This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. View our Privacy Policy for more information.

Content Marketing Terms You Need to Know in 2021

Charles Samuel

There’s always that moment during Downton Abbey when you realize you forgot to turn on the captions. And not just because they make it easier to understand the differences in dialect—but also because phrases like “taking the biscuit” could mean an expression of surprise or taking an actual biscuit.

In the world of content marketing, whether you’re a seasoned vet or a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed newcomer, there are enough industry terms and phrases out there to keep you busy. Getting to know what these terms mean is a rite of passage. We all have to do it.

Here are some of the more important terms you should familiarize yourself with, and not just to be a better content marketer. They’ll also help you sound smarter when waxing poetic about the latest content strategy initiative on Slack.

A/B Testing

Also known as split testing, A/B means testing two variations of one specific element. For example, you can test a single word on a web page, in an email subject line, or in ad copy. With every other element remaining the same, the difference in engagement across versions can tell you which one is better at driving results.


This is on the mind of any content marketer concerned with search and social. An algorithm is a specific set of rules that a search engine or social network follows to collect and analyze data. These platforms use algorithms to ultimately predict and influence human behavior. Google, for example, frequently releases algorithm updates to test, measure, and influence how users interact with their organic and paid results.


Analytics is the examination of data collected from content distribution and engagement. Content marketers care about analytics because it’s the data that shows what works, what doesn’t, and what’s worth improving. Tools like Google Analytics allow you to dive deep into content performance and see whether they’re driving mission-critical results.


Backlinks are any links you earn from other websites—ultimately pointing from their website to yours. For search engine optimization (SEO), backlink quality is a major factor. We use the word quality here because not every backlink is worth the same to search algorithms. In general, backlinks from high-authority websites outweigh backlinks from low-authority (often spammy) websites.


Bounce Rate

The bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors who land on your website but don’t pass Go and don’t collect $200. These visitors land and then immediately leave (or bounce) without engaging with the content or going to any other page. While high bounce rates are generally frowned upon, diving into analytics can surface more context into what or why visitors are leaving.

Buyer Persona

The buyer persona (or customer persona) is a detailed description of what your ideal customer looks like. It’s built from customer data and assumptions that include demographics, job title, behavior, pain points, and motivations. The more you understand about your target audience, the more bespoke and personalized your content creation can become.

Call To Action (CTA)

A CTA is a button or simple phrase that compels the user to take some desired action. Maybe it’s to share your article online, or to subscribe to your newsletter, or to download a PDF. All those actions are influenced by a CTA that gets users to take that action. Content marketers can take an extra step to A/B test the effectiveness of the CTA by testing button colors or copy.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a form of digital marketing that’s more focused on the user’s needs and less focused on the brand selling it. Doing content marketing effectively means creating valuable content aimed at acquiring new customers or retaining existing ones.

Content Strategy

Content strategy is building the overarching game plan for all your content marketing activities. This can include what kinds of content to produce, where it will be distributed, and whether to promote it.

Editorial Calendar

Content marketing is nothing without consistency. An editorial calendar (or content calendar) helps establish that consistency. Generally, an editorial calendar outlines the topics or themes you’re planning to cover, the kinds of content you’ll create, and when and where to publish each piece. This level of organization helps content marketers anchor to real marketing goals.


Engagement refers to any interactions your audience takes with your content. This can include liking a post, commenting on a post, and sharing a post on their channels.

Gated Content

Gated content is any content you’d only offer your site visitor in exchange for their email. This stands in contrast to blog content or regular web pages because the content behind these gates is often higher quality and took more effort to develop. White papers, e-books, and on-demand webinars are great ideas for content that should be placed behind a gate on your site.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a content marketing philosophy that emphasizes creating useful content that brings audiences to your website as opposed to using disruptive ads and interstitials to get their attention—a pull versus a push. Like content marketing, the purpose of inbound marketing is to build an audience’s trust by providing value.


“Keyword” is the buzzword of the early 21st century. Not “flying cars” or “time travel” or “cure for the common cold.” Keywords are the terms search engine users enter into the search bar to look for information. They’re a critical component of any SEO strategy because search engines use them to better understand the topic and makeup of pages and sites across the internet.

Link Building

Link building is the process of earning more links to your website (aka backlinks). Content marketers accomplish this through guest posting on other sites, reaching out to other brands or influencers, or promoting linkable assets (like infographics). Backlinks matter for SEO, especially when the links gained are from high-authority websites.

Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are comprised of four or more terms. They’re more specific than head terms (keywords with one term) or short-tail keywords (those with two or three terms). It’s the difference between “investing” and “where to learn about investing in REITs.” Generally, building a strong content strategy begins with targeting long-tail keywords because they have less search volume and are often less competitive than broader, more general terms.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is the practice of improving a website’s rankings in a search engine. Content marketers can think strategically about SEO by considering targeted backlinks, including relevant keywords, and publishing content that users will engage with.

Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

The page that loads after you’ve Googled “does money grow on trees” is the SERP. It’s filled with organic and paid links the search engine believes are the most appropriate for a specific search query. Usually, each SERP listing contains a meta title, meta description, and website URL.

User-Generated Content (UGC)

The holy grail of content for any content marketer is user-generated content. It’s when your users or your audience organically create content promoting your products, services, or brand. It doesn’t dent your marketing budget, and it means you’re doing the kind of work that makes people write home to their mothers about. UGC is valuable because having people share about the brand helps build trust with other people across their networks.

Need help building a content strategy based on competitive insights and a growth mindset? We can help—reach out to set up a free consultation.

got goals?

Let's work together.

We've helped brands turn content into real growth channels. We're ready to do the same for you.

book a strategy call