The ultimate guide to digital jargon – in plain English.

Here at SOS, we are lifting the skirt on the dark arts of digital marketing.

This starts with the crazy lingo that goes on in most board rooms around the world.

It is spewing out of the mouths of most marketing professionals. They just can’t help themselves. Every other word is a ‘CRO’ or an ‘above the fold’, or a ‘funnel’ that will help build ‘SEO’…blah blah blah. What are they saying? And why do they all expect you to know what they are talking about?

If you find a marketing professional who hasn’t got a touch of the Marketingitis, then there’s something wrong with them. Check their temperature and send them home.

Here’s a heads-up on all that silly stuff, so you can look super cool in the board room – and actually know what you’re talking about! (Double bonus!)



Above The Fold

Refers to the visible area of the screen that the user sees before having to scroll to see more.

Affiliate Marketing

Promoting and selling other people’s products through your website and social media and getting paid a percentage of the profits for any sales you were responsible for creating.


A mathematical calculation (usually carried out by computer programs) that helps to solve a problem. Google’s search results are based on the information of many different calculations (algorithms) in order to give you the best quality data for your search query. Each is responsible for solving an aspect of which indexed pages to best for your search.

ALT Text

Used in HTML code for web pages. It allows you to add in alternative text (alt text) for an image on your page. If images are blocked in emails, then you usually see the alt text on the page. If you hover over an image on a web page, the alt text appears if it’s there in the code. It can be used to show you information on where a link goes to when you hover over it.


Not that sort of model… This is like looking for someone to blame when your last chocolate bar disappears. Instead of blame, we want to see who’s responsible for bringing in the money. Was it your paid advert, your organic result, or your email that you sent? You use reporting and tracking.


This term is used to describe a website or web page that has good search results because it contains established, popular and supported content that has been shared and linked to by many people. These types of pages and sites tend to be shown higher up search results as they seem to be good resources that are trusted by many people. The more popular your website is – the more authority it is said to have.

B IS FOR …Backlink

This is not some kind of armoured shirt material. This is the common term for the HTML link someone has that points to your website or particular web page. This link will be the full web address (or URL) that takes people directly to content on your site.

Below The Fold

Sounding like a bleak daytime TV drama, this term refers to any content which is NOT instantly viewable by someone looking at your page unless they start to scroll down the page.


C’mon – really? OK, a common term for writing about drama in your life and posting it online in regular posts for all the world to read. Or for writing content on your favourite topics – Like Wagon Wheels – and making it findable for others who like Wagon Wheels too!

Bounce Rate

Forget your fond childhood memories of trampolining! If 100 people click to see your web page and 80 people do nothing else except leave your site to Google something else – then your web page has a bounce rate of 80%. Meaning only 20% thought your page was relevant.
High bounce rates can by the web’s way of telling you that your getting the wrong people coming to see your page, or your page does nothing for them. Useful to know!

Broken Link

You might have seen this before. You click on an image or link on someone’s site and for some reason (usually, typo mistake or site has changed host) the destination page cannot be found. This is referred to as a broken link. We’ll write a tutorial about this soon – but for now, just Google ‘How to find a broken link on your website’ for tips and advice to fix this.


Call To Action (CTA)

Words that are used to help someone know what they should do next on your site. Usually, the buttons and text on them that say everything from ‘Click here to download’ to the more dubious looking ‘Free report – Get instant access now’. They also can be ‘Buy Now’ checkout and email sign up confirmation buttons. Never, never ever use the term ‘Submit’ if you can help it! This is proven to be the worst call to action ever – unless you’re into 50 Shades of Grey that is.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

I know this sounds like a heavenly digital waterfall of loveliness, but it’s not! In the good ‘ol days of websites, you’d create each page and make changes to the text, design colours on each one. If you wanted to change your font from Georgia to Arial you’d set aside a week and methodically change the code on each web page. Then a few years back now, a wonderful idea came about where you could choose to add a style sheet onto each page that allowed you to change fonts and colours easily. All you did was change the master sheet (the top layer of your site) and the change would flow down across each page where the style sheet was used. Like a Cascading set of sheets with … Oh, I get it now!

Click Through Rate (CTR)

Imagine you are THE lead guitarist in a famous rock band (Cue Shrill Air Guitar Noise!) you post a new article on your website about your latest single. You go into glorious details about it and even have a clickable link to iTunes (other music platforms are also available). Over a two week period, exactly 10,000 adoring fans click to read about your new single and devour every well-typed word. Enthralled by your writing, 4800 of them click the iTunes link and buy your song. You’d be able to tell your record company executives that your article page had a Click Through Rate of 48%. They’d look at you all proud and whisper – get back to writing the next hit song you freak!

Content Management System (CMS)

Feeling contented with life? Who cares! This has nothing to do with CMS. As an online business, you need a place to draft articles, upload images and create massively readable web pages and blogs for worldwide domination. Trying to do all this directly with code is an indescribable pain the backside. You need a system for managing the content (see what we did there?) but you’re in luck. Nearly every blog and site hosting has an interface for you to create, build and manage all your awesome content with. These are standard but were the next big thing back in 2008! For anyone who used to use file transfers and manage articles through spreadsheets – luckily those days are gone. Most CMS’s are accessible by logging into your web or hosting account. At some point, we’ll be writing a detailed article on this which I’ll come back and link here (Hello future me!).


