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website hosting jargon explained

Website Hosting Jargon Explained

Understanding the lingo of a particular topic is one of the first steps to becoming adept within the given topic. Whether it’s microbiology or website hosting and SEO, once you understand the jargon other ideas and concepts are much easier to explain and implement.

Language then, is a very interesting concept in the sense that it takes ideas or perceptions you have in your head and transfers them to someone else’s head. This of course only works if both parties speak the same language or use words that both understand.

Assuming you started a new website and didn’t know what an error code 404 meant, us telling you a page on your website has an a 404 would not mean much to you.

Now, assuming you did understand what a 404-error code meant, you could take the appropriate actions to fix or address it.

That’s the importance of understanding the lingo surrounding niches you find yourself within. So, to bring this around to website hosting and SEO jargon, once you understand the basic terms, improving, addressing, and conversing about the topic becomes a lot easier.

These are some of the most common website hosting terms you’ll encounter, whether you’re managing a website or just looking to become more familiar with the niche.


An error message indicating that your browser was able to communicate with the server but could not find the page that was requested, meaning it’s either broken or the page does not exist. This can sometimes happen when people change the URL of a page or remove it without adding a page to replace it.

A 404 error code on HOSTAFRICA
A 404 error code on HOSTAFRICA


Used to redirect you from an old webpage to a newer page. Usually used to prevent a 404 when you visit a web page without your having to see the 404-error code. If you create a new website but people still visit your old website, you can also implement a 301 on the old website to direct them to the new website


A copy of your data stored elsewhere so you can restore the original after a data loss event. The backup is usually independent from your main server or hard drive so if anything happens the data is still available.


In website hosting, bandwidth refers to the rate of traffic and data that can flow between your website and your users within a period of time. The unit of calculation is usually Gigabytes (GB).

Bounce Rate

The percentage of visitors that leave after entering your website without performing any action. Every marketer’s nightmare. A high bounce rate tells Google that your page did not offer any value to the user or did not deliver on what the page said it would. An example would be a misleading article.


The process of storing data so that future visits to a website can be loaded faster. Almost standard procedure for most websites because it makes the user’s life easier when the browser remembers it for the next time.


Content Delivery Network. A distributed network of proxy servers and data centres that allows you to access the server closest to you. Essentially, the CDN will allow you to access a network or website from a server closest to you, so things are sped up a bit.


Content Management System. Software that makes creating and managing a website easier. Think WordPress. Basically, a program that lets you build your website without needing any coding knowledge.

twenty seventeen wordpress theme customizer


A conversion is when a visitor takes an action you want them to on your website, whether it be signing up for a newsletter, making a purchase, or clicking a link.


Control panel. An interface that makes hosting a website easier by providing a graphic interface. It’s the administrative front of your website where you can make changes related to your web hosting account. It’s very similar to the control panel on your computer.

cPanel Home


Cascading Style Sheets. The code or computer language that defines the style and layout of a website. It’s basically the code that allows you to write your blog in green comic sans if you want to. With the advancements of CMS systems, however, knowing it is not a necessity.


Call to action. A prompt to a website visitor about what you want them to do next. This can be signing up to a newsletter or buying a product or service.


Domain name system. A naming system for computers that connects domain names to IP addresses, so you don’t have to remember a string of numerical values to reach a website, but can remember the website alphabetical name, like

dns translation infographic

Domain name

The name that replaces the numerical string of numbers of a website so that people can access a website easier.

HOSTAFRICA domain name browser tab and URL
The name of a website, essentially


File Transfer Protocol. The standard communication protocol to transfer files from one computer or server to another. If you own a website, then this is the technology you use to transfer files between your website and the server that hosts your website.


The point on your website where the page is cut off or below the user’s screen and requires the user to scroll down to see it.

