May 2024

Content Marketing Glossary

If you’re just getting into content marketing or you’re working with a content strategist like me, you may come across terms for which you don’t yet have a clear definition — so let’s fix that! In this glossary, I provide a short and sweet explanation for the most important words and phrases you’ll encounter as you work to supercharge your business’s organic reach.

Have additional questions about content marketing or how a freelance writer can help you grow? Send me a message!




Above The Fold — Content that’s “above the fold” is positioned in the top section of a webpage making it visible before the user scrolls down. Anything you place above the fold on your web pages should be immediately relevant and interesting to reduce your site’s bounce rate.


Anchor Text — Anchor text is the visible text shown when a hyperlink is used instead of a raw URL. Anchor text should be relevant to both your page and the page you’re linking to. Anchor text should give readers a clue as to what content they’ll find if they click on the link. Google has many established best practices for anchor text and linking.


Autoresponder — An autoresponder is a tool that sends a pre-written message (often an email) to someone when they reach out to you. For example, if a potential customer sends your business a message via your contact page, you can use an autoresponder to instantly confirm that you received their message and set an expectation of when you’ll get back to them. See also drip email.




Bottom-of-Funnel — The bottom of the funnel (BOFU) refers to the final stage in the buyer journey where a person has the desire to make a purchase, and needs only a friction-free path forward to officially become a customer. When they make a decision and finalize their purchase, that is known as conversion.


Bounce Rate — Bounce rate tracks the percentage of visitors who click away from your content before engaging with it. Users may bounce because your site takes too long to load or because the content isn’t immediately relevant or engaging to them.


Buyer Journey — The buyer’s journey maps out pain points, questions, and objections that you’ll need to address in order to convince someone to become your customer. The buyer’s journey is often organized using the four stages of the sales funnel: awareness, interest, decision, action.


Buyer Persona — A buyer persona (also called a customer persona) is a fictional profile used to represent your ideal customer. While fictional, personas are based in detailed market research and summarize the most important characteristics that make a person a good fit for your business, such as their age, salary, industry, or job title.


Learn how to research and create buyer personas in this guide.

Byline — A byline is a line of text naming the writer of an article or other piece of content. First found in newspapers, bylines are now used across the web on blogs and websites. It is highly recommended that you include a byline when publishing content as it cultivates authenticity and trustworthiness. A byline also helps readers find other content by the same author. 



Call-to-Action (CTA) — A call to action is a line of copy that directs a person to take a desirable action, like signing up for your newsletter, starting a free trial, or making a purchase. If a person takes the desired action, that’s known as conversion. You’ll often see CTAs at the end of blog posts and articles; within marketing emails; and on landing pages.


Canonical Attribute — The canonical attribute or tag is used to tell search engine crawlers when content is identical (or nearly identical) to content found somewhere else on your website or on another website. Using the canonical attribute can help you avoid duplicate content penalties and it can save your crawl budget.


Case Study — A case study is a detailed examination of a real-world use case for your products or services. In marketing, most case studies focus on how a specific customer has successfully implemented your products or services into their workflow. The best case studies will include metrics and direct quotes, which are often collected through an interview with your customer.


Learn how I create case studies for my clients here.

Channel — A channel represents an app, site, or platform where you can reach your audience. Your website is a channel, and so are each one of your social media pages. Email is also a marketing channel. Channels can be divided into three categories: owned, earned, and paid.


Content Management System (CMS) — A content management system is a platform used to store and organize digital content. Enterprises may use a standalone CMS to track their content assets, but the term “CMS” is also used to refer to the underlying architecture that supports a website. For example, WordPress is a CMS.


Content Marketing — Content marketing means creating and sharing content to educate your audience without explicitly promoting your products or services. By becoming a trustworthy source, content marketing can capture the interest and loyalty of potential customers very effectively. This technique dates to the 1800s and can happen both online and offline.


Want to learn about how content marketing made brands like John Dere and Betty Crocker what they are today? Check out this thought piece!

Content Strategy — Content strategy refers to the planning, development, and management of content. When creating a content strategy, it should be rooted in SEO and should encompass all channels you intend to publish on, such as your website, social media accounts, and industry outlets. With a content strategy in place, you can maximize your ROI through planned distribution and repurposing.


See an example of a B2B content strategy here

Conversion — A conversion happens when a person takes a desired action, like purchasing a product, downloading an app, or subscribing to a newsletter. While becoming your customer is the ultimate conversion, smaller conversions (like opening an email) are equally important in the buyer journey.


