Internet Marketing

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BUSINESS for BUSINESS Internet Marketing | Book & Articles | Glossary

Because we hate jargon too ...



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We hate jargon, techie-speak or anything that makes it harder for you or your clients to understand the written or spoken word.

However, like in any industry, there are specific terms that are used to provide accurate meaning, detail in descriptions or to ensure that we are being specific.

There is no getting away from it, if you want to be in control of your website development project, then you must at least have a modicum of understanding of what is going on out there in the scary world of technology.

This glossary also includes terms and phrases that we use at Business for Business, on our training courses and when delivering our consultancy services. so this will also serve as reminder or recap to help you.

To help with this, we've included this glossary and explanation of terms.  You can see more like this - or some of the items expanded on - in the book: INTERNET MARKETING How to Get a Website that Works for Your Business by Nigel T Packer, Managing Director of Business for Business.

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Adwords (see Google Adwords)

Adwords Management
Is the process of setting up and managing Adwords programmes.  Google used to offer a service for this, then a system called jumpstart to do this job, but has discontinued.  Most companies will contract a professional to ensure their adwords spend is being used wisely, as while in principle adwords are relatively easy to operate, in practice it is a lot harder to get it right and achieve a good ROI.

Affiliate or Associate programme
A method of online marketing, where one website promotes or sells the services or products of another company for commission, often measured as 'click-thoughs' or via the website statistics or analytics data.  Commission is paid when a user clicks on the link embedded in the affiliates website and then makes a purchase. The key to building online success through affiliate marketing includes choosing the products to promote well, making them highly relevant to your visitors, and generating targeted traffic to the website.  Not as easy as it sounds!

A contraction of alternative text.  The alt-text will be displayed in the place of an image in cases where the image is not displayed, such as when images are turned off (now an out-dated practice, it used to be common to speed up the download of websites in pre-broadband days) or where the website is experienced through the medium of a screen reader, used by a person with visual impairment.  The Disability Discrimination Act and website accessibility standards require or recommend that alt text is always provided for images.  However, it is not used to literally describe an image, more to state its purpose or contribution to the overall communication.  Alt text can be an important contribution to Search Engine Optimisation and Search Engine Marketing

relates - in this context - to analysis of website statistics, feedback or web analytics.  Analysis can be as much of an art as a science, gathering data is one thing, but the interpretation of it requires a great deal of knowledge and experience.

Analytics (see Google analytics)

Creates the illusion of movement by displaying a series of images, while they can be used effectively in websites to illustrate, they are commonly gratuitously overused and more commonly irritate than help the user.

Animated Gif (see Gif)

Architecture (see Information Architecture)

Auction site (see eBay)


Back-End Integration
Sounds painful, and you probably can't afford it.  Where a website that might have a shop, or some other system that the users can interact with (the front end) is integrated with some business system (the back end) such as stock control, accounting, delivery tracking or similar.

Banner Adverts or advertising
Advertising that is embedded into a website other than that of the advertiser that is intended to attracted traffic to the website of the advertiser via a hyperlink.  Animation, sound, video and now interactivity is often employed to attract attention, however this strategy can backfire as the phenomenon of 'banner blindness' results in users consciously ignoring any element of a webpage that looks like an advert.  Money can be earned by the owner of the site displaying the ad when a user clicks on an advert.  This is tracked through website stats, logs or analytics.  The term 'banner' now refers to a horizontal ad size of 468 x 60 pixels.  While there are many other shapes and sizes in use, the term banner is also used to describe any advert.  The success of banner advertising - which can be lucrative in many cases - relies on a depth of understanding of online promotional techniques and value judgement of relevance to the user.

Barriers to task completion are a major user experience problem.  Anything that prevents the user doing whatever it is they came to the website to do could be considered a barrier: whether it might be a menu or navigation system that does not fit in with the users' mental model, or a flashing advert that is sufficiently irritating to distract from the task in hand.

A social networking site, launched in 2005 it became popular with younger users.  Acquired by AOL in 2008, they sold it on in 2010 due to falling numbers of users who have moved to FaceBook and other social media platforms.

Bid (see also Google Adwords)
The amount that an advertiser is willing to pay for a search term - keyword or keyphrase - that will trigger their advert

Body Text
The term used by graphic designers or typographers to refer to the 'main' text of a page, as distinct from headings or other elements. 

When a website visitor or user 'bounces' back out of the site after visiting only one page.  Commonly understood to indicate that they have not found what they are looking for and therefore leave.  Of course, it could also indicate that they have found what they are looking for quickly and efficiently and have no need to visit another page due to the efficiency of the website and the effectiveness of the promotional campaign, inbound links and landing pages.

Bounce rate
A website analysis term, refers to the percentage of visitors who leave the website after only viewing a single page.  It is calculated as a percentage of the total number of single page visits divided by the total number of visits.  It is generally accepted that a low result for a bounce rate is good, indicating that a higher number of visitors view a number of pages in the site before leaving.  (However, this depends on the objectives and nature of the website, and the e-business strategy that is being employed, there are specific situations when a 100% bounce rate would be considered a success.) Like any other statistics or data analysis, this needs to be considered in context with your website strategy and objectives.

Brand, branding, brand identity
A term that most people in business are familiar with, but have difficulty defining or understanding.  Your brand is your value in the eyes of your customers, value being different to what you actually sell or deliver.  Statistics indicate that as many as 90% of people will purchase from a trusted brand as opposed to a generic one.  Brand is combination of what you present to the customer - over which you have some control, and the amalgamation of customer perception, over which you have none.  Brand identity is a crucial success factor and forms the major part of the value of any business and online is often the first contact of any detail that a customer has with a company's brand.

