Acronyms help us save time every day. Whether using them in speech or printed word, they can be very helpful. The only downside is that they often require some preexisting knowledge to understand their reference. In the Internet marketing realm, it is no different. Though some acronyms are used frequently, others might not be, so knowing and understanding these acronyms is important to keeping up with the conversation. Here’s a time-saving list of some of the acronyms you might encounter in your Internet marketing campaign.

API (Application Programming Interface) is a set of rules that programs use in order to communicate with each other. A prime example is Google Analytics’ API which allows other programs to communicate with Google Analytics to pull data from Analytics directly. No need to copy and paste repeatedly.

ASP.NET is a program that runs insidee IIS which allows web programmers to build dynamic websites on Microsoft servers. This server side scripting technology is endemic to Microsoft servers and is the next generation of ASP, though not backwards compatible.

ASP, which stands for Active Server Pages, is Microsoft’s first server-side scripting engine which allows dynamic web page creation. It is the predecessor to ASP.NET and like ASP.NET runs on Windows-based platforms. Unfortunately, some file types cannot be read by Microsoft servers (unlike Linux servers), and without the proper filters installed, can render certain files (like kml files) unreadable.

B2B is just a shortened way of saying Business-to-Business, describing a company as one that works with other businesses as opposed to directly with consumers (retail).

B2C, just like B2B, is just a shortened way of saying Business-to-Consumer (though some say Business-to-Customer, however this can be misleading as another business [B2B] could constitute as being a customer). This is often used synonymously with “retail”.

CFML stands for ColdFusion Markup Language and is a scripting language that is commonly seen running on .NET framework, and therefore, is often associated with sites on Microsoft servers.

CMS, or Content Management System, is exactly what its name implies…a system that helps manage content. CMSs for websites are incredibly important because they can help make the creation and management of content quicker and easier. Some of the most popular CMSs are WordPress, Drupal and Joomla, though others like Magento and AmeriCommerce are popular for e-commerce sites.

CPA (Cost per Action, not to be confused with Cost per Acquisition which is used more in affiliate marketing) is an online advertisement pricing model that charges the advertiser when a specific action is taken in response to the advertisement. This could be anything from making a purchase, filling out a form, and so on. The acronym Cost Per Conversion is sometimes used synonymously with this, depending on the how one defines a conversion.

CPC, or Cost Per Click, is also an online advertisement pricing model that charges the advertiser when an ad is clicked upon.  Google’s AdWords and Microsoft’s adCenter are popular examples of CPC models in effect. For Cost Per Conversion, please see Cost Per Action.

CPI stands for Cost Per Impression and is an online advertising model often calculated in units of a thousand, thus the reason it is often called CPM (“m” standing for “milli” – Latin for one thousandth). This model is often used with banner ads and text link ads where an impression represents each appearance of the ad.

CRO, or Conversion Rate Optimization (sometimes just called Conversion Optimization), is the optimization of a website or landing page with the intent of maximizing the greatest number of conversions. An extension from just Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Conversion Rate Optimization goes a step farther by trying to aim for more conversions that just rankings in the SERPS.

CSS which stands for Cascading Style Sheets often refers to the external files that contain CSS code (though you could include this within your page’s HTML code, such embedding CSS or inlining CSS) but it can also refer to the language used in the coding itself. The CSS code instructs the browser on some of the formatting for the content on your site in a more condensed, (hopefully) organized fashion. The rules can be utilized to provide consistent formatting for elements on a page which you can apply across your entire site (if you reference the same code, of course). Keep in mind that the CSS only controls the formatting and not the actual content itself. For instance, if you want to include a drop down menu that expands when you hover over it, the content (text, HTML code, etc.) needs to already be generated on the page (this is where JavaScript and PHP are sometimes utilized), the CSS rules just tell the browser how to display the content (not displaying it until you hover over it, and then displaying it with the formatting that is specified within the CSS rules when you do hover over it). Some people may erroneously refer to making changes with/to CSS to modify the content on your site but just remember, the CSS just controls the formatting/appearance, it doesn’t add the code to the HTML code. Thanks for the suggestion Patrick!

