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Web Hosting Glossary

Common web hosting buzzwords defined in simple terms.

White Screen of Death

On a web page (often referenced on WordPress websites), the white screen of death is simply a blank white page with nothing on it. When you see a white screen it means that there is a significant error that causes the application to fail. These types of errors are also referred to fatal errors. Just because its fatal, doesn’t mean your website is dead and can not be fixed. Fixing a fatal error can be as simple fixing a syntax code error, or as complicated as code incompatibilities.


An subdomain domain is a feature of a stand alone web hosting package that you purchase. It is independent of how you build your website – i.e. custom coded, WordPress, Drupal. It also does not matter if you bought web hosting service from GoDaddy, Hostgator, Dreamhost or Bluehost. The feature behaves the same. A subdomain is directory that is part of your main domain that can be separated. All code and content is located in a subdirectory and reference on your main domain. They can then be referenced like this Typically they are used do differentiate a section or service of the main website. A real world example would be for support services. ie and Sometimes people mix up addon domains and subdomains. They are very different though.


TLS is the acronym for Transport Layer Security. This is a encryption protocol to protect data that is transferred over the Internet. It also provides a layer of authentication to identify the device. TLS replace SSL in 1999, but the two terms are still used interchangeably.


LAMP is an acronym in the field of website development that refers to the collection of software used for web development. Linux (operating system), Apache (web server), MySQL (database) and PHP (programming language)

Email Client

An email client is the software/program that you use to read and retrieve your email. Examples include Thunderbird, Windows Mail, Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo mail…

Dynamic Website

Dynamic websites change. Web pages are created on the server side and then delivered to your web browser. Dynamic websites are typically database driven. Content is stored in the database and added to the page when a page is requested. An example of a dynamic website would be a blog. When you add a new post, a dynamic page could automatically include this new content on the web page without having to edit HTML to include it.

Static Website

The term static website refers to web pages that are built with HTML/CSS/JS exactly as you see them. There is no code logic to make the page display different when it is requested. The opposite of this is a dynamic website. With a dynamic website the web page is not created until you type the URL into your browser. Content potentially changes each time the page is loaded. A static web page could be compared to a printed page in a book.

Open Source Software

Open source software enables you to download the code base at no cost and modify it in any way you want. It is freely available to the public. The opposite of this is closed source or proprietary software. The source code is not accessible to modify. Free is not a factor here, closed source can be paid or free.

Software license

A software license is a legal document that defines terms of use and how you can distribute software. It protects the developer of the software and the end user. Definition of how it can be used ranges from open source – which defines that it can be freely used, modified and shared, to proprietary which may not be modified or shared and include subscription or one time fees.

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.htaccess (hypertext access) is a hidden text file that can exists on websites running on Apache web servers. It can reside in any directory for you to configure and control how web pages are served. You can configure many things in this file includingURL structures, page redirects, security, caching and more.


FTP is an acronym for File Transfer Protocol. In simple terms, it is a way to move files that reside on a network. When a web developer writes code to build a website, typically they work on a local machine (ie desktop, laptop) and then move files onto the web server for the code to then load on the website. As a web developer, I will always ask for FTP access (username, password and host string) in order to be able to work on your website.

Server Side

The computer that website code resides on is called a web server. Anything related to this computer is referenced as server side. Opposite of this is client side. Client side refers to your web browser.

Client Side

Client side is a web development term that refers to where code runs. A client is a web browser (Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge…) Code like JavaScript is executed locally in a users web browser and is an example of client side scripting. The opposite of this is server side where code is executed on the computer the website code resides and then is delivered to the client.

Secure Certificate

On a high level, a secure certificate, or SSL certificate is file that includes data in it that authenticates a website/domain’s owner along with encrypting data that is submitted through the website. This file is installed on a web hosting account. Web browsers check the validity of it and display a locked padlock if the certificate is good, and a broken padlock if something is not right.

Meta Tags

Meta data is data that describes other data. Meta tags on a web page are used to include data about the web page, but not a visual part of the actual web page. Search engines use meta data to better understand what a web page is about. The most common tags that you may hear about are page title, meta description and meta keywords. There are hundreds of possible tags to use though.

Content Management System

A content management system (aka CMS) is a software application that separates the code and content to make it easier to manage content. Using browser based tools you can add , edit pages, products, photo galleries – just about anything without needing a web developer to do it for you. You need a web developer to install, configure

Website Audit

Server Caching

Browser Cache

A cache is a “container” to store something. With a website, a browser cache refers to storing files locally in your browser. When you visit a website your web browser will store files like images, CSS (web page style definitions) locally on your computer’s hard drive. The next time you visit a web page, your browser can then pull these files locally, and faster than requesting them off of the Internet.



Mobile Friendly

A website that is mobile friendly means that code is written to make a web page adjust to the size of the device it is being viewed on. Some things that are obvious would be a navigation menu changes on a small screen, and rows of database get changed to display in a column so the font size is still easily readable without having to pinch and zoom a web page.





Server Side Scripting

Server side scripting refers to programming logic that is executed on the web server where the website code resides. PHP is a very popular server side scripting language. The opposite of server side is client side. Javascript is an example of client side scripting language. Your web browser is the client, so Javascript is able to execute from your web browser, while PHP code is only executed when you submit a button or click on a link to load a web page.

Schema Markup


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Javascript is a scripting language used to build web pages. Javascript is executed in your web browser, also refer to as client side. Javascript can manipulate content once it is sent to the web browser, vs server side scripting that is done before content is sent to the web browser.


