Digital Marketing Terms – The Basics

I recently gave a presentation on Internet Marketing and Social Media to a group of local professionals. Now, that in itself isn’t something unusual, but something that happened during the presentation was. Towards the end of the presentation, somebody raised their hand and asked what a blog was. I had to take a step back, because many times people will not speak up when they don’t understand something. It was a great reminder that technology, the Internet and Social Media may not be new to some people, but others are just getting their feet wet.

So to members of our blog audience who may be unfamiliar with some of the items that have been written about here, I decided it was a good time to pull together a quick list of items that we have referenced a number of times but have never truly defined.

Alt Text, or alternative text – This is a reference to text that is assigned to a particular image on your website. This is done on the backend. You would want images on your website to have alt text for a few reasons. One, it gives search engines an idea of what the image is about (they are getting better at recognizing images, but they are not all the way there yet). Two, some people turn images off within their browsers to make their Internet experience go faster. By having alt text on an image, these visitors will see the text you choose to describe the image. It could be as basic as a friendly face, or as important as a promotion that you use an image to explain. And three, for the visually impaired who have the content of your website read to them, the reading program will read the image alt text to help describe what the web page is all about.

Backlink – The term backlink refers to links on other websites that point back to yours. They can come from directories, industry websites, local business websites, chambers or any other site out there. Search engines recognize links from high quality, related websites as a factor in determining how well your website should rank on SERPs.

Blog – You could go to Wikipedia and read there extremely long explanation of what a blog is, or you could read a few, like ours, and see for yourself. Basically businesses use blogs to communicate with their customers on the Internet on a regular basis. Information on the company, a product, the brand and the industry can all be shared, with text, videos, images or links to other web pages.

Content Management System, or CMS – When we speak of a CMS, we are referring to a web CMS. These are applications that allow website managers to create and manage the content, and sometimes the design, or their website. Many are easier for non techies to use, allowing them to create and upload content by themselves.

Cookie – Tiny pieces of data sent from a website to a visitor’s browser. This enables the website to remember that the visitor has been to the site before, along with other bits of information, depending on the cookie. It can remember a user name for a site, keep products in an online shopping cart or even remembering user preferences.

Keyword Rankings – Keywords or keyword phrases are terms used to describe the words that a person may type into a search engine to find something. For any particular business, there are keywords that their target audience would type in when looking for their product or service. When someone types in these phrases, a business would want to show up near the top of a SERP because that is where the most clicks through to websites happen. Where a particular website ranks for a keyword is called the Keyword Ranking (i.e., If I am a shoe website, and someone types in ‘Air Jordans’, I would want my website to come up in the first placement, with a keyword ranking of #1. But maybe I am a new site, and I am on the bottom of page 2. In that case, my keyword ranking may be #20.).

Long Tail Keywords, or just long tail – When people reference “long tail keywords” they are typically referring to phrases that have at least 3 words in them. They tend to be narrowly focused, and more in line with what the searcher is truly looking for. Many times they may not be as popular as the most commonly typed in phrases, but are typically easier to gain good keyword rankings for.

Mobile website – Most websites are initially built for a big screen, either a desktop or a laptop. However, as more and more people are browsing the Internet with their SmartPhones, websites that look good on a monitor aren’t always looking their best on a smaller phone. When this happens, web developers build a Mobile Website, which is a version of a website that looks good and performs well on a SmartPhone.

Online Reputation Management – In a narrow sense it refers to the practice of trying to get any negative comments/pages/mentions about a person or business to appear lower on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). In a broad sense it means taking inventory of what people are saying about you online, and doing what you can to have the most positive view of you or your business represented. This includes responding to negative reviews or ratings that may be out there. Read more about online reputation management here.

Pay Per Click Ads (PPC, CPC) – These are online advertisements that businesses purchase, that appear in some of the most desirable locations on the SERP page. Buyers pay only when a visitor clicks on the ad. The ad could run forever, and have hundreds of thousands of impressions, but if nobody clicks on the ad, the business would not be charged. We see PPC ads on search engine pages and on websites of all types.

Retweet – when someone who reads a tweet decides to post the same tweet to their followers, this is ‘retweeting’ it. It allows information to be quickly dispersed.

RSS – A feed format (which most people see with blogs) used with websites that have frequently updated content. The standardized format allows the publisher to develop the content once, and then it is able to be viewed in many different programs.

Search Engine – A search engine is a website (or section of a website) that allows a user (you) to type in a query or search phrase, and then returns results throughout their website or the Internet that match your query. The best search engines will be able to decipher your intent and bring back quality results so you don’t have to refine your search.

Search Engine Results Pages, or SERP’s – When you do a search on a search engine, the page that shows the list of results is, ironically enough, called a Search Engine Results Page. So Google would be the search engine, but after I do a search on ‘pay per click consultants’ the page I land on (example SERP) is a SERP.

SmartPhone – For our purposes, when we speak of a Smartphone, we are talking about a cell phone that has the capability to easily connect to and browse the Internet. Popular ones would be the iPhone and Android.

Tweet – A tweet is a post on twitter, no more than 140 characters in length. The tweet is published to the users account, and also fed to all of their followers.

Twitter @ – When tweeting, if you wish to refer to someone else, the protocol is to refer to them by ‘@[username]’. So if you were to write about Mannix Marketing, you would say something like “@MannixMarketing just wrote an awesome blog”. The @[username] becomes a link to that person’s twitter page, for people to easily click through to.

Twitter Hashtag (#)Detailed information on hashtags can be found here. In short, they are a useful way for people to categorize different tweets.

Virality (or going “viral”) – Refers to the potential of a piece of content to be shared in a short time period. It could be a web page, news article, Facebook posts, YouTube video, news article or any piece of content. Something that is shared a lot of times in a short amount of time is said to have high virality.

As some of my colleagues reminded me, there are probably hundreds more Website or Internet Marketing terms that I could have listed. Are there any Internet or Digital Marketing phrases in particular that you are unfamiliar with? Ask us below or send us a note directly.

About Brian McGrath

Over the past 20 years, Brian has experienced many aspects of marketing, including brand management, copywriting, campaign coordination, paid search marketing, social media marketing and internet marketing. Brian now uses this knowledge to help our clients maximize their presence on the internet. His expertise in all things marketing gives our clients – and the Mannix Marketing SEO team – a distinct advantage in all areas of search. His extraordinary analytic skills provide SEO, social media and paid search clients with real, measurable results. To maintain his cutting edge expertise, Brian stays current on the latest trends in social media and digital marketing by reading industry publications, attending conferences, and consulting with peers.