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A Short Glossary of Digital Marketing Terms (Let’s Cut Through the Jargon)

Looking up words in a book

We try to keep things simple at Culture Cube, but sometimes we can’t help ourselves. Like all digital marketers, we slip into jargon, even with customers — alas.

But some digital marketing terms and acronyms have no simple substitute: SEO, CRO, and PPC, for instance. And they’re not always easy to explain.

Sometimes the language confuses even digital marketers. An SEO specialist may not understand automation. An email marketer may not know the difference between local SEO and plain old SEO.

So here, for your benefit and ours, we’ve created a glossary of words we bandy about the digital marketing meeting room. In the interest of brevity, we’ve intentionally omitted the more obvious terms, like “mobile search,” and many of the less-used terms.

Marketing & More Marketing Jargon

Digital marketing: Promoting and selling products and services over the internet. Effective digital marketing can reach a larger audience than traditional marketing methods like television or print media.

Social media marketing: Promoting a product, service, or company on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Email marketing: Sending promotional messages (usually newsletters or an offer) to a list of subscribers via email.

Content marketing: Creating and distributing high-quality content (articles, blogs, videos, etc.) to attract and retain customers.

Inbound marketing: Attracting customers to a product or service through online channels like SEO and content marketing.

Outbound marketing: Using digital channels like email and display advertising to reach prospects who may not be actively searching for your product or service.

Affiliate marketing: Performance-based marketing where businesses reward affiliates for customers they send to the business’s website via tracking links or promotional codes.

Experiential marketing: Creating interactive and memorable experiences for potential customers to raise brand awareness.

Marketing automation: Software that streamlines, automates, and measures marketing tasks and workflows.

Organic Search Jargon

Organic search: Unpaid listings that appear in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Search engine optimization (SEO): The process of improving the visibility and ranking of a website or web page in organic search results.

Local SEO: The process of building search rank for a business in a specific geographic area. Local search and organic search often look at different ranking signals.

Google Business Profile (GBP): A free service from Google allowing businesses to manage their online information, including hours, location, contact information, and reviews, which are displayed in Google Maps and search results.

Google My Business (GMB): The old name for Google Business Profile. Google quietly made the change without fanfare.

Bing Places for Business: A free online profile for business that appears in Bing Maps and search results. The Bing equivalent of Google Business Profile.

NAP: Name, address, and phone number. The key pieces of information for a local business.

Citation: A mention of your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) on another website. Consistent citations are crucial for local search.

Long-tail keyword: A keyword phrase that’s specific and usually longer than three words. Long-tail keywords are less competitive and more likely to convert but have smaller search volumes.

Head term: A short, general keyword or phrase with a high search volume. “Costume” is a head term. “Classic Batman costume for boys” is a long-tail keyword.

Link building: The process of acquiring links from other websites to improve the search rank of a website.

Backlink: A link from another website to your website.

Anchor text: The clickable text in a hyperlink. For example, “Check out our new blog post” is anchor text.

Rich snippets: Additional or enriched information about a website appearing in search results. It’s often derived from structured data.

Structured data: Code that helps search engines understand the content of a webpage.

Schema markup: Structured data for showing rich results in SERPS, like event listings and product ratings.

Search bot: A software program that crawls the internet, indexing websites and their content for search engines.

Googlebot: Google’s primary search bot. Other search engines have similar bots, like Bingbot from Microsoft/Bing.

Crawling: The process of a search bot exploring the internet to find new websites and pages to index.

Indexing: A search engine’s process of adding websites and their content to its database. Web pages can’t rank until they’re indexed, and discovery by a search bot doesn’t guarantee indexing.

XML sitemap: An “extensible markup” file that lists pages on a website and makes it easier for search engines to index websites.

Paid Search & Online Advertising Jargon

Paid search: An advertising model in which businesses pay to have their website appear in search results.

Search engine marketing: Using paid advertisement to improve the ranking of a website on search engines.

Pay-per-click (PPC): A type of online advertising where businesses pay a fee each time someone clicks on their ad.

Cost-per-click (CPC): The average amount paid for each click on a PPC ad.

Cost-per-impression (CPM): A type of online advertising in which businesses pay a fee each time a user sees their ad.

Google Local Services Ads (LSAs): Pay-per-lead advertising for businesses like plumbers, locksmiths, and roofers, and available only in select markets.

Google Ads: The largest paid search platform, formerly Google AdWords.

Product Listing Ads (PLAs): A paid search ad featuring product images, prices, and other information. PLAs are available only on Google.

Display ads: Image-based ads on websites, apps, and other online platforms. Display ads can be used to brand or drive website traffic.

Native ads: Online advertising that blends in with other content. A native ad may be an article or video similar to a website’s other content but promoting a product or service.

