Our FAQs and Glossary pages are a portal into the wide world of digital marketing. You can find definitions of common terms here, or return to home base at Resources.

Curious to discover ioCreative’s own digital marketing services? See our pages on SEO, Branding, Content Marketing, CRO, Website Development, and Web Property Management; they’re full of stars.

ioCreative Glossary

301 Redirect

A form of redirection that sends users to a web page’s current address from a former address. 301 redirects let search engines maintain the page’s original rankings.

A/B Test

The act of testing visually different versions of web page or conversion form on users to determine which performs best for conversion rate optimization.


A computer program that allows search engines to rank and display web pages on SERPs based on SEO-related factors.

Alt Text

The HTML field that describes an image’s contents. Alt text aids search engines with no other means of discerning images, and lets visually-impaired users with screen readers know what the images display.


A term that refers to collecting and analyzing data on user behavior, as well as the programs (e.g. Google Analytics) that make this analysis possible. Analytics is key to optimizing site design, marketing campaigns, and personas.

Anchor Text

The clickable text attached to a link. Anchor text should describe the linked page with keywords in order to benefit SEO, and change color upon clicking to benefit website design.


A form of credit that websites receive from search engines when other credited sites link to them, improving the linked site’s search ranking and authority in turn.

Synonyms: Trust


An acronym for “business-to-business”, an ecommerce transaction between professionals over extended buying cycles. It is typically more expensive than B2C.


An acronym for “business-to-consumer”, an ecommerce transaction between consumers and businesses over brief buying cycles. It is typically less expensive than B2B.

A link from one website to another. Earning relevant backlinks to gain authority is an SEO strategy called link building.

Synonyms: Inbound Link

Black Hat SEO

A term for unethical SEO strategies that search engines (e.g. Google’s Webmaster Guidelines) penalize, as opposed to the allowed white hat SEO.


A website area in which contributors publish content related to a company’s priorities, usually through an open-source Content Management System. Blogs ideally improve SEO via keyword rankings and additional landing pages, and content marketing via the posts’ value to users. The term “blog” originated as an abbreviation of “weblog”.


(See: Crawler)


The establishment of a company’s identity through graphic design, user experience, and brand awareness outreach such as content marketing.

A horizontal bar above site content allowing users to navigate the site and view their current position.


The part of a conversion form that encourages leads to take the desired action, usually after offering something valuable in return.

Canonical URL

An HTML element specifying the preferred URL for duplicate content that otherwise has multiple URLs. Search engines transfer the content’s rankings to the canonical URL whereas duplicate content otherwise ranks poorly.


The black hat SEO strategy of displaying different content between users and crawlers. Search engines may ban sites from results pages for cloaking.


The contest between businesses over leads or keywords, sometimes used synonymously with “competitor”. Competitor behavior often factors into analytics.

Content Management System

Web-based programs such as WordPress that allow webmasters to publish content such as blogs and websites over an established foundation of code, requiring little HTML knowledge.

Synonyms: CMS


The consumable information of a website (e.g. text, audio, video, images). On-page SEO operates on the content, and content marketing attracts leads through valuable content.

Content Marketing

The practice of marketing through compelling content on blogs and other official publications. Content marketing benefits brand awareness by offering valuable user experience to leads who may develop brand loyalty as a result. See our Content Marketing page for more information.


A user’s completion of a measurable goal on a web page, such as sales, subscriptions, and downloads.

Conversion Rate

The percentage of conversions per visitor traffic. Dividing conversions by visitors and multiplying by 100 yields this percentage.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Improvement of a site’s conversion rate through strategic changes in website design and content. A/B tests, satisfaction surveys, and analytics benefit CRO by showing which versions of a website perform best. See our Conversion Rate Optimization page for more information.

Synonyms: CRO


A program that indexes web pages and gathers information on them for search engines.

Synonyms: Bot, Spider


An acronym for “Cascading Style Sheets”, a text-based stylesheet language that determines how style features such as color and font will appear when web browsers render HTML as web pages.

Deep Linking

A link to pages other than the site’s home page, which strengthens link building by making these into landing pages.


A paid or unpaid registry of websites. Directories such as Yahoo! Directory and Dmoz categorize businesses and relay their contact information, improving their visibility in local search particularly.


A website’s main address, every web page branching off it. Long-running domains tend to rank well.

Duplicate Content

Content identical or very similar to content from other websites or web pages. Duplicate content tends to rank poorly, but a canonical URL can resolve this for one’s own duplicate content.


Online buying or selling of products and services. Businesses based primarily on ecommerce, such as online retailers, benefit most from national SEO.

