Reno Tahoe Tonight Article (May, 2013) Blog

Reno Tahoe Tonight Article (May, 2013) Blog
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(Published in the Reno Tahoe Tonight magazine May, 2013)
-Amber Howland

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]sometimes what we as professionals accept as common knowledge, might as well be a foreign language to others outside of our world.[/quote]

Digital Definitions

The other day, I found myself speaking with two separate business owners about enhancing their digital presence online.  Business owner number one was shaking her head in agreement at the various terms used in describing all-things-digital, while in stark contrast; business owner number two was looking a little lost.  While the first business owner was able to speak using digital jargon, the second business owner stated that he “only caught about half of that.”  He then changed gears and eagerly asked me about the aftermarket exhaust system on my truck!Having been involved in the world of aftermarket automotive in a previous life, I gladly obliged and he felt right at home.

This otherwise simple exchange got me thinking; After years in one niche industry (aftermarket automotive), and then jumping into another (digital media solutions), you learn to speak as if all of the people you deal with on a daily basis are as ingrained with jargon in their world as you are in yours.  I found this to be a great learning opportunity.  A chance to step back and realize that sometimes what we as professionals accept as common knowledge, might as well be a foreign language to others outside of our world.

The online world isn’t scary, but sometimes the terminology can sound more like someone reading their alphabet soup aloud than actual words!  I want to take this opportunity to share some common tech-terms and their definitions so that next time you hear them, you’ll feel just as home as the person using them.

Search Algorithm: A set of rules that a search engine uses to rank website listings in response to an online search.

Back Link:  Any link on another website that directs back to your website.  This is also called inbound links. Backlinks help improve your online ranking.

Black Hat:  If you read my last column, you know I dedicated an entire article to Black Hat tactics.  Black Hat strategy is the practice of increasing your digital exposure by deception.

CPM: Cost Per Mille (thousand).   CPM is a system of advertising where ads are purchased based on how many times the ad is seen.  The client will pay per thousand views. CTR:  Click Through Rate:  This is the ratio of the number of times an ad is clicked on divided by the number of times the ad is viewed, shown as a percentage.  For example if an ad was seen 1200 times and was clicked on 23 times, your CTR is 1.9%.

Display ad: Display ads are image ads and are most often seen on websites with content.

Meta Tag: Information placed in a web page not intended for users to see, but instead typically passes information to search engine crawlers.

Organic listing: Listings that search engines do not sell.  Sites appear in order based on how a search engine has deemed it editorially relevant.

Paid listing: Sites with paid listings are placed in a premium position (usually above or to the right of organic listings) based on content the advertiser chooses to promote without the influence of algorithms.

Panda and Penguin:  These are warm and fuzzy code names for Google algorithm updates.  Google is constantly updating their algorithms to better sort sites organically according to their editorial importance.

PPC: Pay Per Click:  PPC is a form of online advertising where the advertiser pays for ads as they are clicked on as opposed to when the ad is seen.

SEM: Search Engine Marketing: The act of marketing a website through search engines.  This is usually a combination of SEO and paid listings or PPC.

SEO: Search Engine Optimization:  This is the art of altering a website so web crawlers deem the site more important than other sites when performing a search.

SERP:  Search Engine Results Page/Positioning.  This refers to the organic search results as listed on a search engine page.

Social Media: These are media sites created for social interaction.  The most common social media sites are Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and Google+

Text ad:  These are ads without images that you will often see at the top or right had side of a search engine results.

URL: Uniform Resource Locator:  This is the unique characters that describe the location of a webpage like


Hopefully this information will help you better understand us “digital geeks” when we ask if your website is search optimized, or what’s your SERP?

Do you have a digital topic you’d like me to write about in a future column?  If so, please let me know by emailing me at

-Amber Howland
Dragonfly Media,, (775)746-4690

Amber Howland is General Manager of Dragonfly Media, based in Reno, Nevada.  Dragonfly Media works with small to medium size businesses to increase their digital influence through SEO/SEM, social media management, website/app development, and email marketing.