Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Glossary
Terms And Definitions
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has its own unique set of terminology, definitions and abbreviations. Understanding SEO can be difficult especially with so many terms and definitions. This SEO glossary was created to help answer questions and strengthen your understanding of the SEO industry and terminology used.
A strategy for measuring the success of a marketing campaign in which two landing pages are created and incoming traffic is split between them to compare the conversion rates of each.
Above the fold
Above the fold refers to the upper area of a webpage that is visible without a user having to scroll down.
Absolute URL (Absolute link, Absolute path)
A link used for internal linking. It shows the absolute (or full) path to a file, HTML page, image or anything else you might want to link to within your website. This link is used as a part of the anchor tag and consists of a protocol, a domain name, possibly a subdirectory and the name of the file, document, HTML page, image or something else. Example of an anchor tag using an absolute path: <a href=”https://www.seo.com/blog/seo-glossary”>SEO glossary</a> There are two types of paths used in internal linking – one being the absolute and the other relative. There is, however, no indication that one is more beneficial than the other in terms of SEO.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project is a Google initiative to build fast loading pages for mobile users. So called ‘AMP‘ pages are designed to load quickly, whilst still including rich content such as videos, animations and ads. The pages are powered by the AMP HTML framework.
Google AdWords is Google’s Pay Per Click online marketing platform, first launched in the year 2000. Users can buy advertising across the Google network of web properties and also on other third party websites via the Google Display Network.
Founded in 2011 by Dmitry Gerasimenko, Ahrefs is an SaaS SEO platform most popular for its backlink discovery tool Site Explorer.
Algorithm, sometimes shortened to ‘algo’, refers to a set of rules that a computer program, or in this case a search engine, uses to make calculations or fulfill a task. It is most frequently used in relation to Google’s algorithms. The PageRank algorithm is one of the most famous examples of a Google algorithm.
Algorithm update (Google algorithm update)
Any change to Google’s search algorithms or ranking system. This includes new rules or adjustments to rules already in place. There are frequent small updates that go unnoticed, but there are several major updates in a year that can have a big impact on your rank. Major updates in the past few years include Panda, Penguin, Pirate, Hummingbird, Pigeon, Mobile Friendly, RankBrain, Possum and Fred.
Alt tag (Alt attribute)
The alt tag is inserted within the image tag in HTML and used to specify alternate text for an image. Including a description of the image so screen readers and search engines can get an idea of what is on it is considered a good practice for accessibility and improving content relevance. By using keywords in your image alternate text, you can optimize them for Google’s image search service.
This term is short for alternative text. Alt text is (obviously) text, and it is added to image descriptions to inform search bots just what the image is of. You see, as clever as they are search bots can’t see images in the way that humans do. They have to be told ‘verbally’ what is in an image in order for them to rank it, so that is just what alt text does.
Also known as page jumps. A hyperlink that when clicked brings you to a specific section of a webpage.
Anchor text is clickable text that is used to link to a different web page, one that is on your website or to an external web address. Most of the time, the anchor text appears blue and underlined so that users can see that they are (potentially) being directed elsewhere. Anchor text is very important to search bots too. They love good links, hate bad ones and will adjust their ‘opinion’ of a web page based on where any anchor text leads and how it is phrased.
Authority in terms of SEO refers to the authority of a website, which is measured by a variety of metrics and different services. A website that has attributes such as good rankings, strong backlinks and popularity, would be considered to have a high authority.
An authority site is a particularly high quality website. An authority site could technically be a commercial website that is the authority on a topic, though for many SEOs in certain contexts (ie for the purposes of writing an article) an authority site is generally considered to be either governmental, an association, or otherwise neutral from a commercial perspective.
Short for business-to-business. In B2B SEO, the buying cycle is longer, products and services are more expensive, and the audience is professional decision-makers.
Short for business-to-consumer. In B2C SEO, the buying cycle is typically shorter (though it still varies by industry), products and services are (mostly) cheaper, and consumers are the audience.
Backlinks are links from one site to another. The acquisition of backlinks is usually a standard part of a full SEO campaign.
A search engine owned by Microsoft with a market share of 3.18% worldwide. According to research 85% of Bing users live in the USA, 87% of the users use it because of Internet Explorer, they are for the most part 35+, less tech-savvy and are more likely to have children. Also, according to some statistics Bing users spend 25% more than users on other search engines.
A complex computer program that is poorly understood. Inputs and outputs can be observed, but there is no access to the process itself due to its confidential nature. For example, Google’s algorithm is a black box.
Black hat techniques
In SEO, a black hat technique is considered to be any method of trying to improve your website’s rankings that goes against a search engine’s guidelines. These bad methods include keyword stuffing, paid link schemes and more.
A blog, which was once short for weblog way back in the day, is a section of a website – or an entire site – on which content, normally articles, is published on a regular basis focusing on information – and keywords and key terms – on certain themes or topics.
