Sometimes the hardest part about learning something new is simply learning the terminology.

In my opinion, language barriers account for the most amount of misinterpreted information from client to sales rep and vise versa.

Your marketing partner will throw around some of the following terms when discussing digital marketing performance across both organic and paid channels.

I write this blog in the hopes that it will bridge the communication gap between you and your marketer.

Scene from Pulp Fiction, English, do you speak it


Digital Marketing Strategies



Search Engine Optimization. This is the process and strategy to optimize your website and brand to place high in search engine results pages (SERPs).

SEO practices range from on-site modifications as well as off-site optimizations and serves as the foundation to any digital marketing strategy.



Search Engine Marketing. Can be confused with SEO. SEM doesn’t necessarily affect organic traffic like SEO. SEM uses paid means to get people / users to your website and take an action.

This is often used synonymously with PPC (pay-per-click).



Social Media Management. This is pretty self-explanatory. This can range from organically posting and interacting with users on your business’ social media profiles, to PPC and paid advertising on social media platforms.


Remarketing / Retargeting

This is a strategy that allows an advertiser to target users that have previously been to their site, or interacted with a social media post.


General Digital Terminology



This term refers to natural traffic that navigates to your site or your brand on a platform without the means of paid mediums or methods — clicking a result after a Google or Bing search query that is not an ad, or coming to your site via a link from another site or source such as a blog or social media.


Paid Traffic

Paid traffic is the opposite of organic. When a user clicks on a link, banner, or ad that is the result of a campaign that requires money to be active, it is classified as paid traffic.



Search Engine Results Page. These are the pages you see of the different search engines after typing something into Google, Bing, or Yahoo.

(Yes, Yahoo is still used.)



A campaign is a term most commonly used in SEM. However, it can also be referred to as any time period a digital marketing effort is being run, including SEO, SEM, and SMM.



Google AdWords is Google’s ad interface that allows you to create paid ad campaigns on Google’s search engine results pages as well as their partner networks.

AdWords uses a keywords-based system that allows an ad place to create ads based on keywords and set bids for those keywords in real time ad auctions that take place when a user types in a search in Google.


Partner Network

A partner network is a network of owned sites that partners with a publisher. For example, Google owns YouTube, so running video ads through Google’s AdWords will play on YouTube as well.

Note: The publisher does not necessarily have to own the partnered network.


Search Query

This is the set of words or phrase entered into a search bar typically on a search engine like Google or Bing.



A program that can simulate clicks and web page views just like a human could. Bots can skew analytics results very heavily.


General SEM Terms and Metrics



An impression is when your ad shows up and a user can view it. Some impressions are triggered when it is loaded onto a page. Other impressions are triggered and counted as such when the user physically scrolls to the page where the ad is placed. An impression can also count for video ads.


Impression Share

Digital jargon for your digital market share.

This is the number of impressions your ad actually got versus the number of impressions your ad COULD have.


Quality Score

Google gives a quality score to ads based on a few criteria. A few of them are landing page experience, ad extensions, and even site speed.

The quality score determines impression eligibility as well as Ad Rank.


Ad Rank

A value used to determine ad position. This is primarily determined by your bid and quality score.


Ad Position

This is where your ad appears either on a SERP against your competitors. If you show as the 3rd result on the 1st page of Google, your ad rank is 3.



A click is when a user clicks on your ad or organic listing.



Click Through Rate. This is the total number of impressions divided by the total number of clicks.



When someone takes a specific action on your website or social media platform. This could range from filling out a form to making a call, to even spending so much time on a certain page.


Conversion Rate

The conversion rate is determined by the number of conversions divided by the number of clicks.



No, this does not stand for Certified Public Accountant… In advertising, it stands for Cost Per Acquisition.

An acquisition is used interchangeably with conversion. The cost per acquisition measures how many total dollars were spent on clicks to get someone to convert. Conversions divided by total cost.



Not all ads are charged by clicks. Some are charged by impressions. CPM stands for Cost per Thousand Impressions (I think it’s a European thing).



Much like metrics with airing a radio or TV spot, frequency is how often your ads are displayed or shown.



This is a fancy way of saying that your ads are targeted to people within a certain geographic region. You don’t want to be serving ads to people outside of your area of responsibility, so we can set up geotargeting (also referred to as Geofencing).



This is primarily used in social media advertising. Due to the extensive information about individuals and organizations on social media, targeting ads to specific people can get very granular. Ranging from job position, age, income, interests, and pages they like.



These are the words or phrases that trigger your ads or organic listings. Keywords can be as simple as one word or as long as a phrase. You choose your keywords for your ads in AdWords.



Key Performance Indicator.

Okay, this one isn’t necessarily a digital marketing term, but it is used a lot. Because digital marketing is so trackable, KPIs are necessary to determine a correlation between analytics and business growth.



This is simply the maximum cost per click you’re willing to spend when bidding in AdWords for a particular keyword.



Return on Ad Spend.


Split Test

This is an experiment to see which of two options performs better.

Just remember back to 9th-grade science class where you had your control group and your variable group.


General SEO Terms and Metrics



A user is a unique person that visits your site. A user is typically defined as one person per browser and usually expires as a unique user after not visiting your site for 30 days… or clears their history.



A session is when a user gets on your site. Here is the main difference between a user and a session. You are a user, then you walk into Home Depot. You leave with what you wanted but then forgot something two hours later as we all do. So you go back. You just logged two sessions in at Home Depot, but you are only one user.



This is how many pages were viewed during a specified time period. One user can view the same page multiple times and it still counts as multiple page views.


Pages per Session

How many pages a user viewed during each session individually. This is expressed as an average number across a given time period.



A bounce is when a user lands on a page on your website and leaves without taking an action. This is a common occurrence in websites that are not optimized to retain visitors and have them take actions.


Bounce Rate

The bounce rate is the number of users that bounced, divided by the number of total users during a given period.



A backlink is a link from another site that links to your site. Also considered to be one of Google’s top ranking factors for websites.

Related: How to Gain More Quality Backlinks


That’s (Not) All!

That is the bulk of the terms us digital marketers use on a daily basis. There are many, many more, especially relating to the AdWords interface like ad group, exact match keywords, and more. But we’ll cover that in another blog.

I hope this was as informative for you as it was fun for me to write it!