The Ultimate Guide To Online Marketing Terms and Definitions



Whether you’re interested in affiliate marketing or some other forms of online marketing, it can really help if you understand online marketing terms and definitions. In this post we’ll be covering quite a few of the most common terms, so you have a marketing glossary to refer to.

So let’s get right into it.


Online Marketing Terms and Definitions


A/B Testing

This is where you will run tests between two different promotional versions of the same thing. It could be landing pages on your website or two Facebook Ads. The idea is to find out which one performs better and then focus on that one.


Above the Fold

Once a website has loaded on the computer or other device, the area of the page that’s immediately visible on screen is termed “above the fold”. It’s what you first see without having to scroll.


Ad Exchange

An ad exchange is a platform that helps connect advertisers with publishers, or people who operate websites. This allows publishers to earn money by displaying ads for the advertisers and the ad exchange takes a cut.



Also known as a merchant, the advertiser is a company that has an affiliate program, where affiliates can earn commissions promoting the company’s products or services.



Some people refer to adware as spyware, but it’s not always necessarily the case. Adware is free software that comes with advertising. The trade off is the user gets the software (maybe a game) for free, but as a consequence, has to put up with intermittent ads.



As an affiliate, you agree to recommend and promote products in return for a predetermined commission if action (such as a sale) is taken. In order to earn a commission, the referred customer must have clicked through on your unique affiliate link.


Affiliate Link

When you enter into any affiliate program, you’ll have your very own unique affiliate link or links, which identify you as the referring affiliate. This way the company knows who to credit with the lead or sale.


Affiliate Manager

Most merchants offering an affiliate program will need a person to liaise with the team of affiliates, answering questions, escalating issues and so on. This person is known as the affiliate manager. Generally it’s the affiliate manager who’ll reach out with news of new promotions, email swipes and so on.


Affiliate Network

Places like ClickBank and Commission Junction are affiliate networks, where merchants offer their products for affiliate members to promote. It’s like a one stop platform where affiliates can find all sorts of offers in many different niches to promote.


Affiliate Program

An affiliate program is usually a term associated with companies running their own affiliate program, rather than going through an affiliate network. You as the affiliate join their affiliate program and then start promoting the company’s products or services. As mentioned earlier, the affiliate program will be overseen by an affiliate manager. Affiliate software will be used by the program to run things and track the actions of affiliates.


Alt Text (Images)

When placing images on a webpage, there are sections you can fill out in the image data for the title of the image, description, caption and alt (alternate) text. Search engines often check the alt text to understand what the image is about and will index it.


Anchor Text

Anchor texts refers to text on a page that’s been turned into a hyperlink. It is the actual clickable text, and again can be an important SEO aspect so Google and co understand the linked content.


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Backlinks are second on the list of important ranking factors that Google uses to rank pages and sites. Backlinks occur when people link back to your content, either from another site, social media, forums and so forth. The number one factor Google looks for is quality content.


Banner Ads

One of the most common ways people advertise online is with a banner add, usually fairly colourful to stand out and a message that’s to the point. While still extremely widespread and likely always will be, banner ads are not as effective as they once were, as internet users these days tend to suffer from “banner blindness” because they’ve been exposed to so many of them.


Black Hat SEO

These are illegal SEO tactics used in a bid to manipulate search engine results and artificially rank higher in organic search. While still in practice, it’s getting harder to adopt black hat SEO and get away with it before receiving a penalty from Google.



These days blogging is more about building out a website with quality content than it is about personal blogging. Now a blogger is more of a webmaster, especially when you’re using your blog for affiliate marketing purposes. Blogs are also a form of what’s known as inbound marketing, where people come to you to learn more.


Bounce Rate

This is simply a percentage that states how many people visit your website and leave after only viewing one page. It can be quite common to have a high bounce rate with an affiliate site, as people are usually there to read that one piece of content or a product review. Then they either leave to look elsewhere, or click through on an affiliate link to the product’s sales page.


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Charge Back or Clawback

When you make a sale as an affiliate, many programs have a grace period or money back guarantee where buyers can request a refund. In the affiliate marketing world, these refunds are often referred to as charge backs or clawbacks.


Click Through

This simply means someone has clicked through on your affiliate link and visited the merchant’s website or sales page.


Click Through Rate (CTR)

Whether it’s an affiliate link on your site, or a page on your website showing up in search results, CTR is really a percentage based on how many times a link has been clicked compared to how many times it’s been viewed or displayed.



