If you have ever met with a web designer or a digital marketing team to talk about a website, you’ve no doubt heard some unfamiliar terms. After all, you probably don’t work with websites everyday like they do. It’s important for the web/digital team to remember that this language is not in your everyday vocabulary. So, if they don’t pause to clarify certain terms or acronyms, it’s up to you to either ask them or refer to this guide.
In this article our goal is to help you understand what some of these terms and acronyms mean. So the next time you meet with website guru, you can be more confident in the conversation.
From ‘A Record’ to ‘Z-Index’
An A Record is used to point a logical domain name, such as henkinschultz.com to an IP address identified on a server. Websites like IPVoid.com allow you to type in any website url to find out it’s IP address.
A blog is an online journal or informational website that displays information in the reverse chronological order, with latest posts appearing first. A blog is a platform where a writer or even a group of writers share their views on an individual subject. Blogs can also be referred to or used for a news area on a website. You are reading a blog article right now.
A bounce refers to when someone comes to your website and immediately leaves without clicking on anything or spending more than a few seconds on the page. The rate is a percentage of visitors that do just that – leave quickly! Depending on who you ask and what the purpose of your website is, anything less than 10% is considered great. That means 9/10 visitors engage with your website and browse at least one more page before leaving. It’s important not to get too bummed out if you have a high bounce rate. You may only have a one-page website, or many of your visitors merely need your address or phone number which is displayed right there when the site loads.
Pre-installed on every computer, a browser is a program with a graphical user interface for displaying HTML files, used to navigate the World Wide Web. The most popular are Chrome, Safari and Firefox. Internet Explorer is still widely used most likely because Windows computers still have it as the default browser and people are afraid to change it.
Internet Explorer and its counterpart Edge, continue to see a decline due to a lack of rendering capabilities. In December of 2018, in a blog post by Joe Blefiore, Corporate VP of Windows, seemed to acknowledge this when he stated that “we intend to adopt the Chromium open source project in the development of Microsoft Edge on the desktop to create better web compatibility for our customers and less fragmentation of the web for all web developers.”
A Content Management System is a software framework that facilitates creating, editing, organizing, and publishing content. Today, building from a CMS is how most websites are built. Popular CMS frameworks include WordPress, Squarespace, Wix and Joomla!.
Call to Action – When people visit your website, you should try to guide them by telling them what you want them to do. You could direct them to a product or service page, a contact form or a free download with email submission.
Cascading Style Sheet – Remember when all website links were in royal blue, Times New Roman font? Thanks to CSS, you can change that blue to any color imaginable and the font to any web-friendly font as well. You can turn square pictures to circles, and position or animate almost any element on a webpage as you wish, with a little CSS knowledge. Without CSS, there is no design in web design.
Henkinschultz.com, google.com, facebook.com and a million others. While .com’s are the most popular extension, you’ll also be offered .net, .org, and at the time of this post’s publishing, about 277 other extensions. With so many extension options, you’re sure to find something that fits your business.
The Domain Name System is what links the domain name you type into your browser address bar, like amazon.com, to the IP address where that site, with all its files and databases is located – on a server. DNS is where you will also find your records for email and other domain settings. DNS is most commonly kept at the domain registrar or your hosting provider.
File Transfer Protocol is the system you use for uploading and downloading files to a website. If your website uses a CMS, most website owners don’t have to use FTP, and can easily log in to their site right within a browser to make most content changes.
Google Analytics is a free service where you can get stats on your website performance. How many people visit your website each day? How long do they spend on a page? What are your most popular pages? Get answers to these questions and so much more. By having Google Analytics on your website, you can track your performance over time and employ different strategies that can improve your website, and ultimately your business.
Hypertext Markup Language is the most basic website language/code for websites. There’s a good chance you’ve seen such code before. Some high schools now even teach it as a part of their curriculum.
The Internet connects a bunch of servers (kind of like big computers) that store website files and databases. Servers have IP addresses, similar to street addresses – mapped out all together – we have the World Wide Web.
In order to have a live website, you have to have hosting for it. Just owning a domain like thesmithfamily.com doesn’t mean you automatically have an active website. Compare it to having a cell phone number, but no cell phone service.
