The digital marketing world can seem like a steaming, impenetrable jungle of jargon if you’re new to the game (and sometimes even if you’re not). Fear not, because we’re about to throw you a machete.
We’ve put together a comprehensive glossary of digital marketing terms, explained in plain English. Bookmark this page and return whenever you run into digital marketing lingo you’re not familiar with. If you can’t find a definition for the term in question, send me an email and I’ll explain it and add the term to the dictionary — as long as it’s relevant.
And to partner with a digital marketing partner who can help you grow your business with proven digital marketing strategies while communicating in transparent terms you can understand, call LaFleur today at 888-222-1512 or complete our quick and easy online contact form.
#: The symbol for a hashtag (see hashtag).
301 redirect: A tool that automatically redirects a visitor from one web page to another. (Example: you own cats.com and dogs.com, but you decide that you want to merge both sites into a new site, pets.com. You would set up a pair of 301 redirects that send all the traffic from both the old sites to the new one.)
302 redirect: A temporary version of a 301 redirect.
404 error:The error message you receive when you try to visit a webpage that doesn’t exist. Sometimes the page actually says “404,” while other times it will display customized text.
A/B testing: A method of marketing research that involves showing users two different versions on a web page or other asset with minimal variables and then comparing the results.
Above the fold: The section of a webpage you can see without scrolling. Many people never scroll down on any given web page they visit, so the content that’s above the fold is most important. The term comes from newspapers.
Ad blocking: The blocking of web advertisements, often via software or browser features.
Ad extensions: When you see a Google Ad, it may contain extra bits of information — like an address, pricing info, a click-to-call phone number, and more. These are all types of ad extensions. Adding extensions generally increases click-through rates (CTR) on ads.
Ad network: A network that represents multiple websites in selling advertising.
Ad space: The space on a web page available for advertisements.
AdSense: See Google AdSense.
AdWords: The previous name for Google Ads.
Affiliate marketing: A type of commission-based marketing in which a business rewards affiliates for each visitor or customer that the affiliate’s marketing efforts bring in.
Aggregator: An online tool or app that collects and curates content from various websites and displays it in one location. Popular examples include Feedly, Google Reader, and Fark.
Alerts: Notifications that trigger whenever a designated event occurs.
Algorithm: A sequence of instructions that tell a computer or program what to do. Search engines use complex and carefully guarded algorithms to determine which results to show their users.
Alt text: An HTML attribute that provides a description of an image in cases where it can’t display properly or the user is unable to see it.
Analytics: An umbrella term for digital marketing processes and practices that focus on using data to optimize strategies and campaigns. (Also see Google Analytics.)
Anchor text: The non-URL text associated with a hyperlink. For example, this is anchor text.
App: Short for application, but not the same. An app is a relatively simple piece of software designed to perform a single function for the user. The term originated as a description for the small, limited applications used on mobile devices.
Application: A software program that’s primarily designed to be used by a person, meaning it has a user interface (as opposed to “behind-the-scenes” software that the user never interacts with directly).
Audience: Short for target audience.
Authority: Different services use different proprietary metrics to measure authority. For example, Moz uses page authority (PA) and domain authority (DA) while Ahrefs uses URL rating (UR) and domain rating (DR)
Automation: See email automation.
Autoresponder: A software program that automatically answers email sent to it. Some people also use this term to refer to the individual emails that the program sends out (so you could say “I received an autoresponder from an autoresponder” — confusing, we know).
Average position: A metric in Google Ads that tells you where your ads are showing up in Google search results pages.
Average time on page: A Google Analytics metric that measures how long the average visitor spends on a given page.
B2B: Short for business-to-business; refers to transactions between two commercial entities.
B2C: Short for business-to-consumer; refers to direct transactions between a company and the end-users of its products or services.
Backlink: See inbound link.
Back end (website): The support components or “plumbing” of a website. Invisible to the user.
Bandwidth: The amount of data a communications channel can handle, often expressed in kilobits per second (kbps).
Banner ad: A web ad that displays in rectangular fashion, like a banner. 468 pixels by 60 pixels is a common standard size.
Banner blindness: The tendency of a web user to become fatigued by banner ads and ignore them, even when they contain relevant info the user is actively looking for.