A programme, application or some software that is used to view (or to browse) the internet.  The most popular at present are Internet Explorer and Firefox with approx 57% and 23% of market share respectively.

Business goals and objectives (see goals)


A Caption is explanatory text about the contents of an image, usually positioned below.  Unlike alt-text, it does not usually describe the image, but provides additional information (e.g. the names of the people in a group photograph) or some explanation of the context or similar.  Image captions are best provided as text and have implications for Search Engine Optimisation and Search Engine Marketing.

Card Sorting
A user experience technique used to help develop content structures for information architecture that is user centred.  Particularly useful for product databases, or where there is a lot of information. A very low- tech process, conducting card-sorting exercises are straightforward, however, like other usability or user-centred design techniques, the difficult part lies in the interpretation of results.

A click through occurs when a website user 'clicks through' and advert or other link to arrive at an advertiser's or affiliates website.

Client and Customer
Not an internet term at all, to clarify our use of these terms, we use client to indicate a client of Business for Business, and the term customer to mean our clients' customers - the users of the website, the people who source or buy products or services from you, the client.

CMS - Content Management System
A software system that is now commonly embedded into a website that allows the website owner or administrator to add content and sometimes to manage the existence of pages to their website without requiring the intervention of the website developer or designer.

Cognitive Walkthrough
A usability inspection method, a user experience expert would perform a cognitive walkthrough to determine if a sufficiently easy path to completion of a user's task is present in a website, or whether barriers to task completion exist.  Task scenarios would be constructed from the specification of the website and then role-play performed. A highly skilled and easily misled process in the inexperienced, it takes a holistic view to catch problems that may not be exposed by other user experience methods

Command buttons
A type of button or navigation item on a website that is distinct from any other in that it initiates some kind of function (as opposed to navigating or linking to another page) such as 'send', 'submit', 'add-to-basket', 'pay', 'login', 'search' etc.  It is recommended that the design and appearance of command button is used consistently, and is visually differentiated from the design of menu buttons that are for hyperlinking to other pages or websites.

A website can be said to consist of a number of different basic categories.  This can be defined this as structure (see Information Architecture), functionality and content.  Content can consist of text, images (photographs or illustrations) and other media such as animation, sound and video.

A broad term, which is used in this context to refer to success criteria of a website, or the criteria against which a website is evaluated.

CSS - Cascading Style Sheet
A system where the style - the design and visual appearance of the website page elements, including colours, fonts or typefaces, spacing etc - is kept separate from the content of the webpage (and also the code that controls the functionality of the website and the relationship of the pages).  Styles are created and named then applied to the elements on the pages, such as headings, body text etc.  One of the advantage of the use of CSS technology is that if a change is required to - for example - the font or typeface used for a heading, then when this change is made in the CSS, the style will 'cascade' throughout the website wherever the style has been applied.  This means that never mind how many pages there may be in the site, the style will remain consistent.  It can also be used to apply different presentations to a range of devices, from mobile technology with small viewing screens to screen-readers for users with visual impairment.  CSS is notoriously difficult to get right, and many websites we review suffer badly from unskilled or amateur attempts.


An IT term that can be understood as the lowest level from which information (and subsequently knowledge) can be extracted.  Data is often the result of gathering metrics of some kind (such as website statistics or Google analytics) and can be used to produce a variety of visual outputs such as graphs.

A collection of related data, that is organised or categorised into an appropriate structure.  Databases consist of data fields (a type of data, e.g. name, address, post code) and the content is organised as a series of records (all the data of a specific occurrence, e.g. Mrs Jones. 42 high street, CF12 etc).  Database systems are used to manipulate this data to produce meaningful information.  Databases are commonly used in websites to manage large amounts of data, such as product catalogues, particularly where the data may need to be manipulated by the user to suit their own needs, using search, category views, filtering etc. (e.g. a computer hardware database might be filtered to show only HP laptops between £400 & £500)

The term refers to the characteristics of a population, used in marketing (and internet marketing) to refer to the characteristics of a target customer or audience.  A demographic profile, would provide enough information to be able to create a mental picture, e.g. single, male, age 18-24, Higher educated, etc.  Used to help develop a marketing strategy or plan.  Typical demographic data include age, gender, income level, race or ethnicity, but the important factors are those that affect their ability or willingness to purchase the product or service on offer.

Design Brief (see website design brief)

Direct Marketing (see also email marketing)
Refers to any marketing material or message that reaches customers by communications directly addressed to the customer.  This could be physical via the post office or call centres, or virtual, via email addresses, when it would be termed email marketing

In the context of files on a computer, directory is an older term that is now replaced by the term folder, and refers to a file system structure.  In the context of Internet Marketing, a directory is an organised collection of links to websites, and were very popular before search and search engines became the main method of internet users finding what they were looking for. A directory display lists of web pages based on  categories, not on keywords as a search engine does.  Yahoo is a well known example, which while also offering a search facility started out as, and still is, fundamentally a web directory.

Domain Name
Also understood to refer to the website address or URL, the domain part of the domain name actually means the end part that indictes the type or country of origin, e.g. in the URL, '.com' is the domain. In '' is the domain.

Domain Name Registration
The process or registering or purchasing the right to use a particalur website address/URL or domain name.  In concept this is a similar idea to purchasing a car registration number, providing it is available and meets certain rules you can have it.  Now very cheap (often just a few pounds) there are countless agencies online that will carry this out for you.  The choice of name however is another matter and impacts on online success and should be considered to be at the very core of the website strategic planning.

