Search and Social Media Glossary

Startup Glossary


If you’re unfamiliar with any of the terms used on this site, let this glossary be a starting point in understanding new Web design, hosting, social media, and other online business concepts.



Above the Fold – Content appearing on a website when it first loads, without requiring the user to scroll vertically. This is frequently considered the most valuable screen real estate


Active Server Pages (ASP) – A server-side scripting tool from Microsoft for creating interactive Web pages


Add-on Domain – A second, or subsequent, domain name attached to a single Web hosting account; any domain name on the account that is not the primary domain name


Adsense – A popular ad network, run by Google, that allows you to publish contextual ads to make money from your website or blog


Affiliate – Someone who promotes another person’s (or company’s) products on their website or blog and collects a portion of the sale price as compensation for sales referrals


Affiliate Program – A program offered by a content creator where a portion of sales is paid out to affiliates who promote the product or service and refer sales


Archives – A collection of older material on a blog or website, frequently sorted by posting date


Analytics – The collection and reporting of data about your website’s visitors and traffic; also known as website analytics or website statistics


Analytics Program – A program or software that takes raw data about traffic to and from your website and displays it in easy-to-understand tables, charts, and graphs


Anonymous FTP – Public access to files and folders on a server, allowing users to obtain these files, documents, and programs without a unique name and password; the username “anonymous” is common used in conjunction with the user’s email address as the password


Apache – A popular Web server program; open source Web server from


Applet – A small application written in the Java programming language which is generally included in an HTML page


ASP (see “Active Server Pages”)


Autoresponder – A pre-created email message that is automatically sent as a response to anyone who emails you (commonly used when someone is away from their office or on vacation, and they want people who email them to be notified of their return date so they know when to expect a response)




Backlink – A link referral that sends traffic from a third party website to your own website or blog. Backlinks can also play a role in search engine rankings


Backups – A copy of either everything on your server or the most important website elements (such as basic site files and databases) which can be used to restore a website if the original files or databases are corrupted, damaged, or lost


Bandwidth – The amount of resources allocated or used in data transfer to and from a Web hosting company’s server; the rate of data transfer


Bit Rate (Bitrate) – The number of bits processed per second; a measurement of how quickly information is transferred from one place to another


Blog – A website where content is posted in chronological order and frequently includes open comments to allow conversations between the blogger and readers – can be anything from personal journals to company news to niche content


Blogger – Someone who publishes a blog or writes for a blog published by someone else; A hosted blogging platform owned by Google


Blogosphere – A term referring to all blogs as one big collective community


Blogroll – A list of links frequently included in a blog’s sidebar to point readers to related or recommended resources


Blook – A book that was derived from blog content (turning blog content into a published book)


Bootstrapping — Stems from the phrase “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.” This is a term used to describe a self-sufficient business / entrepreneur where the business owner’s personal funds or only money brought in by the business is used to finance the startup as opposed to seeking outside loans or other financing.


Broken Links — Links on a website that point to destinations that no longer exist (visitors instead receive an error message)


Business Plan — A formal document related to a company’s goals, financial circumstances, and a plan for reaching those goals (including budgets, market research, marketing strategies, and other relevant background about the business); often a requirement when seeking a business loan or venture capital.




Captcha – A spam-control tool frequently used to prove a commenter is human and not an automated spam attempt (can include anything from retyping text found in an image file to solving a simple math problem)


Cascading Style Sheet – A document allowing a webmaster or blogger to control the look, design, and formatting of their website or blog content; allows design changes to be made in a single document instead of on individual Web pages


CGI – (see “Common Gateway Interface”)


chmod – The change mode command on Unix servers which you can use to change permissions on certain files and folders on your server; permissions can usually be set either within the host’s file manager in the control panel or via FTP programs


Cloud Hosting – A hosting package where storage and resources are shared or split between multiple linked servers; an easily scalable hosting option where resources are available when needed and not limited to the constraints of a single system


CMS — (see “content management system”)


ColdFusion – A tool that enables Web developers to create database-driven sites which allow databases to be updated through front-end / public forms on the site


Comment – User-generated content in response to a blog post or article; reader discussion related to a blog post or article


Commenter – Someone who publishes a comment to take part in a conversation on a blog or website


