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Glossary of Digital Marketing Terms

Last updated on October 23, 2019
9 minute read

Skill Level


The digital world is full of terms like SEO, PPC, SSL, SERP, and many more. With countless terms and topics to process, digital marketing jargon can sometimes make you feel like you’re reading a different language. 

Understanding these terms is essential to improving your site’s position on the search engine results page, boosting brand awareness, and driving conversions. This glossary breaks down the most important digital marketing terms into definitions that are easy to follow. Keep it available for reference while reading our digital marketing and SEO guides!

Marketing Channels & Types

Affiliate Traffic: Traffic sent to a website from an affiliate website; the affiliate website receives a compensation fee for listing activities of another company on their website

Content Marketing: A marketing approach that focuses on the creation of content (written, video, photos, etc.) to promote brand awareness and attract a target audience

Digital Marketing: All forms of marketing that exist online (social media, email, SEM, online ads, etc.)

Knowledge Panel: Information boxes that appear on the right side of the SERP when you search for entities (people, places, organizations, things). They are meant to help you get a quick snapshot of information on a topic based on Google’s understanding of available content on the web.

Organic Traffic/Search: Results of a search on the SERP that are based on the relevance of the listed websites to the search term, independent of advertisements or paid search

Paid Traffic/Search: Results of a search on the SERP that are paid advertisements and have a top position on the page; these are labeled “ad”

PPC (Pay-Per-Click): A form of digital advertising where you (the advertiser) pay a fee each time a searcher clicks on your advertisement

Referral Traffic: Traffic sent to a website from another website

SEM (Search Engine Marketing): A type of digital marketing that involves improving the positioning of a website on the SERP through a combination of paid advertisements (PPC) and SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimization): The process of improving your website so that it attracts quality traffic and enjoys prime visibility on the search engine results pages (SERPs)


Alt Tag/Text: Words and phrases that describe the contents of an image for people with accessibility issues so that the image can be interpreted by screen readers

Backlink: Also called inbound links, backlinks are incoming links to one website from another website

Crawling: The process by which search engines or other software scan a website and collect data (title tags, images, links) in order to index the web pages and serve them up to searchers on the SERP

Duplicate Content: Content that appears on the internet (or on one website) in more than one place

H1: The header tag, usually the title of a webpage and largest text on the page

Indexing: The process by which search engines add all the content of a website to their database, making the web pages available on the SERP

Keywords: Ideas, topics, and phrases searchers enter into a search engine that defines what their search is about

Keyword Stuffing: The spammy practice of adding far too many keywords to a block of text or web page in an attempt to manipulate the site’s position on the SERP

Local Pack: The map feature on the SERP that shows three local businesses with their NAP (name, address, phone number) data in response to a local query.

Local Query: A query that features geographical components like “near me,” “[store or attraction] open now,” etc

Long-Tail Keywords: Keyword phrases that contain more than two words that are very specific to what is being sold

Meta Description: A snippet of about 155 characters of text that summarizes the content of a webpage, includes relevant keywords and information and is displayed on the SERP

NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number): Important contact information that every company should include on their website and directory listings such as Yelp and TripAdvisor

Query: The keywords/phrase a searcher types into a search engine

Ranking: A website’s position on the SERP

Search Engine: A software system that searches the World Wide Web to find particular websites based on a search query (e.g. Google)

SERP (Search Engine Results Page): The page(s) displayed by a search engine in response to a query typed into the search engine by a searcher

Title Tag: An element that specifies the title, topic, and/or theme of a webpage

Web Design, User Experience & Technical Elements

CMS (Content Management System): A software application or set of programs that are used to create and manage digital content (e.g. WordPress)

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets): A style sheet language used for describing how something written in a markup language like HTML should be displayed on the screen

CTA (Call to Action): A statement that directs readers to take a single action by prompting them or telling them exactly what to do next (often in the form of a button, e.g. “Book now,” “View all tours”)

Domain Name Registrar: A company that provides domain name registrations and maps domain names to IP addresses

Hero Unit: The top section of a webpage that has visual elements meant to grab the attention of the viewer and showcase key content from the website

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language): A standardized system for tagging text files to achieve visual effects (font, color, graphic, etc.) on web pages

Javascript: The programming language for the web, Javascript can update and change both CSS and HTML and create and control dynamic website content

Responsive Design: An approach to web design that uses CSS, flexible layouts, and more to make web pages render well on any screen size or device (e.g. mobile, tablet, desktop)

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate: A form of security technology that ensures the data (personal information, credit card numbers, social security numbers, etc.) passing between a web server and your internet browser remains private

URL: A unique combination of characters that specifies a website’s exact address/location on the internet, seen in the search bar at the top of a browser

UX (User Experience): The way that people interact with and feel about using a website

Analytics & Tracking

API (Application Program Interface): APIs allow two applications to talk to each other, or send, receive, and interpret data between each other

Google Analytics: A web analytics service offered by Google that shows real-time traffic of your website and lets you analyze details about the visitors to your website

Google My Business Listing: A listing that displays your company’s information, such as location, contact information, and user reviews, across various Google features and platforms

Google Search Console: A tool for managing websites through indexing status, SERP visibility, and other elements

Retargeting: A marketing effort in which marketers keep track of the people who leave a website without making a purchase and retarget them with different campaigns to bring them back to the website

UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) Parameters: Five unique variants of URL parameters that can be added to the end of URLs for pages associated with marketing campaigns, allowing analytics software to track how visitors are coming to the website and how they are interacting with a marketing campaign

Now that you’ve got a glossary of the basics, you can talk about digital marketing, SEO, and analytics like a pro! For more in-depth information about the terms in this glossary, view our digital marketing and SEO guides.

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