If you don’t know the difference between copywriting and content writing or what SEM and SEO stand for, you are not alone. Like any other industry, jargon and abbreviations abound when it comes to discussing the world of digital prose.

This handy content writing glossary should set the record straight:

Content Writing From A to Z:


Alt Tag: the text that appears when a mouse hovers over an image. This text should be written to give a clear description of the image.

Above the Fold: the portion of a web page visitors can see without scrolling down. The copy here should be as riveting as possible.

Aggregated Content: associated content that has been gathered in one handy place.

Anchor Text: the clickable text that sends the reader to a backlink.

Article: a piece of writing centered around a particular topic, such as news. Articles can range from short form (300-400 words) up to long form (1000+ words). Research suggests that ideal blog articles should be read in about 7 minutes, or 1,700 words.


Backlink: a hyperlinked reference within an article that sends the reader to another website. Google uses backlinks as part of their algorithm in SEO.

Table of contents

Backlinko: the esteemed content marketing blog founded by Brian Dean.

B2B: Business to Business. It’s used to describe businesses that sell to other business. B2B copy often has a more professional tone.

B2C: Business to Consumer. It’s used to describe businesses that sell directly to consumers. B2C content typically has a more lighthearted tone that B2B content.

Bio: a short description about you, usually left at the end of an article. A good bio will convince clients to hire you for their content marketing needs.

Black Hat SEO: unethical SEO techniques that often get content marketers in trouble with Google.

Blog: a resource trove of articles and content that is updated often and provides valuable information around a specific niche.

Bounce Rate: a ratio that indicates how many people navigate away from your site after only viewing one page. A high bounce rate indicates your website needs to provide more value for visitors.

Brand Voice: the details of how a brand consistently promotes itself through writing, including tone, verbiage, and composition.

Buyer Persona: a detailed report that describes your typical customer: likes, dislikes, fears, hobbies, concerns, etc. Having a customer persona on hand makes constructing efficacious copy much easier.


Captcha: a test that tells computers and humans apart. Oftentimes, they are used to prevent fake sign-ups, a phenomenon content marketers like to minimize.

Caption: a short explanation of a photo.

Case Study: a process of thoroughly researching and documenting a particular product, person, or experiment. In marketing, a case study could be an in-depth look at how a company used a particular product to increase sales, and what results were achieved.

Clickbait: deceitful content that entices people to click, but doesn’t deliver on the headline.

Conflict of Interest: is your freelancer also writing copy for your direct competitor? This may be a conflict of interest, and some businesses preclude this through verbal agreements or contracts.

Content: a collective term of the carefully crafted material a company shares with its audience. Content can take the form of blog articles, infographics, images, videos, brochures, landing pages, and e-books, to name a slight few.

Content Editing: the process of checking content for accuracy, structure, inconsistencies, and other fine details that can have an impact on the content’s effectiveness.

Content Management System: the system your business uses to manage content on your website. WordPress is the most popular content management system.

Content Shock: a thought experiment that says as content marketing increases in popularity, there won’t be enough people to consume it. In practical terms, content shock illustrates that content marketing is getting more and more competitive and that pedestrian content won’t cut the mustard anymore.

Content Syndication: making your content available on third-party sites.

Content Writing: the process of developing content, usually prepared for a particular audience. Developing effective content also includes the use of keywords for SEO, backlinks, and other fine details. Its main purpose is to encourage engagement between reader and brand in a non-salesy way.

Copy: the text portion of a piece of content, including articles, image captions, call-to-actions, and headlines.

Copy Editing: the process of checking and correcting copy for grammar and punctuation errors, misspellings, and readability.

Copy Writing: the process of developing copy designed for marketing and advertising.

Cost Per Action: how much your business pays to convert a prospect into a paying customer. For content, the cost of articles, white papers, and ebooks factors heavily into this equation.

Crowdsourcing: getting answers and information via various community responses. Conducting research via Quora or Reddit is an example of crowdsourcing.

Creative Brief: an introductory description of the project and the logic behind it. These help clients and freelancers get on the same page.

Curation: Organizing other people’s content and sharing it with your customer. Good content curation is a viable alternative to writing original content (although you need the latter too).


Dead Link: hyperlinks on your website to pages that no longer exist. They should be removed to optimize your SEO.

Deliverable: these are assignments you’re delivering to the customer. They don’t have to be finished works. For instance, an article may have two deliverables: an outline and the final version of the article.

Digital Sharecropping: only putting content on third-party sites like Facebook or Tumblr. These sites can take down that content anytime. Make sure you invest in your own website too.

Dummy Copy: fake text (usually Latin) that is used a placeholder for your unfinished copy.


E-book: an electronic form of a book. Users can either download and print or read online. It’s typically found in a PDF format.

Echo Chamber: when a community keeps reinforces and amplifies certain ideas, dismissing sound evidence to the contrary. Like Socrates, good content marketers approach ideas with an open mind.

Engagement: this is the capacity your material has to entertain and provoke your audience. If you get lots of comments and views, you have high engagement.


Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease: a system that scores how easily a piece is read. The Flesch Kincaid formula takes into account sentence structure and length and word complexity. The higher the score, the easier a piece is to read.

Flog: a portmanteau of the words fake and blog. Also called astroturfing.

Format: the way in which your content is structured and delivered. Popular online formats include numbered lists, how-to’s, case studies, ultimate guides, debunked myths, and interviews.

Forum: forums are also referred to as message boards. Unlike chat rooms, forums encourage long posts, which the savvy content marketer mines for content ideas.


Ghost Blogger: a person who writes blog articles and content, but does not receive acknowledgment of authoring it. Rather, the person requesting the contents assumes the visible role of author.

Gray Hat SEO: techniques that push the boundaries of what is proper in SEO. As the name implies, it falls between White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO.