Blog commenting was a very popular link building tactic where you find a blog article that is relevant to your niche and leave a comment with a link.
Blogger outreach is the process of contacting and working with bloggers as part of a marketing campaign.
Using boolean search operators it is possible to connect search words together to broaden or narrow a set of results. The three basic boolean operators are AND, OR and NOT. By default however search engines will usually apply AND for each part of a query unless specified otherwise.
A bot (alternately spider, crawler,) is a software application that runs automated tasks over the internet. Google’s main bot for web crawling is Googlebot.
Bounce rate refers to the percentage of users that view one page then leave a website. For example if 8 in every 10 users leave a website after viewing one page then there is said to be an 80% bounce rate.
Breadcrumb navigation (Breadcrumb trail)
A type of secondary navigation that helps the user figure out their location on your website. Links appear horizontally providing a link to each previous page on the website. Example: Home>men>shoes>boots
Broad match keyword
A keyword matching option in Google Ads. When using broad match for a keyword, your ad will appear for searches containing that keyword or a similar one. This includes phrases, singular or plural forms, misspellings, synonyms, stemmings, and related searches.
A broken link is a link to a URL that is not working correctly. If a user were to click the link it would lead to a 404 page or other type of error page in the browser.
Branded keywords (Brand keyword, Brand term)
They are keywords and phrases that include your company or brand name and variations of it. There is ample debate over using branded keywords in your search marketing. SEOs usually argue that there is no need to spend money to rank on these keywords as using SEO intelligently will have you rank high in the organic search results.
A technology that temporarily stores web content, such as images, to reduce future page loading times.
Call to action (CTA)
An SEO term that refers to a website trigger (usually a button) designed to get an immediate response from a website visitor. These triggers usually use commanding words that are meant to persuade the visitors to perform a certain act like Buy, Register, Write Now, Call, Sign Up.
A snapshot of a webpage as it appeared when a search engine last crawled it.
The rel="canonical" link element can be used to specify the canonical URL of a webpage.
An HTML code element that specifies a preferred website URL, when multiple URLs have the same or similar content, to reduce duplicate content.
Content that is designed to entice people to click, typically by overpromising or being intentionally misleading in headlines, so publishers can earn advertising revenue.
Click Through Rate (CTR)
Also known as CTR. The rate (expressed in a percentage) at which users click on an organic search result. This is calculated by dividing the total number of organic clicks by the total number of impressions then multiplying by 100.
Cloak / Cloaking
Cloaking is the black hat (and not recommended) practice of serving different content to Google than as seen by users. It is a technique that is generally still used only by spammers and those with malicious intent.
In SEO, content refers to any type of meaningful or useful information displayed on your website. This can be copy, images, videos, infographics, etc. High-quality content is one of the main factors that will positively impact your ranking.
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A Content Delivery Network, usually shortened to CDN, is a distributed network of hosting locations that serve HTML or static resources based on user geo-location.
A modern marketing strategy in which sellers provide potential customers with relevant, valuable, and consistent content in order to establish authority and a trusting relationship in the hopes that it will eventually lead to sales.
Cookies are files used by websites to track your movements on the site and remember you after you leave.
The data in cookie files.
Conversion means that the defined goal of a webpage is accomplished by the visitor. A goal can be defined as: a purchase made, an enquiry email sent, an email list subscription or whatever the defined goal for an individual page or function is.
Cost per acquisition (CPA, Cost per action, Pay per acquisition, Pay per action)
An online pricing model where you pay when a certain action is performed by a user. The example of an acquisition can include a sale, download, sign up, visit your site or something else.
In a pay-per-click system, CPC is the price a business pays each time a user clicks on its ad.
A pricing model used by Google Ads where you pay for every one thousand times your ad has been displayed.
A metric showing the percentage of people clicking on your ad/website after it has been displayed in the SERPs. It is calculated by dividing the number of clicks by the number of impressions.
A link that is meant to entice the user to click on it. These links either use anchor text or headline tags that are playing on the user’s curiosity. Using words and phrases like incredible, amazing, ultimate, “must see” and “you won’t believe”, these links have a chance of increasing their CTR.
Content Management System (CMS)
Stands for Content Management System. A web-based application that lets people create, upload, and manage digital assets. One of the most popular examples of a CMS is WordPress.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
The process of improving the number or quality of conversions that occur on a website. Some popular CRO tactics include testing changes to website design, copy, images, price, call-to-action, and messaging.
Evaluating the competitors that rank for the same keywords you do or belong to the same niche. A competitor analysis will help you find out which tactics work in your niche and which areas you should prioritize.
A program search engines use to crawl the web. Bots visit webpages to collect information and add or update a search engine’s index. Also known as: Bot, Spider, Web Crawler
Crawlability refers to the process of enabling the crawlers to easily navigate, understand and efficiently find content and index your website. Site crawlability can be improved by creating an XML and image sitemap, avoiding orphan pages by efficient internal linking, optimizing site speed, images and video and the proper use of redirects.