Cornerstone Content — Cornerstone content makes up the foundation of your website; these are the most important pages and posts. If everything else on your site disappeared, users should still be able to understand your business and offerings through your cornerstone content. Most posts and pages will point to your cornerstone content with internal links or calls-to-action.


Crawlers — Crawlers (also called spiders or bots) are the scripts that Google and other search engines use to systematically browse pages on the web. Until a search engine crawler indexes a post or page, it will not show in search results. Crawlers will check your site for changes periodically. Metadata helps crawlers understand your content, which can help it rank better.


Curation — Curation is the process of gathering high-quality content you find on the web and sharing it with your audience, either on your website or on social media. Content curation can help you keep your channels active when you aren’t able to post original content while creating additional value for your audience.


Customer Acquisition — Customer acquisition is the process of bringing new customers to your business. For example, you officially acquire a new customer when someone purchases your product or pays for your services, which are two examples of conversion events.


Customer Relationship Management (CRM) — Customer relationship management focuses on organizing lead, prospect, and customer information into a database (known as a CRM system) and tracking the interactions and messages that your sales and service teams exchange with each account. Using a CRM can help you avoid lost leads and guide the nurturing process.



Direct Marketing — Direct marketing involves reaching out to a specific customer, usually via phone or email, and communicating an offer to them. You may also hear direct marketing referred to as “direct response.” The opposite of direct marketing is mass marketing, wherein a brand communicates to a large group of people at once, like with display ads that appear online.


Distribution — Distribution is the act of pushing your content beyond your website to other channels, like social media accounts and industry blogs. Distribution is a critical part of any marketing strategy as it will help you reach a wider audience, build authority, and increase your content’s ROI. The three types of distribution channels are owned, earned, and paid.


Domain Authority (DA) — Domain authority is a metric developed by Moz to assess a website’s ability to rank in search engines for relevant queries. DA is calculated on a scale of 1 to 100, with 1 being the worst and 100 being the best. You can increase your domain authority score by earning high-quality backlinks.


Duplicate Content — Duplicate content refers to any instance of content that appears at least twice on your website or is an exact match to content found on another website. An author bio that’s shown on all of your blog posts or a call-to-action that you use consistently throughout the site are both examples of duplicate content. While it doesn’t typically pose a problem, duplicate content can harm your rankings if it makes up the majority of your content. To repost without penalties, see the canonical attribute.


Drip Campaign — A drip campaign consists of a series of pre-written content that is released either on a fixed schedule (like once a week) or when triggered by certain actions. Drip email campaigns, for example, may be triggered by a user signing up for a free trial. Other content can also be dripped, such as the lessons within a course.



Earned Media — Earned media is when a person or platform talks about, promotes, or features you or your business without financial incentive. If you become a guest speaker at a renowed industry conference, that’s earned media. Likewise, if your H1 tag article is featured in an outlet like Forbes, that’s earned media as well.


Learn how I help executives earn media features.

Engagement — Engagement is a metric used to assess how interesting your content is to your target audience. On social media, engagement may include shares, likes, and comments. On your website, engagement can be evaluated by considering how long visitors stick around, the number of pages they visit, and if they return later.





Funnel — The funnel helps you visualize the stages of the buyer journey from when they first learn about your business to when they become a customer. The stages of the sales funnel are generally referred to as awareness (top-of-funnel), interest (middle-of-funnel), decision (bottom-of-funnel), and action (conversion).



Ghostwriter — A ghostwriter is a type of writer who is never credited for their work. Typically, the person hiring the ghostwriter names themselves as the author of the content. Many speeches, books, and songs are ghostwritten, but so are articles and all sorts of content you find on the web, like LinkedIn posts.


Google Analytics (GA) — Google Analytics is a free tool that provides insights into your website and the behavior of your visitors. GA is where you should go for information about traffic and user engagement. The latest version is Google Analytics 4 (GA4), which offers robust tracking for traffic sources and conversion events.


Google Search Console (GSC) — Google Search Console is a free tool that can help you understand how your website is performing in Google’s search results and get recommendations to improve its performance. GSC is where you should go for information on ranking positions, crawl errors, and indexing.



Hashtag —A hashtag is a type of metadata primarily associated with social media. Hashtags are always preceded by the hash symbol (#) and they offer a way to organize content on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter.


Heading Tag — A heading tag is used to organize your content so it’s easier for readers and search engines to understand how topics are connected. The hierarchy of heading tags ranges from Heading 1 (H1), which is the largest and most prominent, followed by Heading 2 (H2), Heading 3 (H3), and Heading 4 (H4) — each getting progressively smaller. You may also use H5 or H6, but these are far less common since content is rarely nested this deep.




