Yes, copywriters use jargon too
It’s ironic when you think about it.
We copywriters spend our days deciphering and busting jargon that other businesses use. Yet we still have some of our own copywriting jargon. Talk about double standards!
To help you out and give you a head start, I’ve created a glossary of copywriting terminology you might encounter when we work together and have explained what it all means.
SEO copywriting jargon is marked with a red heading. This will be important to you if you’re hiring me for web copy or blog content.
A glossary of copywriting terminology
A/B Split testing
The best way to explain A/B split testing is to give you an example.
Let’s say a copywriter is creating an email campaign. The subject line for the email is critical and can be the difference between a prospect opening the email — or not.
Copywriters generally create several subject lines, then narrow them down to the ones they think will have the highest open rate.
Eventually, the email copywriter has two subject lines to choose from. We’ll call those subject lines A and B.
In an A/B split test, the copywriter would send their email to a sample of the full mailing list. Half of the sample would get subject line A and the other half would get subject line B.
The copywriter would assess the results for subject lines A and B. And whichever got the highest open rate would be sent to the remainder of the mailing list.
You can use A/B split testing to assess the effectiveness other communications too. Like ads, landing pages and leaflet drops, for example.
Above the fold
Above the fold refers to the portion of a website you see when it first loads — before you start scrolling down.
First impressions are everything — and you don’t want to lose visitors as soon as they arrive — so getting this section right is critical!
The section above the fold has to satisfy several objectives. It needs to:
- Be clear and accessible
- Be well-designed and nice to look at
- Reassure your visitor they’ve come to the right place
- Give your visitor a reason to scroll down and see more.
Active voice refers to the grammatical construction of a piece of copy.
The active voice is recommended for informal and conversational writing because it’s clear and direct. And it sounds involved and engaged.
The opposite of active voice is called passive voice.
You’ll find a full discussion about both, with examples, in my article: Passive voice vs active voice >>
An advertorial is a long-form advertising feature in a magazine or newspaper.
It’s so called because it looks like an editorial article and is often written in a journalistic style. But somewhere on the page, there’ll be a disclaimer to say it’s actually an advertisement.
AI stands for Artificial Intelligence, which is another term for robots or machines.
AI writers are being sold as an alternative to human writers. They can produce written content in minutes and at a fraction of the cost of a person.
But are they any good?
I reviewed a couple, so you can save yourself some money!
An anchor link takes you to a relevant point on a web page rather than just loading the page at the top.
For example, if you were reading one of my other articles and there was an anchor link to an explanation of anchor links, it would bring you straight to this point on this page. Clever, huh?
Here’s a word I throw around a lot. And it can have multiple meanings, depending on who we’re talking to.
For example, your audience might be:
- Prospects (people you want to sell to)
- Clients (people you already provide services to)
- Customers (people you already sell products to)
- Users (people who are using your product or service)
- Visitors (people visiting your website).
Technically, any business can be producing communications for two or more different audiences.
In copywriting, knowing your audience is vital. It determines the way you talk to them, the language you use and the information you provide.
Awareness levels work on the basis that different members of your audience will be at different stages of their journey — and some will be more aware of what you can do for them than others. Writing for these different awareness levels is key to exploring the full potential of your market.
Most copywriters refer to legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz’s 5 Stages of Awareness. The five stages go from Unaware to Most Aware, like this:
B2B stands for Business to Business. This is the copywriting you need if you’re a business and your customer is also a business.
It’s important to distinguish B2B copywriting from B2C copywriting, as it requires a different approach. When businesses make purchases they tend to be less emotional and more considered. The copy usually needs to satisfy several interested parties that the purchase is a good idea.
B2C stands for Business to Consumer. This is the copywriting you need if you’re selling direct to consumers.
Consumer purchases can be more impulsive and emotional than business purchases. They can also be based on desires rather than needs.
A backlink is a link to a page of your website that comes from a different website.
For example, if one of your customers talks about one of your products in their blog, they might include a backlink to that particular product page.
If you want to find out more, you can read my full article: A beginner’s guide to backlinks and link-building >>
I talk about benefits a lot. They’re important in copywriting as they give your reader a clear ‘What’s in it for me?’ (WIIFM). This is what your reader is really looking for when they read your copy.