Crawl / Crawling
Crawling is the process by which a bot visits a website. In the search engine indexing process, crawling is when a search engine bot (such as Googlebot), visits a web resource in order to view, parse, and then if required index the resource.
Crawl errors are errors that occur during the crawling process by a search engine bot or other crawler. Errors could include DNS errors, server connectivity issues, or errors caused by the unavailability of a resource such as the Robots.txt file.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
CSS is a language that defines the look of the HTML document. Every website has one or more CSS files where each element is determined in size, color, layout etc. Here is where we can set up interactivity, animations, responsiveness, font style and more.
All the hard numbers that represent real customers – the who, what, where, when, why, and how – all of which is needed to make informed decisions about SEO strategies and tactics.
A webpage that links to no other webpages. So called because once a user or bot arrives on this page, there is no place to move forward.
It's a link pointing to any webpage other than the homepage or a link pointing to content within a mobile app.
When Google removes a website or webpage, either temporarily or permanently, from search results, specifically its search index. Google provides a Remove URLs tool in the Search Console for voluntary cases; however, a website may also be de-indexed as punishment for violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, in the form of a manual action. Also known as: Delisting
Digital marketing strategy
The goal-driven approach a company takes to market its products and services online.
Users who reach your website by clicking a direct link.
Display advertising network
A network of over a million websites, videos, and apps where ads can appear when using Google AdWords.
An online categorization and listing of websites that have been compiled by humans. In local SEO – something that is hugely important for many companies to pay careful attention to – online directories like Yelp, Google My Business and more can be used to promote businesses in their respective local communities.
If your link profile includes a high number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality inbound links that may be harming your rankings – and don’t have the ability to get them removed for a legitimate reason (e.g., the link exists on a site you have no control over) – you can use Google’s Disavow Tool tool to tell Google to ignore those links.
A link that doesn’t use the “nofollow” attribute. In other words, a link.
The domain of your website is your address on the Web – yoursite.com. Having the right domain name can have a big impact on your SEO for years to come, so when choosing a new one you do have to give it some serious thought.
A metric developed by the Amercian SEO specialist company Moz that is used to give a score to a website’s SEO ranking ability. The factors that make up Domain Authority are popularity, links, trust rank and more.
Webpages that are created to rank in search engines for specific keywords only for the purpose of redirecting users who click on that page to a different website.
This term refers to content that can be found in more than one place on the web, something that usually means search engine show just one of the links to the content. Although it is actually a matter of some debate some SEO experts believe that search engines will penalize a site that contains duplicate content, so the general wisdom is that all content should be original.
A search engine that puts an emphasis on user privacy and does not use personalized search results. This means that the users are not being profiled and all the users get the same SE results for a specific search term. DuckDuckGo has 4.7 million daily users, 50% of them are from the USA and 45% are European.
Dwell time (Time Spent on Page)
This is the time the visitor spends on your website after clicking on it in the SERPs. Longer is better since it shows that the visitor has found relevant and engaging content. If the dwell time is very short, it is considered a bounce.
Dynamic URL (Dynamic link)
A web address of a web page where content is stored in a database and fetched by a user query. These pages can have only one HTML file, but content will be unique every time the database is queried. This is why the URL changes every time there is a query. These URLs are non-descriptive and make no sense when read since they include link parameters.
The buying and selling of products, all conducted online.
Methods to measure how users are interact with webpages and content. Examples of engagement metrics include: Click-through rate, Conversion rate, Bounce rate, Time on page/site, New vs. returning visitors, Frequency and recency, Dwell time.
This is a hyperlink that originates from a website but points to an external, rather than an internal, domain address.
For certain queries, usually questions (i.e., who/what/where/when/why/how), Google sometimes shows a special block above the organic search results. This box contains a summary (in the form of paragraph, list, table, or video), as well as the publication date, page title, link to the webpage from which the answer originated, and URL.
Fetch as Google
A feature in Google Search Console in which you can simulate what a Googlebot actually ‘sees’ or crawls on your page. Extremely convenient to spot bugs or errors that might affect your website’s SEO.
How easily the content on a website can be discovered, both internally (by users) and externally (by search engines).
Links that appear in the bottom section (or “footer) of a website.
Generic anchor text
Anchor text that uses generic keywords, such as “click here,” or “visit this site.”
A method of targeting users based on their geographical location. This is usually done because you want to display different content or ads to your visitors depending on where they are.
The search engine founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in September 1998. Google marked a radical departure from human-edited web directories, relying on web crawling technology and a complex algorithm to analyze hyperlinking patterns to rank websites. Google is the most-used search engine in nearly every country in the world.
Google’s social networking service where users can create profiles, organize in sharing groups called circles and join communities. Companies, organizations can set up a Google+ page (like in Facebook) to connect to and communicate with their fanbase.