Not a day will go by where you won’t here digital marketers grumbling about conversions. This refers to people taking the action you WANT them to take on your web page. It refers to the ideal action someone should take – like purchasing a product, but you can use the term across a range of actions. In our website, we have a few different conversion points. Signing up to our email list is one type of conversion – as then we get to send them loads of really useful content that over time will help us build up trust so that they buy a product from us like an eBook – which is another type of conversion.

Conversion Rate

Following on from the previous point above – this is how many times this ideal action is taken by our audience. If I get10,000 individual visitors to view our email sign up page (example here) and can persuade 2500 of those people to sign up for our emails (seriously – have you signed up yet?) then my conversion rate is 25%. This is a useful percentage to use for digital marketing reporting. Over time page conversion rate will become level and you can test ways to increase the conversion rate of your main pages.

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)

This is the activity you take to test and improve your conversion rate. Whether it be on your page, or across your whole site, you can test ways to improve the copy, images, relevancy (see R section below), forms, site design, etc, etc in order to look for changes that show an increase in your conversion rate. Tools used for this are all based around gathering user data and insight into how people are using or could use your website better. Heatmaps show where people are looking. Clickmaps show which items on your page are being clicked. User video’s show recordings of people using your site and where they have problems. Analytical data will show you where people are having problems and where they enter and leave your website. All this activity is referred to as optimisation.


..MONSTER!!! (Sorry – I’ve been waiting to do that for ages) Seriously though, this refers to little sections of code that are added into web page code that allow you to do more detailed reporting on your audience. Not used in the ‘Big Brother’ 1984 way, but more to make sure you’re getting the right people on your website and that you’re showing them the right things. Cookie tracking will help you report on where people are located in the world, whether they are desktop or mobile phone users, which pages they use and which they don’t. You can also generate cookie code for certain programs to use to test different versions of your web content or to do more in-depth reporting and analysis of your target audience. If you’re using paid advertising, then you’ll have some cookie code that you put on your thank you page or checkout which will tell you which of the ad clicks people used that then became a sale (or conversion – see above points!).


The dark art of using words to manipulate people’s feelings and get them to open their wallets! Only Kidding, this is a skill that is readily misunderstood by many businesses. It’s not about hypnotising people into taking actions they really don’t want to take. It’s about finding the right words and ‘tone of voice’ that best reflects your target customers and the product or service you offer. Some topics work better if they engage people with personality in the writing, but good copy tells a story that customers want to listen to. It can help create trust between a business and it’s customers. Usually, people need a good balance of design, imagery, copy and service. But copy is the key to many websites being a better experience than others. If you’re looking to stand out from your competitors then copy is a great way to do this. There are loads of online services for this and there’s nothing wrong with admitting you know little about this and learning through online courses and other free resources to gain a better understanding of how and why the written word is so powerful in digital marketing.

Cost Per Click (CPC)

Digital advertising is great! If you pay for a banner advert on a website you can measure how effective your call to action is by how many times is get’s clicked. If you spend £1000 on one website banner for one month, then you can track the cost per click against your end conversions and sales. If you make a profit from your campaign, you can carry on advertising, if not you can try advertising elsewhere. Traditional print marketing was always difficult to measure the performance of. It’s not easy to tell how many people see your banner advertisement as they drive past it on the road. Not unless you stand right by it, waving your arms and count how many people look your way. Still, they’d probably be looking at the madman waving his arms by the side of the road, rather than at the costly print ad above.


Using more than one type of channel to promote your business or products, ie paid advertising and natural search = PPC & ORGANIC.


Dynamic URLS

I think this has missed out a ‘C’. I have dynamic curls with the right products, but when it comes to websites, static URLs do not change unless the changes are coded into the HTML, dynamic URLs are generated from specific queries to a site’s database. The page is merely a template to display the results of the query. Now you know. Don’t get ’em confused!



Selling anything online.


Email Customer Relationship Management – using email details in your database to send out targeted emails depending on what your customer buys from you. Useful for reminding people that you sell other products or services. It’s been mathematically proven that it’s easier and cheaper to sell more products to people who have already bought from you than trying to generate new sales by spending more. Many businesses now try to get more sales from existing customers by creating new products, especially for their database.



Examples of channels by which you create content = video, audio, text, image. Examples of channels by marketing activity = PPC, SEO, ORGANIC, PR, ECRM


A section of your customers or potential customers, ie female, male, ages ranges, people who use iPads… Instead of sending out emails to all customers, you could send out emails to a segment of your audience. An orange is made up of segments. Your customer database is made up of different groups of people.



Electronics would be the vertical, laptops, hairdryers, calculators would be the products in that verticle. Insurance would be the vertical, business, home, personal, car, life etc would be the products. Fancy way of referring to a group of products.



Search Engine Optimisation – means activity and content that makes it easier for people to find your web pages amongst everybody else’s.