If you have worked with me in the past, you know that building your website is only one of many steps to business success.
Once you have your site, you need to market it otherwise no one will be able to find it!
What you're about to read
Marketing a website
Marketing a website is a multifaceted process and the way you go about it will be unique to your product offerings, audience, and own personal preferences.
If you’re new to marketing or just embarking on your online venture, you’re going to come across many unfamiliar terms on your journey to marketing confidence.
We sometimes gloss over things we don’t understand, or ignore them because we are too busy tending to more pressing matters.
But if you don’t take the time to learn and leverage some foundational marketing tactics, you might be missing out on important information, as well as opportunities to drive sales.
Because I know how busy my students and community members are, I decided to create this glossary of terms I commonly use in my lives, challenges and courses.
Now if you hear a term you haven’t heard before, you can refer to this post and learn exactly what I mean.
This is not a definitive list, but these are some of the terms you’ll hear if you’ve worked through my Confident Website Challenge, Rock that Website, or if you’re active in the WordPress Happy community.
I hope this glossary helps you feel oriented as you dive into the expansive world of online marketing!
Glossary of internet marketing terms
Above the fold
When I talk about something being located above the fold on a web page, it means that you won’t have to scroll down the page to see it.
When you land on the page, the content will be prominent and completely visible.
This term comes from print publishing. An article, headline, or image that was above the actual fold on a printed newspaper occupied the most eye-catching part of the page. Therefore, the biggest stories would be printed above the fold so a passing customer could see it on the newsstand and purchase the paper.
In both print and online you want to put your most important or interesting content above the fold so that your reader is quickly and effortlessly engaged.
There are two ways to participate in affiliate marketing: you can offer an affiliate opportunity to others, or you can sign up to be an affiliate in someone else’s program.
If you are offering an affiliate program, then you are offering an opportunity for other people to earn a commission on any sales or leads they drive to your site.
When choosing your affiliates, look for people who have followings that will expand your network.
The primary benefit of an affiliate network is getting your products in front of new eyes. If your affiliates all overlap each other with the same audience, or if they compete with the audience you already have, you won’t be able to leverage the real power of an affiliate network.
If you are joining someone else’s program as an affiliate marketer, be sure to choose products that make sense for your audience.
What would they be interested in? Which products complement the content your audience gets from you already?
Find products that will enhance your readers’ experience, and you will have additional revenue streams from the sales of these products.
If there is a product or service that you already recommend to your audience, research whether they have an affiliate program. Many companies already offer one.
A bot is an automated piece of software which often imitates or replaces a human user’s behavior.
Bots can get a bad rap. But not all bots are bad!
These days, you can configure bots to chat with your visitors on Facebook, enroll website readers in your newsletter or challenges, and even text or email subscribers when you have new content or are going live online.
Bots are sophisticated enough to trigger when you want to enroll leads, distribute marketing materials, collect feedback, schedule appointments, and more.
There’s a bit of a learning curve when you’re getting started with any bot service, but fortunately you can find plenty of documentation and how-to videos and articles that answer common questions.
When I refer to bots, I’m speaking about these helper bots that automate many of your marketing processes.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
CSS is the language that styles a webpage.
It’s not technically a programming language, but it is a foundational language that nearly every website uses to describe how plain HTML should be formatted.
With CSS you can create layouts, change fonts and colors, and make other aesthetic choices that define your personal brand.
You can save time and effort using CSS, as a single style sheet can format multiple pages on your website.
When you install a WordPress theme, much of the CSS has already been configured for you. You can customize the CSS further using plug-ins or by choosing Appearance > Customize on your dashboard.
If you build a site from scratch, you will need to create your own CSS. Tools like Bootstrap make CSS styling easier by offering a premade grid system.
While some elements of CSS, like changing a font color, are easy to master, others, like responsive design, take more work.
You don’t have to become a CSS expert, but learning a few simple rules of CSS will give you extra control over the appearance of your website.