An advertising service developed by Google where users bid on keywords in order for their ads to appear in Google and its advertising network. This is what Morningscore is trying to save you money on by helping you improve your SEO and showing you its value compared to paid traffic from Google Ads.
A content change notification service. You can set it up to follow various keywords and phrases and get an e-mail when content with those keywords gets indexed.
Google Analytics (GA)
A free to use set of Internet-based tools developed and offered by Google that enables webmasters to track all sorts of information about their site, including traffic, traffic sources, visitor behavior, bounce rate and much more.
A search feature that provides suggestions while the user is typing in the query into the search box. It is an excellent source of long tail keyword ideas as it displays most commonly searched phrases.
A practice intended to make a website rank number one for a surprising or controversial search phrase. This was accomplished by having a large number of websites link to a certain webpage with specific anchor text to help it rank for that term.
The web crawling system Google uses to find and add new websites and webpages to its index.
A term used starting in 2002 for the volatile period of time during which Google updated its search index, roughly every month.
A Google search algorithm that was officially announced in September 2013 after it had been in use for a month. The purpose of Hummingbird was to better understand the full context of queries (i.e., semantic search), rather than certain keywords, in order to provide better results.
Google Keyword Planner
A keyword research tool that is a part of Google Ads service. You can use it in two ways. Get keyword ideas based on words, phrases or a URL related to your business. Or, you can use your existing keyword list and get data for it including average search volume for the last year and the expected number of clicks and impressions for the next 30 days.
A web service offering traditional road maps, satellite imagery, 360o panoramic street view, and route planning. Having a listing here is very important for your local SEO as it increases your chances of being displayed in a rich snippet called the map pack.
Google Mobile-Friendly Test
In the past years, Google has been putting more and more importance on responsive, mobile-friendly websites. Since so many users now browse from their mobiles and Google sets a high standard on good user experience, mobile friendliness has become an important ranking factor.
Google My Business
With Google My Business you are able to create and update your business listing. The information you set here will be used in local search results and display your business on the Google map. It will also be used to display a Business panel to the right of the traditional search results in the SERPs. This panel will include images, map location, user generated content (reviews), information on your opening hours, phone address, website and it might even include a knowledge graph relevant for your business.
A negative impact on your search ranking due to a manual action or algorithmic penalty. These happen due to an update to the search algorithm or because you did not follow Google’s guidelines.
Google PageSpeed Insights
A tool created to analyze your website’s content in order to determine the page speed and show you what to do to make it faster.
Google Panda Algorithm
A major Google algorithm update that initially rolled out in February 2011, it was followed by numerous subsequent updates. The goal of Google Panda was to reduce the visibility of low-value content, often produced by “content farms. In 2016, Panda became part of Google’s core ranking algorithm.
Google Penguin Algorithm
A major Google algorithm that launched in April 2012, it was followed by a series of updates and refreshes. The goal of Penguin was to reduce the visibility of overly-optimized sites, or sites that excessively abused certain spammy tactics (e.g., building low-quality links, keyword stuffing). In 2016, Penguin started running in real-time as a part of Google’s core algorithm.
Google Search Console (GSC)
Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools) is another free service provided by Google for website owners. Verifying your website with GSC is considered an SEO best practice. Once you claim ownership, you’ll get access to tons of tools to help you optimize your website and monitor its growth.
Google’s related searches
Eight suggestions at the bottom of the SERP, that are related to your search term. The suggestions here can be scraped for long tail keyword inspiration or for discovering user interests.
A website where you can explore data visualizations on the latest search trends, stories, and topics.
Google Webmaster Guidelines
The big Rulebook of the Big G. In reality, it’s ‘just’ a support doc in which all the best, as well as worst practices for optimizing a website, are outlined. It’s a bit like a bible for SEO except it tends to change a lot, which is just one of the reasons that keeping up with SEO best practices can be so hard.
Graphic display ads
Also known as banner ads. Ads appearing at the top of webpages which usually consist of a logo, image, and text.
Heading tags – which are numbered from H1 to H6 – are commonly used terms for titles and headlines. Making use of a variety of header tags is a great way to add some extra structure and hierarchy to your web pages which makes it easier for both humans and search bots to read.
Each time a file is downloaded from your site is considered a hit. This includes your page’s HTML files, images, videos, graphics, buttons etc. A website page has on average 15 hits.
Used to mark up pages of a multilingual site. Using this attribute you can make sure that users have the page displayed in the right language based on the language they use in their query.
The ‘posh’ name for a link from one place to another on the web.
The default, or introductory webpage, of a website.
A server configuration file that can be used to rewrite and redirect URLs.
HTML source code
HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the standard markup language used to create web pages and applications. The HTML source code is the format readable to humans and it is the only stage where we can modify the code before the compiler translates it into what you see in your browser.
The Hypertext Transfer Protocol is how data is transferred from a computer server to a web browser.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure uses a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to encrypt data transferred between a website and web browser. HTTPS is a minor Google ranking factor.