Downloading, Download (see also upload)
Downloading is the process of receiving data from some remote system, in this context from a website (or more accurately a web server that is hosting a website).  A download can refer to a file that is offered for downloading.


A highly successful online auction and trading website, founded in 1995, now operating in over 30 countries.

Essentially an e-book is an electronic version of a book.  While containing the same elements as a printed book: text and images (plus all the other stuff like introductions, dedications, copyright statements etc) instead of it being printed on paper, bound and then read, it remains in a digital form, so it is readable on computers or other digital devices.  Many printed books are now also available as ebooks, although now many ebooks are being produced without their printed equivalent.

A term that is sometimes used interchangeably with ecommerce, it is really more than ecommerce, and can involves business processes that cover every aspect or function of a business including supply chain management, electronic processing of order, customer support and relationship management and so on. E-business is carried out online, and also using intranets, extranets, or a combination.

Is the practice of buying and selling of products and services using the internet (and other electronic networks).  The amount of ecommerce has grown exponentially in recent years,
and surpassed all expectations.

Is an online networking website and membership organisation that offers networking events, business support and networking groups for entrepreneurs and small business owners.  Founded in 1998, it has now been surpassed in popularity by Linkedin.

E-mail marketing
Is a form of direct marketing, which uses email to send commercial (or fundraising) communications to an audience.  They could be to acquire new customers, to send advertisements to an existing or potential customer base for special offers, promotions or similar or to encourage customer loyalty.  It is the most cost-effective form of direct mail due to the relatively low cost of an individual transmission (relative to the printing and mailing out of physical direct mail).  It has other advantages, in particular the ability with many email marketing platforms to be able to track opening and click-throughs from the email, enabling the marketer to gain feedback on the success of the campaign.

Is the process of publishing ebooks and other digital media via the internet.  There are numerous platforms available, the most common/popular being Amazon's Digital Text Platform, which prepares ebooks for viewing on the Kindle ereader, and for sale on the Amazon website. Many other file formats and other platforms are available.

An e-reader is  device used to view and read ebooks.  This can take the form of a physical hand-held device such as the Sony Reader or Amazon Kindle, or can be piece of software that allows a computer to read the e-book format, or a downloadable app or similar that enables smartphones or other devices such as the ipad to display the ebook.

Evaluation (see website evaluation)

Not seen so often now as a term, but refers to a website or system on the internet that is in effect a private network, but external to the business or organisation that operates it, users would normally access an extranet via some system of login and password or other secure or controlled access.


If by some chance you've never heard of it, Facebook is a social networking site, started in 2006.  Now the subject of a feature film, it has experienced unprecedented exponential growth far beyond any predictions and now lists over 500 million active users, with over 50% using the site every day.  Facebook fan pages can be used effectively to promote particular types of business and generate brand awareness and if done well can be successful without the need for enormous budgets.  Facebook also now offers a system of contextual advertising, similar in principle to Google Adwords.

File Path
The file path, refers to a unique location in a file system. This is exactly the same in a website as on a computer, where the file path often describes a series of named folders within the architecture of a website, on a web server.  The detail of the file path can have an impact on SEO.

A broad term referring in this context to how easy (or difficult) it is to find something online or on a particular site.  Creating good findability would - according to the specific situation - include search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimisation (SEO) and evaluation and management of online advertising campaigns, other forms of website promotion, such as email marketing and social media.  Creating good findability within a site is a function of user experience and requires customer focused information architecture among other things.  To optimise internal findability, tasks and paths to task completion in particular would benefit from analysis among other activities.

Used in the phrase 'below the fold', refers to the part of a webpage not visible without scrolling.  The term derives from newspaper publishing where it is common or practical to fold a paper due to its oversized format.

Forms (including enquiry forms, feedback forms, web forms)
A general term referring to areas of a webpage where a user can ether enter details (e.g their name, in a text entry box) or choose from options (e.g. in a drop down list) that is then either submitted to some function or controls the information displayed. 

Form fields include:

  • Text entry boxes and scrolling text boxes (that are not limited to the number of characters, a scroll bar appears if you enter more than can be viewed at one time),

  • Drop down lists, where clicking on an arrow button 'opens' the list which 'drops down' often with a scroll bar. 

  • Radio buttons, usually round, radio buttons allow the users to make an 'either-or' or 'pick-from-a-list' choice. 

  • Tick or check boxes are used so that user can indicate all of the items that apply in this case. 

  • A form will usually include command buttons that allow the information to be 'submitted' or 'sent' and for the form to be 'cleared' or 'reset'.

Focus Group
A technique where are group of people representative of your business customers are facilitated in an exercise to make some kind of value judgement.  Focus groups are very valuable but are often misused to seek feedback about a website, where the participants are asked what they think of it, or if they would use a certain function or similar.  The fundamental principle to be aware of is that what people SAY, and what they DO, are not necessarily the same thing and the only way to really test how your website performs for your users is to do just that, test it, with representative users.

Function, Functionality
In the context of a website, this is what facilities are available or provided on the website for the user to carry out some function - other than simply linking or navigating to another page or website (hyperlinking or linking).  Functions might include login and/or register, sign up for a newsletter or similar, add an item to a shopping cart, choose delivery options and make payment, search and filter categories or criteria, book a flight or room, or register for an event and more.  


Gif (pronounced with the g as in good) is one of the main types of image file used online. Gifs are made up of flat colours and hard edges so are commonly used for logos, graphic elements and also for animations when they are referred to as animated gifs.