Laying out the benefits of a product or service shows the reader how it will make them or their lives better. For example, your product might:
- Make [task] easier/quicker/simpler
- Give you the skills to accomplish [goal]
- Make your [room] more beautiful/spacious/functional.
Benefits are different from product features as they focus on the end result.
Black hat SEO
Black hat SEO is the name given to a range of dodgy and ill-advised SEO practices.
Examples of black hat SEO include keyword stuffing and article spinning.
If an SEO promises you amazing results quickly, they’ll probably be using black hat techniques to get them.
The results are often short-lived and could get your website penalised by Google, which will make it much harder to rank in the future.
A blog is the name for the section of a website where blog articles are written and stored. These articles may also be described as content.
Blog articles are articles written for your website and stored on your blog.
The articles are a form of content marketing. Expertly written blog articles can fulfil a number of objectives, including:
- Using SEO keywords to draw more visitors to your website
- Promoting your expertise and authority in your field
- Building interest and trust in your brand
- Giving your reader the answers, information or advice they’re looking for
- Encouraging readers to sign up for your mailing list
- Persuading readers who might be ready to buy.
Body copy is the main word content in a piece of copy, excluding the headline, headings, call-outs and other copy features.
Your bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who come to your website, then leave without visiting any other pages.
A bounce rate above 70% is often a sign that your site might have some problems.
You can learn more about bounce rates in my article: What causes a high bounce rate? >>
Copywriters talk a lot about brand. In simple terms, it comprises all the things that make your company identifiable to your prospects and customers.
For example, your:
- Visual branding (corporate colours, logo, fonts)
- Tone of voice (the way your copy sounds)
- Core values
A broken link on a website is a link to a page that can no longer be found. If a user clicks on a broken link, they’ll usually be redirected to an error 404 page.
Google doesn’t like broken links, so it pays to avoid having them on your site.
Broken links happen when pages are changed, moved or deleted. So if you’re planning any modifications to your site, make sure you bear this in mind and implement redirects where necessary.
If you want to check for broken links on your site, you can use this free broken link checker.
A call out is a panel set apart from the rest of the text to highlight a particular piece of information. Like the blue box in the diagram below:
CTA: Call To Action
The CTA is where we push your reader to take action. That might be:
- Buy now
- Get in touch with us
- Sign up to our mailing list
- Download our free ebook.
CTR: Click Through Rate
When copywriters write email sequences, each email usually includes a clickable link to a page of your website. This might be to promote a particular product, service or blog article.
The CTR measures the percentage of recipients who clicked on that link.
These are the people you’re already working with or selling to.
Copywriting for them might include:
- Blog content (helpful, inspiring)
- Instruction manuals/guides
- Ebooks to accompany your service
- Sales copy to upsell further services/products.
Content writers write content.
Content is written to build awareness of your business. And to inform, educate, entertain and inspire your audience. Your content might include:
- Blog articles
- Lead magnets
- Email sequences
- Social media posts.
Although content can nudge your audience towards a sale, this is not its main goal.
A content calendar is used to plan out your content over a period of time, so we know what content is needed and when. Your calendar can include a range of content including blog articles and email sequences.
A content hub is a collection of blog articles and other online materials that focus on a central topic.
The articles are brought together via a main ‘pillar’ article, which introduces and links to each one.
A simple content hub might look something like this:
You can learn more about content hubs in my article: Content hubs: What are they and why should you be using them? >>
Content marketing is a marketing strategy where we focus on producing content that’s valuable to your audience. Your content might include:
- Answers to common questions
- Inspiration posts
- How-to guides
- Event tie-ins
- Objective advice.
Content spinning, also known as article spinning, is form of black hat SEO. In other words, it’s a dodgy practice that can be bad for your website.
It happens when unscrupulous content providers take a piece of professionally written content, then use an online tool to rewrite it thousands of times. They then take the rewritten ‘spun’ articles and sell them to unsuspecting buyers as original content.
Google takes a very dim view of this practice and is clamping down on offenders — so be warned!
Conversational copy is written in the same way you would speak to someone if you were having a conversation. It can be fun or serious, but it’s usually friendly, informal and personality-driven.
Most brands use some form of conversational copy.
When we write a piece of copy or content, we always have a goal — something we want the reader to do. That might be to visit another page of a website, pick up the phone or download a lead magnet.