Programmatic advertising: The use of software to automate the buying and selling of online advertising.

Google Display Network (GDN): A network of websites where Google places display ads.

Retargeting: Showing ads to people who have already visited your website and are being tracked by Google or a cookie (code) downloaded from your website to their browser.

Remarketing: Similar to retargeting, remarketing focuses on ads served to people who have received an email from you or interacted with your website. The main difference is that remarketing can be used across Google products like Gmail, YouTube, and the GDN, while retargeting is limited to display ads on the GDN.

UX & Conversion Jargon

User experience (UX): How a person experiences your website or digital campaign. Good UX reduces user frustration and aims for fast page load times, intuitive navigation and design, clear messaging, etc.

Conversion: A desired customer action, like signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase.

Conversion rate optimization (CRO): Analysis, design practices, and adjustments to improve the percentage of website visitors who take a desired action.

A/B testing: Comparing two versions of a web page or email to see which performs better for conversion. Also known as split testing.

Landing page: A web page that converts visitors into leads or customers. Landing pages are typically shorter and more focused than standard informational pages. Their sole purpose is to convert for a specific offer.

Call to action (CTA): A message or button encouraging a website visitor to take a desired action, like subscribing to a newsletter or making a purchase.

Customer Relations Management (CRM)

Customer relations management (CRM): A strategy for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers. CRM software stores customer data and tracks interactions like sales, support, etc.

Lead nurturing: The process of building relationships with potential customers who have shown an interest in a product or service but are not yet ready to buy.

Lead generation: Creating demand for a product or service through marketing activities like content marketing, webinars, and SEO.

Website Design & Development

Site architecture: The way a website is structured, including the organization of the pages and the navigation.

Wireframe: A low-fidelity preliminary design of a web page indicating the layout of content, images, copy, and other elements.

Mockup: A high-fidelity design of a web page based on a wireframe. Mockups are usually created in design software like Photoshop and show how the finished presentation.

Responsive design: A website design that looks good and works well on all devices, from large monitors to mobile phones.

Content management system (CMS): A system or platform that makes it easier to create web pages and manage content. WordPress is a content management system; most new websites today are built on a CMS.

Domain name: The address of a website. For example, the domain name of this website is www.goculturecube.com.

Front-end development: Coding that determines the look and feel of a website. Front-end developers use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to build web pages.

Back-end development: Coding that makes a website function. Back-end developers use programming languages like PHP, Ruby on Rails, and Python to build the functionality of a website.

Website Analytics & Reporting Jargon

Web analytics: The measurement, analysis, and reporting of web data to understand and optimize web usage.

Dashboard: A visual representation of data that is easy to understand at a glance. Dashboards are used in web analytics to report on key metrics like website traffic, conversion

Key performance indicators (KPIs): A metric used to track progress towards a business goal. Common digital marketing KPIs include website traffic, conversion rate, leads generated, cost per lead, and ROI.

Bounce rate: The percentage of visitors who leave a website after only viewing one page. A high bounce rate is often an indicator of poor UX.

Engagement rate: The percentage of people who interact with a piece of content, like an email or social media post.

Funnel analysis: The process of tracking where website visitors come from (source), what pages they view (engagement), and whether or not they take a desired action (conversion).

Attribution modeling: The practice of assigning credit for a conversion to the marketing channels that drove the customer to your website.

About Culture Cube Digital Marketing

Culture Cube specializes in digital marketing for local businesses. Our clients include plumbers, HVAC installers, appliance repair companies, and local newspapers.

We offer the expertise of a large agency at small agency rates.

Because we specialize, we’re better qualified to promote your small business and create the most effective campaigns.

We don’t waste client money on lavish offices, fancy equipment, costly business trips, and endless meetings. We pass our savings on to you and welcome you as a partner more than a client.

Please contact us to learn what we can do for you.

By Peter Losh

Peter Losh is the SEO Director of Culture Cube Marketing in Upland, California. He's also a de facto UX designer, site builder, and content creator. Unlike most folks in the SEO biz, he works directly on the sites he optimizes, having witnessed the effects of recommendations that go ignored or misunderstood (in previous gigs).

Peter has worked on websites since the salad days of the internet, first as a graphic artist and web designer at the Centers for Disease Control. Then came several years of freelance web development, SEO and e-commerce management for business sites of various sizes, and ultimately a 10-year stint as the sole SEO Manager of PartyCity.com.

In his spare time, he enjoys classic film, classical music, and classic comebacks. And cats.

Professional Work Experience

  • Search engine optimization
  • Ecommerce management
  • Conversion rate optimization
  • UX design and analysis
  • Copywriting and training
  • E-mail campaign design
  • Web design and development
  • Graphic design

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