Common Gateway Interface (CGI) – A standard protocol that lets your host’s Web server communicate with applications and scripts on that server; allows you to run applications from a Web page (such as processing a Web form)


Content — Articles, blog posts, images, videos, data, reports, e-books, and other material meant to be viewed by visitors


Content Management System – (Also known as “CMS”) A platform or software used to publish a website or blog and manage the content of that website or blog from any location with Internet access (as opposed to making alterations offline and uploading all new material manually)


Content Marketing — Using high quality content to promote your website or business (ex: publishing regular blog post updates to keep visitors coming back for fresh content)


Contextual Ads – Advertisements posted to a website or blog based on each individual Web page’s content and keywords (Google’s Adsense is a popular contextual advertising network)


Control Panel – The dashboard that enables a blogger or webmaster to manage their Web hosting account, site files, analytics, and databases on the host’s servers


Cookie – Small bits of data stored as text on your computer by your Web browser when you visit certain sites; often used for tracking, session management, and personalization of site options


cPanel – A popular Web hosting control panel


Cron Job – Allows you to schedule commands to automatically run on a Unix or related system at certain intervals


Crowdfunding — Business financing that involves the raising of funds in small amounts from a large group of people, usually the target customers of a business


CSS – See “cascading style sheet”




Database – A collection of digitized and organized data (in terms of a blog the database would hold post data, among others, that can be pulled and served to the website where requested)


Data Transfer – The total bits of data downloaded or transferred from a website (a total number as opposed to the rate of transfer such as bandwidth)


Dedicated Server / Dedicated Hosting – A server with a Web hosting company that only hosts websites or blogs for a single customer or user, allowing them full access to all server resources


Disk Space – The amount of storage space used by (or allocated to) your Web hosting account on a server


Disruption — When a new startup creates new markets by interfering with old business models (ex. Amazon’s online book sales were a major disruption to large brick and mortar bookstore chains)


DNS – (see “Domain Name System”)


Domain Forwarding – Automatically redirecting visitors of one domain name to another domain name or Web page


Domain Name – The name of a website or blog as it would be typed into a browser’s navigation bar to access the site (example:


Domain Name System (DNS) – An online network that translates domain names into IP addresses


Domain Registration — Reserving the right to use a domain name for your website or blog (by paying a fee in increments of one or more years)




E-commerce Site – A website that enables buying and selling to occur online (such as an online retail shop)


Elevator Pitch — A brief, highly-targeted pitch statement about your business and its benefits; the term comes from the idea that it should be a short enough pitch to tell someone about your business in the time it would take to ride an elevator with them; Every startup owner should have one as a lead-in to a larger pitch, especially when seeking financing.


E-mail – Electronic mail; a system for sending and receiving messages, images, and other files over the Internet or a computer network


E-mail Storage – The amount of storage space used by (or allocated to) your e-mail accounts on a server; the server space used to store e-mail messages


Encryption – Concealing data for security purposes by converting common language and other data into code


Extension – The last component of a domain name, which may signify intended use or location (common examples include .com, .net, .org, and


External Links — Links on third party websites that direct visitors to your website




Facebook — A large social network commonly used by both consumers and businesses for networking


Fantastico – A collection of scripts often included with Cpanel control panels on a Web hosting account (allows the user to easily install scripts such as blog platforms)


Feed – A way of presenting data on frequently updated sites (like blogs) that enables others to syndicate or subscribe to the content via a reader


File Manager – An area in your Web hosting control panel where you can manage or edit all of your files and folders for your website(s)


File Transfer Protocol – A protocol that lets you move files from your local system (such as a new Web design on your office computer) to a network (like the Internet); a way to transfer files from your computer to your host’s server to have it appear online


Followers — Members of your network on Twitter (and some other social networks)


Friends — Members of your network on Facebook (and some other social networks)


FTP – See “file transfer protocol”




Geo-tagging — Assigning geographic coordinates to a website or pieces of content to make them more easily and automatically available to mobile devices


Google + — A large social network owned by Google


Gravatar – A globally recognized avatar; a photo or other image representing your online identity which can be automatically recognized by blog comment and other online systems, generally tied to an email address you enter on the site when leaving a comment


Guest Posting – Publishing articles (usually for free) to other people’s blogs in the hopes of getting exposure or traffic for your own site or blog through one or more backlinks (usually included at the end of the article)