An authoritative central resource (e.g., page or article), dedicated to a specific topic (keyword), that is continually updated and linked to, and also links out to topically-relevant webpages.
Marketing techniques that bring potential customers in to your company by providing them with valuable content. Contrasted with outbound marketing.
A link from an external source/website that is directed to your website. Another word for a backlink.
Information presented in graphic or image form to make it readily accessible and understandable.
One of the automated tasks of a search engine bot, in which a copy of a website’s pages is saved in a huge database from which SERP positions are determined.
A webpage that has been discovered by a crawler, has been added to a search engine index, and is eligible to appear in search results for relevant queries.
Links that point from one area of a website to another within the same domain. They help to improve a site’s usability for all visitors, both humans and search bots.
How a website is organized and where various content and navigational elements are located on webpages.
The process of searching for information (e.g., text, images, video) from a large database and then presenting the most relevant information to an end user.
This refers to the practice of optimizing everything that is related to your images, photos or other types of graphics. How to improve it? Fill in your alt text, add more textual elements around your images such as captions, as well as to make optimized your images so it load quickly on your website.
A number that indicates how many people have visited a certain webpage or viewed a certain piece of content.
An Internet Protocol Address. IP addresses can be: Shared: Numerous websites share an address within one server or a group of servers (a.k.a., virtual hosting). Or Dedicated: A website has its own address. Neither will help you rank better; however, a dedicated IP address can increase site speed.
Key performance indicator (KPI)
It is a metric that you set yourself to measure how effectively your business or team is performing toward reaching a business objective. Some examples of KPIs in the SEO industry are monthly organic traffic, keywords in top 3 SERPs, retention rate, the number of backlinks and many, many more.
Keywords are two to five-word phrases that your potential website visitors would type into a search engine when looking for you (or a business like yours). Choosing the right keywords for your web pages is essential if you want to get plenty of targeted traffic to your website.
Keyword anchor text
Links whose anchor text is made up of relevant keywords.
A percentage that is calculated by looking at the number of keywords that appear on a web page and dividing that figure by the divided by the total number of words on the page. Too low is not good, too high is very bad, as far as search engines are concerned. And although this is subject to change ideally a keyword density of 2-4% is a good number to aim for.
The process of discovering any relevant topics, subjects, and terms searchers enter into search engines, as well as the volume and competition level of those terms. This practice is made possible by a variety of free and paid tools.
Keyword phrase anchor links
Links that use keywords or phrases as anchor text.
Keyword stuffing is the practice of overloading a web page with keywords in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Ten years ago websites got away with doing this and some even did well in the SERPs because of it. Now it’s one of the quickest ways to devalue any content contained on your site in the eyes of the search bots (and of most humans)
Any webpage that a visitor can navigate to. Also its a standalone webpage that is designed to capture leads or generate conversions.
A person who may or may not be interested in your product(s) and/or service(s). A lead willingly shares their email address (and usually other personal or contact information) in exchange for something they deem of value from the website.
The practice of getting leads interested in your company’s products or services.
A connection between two websites built using HTML code. A link enables users to navigate to websites, social networks, and apps. Links play a critical role in how search engines evaluate and rank websites. Also known as: Backlink.
Intentionally provocative content that is meant to grab people’s attention and attract links from other websites.
The value of inbound links, in terms of relevance, authority, and trust.
A process designed to get other trusted and relevant websites to link to your website to help improve your organic search rank and visibility.
Local SEO refers to actions you can take to make sure that your site appears in search results when someone is looking for a business in your area.
A file that records users’ information, such as IP addresses, type of browser, Internet Service Provider (ISP), date/time stamp, referring/exit pages, and number of clicks.
Log File Analysis
The process of exploring the data contained in a log file to identify trends, administer the site, track user’s movement around the site, gather demographic information, and understand how search bots are crawling the website.
Long tail keyword
A phrase (or keyword) that contains a combination of four words or more that is used in order to describe something in a more accurate way. Long tail keywords are less competitive and help target a more defined audience, which can help improve your conversion.
A tag that can be added to the “head section of an HTML document. It acts as a description of a webpage’s content. This content isn’t used in ranking algorithms, but is often displayed as the “snippet that appears in the search results. Accurate and engaging descriptions can increase organic click-through rate.
A tag that can be added to the “head section of an HTML document. Adding a bunch of keywords here won’t help you rank – search engine algorithms have ignored this tag for ranking purposes for years due to abuse (in the form of keyword stuffing).
Information that appears in the HTML source code of a webpage to describe its contents to search engines. The title tag and meta description are the most commonly used types of meta tags in SEO.
(See SEO title.)
A way to measure activity and performance in order to assess the success (or lack thereof) of an SEO initiative.
A complete replica of a website, placed on a different URL. They are used when the original website generates too much traffic for the server to support. Mirror sites serve the population in different locations (different continents) and ensure a good user experience and fast page load.
