Here at Creo, we’re committed to using jargon-free, clear language when we talk to our clients.

Despite our best intentions, there will always be times when we need to fall back on industry terms – that’s why we’ve put together this jargon-buster, to give you a hand in navigating the digital world. We want you to have the information to make an informed decision about your digital marketing.

While this list is extensive, it’s not exhaustive! The digital world is always changing, so we do update it regularly. If you think of something you’d like explained but it isn’t included yet, please let us know. We’re on hello@creo.co.uk if you have any feedback or suggestions!

301 Redirect

“301” is an HTTP status code meaning that a website has been permanently moved to another location and that all traffic will automatically be directed to that other location.

403 error

“403” is an HTTP status code meaning that the user’s request was valid, but the server is refusing to respond to it.

404 error

“404” is an HTTP status code meaning that the requested page could not be found by the browser. Generally this is the result of a page being moved or deleted from the website. A 404 page is the page that displays the error message. It can be generic, or you can set up your own branded page that’s more in keeping with the design of your site.

Above the fold

The design term for all of the information available on a webpage above the cut-off point where people would have to scroll down to see more. ‘The fold’ is the term for that cut-off. The most important information on a webpage should be above the fold.

AdWords

Google’s PPC advertising platform. AdWords ads can be text-only, like the ads that appear on search engine results, or images and videos, such as the ads that precede YouTube videos.

Algorithm

Used for data processing, calculations and automated reasoning, an algorithm is a step-by-step list of defined instructions that carry out a particular function. In short, a piece of a program.

Analytics

A term that describes tracking all of the data relevant to your website and analysing that information to assess your site’s performance, often in terms of your business’s KPIs. Analytics allows you to make decisions about your marketing that are driven by actual data about how users reach your website, how much time they spend on it, what pages are most popular, etc. The term “analytics” is often used interchangeably with “Google Analytics”, the most popular platform for logging and processing data from websites and apps.

Anchor Text

The clickable, visible text that indicates a link. You might think of that text as being ‘a link’, but technically, the link is the URL, which is distinct from the anchor text. The URL ‘www.creo.co.uk’ doesn’t form the text of this example link, so “example link” is the anchor text.

API

An “application programming interface”, or API, specifies how software components interact with each other – for example, allowing different applications to share the same data.

Backlink

A link that leads ‘back’ to your website from another website.

Blog

Short for “web log”, as in ‘captain’s log’, a blog is a collection of posts, articles or journal entries that functions like a newspaper column, often discussing issues around a defined set of topics. “Blogging” is the action of maintaining a blog, carried out by a “blogger”.

Bounce Rate

The “bounce rate” calculates the percentage of how many people have looked at a webpage and left again without interacting with the page.

Bookmark

Like a ‘real’ bookmark, which shows you where you are in a book so that you can quickly return to that page, bookmarking a webpage stores the web address so that you can easily return to the page you’re on. Bookmarks have been known as “favourites” and “internet shortcuts”, particularly in Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Brand Language

As well as being the obvious ‘language a brand uses’, it can also be part of an organisation’s marketing strategy to reinforce their identity by using particular language to communicate the brand. McDonald’s is an excellent example of this, having Big Macs, McNuggets and McFlurries instead of generic burgers, chicken nuggets and ice cream. It’s sometimes referred to as “verbal identity”.

Browser

The way people view the World Wide Web. A browser is a software application that locates and displays web pages to users. The most popular browsers are Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Opera. A browser is not a search engine, it is the thing you use a search engine on.

Cache

A cache is a like a parcel of information that has been “saved”. This means that when you navigate back to it, it’s quicker for the network to display the “old” version, rather than loading the new one from scratch. So for example, if you make a change to a webpage and someone else logs on to check it, their computer might display the old, cached page rather than loading the new one. CTRL + F5 reloads a page from scratch, ignoring the cache. Caches are useful because they make the internet run more quickly. Also, if, for example, there’s a brief downtime in your web service, your site wouldn’t disappear – users might still access an old, cached version until your server is up and running again). Google caches web pages when it crawls and indexes them, so one reason that 301 redirects are important is that it means you can removed cached pages from your site without suffering any drops to your SEO because Google cannot find a page it’s previously recorded as being there.