Goals (website or business goals)
We think that the fundamental objective of a website is to meet or help to meet, wholly or partially, some business or organisational goal.  Without this clearly in mind, it is too easy to be seduced by fancy features or sold facilities that serve no clear purpose.  This is the underpinning of our strategic approach.

This one probably doesn't need an explanation as such, as a search engine, Google is leader globally, currently listing around 85% of search market share (this has fallen by just under 1% in 2010,
data from netmarketshare).  Also offers a number of other services including Analytics, Adwords and Maps

Google Adwords
AdWords is the name of Google's advertising, also called sponsored links. It is currently the most popular pay-per-click (PPC) website-targeted advertising.

The adverts includes text (the most common), banner, and rich-media ads for local, national, and international distribution. Google's text advertisements are short, consisting of one headline and two additional text lines.  The adverts are only displayed when they are triggered by a search term chosen by the advertiser.

Advertisers select and bid the maximum amount they will pay per click for the search terms words that will trigger their ads to be displayed. When a user searches on Google, ads for those ‘trigger’ words are shown as "sponsored links" on the right side of the screen and above the main search results.

Adwords are cost effective as you only pay when the ad is clicked on by the user, not simply when it is displayed.

Google Analytics
Google offers a free detailed analytics and statistics system for use in websites.  It is aimed at the marketing world and details supplied include visitors, referrers and so on.  It integrates seamlessly with Google Adwords so that users can track and review online campaigns.  Considered to be the most widely used web analytics/statistics service it is initiated by including some code into a webpage or series of pages and accessed online via login and password.

Google Maps
As well as keyword search, google offers
maps.  Users can search, zoom in and browse or focus on an address or post code or search by business category and find businesses in a given area (local search).  In turn it is possible to enter and edit details about a business, pinpointing its location as well as appearing in results for search.


Hash Tag (#tag)
Used on short message services such as twitter, a hash tag refers to a word or phrase preceded by a hash (#) symbol which will appear in search engine results or trending websites.

Head Tag, Head Code, HTML Head, (see also HTML)
HTML has a section - usually at the beginning - called the head tag, or sometimes (inaccurately) described as the head code.  This area is not visible to the user, but contains and supplies information to the browsing device or browser, search engines and so on.  The head tag contains the title, metatags such as the keyword list and description as well as other details.

Header or Heading
This means just what you think it does, the same as a printed document a heading for a page or paragraph.  However, in websites headings can be far more important for both search engines and users.

Heuristics, Heuristic analysis
Heuristics literally means 'rule of thumb' a heuristic analysis is carried out when the use of a system to be evaluated may be highly subjective and experience many variables or similar.  Heuristic analysis or evaluation can only be carried out by an expert or someone with a wide experience in the field.  In this context the would be used to refer to a Usability or User Experience evaluation of a website.

Heuristic evaluation
Would be carried out to try to identify potential barriers to a good user experience and prioritise actions to overcome these. 

Hierarchy or Hierarchical Structure (see also Information Architecture)
Hierarchies or hierarchical structures are often used for websites, they often represent a straightforward and convenient method of categorising and structuring information and pages in a website.  Additionally as the concept of a hierarchy has been around for thousands of years, people are familiar with them in their everyday lives, and are so prepared to work within a hierarchical structure without the need to learn a new system.

Used to be considered the standard unit of measurement for website success, the term 'hit' actually refers to a request to the server (that hosts your website) to display a file.  The term was often mistakenly understood to indicate the number of visitors.  However, if you consider that a webpage will be one file, but if it contains three pictures and your logo, they will represent four more files making 5 in all, then the site would register 5 hits, not one visitor. 

Hit Counter
A small piece of code in a website that records and displays the hits or number of visitors or a website.  A decade or so ago, it was quite normal to see hit counters on a website, or to be informed that, "You are the 7852th visitor to this site!" their use has been superseded by other technologies and in any case were a geeky toy that didn't really have a purpose other than to say you had one.  If in 2012, you encounter a web developer who offers or includes a hit counter in your website, run like the wind.

Hosting, Host
Hosting is a service provided by a company that rents or leases space on a server (computer) so that individuals, businesses or organisations can make their websites accessible via the world wide web.  The cost or scope of hosting varies with the services or functionality required.

Stands for HyperText Markup Language and is the original building block of websites, invented by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN for keeping track of his research notes.  It is still used to construct many websites, often now in conjunction with other programming languages

A function that allows a user to click and be immediately transferred to a specific predetermined destination.  A core functionality of the internet, hyperlinks are at the centre of website development and use.  Hyperlinks can be internal (from page to page in your website), external and outgoing, where you provide a link to another website; or external and incoming (see also Link Juice) where another website links to yours.



A broad term referring to pictures, these could be photographs, drawings or other types of illustrations.  Images are one of the content types that are important on a website, not only in terms of how they visually communicate to the user, also in how the alt-text and image captions are used to contribute to Search Engine Optimisation and Search Engine Marketing

Image Caption (see Caption)

Information Architecture
In the context of websites, refers to various methods and principles of organising, structuring and labelling content, bringing many principles of information and library science, visual design and architecture to play.  Good information architecture will be intuitive to the user, offering good information scent and visual cues.  It may also need to accommodate different types of user, in differing situations. Not often an easy task! 

Information scent
An important concept in information foraging theory, website users rely of various cues and clues in the information and visual environment in order to subconsciously estimate the likelihood of a particular path providing them with their goal.

A private computer network that used the same technology and methods as are used on the internet.  It usually refers to a network within an organisation, sometimes referring to the company's own website, but that contains information and resources, that are made available only to those inside the company.  Now often an important element in larger companies and organisations and a focal point for dissemination of information, other forms of communication and also for teamwork and collaboration.