Banner exchange: An internet advertising network where the websites work together and place banner ads at the top of each other’s pages.
Bing: Operated by Microsoft, Bing is the second most popular search engine in the world, behind Google.
Bing Ads: A service that provides pay-per-click (PPC) ads on both Bing and Yahoo! Search.
Black hat (SEO): Aggressive and unethical SEO tactics that often violate search engine guidelines. Opposite of white hat.
Blog: Short for “weblog.” An online journal of information made up of discrete articles that appear from most recent to oldest. Also can be used to refer to the individual articles or as a verb to refer to the act of writing them (so you could say “I found some time to blog and posted a blog on my blog” — hey, we don’t make these rules).
Blog article: One of the individual articles that make up a blog. Also sometime referred to as just a “blog” for short.
Bot: A software program that can execute actions automatically, include some marketing functions.
Bounce rate: 1. In website analytics, the percentage of visitors who leave after viewing a single page on the site. 2. In email marketing, the percentage of emails in a campaign that get returned as undeliverable.
Breadcrumbs: A graphical element that helps users keep track of where they are in a website and how they got there by indicating where the current page is in the website’s hierarchy. They often appear horizontally across the top of a web page. An example of a breadcrumb on a website that sells clothing might look like: Home page > Clothing > Men’s > Pants > Jeans.
Broken link: A link to a page that no longer exists or was moved without anyone setting up a proper redirect.
Browser: See web browser.
Business Manager: A Facebook platform that lets users manage multiple pages and ad accounts from one central account.
Button ad: Like a banner ad but usually smaller and more square or circular than rectangular.
Buzzword: A piece of jargon that’s exceptionally popular during a given time. Marketers love buzzwords because they make us feel smart and special.
Cache (or caching): Storing web files on a user’s browser so they don’t have to load the same pages over and over. Caching makes websites and browsers run faster.
Call to action: The part of a marketing communication that tries to entice someone to perform a desired action (i.e., “Call us today”” or “Download now”).
Campaign: A series of advertising messages or assets that share a common theme, such as their target audience or placement.
Canonical tag: A piece of code you can add to a webpage to indicate that a piece is duplicated from somewhere else. Once you add a canonical tag, Google won’t punish you for duplicating content.
Chatbot: A computer program that uses AI to simulate interactive conversation with a human (often a customer service representative).
Click-through-rate: A metric that shows how often people click on an ad after they see it.
Clickbait: Content designed to attract attention and entice the user to click. Often associated with shallow content and curiosity-piquing headlines like “A dog ate a frog and you won’t believe what happened next!”
Code: The programming language that developers use to build websites and apps.
Contact form: A section on a website that contains fields like name, phone number, and email address. Visitors can complete the fields and click a button to send their contact information to the website’s owner.
Content: Information or experiences that are directed toward an audience. An umbrella term that includes all manner of digital marketing assets — such as blogs, infographics, ebooks, videos, etc.
Contextual advertising: A method of serving users ads that tie-in to the content they’re currently viewing.
Conversion: A conversion occurs when a user takes a desirable action, like filling out an online form or subscribing to receive an email newsletter.
Conversion rate: The percent of website visitors who complete a desired goal, like downloading an ebook.
Cookie: A piece of information that a website stores on a user’s computer so the website can remember their preferences.
CPA (cost per acquisition): A paid advertising metric that measures how much money is being spent to acquire each new lead or customer.
CPC (cost per click): The amount of money spent to get each click on an ad in a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign.
CPM (cost per thousand): The amount an advertiser pays for a thousand impressions of their ad. (M is the roman numeral for 1,000.)
Crawler: See web crawler.
CRO (conversion rate optimization): A set of digital marketing practices that aims to improve conversion rates.
Crowdsourcing: The activity of giving a task to a large group of people or even to the general public.
CSS: A document of code that formats the layout of a website and its pages. Short for Cascading Style Sheet.
CTA: An abbreviation for a call-to-action.
CTR: An abbreviation for click-through rate.
Dashboard: A web page that gathers and displays data about the performance of a website or digital marketing campaign.
Dedicated landing page: A standalone webpage that a user arrives at after clicking on an ad or promotion.
