You’d think because the basis of writing is in language, copywriting would be immune to jargon and specialized terminology. But in fact, given copywriting’s crossover with the marketing, promotions, and sales words (and the many different types of copywriting), there are many terms one might not be immediately familiar with.

And just a heads up, I’m going to try and not waste time defining things you should already know—website, blog, billboard, etc. These are all things that, if you’ve Googled and found this very post, should be able to define on your own.

Copywriting Terms

AB Test

An AB test is a way to compare two or more versions of, in this case, copy to see which performs better. Typically, you serve one form of copy, the controlled version, to one audience segment, and then a variation to another segment.

You set a goal, like click-through %, conversion rate, etc. and see which version – controlled or variation – performed better against said goal.

Above the Fold

The fold is where a web page cuts off at the bottom of your device screen. Above the fold, then, refers to the area of the web page visible when the page first loads. Below the fold would be the area a user would have to scroll to in order to view.

Advertorial

An advertorial is a sponsored or paid-for ad that is crafted to resemble a magazine or newspaper editorial (similar to a native piece of content).

The goal of the advertorial is to seamlessly integrate with the rest of the source content, as opposed to a general advertisement that at most times is obviously a stand-alone addition. Read more about the advertorial vs. editorial, and take a look at a few advertorial template examples.

Alt Text

Alt text is used to describe photos through text, with the primary goal of making the web more accessible for visually impaired users who are using screen readers. In addition, though, alt tags are also used as an SEO tool and are said to help search engines better discover the context of an image within a page.

Anchor Text

Anchor text is the text that displays when you include links within your site or blog content. For instance, if I were to write something about how much to charge for a sponsored blog post, and linked it as so, “how much to charge for a sponsored blog post” is considered the anchor text.

Backlink

A backlink is a link from one website to another. Typically, it’s in reference to a link on someone else’s site that points to yours. Alternatively, if you have a link on your website that points to that of someone else’s, it’s considered a backlink from their point of view.

Body Copy

Body copy refers to the main text area of a webpage, advertorial, etc. For instance, on this specific blog post, there is a headline, along with text in the sidebars, footers, and other areas. This text that you’re reading right now, along with the rest of the text making up this copywriting terminology is all considered body text or copy.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of website visitors who enter your site through a particular page and then leave through that same page, without clicking to another page in between.

It’s a metric to be used with caution, because by default, if someone enters your site through a blog post, spends 10 minutes reading it and then leaves the site, most analytics programs will count that as a bounce. Obviously, the user got to your site and found value, but they didn’t have the need at this moment to click to another page.

B2B Copywriting

B2B writing, or business-to-business writing, is content created by one business for another business. This is in comparison to B2C writing, or business-to-consumer writing, where businesses are writing for consumers.

When businesses make a purchase, it’s typically a much larger investment than that of a consumer. For instance, say a business is looking to purchase a CRM solution. For a final decision to be reached there will be a number of people involved in the decision, with the process taking months, potentially. Thus, things like whitepapers and case studies need to be written and presented to help the business along the decision pathway.

B2C Writing

B2C writing, or business-to-consumer writing, is when businesses are writing – or creating copy – for consumers. This is the typical copy you’re used to seeing in magazines, on billboards, etc.

Call to Action (CTA)

A call to action (CTA) is prompt for the reader to take action, usually inserted at the end of copy, but sometimes within the copy, like halfway through. On a billboard, a call to action could be a simple phone number or landing page URL. In a blog post, it could be a link to another page.

Click Through Rate

Click-through-rate (CTR) refers to the percentage of total people who click through from an email or ad to a landing page. Thus, if you sent an email to 100 recipients, and 15 of them clicked a link to get to your site, you’d have a 15% click through rate.

Conversion

A conversion is a measure of success based on the desired action you wish your audience to take. For instance, a conversion can be anything from a prospect who converts into a customer by purchasing, or a website user who converts to a lead after they download your eBook.

Gated Content

Gated content refers to information or data that lives behind a “wall” or “gate” and thus can only be accessed when the user takes some sort of action—which is usually the filling out of a form and joining a mailing list.

Internal Link

An internal link is any link that connects two pages on the same site. So, if I wanted to link to my post on how to get back into writing, that link would be considered an internal link.

Keyword

A keyword is any word or phrase a writer is trying to optimize around for search engine purposes. Thus, a keyword will take its place in the title of, say, a blog post, and will show up periodically in the content, anchor text, and elsewhere.

Meta Description

The meta description is the blurb of text that is attached to your URL when displaying in search engine result pages (SERPs). While generally thought of an SEO feature or factor, a properly written meta description should encourage searchers to click your result in the SERPs over that of a competitor.

Nofollow

The nofollow tag is put in place to tell search engines not to follow a particular link on a web page.

There are a few different reasons why you wouldn’t want a search engine to follow a link, with the primary reason as a precautionary measure. Meaning, if you sell advertising links on your site in one form or another, you’d want to tell the search engine to not follow them—which is basically saying not to pass any value or SEO authority through such links because they were purchased and unnatural.

Open Rate

Open rate refers to the percentage of total people who open your email. Thus, if you sent an email to 100 recipients, and 15 of them opened it, you’d have a 15% open rate.

Swipe File

A swipe file is an accumulation of writing examples and samples put together to inspire when viewed. (“Swipe” in this sense means borrowing, but obviously not plagiarizing.) It’s a collection of writings you’ve come across and been inspired by. When you find such pieces, you add them to your swipe file so that you can access them when inspiration stalls.

Title Tag

A title tag is an SEO measure, and shows up in the main text when your page is displayed in the search engine results pages. It’s typically best practice to include your target keyword in the title tag, but you also want to write title tags to be compelling, and to encourage a click-through (as is done with the meta description).

User Intent

User intent refers to the underlying need, challenge, or problem a website visitor is trying to solve when they visit your site or written content. While you’ll never know for certain why it is someone is reading your content, you can pick up clues from their search term, pages visited, source of their traffic, etc.