Ultimate Digital Marketing Glossary

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Even the most sophisticated marketing professional working in the digital space has moments when you’re not sure what a word or phrase means. That’s why we compiled this ultimate glossary of digital marketing terms. We’ve provided easy-to-understand definitions and links to helpful information. I

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# (Hashtag)
The hashtag symbol represents a topic or category on Twitter and other social channels. It makes it easy for users to find information related to it.

301 Redirect
Code used to point browsers, search engine spiders and other things to the correct location of a missing or renamed URL. Pages marked with this code will automatically redirect to another web page.

404 Error
Web code that appears when a visitor tries to reach a URL that has been moved, renamed or no longer exists. Tip: Getting a 404 message is a negative user experience. Find a way to present this information in a user-friendly way.


An event when a visitor to a website converts into a qualified lead or client. Note: Depending on the business model, this could take anywhere from seconds to months or more.

Acquisition Cost
How much in total that it costs for a business to acquire a lead or customer. This can include advertising and social promotion dollars, content creation costs, personnel, rent and more. Note: Most businesses underestimate acquisition costs.

A web-tracking technology company that offers a range of social media and content tools, from responsive sharing buttons to custom follow buttons to recommended content plugins, designed to help increase a follower base and website engagement.

A pay-per-click advertising application offered by Google. It helps bloggers and Web publishers generate revenue from the traffic on their sites. The site owner picks the ads they want to host, and AdSense pays them when the ad is clicked on.

Google’s pay-per-click (PPC) search-engine marketing (SEM) program.

A Web-based tool or application that collects and curates content from different websites and displays it in a central location.

Notifications that can be set up for different things including search terms, events or website actions. Example: Companies often set-up alerts to find out when their name shows up on another blog or website.

The rules and calculations a search engine uses to rank sites. Tip: Algorithms change often and it’s important to stay up-to-date.

ALT Attribute
Text used to describe photos and other non-text based files online. Including this information can help improve search rankings.

Anchor Text
The non-URL (body copy) text that shows up in a hyperlink. Tip: Smart use of anchor text can improve SEO.


A link to content on another site or webpage that explains or enhances the content on the page. Backlinks can help improve SEO rankings.

A ban (also referred to as delisting) occurs when a website is removed from search recommendations when a page or the entire website is found to offer a negative user experience by the search engine. Bans are usually temporary and can be removed when the page or site is fixed. Tip: It’s important to avoid bans because it can be time-consuming to have them removed.

Banner Ad
Advertising used on websites that often contains a link to other sites, product pages, etc.

A free URL shortening service that provides statistics for the links users share online. Tip: Use Bitly to condense long URLs to make them easier to share on social networks with limited character counts like Twitter.

A website originally designed for self-publishing. Today, people and firms use them to publish information that’s usually timely. Blogs typically record and categorize articles by when they’re published and topic to make it easy for readers to find them. The posts appear on a blog’s homepage in reverse-chronological order, which is where the original term for them, web log or weblog, came from. Most blogs allow space for user comments. A “blogger” is someone who writes for a blog.

How people save a website address for future reference. Note: Marketers should be very happy when people bookmark their website. It means they plan to visit again in the future.

Bounce Rate
The percentage of a web page’s visitors who exit without visiting another page on the site. Also known as “abandonment rate.” Note: Google often penalizes websites with high bounce rates because it could be a sign of a negative user experience.

Broken Links
Links to web pages that no longer exist or have been moved to a different URL without being redirected. Note: Sites with a lot of broken links could be penalized by Google.


Ways to organize content on blogs. Tip: Smart categorization can encourage blog visitors to spend more time on site.

Refers to one-to-one text-based communication through instant messaging applications. Chat is often used on websites to answer questions and provide customer service.

Groups of a user’s connections on Google+. Users choose who goes into different circles and what content is shared with each circle. Tip: Circles can give marketers greater control over the audiences they share different types of content with.

Marketing or advertising material that uses bold or sensational elements to get people to click.

Click-Thru Rate
The percent of people who are served-up a link and actually click on it, usually in an email, ad or social post.

The theory and practice that web content generated by a large number of people is of higher quality.

Collective Intelligence
The idea that a group of people is better able to generate smarter, better-thought-through information on the web. Wikipedia uses collective intelligence to generat
e content. Tip: Smart marketers can use collective intelligence to develop better information and products.

Comments are reader responses to web content and blog or social media posts.

Community Manager
The person responsible for building and managing everyday social media activities for a business. Tip: If your business engages in social media, you need a community manager to manage social media engagement.

