Web Jargon Explained

Often, the hardest part about learning new things is learning the language. This doesn’t just apply to traveling in foreign countries. Nearly every specialized area comes with words and terms you probably hadn’t heard before you started learning about the topic. Whether you’re studying chemistry, business administration, computer science, or birdhouse building, you’re going to run into some unfamiliar words and terms that you’ll need to learn.

JM Online knows that in our industry, there are a lot of technical words, or jargon, that can make it a challenge for newcomers to engage. Our aim is to communicate the importance of your online presence, hosting, website data, and many other jargon-heavy topics.

We can’t help you see the importance of our message if the jargon is making our communication impossible to understand. So to better serve you, we’ve created this cheat sheet of common jargon. Almost every support phone call we are on includes most of these words.

Common Jargon Cheat Sheet

Hosting

The space on a server ( basically a special computer) where a website, email, mobile app, or any web-based software lives. Your home has a physical location on a piece of land, and your website files have a real location on a server.

Domain

Your website domain is the address that people type into the browser when they want to visit your website. Your domain or domain name might look like: www.mywebsitename.com

URL

A URL, or uniform resource locator, includes your domain, plus the pages and content that make up your entire website. While www.mywebsite.com is your website’s primary URL, www.mywebsite.com/services is the URL for your service page.

CMS

CMS is an acronym that stands for Content Management System. In the old days, the only way to edit your website was to edit it using HTML code. A CMS is a user-friendly way to control the content on your website without needing to know how to code. Common CMS’s include WordPress, Joomla, Square Space, Wix, Magento, Shopify, and more.

WordPress

WordPress is one of the most commonly used CMS’s. Over 27 million websites are built using WordPress. WordPress is open source, which means you don’t need to pay WordPress to use it, and anybody can develop tools or plugins that work with WordPress.

WordPress CMS Logo

Browser

A browser, or web browser, is software on your computer, phone, or tablet that allows you to look at websites. More technically speaking, a browser is software that requests information, or files, from servers to be displayed on your computer. Common browsers include Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge.

Common Website Browser Logos

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a tool that allows you to see how people behave once they visit your website. You can see how much traffic you’re getting, where it’s coming from, which pages are visited, and how long each visit lasts. These numbers help you understand what’s working and what needs improvement on your website.

Google Analytics Logo

Google Analytics Dashboard
Here is a basic view of the Google Analytics dashboard, and the kind of data you can expect to see.

Google My Business

Google My Business is a platform for business owners to control how their business appears on a Google Map search result. When online users search for a business “near me,” Google gives them a map result. Managing your Google My Business account ensure that your business information is accurate on the results page.

Here are some more articles about Google My Business, it’s value to you and how to set it up, click here.

Optimize your Google My Business page to

Google My Business dashboard screenshot
Here is a view of the dashboard of a Google My Business account. This gives you an idea of what kind of information that this tool provides as well as some data to help you make better decisions with your online presence.

Google Search Console / Webmaster Tools

Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) is a tool that allows you to see how people find your website using Google Search. If you want to monitor where your blog posts are ranking on Google search, ask your web manager for access to Search Console.

Google Search Console logo

Google Search Console dashboard screenshot
This is a basic view on the Google Search Console dashboard. This gives a sample of what you can expect when you visit your Search Console account.

Security Package

Security packages are unique to your provider, so make sure you ask them to explain it to you. Generally, website security packages keep unwanted traffic from accessing your website. If you’re only doing business in the USA, for example, international traffic may be blocked to eliminate the possibility of non-customers attacking your site.

Email Client

An email client is software installed onto your phone, tablet, or computer that allows you to send or receive email. Common email clients include Microsoft Outlook, and if you’re using an Apple device, Apple uses an application called Apple Mail, or just Mail.

Logos of the most common email clients

Less Frequently Used Jargon

The jargon below are words that you may not experience as frequently. These words would be something that you would hear in a conversation if you’re performing more technical work on the site, such as building a new website or trying to make your website more secure.

Dev Site

A dev site, or development site, is commonly used when a website is being rebuilt, or when a brand-new website under construction. It’s a virtual space that allows you to view the website’s progress while keeping it hidden from online users.

Website Launch

When you’re building a new website, there comes a time when you’re ready for it to go live or become accessible for online users. The process of making your site available for the public to see and use is called a website launch.

Server

A server is like a computer. Just like your computer, it has documents, images, and folders. The difference is that a server operates as a centralized resource for multiple users, while your computer is only used by whoever is logged in. A server never gets turned off, allowing computers to access its contents 24/7. Your website is a collection of files and folders that live on a server.

Caching

Caching is a process that your computer, server, or browser uses to remember data. Caching minimizes the amount of work required to load data or websites. The less work that’s required to load, the faster the data or website loads.