A website optimized for viewing on a mobile device. This can be done in one of two ways, either by having a mobile version of your website or making the website responsive (the website scales down or changes its layout based on device screen size).
Mobile first index
An algorithm update (rumored to have begun in - early 2018), in which Google ranks websites based on their mobile version – even when results are displayed on a desktop.
Improving a website so it is well suited for viewing and interaction via a mobile device. Optimizing for a mobile device usually means that the layout will need to be readjusted, the text will need to be readjusted for easy reading, any navigation or CTA buttons enlarged, and image size optimized.
A meta tag that tells search engines not to store a cached copy of your page.
A meta tag that tells search engines not to follow one specific outbound link. This is done in cases when a website doesn’t want to pass authority to another webpage or because it’s a paid link. The nofollow attribute looks like this: <a href=”http://www.example.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Anchor text goes here</a>
A noindex tag is a piece of HTML code that prevents a page’s contents from being listed in the Google web index even if other sites link to it.
A meta tag that tells search engines not to show a description with your listing.
Demand generation and brand awareness activities that take place outside of a website. In addition to link building, promotion tactics can include social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, influencer marketing, and even offline marketing channels (e.g., TV, radio, billboards).
These activities all take place within a website. In addition to publishing relevant, high-quality content, on-page SEO includes optimizing HTML code (e.g., title tags, meta tags), information architecture, website navigation, and URL structure.
The natural, or unpaid, listings that appear on a SERP. Organic search results, which are analyzed and ranked by algorithms, are designed to give users the most relevant result based on their query.
Organic rank is the position of a website in the traditional organic SERP listings. It is the rank you achieve by using SEO methods and not by SEM.
Site traffic that comes to your website as a result of unpaid search results. The main reason that SEO exists in the first place.
Any webpage that is not linked to by any other pages on that website.
Links pointing to external URLs outside the website. The same as an external link.
A type of marketing in which bloggers and online influencers are approached with the objective of obtaining recognition, in the form of either links or a social media share.
A clear permission by a user/customer that the marketer may send direct messages (usually emails). Many countries have clear legislation concerning sending direct messages and sending unsolicited commercial messages can earn you a hefty fine.
A clear statement by the user wanting to be removed from a mailing list. Usually done via an unsubscribe button in the mail itself or adjusting settings in a profile. Most countries have legislation set in place that obligates the sender to give a clear chance for the user to stop getting further commercial emails.
According to Google: “PageRank is the measure of the importance of a page based on the incoming links from other pages. In simple terms, each link to a page on your site from another site adds to your site’s PageRank. Not all links are equal.” The algorithm was named after Google co-founder Larry Page.
The amount of time it takes for a webpage to completely load. Page speed is ranking factor.
Where keywords are placed on a webpage.
An internet marketing system in which you place an ad on a website and then pay each time a visitor clicks on that ad.
A web analytics metric defined as the total number of pages viewed on a website within a given amount of time. The higher your pageviews number is, the better.
Pay-per-click advertisements that appear above (and often below) the organic results on search engines.
One of Google’s biggest algorithm updates (from 2011). Panda was introduced in order to combat poor quality websites making their way in the search results.
Stands for Private Blog Network.
Stands for Portable Document Format file. PDFs can contain text, images, links, videos, and other elements.
Hypertext Preprocessor is a scripting language used to create dynamic content on webpages.
When, after entering a query, a searcher bounces back and forth between a SERP and the pages listed in those search results.
Digital audio files that are usually part of a series, like radio shows.
One of Google’s other big algorithm updates (from 2012). Penguin was brought about to fight against spammy websites appearing in search results, as a result of link schemes, i.e. buying links or link exchange. This is highly frowned upon, and against Webmaster Guidelines.
In SEO, a position refers to a website’s rank in the search engine results page. A page’s position is dependant on more than 200 factors, and some of those change all the time.
Stands for query deserves freshness, where a search engine might decide to show newer webpages in search results (rather than older pages) if a particular search term is trending, perhaps because a news event has resulted in a surge in searches on that topic.
Content that helps you successfully achieve business or marketing goals (e.g., driving organic traffic or social shares, earning top search rankings, generating leads/sales).
An inbound link that originates from an authoritative, relevant, or trusted website.
In search terms, a query is basically the word or phrase that is entered into a search box when someone is looking for something online.
Where a webpage appears within the organic search results for a specific query.
An artificial intelligence program developed by Google that is used to process queries. In addition to being able to understand user SERP behavior, they have a mechanism for understanding semantics, and relationships between topics and queries.
An individual component which contributes to a complex series of algorithms that determine where webpages should appear with the organic search results for a specific query. For years, Google has said that its algorithms “rely on more than 200 unique signals” to help users find the most relevant webpage or answer. Also known as: Ranking Signal.
When two websites agree to exchange links to one another.
A technique that sends a user (or search engine) who requested one webpage to a different (but equally relevant) webpage. There are two types of redirects: "301: Permanent" and "302: Temporary".
URL data that identifies the source of a user’s webpage request.
All traffic coming into your website outside of the search engine. Here we include all the backlinks you have gathered and links from other platforms like social media.
The process of asking a search engine to return a website or webpage(s) to its search index after de-indexing.
A way search engines measure how closely connected the content of a webpage is aligned to match the context of a search query.
Relative URL (Relative link, Relative path)
A link used for internal linking. It is a short path to a file, HTML page, image or something else we link to. This link is used as a part of the anchor tag but doesn’t contain a protocol or domain name. Example of an anchor tag using a relative path: <a href=”/images/logo.png”>Our logo</a>
A website designed to automatically adapt to a user’s screen size, whether it’s being viewed on a desktop or mobile device.
Structured data can be added to the HTML of a website to provide contextual information to the search engines during crawling. This information can then be displayed in the SERPs, resulting in an enhanced listing, known as a rich snippet.
The Robots Exclusion Protocol (or Standard) is a text file, accessible at the root of a website, that tells search engine crawlers which areas of a website should be ignored.
Return on Investment (ROI)
A way to measure the performance of SEO activities. This is calculated by dividing how much revenue you earned via organic search by the cost of the total investment, then multiplying by 100.
Search engine crawlers
An internet bot that systematically scans the World Wide Web so that it can be indexed.
Special search formats that are used to narrow down or get more specific results for a certain query.
In SEO, searcher intent refers to the original purpose or reason why someone entered a query in a search box. Understanding searcher intent will help you form a clear SEO strategy and create better content for your website.
Search query (Query, Search term)
The word or phrase a user writes into a search box in order to get information that matches.
Search result snippet
The part of your search engine listing displayed in the SERPs showing the information from your meta description tag. The traditional organic (or natural) search engine result is made of the title and snippet.
Search visibility is an estimated percentage of clicks you receive based on the organic ranking of your keywords.
The total number of search queries a certain keyword or phrase gets in a certain period of time.
Secondary keywords are the keywords that play a supporting role to your primary keyword. Since over optimizing your content with just one (primary) keyword could easily get interpreted as keyword stuffing and get you penalized, it is a good idea to supplement with other keywords. These are usually long tail and LSI keywords that have a very specific niche and a lower search volume.
Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTPs)
An encrypted, secure version of the HTTP protocol that keeps the information that is being sent and received safe from hackers. Google recommends this protocol over the HTTP and offers some benefits to the websites using it like better rankings and data about the referral traffic.
A list of the most relevant keywords to your business. They are usually comprised of only one word and then used to create LSI or long tail keywords. They make the foundation of your keyword research.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or a web page from search engines. SEO targets unpaid traffic rather than direct traffic or paid traffic.
SEO site audit (Site audit, SEO audit)
A complete analysis of a website’s search engine visibility. It’s meant to help you locate errors, issues, and holes in your content that you can use in your SEO strategy.
Sitelinks (Google sitelinks)
Links shown under a search engine result, meant to navigate the user to your subpages.
SEO service (SEO service provider, SEO agency)
A paid service that we utilize to increase online visibility by having our website optimized for search engines.
A form of microdata which, once added to a webpage, creates an enhanced description (commonly known as a rich snippet), which appears in search results.
A technique used to copy website content or information using a computer program or script. Search engines, such as Google, scrape data in order to build a searchable index of websites. Also known as: Web scraping.
A computer program that enables users to enter a query in order to retrieve information (e.g., files, websites, webpages) from that program’s index (i.e., a web search engine, such as Google, indexes websites, webpages, and files found on the World Wide Web). A search index is built and updated using a crawler, with items being analyzed and ranked by a series of algorithms.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The process of optimizing a website – as well as all the content on that website – so it will appear in prominent positions in the organic results of search engines. SEO requires an understanding of how search engines work, what people search for (i.e., keywords and keyphrases), and why people search (intent). Successful SEO makes a site appealing to users and search engines. It is a combination of technical (on-page SEO) and marketing (off-page SEO).
A title tag is technically a piece of HTML code used to tell search engines the ‘name’ of your page. An SEO title can be up to 70 characters long (when optimizing for Google). It can be viewed at the very top of your web page (in a browser’s tab), in your website’s source code, as well as any time your website shows up in a SERP.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search Engine Marketing is a type of Internet marketing that involves paying for advertisements in order to increase your visibility on search results. As opposed to SEO, which is free.
Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
Stands for Search Engine Results Page. A list of pages that shows up when searching for a certain keyword.
Search engines track every search users conduct (text and voice), every webpage visited, and every ad clicked on. Search engines may use this data to personalize the results for signed in users. Also known as: Web Browsing History.
Up to six algorithmically-chosen links that appear below the listing for the same website of a top-ranked organic search result. Pages can be blocked from appearing as sitelinks within the Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools. Also known as: Deep Links (Bing).
A sitemap is in simple terms a plan of your website. Sitemaps tell Google about pages on your site that may otherwise not be discovered. It appears as a list of all your site’s links, and can be accessed by adding sitemap.xml to the end of your site’s URL.