The people or organizations that have agreed that you or your organization have an online relationship.

Most marketers agree that “Content is king.” Content is any written material, image, video, sound or other material published on the Internet for people to consume.

Content Marketing
Marketing that uses the creation and distribution of relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a targeted audience to get them to do business with a firm.

For most marketers, a conversion is the holy grail. It means that a website visitor takes a desired action which could include making a purchase, requesting a consultation, engaging in a chat, signing-up for a newsletter and more. The conversion rate is the percentage of overall visitors to the site or ad who actually take the desired action.

Cost-Per-Acquisition (Cost per Action)
This is the how much it costs to acquire a new client. It is usually calculated by dividing total marketing costs including creative development, media, personnel and more by the number of clients acquired.

Cost-Per-Click (Pay-Per-Click)
How much is paid for someone to click on an ad or social post to get them to visit a web site.

CPM (Cost Per Thousand)
This refers to the cost for a thousand views of an advertisement. (The “M” in “CPM” comes from the Latin word for thousand, which is mille.) Generally, advertisers agree to pay a fixed amount for every one thousand people who see their ad, whether they click on it or not. Tip: Agreeing to pay for views rather than clicks or conversions could be a good strategy if your goal is brand awareness.

A function used by search engines to index web pages, and other pages that they link to. Crawlers (often referred to as bots or spiders) can gather data and evaluate a very large number of pages quickly.

The act of collecting ideas or content from a group of people online.


An online area that allows administrators to control applications, social media activities, blogs, websites and more. Some dashboards provide access to data and allow administrators to make changes based on that data.

Digital Marketing
A broad term that covers marketing products or services using the Internet, social media, content, banner ads and other media and distribution channels through computers, mobile phones, tablets and other devices.

An index of a website or sites that is put together manually rather than by a crawler. Tip: Directories should be reviewed and updated regularly.

Domain Name System (DNS)
The DNS is a hierarchical decentralized naming system for computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet or a private network. It associates different types of information with individual domain names.

Doorway Page
These are low-content pages that formerly were created to improve search engine rankings. They’re typically keyword-heavy and not user-friendly. Most search engines now frown on them. Tip: It’s a bad idea to use doorway pages.


This is an electronic book typically published in PDF form. Tip: eBooks can help generate leads by asking website visitors to share information to receive a copy of an eBook.

Employee Advocacy
The practice of employees using their own social media presence to share content about the company they work for. Caution: Be careful when creating an employee advocacy program. Certain rules prevent employers from requiring employees to share content.

Engagement Rate
A social media metric used to describe the amount of interaction a piece of social media content receives including likes, shares, and comments relative to its total distribution.

Anything posted to a blog, wiki, or other web publishing platform.


This is a popular social-networking site which can be accessed by anyone age 13+ and businesses. People and companies share information on Facebook and many businesses pay to promote their content in order to have a broader audience see it. Facebook also offers advertising opportunities similar to other media outlets.

A term used to describe people who like a Facebook Page.

Video software developed that creates vector-based graphic animations with relatively small file sizes.

A popular hosting service that lets people upload and share image files.

A person who agrees to receive social media updates.

An section of a website that lets users write comments and messages. Tip: A forum can be a great way to engage clients.

People who are connected to one another on a social networking site, most commonly Facebook.


Location information that can be attached to a piece of online content. Tip: If you use Instagram to promote your business, it’s a good idea to include a local geotag to make it easier for prospects to do business with your firm. 

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)
A way to format animations and film clips so the file sizes are small enough for social media distribution.

A social network that lets users connect with others so they can share photos, send messages, and engage with content.

Graphical Search Inventory
Images that are related to search terms on a search engine which are displayed to users when they enter the search term.

Online communities dedicated to people who share similar interests within a social media network. Tip: LinkedIn groups are popular and many marketers use them to connect with people who work in a particular industry.


Handle</s trong>
The term used to describe a Twitter username. 

A video service associated with Google+ that facilitates video chat with other Google+ users.

Header Image
The large photo at the top of a Twitter profile page. This is comparable to a banner image on LinkedIn or the cover image on Facebook. Tip: Regularly review these images and update them since they are often the first impression a prospective client could have of your business.

Header Tags (H-Tags)
From the largest (H1) to the smallest (H6), these tags define the titles, headings and sub-headings of Web copy. Tip: To improve SEO, headers should be clear, descriptive and include keywords.