Stands for Internet Service Provider, a literal description for a company that provides internet services such as internet access, web hosting and more.


Java, Javascript, Java applet/servlet
Programming languages or script languages used to create specific types of Web functionality or content, or to meet specific standards.  If you are a programmer, you will already know what they are.  If you are not, that is definitely all you want to know about them, not how they work but that they exist and that your web developer will probably talk about them e.g.
"We'll write a Javascript applet to do that, it'll be fine..."

jpeg (pronounced jaypeg) is one of the main types of image file used online. There are others, but they are less common.  Jpeg (which is an acronym for joint photographics experts group – but you don’t need to know that) are used for photographs and contone (from continuous tone) images, those which have blended and shaded tones and colours. see also


Keywords, Keyphrases
We use these terms interchangeably, the difference between the two is exactly as you would expect, a keyword is a single word, an a keyphrase contains more than one word.  They both refer to the terms that your customers use to describe your products or services the terms that are typed into search engines and hopefully result in your site being listed.

Link Farms
A group of websites that link to all the others in the group.  Used to be a popular method of creating link juice. Most are now created by automated systems. While a website will benefit (in search engine results) from inward links, the use of link farms are now considered by search engines to be spamdexing (a contraction of spamming the index) This is less likely to result in good search engine listings, and more likely to result in the website being blacklisted.

Link Juice
Geek (not Greek) slang that has fallen into common use (which is of course how many new words enter language), it refers to SEO, and in particular how inward linking (hyperlinks from other websites linking into your website) affect the success of this activity.  Link juice can come from a lot of sources, but the better respected (and therefore ranked) they are, the better the juice.

Is a business social networking website.  Launched in 2003, it is currently the leader in professional networking, with more than 90 million registered users in more than 200 countries and regions.

Local Search (see also Google Maps)
The process of searching with some geographical or regional constraints, so that the results of the search are not just to do with 'find what' but also 'find where'.  E.g. London Hotel, Car rental Glasgow. Local search systems and website are populated by advertising - whether paid or not -  from businesses that want to feature when users search for specific products and services in specific locations. This can be highly effective due to precise targeting, 

The process of accessing a restricted or private area of a website or other network or system by supplying details that identify you as a valid user.  This is often simply a username of some kind, and a password, and may include some other identifying information which would have previously supplied during a registration process. 

Login and register
Describe the inclusion in a website of a system that will allow users to register themselves as a user, then login at a later time to access specific information, or refers to the process of a user registering with the site, or logging in and a later point.


A broad term referring to a method of transmission of a communication, can refer to advertising media, digital media multimedia etc.  The may be used (in the context of a website) to describe features or content other than text or images, such as video, audio and animation.

Merchant Account
A bank account that offers the facility to accept payments by debit or credit card.

Has its roots ancient greek and literally means 'behind' or 'hidden'.  It is not a word in its own right and is always a prefix (the first part of a word).

Metadata is information about data.  Metadata in effect describes other data.

Metadata is always provided in pairs: the name, e.g. keywords; and its value or contents, e.g. the keyword list.

An item of HTML, found in the head tag of a website that contains the metadata in the form of metanames about a webpage.  Search engines use the information in metatags.

Short text used for headings and headlines, limited to approximately 40-60 characters.  Good microtext would effectively convey the content of the item it represents, offering good information scent.  It should not be deliberately cryptic (or clever, a play on words, a pun or similar).

(pronounced emmpeg) It actually stands for moving picture experts group, a committee that works to establish and maintain standards for audio and video compression (a method making files smaller so they can be distributed).  In common usage an mpeg file is a (compressed) audio or video file.

A social networking site, that was very popular, now overtaken by facebook, in early 2011 it cut its workforce by nearly half.  Myspace is continuing to 'rebrand' and reposition itself as a portal for music and other entertainment. 


Nanotext is an even shorter version of microtext, usually refers to the first two words of headings, headlines or content.  Research shows that the first 11 characters are crucial due to user behaviour, in particular how people read on the internet.


Objectives (see goals)

Online, offline
Accurately they refer to a state of connectivity relative to computer or communications technology.  In common use today, it refers to the internet, so online is on the internet, whether it is a person who is online (and is browsing the internet or looking at a website) or the marketing campaign in online (an online campaign, through a website, or social media or similar).  Offline being the opposite - not on the internet, in the real or physical world.

Online Networking (see social media)

Online profile (see profile)

Online transactions (see ecommerce, merchant account)

Open Source
Considered to be a philosophy, or a methodology, the terms describes practices of development that offer access to the end products source materials.  Open source software offers its original source code to be made available to the public (including other developers), anyone (with the skills) can modify and distribute without paying fees or royalties of any kind.   Examples include linux - operating system, moodle - open learning environment, joomla - web dev/content management systemmozilla firefox - web browser.

Optimise, Optimised, Optimisation (see also SEO)

Literally: make optimal; get the most out of; exploit fully; get the maximum use out of.  In the context of websites is often used in a phrase with 'search engine' as in 'search engine optimisation', or 'optimise for Google'.  We also use it in conjunction with user to refer to the 'optimum user experience', or more rarely 'user or customer optimised'.


Page title
The page title, an item of metadata, controls the text that is displayed in the title bar at the top of the browser window.  It also controls the first line displayed in the search engine results (Google) pages.

PayPal is a service that allows you to send and receive money online. Many websites including eBay accept paypal as a method of payment.  It can also be used to send money to anyone with an email address.  The money can either be in a paypal account, or a bank account or credit card.  The service is free to sign up, but fees charged are based on the value and who the funds are being transferred to or from.

