Digital Marketing Glossary: Must-know Technical Terms


You can’t tell the players without a scorecard and you can’t understand what’s going on in digital marketing unless you know the lingo.

Here are the most important and frequently used terms you will encounter in the digital marketing world.

301 Redirect. A permanent redirect from one URL to another URL. 301 redirects are often used SEO purposes and in affiliate marketing.

302 Redirect. A temporary redirect from one URL to another URL.

404. An error message when a page cannot be found on a website.

A/B Testing. A way to test two versions of a web page or item on a web page against each other for effectiveness.

Ad Unit. A size-and-format specification for an ad.

Aggregator. A tool or website that collects content from various websites. Many popular news websites are aggregators.

Alexa Rank. A measure of a website’s popularity or traffic. A lower number reflects more traffic.

Algorithm. A coded formula used to rank websites in search results. The most well known is the Google Search Algorithm.

ALT Attribute. A line of text assigned to an image that is displayed when the user hovers over the image or the image does not load.

ALT Text. See ALT Attribute.

Anchor Text. The clickable text of a link.

Authority. The more popular a website is (the more traffic it receives), the more authority it has.

Avatar. An image or illustration used to represent a real person.

Backlink. When one website links to your website.

Black hat SEO. Tactics designed to improve a website’s SERP by leveraging loopholes in Google’s algorithm.

Bot. See Crawler.

Bounce Rate. The percentage of visitors who exit your site without viewing any additional pages.

Breadcrumbs. A navigation trail on a website that shows visitors the pages they have clicked through to get to the current page they are looking at.

Broken Link. A link that goes to a page or other website resource that no longer exists or has moved.

Cache. Stored static versions of dynamic web pages. Using a cache improves load speed of a web page.

Canonical. A “rel” tag that tells a search engine which is the original or preferred web page when the same page or content is repeated on a website. This prevents the page authority of that page from being diluted.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). A web language or system used to apply styles to web elements such as font size, color, background, and alignment in order to create visual design consistency.

Click-through Rate (CTR). The percentage of clicks from users who have seen your offer: Clicks divided by impressions.

Conversion. When a user takes the desired action, such as signing up for an email list or buying a product.

Conversion Pixel. A 1×1 transparent image pixel placed on a web page whenever a conversion occurs. It is used for tracking and analytical purposes.

Cookie. A text file stored on a website visitor’s browser that holds information about the user.

Cost per Acquisition (CPA). The cost of acquiring one customer: Cost of advertising divided by the number of customers acquired.

Cost per Click (CPC). How much you pay for each click on your ad.

Cost per Lead (CPL). How much you pay for each click on your ad that results in a lead.

Cost per Thousand (CPM). How much you pay for 1,000 ad impressions.

Crawler. A bot or piece of software that crawls the web to extract and create an index of data.

Disavow. Telling Google which backlinks it should ignore when calculating your site’s ranking. You use Google’s Disavow Tool to do this.

DNS. The acronym used to stand for “Domain Name Service,” “Domain Name Server,” and “Domain Name System.” It is the directory of website names and IP addresses.

Domain Authority. A system developed by Moz that ranks websites on a scale of 1-100, with 100 reflecting the highest authority.

Domain Name. A unique combination of letters, numbers, dashes and periods to identify a website such as

Frequency Capping. Limited the number of times your ad should be displayed over a given period of time.

Google Bot. The search crawler/bot software developed by Google to spider the web and index it.

Geo-targeting. The advertising strategy to show your ad to prospects or customers when they are in a certain area, usually near your place of business.

H-Tags (H1, H2, etc.). These are “header” tags and by “header” we mean headlines and sub-headlines. H1 would be used for the most important headline.

HTML. Hypertext markup language (HTML). The text-based coding language used to create websites.

Impression. When someone sees your ad on a web page.

Indexed. When a web page is included in Google’s index.

Keyword. An important word that will be used in searches that you want to include in the content of your website.

Keyword Density. A percentage determined by the count of a certain keyword divided by the total number of words – usually on a single web page or within an article.

Keyword Stuffing. Excessive use of a keyword on a web page. This can result in a penalty from Google.

Klout or Klout Score. A number between 1-100 that represents your influence on the Internet.