Density: Short for keyword density. Also, an occasional mispronunciation of “destiny.”
Directory: A website that provides an organized, categorized listing of information.
Display ad: Advertising on websites, apps, or social media platforms. Display advertising may include banner ads, videos, audio, text, images, and other formats.
Display network: A network of websites and apps that show display ads on their webpages.
DNS: The system that converts URLs that humans can read into computer-readable strings of numbers.
Domain: Shorter term for domain name.
Domain name: The URL where users can access your website (usually the homepage URL). Example: Google’s domain is google.com.
Duplicate content: An instance where the exact same content exists in two places on the web. Google has designed its algorithms to identify duplicate content, figure out which site published the content originally, and punish the duplicator in search rankings.
Ecommerce (or e-commerce): Commercial transactions conducted online, usually through a website or app.
Email automation: A marketing practice that uses software to send emails to target audience members based on pre-defined triggers.
Email list: A collection of email addresses that you can use to send out email marketing communications.
Email marketing: Using email for marketing purposes.
Facebook: The world’s most popular social media platform.
Facebook Ads Manager: Facebook’s tool for creating and managing ad campaigns.
Facebook advertising: Facebook’s ad network, which allows advertisers to reach Facebook users with various types of ads.
Facebook profile: An individual Facebook user’s account.
Facebook page: The page that represents a business or other entity on Facebook.
Featured snippet: A Google search result that displays in a special “featured” block at the top of the search results page and includes some copy from the featured page. Google’s proprietary algorithms select these snippets.
Footer: The bottom section of a webpage; often features the name of the company that manages the webpage, contact information, and basic navigation links.
Form fill: When a visitor fills out a contact form on a website.
Frame: A structure that allows a web designer to divide a webpage into two or more independent parts (like this).
Freemium: A revenue model that involves giving the user a free basic version of the product (often a piece of software) while giving them the option to upgrade to a premium version for a cost.
Front end (website): The visible portion of a website that the user interacts with through their browser.
GCLID (Google Click ID): A tag that Google Ads uses to communicate information to Google Analytics.
Geotargeting: The practice of delivering content to a user based on their geographic location.
GIF: A compressed image file format that supports animated images. All the goofy animated images you see on social media and the web are GIFs.
Google: The world’s most popular search engine. Most likely how you got here.
Google+: Google’s social media platform. It never really took off, and Google announced in 2018 that it would shut down.
Google Ads: Google’s online advertising platform. Formerly called Google AdWords.
Google AdWords: An older name for Google Ads.
Google AdSense: A Google platform that lets website owners earn money by publishing Google Network ads.
Google algorithm: The algorithm (see algorithm) that Google uses to determine which websites a search user will see for any given query.
Google Algorithm update: Google updates its algorithms occasionally, sometimes making drastic changes that significantly affect search engine optimization (SEO) practices. These updates come out every so often and usually bear animal names like Pigeon and Panda.
Google Analytics: Google’s platform for tracking and reporting on website traffic and trends.
Google Maps: Google’s web-based mapping and geographic navigation service.
Google My Business: A free tool from Google that helps businesses appear in both Google searches and Google Maps.
Google reviews: Reviews that users leave for businesses using the Google My Business platform.
Google Search Console: A free web service from Google that helps webmasters check their websites’ indexing status and improve visibility.
Google Search Network: A group of search-related websites and apps where your Google ads can appear.
Guerilla marketing: A catch-all buzzword that refers to unconventional and often low-cost marketing techniques.
Guest blog: A blog post published by a featured author who doesn’t normally write for the blog.
H# (H1, H2, H3, etc.) tags: HTML tags that categorize text headings on a web page. The H1 heading displays as a large title at the top of the page. The larger the H number, the smaller the heading text. Ideally, you use H2s to divide your page into subsections, H3s to divide your H3s into smaller subsections, and so on.
Hashtag: A word or phrase beginning with the “#” symbol. Hashtags provide a way for users on social platforms (especially Twitter, where hashtags originated) to tag content and conversations for other users to find.
Header (webpage): The top part of a webpage that usually contains the logo and menu.
Header tags: See H# tags.
Heatmap: A visual representation of data that uses color-coding to represent different ranges of values. Often used to show user behavior on webpages.
HTML: The coding language for creating web pages and web apps. Short for Hypertext Markup Language.
HTTP: The set of rules for transferring files and information on the web. Short for Hypertext Transfer Protocol.
HTTPS: A more secure version of HTTP (the “S” stands for secure).
Hyperlink: An HTML code that links one webpage to another, often indicated by images highlighted/underlined text (like this).
Iframe (inline frame): An HTML document inside of another HTML document. Used to embed external content into a webpage.
Impression: A pay-per-click (PPC) advertising term that refers to how many times an ad is shown on search results pages.
Impression share: A pay-per-click (PPC) advertising metric that measures the percentage of impression an ad receives compared to the total number of impressions the ad was eligible to get.
Inbound link: A link from another website that points to yours. Opposite of an outbound link.
Inbound marketing: A method of marketing that focuses on drawing customers to products and services through content marketing and other strategies. Contrasts with outbound marketing activities like cold calling and spam.
Index: 1. As a noun, all the web pages that a search engine can access. 2. As a verb, the act of a search engine “noticing” a website and beginning to include it in search results.
Instagram: A popular social media platform that focuses on sharing images and videos.
Interstitial: An advertisement that loads and displays between two pages of content.
IP address: The unique number that identifies each device connected to the internet (or any network).
Java: A programming language used to create applications that run on digital devices.
Keyword: A word or phrase that indicates the topic or theme of a piece of online content.
Keyword density: A measurement of how often the desired keywords for a piece of content actually appear in that content.
Keyword phrase: A string of multiple words that operate together as a single keyword.
Keyword research: The process of researching popular search terms. Keyword research helps marketing professionals learn which search terms people use and care about so the marketers can create content that matches those interests.
Keyword stuffing: An outdated and ineffective SEO strategy that involves cramming a keyword (or variations of it) into a page of content as many as times as possible in order to manipulate search engine results.
Landing page: Any webpage that a user lands on when they click a link.
Lead: A potential customer who has made some type of contact with your business.
Likes: A metric on Facebook that describes how many separate users have clicked the “like” button on a page.
Link: Shorter term for a hyperlink.
Link building: The process of getting other websites to link back to yours with the aim of improving your performance in search engines.
Link network: A service that sells backlinks, ostensibly to improve search engine performance. Buying links from a link network is an outdated and ineffective strategy, and Google attempts to find and penalize sites that do so.
Link profile: The sum total of all the links that point to a website. Search engines use a site’s link profile to determine its subject matter, value, and trustworthiness.
Link text: See anchor text.
Linkbait: A piece of content designed to attract backlinks.
LinkedIn: A social networking site geared toward connecting professionals and businesses with peers in their fields or industries.
LinkedIn Advertising: LinkedIn’s advertising platform.
Listicle: A short-form blog article that’s formatted as a list of items.
Listing: An entry in a directory site. See directory.
Long tail: In business, the theory that the wide range of niche products or services that are low in demand represent a large portion of any market and can add up to more total demand than the few products or services that sell in large quantities.
Long tail keyword: A longer keyword phrase that represents the interests of a niche demographic. The philosophy of targeting long tail keywords is an adaptation of the long tail theory of marketing for SEO.
Lookalike: A person who isn’t part of a brand’s target audience but resembles them in key ways, which suggests an openness to purchase the brand’s products or services.
Lookalike audience (Facebook): A targeting option from Facebook advertising that identifies common characteristics of existing or desired customers and then targets user with similar characteristics.
Machine learning (ML): Branch of computer science that aims to create software programs that can use data to teach themselves new tricks that haven’t been explicitly programmed.
Map pack: The section of some Google search results pages that features local businesses with an accompanying map at the top of the page.
Marketing automation: See email automation.
Media kit: A document created by a publisher that helps potential advertisers choose and target their ads. Not to be confused with a public relations press kit, which is also sometimes called a media kit.
Medium (Google Analytics): Categories of website traffic as tracked by Google Analytics. Examples include organic, email, referral, and paid search.
Meta description: An HTML tag that tells Google what copy to display for a webpage when it appears on a search engine results page.
Meta keywords: A specific meta tag that displays the keywords a page of content supposedly addresses. Google and other search engines used to take these tags into account, but people quickly began abusing them, so almost all search engines now ignore meta keywords tags.
Meta tags: HTML tags added to a webpage’s code that describe a page’s content for search engines and web crawlers. Examples include title tag and meta description.
Microblogging: Basically, another word for posting short messages on social media. Tweets and Facebook status updates are examples.
Microsoft adCenter: An older term for Bing Ads.
Mousetrapping: The use of browser tricks to hold a visitor hostage on a website. Ever have to click the “back” button four times to get off a webpage? That’s mousetrapping.
Nav: Short for navigation.
Navigate: Common verb for the act of getting around a website.
Navigation: The menu section(s) at the top (and often bottom) of a website where users can click on various options to explore the site.
Nofollow: A tag you add to a hyperlink that tells Google not to consider that link for SEO purposes. Google guidelines say you should add a nofollow tag to any link you paid for or otherwise acquired through non-natural means.
Open rate: The percentage of email recipients who open an email.
Opt-in email: Email that someone explicitly requests to receive. For example, by filling out a “subscribe” form. Opposite of spam.
Organic: Adjective that refers to digital marketing results which occur “naturally” — i.e., without taking measures like paying for clicks or spending money to boost posts. Also see organic traffic.
Organic search results: The pages that appear on a Google search results page, excluding the paid entries marked “ad” at the top and bottom.
Organic traffic: Visitors who arrive at a website by clicking on the organic search results in a search engine.
Outbound link: A link that points to your website from another. Opposite of a backlink.
Page views: An instance of an internet user visiting a particular webpage.
Pay-per-click: See pay-per-click advertising.
Pay-per-click advertising: A model of online advertising in which the advertiser pays a fee each time someone clicks on one of their ads.
PBN (private blog network): See link network.
PDF: A file format for documents that looks like a digital version of a printed document. Popular because it provides consistent formatting and viewing across different viewing software and devices and because it’s difficult to alter.
Penalty (Google): An infraction issued by Google for violating its guidelines. Can hurt performance in Google search results or get a site kicked off Google entirely.
Persona: A fictionalized representation of a desired customer, ideally based on research and data.
Pixel tag: See web beacon.
Podcast: A program that’s like a radio show but is released and downloaded over the internet.
PPC: An abbreviation for pay-per-click advertising.
Pop-up ad: An online ad that displays in a new browser window.
Programmatic advertising: The use of software that automates the process of buying ads. Programmatic software bids on ads in real time to show tailored content to desired customers.
Prospect: Another term for a lead.
Quality score: A Google Ads metric that measures how relevant your landing page and ads are to the keywords you’ve chosen.
Query: The word or string of words that a user types into a search engine’s search box.
Ranking: A term for where a site appears in a search engine’s results for a given keyword. Rankings constantly change and are specific to each keyword, so a site can rank highly for some keywords while ranking lower or not at all for others.
Reciprocal link: A situation where two websites link to each other for mutual benefit. Okay in moderation but can incur a penalty if done specifically to manipulate search engine rankings.
Redirect: A web technique that tells web browsers to take users who try to visit one web address to another web address instead.
Referral: A Google Analytics metric that represents users who arrive at your website via another site.
Rel canonical: See canonical.
Remarketing: A digital marketing tactic that lets you position ads in front of potential customers who have already visited your website.
Retargeting: Another word for remarketing.
Responsive web design: The process of designing websites that display correctly on any screen size or device type.
ROAS (return on ad spend): Another term for ROI that’s used specifically for pay-per-click advertising.
Robots.txt: A text file that a webmaster creates to tell search engines and web crawlers which pages to crawl for information.
ROI: Short for return on investment. A positive ROI means earning more money than you’re spending on a given campaign or initiative.
RSS: A way for users to create a feed that keeps track of new content from multiple websites in one location. Stands for Really Simple Syndication.
Search engine: A program that searches an index of information and returns results to the user based on keywords the user enters.
Search engine optimization: The process of trying to increase a website’s rankings in search engines to attract more organic traffic.
Search engine results page: The page you arrive at when you type words into a search engine and click “search.”
Search operator: A character or string of characters (like “OR,” “+,” and “site:”) used in a search query to narrow the results.
Search query: See query.
SEO: See search engine optimization.
Session: A Google Analytics metric that measures one user interacting with your site for a given time period. The default session is 30 minutes. If a user visits your site and clicks on 14 different pages in 20 minutes, it still only counts as one session.
SERP: Abbreviation for search engine results page.
Sitelink: An ad extension that appears below the main ad copy and links to a specific page on the website.
Sitemap: A visual or textually organized representation of a website’s content and structure.
Slug: The part of a URL that comes after the .com (or .org, or .net, or whatever). For example, on a typical contact page that has a URL of http://website.com/contact-us, the “/contact-us” is the slug.
Snapchat: A multimedia social networking platform. Popular with Millennials and younger generations.
Social networking: Sharing information and communicating with groups of people online, especially when using websites and apps designed for this purpose.
Source: A piece of information in Google Analytics that helps you see where web traffic is coming from.
Spam: Unsolicited communications, especially low-quality and low-value advertising messages.
Spider: Another term for a crawler.
Style sheet: Another term for a CSS.
Tag: A keyword or term assigned to a piece of information.
Target audience: The intended audience for a piece of content, advertising campaign, or other marketing initiative.
Time on page: See average time on page.
Title tag: An HTML element that describes the topic of a web page. If a search user conducts a search and one of your pages shows up in their results, the page’s title tag is what they’ll see (along with the meta description underneath).
Tracking code: A website script that passes information along to software programs to gather data about users.
Traffic: See website traffic.
Tweet: A post on Twitter.
Twitter: A social networking site based around users posting short public messages.
Twitter Ads: Twitter’s advertising platform.
Unique visitors: A metric that shows how many individual users visit a website over a given period by tracking users’ IP addresses. If the same user visits a website on two separate occasions, it will only count as one unique visitor.
UI: Short for user interface. The area of an app or website that a user interacts with (as opposed to the back end).
URL: The address of a webpage. Stands for Uniform Resource Locator.
User-generated content (UGC): Any form of content that’s been created and posted by the users of a website or platform (as opposed to webmasters, professional content developers, advertisers, etc.).
UX: Short for user experience. The way a user interacts with a website or app (or any other product or service).
UX design: A school of design that aims to improve users’ satisfaction with a product or service (which includes websites, apps, and other digital marketing assets).
Visits: An old analytics term. Generally replaced by “sessions.”
Visitors: See unique visitors.
Vlog: Short for video blog. A blog that publishes video content.
Web 2.0: Nebulous term for the second stage of evolution of the world wide web. Social media platforms and user-generated content are two of the most widely agreed-upon elements of web 2.0.
Web beacon: A tool used to track who is reading a web page or email.
Web browser: A software application that lets a user view pages on the world wide web.
Web crawler: A piece of software that scans websites and returns information about them.
Web design: The process of creating websites.
Web hosting: The business of providing the storage, connectivity, and other services necessary to maintain a website.
Website traffic: The number of visitors and/or visits that a website receives. There is no one metric for website traffic; instead, website traffic is an umbrella term that encompasses more specific metrics like visits, unique visitors, and sessions.
Webinar: An online seminar.
Website: A document or collection of documents accessible via the world wide web.
White hat (SEO): SEO tactics that aim to provide beneficial content to users and follow search engine rules and guidelines. Opposite of black hat.
Wiki: A website where users work together to modify content and structure. Generally can be edited by anyone.
Wireframe: A general sketch of a webpage that acts as the first step in the web design process.
Word-of-mouth: A marketing method that relies on social interactions between current and potential customers as a form of promotion.
XML: A language for formatting and sharing information via the internet or a private network. Stands for Extensible Markup Language.
XML sitemap: A document in XML format that lists all your website’s important pages for a search engine and helps the engine understand your website’s structure.
Yelp: A combination social media platform and search engine that lets users leave reviews for businesses.
YouTube: A video sharing website and one of the most popular sites in the world.
Yahoo!: The world’s third most popular search engine. Powered by Bing (which means it will display ads created through Bing Ads).
Zzz: The sound you make after poring through a glossary of a couple hundred digital marketing terms.