The words we choose matter. As marketers, our words have a way of affecting how we approach our work. When we choose words that are confusing or misleading, it causes problems. I’ve seen it firsthand many times.

It’s time to redefine our terms.
Here are six phrases and marketing definitions that we should update in the online marketing dictionary:

  1. Social Media “Online Networking”
    Saying that you do “social media” is like saying that you use telephones. Social media is a channel, not a purpose or outcome. It’s more useful to say why we use social media: to connect people with people. In other words, online networking. It’s a better phrase because it reminds us that social media is done for a reason and not just for vanity stats like number of followers.
  2. Search Engine Optimization “Indicating Relevance”
    The term SEO is mysterious and often misunderstood. What do search optimizers really do? It’s actually very simple. They indicate the relevance of a website to search engines. The process involves choosing a relevant phrase (keyword research), using that phrase on the page (keyword usage), and connecting the page to other websites (link building). When you think of it that way, there’s nothing mysterious about it.Want to rank high for a phrase? All you need to do is make the best page on the internet for that topic and then indicate your relevance
  3. Blogger “Content Developer” or “Writer”
    There’s nothing wrong with the term “blogger,” except for the connotations it brings to mind. If you tell someone they need fresh website content, they agree. But tell them that they need to blog and they blow a fuse. A blog is just a section of current content. Call it something else if you’d like: “Latest Thinking,” “Recent News,” or “Op/Ed.” Every site should stay updated with fresh content. A website without a blog is an online brochure.
  4. Information Architecture “Site Map”
    I’ll never understand this one. I guess people think that they sound smart if they replace short, meaningful words with long, fancy four-syllable ones.Which of these is simpler to understand: “Proper methods for establishing information architecture” …or “How to make a sitemap?” The meaning is the same. Let’s stop trying to be impressive and start being clear.
  5. Podcast “Internet Radio”
    Online audio can be streamed on web pages or downloaded to a device. Not every device is an iPod. So why is every clip of marketing audio called a “podcast?” Do we just love Apple that much? Even if you put it on iTunes, your audio content isn’t limited to iPods. Really, it’s internet radio.
  6. Digital Marketing “Marketing”
    Sure, it’s useful to distinguish between online and offline marketing, but online marketing is becoming dominant. Budgets for digital marketing are already higher than print advertising and projected to exceed TV ad budgets by 2016. So, I say we drop the word “digital” and just call it “marketing.”

Out with the old
While we’re at it, it’s time to clean the old stuff out of our marketing dictionaries. Here’s a list of terms we should never use. They’re antiquated and obsolete.

  • Cyberspace, World Wide Web, Information Superhighway
    Speak these words and you’ll instantly sound like you’ve been asleep for the last ten years.
  • Hit
    Technically speaking, a hit is anytime a file is downloaded from your server. Want twice as many “hits?” Cut every image on your site in two. Now, you have twice the files and twice the hits. When people say hits, what they really mean is “visits.”
  • Hyperlinks
    Is there any other kind of link? Drop the hyper-. A link is a link.

Do you have any updates for the online marketing dictionary? Let us know your own terms and definitions with a comment below.