CAPTCHA

A CAPTCHA is a common webspam filter that proves whether a user is human, by generating a quick test that isn’t readable by spam bots. Fun fact: CAPTCHA systems help to digitise the text of books that are unreadable by scanning software, so every time you prove that you’re human, you’re helping to bring old manuscripts to the internet.

CMS

CMS Stands for “content management system”, the central set of functions that allow users to upload, edit and organise content for a website. A CMS is the ‘invisible’ part of a website, where users interact with content such as blog posts, news updates, images and new pages before they become “live” when they are published.

Content Marketing

Any marketing that involves creating and sharing content in order to communicate with customers. “Content marketing” doesn’t focus on direct sales, focusing instead on giving users an experience that’s valuable in and of itself, rather than being explicitly linked to a brand. For example, the Transformers franchise of films and TV shows is content marketing for a line of toys, where merchandise that ties in to a Disney movie does not necessarily make the Disney movie a piece of content marketing.

Copywriting

…has nothing to do with copyright! “Copy” is how text is described in terms of its layout in printing or publishing, such as in books, magazines, or adverts. Using the word “copy” means that you’re talking in technical terms about the placement of text, not necessarily the actual words that make up the text. A headline might be “header copy” where a paragraph is “body copy”, for example. Any written material that advertises your organisation can be described as copy, so a copywriter is someone who writes persuasive, engaging text, designed for specific places, that markets your organisation to viewers. (A copyeditor is someone who prepares copy for publishing.) Think of copywriters as the graphic designers of words and you’re basically there.

Clickthrough

A clickthrough happens when a user follows a link through to a particular page and reads it. For example, a particular article might be embedded in a link in a tweet or an email, and users will click ‘through’ from the email to the page. CTR, or “clickthrough rate”, is used to determine the success or popularity of particular links or pages.

Conversion

In online marketing, a “conversion” is a unique visitor to a website who carries out the action that the business wants them to. For an online shop, conversions are likely to be sales of stock, whereas for a marketing company, conversions may be users signing up to their newsletter.

CRM

Companies use “customer relationship management” software to manage their interactions with current and potential clients. CRM platforms record, store and track information in databases, making it easy for companies to keep in touch with their clients’ needs.

CRO

CRO stands for “Conversion Rate Optimisation”, the process by which you improve the way you market yourself and your services in order to increase your rate of conversions. Some online marketing and advertising platforms have automated CRO functions.

CSR

CSR stands for “Corporate Social Responsibility”, a common term for how businesses use their resources to give back to communities, charities and other concerns that they support. For example, Bill Gates’ foundation supports a number of programmes for social improvement, including funding research into ending disease in developing countries.

CSS

CSS stands for “cascading style sheets”. Cascading style sheets is a particular coding language that specifies the look and feel of a webpage, including colours, fonts, and layout. CSS can make it easier for webpages to stay compliant with W3C standards.

CTR

“Clickthrough rate” – the percentage of users who see your link, perhaps on Social Media or in an email-newsletter, and then click through to bring their traffic to your websites.

E-commerce

Short for “electronic commerce”, describing any kind of transaction conducted over electronic technology, including sales, auctions, and even internet banking.

Error page

An “error page” is what shows up when something’s gone wrong with the internet’s ability to lead you to a particular page. It’s the website equivalent of a computing error message. A common error page is the 404 error, which is shown when a user has followed a broken or dead link

Geolocation

The identification of the geographical real-world location of a person, device or place. The word “geolocation” can refer to the action of locating that device, or the location that has been identified.

Giphy

“The Google of gifs”. Giphy allows you to search for gifs by particular search terms, but also to make and upload them. In other words, it’s a Buzzfeed editor’s best friend.

Hardware

The term to describe the physical components of a computer, such as the keyboard, mouse, monitor, hard drive, graphic cards and memory. Software is the instructions that are stored and processed by the hardware to allow the user to interact with the machine components.

Hashtag (#)

The # symbol, known as “hash”, is used to “tag” Twitter, Facebook and Instagram content, allowing users to navigate through other updates that share the same hashtag. Technically, the # symbol is called an “octothorpe”, from octo- meaning “eight” and thorpe meaning “field”.