PCI Compliance

PCI, or Payment Card Industry, refers to the standard for data security. PCI compliance means your website meets the information security standard when credit cards are transacted through your website. If you’re taking credit card payments through your website, your hosting server needs to have a specific configuration to meet PCI compliance.

reCAPTCHA

A reCAPTCHA is a tool that is installed onto your website that determines if a visitor on your site is a human or not. Frequently used on contact forms and login pages, reCAPTCHA tools block spam bots from submitting malicious data on your website.

reCaptcha screenshot

Domain Registrar

A domain registrar is a company that reserves domain names. If you’re starting your business and you want to reserve a domain name, you’ll need to visit a domain registrar like GoDaddy or NameCheap to purchase and secure your domain name.

SSL

SSL stands for secure sockets layer. It is a secure method for connecting two computers (your device with a web browser, for example) by encrypting or codifying data so that it cannot be read or stolen. Websites with SSL certifications will display the small padlock symbol in the browser before their domain name. All websites should have this to be deemed trustworthy by today’s online standards.

This is how a browser looks when you're visiting a secure site.

Browser warning that the page you're visiting doesn't have a
If a website has an SSL but the SSL is broken, site users may see a stronger warning like this. This is because if an SSL is used to protect credit card transactions, submitting a purchase through this unprotected site could put your credit card data at risk.

For more about SSL’s and site security, click here.

HTTP

HTTP or HyperText Transfer Protocol is a set of rules that are used to transfer data over the web. When you visit a website, your browser is sending messages formatted in HTTP.

HTTPS

Similar to HTTP, but HTTPS sends messages securely using an SSL so that data cannot be stolen.

As a website owner or future website owner, you will sooner or later become involved in technical conversations in order to improve your online presence. We want you to be confident and able to engage with your technology. Understanding these words and terms will help you make the best decisions possible for your hosting, website data, email, and everyday website problems.

How to Choose the Right Hosting Solution

Whether you’re a marketing director or business owner at some point you’ll consider website hosting.

For most, web hosting is set up and then forgotten. You probably know you need a host for your website to work online, several companies offer the service, and the fee is minimal.

All of that is true – but often business owners just want to get started so they sign up for something basic. Later they later discover some limitations and want to customize their plan, giving them more to consider.

We’re going to take a deeper look at why choosing the right website hosting matters and answer questions like:

  • When do I go with the DIY hosting solutions like GoDaddy or Blue Host?
  • When do I choose a web hosting company with in-house technicians?

Let’s start by considering your needs.

What are my web hosting needs?

Before you can decide if a DIY web host or a full-service hosting solution is best, you need to think about what you need on a daily basis.

Depending on the type of industry you’re in, you might require special treatment for sensitive information. Think HIPPA or PCI compliance. If you plan on accepting credit card payments, you payment solution may require you to be hosted on a PCI compliant server. That might be more difficult to ensure using a DIY service.

Does your website get spikes during certain times of the year? Think Black Friday or Cyber Monday. DIY web host solutions aren’t always clear on how you can manage your resources.

Will you get more resources allocated to your site when you need it? During a heavy traffic spike, when you should be making money, your website could freeze – cases like this are why some businesses prefer hiring a professional hosting solutions team.

Some other important questions:

  • Do you have international users?
  • Do you need the ability to set up subdomains or development sites?
  • Will you want to deploy a mobile app?
  • Do you want email addresses with your domain name?
  • Do you send newsletter blasts from your domain?

I don’t get a lot of traffic on my website

If you’re starting out or serve a niche market, your website may not be getting a lot of daily traffic.

If your site is basic or you make some small changes periodically using WordPress or Joomla, you may not need many configurations, and a DIY solution like GoDaddy, Bluehost or FlyWheel may be a great solution for you.

With that said, it’s a good idea to be aware of the basic minimum best practices for today’s web. For example, all websites should have an SSL. An SSL is a tool that encrypts information to make it difficult to steal. Most browsers tell site visitors if an SSL is present. For example, next to the URL in your browser you’ll see either lock icons or shields to tell users that this site has an SSL and is secure:

If a site is not secure, you would see these icons:

You don’t want your users to feel like their security is at risk when they visit your site. For more on SSL’s, see our blog post, Does Your Website Need an SSL Certificate?

In addition, it’s a good idea to set up a spam filter when you’re setting up your email hosting.

If you’re planning for the future and expect to grow, include periodic upgrades as needed in your growth plan. Or you can avoid needing to migrate your site once it has matured and is more difficult to manage, by starting with local web hosting professionals.

My website gets a lot of traffic

If you know your website is getting a lot of traffic or experiences traffic spikes, you may require more advanced configurations. There are a number of hosting solutions that can ensure that your site stays fast when it’s under load.

Ensuring you’re on a dedicated server eliminates the conflict with other websites experiencing high volumes and gives you access to your server’s full resources at all times.

If you have a high-volume site, consider setting up an efficient caching plan. Caching is a technique that allows your server to store a snapshot of your site instead. When your site experiences high volume, caching can greatly reduce the workload of your server and help your site load faster for your users. Here are some tips on how to make your site fast.

Often server-level caching is executed using a CDN (content delivery network). A CDN is a network of servers that are distributed worldwide that store snapshots of your website. This way, your website is geographically close to any worldwide user so that during peak traffic hours your international users will experience the fastest site you can serve them.