Hyperlink (link)
A word or phrase that is clickable and takes a reader to another Web page on the same site or a different one. Instead of showing the full URL of the page, a word or phrase is typically used to create the link. Tip: Including helpful links can improve the reader experience by making it easy for them to access additional information, which can help improve SEO.

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) 
Refers to the text-based language which is used to create websites.


The number of times a paid search-engine listing, sponsored ad or promoted social post is served up online. Cost per impression is a common term used in digital marketing. It refers to how much it costs for a paid search engine listing, online ad or promoted social post to be served-up to someone within a target audience.

The actual collection of data and information about websites done by a search engine.

Inbound Link
A link on a website that drives traffic to another website. Tip: Smart marketers work diligently to find websites to place content on that will drive quality traffic to their site. This is a key component of content marketing.

Inbound Marketing
A type of marketing that uses permission-based techniques to attract potential customers, convert them into leads, clients, and advocates. It analyzes all the activity throughout the process in order to optimize it. Inbound marketing tactics and tools can including SEO, blogging, social media, lead generation, email marketing, lead nurturing, marketing automation, surveys, personalization, CRM and more.

A photo sharing application that lets users take photos, enhance them, and share them on the Instagram network and other social networks including Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and Foursquare.

Instant Messaging
A service that lets people communicate through a real-time, text-based interface over the Internet. Small files can also be shared and real-time screen sharing can also take place. Instant messaging is available through Skype, Facebook, Gmail, and corporate videoconference software and apps.

IP Address
The series of numbers and periods that represent each Internet user’s unique address.


A computer programming language that is platform agnostic, which means it can run on most computers and operating systems. JavaScript is a comparatively simple scripting language that can be seamlessly integrated with HTML. JavaScript is less complex than Java, and because of that, less powerful.


The terms users enter into Google or other search engines when they’re looking for information. These are also the terms websites provide information about so search engines will rank them highly. In other words: Good content related to a keyword should help drive quality search traffic to a website.

Keyword Density
The number of keywords used on a website compared with the total number of words on the site. Tip: A higher keyword density should lead to better search engine rankings. However, packing a site with keywords could lead to a bad reader experience and might raise red flags with search engines. These days, a moderate, well-balanced keyword density should generate the best results.

Keyword Proximity
The relative placement of keywords on a Web page. Tip: Similar to keyword density, finding the right balance of keyword proximity is a critical component of SEO.         

Keyword Stemming
A more effective approach to presenting search engine results that not only shows exact keyword matches, but also variations on the keyword, including plurals, synonyms and common phrases that use the keyword.

This service allows users to connect social media accounts to it and then provides them with a score that reflects their social media influence.


Landing Page
A single Web page that a user “lands” on usually after clicking on some form of online advertising such as a banner ad, link at the end of a video or promoted social post. This type of page is created to serve a very specific purpose, usually to complete an online advertising experience and close a sale.

Link Building
Link building is a part of the search engine optimization (SEO) process in which the owner of a website gets other high-quality websites to add links to their site with the goal of improving their search engine rankings. Tip: One of the easiest and most effective ways to do link building is to reach out to high-quality bloggers who write about issues and topics related to your business.

Link Farm
A website that lists web links for no particular reason and with no discernible structure. In the past, these were used as a ploy to improve search rankings. Today, the opposite is true. A site appearing on one will likely earn a search engine penalty.

Link Popularity
The measurement by a search engine of the number and quality of sites that link to a website. In other words: If a large number of high-quality websites link to a single website, it’s a sign that the linked-to website is a quality one as well, which means search engines will give it a higher ranking.

A popular social networking site generally used by professionals. LinkedIn allows members to connect with other users on the network, share status updates, become members of groups and do other things related to their career and profession. Tip: LinkedIn can be a great way to market to targeted professional groups such as financial advisors, accountants and bankers.

LinkedIn Publishing
LinkedIn’s publishing platform allows members to publish content related to their professional interests and expertise. Tip: LinkedIn Publi
shing can be a cost-effective way to spread the word about your business.

A listing is how a website is presented on a search engine or directory.

Live streaming
This is the act of delivering content over the internet in real-time.


A mashup mixes together different pieces of pre-existing content to generate new content.

A thought, idea, joke, or concept that’s widely shared online. A meme is usually a picture with text, but can also be a video with a link.

A Twitter term that describes when a user includes someone else’s username in their tweet to credit them with a piece of content or to engage in a discussion.

Meta-Description Tag
A tag in the heading source code of a web page that includes a basic description of the page so search engines can categorize the page. It also provides information about the page that search engines pick up and present in the web page listing.

