Like any other industry, the Digital Marketing world has its very own language: a collection of acronyms and definitions that sound like straight-up jargon to anyone outside the business. Getting started with a new Digital Marketing campaign for your business can be fairly intimidating, and these specialized terms certainly don’t make it any easier. Below are more than 30 key terms digital marketers use every day—and why they matter for your business.
SEO: Short for “Search Engine Optimization”, SEO is the process of updating the content of and links to a website in order to improve its rankings on search engines. The goal of SEO is to move a website to the top of search engine results so that it is seen and clicked on by more people.
Position/Rank: A simple, yet constantly-used Digital Marketing term. A website’s “rank” or “position” is how high up it appears on a search engine’s results page. Ranking factors are the specific items that can improve the pagerank (more on these below).
Landing Page: A standard website page, usually the first page a visitor sees when visiting a website, so named because visitors “land” on it when entering a website.
Blog: You probably already know what a blog is—but digital marketers don’t use blogs in the same way the general public does. From an SEO perspective, the blog is the area where fresh, new, keyword-rich content is regularly added in order to boost the site’s SEO rankings. Even though, to the casual observer, a blog is a minor aspect of a website, they’re actually crucial to driving improvements to a site’s SEO rankings.
Content Marketing: We can’t talk about blogs without discussing content marketing. This is the process of publishing valuable, interesting, engaging material online in an effort to attract visitors to your website and boost your SEO rankings. Content marketing is very different from advertising, which you can read more about here.
Content: Any online material—text, images, videos, et cetera.
Copy: Strictly text, whether on a website or in an advertisement.
Call-to-Action: An important term for content writers and copywriters to know. This is the phrase within an ad, usually in the first or last sentence, that urges a reader to take an action—like contact us today!
Alt text: A line of text used to describe a non-text file, usually an image. Originally developed as a method for allowing individuals with visual impairments to know what an image portrays.
Meta-description: When you perform a Google search, each result is most commonly composed of up to three lines of text: the title, in blue; the link to the site, in green; and a brief snippet of text. That brief snippet—optimally no more than 150 words—is the meta-description. It’s always better to write the description, because an exciting, creative description will draw more people to the page.
Keyword Research: The most crucial part of SEO. This is the process of researching a group of keywords or search phrases that have high search volume and low competition.
Keyword Density: The proportion of keywords in comparison to the total number of words in a page of web copy. The higher the keyword density, the better the page will rank—but too many keywords can be a negative thing, because Google will punish what it views as “keyword stuffing.”
Algorithm: The mathematical calculation a search engine performs to determine how high a certain website should rank. Each search engine has its own algorithm that is regularly updated. Google’s is famously complex, with over 200 components.
Crawlers: Also called a “robot”, “bot”, or “spider”, a crawler is sent out by a search engine to index a website, its images, and all the pages it links to. Search engine crawlers are able to index a massive number of pages very quickly. In order to improve a page’s rank, we attempt to make the page easy for crawlers to access and understand.
Black Hat SEO: Like the name implies: Black Hat SEO uses unethical techniques to promote a website’s search rankings. Examples of black hat techniques include filling a page with bogus links (called link spam), writing bad, cheap, uninteresting content (content farming) and repeating the same keyword over and over again (keyword stuffing). Black Hat SEO is generally ineffective, because search engines will flag and even ban websites that use it.
Link Building: One of the best ways to improve a website’s SEO rankings, as well as a big component of content marketing. It involves creating many interesting and newsworthy landing pages and blog posts, and then linking them to each other. Ideal link building is designed to keep a user on the site for as long as possible (the way one can spend hours browsing Wikipedia by traveling from page to page via links.)
Outbound Links: Any link which you, the creator, place on your website.
Inbound links (backlinks): More commonly called “backlinks”, inbound links are created when another website links to yours. For obvious reasons, it’s a lot harder to acquire backlinks than it is to create outbound links. You can add as many links to your own website as you’d like, but encouraging another website to direct traffic to yours is more challenging.
Anchor Text: The text that is displayed in a hyperlink. For example, in this link to our contact page, “contact page” is the anchor text.
Pay-Per-Click Ads: Google, Facebook, Bing, Yahoo and other websites will display one of your advertisements. In exchange, every time a user clicks on the ad, you pay the publisher a small fee. You can learn more about how Pay-Per-Click ads work here.
Organic listings: Also called “natural” listings, organic listings are search engine rankings that have not been purchased. They are the opposite of paid listings, like PPC ads.
A/B Testing: A method used to compare two or more different digital ads or web pages to determine which one performs better. The most common A/B test involves running two ads at the same time and measuring which one gets the best response.
Analytics: Also called Web Analytics, this is a key part of the digital marketing process. Analytics refers to the total collection of data that is used to analyze how people browse a website, including how much time they spend on each page, and specific actions they take while they’re there—as well as many other key bits of data.
Cost Per Click: The amount an advertiser pays for a single click on an advertisement. Found by dividing the total amount spent by the number of clicks generated.
Click-Through Rate (CTR): Basically, the Click-Through Rate shows how many people who saw an ad ended up clicking on it. The higher the CTR, the better an ad is performing.
Bounce Rate: Also called the abandonment rate, this is a key metric for digital marketers to analyze. When a user clicks on a page and immediately leaves, it’s called a “bounce.” The higher the bounce rate, the worse your SEO rankings will be—because it’s a major indicator to search engines that users aren’t satisfied with what your website has to offer.
Impressions: The number of people who have seen an advertisement. (NOT a measure of whether or not they clicked on it or bought anything.)
Conversion: One of the most commonly used terms in digital marketing, a conversion is simply an action that a user has taken on a website, like signing up for an email list, filling out a form, or making a purchase. Which actions count as conversions are determined at the beginning of a digital marketing campaign.
Conversion Rate Optimization: The process of designing a website and creating advertisements that will maximize viewer usability and, therefore, increase the conversion rate.
Lead: A term also frequently seen in business and sales, a lead is a potential customer, usually differentiated by the fact that they have given you their contact information.
Acquisition: The point when a website visitor becomes a qualified lead or customer.
Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA): The cost of acquiring a new customer, found by dividing the total amount spent on a campaign by the number of customers acquired.
Behavioral Targeting: This is the process of displaying ads to an audience based on its previous browsing history. For example, you may have noticed that the Facebook ads you see are based on your personal interest and political leanings—that’s behavior targeting in action.
There are a lot more digital marketing terms out there. (Seriously…a lot.) Looking to beef up your digital vocabulary? Try one of these sites for more extensive lists: