A Glossary of Digital Marketing Terms

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Digital Marketing
Time to read: 7 min

We digital marketing professionals take great pride in our work. We find search algorithms annoying, but also incredibly interesting. We work hard to build quality backlinks, create awesome content, increase our clients’ rank on SERPs, fine tune on-page SEO and—Oh, I’m sorry. Did I lose you at “backlinks”?

Like in any profession, buzzwords and jargon get thrown around by digital marketers all the time, and those concepts can often be lost on clients. That’s where we can provide some crucial help.

Transparency and education is essential when it comes to building strong client relationships, and at Happy Dog we spend a lot of time making sure our clients understand how it all works. So, with that said, let us guide you through some of the most common digital marketing terms. Whether you’re looking to hire a digital marketing firm or you’re interested in taking it on yourself, here is a glossary of terms you should know:

AdWords: The pay-per-click search-engine marketing program provided by Google.

Algorithm: An algorithm is the mathematical set of rules or calculations a search engine like Google or Bing uses to determine the site rankings in search results. An algorithm can have hundreds of different ranking factors and are updated on a regular basis. Big Google algorithms include Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird. (Learn more with our “Inside the Google Zoo” slideshare presentation.)

ALT Attribute: This is a line of text used to describe the content associated with a non-text based file, which is typically an image.

Anchor Text: Anchor text is the text displayed in a hyperlink. For example, in "Happy Dog rocks the dog pound," “Happy Dog” is the anchor text.

Backlink: A backlink, also called an inbound link, is a link from another website that points to your website.

Blog: Short for "weblog", this is a website for self-publishing. Blogs typically record and categorize content by date/time for easy access by readers.

Blogger: One who generates content for blogs. 

Click-thru Rate (CTR): CTR is the percentage of people who actually click on a post or ad when they see it.

Conversion Rate: Conversion rate is the percentage of site visitors or those who click on an ad who actually take further action, such as buying your product or filling out a form.

Cost-Per-Click: A method of paying for targeted traffic. For a set fee, sites like Google and Facebook can direct traffic to your site by paying a set amount for every click.

Facebook: A large social networking service available to individuals or companies.

GIF: Short for graphics interchange format, a GIF (pronounced like 'jif') is an image file that is compressed to reduce transfer time.

H-Tags: H-tags, also known as header tags, are the headings and subheadings used in any Web copy. They range from H1 to H6, with H1 being the largest. H-tags have SEO and user benefits.

Hashtag: Hashtags were first created on Twitter, and have spread to other social media sites. It’s the pound or number symbol (#), and its placed directly in front of a word or phrase. (Learn more about hashtags through "Hashtags Explained" and “Social Media Hashtags 101” articles.)

HTML: Hypertext markup language (HTML) refers to the text-based language which is used to create, or code, websites.

Hyperlink: A hyperlink, or simply “link,” is a word or phrase that is clickable, and takes the user to another page on the Web. (Click here. We think you’ll love where we take you.)

Keywords: This is probably one of the most common terms to roll off digital marketers’ tongues each and every day. Keywords are the terms that a user enters into a search engine. It also refers to the terms a website is targeting to rank higher.

Landing Page: A stand-alone Web page that a user "lands" on, normally after visiting a paid search-engine listing or following a link in an email newsletter. A landing page is often designed with a very specific purpose for visitors.

LinkedIn: A business-orientated social networking site. Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn allows users to connect with other users, participate in groups, share status updates, all with a career focus.

Meta-Description: A meta description is the small blurb that describes each page in search results. While a meta description is not a Google ranking factor, it is incredibly useful to the user and can help them make a decision about where to click.

Organic Listings: Also known as natural listings, these are search-engine results that have not been purchased. These listings are ranked solely by a search engine's algorithm and based on the merits of the listed pages.

Outbound Link: An outbound link is any link on a web page that points to an outside web page.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC): This is a type of paid search marketing that involves placing advertisements above or to the side (and sometimes below) the free search engine listings. Read more, "The Benefits of PPC: Is it Right for your Business?" and "How SEO and PPC Can Work Together for Better Results"

PDF: "Portable Document Format" is a type of file for viewing documents. 

Podcast: Audio or video content which can be downloaded and listened to offline. Sometime podcasts are part of a series and contain existing programming; or unique content for devoted subscribers.

Pop-Up Ad: A form of advertisement which automatically opens a new window in a browser to display an ad. This is an interruptive approach to advertising and generally disliked.

Ranking: The position of a website on a search engine result page. The higher the ranking, the more visible it is to users. How Does Google Ranking Work?

Return Visitor: Return visitors are users that visit a website more than once during a specified time period, which is usually tracked by month.

RSS: "Really Simply Syndication" is the process by which content such as blog posts or podcasts can be updated regularly and syndicated to subscribers in fees. RSS feeds allow user to access content updates from various outlets in one central location.

Search Engine: A website that allows users to search the Web for specific information by entering keywords. 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This is probably the most recognizable digital marketing term. SEO is the process of analyzing a website and then making adjustments to the copy, design or overall structure to ensure the best ranking position on search result pages.

Search Query: The term or terms entered into a search engine by the user.

SERP: SERP is an acronym for search engine results page, which is what shows up after a search query is entered.

SlideShare: A slide hosting service that allows users to upload files that can be viewed on the site itself or embedded on other sites.

Social Media: Refers to all online tools and places that are available for user to generate content and communicate through the Internet.

Title Tag: A title tag is the title of your webpage, and it’s used by search engines to categorize pages by title. Titles are incredibly important to SEO efforts, and to users, too.

Tweet: A "tweet" is a special name for an entry made on the microblogging site, Twitter. Tweets can consist of random status updates, news, or anything the individual wants to communicate to his/her followers.

Twitter: The microblogging social networking site which allows users to create profiles, share updates, and engage with other users.

Unique Visitor: A unique visitor is a user that has visited your website at least once in a given time period, usually tracked on a monthly basis, and is determined by cookies. Basically, a user can visit multiple times but only the first visit is attributed to the unique visitor count.

URL: URL stands for “Universal” or “uniform resource locator,” which is a string of numbers, letters and other characters that is unique to every webpage.

Webinar: A web-based seminar containing audoe and video, often in the form of a slide deck.

YouTube: Popular video-hosting and video-sharing site. Users can view, upload. and comment on video content.

Get it? Got it? Good! (And if you really don’t, no worries. Give us a call and we’ll talk it through.)

Written by Caitlin Burgess

Caitlin Burgess

I am a former journalist turned SEO and digital marketing specialist. I love storytelling, learning new things about the Web, and finding new ways to boost clients' traffic. You can usually find me scouring the Internet for content and marketing ideas, or organizing something in the office.

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