A website that charges for access to information does so by presenting a paywall: a screen that requests payment for a one off access or a periodical subscription for continued access.  The user would then login or register to access the required information.  This applies to sources of academic or industry information, and more recently to the press, The Times newspaper introduced a paywall in 2010.

A persona is a set of information that is used to personify a target customer or similar. A fictional character is created to represent each different user type that might use a website or buy a brand or product.  They are useful in decision making where a user or customer's behaviour, needs, desires or limitations is taken into account. 

Pop-ups or Pop-up advertising
Still in the top-ten list of things that people hate about websites, a pop-up is an advert (or other information) that 'pops-up' uninvited, on top of the page you are looking at (often irritatingly blocking your view or even worse - following your mouse movements around!

A variation on the pop-up, is the when a new browser window containing an advert is opened behind what you are currently viewing, hidden under the active window. These do not interrupt the user immediately and aren't seen until the current window is closed.  They tend to cause anything from confusion (what's this? where did it come from?) to irritation in the user and are best avoided.

PPC - Pay-per-Click advertising (see also Google Adwords)
A paid advertising model, used on websites where advertisers pay the advert host when the advert is clicked, (pay per click) and the user is therefore transferred to the advertiser's website or similar.  The most popular is currently Google adwords, facebook also has pay-per-click advertising system.  Advertisers either bid on a keyword phrase (for advertising on search engines) or a fixed price may be used for content based websites. 
It is at the source of advertising income on websites and used everywhere online.

An online profile is all the information used to identify a user.  In the context of social media, it could be understood to include more than just a name or username, password and so on, but also the values of that user, their needs and limitations, what they are trying to convey and how they behave or react in given situations. 

Promotion, promotional
One of the four basic elements of the marketing mix: product, price, promotion, placement.  It refers to the communication to potential purchasers, to persuade or influence, or inform or influence a purchasing decision. 


Questions (users' questions)
Although the questions that users have when they visit websites are obviously infinite, observation of user behaviour demonstrates that they can be broken down into 4 main stages:
1. Where am I (whose website, where in the website etc)
2. What can I do here (find info, order, shop, pay, sign up etc)
3. How much (is the product, effort do I have to make, do I have to give away for the info I want etc)
4. How do I action (my purchase, enquiry, contact etc)
Understanding how these questions influence the approach to optimising the website users' experience and may be part of task analysis.


A term that refers to relationships between things: ranked higher, lower, first etc.  In the context of search, it could be understood to be related to the search engine results.  High rank and high results and achieved by a mixture of techniques and activities, including keyword density, and inbound links (link juice) among other things.

A general term, any physical or virtual element, that might be renewal or non-renewable that is of limited availability but needs to be consumed in order to produce an outcome and hopefully gain benefit.  In this context, we would consider resources to be time, money and expertise. 

Retweet (RT)
A mechanism in twitter that allows users to re-post another twitter users content, while indicating that it is from another user.  It is both a means of user commentary, and a useful way to promote content as well as measure audience reaction.

Review (see website evaluation)

Robots (see web crawler)

ROI - Return on Investment
Usually expressed as a percentage, is the ratio of money (or other resources) gained (or lost) on some kind of investment.

A system used fr providing users with frequently updated content such as news items or blog posts.  The provider offers a feed link to which users register (sign up) and the content is then displayed automatically and viewed via a reader program on their own computer, or website.


A term that is used to describe a potential situation or projected course or action usually lined to an event.  Scenario development is used in many kinds of planning, including websites, to guide decisions and test strategies.

A term meaning 'look' or 'look for'.  Search is now the most common way of a user finding a website, and often used within websites to locate the desired destination, information, or product.  Search and browse are the fundamental ways in which people use the internet.

Search Engine
A website that offers to opportunity to search for information based on keywords or keyphrases.  The results are usually offered as some kind of ranked or prioritised list and may contain websites, images, and other types of files.  Some search engines can also access information inside databases or social media. 

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
A form of, or factor in internet marketing that promotes websites by increasing visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs).  This could be through a number of techniques including search engine optimisation (SEO), or some paid inclusion or contextual advertising such as Google Adwords.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

The process of using a variety of methods to improve the visibility of a website (Or webpage in the search engine results.  Refers to the 'natural' or algorithmic listings, not the paid or sponsored listing or results.  SEO is not enough on its own to create online success, it should be used as part of a whole strategy.  That said, SEO is an essential success factor and should not be neglected.  SEO has suffered in recent times from bad press, due mainly to unscrupulous practitioners who make unsustainable offers or promises and whose short term results may appear to be good, but often end up in bans or blacklisting.  If someone offers to 'guarantee' you results, then run a mile, no-one can guarantee results in any type of business.

Secure Server
If your website is to carry out financial transactions such as credit or debit cards, then this type of information needs to be encrypted and on a secure web server.  Your ISP (internet service provider) or web developer would organise this on your behalf.

Server (see Web server)

In the context of a website, this refers to a facility seen on websites that allows (and by its presence encourages) users to share the webpage's content with others using social media such as delicious, digg, twitter or linkedin.  Often indicated by the word 'share' or a group of icons.

Shopping Cart / Basket
An essential and integral part of ecommerce, the shopping cart or basket is used as a mental model for the user to more easily understand the concept of what is happening (there is no actual physical shopping cart or basket, or maybe there is sometimes when you order groceries..) when they purchase goods on a website.