A CDN has the added benefit of providing email obfuscation, hiding email addresses from page crawlers, like email harvesters and spambots, looking for email addresses on your pages that they can add to spam email lists.

Should I use a dedicated server?

Like most things, the answer is – it depends. By now, you have a sense of some of the considerations to make when determining if a DIY host solution or a full-service host solution is right for you. Let’s recap the important takeaways to this point.

  • Most out of the box DIY hosting solutions are on a server that’s shared by many other domains. This means you’re all sharing resources that are engineered to the needs of multiple sites, not customized to your needs.
  • When you’re on a dedicated server, you get 100% of the server resources at all times.
  • If your payment processor requires PCI compliance, you’ll likely need your own dedicated server.
  • If your industry requires special treatment of information, such as HIPPA compliance, you may require additional customizations that need to be done on a dedicated server.

Can I do it myself?

Again, it depends. Basic websites with a small traffic volume can probably be managed by a curious person and a lot of YouTube videos using a solution like GoDaddy.

But as your website grows in traffic volume and the complexity of your needs grow, you may want to consider reaching out to a local web hosting professional for guidance and support. There are some important questions to consider before you commit to the DIY approach.

  • Do you want a local (human) expert to help you in real-time when you need it?
  • Do you want expert support to help when making upgrades and adjustments?
  • Do you know how to configure the solutions that are right for you?
  • Do you have the time to learn hosting technology so you can solve problems when they arise?
  • How much of your time can you put into hosting management every week?

 

As you can see, choosing the right hosting solution for your website takes some thought. Do your prep work upfront so as you grow you can position yourself to provide for your needs as they arise.

In general, if your website doesn’t get a lot of traffic, and doesn’t handle sensitive information, a DIY solution could be the best choice. If your website is growing, plans to grow, and handles sensitive information, a local web hosting provider is probably going to be the better long-term solution.

Does Your Website Need an SSL Certificate?

http browser security message

In 2018 Google started the process of flagging websites as untrustworthy if they do not have an SSL certificate, and our Omaha web hosting team began making recommendations to all our clients to purchase and install and SSL certificate. If your website is not updated with an SSL certificate people who visit might see a red “Not Secure” message in their web address bar (URL), along with a full red screen warning them to advance at their own peril. As an Omaha web design and web hosting company we’re on the front lines and have a close up view of how this is affecting website owners. 

In addition to giving a dangerous impression, non-secure websites will suffer in Google search rankings making it increasingly difficult to find your website. The good news is it’s easy to get a SSL certificate and avoid having the dreaded red screen greet your visitors.

Who Needs an SSL Certificate?

After the release of Chrome 62, EVERY website with any kind of text input will need an SSL certificate. If your website has text inputs in the form of login panels, contact forms, search bars, etc., you’ll need the upgrade. If your website is on HTTP:// you’ll need the upgrade. There are very few websites that can get away with not having an SSL cert now. 

Benefits of an SSL Certificate

Secure Sensitive Information

If you don’t like the feeling of being “forced” to upgrade by Google, there are some benefits that come with the certificate. For starters, any information you send on the internet is passed from computer to computer and eventually arrives at the destination server. If you’re sending unsecure information any computer in between you and the server can see what your sending. Credit card numbers, usernames, passwords, and other sensitive information are vulnerable. When you use an SSL certificate the information becomes unreadable to everyone except for the server you’re sending the information to. Securing sensitive information is always good practice.

Cybercriminal Defense

Cybercriminals are becoming more and more sophisticated. Not only do they put together scams, they are starting to use techniques that capture unsecured data that’s moving between destinations. More than ever an SSL certificate is necessary to ensure your sensitive information is secure from these tech criminals.

Trust

Perhaps the most significant benefit is trust. When visitors come to your website and it has an SSL certificate they will see visuals that signal trust. In the URL they’ll see a lock and a green address bar indicating that secured encryption is in use. When your visitors see this, they’ll feel at ease and will stay longer. Using HTTPS will give you a stronger Google ranking as well.

SEO Benefits

Switching to HTTPS moderately correlates with organic search engine rankings. While it’s not a major determining factor, Google has stated it could be a tie breaker in indexing, ranking an HTTPS website above the HTTP competitor.

How an SSL Certificate Works

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is standard security technology that establishes an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. The link makes sure all the data passed between the web server and browsers remains private and secure. The process looks something like this: 

  1. A browser or server tries to connect to a website secured with an SSL certificate. The browser/server requests that web server identify itself.
  2. The web server sends the browser/server a copy of its SSL.
  3. The browser/server checks to see whether or not it trusts the SSL. If it does, it sends a message to the web server.
  4. The web server sends back a digitally signed agreement to start an SSL encrypted session.
  5. Encrypted data is then shared between the browser/server and the web server.

Don’t Get Flagged!

Having an SSL certificate is now a must have if you want visitors looking at your site – which you most certainly do. It’s important for SEO and user experience. If you don’t already have an SSL certificate you could be losing hundreds of potential customers every day – or more depending on the size of your business.