Cookies are small files of information, like a username and password, that are used to track your behavior on a website and customize that site’s content to you.
Cookies do not give a server access to any of your personal information, aside from what you’ve shared. For the most part, cookies are a convenient way to stay logged into your favorite websites and do no harm.
In WordPress, a cover image is a wide image that marks the beginning of a new section in an article or blog post.
Cover images allow text overlays, and can take the place of headers to separate blocks of text for readability.
You can still use headers to structure your posts. Cover images are a visually appealing alternative if you choose to use them.
Cover images differ from featured Images, which are the images that accompany your posts on social media, for example, or on your blog archive. The featured image is meant to draw the eye of the reader so they click on the post.
Once the reader is in the post, cover images can be used to break up the blocks of text and indicate what comes next in an attractive way.
Downselling refers to the technique of offering a cheaper alternative to a customer who has decided not to buy a more expensive product.
I had this experience recently while browsing some beautiful hand-dyed linen sheets. I imagined how luxurious it would feel to sleep in cool linen, until I saw the price.
Not quite ready to invest in the spendy price tag, I almost navigated away when I saw a block of recommended products that were created out of the scraps the company cut away from the bed sheets, pillow cases, and duvet covers.
Suddenly, the cost of a pair of linen shorts seemed incredibly reasonable, and I purchased them.
By downselling a customer, you create a relationship with them and begin to build brand loyalty.
Once I experience the quality of the shorts, I am far more likely to return to purchase the sheets because I know I can trust the company to produce good items. I will have been able to feel the linen, and see how it keeps its color through cleaning. All of this will make it more likely that I will spend a larger sum of money in the future.
A customer who isn’t quite ready to make a major purchase today isn’t necessarily going to feel that way in the future. Downselling gives them a chance to get to know you and your brand, and they may be back to purchase from you again.
Graphic Interchange Format (GIF)
A GIF (pronounced “giff” or “jiff”) is an image file that is frequently animated into what looks like a short video.
Even though the animation mimics a video, it’s actually a series of sequential still images. It’s closer to a flipbook that creates the illusion of movement than a recording of actual movement.
GIFs do not have sound and usually present with low image quality, but they are gaining in popularity because they can be used to punctuate text in the same way emojis or memes can.
A well-chosen GIF can help your audience connect to your content with humor and offer visual interest to chatbot messages or social media posts.
A hashtag is essentially a keyword phrase, starting with a hash or pound sign (#), that you can use on social media platforms to classify your post as related to a given topic or theme.
When a user searches for that topic, the platform will return your tagged content in the hashtag search.
For example, if I post on Twitter to let my followers know I’ve published this new blog post, I might use hashtags like #website, #newpost, or #glossary
Then, if you were to search #glossary on Twitter, my post with that hashtag would be among the search results.
A hashtag should be one word, with no punctuation, like #marketing. Even if your phrase has more than one word, compress them into one for the hashtag. For example, #digitalmarketing and #learningtomarketmyself are both valid hashtags.
You can embed hashtags in your post, or put them at the end of your post on their own line.
Either is acceptable and will be read by the search algorithm of the social platform.
You can choose whether you want your #sentences to #looklikethis or separate the hashtags and put them last. #eitherwayisfine #itsuptoyou
Hashtags are frequently used for growth marketing, as a means to reach new audiences.
When I post to my Facebook business page, my post will only be seen by my current page followers. If I want to expand the post’s reach beyond my current followers without paying for advertising, I can use hashtags.
Of course, I would want to create content that is in demand and pair it with a trending hashtag, or one that is universally popular, to ensure the greatest exposure.
For example, the hashtag #marketing is most definitely more frequently searched than #marketingisnewbutImlearning.
As another example, if I write a post about New Year’s resolutions, I would want to publish it with the hashtag #newyearresolutions right around the new year, rather than in June, as more people will be searching for that hashtag in December and January.