Hit – Every time a file is accessed on your server or Web page (you can receive multiple hits within a single pageview if the page viewed displays additional files such as images)


Home Page – The Web page visitors see when they type your domain name into their browser’s navigation bar; the front page of your website or blog


Hosting Company – A company that provides servers to webmasters and bloggers that host website files and databases and make the websites and blogs visible online to the public


Host Platform – The platform or operating system used on the Web hosting company’s servers for your hosting account; usually Linux or Windows


htaccess (.htaccess) – A file with a group of commands that that tell the server how to act in certain circumstances such as restricting access to certain files or folders or how to handle a series of redirects


HTML – (Also known as “hypertext markup language”) A common markup language used to code websites


Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) – A server-side scripting language used to create Web applications which are embedded in a site’s html




Image Optimization — Adding alt tags (text descriptions) to images and any other activity that makes an image more accessible to search engine spiders


Index Page – The default page a visitor sees when they access your website through the top-level domain; your home page


Infographic — A graphic representation of data usually including statistics, charts, graphs, and graphics in a cohesive and interesting visual layout


Inode – Includes every individual file on a Web server (some hosts allow large amounts of storage space, but limit the number of inodes a user can have in their account, which means you reach your inode limit with very small files even if you don’t exceed the advertised storage space)


Internal Links — Links on your own website directing visitors to other content on that same website (ex: your main navigation links or a list of links to related posts after a blog post)


Internet Protocol Address – The numerical address for a website (or for any device connected to a TCP / IP network)


IP Address – A numeral assigned to a device on a network; a number identifying your computer, website’s host, or other device




JavaScript – A scripting language often used to add more interactive elements to a website or blog




Keyword Research – Researching the average monthly search volume for specific keywords and phrases that are relevant to your website or blog; frequently used to help bloggers decide what topics are popular enough to write about




Lean — A strategy by which a business cuts down on its resources and expenditures as much as possible without sacrificing quality or production volume; finding ways to do more with less; something worth demonstrating when seeking startup financing to prove viability and financial responsibility


Like — A method of sharing or endorsing content on Facebook


Link – A referral from one website to another, or from one page in a website to another page in the same website; when a user clicks they are automatically taken from the referring page to the referred page


Linkbait – Content for a website or blog created with the primary purpose of getting others to link to that content (to refer traffic and improve search engine rankings)


LinkedIn — A large business-oriented social network


Local Search Optimization — Any SEO tactic that helps a website rank better for local-oriented search queries, or helps a site appear in local business directories




Meta Tags – HTML tags that do not appear on the publicly viewable front-end of a website or blog, but which describe or summarize the content of that page for search engines (most commonly used meta tags are the title, description, and keywords tags)


Mobile Searches — Search queries initiated on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet


Mobile Search Optimization — Any activity that makes a website more accessible and easier to find through mobile devices


Mod Rewrite – An Apache module generally included in a .htaccess file to convert dynamic URL formats into something more reader-friendly and search engine friendly


Monthly Service Fee –  The monthly cost of Web hosting services; the amount of money you pay to a Web hosting company for one month’s service (this is sometimes billed monthly, and sometimes you must pay the monthly service fee for several months in advance)


MySQL – A popular open source database management system included in many Web hosting accounts




Niche Blog – A topic-specific blog (such as a blog on dog training in general) as opposed to a personal blog (diary or journal-style) or a company blog (covering company news, announcements, or posts that market products or services — like a dog trainer’s company blog where the blogger offers special deals and blogs for their target customer market)





Offshore Hosting – Hosting a website in a country other than where you are located (sometimes done in an attempt to circumvent laws or common hosting rules in a site owner’s home country)


On-page SEO — Everything you do within your own website to help your pages rank better in search engine results pages (including internal linking, redirections, and sitemaps)


Overselling – When a Web hosting company sells access to more resources than they can technically supply (for example, offering “unlimited” storage space to shared hosting customers even though there is a physical limit on space, because the hosting company has other types of limits in place that ensure the resources advertised won’t actually be used by most customers)




Page – Content on a blog that falls outside of the chronological post order (such as a static “About Us” page)


Pageview – The loading, or view, of a single page on a website (different Web analytics software may calculate pageviews differently, sometimes in an attempt to emphasize only human traffic)