Hit

A “hit” is the term for someone visiting a website or particular page. Lots of hits indicates good website traffic. Hits can be misleading, though, because they can just mean that someone has downloaded a bunch of images on your page.

HTML

HTML stands for “hypertext mark-up language”, and it is the code in which the Internet is written. If you right-click on a page and select “view source” or “inspect element”, you can see it. HTML code is the only thing that search engines ‘read’ when they analyse a webpage.

HTTP

HTTP stands for “hypertext transfer protocol”. Hypertext is structured text that uses links, “hyperlinks”, between pieces of text. A (very) slimmed-down explanation of the transfer protocol is that it is how information is transferred to your browser from relevant servers.

Information Architecture (IA)

The phrase “information architecture” describes systems of classifying, organising and labelling large volumes of information, in order to make it easily findable and useable. IA is a common abbreviation. The information architecture of a library is most likely to be the Dewey Decimal System.

Impressions

In marketing, an impression is an ad showing up. This doesn’t necessarily mean that someone’s seen it, clicked on it, or received the ad’s message. “Impression” is used in PPC advertising when ads show up where they are eligible to show.

Internet

Short for “internetwork”, or interconnecting computer networks. The word “internet” has actually been around since 1883, but the computerised Internet in its modern incarnation dates from the 1970s.

Internet Protocol Address

An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a numerical label assigned to each device (e.g., computer, printer) participating in a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication. An IP address serves two principal functions: host or network interface identification and location addressing. Its role has been characterised as follows: “A name indicates what we seek. An address indicates where it is. A route indicates how to get there.

Keyword

In general, a keyword is a word of particular significance – a central concept, or a focus of attention. On the internet, a keyword is a word used to locate information in a system, because it indicates the subject matter of a particular page, article or website. In the context of search engines, keywords are particular search terms that are used by people looking for information on the internet. Search engines will pick up on the key repeated terms of a webpage and use them to understand what that page is about, which is why search engine optimisation uses keywords to connect people to information. Pay-per-click advertising models involve bidding to place your ads next to searches for relevant keywords, and they have high conversion rates because a person who’s searching for those terms is likely to be interested in those relevant ads.

Keyword Stuffing

Populating a page with so many keywords that the text looks and sounds unnatural and too much like it wants attention from search engines. Google has been penalising keyword stuffing since 2007.

KPI

KPI stands for “key performance indicator”. Key performance indicators are a way of tracking and demonstrating an organisation’s success in achieving particular goals. They are often used to evaluate the return on a particular budget spend. For example, a manufacturing business might treat the number of units produced as a KPI, and any shortfall from a defined indicates that something in the workflow needs improving. A business may well define a particular KPI for their digital marketing, such as percentage of new website visitors or number of enquiries made through a contact form, in order to structure their marketing strategies.

Landing Page

The webpage that a user’s browser lands on after they have clicked on a search engine result or an advert.

Link Juice

An SEO term that describes the power passed to a page through links from other pages or websites. For SEO, it’s important to have a good catalogue of reputable links, i.e. links from related companies, news articles or social media posts, because that indicates to a search engine that your site is reputable. The same way that a person might receive social kudos from a favourable description, a page can “pass” or “receive” link juice from the other places on the internet that link to it. The more “link juice” you have, meaning the more sites and social posts that link to you, the higher on search rankings you appear. It’s also useful to explain why not all links on the internet have the same value. A national news website that links to you will pass a lot more link juice to your site than a link from a local blogger – but the local blogger might show your site to people who are more likely to click on your link, so you might end up benefiting in the same way.

Live

If something is “live” or “going live”, it is being put into the public areas of the internet for everyone to be able to see.

Lorem Ipsum

Lorem ipsum is the most common filler text on the web. Also known as “placeholder” or “dummy text”, lorem ipsum is used when developers need to stick a chunk of text into a page in order to test how the layout’s design, font, colours and look work with actual copy. The standard “lorem ipsum” text is a scrambled-up section of a Latin philosophical work, so it’s completely meaningless, but its meaninglessness allows designers to ignore the content of the words and to focus on the shape of the text.

Meme

An idea that people share, that becomes a self-sustaining piece of culture.