Keep in mind that when you use a hashtag, your content will be lumped together with all other users who have also tagged their content with that same word or phrase. This means your content might have some strange neighbours if you tag it with a phrase that doesn’t quite match your content, or if you have a typo in your hashtag.
You can use hashtags to your advantage by searching for a certain hashtag and its variants to see which have more volume. On LinkedIn, #marketing has about 20 million followers while #digitalmarketing has about 27 million followers.
Perhaps with that many followers it doesn’t make much of a difference which you use, but if one variant of your hashtag has 100 followers and the other has 5000, you’ll get more exposure with the second.
A holding page is a placeholder that occupies the space your website will someday occupy while the site is being built.
A holding page can be as simple as a captivating image, your company name, and perhaps some kind of incentive for a visitor to leave their email address.
Holding pages can also link to your social media profiles so visitors can engage with your brand even before your website is live.
It also enables search engines to find and begin to index your site. It can take a while for web crawlers to do this, so it can be beneficial to get your holding page up even if it’s not perfect. Then there’s a chance that your domain may already be indexed when you launch it.
It can be helpful to have a holding page if you want to distribute business cards or put your site address in your email signature before your website is built. The holding page will give visitors reassurance that your company is legitimate and will give them an opportunity to interact with your brand.
If your holding page is really enchanting, it can build anticipation. If you’re designing a holding page, do a search for examples of some of the best holding pages for inspiration. You may be surprised by how engaging a simple page can be.
An inbound link, or backlink, is a link from another site that points back to your site. By contrast, an outbound link is a link on your site that directs users to an article or page on another website that you believe will be of interest to them.
Inbound links can boost your search engine result rankings because the search engines will determine that your site must contain valuable information if other high-quality sites link back to it.
High-quality sites are a key differentiator when it comes to backlinks.
If your backlinks come from spammy sites, or sites with low domain authority, they will not be much help in boosting your own site domain authority.
A backlink from a respected site will be seen by search engines as validation for your site, and you are likely to rank higher in the search engine results.
The crawlers are sophisticated. They will know if your backlinks are spammy.
Have you ever searched for something and landed on a poorly written page that seemed to be mostly links? Was that page useful to you? Did you trust any of the links enough to click them?
I’m guessing your answers are no. The search engines feel the same way.
Because search engines index the internet by following links from site to site, inbound links can improve your SEO by giving the crawlers multiple opportunities to find your content.
Backlinks will also increase your site traffic, because the readers of whatever site linked back to yours will have an opportunity to click to your site and interact with your content.
Anchor text refers to the words the link is embedded in. For example, if I have a backlink to my site, the author of the article with the backlink might use “The Website Mentor” as the anchor text, and embed my URL, https://www.thewebsitementor.com, within that text.
There are many strategies to earn more inbound links. You can find guides online to walk you through them, but they mostly rely on creating relationships with other content makers who have audiences that could benefit from your expertise and content.
Even if you’re not ready to ask for backlinks yet, it’s a good marketing strategy to start following the blogs and social media accounts of content creators you admire, and to leave thoughtful comments on their posts.
When you’re ready to reach out to inquire about a backlink or guest blog, you will have already established that you enjoy their content, and your engagement will help them see you as a genuine fan, rather than someone popping up out of nowhere looking for help.
A landing page is a standalone page with a single call to action that you create for a marketing or advertising campaign.
The purpose of a landing page is to generate leads by collecting contact information.
The pages on your website have navigation bars, internal and external links, and many opportunities to click and explore.
A landing page, by contrast, will have a single link. This link will be the call to action (CTA) for the marketing campaign. It may encourage the reader to sign up for a newsletter, download a free resource, or register for a webinar.
Your audience can arrive at your landing page via many different channels. They might click a link in a promotional email, a social media post, or a paid ad.
However they arrive at the landing page, once they get there, the design and copy on the page should be completely focused with the goal of converting them to the CTA.