Meta-Keywords Tag
In the past, this tag let authors insert a large number of keywords in order to improve search-engine results. Today, most search engines discount the value of this tag.

Meta-Search Engine
A search engine that does not compile its own results. Instead, it pulls data from other search engines. In other words: A search engine that searches other search engines.

Meta-Tags (Meta Data)
Information found in web page headers that can impact search engine rankings, although today their impact is less than it was in the past. The most common tags are title, description and keyword.

A social media tool that lets users share brief updates and bits of information. Twitter is an example of a microblog.

Microsoft adCenter
Microsoft’s pay-per-click search-engine advertising program for the Bing and Yahoo search engines.

Mirror Site
Identical copy of a website created to increase response time when visitor volume is high.


Native Advertising
A type of online advertising in which the copy and format is similar to non-promoted content on the site or network it’s published on. The purpose is to make ads feel less like ads, and more like non-promoted content.

News Feed
An online supply of news. On Facebook, the news feed can be found on the homepage of a user’s account. On Twitter it’s the Timeline. It also include Pulse and published content on LinkedIn. Tip: Smart marketers promote helpful content in a newsfeed to generate business.

A marketing technique in which businesses leverage the popularity of a timely news story to promote related content in order to generate business.

An append that is coded into the HTML markup of a hyperlink. It is used to prevent a search engine from indexing a link to a particular Web page. Often used to avoid duplicative page issues.


Open-Source Software
Software that allows the general public to edit and improve it.

Organic Search Results (Listings)
These are the results of a web search that have not been paid for. The positions of the results should be organic in that they reflect the popularity/trustworthiness of the website without being influenced by paid advertising.


A social online radio service that lets users build music streams (stations) based on the artists and types of music they enjoy.

Pay Per Click (PPC)
An online advertising model in which advertisers place ads on websites, search engines or social media and pay only when a viewer clicks on them. Pricing is often determined on an auction system in which an advertiser competes with other advertisers by indicating the highest amount they’re willing to pay for each click. A back-end system then decides which ad to serve up.

PDF (Portable Document Format)
A type of file used for sharing and viewing documents. Tip: PDFs are especially good for documents that could be printed out, so it’s an effective way for sharing things like white papers and guides.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P)
Any type of engagement between two or more people on a social network.

A social video app that lets users broadcast live video. Users can also engage with videos from other people, browse live or recent broadcasts, and follow others to receive notifications about their videos.

A web address or URL of a particular post a blog or website that remains indefinitely unchanged.

A social network that lets users upload, save, and categorize photos using “pins” in collections called “boards.” Boards are generally organized by themes. Users can “pin” and “repin” content that they like to their own boards.

A series of digital broadcasts (usually audio) that are released as individual episodes.

Pop-Up Ad
A form of online ad that automatically opens (or “pops up” in) a new browser window. Most people dislike this type of intrusive advertising and block these ads.


A service the provides website traffic and demographic information related to websites.

A term entered into a search engine when users are looking for information about it.


The position of a website listing on search-engine results pages. A higher ranking page will likely be seen — and clicked on — by more users.

Rapid Inclusion
This term refers to fee-based indexing of websites on search engines. With free submissions, indexing may happen every few weeks. With rapid indexing, it occurs every 48-72 hours.

Real-time Search
A way to index content published online and determine search engine results instantly.

Real-Time Marketing
A strategy that uses timely content related to breaking news to drive sales. Example: Smart marketers promote content about online security services when a data breach makes the news.

Reciprocal Link
A link to a website that is reciprocated in the form of a backlink. This usually happens when sites with mutually beneficial audiences agree to do this in order to im
prove their search engine results. Note: If two sites with no clear relationship agree to link to each other, they could be penalized by search engines.

A social news site that supports topic-based communities of users who share and comment on stories.

A Twitter action that lets a user respond to a tweet with a separate tweet that begins with the other party’s username.

An online advertising strategy that lets marketers advertise to people who visited their website or are part of a database.

Return on Investment (ROI)
The percentage of profit earned from digital marketing activity or a campaign. Example: If a firm pays $50,000 a month for cost-per-click advertising, and it leads to $500,000 in profit, the ROI would be 1,000%.

A retweet is when a Twitter user sees your tweet and shares it with his or her followers.

RSS Feed
A type of web feed format used to publish frequently updated content such as blogs and videos in a standardized format. Content publishers can syndicate a feed, which allows users to subscribe to the content and engage with it anyplace, anytime.

RSS Reader
This software lets users collect content from many websites into a single place using RSS feeds. The purpose of them is to make content consumption faster and easier.