Landing Page. A specially designed web page to receive users from ads.

Link Bait. Content made for the purpose of creating backlinks.

Long Tail Keywords. Longer keywords for which there is less competition in the search engines. Long tail keywords should reflect your niche.

Meta Description (tag). HTML tag that describes the web page that it is on. Search engines may pick up this tag and use it in search results.

Meta Keyword (tag). HTML tag that lists keywords relevant to the web page on which it is used.

Meta Robots (tag). HTML tag placed at the top of a web page to tell search engine spiders whether to index or follow the page.

Meta Tags. – A collection of HTML tags, including the Meta Title, Meta Description, Meta Keywords and Meta Robots tags.

Meta Title (tag). HTML tag that tells browsers and search engines the “name” of the web page.

Native Advertising. Advertising that is designed to look like the regular content of the page on which it appears.

Negative keyword. A keyword you do not want to be associated with a web page or website. For example, jewelers selling wedding bands would not want their ads to appear when someone is searching for “wedding band music.”

NoFollow. A tag telling search engines to ignore a link.

NoIndex. A tag telling search engines to not index a page.

Onsite SEO. Strategies employed on your website to improve its search engine optimization. (Opposite of Offsite SEO.)

Opt In. When a user signs up for your email list or receives some other information from you.

Organic Listings. The non-paid search results.

Organic Traffic. Website traffic that comes to you through non-paid means. Usually through search results.

Page Rank. Google’s system for assigning authority to websites on a scale of 1-10.

Panda. This is the name given to an update of the Google website ranking algorithm.

Pay Per Action (PPA). In online advertising, when you pay for a completed action, such as getting a user’s email address.

Pay Per Click (PPC). In online advertising, when you pay when a user clicks on the link in your ad.

Penalty. When a website is placed lower in search results, usually due to black hat SEO or backlinks from low-quality sites.

Penguin. The name given to an update of the Google website ranking algorithm.

Pixel code or tracking code. Usually a single transparent one-pixel graphic used for tracking or analytics.

Pop-under Ad or Window. A window that appears under the window the user is viewing. Usually used for advertising purposes.

Pop-Up Ad or Window. A window that appears on top of the window the user was viewing. Usually used for advertising purposes.

Private Label Rights (PLR). A licensing system for digital products that allows you to modify, reuse, and resell them. Also known as “white label” products because you can “print” your own label on them.

Query. The words used in a search.

Really Simple Syndication (RSS). – A standardized data feed system used to deliver content from websites to subscribers of the feed.

Reciprocal Link. When you trade backlinks with another website.

Retargeting or Remarketing. A system for showing your ads to people who have visited your website while they are browsing other websites.

Rich Snippet. – HTML tags to influence Google to show certain information in search results.

Robots.txt. – A text file containing instructions for bots/spiders/robots crawling your site.

RSS. See “Really simple syndication.”

Scrape. When a software “bot” goes through a website collecting information and content.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Both the paid or organic use of search engines to reach your target audience.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Employing keywords, tags, graphics, and more to make your website ideal for search engine ranking.

Search Engine Results Page (SERP). A page of search engine results. Numbers are usually associated with SERPs, such as “the number one SERP.”

Sitemap. A page that links to the other pages on your site. This enables spiders to easily find all of the pages on your website. Related: XML Sitemap.

Social Media Marketing (SMM). Leveraging various social media platforms to reach your target audience.

Spider. See Crawler.

Spinning. When you reword a single article in different ways so that the reworded articles appear as different content to search engines.

Tiered Link Building. A structure of backlinks where your website is at the top and below it are links with an increasing number of links that point to them.

Uniform Resource Locator (URL). – The address of an Internet web page.

User Generated Content (UGC). Comments, uploaded videos, posts, reviews – any content created by users on a website.

VLOG. A video blog.

Web 2.0. This label reflects the evolution of the Internet and how users are now able to create content on websites, such as social media platforms like Youtube and Facebook. On a smaller scale, this also includes reviews, comments, and forums.

Webcrawler. Another term used for a bot, robot or spider. See Crawler.

White hat SEO. The ethical practice of SEO that follows recommendations and guidelines set out by the major search engines.

XML Sitemap. Sitemap code on your website that helps search engine bots properly index your pages.