When the reader does the thing we want them to do, we call it a conversion.
Your conversion rate shows the number of conversions you had as a percentage of the total number of people who were targeted or exposed to your content.
For example, let’s say you do a leaflet drop with 100 leaflets and the leaflets are printed with a special promo code. If 30 people call you quoting the leaflet promo code, your conversion rate for the leaflet drop will be 30%.
Your actual conversion rate can sometimes be higher, because some people will save your communication until they’re ready to buy.
Copywriters write copy. This is the name we use for the words we write to market and sell your products or services.
You might hear us use it when we talk about:
- The type of copy in a publication (headline copy, body copy)
- The function of the copy (sales copy, marketing copy)
- Where the copy is going to be used (web copy, brochure copy, ad copy).
If you’re working with a copywriter, they should ask you to complete a copywriting brief.
The brief is a document filled with questions about your:
- Ideal customers.
It will also look at your goals and what you want to achieve.
The answers you give in the brief will give your copywriter a good starting point for researching further and creating the kind of copy that meets your audience’s needs.
Direct response copywriting
Direct response copywriting is what you need if you want your reader to take action quickly.
This action might include:
- Making a purchase
- Signing up to your mailing list
- Downloading a lead magnet
- Registering for a course or webinar
- Following you on social media.
EAT: Expertise, Authority and Trust
Expertise, Authority and Trust are three factors that Google looks for when it rates and ranks your website. The better your website can demonstrate these three traits, the higher your website should rank.
You can learn more about how to make sure your website exhibits these traits in my article: Practical ways to demonstrate EAT >>
Email drip campaign
An email drip campaign is a series of emails you send to customers on your mailing list with the intention of enticing them to become customers. A drip campaign is easy to set up and is suitable for all email subscribers.
Here’s an example of a five-email drip campaign, starting with the first welcome email:
Email open rate
Your open rate shows how many people opened your marketing email as a percentage of the total number of people who received it.
In this example we have 100 subscribers who received the email. Of those 100 subscribers, 70 of them opened the email, meaning that the open rate is 70%.
An email sequence is generally an automated email campaign. Unlike drip campaigns, these are targeted more to individuals. The sequences can be triggered by behaviours and events. For example, a sequence might be sent to a subscriber if they:
- Abandoned their shopping cart mid purchase
- Have a birthday or anniversary coming up
- Just made a key purchase or spent a substantial sum.
While benefits focus on end results, features focus on how those results are achieved.
Features are important to buyers who understand them and who might want to compare the features of your product with other products on the market.
For example, features might be important to people buying:
- Cars — for engine size, safety features
- Televisions — for screen size, resolution
- Camera equipment — for lens quality and capabilities
- Computers — for processing speed, performance
- Smartphones — for camera, memory, processor.
Google Analytics is a free tool that measures the performance of your website.
To use it, you need to create an account and implant a snippet of code on each page of your site. When the code is in place, Google can track key metrics, like:
- How many visitors you’re getting
- Where in the world your visitors are based
- Their landing and exit pages
- Which pages they’re viewing
- What keywords they used to find you.
You can view your reports online or have them emailed to you each week.
Most web designers will install Google Analytics on your site as standard, but if you don’t have it, it’s easy enough to add.
Google My Business
If you’re a business that operates in your local area, you’ll be eligible for a free Google My Business listing.
The listing appears on the right hand side of the desktop screen when you do a Google search for your business name. And it will look something like this:
Having a Google My Business listing is good for your SEO. It includes a link to your website, your map location, photographs and customer reviews.
And if you have a new website that isn’t ranking yet, you can use your listing as a mini website, so you have online visibility until it does.
There’s more about Google My Business and how to set up your listing in my article: How to market your local business online >>
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is an extension to Google Analytics. It also tracks how your website is performing and creates data reports.
Search Console is often more useful to SEO copywriters as it’s more focused on keywords. Using your Search Console data, we can see where each page of your site is ranking and what keywords it’s ranking for.
This can be helpful if we’re writing new web copy for you, because it means we know what keywords are already working and can make sure we keep and augment those.
Grey hat SEO
There’s white hat SEO, which is legitimate best practice — i.e. what you should be doing.
Then there’s black hat SEO, which is definitely dodgy and will get you penalised by Google.