Inbound Marketing — Inbound marketing involves creating content that is able to reach your audience organically, such as in search engine results pages. When people come across your content, they’ll hopefully visit your website (producing inbound traffic). See also outbound marketing.


Indexing — Indexing happens when a search engine like Google adds a web page to its index (i.e., database). If you have a page or post that isn’t indexed, it will never rank in search results. Search engine crawlers will visit your site periodically to index your content or you can submit new content for manual indexing, which may help it get indexed sooner.




Key Performance Indicator (KPI) — A key performance indicator is a measurement of performance. It’s important to establish KPIs to evaluate the success of various activities, like your content marketing or SEO efforts. All KPIs are metrics, but not all metrics are KPIs. KPIs allow you to assess whether your activities are moving you closer to achieving business goals.


Need help setitng KPIs for your content investments? Read the guide here.

Keyword — A keyword is a word or phrase that people would likely search for in order to find your content. You can make your content more likely to appear in relevant search results by “optimizing” it, which means including your primary keyword (and related keywords) throughout the metadata, headings, and copy. This process is known as keyword optimization.


Keyword optimization can be tricky! Learn the best practices here.

Keyword Cannibalization — Keyword cannibalization happens when you have multiple pieces of content on your website built around the same or similar keywords. Google and other search engines will only show one of the content pieces to searchers, so keyword cannibalization essentially means your content is competing against itself. A keyword strategy can help you avoid keyword cannibalization and improve your site’s search performance.


Keyword Research — Keyword research is the process of assessing potential keywords that you may want to create content around in order to drive searchers to your website. When evaluating keyword opportunities, you’ll want to consider metrics like search volume, search intent, and keyword difficulty. As you find good opportunities, you should organize them into a keyword strategy.


Keyword Strategy — A keyword strategy consists of keyword opportunities that you’d like to pursue along with a list of the keywords your content is currently targeting. A keyword strategy plays a central role in an SEO strategy, and it involves period keyword research along with other processes, like a keyword gap analysis to show the keywords your competitors are targeting.


Need help formulating a keyword strategy?


Lead — A lead is a person who has expressed interest in your business or solutions, but it’s not yet clear if they are suited to become a customer. To eliminate leads that aren’t likely to convert, you’ll want to implement a qualification process. Leads also need to be (nurtured to keep them engaged.


Lead Generation — Lead generation is the process of making a person aware of your business and getting them interested in your products or services. A person becomes a lead when you have their contact information — either because they gave it to you themselves (i.e., when they joined your email list) or because your sales team went out and found it.


Lead Magnet — A lead magnet is a free item or service that is given away in exchange for a person’s contact information, such as their email address. White papers, case studies, and newsletters are all examples of lead magnets. Once your lead magnet starts generating leads, you’ll need a campaign to nurture them.


Learn how I write lead magnets for my clients.

Lead Qualification — Lead qualification is a process where you gather data about a lead — such as the company they represent and whether they’re opening your marketing emails — to determine if they are likely to convert into a customer. Unqualified leads should be eliminated from your list so as to not waste your sales team’s time. Qualified leads become prospects.




Lost Lead — A lost lead is a person who entered your sales funnel but never converted into a customer. For example, a person who signed up for your email newsletter but no longer opens your emails could be a lost lead. You can track and re-engage lost leads with the help of a customer relationship management system.


Long-Tail Keyword — A long-tail keyword is a phrase made up of three to five words. Since long-tail keywords are more specific than generic keywords, they can be easier to rank for and they allow you to target a more specific audience. For example, “remote jobs” is a keyword while “remote content writing jobs” is a long-tail keyword. See also short-tail keyword.



Market Segmentation — Market segmentation is the process of dividing a broad audience of potential customers into sub-groups based on common characteristics. Separate market segments will help your company more effectively target potential customers using tailored messaging and offers.


Metadata — Metadata provides information to Google and other search engines to help their crawlers understand what your content is about. Including clear and concise metadata for your website’s pages and posts is an essential part of SEO, as metadata helps search engines determine how to rank your content.


Meta Description — A meta description summarizes your content in a few sentences. You should assign a meta description to every page and post you publish. Search engine users sometimes see your content’s meta description in the SERPs, and it’ll help them decide whether or not to click on your site. See also title tags.