Seeing as everything above the fold is a user’s first impression of your webpage, it’s crucial you place important, attention-grabbing information here to communicate what your page is about and why they should scroll down.

window screenshot of HOSTAFRICA webpage fold


Hypertext Markup Language. The standard language for documents that are supposed to be showed in a web browser. Think of the letters, numbers, and brackets that work behind the scenes to make your website look the way it does.

screenshot HOSTAFRICA Home webpage HTML


Hypertext Transport Protocol Secure. This is used to determine if a website has an SSL certificate, which protects and keeps data private while its being exchanged on the site. This is the standard for a trustworthy website.

Basically, if you see the https:// and the lock icon in your browser’s URL bar, you can be sure that you are on a secure website. You can click on the lock icon to view the SSL certificate to make sure.

HOSTAFRICA SSL certificate in browser

A link that takes the user to a new page, often related to the context of the page where the link can be found. For example, if you’re talking about the space program you might want to add a hyperlink to NASA’s website.

A sentence with a hyperlink included. The blue text denotes the hyperlink
A sentence with a hyperlink included. The blue text denotes the hyperlink

IP address

Internet protocol address. The numerical name of a device or website that is read by machines, in contrast to the domain name that uses words or letters. The IP address and domain name represent the same thing really, but the IP address is read mostly by computers.

Our WHOIS lookup page will automatically show you your IP address like below in the bottom-centre of the screenshot

screenshot hostafrica whois lookup tool


A plugin is a software component that adds functionality or a specific feature to existing software. Think of a plugin as an app for your website. Your website has some basic functions, but if you want to add extra outputs to it plugins can do the trick.


Responsive refers to the design of a website ensuring it is adapted for all device types and screen sizes. If a website looks good on mobile and on desktop, it has a good responsive design.


Secure Sockets Layer. Security technology that encrypts data when it’s passed between a web server and a browser. It’s especially important for ecommerce websites so users know their data is secure while making a purchase on the website.


A special kind of file or software that presents a map of the website so online search engines can index it easier. Not imperative, but very useful in helping search engines crawl your website easily.


A different part of a website that still belongs to the same primary domain but is differentiated by adding a word at the head of the domain name. Often used with forums or blogs. An example would be


The overall structure and design of a website. The template for a website sets the tone and feel for all the pages on the website. Think of it as the paint you use to paint a house.


Top-level domain. This is one of the domains at the highest level. They are placed at the end of a domain name. For example, in, “.com” is the TLD. Other common TLDs are .org, .uk, .au etc.

anatomy of a web address


This refers to the amount of time a website or server can be online without encountering any issues. Most things require maintenance at one point or another, especially the servers that house website data. Some hosting companies, like HOSTAFRICA, guarantee 99,9% uptime, regardless of maintenance needs.


Uniform resource locator. This is a specific web address that directs a user to a certain page on a website. Every page on a website will have a specific URL that is similar to the domain name of that website. For example, our blogs URL is

Web host

A company that offers a place for website owners to host their websites on the internet. They usually offer a variety of services involving hosting that make renting space to host your website a lot easier than trying to host your own.


Webpages are hypertext documents provided by websites. Webpages make up a website. Think of it like the paper that makes up a book.


Website host manager. The dashboard that allows you to manage multiple websites from a single location. This is basically a control room for website management, if you will.


A protocol that is used to find internet resources such as domain names, IP addresses, and other data related to domain information.

HOSTAFRICA's Whois lookup tool
HOSTAFRICA’s WHOIS lookup tool


A type of content management system. It’s also the most popular CMS, and for good reason – it’s great.

WordPress dashboard Themes


With your new understanding of web hosting jargon, managing your website or choosing the right web hosting company should be a breeze. If you’re starting to dive into SEO, check out our glossary blogpost on SEO jargon.

The Author

Ashwin S.

Alphabets are a random collection of symbols that, when put in a certain order, convey a specific meaning. We use our senses to understand this meaning. When we become immersed in the symbols' meaning, we're under the illusion that it's real - we hallucinate after looking at the symbols. Thus, I create hallucinations, using arbitrary symbols. In other words, I'm a writer. I've been a part of the Marketing Team since 2021 and am responsible for much of the text content HOSTAFRICA produces.

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