The copy and the image on the landing page should align with the copy and imagery from the ad or post that the reader initially clicked. This creates continuity and trust, as well as a visual thread from one thing to the next.
Every landing page should include an explanation of the benefits of your product, some social proof or testimonials to foster trust, and one clear action they can take by clicking the only link.
If you have more than one link on your landing page, your visitors are less likely to convert.
You can educate your customers and give them lots of navigation options on your website. A landing page exists for just one function: to turn visitors into leads.
You may end up with many different landing pages as you run new campaigns. Unlike a page on your website, landing pages don’t need to be up forever. You can keep them live until that particular campaign ends, and then replace them with a new one.
A lead magnet is something free that you offer customers in exchange for their email address and perhaps some additional contact information.
The lead magnet might be an ebook download, a comprehensive guide, a template, or some other digital product. It could also be a free trial period, if your service is behind a paywall. Retail sites frequently offer a coupon for a discount or free shipping as a lead magnet. You probably have seen my offers for a free webinar, this is another example of a lead magnet.
Whatever lead magnet you determine is best for your ideal customer, make it valuable enough to incentivise someone to exchange their contact information for it.
Gone are the days when readers are willing to sign up for a newsletter with no additional value. Today, people are less likely to give out their email addresses unless you can offer them something they really need.
When you create your lead magnet, you want your brand’s unique selling proposition baked into the confirmation or thank you page, and within the lead magnet itself.
The lead magnet should deliver the promised content, but it should also highlight how you or your company can offer even more value to the reader.
This doesn’t mean the lead magnet should contain a hard sell. The primary focus of a lead magnet is value, and to leave your audience feeling like they got the better end of the deal.
While you don’t want to force a conversion in a lead magnet, you can direct the audience to additional resources on your website, to your podcast or blog, or announce an upcoming free challenge.
Once someone has given you their contact information in exchange for the lead magnet, you can enroll them in your newsletter list and market to them in the future.
A sales page is different from a landing page in that it has a single purpose: to drive sales.
While a landing page exists to generate leads by collecting contact information in exchange for a lead magnet, a sales page is crafted to convince the reader to make a purchase of the product or service.
The page should explain your unique selling proposition, offer compelling explanations of features and benefits, include testimonials and other social proof, and answer any questions a potential customer might have.
The sales page should have multiple opportunities to purchase, along with any trust seals and verifications to ensure the reader feels confident that their credit card information will be safe.
Sales page copy is unique in that you want to “sell the sizzle not the steak”. This means you want to sell the outcome, not the product itself.
Think about most car commercials you see on television. You see a zippy sports car zooming along a highway by the sea, the wind rushing by. Or you see a heavy duty truck pulling a massive horse trailer through the mud, showing off its power.
Car commercials don’t take you on an exhaustive tour of the dashboard, the lumbar support in the driver’s seat, or the windshield wiper settings.
While these are some of the features you’ll interact with once you buy the car, the advertiser wants to sell you on the idea of freedom or power, because these create emotional responses that compel you to purchase.
You want to create the same emotional hooks in your sales page.
When you write a sales page, it’s worthwhile to look at examples of compelling sales pages for inspiration. You can also search for guides and templates to help you get started, and then customise them according to your needs.
A sales funnel describes the path that your customers take from their first interaction with your brand all the way through to a purchase.
There are four stages of a sales funnel, widely known by the acronym AIDA: awareness, interest, decision, and action.
You can use these four stages to understand the mindset of your customer during each stage of the funnel and to customize your messaging so that it’s appropriate for the stage they are in.
Let’s say I am scrolling on social media one day and an ad for a rain jacket appears in my feed.
The company probably targeted me because I’ve indicated that I like hiking and outdoor sports, so they know that I am likely to need a rain jacket at times.
If I’ve never heard of this company before, I have entered the Awareness stage. I take a look at the company name and logo, and I watch the promotional video they have created to highlight the features of the rain jacket.