One of a number of programming languages used to create specific types of Web functionality or to meet specific standards, in this case on the web server side of things.  If you are a programmer, you will already know what they are.  If you are not, that is definitely all you want to know about them, not how they work but that they exist and that your web developer might talk about them e.g.
"They probably use an SHTML script for that,"

Site Map
The term site map can refer to a list of web pages, accessible to search engine robots or spiders that index your website, or that is available to your website users as a reference, or map to what they are looking for (if all else fails). 

It might also refer to a document used in website planning, often organised in a hierarchical or semi-hierarchical structure.

Social Buying
Social buying sites, such as Groupon, BuyWithMe and LivingSocial, offer discount deals via a concept of "collective buying". The sites operate in slightly different ways, but they all deliver customers to retailers in return for a cut of the total revenue, while they build customer bases by offering good deals.

Daily e-mail offers go out to subscribers, discounts are valid for a set period e.g. 24 hours, and typically the voucher for the item purchased will be valid for a year.

The website operator will then pay the merchant directly, after taking a cut.

Expansion has been very fast during the last year or so, and looks set to continue at a rapid pace into next year. With a both simple and lucrative business model, other sites that are expected to grow include Groop Swoop, TownHog and eWinWin

Social Media
Internet and other Technology used for social interaction, where communication becomes interactive dialogue.  Built on the concept and foundations of Web 2.0.  There are many different types including: social networking sites, blogging and microblogging, content communities, wikis and collaborative projects, virtual communities and virtual games

Social Network, Social Networking
An online platform or service that offers the facilities and functionality for individual users to build a interaction with a network of social contact among people.  Often there is a base of some common interest or thread.  Most interaction takes place on the internet, or via email or instant messaging.  Social networking sites offer users the opportunity to share information, ideas, activities, events and interests among other things.  The most popular social network sites include Facebook, and the social network for professionals Linkedin.

The use of email and other digital messaging systems to send unsolicited and unwanted bulk messages indiscriminately.  The volume of spam is exceptionally high, and the subject of legislation in many areas, although die to low operating costs and barriers to entry, together with the difficulties involved in identifying and holding to account the distributors, spamming remains economically viable and so continues.

Spam filter
A system for sorting email input against criteria,  specifically for the removal of spam.  Rejection of spam uses a number of techniques, the main problem of which is false positives, where a valid email to a user who might wish to recieve a message, or may even have opted in, is filtered out by an automated system.  Email marketing techniques are used to minimise the likelihood of this occurring.

Spiders (see web crawler)

Statistics, website statistics, (see Google analytics)

The name given to words that are filtered out from text in search terms, e.g. idf a search was made on the term: 'The Book of Instructions', the search processing would 'stop' and filter out 'the' and 'of' searching only on 'instructions' and 'book' This is to eliminate very common words that have no specific 'keyword' meaning.

Strategy, Strategic Planning
The process of developing a plan of action to achieve a particular outcome.  Derived from military usage.

Website strategic planning would include identifying and setting objectives for the website to meet or contribute to business or organisational goals, identifying and profiling customers, researching the industry, direct and indirect competitors activities, and other activities that will enable the development of a website specification and design brief, together with a promotional or similar plan

Structure, website structure (see information architecture)


Tasks (user tasks)
A task is an objective or question that a user might seek to complete on a website.  Tasks can be very simple: find the phone number, to complex, compare the specifications of a range of high-tech products and determine the best value for money, then purchase.  The important thing to realise is that website users are task-driven.

Task analysis
The process of identifying and analysing the probable and desired tasks that a user might need to complete in order to meet the website's objectives (and therefore the business's objectives) or the tasks that a user independently or unexpectedly sets out to complete.

Testing, (see also user testing, heuristic evaluation)
The concept of testing exists in all product design, but in the world of website design is far less often practiced to any great extent.  Testing can take place on a number of levels: technical - does it actually function on a technical level, or are there any errors in the site under every circumstance that it might possibly be subjected to.  See also user testing and heuristic evaluation

The most common form of communication on the internet.  Text is the main content that is found on most websites, in addition to images, and other media such as video.  One of the advantages of text, is that a search engine can read it, and therefore it can contribute to the success of Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

Tweet, Tweeting
A tweet is a text micro-blog post of up to 140 characters (the same as a text message) that are distributed by twitter and displayed on a users page (on twitter) or on compatible devices (such as a smartphone with a suitable app) or SMS.  Tweeting is the action of sending a tweet.

A website launched in July 2006 that has gained popularity at an exponential rate and has nearly 200 million users.  It is a social networking and micro-blogging service, users can send or read messages - called tweets.


Upload, or Uploading (see also download)
Uploading is the process of transmitting or sending data to some remote system, in this context from a website (or more accurately a web server that is hosting a website).  A upload occurs when a website is updated in content or otherwise.

Also know (inaccurately) as the domain name, a website is addressed via a URL (stands for Uniform resource locator, but you are not likely to need to know that).  A URL commonly takes the form of www.yourcompanyname.domain, e.g., or .

URL shortener or shortening
A technique or tool to make a URL substantially shorter in length.  This might be useful in order for it to be used where there is a restriction on a number of characters - such as twitter.

Refers to how easy it is to use or learn to use something, usability is a quality factor in everything that is made by people (as opposed to naturally occurring) and so would include everything from informational signage to a door handle, and from a coffee machine to a car.  Website usability specifically includes how effectively the interaction between a user and a website occurs (or might occur)
and is examined on many levels including the structure of the information, the navigation systems and the nature and construction of the actual content and more.

The person who is using a website.  From a business objectives viewpoint this term could be substituted with 'customer' or 'stakeholder'.