Hosting prices range from a few dollars to a few hundred a month, depending on how much space you need and other factors. Beware – you often get what you pay for with the lower price options – a slow loading website, or even worse one that often goes down.
Navigation menus on a website are a group of links to help a user navigate a website. Generally one or two menus is found at the top of a website containing links such as Home, About, FAQs and Contact. Footer menus are also common on websites where supplemental pages are conveniently listed for users.
When you want to purchase a domain name, a domain registrar is what you need. There are several domain registrars that can sell you your ideal domain – whether it ends in .com, .org, .co and the list goes on as mentioned earlier.
The most popular registrars include GoDaddy, Bluehost, and HostGator, which ironically are also domains themselves. You can look to spend between $18 and $50 annually to own a domain.
Did you know?
Some people buy domains and hope to sell them for a profit, better known as domain flipping. According to a post by GoDaddy, some of the most expensive domains that ever sold include:
• CarInsurance.com — $49.7 million
• Insurance.com — $35.6 million
• VacationRentals.com — $35 million
• PrivateJet.com — $30.18 million
• Internet.com — $18 million
When you search terms on the Internet with a browser or an app, you are using a search engine. The most popular by far is Google, followed by Bing, and a few others.
Search Engine Optimization is the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of organic results returned by a search engine when keywords are typed in.
Apple.com is not about apples – Apple, the technology company, sells phones, computers, music and more. The content on their site reflects that. If the content on their site was about apples, they would appear on a search engine for possibly apple trees, apple sauce or whatever their content is about. They also have thousands of external product websites that are pointing back to apple.com, which helps them stay on top the search engines for what they do and what they sell.
SEO strategists must always be looking for ways to move their clients’ sites up to the the top of search engine results pages (SERPs). SEO strategy is a full-time job that requires research, strategy and creative thinking.
Search Engine Marketing refers to paid marketing on search engines where businesses pay to show their ads within the search results. It is also referred to as PPC (pay-per-click) ads.
When Internet users type in keywords or key phrases and hit ‘search’ a Search Engine Result Page is displayed. All website owners should strive to be at the top of the SERPs for specific keywords and key phrases. For example, a local hair salon would hope that their website loads at the top of a Google or Bing SERP when someone types in Sioux Falls hair salon.
A slug is the part of a URL which identifies a particular page on a website in an easy to read form. It’s the path that leads to a particular page, which explains what the content will be about. henkinschultz.com/melissa-doyle or henkinschultz.com/2018/05/guide-digital-marketing-acronyms-terms/ are just two examples.
User Interface and User Experience – The interface refers to the layout of a webpage or app on a computer, phone, TV or any other digital screen. Facebook often updates its user interface to improve the user experience. User experience is how one interacts with the user interface. Whether you like it or not, UI/UX designers are continuously trying to improve the layout of websites, apps and every other piece of existing technology.
A Uniform Resource Locator is the file address of a resource on the Internet. A URL goes a bit further than just a domain, as it can represent a web page, an image, a video, a style sheet, and much more.
A What You See Is What You Get program is an editor that lets you bypass writing HTML code and simply design a web page as you see it. WYSIWYG editors are convenient for website editors that have no knowledge of HTML or CSS code. If you are looking for precision or make a lot of web updates, it’s best to familiarize yourself with HTML and CSS.
Most people who don’t work with CSS on a regular basis will never have to worry about or fight with the z-index on their website, but it’s fun to have a ‘Z’ term in this guide. The z-index property specifies the stack order of an element on a website. An element with greater stack order is always in front of an element with a lower stack order. A logo that is static when a website is scrolled will have a higher z-index then the rest of the content to ensure it is always visible.
Interested in Learning More?
Hopefully this guide to website terms and acronyms has helped you understand how your website and the Internet, in general, work. Of course, there are several other terms that are not listed here, but the basics are included, and we hope you found them useful and easy to understand.
If you found this article helpful, feel free to share it with your colleagues and friends. You can also check out it’s sister blog post – A Guide to Digital Marketing Acronyms & Terms where you can brush up on those terms.