Does this sound familiar?

You’re in a meeting. You’re trying to look like you really dig what the other person is saying. But the truth is, their words mean nothing to you.

You have no idea what this person is talking about. And you’re just too embarrassed to show it. So you nod your head and agree to stuff you don’t understand.

That’s not good.

Digital marketing – like every other field – has its own technical language.

If you work with marketing people – or read marketing, business or tech blogs – you’ve probably seen these phrases kicking around. But you might not be 100 percent clear about what they all mean.

So here’s a quick run-down of 20 popular phrases that marketing folks like to use.


20 digital marketing phrases explained


This stands for ‘call to action.’ It means telling your audience what you want them to do.

For example, if you want them to request a product demo when they visit your website, you spell that out loud and clear – typically with well-positioned links that say ‘request a demo.’


Conversion is when someone takes the action you want them to take.

So if your CTA is to encourage your customer to request a product demo, a conversion is when they follow-through and actually request that demo.


This stands for ‘click-through rate.’ Marketers typically use CTR to measure the volume of clicks from an advert through to their website.

So let’s say 10,000 internet users see your advert, and 500 users click on the link. That gives you a click-through rate of 5%.


SEO stands for ‘search engine optimisation.’ It means optimising your website for search engines.

There are various approaches. For example, ‘on-page SEO’ involves setting up your pages so they rank higher and attract more relevant traffic from Google etc.

‘Off-page SEO’ involves things like building links from other sites to help give your pages credibility in the eyes of search engines.


A cornerstone of SEO, these are usually phrases rather than individual words. They’re the phrases that can help people find your content on search engines.

You usually prioritise keywords based on how relevant they are to your audience, how much competition there is for those keywords from other businesses, and how many people actually search for them.

You then thread them into your content to help improve your rankings.

keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing was an old SEO technique. It involved unnaturally cramming keywords into pages in an effort to climb up search rankings.

It often resulted in copy that was pretty crappy to read. Thankfully, Google got wise. And now keyword stuffing is a sure-fire way to plummet down the rankings.


This stands for ‘search engine results page.’ When you type something into a search engine, the result it throws up is the SERP.


This stands for ‘search engine marketing.’

If SEO is about improving your ‘organic search’ presence (search results that aren’t paid for), SEM is about managing your ‘paid search’ presence – which is basically the ‘ad’ listings you see at the top and right-hand-side of a search-results page.


Inbound marketing is about trying to attract customers by creating compelling content to draw them in.

Blog articles, pod-casts, video and info-graphics designed to entertain or help target audiences are typical of the type of content used.

If you hear people mention ‘content marketing’, they’re usually talking about the same principles as inbound.

landing page

A landing page is the first page a person ‘lands on’ when they visit your website.

So if your pay-per-click advert includes a link to a page on your site, that’s your landing page. It’s where people will ‘land’ when they click-through from the ad.


This stands for ‘pay-per-click’ advertising. Examples include Google Adwords and Twitter Ads.

They’re called ‘pay-per-click’ because you only pay when somebody clicks on the link in your advert.

How much usually depends on factors like competition from other advertisers (many PPC services use an auction system) and the relevance of your ad.

display ads

Display ads are usually a form of pay-per-click advertising. The adverts you see along the top and right-hand-side when you visit certain web pages are usually display ads.

Advertisers place them on sites (usually matched through a ‘display network’) with audiences that fit the profile of their customers.

re-marketing / re-targeting

Re-marketing means re-engaging people who’ve already shown an interest in your product or service.

Let’s say someone visits your website and signs up to your newsletter. They’ve already shown an interest in what you do. Your newsletter is a way to re-engage and coax them back to make a purchase.

If you collect info about your site visitors using cookies (bits of code that track behaviour), and use that to target ads at them, that’s re-targeting.

responsive design

Noticed how some websites adjust their layout when you view them on your mobile or tablet? That’s responsive design.

The website responds to the screen-size of the device you’re using. It helps ensure a user-friendly experience for mobile visitors – something Google sees as really important in deciding how to rank web-pages (so it’s important for your SEO).


CMS stands for ‘content management system.’ A CMS will let you update content on your website with little or no coding knowledge.

Examples include WordPress (which I use for this site), Umbraco and Drupal.


UX stands for ‘user-experience.’ If someone visits your e-commerce site and finds it simple, intuitive and easy to use, that’s a good user experience.

If they find it difficult to use, that’s a bad user experience.


This stands for ‘user generated content.’

An example? If you include images taken by customers on your website (e.g. through an Instagram hashtag feed), that’s UGC.

It’s about encouraging customers to participate in your online content, which can be a good way to build deeper relationships and brand loyalty.

social sentiment

This involves monitoring social media for feelings expressed towards the brands, products and topics that interest you.

It’s usually done with a tool that uses an algorithm to decide if a tweet is positive, negative or neutral.


This usually refers to people who are influential on social media.

Again, there are tools that use algorithms to measure influence. They might consider the number of connections a person has, how much interaction their posts generate, and how often they post.

digital natives

Not a marketing term as such, but often used by marketers.

‘Digital natives’ is used to describe people who’ve grown up with digital technology.

So there it is. A quick explanation of some popular technical phrases.