And somewhere in the middle, there’s grey hat SEO, which isn’t totally legit, but isn’t a punishable offence — yet.
The ‘yet’ is important. Because it’s my presumption that most black hat SEO techniques probably started out as grey.
My advice with any SEO technique is to always do what seems fair, right and doesn’t seem like a ‘get to the top of Google quick’ scheme. SEO is a bit like the hare and the tortoise — slow and steady always wins the day.
Headings are titles used to introduce a new page or new section of copy.
Website headings have a hierarchy going from H1 to H6.
H1 is the largest and most important heading. There is only one H1 per page and it always appears first, at the top.
The heading tag denotes which H-number should be used for each heading on a web page or in a blog article.
When I write your copy, I’ll include a little <h> tag next to each heading. This is just for reference and will be used by your web designer or the person who publishes your blog articles.
The headline is the name given to the main heading that appears at the top of a piece of copy. The role of the headline is to introduce the piece as a whole.
The hook is usually the opening statement of a piece of copy. It’s so called because it hooks your reader in and makes them want to read more.
Every business has an ideal client — even the ones who claim they sell to everyone. Those businesses just haven’t decided who that ideal client is yet!
You might say your ideal client works in a specific industry and has a certain job title — but it’s more than that. There are all kinds of characteristics you might want your ideal client to have. For example, to:
- Be communicative
- Accept your pricing
- Understand your role
- Have the right values and attitude
- Pay you fully and on time.
When your audience type their search queries into Google, the words they use are known as keywords. A keyword is usually more than one word and could be up to three words.
It’s your SEO copywriter’s job to research the keywords your audience is using, then implant those keywords into your copy.
The idea is that when someone uses those words, your web page will be a match and will show up on Google’s list of search results.
Keyword density is a dated and generally bad SEO strategy. It works on the principle that there’s an ideal ratio of text length to keyword repetition.
As an example, an agency might give a writer a blog article to write. Their brief will include a word length for the article, a list of keywords and the number of times each keyword should be repeated.
I don’t use keyword density as a strategy and have outlined the reasons why in my article: Why keyword density can be a bad strategy >>
You might hear me me talk about high-performing keywords. A high-performing keyword has three main traits:
- It’s relevant and matches the search intent of your user
- It has an appropriate number of monthly searches
- It has low competition from other websites, meaning it will be easier to rank for.
Relevance is one of the most important factors when choosing keywords. They should be relevant to what the searcher is looking for.
When your SEO copywriter does your keyword research, we look up each keyword and check the top ranking sites for that keyword. If those sites are offering the same as yours, we’ll know the keyword is a good one.
A landing page is any web page you land on when you click a link from another source. That could be a Google search, another web page, a marketing email or an online advert.
If you want to create a landing page that works, you can find out how in my article: 3 Tips for a perfect landing page >>
A lead magnet is a great way to introduce new leads to your business.
Most lead magnets are given away for free, but in exchange for an email sign-up.
Examples of lead magnets include:
- Ebook (with email sign-up)
- Mini course by email
- 5-Day challenge
- Cheat sheet or template
Long-tail keywords are what your audience use when they want to do a Google search for something more specific.
A standard keyword search typically contains up to three words. But a long-tail keyword search contains more.
Standard keyword search: Plumber Nottingham
Long-tail keyword search: Emergency plumber and drain specialist Nottingham
A long-tail keyword is a proper phrase and not several+keywords+joined+with+plus+signs.
Long-tail keywords can be advantageous because they often have low competition and can contain several standard keywords, too.
Meta descriptions/meta tags
Meta descriptions are a component of your on-page SEO. They don’t appear on your website, but you can see them when you do a Google search. They’re the two black lines of text under your blue page title.
Your meta tags can contain SEO keywords, but their main purpose is to give searchers an introduction to what’s on your page and entice them to visit your website.
You should have a different meta description for each page of your website. Here’s how my home page meta description looks on the Google search engine results page:
If we’re going to use a keyword on your website, it should be one that people are actually using.
Monthly searches refers to the average number of times a keyword has been searched for over the last 3, 6 or 12 months.
In publishing, the outro is the closing statement at the end of a piece. The piece could be a poster or an ad campaign. For example, the outro of this poster is the line: Kill your speed before your speed kills.