Search Engine
A website that helps users search the Web for information by entering keywords. Google is the largest and most popular search engine.

Search-Engine Marketing (SEM)
A term use to describe paid search-marketing activities. Marketers place bids in order to get their sites listed higher on the paid listings.

Search-Engine Optimization (SEO)
The process of using website analysis and making adjustments to copy, design and structure to improve positioning on search-engine result pages.

Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
The list of results that come up after a query is entered on a search engine.

Free software that lets users conduct text, audio, and video chats.

A social network designed to share presentations and other documents. Tip: Slideshare is a good B2B marketing opportunity, especially for products that are sold through education.

A social app that lets users send and receive time-sensitive photos and videos known as “snaps.” The snaps disappear once a time limit is reached.

Social Media
All online tools and sites that allow users to generate content and communicate through the Internet. This includes blogs, social networks, file-hosting sites, bookmarking sites and others.

Social Media Monitoring
The process of monitoring and responding to comments and mentions associated with business social media accounts.

Social Network
A website or online community that lets members interact with one another and share content.

Social Selling
A sales technique in which representatives engage with prospects by answering their questions and provide helpful information via social media. Tip: Many wholesalers working with financial companies use social selling to engage with brokers and financial advisors.


In email marketing, any message that is deemed by users or email providers to be an unsolicited commercial offer. In other words: Email that is viewed as junk mail.

Spam also refers to links or comments that are left on blogs, forums and message boards to drive users to another site in order to generate business.

In SEO, spam is anything done on a Web site or page that a search engine views negatively. Examples can include using doorway pages, link farms, keyword stuffing, cloaking and other highly questionable practices.

Style Sheet
A design template used for defining the layout of multiple pages on a website.

The process of registering a web site with a search engine or Web directory. A submission does not guarantee that a site will be included, but can lead to it being reviewed or crawled. A submission can be done manually or by using commercial software packages.

The process of agreeing to receive an email newsletter or RSS feed.


A practice often used on Facebook and Instagram that lets users create a link back to the profile of the person shown in the picture or mentioned in an update.

Title Tag
Meta data used by search engines to categorize Web pages by title. Search-engine algorithms typically look to title tags to determine/categorize page content.

Trending Topics
The topics and hashtags on a social media network that are getting the most buzz. Tip: Marketers can optimize the effectiveness of their social campaigns by joining the conversations around trending topics.

A person who regularly creates problems and disruptions online. Trolls typically spend time on forums, comment sections, and chat rooms in order to negatively impact discussions. Note: Businesses often use their social media monitors to identify and manage the behavior of trolls.

A platform that lets users post text, images, video, audio, links, and quotes to their blog. Users can also follow other blogs and repost other users’ content to their own blog.

Tweetup (Tweetchat)
A meeting organized for friends, fans and others on Twitter. Note: Tweetups are often used by marketers to engage prospects and build brand awareness with large audiences. 

A real-time social network that allows users to share 140-character updates with their followers and others and engage in conversations.

The total community of users who are active on Twitter.


Unique Visitor
A statistic that represents visitors to a website that are counted once in a given time period even if they visited the site many times during that period.

URL (Universal Resource Locator)
A string of letters and numbers separated by periods and slashes that uniquely identifies every Internet page.

User-Generated Content
Content, including videos, photos, quotes, articles, etc., that is created by consumers. Marketers often ask consumers to create this type of content to support an
advertising campaign. This content could include videos of consumers using a product or testimonials about its quality.

User Sitemap
A page containing links to every key page on a website grouped by topic or navigational structure. These pages are useful for people and search-engine spiders because they provide an easy-to-scan view of the most important pages on a site.


A social video sharing service in which users create and engage with six-second looping video clips. Tip: Creative marketers use Vine to distribute high-impact messages.

A term used to describe content that is frequently shared online.

A piece of content that uses video to tell a story or report on information. Vlogs are often shared through YouTube.

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP)
Technology that lets users make calls (including video) over the Internet.


An online seminar or presentation conducted by an individual or a company. Tip: Webinars are often used by financial marketers to explain complex financial products or concepts. 

A virtual meeting where audio and visual content is shared over the Internet.

Any internet page — or group of pages — that can be easily edited by the public or a select group of registered visitors. Wikis are examples of online collaboration.

A free, open-source online encyclopedia made up of heavily edited user-generated content on a wide range of topics.


XML Sitemap
A file used by search engines that contains a list of URLs on a particular domain. This file can be used to supplement regular indexing, where a bot/crawler goes out and visits each page of a site.


The leading network for sharing video content.