This is used to hide the unique code of an affiliate link. Some affiliates like to do this for fear of having their links hijacked by other marketers, although the broad view on this is that it’s highly unnecessary.


Content Management System (CMS)

A content management system is something like WordPress, which around one third of all the world’s websites are built on.



This is your share of any sales you refer. Some affiliate programs – such as the Amazon Associates program – might only pay 10% or less of the purchase price to affiliates, whereas some other programs may even offer as high as 100% commissions.



Quality content is Google’s highest ranking signal. Content can refer to just about anything you put on your website, whether it be written posts, images, infographics or videos.



You want your visitors or followers to take a specific action as a marketer. When someone does take the action you want them to take, such as making a purchase, that’s called a conversion.


Conversion Rate

Just like with a click through rate, a conversion rate is a percentage of how many people clicked through on your affiliate link, compared to how many people actually took action after visiting the merchant’s sales page.



These are not the ones we love to eat, but rather a text file that is sent from a website and placed within the cache of the user’s web browser, whether it be Chrome or whatever. Cookies are used for all sorts of tracking and are essential for affiliates to be credited with affiliate sales. Their affiliate tracking code will be lost if a user has no cookies enabled or clears their browser cache.


CPA – Cost Per Action

Cost per action is also known as cost per acquisition and it’s referring to how much it costs for each visitor or potential customer to take the required action. Often it’s a term used in paid advertising.


CPC – Cost Per Click

Once again, generally associated with paid advertising – such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads – when visitors click on your ad, you’ll be charged a fee, generally based on the maximum bid price per click that you allocated when setting up the advertising campaign.


CPM – Cost Per 1000 Impressions

CPM is also a common paid advertising term. Instead of only paying when someone clicks on your ad, you can pay X amount per 1000 impressions of your ad. In other words, paying to have your ad displayed at least 1000 times in front of a relevant audience. Sometimes this can work out cheaper that PPC (pay per click), as you can have your ads clicked many times without any extra charge.


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Data Feed

This is the feed an affiliate program or network uses to feed product details to its affiliates. This can be things like social media posts, product images, descriptions, banners and the like.


Deep Linking

Deep linking in affiliate marketing means being able to link directly to a particular product’s sales page, rather than say the company homepage. It’s a link like, rather than just



This can refer to things like an affiliate disclosure or income disclosure. In the case of affiliate marketing, most affiliate programs will require affiliates to disclose their affiliate relationship on their websites in the form of an affiliate disclosure page, message in the sidebar, or within the posts themselves.


Domain Authority

As a website ages, gains in popularity, builds out with quality content and receives some social signals and engagement, the authority of that website increases. This leads to more trust from site visitors, as well as better search engine rankings.


Domain Name

This is the name of your website address, such as


Duplicate Content

One thing you don’t want on your website is duplicate content, whether it’s repeating your own content or copying someone else’s content. Search engines will penalise your site for duplicate content.


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Email List

All online marketers should build an email list of relevant subscribers. It becomes your direct route of contact to potential customers and you can email your list with updates and promotions whenever you like.


Email Swipe

An email swipe is an email newsletter, promotion or announcement given to you by your affiliate program. You can either send the email out to your list as is, or modify it a little to suit your own voice.


Header Tags

Header tags are heading tags, such as H1, H2 and so forth. They are used to designate the importance of each heading, with H1 usually being reserved for the title of the page, and the other H tags used for headings and subheadings.



This is the code side of emails and web pages. Many marketers never even touch HTML, but it is handy to know a few basics.



A hyperlink is simply a link within the text of a web page. It’s clickable, and will either send the user to another page on the site, or redirect them to an external website.



Impressions are usually related to advertising. It could be ads displayed on your site, where you get paid per impression, or you might be running a Facebook Ads campaign and are paying for impressions of your ads rather than clicks.


Inbound Link

An inbound link is a backlink to your website. You want these.


Inbound Marketing

We touched on this one earlier. As an affiliate marketer who may be getting search engine rankings or paying for advertising, you are hoping to draw people to your website and your promotions. This is a form of inbound marketing.



This term refers to your website and pages getting indexed and becoming visible and searchable in the search engines. It essentially means the possibility of your site being found in a search on a search engine.


Internal Link

This is a simply a link in a page on your site that points to another page on your site.