Middle-of-Funnel — The middle of the funnel (MOFU) refers to the stage in the buyer journey when a person is solution-aware and is showing interest in your brand or competitors, but needs some more information before they can choose a vendor. See also bottom-of-funnel.



Negative Keyword — A negative keyword is a term that you don’t want your content to show up for, usually because it’s similar to your target keyword but has a different meaning. Negative keywords are particularly important when running paid advertising campaigns because they will help conserve your ad budget. For instance, a brand running an ad for tennis shoes may use “running shoes” as a negative keyword.


Newsjacking — Newsjacking is a media strategy where a brand uses a viral news story to promote their brand or products. Usually, brands will share a humurous spin on a current event in hopes of going viral as well. If you try newsjacking, be mindful of the scenario you’re trying to leverage — newsjacking negative events like natural disasters rarely ends well.


Nofollow — Nofollow is an attribute or tag that you can add to a link that essentially tells search engine crawlers to ignore it. You want to use this tag if you need to link to a competitor’s website or if you need to link to a questionable source because this tag tells crawlers to not pass along any “link juice.” In other words, it makes the backlink you’re creating for the other website worthless.


Noindex — Noindex is an attribute or tag that you can add to the HTML code of a specific page (or your entire website) asking search engine crawlers now to index the content. This is helpful if your site is currently under construction or if there’s an area of your site, such as a login page, that you don’t want to appear in search results.


Nurturing — Lead nurturing is the process of developing a relationship with a person who has expressed interest in your business or solutions. Some aspects of the nurturing process can be automated, like by scheduling informational emails or using a retargeting campaign to stay top of mind. You can also directly engage a lead via phone, text, or email.



Off-Page SEO — Off-page SEO encompasses all activities you invest in beyond your website, like building backlinks. You can incorporate off-page SEO into your content strategy through social media content, guest posting, and earned media.


On-Page SEO — On-page SEO encompasses all activities you invest in on your website, like writing your content around target keywords, adding metadata for all of your pages, and using a simplified permalink structure.


Organic Reach — Organic reach refers to the number of people who see your content when you are not paying to promote or advertise to them. You’ll want to track organic reach for all of your content. Writing more engaging, share-worthy content will increase the number of people who see it.


Orphan Page — An orphan page is a page on your website that is not linked to in your navigation menu or on any of your pages. This means users cannot access the page unless they know its exact URL. Search engine crawlers will also have a harder time finding it, so orphan pages are less likely to be indexed. Avoid orphan pages by incorporating relevant internal links.


Outbound Marketing — Outbound marketing involves pushing messages out to customers, usually with paid advertising. Television ads, billboards, cold calling, and display ads are all examples of outbound marketing techniques. See also inbound marketing.


Owned Channel — Owned channels, or owned media, consist of any outlets or platforms where you can reach your audience at any time, without paying a fee. Your website is the holy grail of owned channels since you have total control over your website’s content and how it’s presented. Your brand’s social media accounts also represent owned channels.



Page Rank — Page Rank is a metric maintained by Google that assesses the importance of a page, on a scale of 0 (the lowest-quality pages) to 10 (the highest-quality pages). A page with a high PR passes along some of its authority to any page that it links to, so earning a backlink from a high-PR page could greatly improve your website’s ranking — and that’s why it’s such a big deal. PR is now a private metric, so most people use domain authority when building backlinks.




Press Release — A press release is an article, usually an announcement, that is typically syndicated to hundreds of media outlets in order to get news out in front of a wide audience. Press releases can be used to announce changes in leadership, company awards, and other major events. Using press releases strategically can help you increase brand awareness and improve investor relations.


Prospect — Once a lead has been qualified, they become a prospect. A prospect is an individual or business that you believe is likely to convert into a customer. The length of time it takes to convert a prospect into a customer depends on the length of your sales cycle.



Redirect — A redirect, also called URL forwarding, is used when the permalink of a piece of content has been altered. For instance, if you updated to, you’d need to redirect the old permalink to the new one. You’ll want to use a 301 redirect, which tells search engine crawlers that your content has moved permanently and allows all the ranking power of the original link to pass on to the new link.


Repurposing — Repurposing or recycling content is the practice of reusing some or all of the elements of your existing content so you can share it again. For instance, you may transcribe a podcast and turn the transcription into an article or you may reuse an email newsletter on social media. Repurposing content can help you stretch your content budget and engage a wider audience.


Responsive Design — Responsive web design smoothly conforms to a range of screen sizes and orientations, allowing you to offer a consistent user experience across all device types. Responsive design goes a step beyond “mobile-friendly” because it considers all devices (phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops).