Page titles/title tags
Each page of your website should have a unique page title. A relevant page title with high-performing keywords is vital to your on-page SEO.
Like the meta description, it doesn’t appear on your website, but you can see it when you do a Google search.
It’s the large blue line of text that appears under your URL. You can see mine here:
You also get a glimpse of your page title on the tab in your browser. Here’s how mine appears in Chrome:
We talk about pain points a lot — especially when we’re writing sales copy.
The pain point is what’s causing the reader to have a problem. For example, it might be something that’s:
- A source of tension, frustration or irritation
- Costing an excessive amount of money
- Taking too much time and/or energy
- Clunky or overcomplicated.
Where there’s a pain point, the aim of the copy is to describe that pain point, then swoop in with the product or service that will relieve it and make it go away.
Passive voice describes the grammatical construction of a sentence of piece of copy.
It’s not always advisable to use it in conversational copy, because it sounds too formal and detached.
The opposite of passive voice is active voice, which is clearer and more direct.
You’ll find a full discussion about both, with examples, in my article: Passive voice vs active voice >>
Prospects are sales leads that you’ve already qualified. In other words, they fit the profile of your ideal client/customer and they’ve shown an interest in your business.
They might also be referred to as a warm or hot sales lead.
Copywriting for them might include:
- Blog content (informational, educational, sales)
- Buyer guides
- Email sequences (for sign-ups)
- Paid lead magnets.
Sales or marketing funnel
A sales funnel is used to map out the journey someone will go through from cold sales lead to paying customer.
The typical sales funnel looks something like this:
A cold lead becomes aware of your business. They might see you in the press, come across your post on social media, find your website via SEO or meet you in person at an event.
Once aware, the lead becomes interested. They might do some research on your website, read your blog articles, look at your case studies and check out your testimonials. The lead can now be considered a prospect.
Th prospect is interested, but they’re still considering their options and are not quite ready to buy yet. At this stage they might be open to a free lead magnet, such as an ebook, webinar or downloadable cheat sheet.
When they’ve considered the benefits of buying from you or working with you, they’ll show their intent. They might go through your customer sign-up or contact you to arrange a discovery call. You should make this easy for them.
The intent is there, but it’s the sales process or discovery call that will finally seal the deal. Make it smooth and pain-free so you don’t give them cause to change their mind.
This is the point where money changes hands. They’ll complete their transaction or pay you a deposit for your services.
If they’ve made their purchase and had a good experience, they’ll be more likely to buy from you or work with you again — and more likely to recommend you to others. You can help to build loyalty with good aftercare and by keeping them engaged with marketing communications, new products, special offers and loyalty schemes.
Sales leads are people who you haven’t yet qualified.
There are three kinds of sales lead and they’re categorised by temperature:
Cold leads ❄️
Cold leads are people who are encountering your business for the first time. For example, they might be a person who’s visiting your website or comes across your blog article.
At this point, these leads are unqualified. But there may be an opportunity to warm them up!
Copywriting for cold leads might include:
- Blog content (answer questions, offer advice)
- SEO copy and content (to attract)
- Social media posts
- Free lead magnets.
Warm leads ☀️
Warm leads are prospects who have encountered your business and shown an interest in it. For example, they might have joined your mailing list, downloaded your lead magnet or attended your webinar.
Hot leads 🔥
Hot leads are prospects who are acquainted with your business and have indicated that they might be ready to buy from you. For example, they may have arranged a preliminary meeting, discovery call or showroom visit.
A sales letter is a letter that’s written to a lead, prospect or existing customer with the purpose of selling them something.
A sales page is any page of your website that’s written for the purpose of selling.
Search intent is the main goal a user has when they search for something online.
Our aim, therefore, is to match your SEO copy to the search intent of your user.
SEO: Search Engine Optimisation
SEO is about optimising your website so it performs well in the search engine listings.
There are many components that make up an effective SEO strategy, but most SEO copywriters are mainly concerned with:
- On-page SEO (as opposed link-building from other sites)
- Finding relevant, high-performing keywords
- Demonstrating EAT (Expertise, Authority and Trust)
- Formatting your pages for optimum performance.
SEO is a broad subject to cover in detail here, but you’ll find all the other articles I’ve written in the SEO section of my blog >>
SERP: Search Engine Results Page
When we talk about the SERP, we’re talking about the list of website results you get from your search engine when you’ve typed in a search term.