Internet Marketing

A broad term to include all forms of marketing you can do online, including affiliate marketing.


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Joint Venture (JV)

This is another term for an affiliate partnership. You join an affiliate program and enter into a joint venture arrangement where both parties set to gain financially from that arrangement.



These are words (usually phrases) that you target that you believe people will be searching for in search engines such as Google. The keyword phrases you choose need to be relevant to the content you want people to visit. You also need to use a keyword tool to find keywords that get decent traffic, but at the same time don’t have too much competition so you have a chance to rank well. Good keyword research is essential to your success in online marketing.


Keyword Stuffing

These days this is not advisable and won’t do you any good anyway. It involves jamming in as many instances of your chosen keyword as possible within your post. Years ago keyword stuffing used to boost your page’s rankings, but these days it’s more likely to get your site penalised. You really don’t want that.


Landing Page

A landing page is simply the page people will land on when they click a link from another site, from an ad, or from search results.


Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)

These are generally less relevant words in a post that relate to the main keyword or content of the post. Google uses LSI keywords to help better understand what the content is about.


Lead Magnet

In order to entice people to want to join your email list, you need to offer them an incentive or reason to do so. If you give something away for free – say an eBook, cheat sheet, eCourse and so on – people are far more likely to subscribe to receive your email. This incentive is called a lead magnet.


Local Search

When people are searching on Google for something in their specific area, local search results will come up when a town, suburb or location is typed into the search bar along with the keyword phrase. Businesses targeting the local market need to design their sites and content in such a way that they will be found in local search.


Long Tail Keywords

These are longer, more specific keyword phrases. Often long tail keywords will be entered into a search bar by a user when they’re looking to buy something, or want specific product information. Let’s look at an example. “dslr camera” is a very general search phrase. A long tail version might be something like “Canon DSLR 5D MkII Camera”.


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As an affiliate, you’ll be promoting products or services on behalf of the merchant; the company or business that actually sells the product to the consumer.


Meta Description

Like the meta title, the meta description is used by search engines to both learn more of what your content is about, as well as displaying the description in search results as a snippet of that content.


Meta Tags

Meta tags are keywords relevant to the content.



When you’re an online marketer running an affiliate site, in order to make money you need to monetize your site and content. This includes adding affiliate links, banner ads, possibly charging businesses to advertise on your website and things like that.



A niche is a category or interest group that you choose to market in. Generally a more defined niche is more successful, as it’s easier to become an authority figure within a specific niche. Rather than choosing a broad category like shoes, you might choose something like “running shoes for men” as your niche.


No Follow Link

This attribute is an element in HTML. It tells search engine bots when they crawl a site not to take any notice of a link that’s marked as “no follow”. Often people will apply the no follow attribute to outbound links as they don’t want to pass on any search engine link juice (advantages) to the site the link is redirecting to.


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Off-Page SEO and Optimization

This is stuff that’s outside the scope of your website. It could be things like guest posting and other methods of obtaining valuable backlinks, sharing your posts on social media, creating YouTube videos that link back to your website, and generally promoting your site on other platforms.


On-Page SEO and Optimization

This is search engine optimization that all takes place on-site. This includes things like creating quality content regularly, good keyword research, using LSI keywords, H tags, meta title and description, internal linking, linking out to relevant authority sites, images and lots more.


Opt In

Generally refers to people opting in to subscribe to your email list. It could also refer to things like people joining a membership site.


Opt In Rate

The opt in rate is the number of people who agreed to join compared to the number of opportunities for people to join. Example, you have 100 website visitors and 10 of those join your email list. That’s an opt in rate of 10%.


Organic Link

This simply means a link to your website that was created naturally by someone choosing to link to your content. It’s a link you didn’t ask for, and is a little different to getting a backlink from a guest post.


Organic Search

Organic search refers to your site’s pages appearing in search results naturally. Organic results are results the search engine deems relevant to the search query. Now while paid ads that are relevant will display as well, these paid slots are not considered organic because they are coerced. Free organic traffic is the best kind.


Outbound Link

An outbound link is the same as an external link, just a different name for it. It means linking out to a third party website.


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Page Rank

Page Rank was created by Google. Backlinks are the metric used to determine how well a page ranks. As a page receives more backlinks, the page rank increases and can range anywhere from 0 to 10. This isn’t the only ranking factor Google uses to rank content high. There are more than 200 ranking factors.


