variety of ways, both paid and not paid, that one can promote one’s business in search results.
Search Engine Optimization. This is the tortoise if SEM is the hare. SEO is the term applied to all of the efforts, both on one’s website and off, to improve one’s ranking in the organic search results. Delivering visibility and great ranking via SEO can take time to achieve, but these results last much longer than the instant visibility you get from paying for an ad (which disappears the moment you stop paying).
Short Message Service. Very simply, it’s the way businesses send short text messages to subscribers’ mobile phones. These messages can run the gamut from special offers and loyalty programs to appointment reminders, delivery notifications, home security alerts, etc.
You know it when you see it. Spam can come to you via email, advertising, text messages or useless promotional websites and blogs. Google has an entire web spam team dedicated to finding ways to exclude spammy content from their index.
If you have a digital marketing buzzword, jargon or acronym that you would like explained, let me know in the comments below and I’ll publish a followup post with more definitions.