Social proof is confirmation from your clients/customers that helps to prove your product is as good as you say.
Examples of social proof include:
- High star-ratings on independent review sites
- Testimonials from happy customers
- Positive social media reviews/recommendations
- Compelling results of customer surveys.
The strapline or tagline appears after a brand’s name. Its purpose is to sum up the brand’s identity, culture and personality in just a few words.
Examples of famous straplines include:
- (Nike) Just do it
- (Ikea) The wonderful every day
- (John Lewis) Never knowingly undersold
- (L’oréal) Because you’re worth it
- (Apple) Think different.
Your target market is the name for the section of people you want to sell to and who are the best match for your product/service.
Your target market can be defined by a range of criterial including things like their:
- Demographics (age, gender, location etc.)
- Personal circumstances
- Professional status
- Lifestyle choices
A testimonial or review is a statement made by a customer or client in which they talk about what they bought from you and the experience they had.
Their testimonial might include reference to the:
- Product/service (how good it is and whether it’s as described)
- Customer service (how well they were treated)
- Buying experience (how easy/user-friendly it was)
- Delivery (whether it was on time and in good condition).
Tone deaf messaging
We might say a brand’s message is tone deaf if it seems they’re not listening or reading the mood in the room. And if, consequently, they write something that seems uninformed, insensitive or offensive.
Typos happen when a copywriter’s brain is working faster than their fingers can type. And they might, for example, spell a word wrong, miss out a letter, or get the letters transposed.
This is why we proofread our work and encourage you to be vigilant too.
URL: Uniform Resource Locator
Each page of your website has it’s own unique URL. This is the full address of your website with the https://www. at the front.
USP: Unique Selling Proposition
Your USPs are the things that make you different to your competitors and more appealing to your target market.
Note that I said ‘different’ and not just ‘better’. Because ‘better’ can be replicated, but ‘different’ can’t — at least not so easily.
It doesn’t have to be your product or service that’s different. It could be your:
- Brand values
- Commitment to a cause
- Approach to customer service
- Strengths in a particular area.
Upselling is where you persuade a prospect/customer to buy something of a higher value than they were originally planning to. Or where you persuade a customer who’s just bought from you to buy something further.
For example, a prospect is thinking of buying your entry level package, but you convince them that the intermediate package would suit their needs better.
Or a customer has added a base product to their cart, so you show them the optional add-ons and peripherals that would make their experience of that product even better.
UX: User eXperience
To put it simply, UX is the experience your user has when they interact with your company or your website.
UX should be carefully considered when you’re putting together anything that your user will interact with. For example:
- Site navigation and signposting
- Processes, such as sign-ups and transactions
- Clear, user-friendly design
- Instructional copy that tells users what to do
- Automated telephone processes
- Consistency and continuity.
I’ve written several full articles that talk about UX in more detail in the UX section of my blog >>
Voice of customer
You might hear me talk about something called ‘voice of customer research’.
This involves researching your customers online and looking at the words and language they’re using when they talk about your products or services.
Understanding the language of your customers is vital for producing effective SEO copy, because this is the language they’ll use when they search for you.
Here’s a word I use a lot. You waffle when you use a lot of unnecessary words without saying or adding anything of value.
Waffle tends to appear on the page when your copywriter:
- Runs out of things to say before they hit your word count
- Doesn’t fully understand what they’re writing about
- Hasn’t bothered to edit their copy
- Isn’t very good at their job.
You may be reassured to know that I have a no-waffle policy!
But to follow through on that policy, we need to make sure that your subject is always proportionate for the word count.
White hat SEO
White hat SEO is the good kind of SEO. It refers to approved and legitimate ways of optimising your website and content.
Anything I’ve missed?
If there’s something your copywriter has talked to you about and you can’t see it here, you can let me know by sending me a contact form or messaging me on social media. You’ll find the form and all the links on my contact page.
Need a copywriter?
Allow me to introduce myself.
I’m Jenny Lucas, a freelance copywriter and content writer based in Leicester.
As a generalist copywriter, I write on a wide range of subjects. And I specialise in SEO copy and content for the web.
You can find more information about me, the services I offer and what it’s like to work with me on my website or blog.