Page Title

This is the title of a page or post on your website.



Each time a page on your website gets viewed, that’s counted as a pageview. If a visitor views more than one page, that counts as more than one pageview.


Pay Per Click (PPC)

Pay per click (PPC) advertising means exactly as it sounds; you pay every time someone clicks on your ad and views your landing page. It’s a way to have more control over your ad spend by setting a maximum bid per click, and a maximum daily ad spend. It’s common for both Facebook Ads and Google and Bing Ads. An example might be paying 50 cents on average for a click.


Pay Per Lead (PPL)

This is a form of remittance for affiliates. Instead of being paid a commission for a sale, sometimes companies just want leads instead and they’ll pay you for these leads. Generally it’s not that much, but free leads are way easier to get than paid sales.


Pay Per Sale (PPS)

This is the most common way affiliate and online marketers get paid. You send a visitor through to a sales page through your unique affiliate link, the person ends up buying the product and you earn yourself a nice commission for the referral.


Payment Threshold

Most affiliate programs will have a payment threshold your account needs to meet before you’ll be paid your commissions. Usually it’s not set that high, maybe $100 at the most. Some affiliate programs have no minimum payment level.



Indulge in black hat SEO or some other outlawed tactic that the search engines don’t approve of and your website could receive a penalty. This doesn’t necessarily mean your site gets blacklisted, but you may lose a lot of rankings. Some penalties can be instituted by the SERPS’ spiders, while others can be the result of a manual review of your site by an actual person.



A plugin is an add on piece of software. When it comes to websites that run on WordPress, there are literally 1000s of plugins that do all manner of things. While it’s not a good idea to fill your website with plugins because they will reduce website speed and performance, they really are super handy tools for those extra things you need your website to be able to do.


Pop Under

Pop under ads linger behind the content and usually only become visible when a user tries to exit a website.


Pop Up

Many people find pop up ads and promotions annoying as they cover the content you’re trying to view. However, from a marketer’s perspective, they are very effective in gaining leads and sales, despite their annoyance factor.


Privacy Policy

This is a page on a website that tells visitors how their information is treated. Affiliate sites are all supposed to have a privacy policy page that stipulates whether your site stores user information, shares that information and so forth.


Private Label Rights (PLR)

This is content that’s been generated to be sold to marketers and rebranded. PLR content might be in the form of an eBook, or an email course. Just about any form of digital content, really. If you want a freebie to entice people to join your email list, for example, you could buy some relevant PLR content, rebrand it as your own and give it away as a lead magnet to get people to subscribe.


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Raw Clicks

Raw clicks are all clicks on your affiliate promotions with a particular affiliate partner. They account for all clicks on your link, even if clicked several times by the same person.


Reciprocal Link

This occurs when you link out to another website, they notice this, and then return the favour by linking to your website as well.


Recurring Commissions

Recurring commissions are those where you sell a product or service where the member pays a monthly fee or similar. An example might be some type of membership site. Each month the user remains a member, you earn a commission. This is residual income, one of the best kinds of income to have. You should try and set up multiple streams of residual income, if possible.


Responsive Web Design

All websites these days need to have a responsive design. It simply means the website can adapt itself to fit on a variety of screen sizes, both landscape and portrait. Long gone are the days when everybody only viewed websites on a computer screen. Nowadays more than half of the world’s internet users will go online on a smartphone, and quite a few will use tablets. Without a responsive design, your site will lose search engine rankings.



Using cookie technology, retargeting involves placing a pixel in the visitor’s cache so you can essentially follow them around in cyber world. It gives you the capacity to retarget visitors to your website, which is particularly useful when running paid advertising campaigns, such as Facebook Ads.


Return On Investment (ROI)

ROI is simply how much money (or business) you receive in return for either spending money on some promotion, paying for advertising, or buying into something to better your bottom line. You’re always aiming for a positive ROI.


Rich Snippet

This is the brief information displayed under the title in search results. Often it’ll include the meta description, although Google and other search engines sometimes lift other sections of the content to display. Rather than searchers just seeing a headline and guessing what the content might be about, they get a bit of information regarding what the content is and whether it’s what they’re looking for.



The robots.txt file is a really simple file that search engine robots crawl when they first visit your site. This text file tells the crawler bots what to do and what to ignore, basically.



These letters represent “really simple syndication”. RSS is a standard way of deliver data via an update feed. When you subscribe to an RSS feed, new content is delivered to you, rather than you having to go searching for it.