(See: Natural Link)

Email Marketing

Any form of marketing that sends messages to leads through a list of their email addresses. Businesses often build this list from opt-in forms subject to conversion rate optimization, and often choose email marketing for its high ROI and potential to keep customers updated. See our Website Development page for more information.


Content displayed on a web page before users scroll down. Google’s Page Layout Algorithm penalizes pages with too many ads above the fold.


The new practice of establishing a virtual perimeter around a physical location. Digital marketers often use geofencing to trigger advertisements on visitors’ mobile technology. See our Conversion Rate Optimization page for more information.


The increasingly common practice of delivering localized marketing content to leads through tracking of a target’s physical location via their smartphone location services. See our Conversion Rate Optimization page for more information.


The internationally dominant search engine founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Google made crawlers and algorithms the norm for search engines, which previously relied on directories. Other search engines include Bing, Yahoo, Wolfram Alpha, and Duck Duck Go.


Text that goes through a heading tag, from H1-H6, to appear larger on a web page. Headings often incorporate keywords to benefit SEO.


A designated web page that links users to all pages on a specific topic or keyword, often receiving updates and internal links from relevant pages.


A 2013 Google search algorithm that prioritizes authentic content in search rankings by studying the semantic context around keywords.


An acronym for “Hypertext Markup Language”, a text-based markup language that both search engines and users can read. An HTML file contains all the content of a web page, and associated CSS files determine how web browsers will display the content visually. SEO involves strategic uses of HTML tags.

(See: Backlink)


A search engine’s database of information that crawlers collect from web pages.

Information Architecture

The organizational and navigational structure of a website. Webmasters often build taxonomies on top of information architecture to create additional navigation.


A programming language that lets administrators add interactive content to websites, but can adversely affect loading because crawlers have difficulty indexing it.


The most important word or phrase in a web page’s content. Sites have effective SEO when their keywords match users’ relevant search queries, and keyword research is the method of identifying such keywords.

Keyword Density

The percentage of keywords per words on a page. This measurement no longer benefits SEO, and search engines penalize sites with abnormally high keyword density.

Keyword Research

The SEO practice of finding and implementing keywords to optimize a website’s search rankings for the terms. Relevance, search volume, and competition all play a role in choosing keywords. Various methods and tools exist for conducting keyword research.

Keyword Stuffing

The practice of increasing a web page’s keyword density through artificial repetition of keywords. Google penalizes keyword stuffing.

Landing Page

Any web page that users find and access through a SERP, especially the home page. SEO aims to make all pages into potential landing pages, and landing pages aim to attract leads and conversions.

Latent Semantic Indexing

Search engines’ indexing of commonly related words. Algorithms such as Hummingbird determine content’s authenticity based on LSI, allowing them to catch keyword stuffing when keywords have few related terms surrounding them. Long tail keywords often factor into LSI.

Synonyms: LSI


A prospective customer or client. Digital marketing strategies such as content marketing attract leads by offering something valuable (e.g. information, free samples) in exchange for potential conversions.

An HTML element that sends users from one web page or page section to another when clicked. Backlinks in particular benefit the SEO strategy of link building.

The SEO practice of earning backlinks from relevant, high-authority websites. Websites with many backlinks rank highly and earn authority. Link building methods include guest blogging and other partnerships, earning natural links through effective content marketing, appearing in directories, and paying for links.

Local SEO

A form of SEO that most benefits primarily-local businesses, such as brick-and-mortar establishments -as opposed to national SEO. Local SEO relies heavily on long tail keywords and geotargeting. See our Local versus National SEO page for more information.

Long Tail Keyword

A highly specific series of words with low competition and search volume. Local businesses benefit from targeting long tail keywords because searchers with specific needs are more likely to convert.


Data that describes websites’ content to search engines.

Meta Description

The description of web page that SERPs display. Contributors often input meta descriptions in order to use keywords and engage users. Otherwise, search engines automatically generate meta descriptions from the page’s content.

Meta Keywords

Meta tags that list individual web pages’ keywords for search engines to survey. Algorithms no longer take this tag into account when ranking pages.

Meta Tags

Information in HTML code that describes web pages to search engines.

National SEO

A form of SEO that most benefits primarily-national businesses, such as online retailers reliant on ecommerce -as opposed to local SEO. National SEO relies heavily on branding. See our Local versus National SEO page for more information.

A backlink that one website earns from another without having requested it.

Synonyms: Editorial Link


An optional meta tag that instructs crawlers not to pass authority onto a linked web page. Nofollow links and follow links are visually identical, however.