Meta Tag

A meta tag is a ‘meta element’ that is used to provide useful metadata about a website page (see metadata). Meta elements help computers perceive information in a useful way, such as specifying which part of a text is the title, what is a heading, and what is body text.

Metadata

Literally means “data about data”, and is generally the way that computers organise information. An analogue example is the system by which books are categorised in a library. The ‘metadata’, the system of categorisation, is about the ‘data’ you’re looking for – the books. Similarly, metadata of a photograph is the date and time it was taken, which are encoded into the digital file of the photo – information about the picture, or as a computer would read it, data about data.

Microdata

Microdata is a HTML markup that is used to place metadata within other existing content on webpages, so that it can be read by browsers, search engines and webcrawlers, but not by people. Microdata is used to structure pages and to help search engines to connect users to the most relevant content for their search terms.

Off-page SEO

Factors that affect a webpage’s search engine ranking without being on the page itself, search as links from other sites, clickthroughs from ads, and referrals from Social Media. In other words, this is how the internet interacts with the site.

On-page SEO

Factors on a webpage that affect search engine rankings, including keyword-rich content, internal linking and a readable sitemap.

Organic Results

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of results in any internet search: organic and paid. Paid results are adverts that someone has paid to put in particular places. Organic results are pages, videos or other content that appears because of how relevant they are to the keywords that are used by the searcher. They’re unpaid listings, and many businesses want to rank in the organic results for their relevant search terms.

PageRank

Google search’s algorithm, which assesses webpages according to over 200 factors. It’s not a description of the fact that it ranks pages, by the way – it’s named after Larry Page, one of Google’s founders.

Parallax

The “parallax” effect is all about persepctive: it’s the apparent difference in the position of an object depending on where it’s viewed from, as in, when something moves in front of something else. For example, if you’re watching someone ride a horse in the wilderness, the horse and rider in the foreground will appear to move around than the mountain in the background, which is further away. That movement of the mountain “behind” the rider is parallax. (We conceived this excellent explanation while watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade one Christmas.) For a webpage, parallax might mean that one part of the page design moves behind another layer, or moves at a different speed while the user scrolls down, to give the illusion of perspective. It’s often used to make something on a flat screen look three-dimensional. The visual design of the Cadwaladers’ site includes parallax movement.

Program

The international standardised spelling for a software application. Differentiated from “programme”, the British English spelling for TV programmes or concert programmes.

PPC

“Pay-Per-Click” is an advertising model where ads show up when eligible, but the advertiser only pays when users click on the ad, not every time the ad shows up. It’s extremely economical, because it is assumed that only interested users click on the ad and therefore any cost is an indication of successful exposure to the advertiser’s target audience.

Responsive web design

A way of designing a website so that it responds to the size of the screen that is accessing the site. Responsive design allows one site to look good on all screen sizes, where previously businesses might have maintained a second, stripped-down “mobile-only” version of their main site that would display on smaller screens. This means that organisations have one website to maintain, which looks good to all users, and keeps all traffic on one domain, which is better for SEO.

ROI

Stands for “Return on Investment”, or what you expect to see back for the money outlaid in an investment (or, if we’re talking countries and not business, ROI stands for “Republic of Ireland”).

RSS

Stands for “Really Simple Syndication”. RSS blog feeds and websites to share content and deliver them to a specific place, allowing users to easily read plenty of updates without having to visit multiple websites. Simple, really.

SEM

“Search engine marketing”, the niche of digital marketing that looks to promote organisations by increasing their visibility to people using search engines. Or, if we’re talking about international politics, it stands for “Single European Market”, the attempt to make one market of all Europe’s countries.

SEO

Stands for “Search Engine Optimisation”, and means the processes by which you can ensure that your website can achieve the best possible position in search engine rankings (see SERP). Organisations want to generate the most traffic and awareness for their sites, and showing up high on relevant search engine results is an important part of that. It an also be used to describe “an SEO”, someone who carries out or consults on how to improve websites in terms of their potential search results. Sometimes used interchangeably with SEM, “search engine marketing”, though they are different things.

SERP

An acronym for “Search Engine Results Page”. SERP means the same as “search engine ranking”, which is the place that your website shows up in search results. It is advantageous for companies to show up in the first few pages of a search result, as it means they are likely to get increased traffic because they are easy for users to find. This can be described as “ranking highly”, or “ranking well”.