HTTP in an acronym for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. This is the protocol used to deliver web pages from a server to a web browser. HTTPs is the secure version of HTTP, transmitting data securely.


HTML stands for hyper text markup language. It is the standard language used to mark up text to build web pages.




Back End

Back end in web development refers to the parts of a website that a user does not see. It includes server side source code that generates web pages, the database – basically all of the logic involved so a user can see an interact through the front end of a website. A back end web developer writes the programming logic to communicate with databases and build functional logic into a website.



CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheet. It is a scripting language used in conjunction with HTML to add styles to elements to define how a web page looks. It is the standard used to define how your web pages look because it is easy to use and maintain, streamlines HTML code by separating it into other files and enables you to reuse the same defined code across all pages on a website for consistency and efficiency when building a web page.

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Home Page

The home page of a website is the “front page”, “starting point” or top level page of a website. You access a home page when you type in a domain name without any file name. i.e.

Breakpoints/Media Queries


In programming an API is an Application Programming Interface. An API enables software on two different computers to communicate with each other. The two different computers do not need to be on the same operating system, or programming language. It is a way to be able to send and receive data through the two systems. Communication is the key purpose.


An alt tag, also referred to as alt text is an attribute of an HTML image element. It is used to describe and image in situations where the “user can not see the image. For example, search engines and impaired accessibility readers will use alt tags to understand what the image is about.

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Bandwidth is a measure of the amount of data transmitted over a network in a period of time. Data transfer is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). It is not measuring SPEED but VOLUME. Web hosting packages define an quota of how much bandwidth you can use. This quota resets at the end of each month. When a user loads your website in a browser, the web server is transmitting code content and images to their browser. Data is being transmitted, bandwidth is used to measure how much data you transmitted.

Cloud Hosting

Cloud web hosting refers to how web servers are configured rather than a different type of service. With shared hosting your website resides on one web server and resources are shared with many web hosting accounts. With cloud hosting, your website is spread across many web servers across a network. The servers could be in one physical location, or spread out in many locations. The benefit of this type of service is that you have access to additional resources and can scale when needed. This type of set up is good for websites that get spikes in traffic.

Web Host

A web host is an entity (typically a company) that owns (or rents, leases) a web server(s). A web server is a computer connected to the Internet that serves web pages. When you hear of web hosts or web hosting companies, they are typically commercial businesses that rent space on their web servers so end users can build websites. Most people do not have the technical knowledge to run a web server.

Addon Domain

An addon domain is a feature of a stand alone web hosting package that you purchase. It is independent of how you build your website – i.e. custom coded, WordPress, Drupal. It also does not matter if you bought web hosting service from GoDaddy, Hostgator, Inmotion or Bluehost. The feature behaves the same. An addon domain is an additional domain you can host under your web hosting account. When you sign up for web hosting services, the domain name that you input is referred to are you primary domain. You can then create addon domains to create additional, fully functional websites. The number of add on domains you can create would be specific to the web hosting package you purchased. Sometime addon domains get confused with subdomains.


SSL is an acronym for Secure Sockets Layer. This is a encryption protocol to protect data that is transferred over the Internet. It also provides a layer of authentication to identify the device. SSL has been replaced with TLS (Transport Layer Security). Because the reference to SSL is well recognized, the two terms are often used for each other. SSL is the original protocol that has developed into TLS. It is the standard today that all websites use SSL/TLS through implementing a secure certificate so the website loads on https.


With web hosting, a backup is referring to a copy of parts or all of your web hosting account. Just like backing up your PC or phone, it’s a NO BRAINER that you keep full and current backups of your website code and database.


Web hosting storage is also referred to as web space, storage space, disk space. This is hard drive space on the web server where you store your website code, content and database. You have a finite amount of storage space. (vs bandwidth which resets each month)


Plesk is a browser based web hosting account management software interface similar to cPanel.


cPanel is software that loads in a web browser that enables you to manage all parts of your web hosting account. Beyond your website code, you can make backups, create and modify database, create FTP users, make DNS changes and much much more. People often confuse cPanel as part of their website, but it is not.

Web Server

A server is a computer on a network that provides a service to other computer (client). In the field of web development, a web server delivers web pages to a client (your web browser)

Windows Server

A Windows server is a server that runs Microsoft Windows as the operating system.

VPS Hosting

VPS (Virtual Private Server) Web Hosting is a more powerful hosting option over shared hosting. One physical server is setup with virtual servers within it. Each virtual server is a separate entity from the others. Each VPS has its own operating system and can be rebooted independently.

Shared Hosting

Shared web hosting services share a web server resources with many accounts. There may be hundreds (or thousands) of accounts on a shared web server. Shared hosting is an affordable and economical web hosting solution for small sites. While it is affordable, it is low budget in terms of the service you are getting. Factors like speed, security, and web hosting support may be less than ideal.

Reseller Hosting

Reseller web hosting is a sub set of types of web hosting. Shared, VPS, cloud, dedicate hosting could all be configured to resell accounts. A customer can buy a reseller web hosting package and then divide there account into individual accounts to resell to their customers. You could compare it to buying a product wholesale and then turning around and selling products individually.

Linux Server

A Linux server is a server that runs on the open-source operating system Linux . Linux servers have a good reputation for security, stability, tech support and downtime.

Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated web hosting is mainly used for large scale projects. It’s expensive and powerful. The entire server is dedicated to one account owner. You have full control over how to configure it and you don’t share any resources like memory and storage with any other account.

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