Pay-per-click — An advertising method where an advertiser pays only when their ads are clicked on, thereby directing visitors to their website


Permalink – A URL at which a specific page or post on your website or blog can always be found


Permissions – Who can read, write, and execute a file or directory on a Web server or hosting account


Photoblog – A blog that relies on photos (and sometimes captions) as a primary form of content as opposed to articles


PHP – (See “Hypertext Preprocessor”)


Pinterest — A social media site and social network where people share updates and interests by “pinning” visual content such as photos on a virtual pin board


Plugin – A tool that allows you to add specific functionality in addition to the basic capabilities of your CMS or blog platform


Plus One — A method of sharing or endorsing content on the Google + social network


Podcast – An audio series frequently released in chronological order similar to a blog; an audio blog


POP – (See “Post Office Protocol”)


Post – An article or other chronologically-posted piece of content on a blog


Post Office Protocol – The Internet standard protocol which allows an e-mail client to retrieve e-mail messages from a server


PPC — (See “Pay-per-click”)


Private Domain Registration – Domain registration where your personal or business contact details are not made publicly available in a Whois database (there is often an extra fee for private registrations)


Problogger – A professional blogger; The name of a popular blog on blogging


Proof of Concept — A demonstration of some sort that proves the viability of a startup concept to potential investors




Raw Access Logs – (Also known as “raw logs” or “server logs”) Data recording the traffic for your website; Analytics programs use this raw data to display Website statistics in visual form


Reader – A tool that allows you to access all feeds subscribed to from a central location (allowing you to read the latest posts from multiple blogs so you don’t have to visit each manually, for example)


Really Simple Syndication – A feed format that allows bloggers and other producers of dynamic content to distribute or syndicate their content or make it available for private viewing via subscriptions and feed readers


Redirects – Having a website or single Web page automatically forward a visitor to another Web address (often used when a website changes domain names so traffic isn’t lost)


Registrar – A company that allows you to register domain names for your websites or blogs


Reseller Hosting – A hosting account where the customer can turn around and sell customized portions of their allotted resources in hosting accounts to other end users (reseller accounts are generally used as a business model, but can also be used to manage the original customer’s multiple sites on one account but with different control panel access for each site)


Responsive Web Design — A Web design that automatically adapts and resizes to fit any mobile device


Robots.txt — A file that dictates what search engine spiders or other robots can see or crawl on your website


RSS – See “really simple syndication”




Search Engine Marketing – The act of purposefully using search engines to drive traffic to your website or blog (search engine optimization is one example of search engine marketing, but this term is broader and also includes paid placement in search results through advertising)


Search Engine Optimization – The process by which you make a website appear more relevant than competing websites according to search engines so your website will appear higher in the list of search results when a visitor searches for terms related to your website (getting backlinks is often an important part of search engine optimization)


Secure Socket Layer – A security protocol that establishes a secure session between the user and end site by encrypting transferred data; a frequently used security protocol on online shopping sites that protects users’ personal and financial data as it is transferred from the user’s computer to the seller’s system


Seed Funding — A first round of funding to help a startup get off the ground with initial research and development expenses; frequently provided by personal funding of the business owner or their personal contacts, angel investors, startup incubators, or crowdfunding


SEM – See “search engine marketing”


SEO – See “search engine optimization”


Server – The computer used to serve up Web pages, databases, or other website elements


Setup Fee – A one-time fee charged by a Web hosting company when you initially setup your account (not all Web hosting companies charge a setup fee)


Shared Hosting – Hosting accounts where several or many websites are hosted on a single server where they share resources; the least expensive form of Web hosting, but not capable of handling high traffic sites due to shared resource limitations


Shopping Cart – Software that enables an e-commerce site’s customers to save and then purchase multiple items from the online catalog at once


SiteBuilder – A tool offered by many Web hosting companies which assists the user in building their own websites


Sitemap — A list of all of the pages and / or posts on your website (generally used to help search engines add your content to their indexes)


SMTP – (see “Simple Mail Transfer Protocol”)


Social Media — All websites and tools used in social networking, generally consisting of websites that allow for user-generated content and direct community interaction between site visitors or those visitors and the site owner


Social Media Advertising — Paid placement of marketing messages on social networks


Social Media Marketing — Any activity where social networks or other social media sites and tools are used to help a person, business, or organization gain a larger audience or make more sales