CTR, or Click Through Rate, is a measurement of an online advertisement campaign’s success. It is the percentage of how many people click on an ad, divided by the number of times the ad is shown (impressions).

DNS aka Domain Name System is a naming system used throughout the internet to translate IP addresses into human-friendly domain names. Without it, we would be referring to websites not by their domain name like but by numerical values like

FTP, or File Transfer Protocol, is a network protocol used to transfer files between hosts, or in many cases, files on your web developer’s computer to the website’s server. Popular FTP Clients, like FileZilla, allow you to transfer files between your computer and your website’s server, making it quicker and easier than having to go though your host’s File Manager.

GUI, or Graphical User Interface, is an interface that gives users the ability to interact with computers or other devices through graphical elements (like images) instead of text commands. This not only makes it easier for those of us that are programming-challenged, but since it cuts down the need for text commands, it saves time (and keyboard wear and tear).

H1 refers to the main heading tag in HTML. The 1 indicates that it is the highest level, with each subsequent heading taking on a higher number. Though h1 headings are often regarded as an aesthetic concern to websites, it can also be a good place to put a keyword you are targeting.

HTML, or HyperText Markup Language, is one of the most common markup languages used on webpages. HTML elements are the building blocks of most webpages and give web designers and developers the ability to manipulate the appearance of text-based content.

IIS (Internet Information Services), also known as Internet Information Server, is a web server application created by Microsoft. It is second to its main competitor in the web server market: Apache HTTP Server.

KML, or Keyhole Markup Language, is a programming language used in map overlays and in Earth browsers like Google Earth. KML files allow you to specify different points on a map overlay, such as markers for store locations, and therefore, is a helpful tool for local search optimization.

KPI, Key Performance Indicators though sometimes just called Performance Indicators, are a type of measurement for success of an activity like an internet marketing campaign. These can vary, but in the internet marketing realm, this can be defined (on a case-by-case basis) as the number of new visitors to a site, the bounce rate of a site, the number of exits, average time on site, etc.

OS (Operating Systems) in a nutshell, are the systems in which computer hardware can communicate with software. Common OSs include Windows, Linux, iOS and Mac OS X. Most web servers run on Linux rather than Windows servers in contradiction to most personal computers which more often run on a version of Windows.

PPC is an advertising model where an advertiser pays for each click of their ad. Cost Per Click is the reference to the amount that each click is worth (directed towards the advertiser) though the CPC is dependent upon what type of PPC model is used: fixed or bid-based.

PR, or Page Rank, is an algorithm used by Google that is used to measure the importance of a site. Contrary to some belief, the word Page is actually derived from its creator, Larry Page, and not in reference to a web page. Though often used by many people as a KPI, Page Rank has shown to be vulnerable to manipulation and therefore not an entirely accurate portrayal of a site’s status. Also, it tends to favor older sites, so new sites often have lower PRs.

ROI (Return On Investment), is an important measurement to determine the effectiveness of a given investment, such as an Internet Marketing campaign. Essentially, anyone spending money in order to make money (like a business) will eventually want to know how much of their money they got back at the end of the proverbial day.

RSS which stands for Really Simple Syndication is a type of web feed format that is commonly used for blogs and news sites to allow them to syndicate their content (really) simply. Subscribers using an RSS reader can access the information in the feed that is structured in a layout that is easier to read.

SEM is a broad form of search engine-specific marketing which encompasses a variety of other internet marketing strategies such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), paid inclusion and contextual advertising. Search Engine Marketing is often used to refer to the combination of organic SEO and paid search engine advertising.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of improving a website’s visibility in a search engine. This can be done in a number of ways, but is often targeted around keywords. Since there are many ways in which SEO is accomplished, I will spare you the details, but know that this is often in reference to achieving better organic (un-paid) rankings in the SERPs.

SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) are basically the listing pages that appear each time you search for something in a search engine. Since most people do not search past the third or fourth search engine results pages, it is most desirable to maintain a ranking for targeted keywords within the first page, or roughly, the top 10 results.

SMM, or Social Media Marketing, encompasses a variety of channels including popular social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube (just to name a few). Since user engagement is a great branding strategy, as well as a useful way to get insight from customers to improve services, social media has become a relatively inexpensive, yet valuable tool for any company with an online presence … as long as it doesn’t steer in the wrong direction like the infamous Chrysler tweet incident.

TLD (Top Level Domains) are the highest level domains found in the Domain Naming System such as .com, .org  and .net. Though there has been much debate as to the authority that a .com domain has over a .net, this myth has pretty much been busted (sorry, Jaime and Adam, maybe you can bust an SEO myth some other day). However, some TLDs, like .edu, .gov and .mil are believed to carry more weight since they represent authoritative sources like educational institutions, government and military websites (respectively).

UGC (or User Generated Content) refers to content is somewhat self-explanatory (once you know what the “UGC” stands for). It refers to content that is user-generated. Though this is a very broad explanation, some examples of user-generated content are websites like Yelp which rely upon its users to write content (reviews) about the businesses that are listed on their site. Comments, like the one that Cloe provided below (which in a wonderful way made this acronym addition possible), is another example of user-generated content. Technically, the search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo! are using user-generated content to fill their indices (it just happens to be the website admins who are generating and pushing their content into their respective indices). Using UGC is a great way to not only add a human element to your pages’ content but it can sometimes signal that the page has been recently edited, which Google may give greater emphasis to fresher web content (something that became an increasingly sought-after approach to SEO following Google’s Freshness Update). Social networks like Facebook, Twitter and StumbleUpon also depend on user-generated content and with social signals also having a positive correlation with ranking, it makes sense to integrate your social media marketing efforts with your SEO strategy as well. Thanks Cloe for the awesome suggestion!

URLs (Uniform Resource Locator) are the addresses for web pages. URL structure is important for SEO not only for crawlability but also for providing search engines the correct address for a given web page. If a URL is spelled incorrectly, it will produce a 404 error which is not something you want to send your site’s visitor to. Also, Google (amongst other popular search engines) often handles static URLs better than dynamic ones, so having the right URL structure can be important for indexing and subsequently, ranking purposes.

W3C is the World Wide Web Consortium which is a standards organization in charge of developing the protocols, guidelines and standards for the web. Their role as a figurative hall monitor has helped to shape compatibility across the internet, thereby reducing issues of inconsistency in the display of web pages. Really, they’re more like the fashion police since most of their “policing” is done through setting specific guidelines (not usually enforced, but considered good to comply with) and not by going door to door cracking down on “coding criminals”.

WP (WordPress) is one of the most popular Content Management Systems for the web. However, there tends to be some slight confusion between and provides a free WordPress hosted blogging platform, whereas is the site where you can download open source CMS templates to be used for your website. Having a relatively easy-to-use interface, WordPress sites are some of the easiest to use CMSs for the computer-programming challenged, though even the most advanced of HTML experts can benefit from the time saving tools that WordPress has, like WYSIWYG editors and category management.

WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) refers to a user interface that provides an end-result preview of a document while you are creating it. A WYSIWYG editor, which is employed in many blogging platforms and CMSs, gives the interactivity of a document editing program like Microsoft Word, whilst simultaneously adding the necessary coding to achieve the desired formatting.

XML , or eXtensible Markup Language (where the “e” isn’t just silent, it’s invisible), is a set of rules for structuring documents, which in context with the Internet Marketing theme, would also refer to data being shared across the internet. Some of the most common XML-based languages are RSS, ATOM and XHTML though it is also used in microformatting for the semantic web.


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