User centred design
User centred design seeks to develop products that are based around what users (customers) need, want or more specifically will easily use, as opposed to assuming that the user will change their behaviour or learn how to use it.   Some user centred design however, might seek to improve the overall or long term system of interaction and therefore behaviour as it is more efficient or intuitive, or examine natural behaviour and develop new concepts based on this.  An example of this might be the development of a graphic user interface (with a mouse and icons) for using a computer instead of memorised and typed commands. Or the touch-screen interface of a smartphone superseding the old numbers on buttons keypad.

User Experience
User experience is highly subjective as it not only includes practical aspects such as ease of use (usability) and efficiency of a system, but also looks at the experiential, affective and value aspects related to the user's perceptions and even feelings.  It is a dynamic concept and related to changes over time, differing users and the context in which something is used.

User testing
The process of testing a website's usability by observing users - who ideally would be as close as possible to the website's target customer - carrying out sample or representative tasks, and then measuring and/or evaluating the results.


Technology that records, processes, stores or transmits sequences of images that when viewed at an appropriate speed give the illusion of motion.

Video Streaming (or streaming video)
Multimedia that is presented to or viewed by the user while it is still being downloaded or delivered to the viewing technology.  In other words, where a user does not have to wait until the whole of the video file has been downloaded before starting to watch it.  This is very very common now, and most internet users will have seen this without really realising what was happening.

Viral Marketing
A buzzword that refers to a marketing technique (or more strictly, a marketing outcome - a campaign can 'go viral', be clear that viral is a result, not an activity) that is used to achieve a marketing objective - such as increase in sales or brand awareness - through some kind of self-replication, in the manner of a virus.  A viral campaign might include the use of video, games, distribution of images, text messages and more in order to promote word of mouth distribution, enhanced by social networking technology. 

Visited Links
When a hyperlink has been clicked on and destination reached, that page or destination is considered to be 'visited'

Visited hyperlink colour
An HTML facility and an attribute of a webpage that allows hyperlinks to be assigned a specific colour once their destination has been visited by the user.  A much underestimated advantage when it comes to the the user orienting themselves on a website, and out of fashion with web designers at present.  The result of the absence of visited link colours is very difficult to observe, but user testing is conclusive, that without them, users miss out a substantial portion of a website, revisited pages over and over while following their own misguided logic. 


Web 2.0
The term is associated with user generated content as opposed to users being only consumers of content supplied by others.  Social media, blogs and micro-blogs, video sharing, wikis and more.

Web or Website Address (see URL)

Web Analytics (see also Google Analytics)

Web crawler
A program that is used by search engines to provide up-to-date data.  The programs, also described as spiders or robots, automatically visit pages and the destinations of hyperlinks on those pages, create a copy for later processing and indexing, which allows search engines to provide fast responses to searches.  The term can also be used to describe other uses, such as harvesting email addresses to be used as spam or similar.

Web Designer
Used interchangeably with website developer, it refers to a person or company that produces websites.  Those who call themselves web designers are usually from a design background and may (or may not) be formally trained in graphic design or similar discipline.

Web Developer
Used interchangeably with website designer, it refers to a person or company that produces websites.  Those who call themselves web developers are usually from a technology background and may (or may not) be formally trained in software development or similar discipline.

An individual page in a website.

Web Server
In order for your web site to be available to the world, it needs to be stored it on a web server. Most companies use an ISP to provide this, often arranged by your web developer. 

A collection of web pages that link via a system of hyperlink to each other in some relationship or architecture.  A website can consist of numerous pages, elements, media or functions that are organised together in an architecture that is designed to meet the needs of the website's target users (customers).

Website Design Brief
Detailed instructions and information given to a website designer or developer that provide the background information, specification and requirements for the website. Not to be underestimated in its importance, more websites that fail to meet their objectives are produced due to the lack of a suitable or detailed brief (or lack of any brief at all) than possibly any other reason.  This warranted an entire chapter in the book INTERNET MARKETING How to get a website that works for your business. A website design brief template is also included in this website, however, its use is most effective in conjunction with the book and our website planning training course.

Website Evaluation
We use the term website evaluation to refer to an assessment and evaluation process that examines a website against user experience or website usability criteria, standards and research and aims to identify barriers or problems that are likely to arise in its use by the target (and other) user groups.

Website Planning
Crucial for the success of any website, whether for the promotion of a business, the dissemination of information for a public sector application or where the website is the business.  Lack of website planning can only result in failure.  Planning should include a series of stages, including objective setting, feasibility, customer profiling, competitor research, specification/design brief development, and so on.


Programming languages used to create specific types of Web functionality or content, or to meet specific standards.  If you are a programmer, you will already know what they are.  If you are not, that is definitely all you want to know about them, not how they work but that they exist and that your web developer will probably talk about them e.g. "We'll need to use XHTML to do that, OK."


Youtube was the first major and is still the most popular video sharing website.  Online since 2005, users can view video, upload their own videos and share them with others including embedding them into other websites.  Now owned by Google, Youtube is an excellent example of success of a web 2.0, user-generated content website.  While much of the content is provided by individuals, many businesses, multinational corporations and marketing professionals use YouTube as a promotional platform or as part of a social media campaign.


From the german zeit=time and geist=spirit, it broadly translates to 'the spirit of the times' and is used to indicate trends in activity or otherwise, it refers to a general cultural or social climate, political or intellectual direction or general ambience or mood associated with an era or other time period. From our viewpoint in the context of this glossary, the Google zeitgeist is published each year and is a categorised list of the most popular search terms, which might (accurately or otherwise) be used to make some judgement of online activity - for the previous year - and through this some observed trend, or theoretically for predicting activities in the coming year.

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