Social Media Profile — Information about you or yourself posted to a social network, separate from your routine updates


Social Network — A website used to build interactive communities


Spam – Unwanted comments on a blog, often unrelated to the blog content and usually posted primarily to try to secure backlinks from the blog


Splog – (Also known as a “spam blog”) A blog that exists solely to rank highly in search engines to attract visitors and have them click on ads for revenue; content is often stolen and automatically harvested (“scraped”) from other blogs and republished on the splog


SQL – (see “Structured Query Language”)


SSL – See “secure socket layer”


Startup Incubator — A program that nurtures startups and their founders; often lasts for several months where members receive seed funding and mentoring to speed up the development of a startup


Static content / static website– A page on a website or blog that never (or rarely) changes; A website where pages aren’t frequently updated such as they are on an ever-changing blog


Statistics – (see “Analytics”)


Structured Query Language (SQL) – A common query language used to request data from a website’s database


Subdomain – A domain located in a hierarchy under the primary domain name (ex. is a primary domain whereas contains the subdomain “blog” where your site’s blog might be located)


Support – The methods by which a Web hosting company makes itself available to address customer questions and problems (online tickets, email support, 24/7 phone support, etc.)




Tag – A keyword associated with content (such as a blog post) that allows it to be searched for more easily by grouping like content under the same labels


Theme – A blog design or template


Theme Framework — A blog theme with a minimalist appearance, designed specifically to be the basis of more complex designs


Trackback – A notification on a blog or website that another blog or website has linked to it


Traffic – The movement and flow of visitors to and from your website or blog, or from one page to another within your site structure


Tweet — A 140-character update posted to Twitter


Twitter — A popular social network / micro-blogging service




Uniform Resource Locator – The address of a Web page or other piece of content on the Web (the character string you type into your browser’s address bar to access something specific)


Unique Visitor – In website analytics, an individual visitor to a website (every time a person visits within a set timeframe, it counts as a visit to the site, but will still only count as a single unique visitor for the day, month, or other timeframe tracked by the statistics program)


URL – See “uniform resource locator”




Venture Capital Firm — Firms, often partnerships, where wealthy investors choose specific companies to invest in based on their potential for long-term growth or future sales to larger companies


Video Blog – A blog where the primary form of content is online videos


Viral — When a piece of content is rapidly spread or circulated to a large audience, usually through social networks


Virtual Private Server (VPS) – Dedicated resources on a server which act like a dedicated server, even though the server itself is still shared with more than one user (more expensive than shared hosting, but less expensive than dedicated hosting)


Visit – An occasion where a visitor accesses your website or blog over a set period of time (a visit can include a single Web page or multiple pages before the visitor leaves)


Visitor – An actual individual visiting your website or blog (sometimes over a set period of time such as a few hours or a day, whereas “unique visitors” are only counted once)


Virtual Private Server – A type of Web hosting plan where you share a server with others (less than traditionally on a shared hosting plan), but where each user gets a dedicated amount of resources so their sites don’t affect the performance of those on other users’ accounts


Vlog – See “video blog”


VPS – See “virtual private server”




Web Host – A company offering server resources to host websites and other applications


Web Page – An individual page on a website


Web Presence — All of the things that contribute to your visibility and authority status on the Web, including your Website and social media profiles


Weblog – See “blog”


Webmaster – A person who develops and / or maintains a website


Website – A collection of Web pages linked under a single brand and domain name and used to publish content to the World Wide Web


Website Template – A pre-designed Website design that you can download or purchase and install “out of the box” as an often less-expensive alternative to custom designs


Whois – A database of contact information of domain name registrants (private domain registrations avoid having personal details included in a Whois database)


Widget – A small application or component that can be embedded on a Web page and controlled by the site owner or webmaster; widgets are often used to display third party information or tools and in blogging are frequently used in the sidebar


WYSIWYG Editor – A “what you see is what you get” text editor often found in content management systems (similar to the familiar interface of word processing programs like Microsoft Word); enables you to add and edit content without knowing HTML




XHTML – (Also known as “extensible hypertext markup language) A language using XML to make improvements upon traditional HTML coding


XML – (Also known as “extensible markup language) A file or data format allowing you to store and exchange structured data; XML is not limited to use in Web browsers as HTML is designed to be

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