Digital marketing: a glossary of terms

Digital marketing is an ever-changing arena. Many companies are still getting to grips with the basics of digital marketing, which is nothing to be ashamed of. The terms that you’ll hear in this sphere are vastly different to those that would’ve been commonplace even a few years ago. However, the nature of the internet means that the barriers to digital marketing are very low. All you need is the knowledge of the various platforms, formats and channels that you’ll encounter – plus a few hours a week to manage it all. If you’re completely new to digital marketing and would like to gain an understanding of the marketing-speak you inevitably keep hearing, you’re in the right place. We’ve put together a glossary of many of the digital marketing terms you’ll encounter, enabling you to put together a solid digital marketing strategy for your company.


Clickbait titles are written specifically to tempt viewers to click through to the site to view its content. These titles tend to tease the reader, and are employed by many websites including Buzzfeed and Upworthy. These titles play on nostalgia, curiosity and the fear of missing out on valuable tips or ideas.

Click-through rate

Click-through rate or CTR is a measure of online advertising success. It counts the number of times a user clicked on the link contained in the email, social media post, or content. It is calculated by dividing the number of click-throughs by the number of impressions the content received.

Content marketing

The current king of digital marketing, content marketing refers to the process where a website is regularly updated with useful, engaging content in order to rank higher in search engines and build up a strong social media following.


Conversion is the process wherein the user makes a purchase or moves closer to making a purchase due to a marketing tactic. Conversion is a useful measurement as it cements the relationship between marketing and sales.


Hypertext mark-up language, known as HTML, is a standardised system for displaying content on the web. Website code is frequently ‘written’ in HTML.


Keywords are used by content marketers to improve their clients’ search engine ranking. Websites that use a suitable number of keywords in their content will rank higher in search engines when a user enters that keyword in the search box.

Link building

Link building is a tactic used in SEO (see below) to encourage external sites to link back to your website. This increases ranking and generates more traffic to your website.

Long tail keywords

Long tail keywords consist of several words. Instead of just ‘marketing tips,’ a long tail keyword might be ‘digital marketing tips for small retailers.’ These keywords are less competitive than shorter ones, giving smaller companies a chance to rank highly for them.

Meta description

The meta description is the short section of text that shows underneath the title in search results. These are important for SEO (see below).

Organic traffic

Traffic that naturally comes to your website through search engine results.

Paid traffic

Traffic to your website that is paid for through advertisements.


The algorithm used by Google to calculate search engine rankings. It is constantly being refined.


Pay-per-click – this term relates to companies placing an advertisement on another website. When a user clicks on the ad, the company pays the host.


Search engine optimisation, frequently known as SEO, is the science of improving a website’s ranking in search engine results.


SERP is short for search engine results page – the page that appears after you’ve carried out a search on Google or another search engine.

Social media

Social media is a term used to describe websites that allow users to create, host and share content. Examples of social networks include Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Viral marketing

Viral marketing aims to achieve the spread of company content organically, through users sharing and posting the content in question. This is the equivalent of traditional word-of-mouth marketing, but online.

We hope our glossary has helped equip you with the knowledge to plan your marketing strategy with confidence.

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.
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