man looking at laptop

Decoding Digital – 25 digital terms explained

This list will give you a basic understanding of the most commonly used digital terms to help you improve your digital marketing.

The latest Tourism Intelligence Scotland webinar, hosted by Highlands & Islands Enterprise, 'Is my Website Working'  is designed to help tourism businesses acquire and develop the digital skills that are now so crucial to the sector. However, not everyone knows and understands the various digital tools and terms. This list will give you a basic understanding of the most commonly used digital terms.

Algorithms are the formulae used to help search engines such as Google provide the answers that are most relevant to individual queries. Google’s algorithms use more than 200 unique “clues” to do this including terminology on websites and freshness of content.


If another website links through to your website this is called a backlink. Backlinks are also a factor in the algorithms that rank a website’s relevance to searches. The more people that recommend your site, the higher it will be ranked by Google. Links from reputable sites like the BBC are particularly effective.    
The dictionary definition of a blog is a personal website or web page on which an individual expresses their opinion. Blogs have become a hugely popular means of introducing fresh content to websites, providing information, analysis and recommendations that foster deeper engagement with customers.

Bounce rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of visits in which users view only a single page of your site. High bounce rate is generally an indication that your website is failing to provide what customers want/need.       

Call to action
The best websites lead their visitors to do something such as place an order, or make a booking; this is called the call to action. You should never lose sight of this in devising the site ‘architecture’ and content.          


The system of letters and symbols that provide the instructions that form the basis of programs.

Curated content
Like blogs, this is a great way to introduce fresh content to your site. The Is my Website Working webinar recommends taking a keen interest in your local area and what’s happening in your industry/specialism and mining existing information and imagery on the web to produce engaging content for your own website/blog.

Information that is produced electronically is said to be digital e.g. websites, e-zines, social media messaging.  

This is the world’s largest social network, with 1.3 billion active users worldwide. Users each have their own page where they can share their profile, pictures and updates with online ‘friends’. Users can elect to share their content only with friends, but corporate pages tend to be generally available. There are now opportunities to pay for targeted adverts which could help you reach your audience - find out more at Facebook.

Google Analytics
This free tool provided by Google lets you see who is using your website; how they have found it; what they do while they are there and how much your site generates for your business. Guest speaker on the Is my Website Working webinar, Dr Simone Kurtzke, has written blog to explain.      
This is an optional application that you can use either in addition to, or instead of, Twitter. It has all the main features of Twitter, with the added benefit of a Twitter dashboard, which allows businesses to monitor multiple accounts. As guest speaker Graeme Ambrose says in the Is my Website Working webinar small businesses need to prioritise how they spend their time online - this might be helpful.


Rather than simply pointing web visitors to online content you think they’ll find useful or that you admire, you can embed a dynamic link or ‘hyperlink’ in your content that takes people straight to that web page. There are several hyperlinks in this article and it is easy to create one - most computer office functions have a button to do this.       

This platform is the largest social network in the world dedicated to business professionals; with 225 million users in 200 countries. With such a large network at your disposal it is easy to become lost in the crowd. The priority is therefore to carve a niche that will help you forge alliances with other like-minded business/individuals.               


Mash-up is the term given to mining content from other websites – whether it’s words, pictures or video – to produce engaging content for your own site. Fortunately, there is a culture of sharing information online and sites such as have elevated mash-ups to an art form.            

Media-rich content
Anything that makes your website more dynamic and engaging is considered media-rich; that includes photographs, infographics and video. It should be noted that video search results have a 41% higher click-through than plain text results and people stay about two minutes longer on sites that have video.   

To ensure something operates as efficiently as possible or to modify something to achieve maximum efficiency. Usually in references to a search engine or a database, or sometimes a program to make another platform or website operate faster.

Search engine optimisation (SEO)

There are a number of techniques you can use to push your website up search engine rankings, so people can find it more easily. You can achieve SEO by, for example, using key words on your website that customers are likely to use in searches; keeping the content fresh and making good use of pictures and video.

Social media

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are all examples of social media where users can go to share information, images, opinions and more with the online community. Access to some is restricted to ‘friends’ who have elected to follow you e.g. Facebook; others such as Twitter make all content publicly available.     

Time on site (formerly dwell time)  
This is exactly as the term suggests – it’s a measurement of the amount of time a visitor spends on a website. A longer dwell time suggests you are meeting or exceeding customer expectations.

This is a micro-blogging service, enabling its users to send and read messages called Tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters, displayed on the user’s profile page; they can contain links to other online content such as video or blogs. Tweets are publicly visible; however, senders can restrict direct messaging to their ‘followers’. Users can subscribe to other users’ Tweets and this is known as ‘following’.

User generated content (UGC)
The rise of UGC, or citizen journalism has meant that people can get their information not just from “official sources”, such as government and the media, but also from members of the public. TripAdvisor, which is the world’s largest travel website, relies wholly on USG. See the Managing your Online Reputation webinar for details about TripAdvisor.  

User journey

This is the term given to what a visitor to your website does once he/she is there. There is an expectation that whatever they want to know or do is only ever one click away. This is discussed on the Is my Website Working webinar.          

Web trends

There is a huge amount of information available online that lets you tap into emerging web trends. You don’t need to be expert and the Tourism Intelligence Scotland  webinar Future Trends of the Digital Tourist  is a great place to start.     


WordPress is an online publishing package that can be used to create a basic website or blog. It’s free and extremely easy to use with details at


The world’s largest video sharing social network with around one billion unique visitors per month. Owned by Google – hence links to videos on YouTube are highly rated in their search engine – contributors, from large companies to musicians, have created their own YouTube channels to harness the power of video in customer engagement.             

For more information on how to use some of these tools to benefit your business, watch the Is digital marketing a DIY job webinar or check out the top tips available at Shine Online