At this point, I might remember that I have a camping trip coming up next month and I will need a jacket, and make the purchase immediately.
More likely, I will scroll by and continue with my day.
However, perhaps a day or two later it occurs to me that I’ll need a jacket for my trip. So I look up that company, or perhaps see another one of their ads on my feed. This time I click the ad to read more.
I have entered the Interest stage of the sales funnel.
The interest stage includes product research, comparison shopping, and perhaps reading the FAQs or product reviews.
The rain jacket company would be wise to offer me as much information as they can in this phase.
They could create a chart comparing their jacket to other popular brands, or include testimonials of extreme outdoor adventurers who found this jacket exceeded their expectations.
They might try to hook me emotionally with images of families on camping trips together, cozy in their jackets even during a light rain. Maybe they offer a lead magnet of some kind to capture my email address so they can market to me more directly.
Anything the company can do to keep my interest will help move me toward the next stage of the funnel, Decision.
During the Decision phase, I have decided to make a purchase, but I might be considering a few different brands. This is a perfect time for the rain jacket company to dazzle me with a coupon, free shipping, or a complimentary bonus product if I buy from them.
When speaking to leads in the decision phase, you want to see what offers your competitors are making and be sure your tactics are aligned with them.
If everyone in your industry offers free shipping, that won’t be much of an incentive for me to buy from you. But if you offer a 20% discount off my first purchase while your competitors offer 10%, I will be more inclined to consider your product if I am price-conscious.
The final stage, Action, is when I complete the purchase and become a customer. However, this does not mean that the rain jacket company has nothing more to do.
The company wants to be sure I feel valued with a thank you message, confirmation email, and shipping updates. They might send a follow up discount code if I share their company with a friend, or encourage me to leave a review for the rain jacket once I receive it.
Just because I’ve completed the funnel and made a purchase doesn’t mean the company will stop marketing to me. My single purchase could turn into multiple purchases over the years, so it’s worthwhile to continue to engage me and offer value once the initial purchase is complete.
The most important takeaway about the sales funnel is that you can’t jump ahead of yourself. If a potential customer is in the Awareness phase, it’s not yet time to tell them about your payment plans.
When you are creating your marketing collateral, be sure to have content for people in each stage of the marketing funnel so that you can nurture those casual scrolls into leads, and then convert them to customers.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization refers to the practices that boost organic search results ranking, send quality traffic to your site, and increase traffic over time.
It’s best to look at SEO as a long-term investment. The results aren’t immediate, but if done correctly, they will continuously feed free traffic to your site for as long as your site is live.
Some examples of SEO include structuring your blog posts with the proper headers so web crawlers can index and serve them up in response to relevant queries, researching common keywords used in search queries that you can include on your site to improve search result rankings, and engaging your audience on social media so your posts have more likes and shares.
There are many more actions you can take to improve your SEO. It can seem overwhelming when you first begin to explore SEO, but it’s worth it to learn some fundamentals and expand your knowledge once you feel comfortable with the basics.
I recommend Neil Patel’s excellent beginner guide to SEO if you’re just getting oriented to what SEO means. His straightforward guide tells you what you can do today to improve your search engine rankings.
And remember, you don’t have to implement everything at once! You will find that small changes make a difference over time, and eventually SEO tactics will become second nature whenever you create content.
A shopping cart is software that allows your customers to select products for purchase, review the total cost, make any edits as needed, and then buy the items.
There are many companies that offer shopping cart software.
Hosted shopping carts are companies that offer all-in-one solutions that you can set up as your storefront itself, or plug the software into your existing site so shoppers can begin to purchase immediately. Shopify is a popular example of a hosted shopping cart.
You can also download self-hosted shopping carts, which you use on your WordPress website and can be highly customized according to your needs. WooCommerce is an example of a shopping cart that runs on a self-hosted site.
You may have noticed that you occasionally get “abandoned cart” emails from a company to remind you that you placed items in your cart, but left the site before making a purchase. The company might include a discount or other incentive to compel you to return to the cart and complete the purchase.