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Sales Funnel

This is basically a step by step process from reaching a potential customer, to actually getting them to buy something. A simple example as an affiliate might be running a Facebook Ad that sends visitors to your product review page. This landing page contains affiliate links to the merchant’s sales page. A visitor clicks through to the merchant site and makes a purchase. The visitor went all the way through your sales funnel and you got the desired result.


Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

This is all about gaining visitors through search, whether it be free organic search, or PPC advertising.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

We touched on this in a few sections earlier. SEO is about making your site and its content as search engine friendly as possible, so you rank high for your content and get that all important traffic. The more free traffic you can generate for your website, the better.



Simply an abbreviated for search engines. The first 4 letters actually stand for “search engine results page”. It’s a common term you’ll often see.


Site Audit

This will often require an expert to fully understand, but these days many marketers perform their own site audits with the help of the many free and paid tools available. You are studying the performance of your site to see what’s working and what areas need improvement. This can apply to SEO, as well as the technical aspects of a website. There is quite a lot to performing (and understanding) a thorough site audit.


Site Speed

To get the best rankings in the SERPS as possible, you want your website to be loading fast, both on computers as well as mobile devices. People are impatient. If your site is too slow to load, a potential visitor is likely to click away and search elsewhere. You don’t want that.



This is an XML file that the search engine robots read so they understand the structure and content of your website, what to index, and what content has recently been added or updated.


Social Bookmark

When visitors place your link on social bookmarking sites such as Reddit, this gives you a backlink to your website. It’s another way that boosts the authority of your content and site in general.


Social Media Marketing (SMM)

This is all about promoting on social media channels, either freely or through paid advertising methods.


Social Signals

This offers an indication of how popular your site and content is on the different social media channels. As an example, if you have a piece of content that gets a lot of shares, likes and comments on Facebook, that’s a very positive social signal, and something Google really likes because the content must be good. It helps your search engine rankings.



Although it can be something yummy to eat, internet spam is not as tasty. Often relating to the email we receive, basically spam is unsolicited promotions. They can occur anywhere online.



Another word for a bot, used by search engines to crawl the web’s content and index it.


Split Testing

This is the same as A/B testing, which we talked about earlier. You’re trying to determine which landing page or promotion is more effective through split testing 2 or more options.


Squeeze Page

This is a page designed to get the visitor to take a certain action, more often than not, handing over their name and email address. This type of page or form is often distraction-free, focusing the visitor’s attention on what action you want them to take and nothing else.



Someone who joins your email list, your RSS feed and so on. They have agreed to receive contact from you.


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Tags are similar to keywords. They are words relevant to the content, whatever it may be. Tags are another way to get your content found in search results.


Target Audience/Market

Whether you are going after organic traffic or paid traffic, for the best conversions, you need to target your appropriate audience. This is best achieved through relevancy.


Terms Of Service (TOS)

In the world of affiliate marketing, the merchant’s TOS will list all the rules and behaviour expected of its affiliates. If you deviate from these rules and regulations you risk having your affiliate account suspended.


Text Link

Simply a hyperlink using a snippet of text on a page of written content. Text links may lead to internal or external content.


Tracking Code

Google Analytics using a JavaScript tracking code on your website so it can track your website visitors and offer information about them.


Two Tier

Some affiliate programs offer a two tier compensation structure. You earn the biggest commissions from your direct referrals, but if you can introduce other affiliates to the program, you’ll also earn smaller commissions from any sales they make. More residual income.


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Unique Clicks

As opposed to raw clicks, unique clicks only count unique visitors. So if someone clicks on your affiliate link twice, only one click will be counted in the unique clicks.



“Uniform Resource Locator” is what URL stands for, and it’s the unique identifier of every website on the internet.



Every marketer wants some content to go viral, as it can lead to masses of traffic in a short space of time. An example of viral content would be a Facebook post being shared 1000s of times.



A webinar is a seminar that you participate in online instead of in the real world. Webinars are one of the most popular ways for marketers and companies to get their message across. Often they are conducted for free to entice new business.


White Hat SEO

The complete opposite of black hat SEO, white hat SEO only adopts tactics that are favoured by the search engines and not frowned upon.



A content management system that about one third of all websites in the world is built on.



Phew…So that’s given you a pretty comprehensive list of the most common terms in online marketing.

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