Retargeting — Retargeting is a form of advertising where you specifically target people who have already engaged with your brand. For example, you can use a retargeting campaign to reach “lost leads” who added your product to their cart but never made a purchase.


Return on Investment (ROI) — Your return on investment is the difference between the amount you spent and the amount you earned back. For instance, if you invest $1,000 into an advertising campaign that generates $2,500 in sales, your ROI is $1,500 or 150%. If you lose money, your ROI will be a negative number.



Search Engine Marketing (SEM) — Search engine marketing focuses on increasing your site’s visibility in search results. This can mean boosting your site’s organic reach through SEO, but it tends to revolve around increasing non-organic reach through paid search ads.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) — Search engine optimization is the process of optimizing your website so it will rank for relevant search queries, thereby increasing organic traffic. SEO is multi-faceted and requires a fast website, a good navigation system, and high-quality content, among other things.


Learn the basics of SEO in this guide.

Search Engine Results Page (SERP) — Search engine results pages are what you see after typing a query into Google or another search engine. In addition to websites that appear in the SERPs organically (thanks to SEO), you may also see paid ads at the very top of the SERPs.


Short-Tail Keyword — A short-tail keyword is a search query generally consisting of one or two words. Since short-tail keywords are generic and broad, they often have a high search volume and more competition. For example, “jobs” and “remote jobs” are both short-tail keywords. See also long-tail keyword.


Split-Testing — Split testing (also known as A/B testing) allows you to compare variations of something to determine which one is optimal for your goals. For instance, you can split test two different titles for a sales page by delivering one version to half your audience and the other version to the other half of your audience Split testing is also used for sales copy, ad copy, and email subject lines.


Subject Matter Expert (SME) — A subject matter expert is a professional with advanced knowledge in a particular niche or industry. Being an SME means you are uniquely qualified to provide guidance. Great content can help position you or your business as an SME.


Syndication — Content syndication is the act of republishing your content to other websites. By syndicating your content on popular platforms, you can increase its reach and, potentially, drive traffic back to your website. See also distribution.



Target Keyword — A target keyword is a word or phrase that people would likely use to find a specific piece of content in Google. For instance, if you’re writing an article sharing SEO tips for a startup audience, you might use “startup seo guide” as your target keyword. By choosing a target keyword and optimizing around it, you can increase your content’s ability to rank in relevant search results.


Technical SEO — Technical SEO focuses on your site’s underlying architecture and making changes to help search engine crawlers navigate and index your content. Some elements of technical SEO include permalink structure, navigation, website speed, responsiveness, and sitemaps.


Thought Leadership — Thought leadership is the act of guiding an industry forward with fresh thoughts, insights, and perspectives. A thought leader knows what has been done, what is being done, and what can be done better, and they’re eager to share processes and frameworks to help their industry move in the right direction. Sharing thought leadership content will help you become a trusted source.


Title Tag — A title tag is a form of metadata that you can manually assign to your posts and pages. Search engines will show your content’s title tag in the SERPs and users will see it on the browser tab. A title tag is different from an H1 tag and it’s a good chance to put your target keyword front and center.


Top-of-Funnel — The top of the funnel (TOFU) encompasses the first stage of the buyer journey when a person is just becoming aware of the problem they’re experiencing and is starting to look for more information. For example, a business that is thinking about launching a mobile app will enter the TOFU when they begin conducting surface-level research, like by asking “does my business need an app?” See also middle-of-funnel.


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User-Generated Content (UGC) — User-generated content is created by your fans or customers and may consist of images, videos, testimonials, or other content where they are talking about your business or product. While UGC is sometimes created unprompted, many brands run advertising campaigns, such as contests, to encourage users to share UGC.



White Paper — A white paper is a long-form report or guide (often distributed as a PDF) that presents detailed information to help readers solve a problem, make a decision, or understand a specific topic. Companies can use white papers to build authority. See also lead magnet.


WordPress — WordPress is a content management system used to build blogs, websites, forums, membership sites, and online stores. Over 43% of all websites online today use WordPress, which equates to around 810 million sites, including TIME Magazine. WordPress is free to use, but you’ll need to purchase domain registration and website hosting.


Interested in setting up a website? Read the guide.


Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) — “Your Money or Your Life” is a term coined by Google to refer to content that could impact a person’s happiness, health, financial stability, or safety. If you’re writing about something in a YMYL category, you should conduct in-depth research, involve SMEs, and be mindful of your bylines as Google will default to the most established and authoritative authors when ranking YMYL content.


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