Off-Page SEO

SEO practices that improve search rankings through outreach rather than page content, as opposed to on-page SEO. They include link building, content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing.

On-Page SEO

SEO practices that improve search rankings through page content rather than outreach, as opposed to off-page SEO. They include keyword research, content marketing, correct HTML use, and information architecture.

The unpaid results on SERPs, as opposed to PPC ads. Effective SEO attunes pages to algorithms so that they appear first in the SERPs.


A 2011 Google algorithm that penalizes plagiarism in duplicate content.


A 2012 Google algorithm that penalizes keyword stuffing and artificial backlinks from sites without authority.


A dynamic characterization of a business’ target audience based on demographic and behavioral data and company goals.


An acronym for “pay-per-click”. PPC is advertising one’s website through Google AdWords and other venues that one pays whenever users click ads on SERPs. These venues let businesses bid on keywords based on competition, cost, and search volume. Like SEO, PPC is a form of search engine marketing that requires analytics and compelling copywriting. However, PPC has consistently proven to be more expensive than SEO. See our Website Development page for more information.

Reputation Management

The maintenance of a business’ good reputation. The term “reputation management” originated in public relations, whose specialists aim to make businesses’ official websites and positive mentions the first search results while addressing criticism transparently and taking action against libel. See our Website Development page for more information.

Return On Investment

A measure of the net return per cost of a given investment. Analytics software divide revenue by cost and multiply by 100 to determine ROI.

Synonyms: ROI


A text file that restricts crawlers from indexing certain parts of a website such as admin pages or duplicate content.

Search Engine

A computer program that lets users access indexed web pages based on relevant search queries. Search engines use crawlers to index pages and algorithms to rank them. The two forms of search engine marketing, SEO and PPC, rely on inferences as to how the algorithms work. Google, Yahoo, and Bing are the most popular search engines.

Search Engine Marketing

A term encompassing both SEO and PPC, the two forms of marketing via search engines. Both let landing pages appear in the SERPs, but PPC is paid while SEO is unpaid.

Synonyms: SEM


An acronym for “Search Engine Optimization”, the goal and practice of improving a website’s visibility in SERPs. Searchers tend not to look past the first results page, so SEO is crucial for increasing a site’s traffic and conversion rate optimization. SEO has two components, on-page SEO and off-page SEO. The first improves search rankings through website development strategies such as keyword research, the second through outreach strategies such as link building.

National SEO and local SEO involve different strategies depending on a business’ regional scope. Search engines designate tactics as white hat SEO or black hat SEO based on whether or not they are allowed. Like CRO, SEO requires knowledge of analytics and personas in order to keep up with search engine and user behavior. See our “What is SEO?” page for more information.


An acronym for “Search Engine Results Page”, the search engine page that displays the most highly-ranked search results to users based on particular queries.

Site Map

A list of every page on a website. Webmaster-generated HTML sitemaps aid in users’ navigation whereas automatically-generated XML sitemaps aid in search engines’ indexing.


An acronym for “social media marketing”, any form of marketing that utilizes social media platforms. SMM can greatly improve brand awareness for national and local businesses alike, but involves a dynamic interplay of analytics, personas, and marketing goals. See our Website Development page for more information.

Social Media

Online platforms that let users and businesses alike share and generate content. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+ are commonly noted examples in the field of SMM.


(See: Crawler)


The practice of labeling and categorizing site content, usually by topic or type. Taxonomies such as “tags” or “related content” let users navigate the site in addition to the overarching information architecture. See our Website Development page for more information.

Title Tag

An HTML meta tag providing the web page’s title, which users view in search results and the browser’s title bar. Title tags ideally use relevant keywords and describe pages straightforwardly.


(See: Authority)


An acronym for “uniform resource locator”, the string of letters pointing to a website’s permanent address. Canonical URLs ensure that pages rank well.


The ease of using a given consumer product. User experience relies on both the usability and desirability of a product.

User Experience

A user’s impression of a product based on its usability and desirability. In website development, UX designers aim to make website design, information architecture, and content as intuitive and engaging as possible. See our Website Development page for more information.

Synonyms: UX


(See: User Experience)

Website Development

Any work that goes into creating a website, from coding to content creation. SEO, content marketing, and conversion rate optimization work in conjunction with website development. See our Website Development page for more information.

White Hat

SEO practices that Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and other search engine guidelines permit, as opposed to the prohibited black hat SEO.


Our Earth Office

1200 Old Fairhaven Parkway, Suite 103
Bellingham, WA 98225
(360) 384-4640


Make Contact