When selecting a shopping cart to integrate with your site, be sure that it is trustworthy and will fully encrypt and protect your customers’ payment information.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Software as a Service, or cloud-based software, refers to the increasingly common subscription-based software platforms that you probably use all the time.
These include email marketing services like Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign, customer relationship management software like Hubspot and Salesforce, team organization platforms like Asana and Trello, and the massive office software packages offered by Google and Microsoft.
While many SaaS companies offer a free tier with access to limited features, they make money on companies that grow large enough to need their full suite of solutions, and pay monthly or yearly for subscriptions.
It used to be that you would purchase software and download it to your own machine. This meant you were responsible for updates and troubleshooting, as well as owning the proper hardware to run the programs.
With the advent of SaaS, you simply pay for access to the programs, while the companies manage hosting, troubleshooting, and hardware issues.
The term “swipe file” is taken from the golden age of print advertising, when copywriters would clip the best headlines and ads to keep in a folder. Later, when they needed inspiration, they would swipe through this file of stellar ads to help them write their own copy.
Today, your swipe file will probably be digital. It can be a spreadsheet with different tabs for email subject lines, sales copy, and unique landing page design, or a folder filled with bookmarks on your browser.
It’s worth it to have a swipe file that you can fall back on when you need inspiration and guidance.
If you want to start one right now, I recommend adding Marketing Examples. This site compiles short but informative case studies of some of the most effective marketing strategies both on and off the web.
A tripwire is an enticing, low-cost offer meant to convert a lead to a customer, even if that lead isn’t ready to purchase your core product.
For example, I recently researched an online workout program. The core product cost two hundreds pounds for a full six weeks of classes. I wasn’t ready to commit to this, and went to exit the sales page.
At this point, a pop up offered access to an ebook that had photos and written explanations of the most effective exercises for a very reasonable £27.
While I didn’t spend the money on the core product, I did purchase this ebook.
If the tripwire proves useful, I am now more likely to buy the core product at the higher price because I trust this company to deliver excellent content.
Tripwires get your leads over the first major hurdle to becoming customers: entering their credit card information. Even though the tripwire product isn’t as thorough as your main product offering, be sure to pack it full of value so customers will be encouraged to spend more money with you.
Upselling is the practice of suggesting additional or complementary products to a customer before, during, or after their purchase.
Selling more products to an established customer is far easier than selling even one product to someone who is not yet a customer.
For this reason, upselling is a smart way to boost your sales and increase your customer lifetime value.
Upselling doesn’t have to be pushy. You have perhaps experienced upselling tactics without even realizing it!
Setting a minimum order value to qualify for free shipping is one way retailers quietly upsell customers. Another retail upsell trick is creating scarcity by notifying a shopper that “Only 4 left and 2 customers have this item in their carts!” when they are browsing an item.
You have been exposed to upselling if you’ve ever clicked on a product description and were served a side-by-side comparison of the features of that product and one or more other products, some of which were likely more expensive.
If you have bought a course online, you probably were offered a complementary product that would enhance your experience in that course at a discounted price if you bought them at the same time.
While “sales” is sometimes regarded as distasteful, the kinds of strategies I’ve just mentioned actually benefit the customer.
There’s nothing wrong educating a customer about products they might enjoy but are not aware of yet.
Use the fact that it’s easier to upsell a current customer rather than acquire a new customer to your advantage. Do so with the mindset of providing value to the customer rather than being pushy and you will find it easy to recommend and sell more.
Now you have learned a number of terms that you will encounter as you build and market your website.
This glossary is meant to be a point of reference, not a suggestion to act on all these terms at once!
If you work with a mentor who understands the need to design a website that sells, you will integrate many of these concepts into your site as you create it.
That’s something I help my students do in my course, Rock That Website.
If there are more terms you’d like to see on this glossary, let me know in the at WordPress Happy Community!