Guest Blogging: publishing content on another site in order to increase the exposure of your own site.


Headline: the main title of a piece, typically the first thing a reader sees.

Heat Map: a handy tool that displays what parts of a web page visitors are interacting with most. This allows content marketers see what’s working and what’s not working.

How-to: a specific writing format that delivers instructions on how to do a particular task. How-to pieces can take the form of blog articles, infographics, videos, and more.

Hook: a catchy sentence or paragraph used in the beginning of an article. A good hook leaves your readers wanting more.

Hubspot: Creators of popular software that allows digital marketers to do their social media, content marketing, and more all on one site.

Hyperlink: a link that sends a reader to another website. Hyperlinks are often embedded in anchor text and serve to provide supporting resources on the subject matter within an article or image.


Impression: also known as an ad view. Impressions happen when websites display your ad to site visitors, even if the viewer takes no action on the ad.

Inbound Link: a link from an external website to your website. These are great for SEO, particularly when they’re from renowned sites.

Influencers: people who are popular in certain industries or niches. Getting your content promoted by an influencer can spike your blog traffic.

Interview: the process of getting original quotes from an expert. It’s an underused (although potentially time-consuming) tactic that will help you create top-tier blog posts.

Infographic: a collection of mostly images and minimal text that simplify complex ideas. Infographics may be comprised of charts, statistics, facts, and other visual resources.


Jargon: singular words and phrases that are popular within a community, but often unknown to people outside that community.


Kaizen: a Japanese word that has inspired many Western businesses. It means continual improvement. Content marketers that keep improving can be said to have the Kaizen mindset.

Keyword: a specific word that embodies the significance of the content it represents. Keywords are crucial for SEO.

Keyword Density: the number of times a keyword appears within the content. The longer the content, the more times a keyword should be included.

Keyword Research: the process of discovering which keywords your audience is searching for. You can use free keyword research tools to give your content the best chance for visibility.

Keyword Stuffing: using a keyword intentionally too many within the text so that the content does not flow. Rather, you should opt to intersperse the keyword organically, as keyword stuffing can have a negative impact on SEO.

Kicker: a shocking statistic at the end of an article. Elite kickers make your readers think and compel them to leave comments.

Kill Fee: sometimes writing projects end early or are canceled outright. In these cases, it may be good practice to pay your freelancer a kill fee, a sum that will compensate them for the work they’ve done. In journalism, kill fees are usually 10%-20%.


Landing Page: the webpage viewers are directed to after clicking a hyperlink on another site. For marketing purposes, landing pages are often crafted to provoke action.

Lead Form: a form used to capture lead information from site visitors.

Learning Style: A learning style is a person’s approach to understanding ideas. Are your appealing to visual learners? They may prefer a video. If they’re logical learners, they may prefer a blog post filled with sound reasoning.

Link Building: the process of getting other websites to link to your content.

Link Checker: software that checks if the links on a website actually work.

Listicle: a piece of content in list format.

Load Time: the time it takes for a web page to load. Good content marketers know slow load times will undermine their content.

Longtail Keyword: similar to a keyword, but typically consists of a group of words.

LinkedIn: a professional community with over 467 million members. LinkedIn encourages its members to publish content on the site.


Marketing Automation: software that automates certain tasks, such as email marketing. This can increase the ROI that content like white papers has for a business.

Meme: a funny video, image, or piece of text that spreads quickly throughout online communities.

Meta Description: HTML attributes that explain what the content is about. This text appears as the subtext on search engine results pages and should be used to provide a clear yet concise description of the content.

Microblogging: short but relatively frequent content updates. The most popular microblogging platform is Twitter.


Native Ads: these are advertisements that show up on websites and blogs. They are handy for generating revenue, but intrusive ads will annoy readers.

Newsjacking: using a popular breaking news story to gain PR for your business. Newsjacking requires cleverness and rapidity.


Permission Marketing: creating riveting content that your customers want to receive. Cold calling is the opposite of permission marketing.

Plagiarism: taking someone’s else work and pretending it’s your own. Copyscape tests for plagiarized work.

Podcasting: audio content that is available on demand. Content marketers can transcribe podcasts, adding valuable content to their site.

PPC: paid ads that allow you to appear higher in search engine rankings. PPC ads are a way to drive people to your content immediately.


Red Ink: before computers, editors used to make changes in actual red ink. These days, writers may get changes via track changes in Google Docs or Microsoft Word. Still, it’s a slang term to indicate a piece of content that needs heavy editing.

ROI: Return on Investment. A ratio used to determine the efficiency of a business investment. For instance, what’s the ROI of the latest white paper?

Review: a content format that gives personal opinions on a particular product or service, such as pros and cons, how it works, price, etc.


Searchability: the ease of which a piece of content can be discovered by search engines.

SEM: also called Search Engine Marketing. This involves paying for ads in order to show up in search engine results.

SEO: also called Search Engine Optimization. This entails crafting a piece of content in hopes of boosting visibility in search results without paying for ads.

SERP: also called Search Engine Results Pages.

Subhead: a heading within an article that describes a particular section, but is less significant than the main headline. Subheads are used in longer pieces to help break up the text and boost readability.


Traffic: the number of visitors a website gets.

Tone: the content’s projected emotion and voice. Consider the brand voice when determining the tone of the content.


Viral: the term used when a piece of content is widely popularized.

Visitors: your audience. The people who visit your website.

Vlog: a portmanteau of the words video and blog. Content marketers can transcribe their engaging vlogs to drive search traffic.


White Paper: an informational piece of content that acts as an authoritative source.

White Space: blank space on a website that increases the aesthetics of the page.


Zeyrs: an online content marketplace where buyers can purchase content.