Every industry has its own jargon that insiders (and few others) understand, and digital marketing is no different. A digital marketing strategy is important to help spread the word about your local business, but with all the different terms, acronyms and phrases used, trying to understand what’s being said can be like reading cooking instructions in a foreign language: confusing and frustrating.

Here’s a quick, handy guide to some of the most important words that impact your digital marketing strategy. Yeah, we know there are hundreds of other digital marketing words you could spend your time learning, but if you know these ones you’ll be ahead of the game, and maybe have fewer headaches.

Bounce Rate

The percentage of visitors to your site who leave without visiting a second page. This means these visitors land on a single page and then exit without engaging with your site.

Call to Action (CTA)

A prompt in the form of a link or pop-up that encourages website visitors to take a desired action. The desired action can be anything from signing up for a newsletter to downloading a coupon.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Commonly associated with online advertising campaigns, it is the percentage of people who click on a link to your site in comparison to the number of impressions an ad receives. A higher CTR means more people saw an ad with a link to your website and clicked on it.

Conversion Rate

The number of people who take a desired action on your site that is beyond simply browsing a page. If your click-through rate is high but your conversion rate is low, it means people are visiting your website but not taking action.

Cost-Per-Click (CPC)

The set amount you pay for every click directed to your site through ads on other sites or on search networks like Google or Bing. In this case, you’re only charged for the people who actually visit your website by clicking on a link, not the people who see your ad on a webpage.

Cost-Per-Thousand Impressions (CPM)

The price you are willing to pay for 1,000 views of your ad. It’s great for increasing brand awareness, but it doesn’t guarantee increased sales.

Engagement Rate

An important metric used to measure the amount of interaction your content receives on social media through likes, shares, comments, or click-throughs. The more engagement you receive, the more engaged your followers are and the higher your engagement rate.


In the context of online advertising, it is the number of times an ad is shown on a search result page or any other web page. One hundred impressions means your ad was shown 100 times online.

Inbound Link

A link from another website to yours (also called a backlink). If someone posts about your amazing ice cream and links to your site, that’s an inbound link.


A single word or phrase that is used to look up products or services in a search engine. This could be something along the lines of “notebooks” or “organic produce in Los Angeles”.

Organic Traffic

Traffic that your site receives via unpaid search results in search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

This term describes the paid ads displayed above or beside (sometimes below) free search-engine listings. Website owners place a bid per click on different keywords, with the highest bids getting the best advertising location.

Return on Investment (ROI)

The percentage of profit from your digital marketing activity. This is a ratio of your profits to your costs for running a marketing campaign. ROI is extremely important as it measures the success of your business’ marketing initiatives.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

The paid activities you can do to increase your website’s search engine ranking. This includes paid Facebook ads, enhanced campaigns and pay-per-click campaigns using programs such as Google AdWords and Bing Ads.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Free activities taken on your website to ensure the highest possible positioning in search engine results. This includes blogging consistently, formatting your URLs, using keywords, and promoting your site on social media among other things.

Unique Visitors

Visitors who visit a web page and are counted only once in a given time period, no matter how many times they visited the site in that period. What this means is that if you visit a website twice in one day, you’re only counted as one unique visitor.

And now you know the 16 digital marketing terms that are most relevant to your business. When someone asks how many unique visitors your website receives in a month or what your CTR is, you can answer with confidence.

Miranda Ryder is a Volume Nine SEO contributor to the Connectivity blog.