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The most simple digital marketing definitions ever

Digital marketing is full of buzzwords. Some of them important, some of them have more letters than meaning.

Digital Dictionary. Source: Freepik
PPC, domain, server side, SEO, hashtags and organic traffic. What do these words actually mean?
Digital marketing is full of buzzwords. Some of them important, some of them have more letters than meaning.
We’ve compiled a mini-dictionary of digital marketing definitions, broken down into non-technical analogies and normal-people language.

Noun. Pronounced: aw-dee-yin-s
Being online is being on a digital stage.  Unless you’ve deliberately taken measures to prevent it, anybody can see your Facebook page, your website or your blog. Being on stage means someone is watching: your audience.  Just like when a physical world audience travels to a physical concert and they expect to be entertained, your digital audience expects to be entertained. Or at the very least, informed about something relevant. They have travelled all the way from their browser to your page (your stage) – don’t be rude, give them something to have made the journey worth it.

Noun. Pronounced: ba-k en-d
Not to be confused with rear-end.
A website has two ‘behind the scenes’ layers. Front-end (see front-end) and back-end. Back-end is the part of your website that you cannot see or interact with. A website developer will create a website for you from the back-end. You use a web developer to create a website for which the concept does not already exist. For example, when Facebook was first created, it had to be developed from scratch. Things like large dating sites, social media sites, directories and intranets require a website developer.  

Noun Pronounced: Doe-may-n
This is where a website exists. Think of website as a house. It is a digital object that must take up a digital space. The ‘digital space’ is equivalent to the property your physical house sits on. The property that your website sits on is called it’s domain.

E-commerce Website
Noun. Pronounced ee-com-er-s w-eb-s-eye-t
Plain and simple, it’s a website that you can buy stuff on. It is quite literally, an online store.

Verb. Pronounced: en-gay-j-min-t
The process of interacting with your audience (see audience). Practically, it means instead of simply posting a picture online and walking away, you would pose a question and enter into a discussion. The theory behind online engagement is to take yourself off of the ‘stage’ and position yourself into a conversation with you audience. The aim is to bring a two-sided, human element onto the internet.

Pronounced: Fay-s-book
In the context of online marketing, think of Google as a search engine. If Google is a search engine of information then Facebook is a search engine of people.  

Noun. Pronounced: f-run-t  en-d
A website has two ‘behind the scenes’ layers. Front-end and back-end (see back-end). Front-end is the part of your website that you can see and interact with. A website designer will create a website for you from the front end. You use a web designer to create a website for which the concept already exists. For example, an e-commerce website, a directory, a blog website or even a booking website.

Noun. Pronounced: ha-sh-ta-g
A hash tag is essentially just a label for organization purposes. There is so much content on social media that it would be almost impossible to filter information into categories. Cue Hashtags. Labeling your post with the relevant hashtag allows other users to find your content when they are searching for with in a specific topic. In case you don’t know, a hashtag looks like this: #examplehashtag. (Much to the dismay of English teachers everywhere, punctuation doesn’t apply to hashatgs).

(Pay Per Click)
Noun. Pronounced: P-ay purr cl-ik
PPC is an online advertising model that allows you to pay for you advertising per click rather than one upfront fee for the space your advert occupies. The model is used by Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram and most large platforms. The major benefit being that you are only paying for results.

(Search Engine Optimization)
Verb. Pronounced: ser-ch en-gin op-tee-my-say-shon
The process of increasing the quality of a website in order for the website to be recognized by a browser as a high quality website. This is exclusively for the goal of ranking well in a browser’s search results page. Very simply put: trying be at the top of Google’s list.

Server-side Issue
Noun. Pronounced: sir-ver sy-d i-shu
Commonly known as “not my problem” in the website designer community.
A website is essentially just a bunch of files. These files only become a live website for the world to see once they are sitting on a domain (see domain) and hosted on a server. The servers job is to make the files available to world. When a website goes down it is usually a server-side problem. Meaning, the website (or files) are still intact but the server that allows your browser to access the files is having a problem.

(Universal Resource Locator)
Noun. Pronounced: Yoo-arr-el
A URL is the address of a domain (see domain). If your website is a house, the property it sits on is called a domain. The address of the property is called a URL. In real life you have a house sitting a piece of land. The land is referred to by its address. For example: 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney. Online, you have a website, sitting on a domain. The domain is referred to by its URL, for example:

Website Maintenance
Verb. Pronounced: w-eb s-eye-t may-n-te-nan-s
A website is very much like a car. It needs to be serviced. Every month, new updates are released. The longer a website is left unmaintained, the more out-date it becomes. And the more likely to break. Generally, website maintenance should take place very month. 

Whether you’re looking for a front-end designer, an SEO expert, a PPC expert,  a social media expert, a host or even just someone to help you decode all these digital marketing terms, we’d be happy to assist. Visit us at

About Jenaré Hardcastle

A linguaphile with a passion for people and communications. Currently spearheading the Online Communications Department at The Web Shack, a Sandton based digital agency.

The Web Shack's press office