Server

A server provides the resources that networks need in order to work, including file storage, databases for information, email and websites. A server forms the centre of any large network, because every computer on a network uses its resources. Any computer that’s not a server is a client – most networks will have more clients than servers. In terms of websites, web hosting means taking up space on a server in order to make your website accessible to the World Wide Web, so it can be viewed by anyone else with access to the web address.

SMO

Stands for “Social Media Optimisation”. Like with search engine optimisation, SMO is about reaching as many relevant and interested users as possible, specifically through understanding what makes content popular and shareable on social media. SMO involves creating content and websites that will invite traffic when they’re shared on social networks. Unlike SEO, it doesn’t focus on the technical structure of content – it’s more about quality and user interest.

Software

Technically speaking, software is a set of instructions that tells computer processors what to do, such as an operating system, driver, or any other program. The physical component of a computer is hardware. A common analogy to demonstrate the relationship between software and hardware is that the hardware is like the components that make a piano – strings, keys, pedals and so on – where the software is the notes produced by a piano. A specific program, in this example, is like a piece of music that gives a particular order for notes to be played.

Social Media

Sometimes also refered to as “social networks”, social media are platforms designed for users to share news, views and other content with each other. The most famous include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Reddit and Vine.

Spam

Unsolicited bulk emails, comments, and other forms of indiscriminate advertising material often called “junk mail”. Spam isn’t named after the World War II canned meat, but the Monty Python sketch in which it was included in every item on a menu, despite the characters’ request that it be removed, to a chorus of Vikings singing about Spam. (The episode’s end credits were changed to include Spam in every name, in particular the notable “Graham Spam Spam Spam Chapman”).  Someone who creates spam is a spammer. Not a Python.

Tone of voice

In life, tone of your voice influences how people hear what you say – if you’re polite and cheerful, for example, they will respond differently than if you’re angry or abrupt. “Tone of voice” is the industry way of describing how choosing the right words for your blog posts, website content and other written marketing material can give an organisation a distinctive and memorable personality. It’s sometimes discussed in terms of brand language and verbal identity, which are related but different copywriting disciplines.

Twitter

A popular social network, often described as a “micro-blogging” site, because users share their thoughts in a similar way to blogging, but each individual post is limited to 140 characters. There are nearly 300 million users on Twitter, posting 500 million updates every day.

UI

The “User Interface” is the means by which humans interact with machines – so a keyboard and mouse for a computer.

URL

Stands for “Uniform Resource Locator” – commonly known as a “web address”. It’s the string of letters, punctuation and numbers that defines your location on the internet.

UX

Stands for “User eXperience”. UX is a principle of focusing a design or construction process on the end user, improving their experience of using a product or service in order to promote your business in a good light.

UX Design

The school of thought that focuses on making it as easy and effortless as possible for users to have a good experience with your company’s product, website, service or promotion.

Viral

When something “goes viral”, it becomes hugely popular not through mass marketing, but through individual users sharing and endorsing it, enabling it to reach a vast community.

WebCrawler

Sometimes known as a ‘bot’, ‘robot’, or ‘spider’. A WebCrawler is an algorithm that roams the internet indexing all available web pages, assessing their trustworthiness and popularity.

W3C

Stands for the “World Wide Web Consortium”, which defines protocols and guidelines for the world-wide web. It’s a consortium of over 380 organisations that make sure websites are useable by everyone on the internet.

Web Accessibility Standards

Web accessibility involves removing any barriers that might prevent people with specific conditions or disabilities from engaging with a website. For example, a user with motor control difficulties, such as someone with Parkinson’s disease, may find it difficult to click on very small links, or to navigate to banners that are scrolling very fast. Web accessibility standards are a set of minimum requirements that ensure that all internet users can browse websites without being excluded because of particular failures to accommodate their needs.

World Wide Web

Also known as W3 and www, the World Wide Web is a huge system of interlinked web pages which are viewed through a web browser. When people talk about “going on the Internet”, they’re usually going on the World Wide Web – the internet is the technical network that allows you to access web pages. It’s “world-wide” because smaller networks had existed before its inception, but nowadays you can look up sites that are hosted on servers all around the world.