The search engine ‘crawler’ or ‘spider’ which scans your website pages in order to index it. An example of a spider is a Googlebot.
A link that appears on every page of a website, typically in a sidebar or footer of blogs or websites that use templates.
Platforms (websites and apps) where users can interact with each other, as well as create, share, and consume content.
Social media marketing (SMM)
SMM is the process of using social media as a channel that increases your traffic, business visibility and brand awareness by creating engaging, shareable content. SMM does not directly affect ranking in Google, but since social media also counts as a search engine (and a highly used one), optimizing it will definitely pay off.
Any factors that demonstrate authority and influence on popular social networking websites. For example, the social authority of a user on Twitter.
A content syndication method where we distribute the content we made to social media sites in order to increase audience reach and create a buzz.
An introductory page on a website, usually containing a large image or a video, a small amount of content (like a brand name) and a button to continue further to the real content (“Enter site”). It is used as a home page for the website and is meant to showcase and promote the brand.
A controlled experiment used to compare at least two webpages to measure the effects of a different variable on conversions. After the pages are shown for a long enough period of time to site visitors to gather an adequate amount of performance data, a “winner” can be declared. Also known as: A/B Testing.
An encryption protocol that renders a website safer for users. SSL-encrypted websites have an “s” added in their addresses; i.e. https://, rather than just https://.
Structured data and schema
Special website code that gives search engines extra information about the content on your website; that information is sometimes displayed in search results, such as star ratings.
The response codes sent by a server whenever a link is clicked, a webpage or file is requested, or a form is submitted. Common HTTP status codes important to SEO:
- 200 (OK)
- 404 (Not Found)
- 410 (Gone)
- 500 (Internal Service Error)
- 503 (Service Unavailable)
A frequently used word. For example: a, at, for, is, of, on, the. Search engines have, in the past, ignored these words to save time/resources when indexing. Search engines have evolved greatly since the early days, and stop words sometimes are meaningful, so this isn’t something to worry much about for SEO purposes.
A subdomain is a domain that is part of the main domain. For example a subdomain.example.com and another subdomain2.example.com are a both subdomains of example.com.
The action of making search engines aware of your new web page by manually submitting a URL in order to have it indexed faster.
Organizing and categorizing a website to maximize content findability and help users complete desired on-site tasks.
The portion of your web page that the visitor can see without scrolling. It is the first impression your visitor gets and can influence the bounce rate and dwell time.
Time on Page
An inexact estimation of how long a user spent looking at a particular webpage. Pages with high exit rates can greatly skew this data.
Time on Page
This metric can be found on the Google Analytics’ software. It indicates the time visitors spend on one web page. A higher time on page is associated with a better ranking.
The title tag <title> is used to indicate the title of a webpage to search engines. The title tag is one of the most important SEO related elements on the page, and may be implemented by Google and other search engines as the main title in a search engine result snippet.
Top-Level Domain (TLD)
The extension of a given web address. These include: ".com", ".org", ".net", and ".info".
The people (and sometimes bots) who visit your website.
Generally applies to the history of a domain (e.g., whether it cites or features expert sources, builds a positive reputation, adheres to Webmaster Guidelines).
A link analysis technique used to separate good “reputable seed pages” from web spam.
This stands for “Uniform Resource Locator”. A URL is the address of a specific web page or file on the Internet.
The values added to a URL in order to track where traffic comes from (i.e., which link someone clicked on to discover your website or webpage).
How easy it is for people to use your website. Site design, browser compatibility, disability enhancements, and other factors all play a role in improving usability and making your site accessible for as many people as possible.
Web crawling software.
User Experience (UX)
The overall feeling users are left with after interacting with a brand, its online presence, and its product/services.
Easy to use and not difficult to learn or understand.
User interface (UI)
Everything displayed on your website that the user can interact with.
A specialized type of search where the focus is only on a specific topic, type of content, or media. For example, YouTube (video), Amazon (shopping), Kayak (travel), Yelp (business reviews).
A process of increasing the search visibility of a video, usually on YouTube. There are two parts for this process – one being optimizing your channel and the other optimizing the video itself.
A bot that uses natural language processing to perform tasks, such as conducting web searches. For instance, Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana.
The prominence and positions a website occupies within the organic search results.
A type of voice-activated technology that allows users to speak into a device (usually a smartphone) to ask questions or conduct an online search.
A document that exists on the World Wide Web and can be viewed by web browsers.
A predesigned webpage that one can purchase and use as a design for their own content.
A collection of webpages hosted together on the World Wide Web.
How a website connects its webpages to help visitors navigate that site.
The time it takes for your website’s page to load. Basically, the faster the better is the standard golden rule here.
Website structure (Site structure, Website architecture)
Website structure is a term that refers to the form your pages and links create. Imagine drawing a map of your website on a piece of paper with lines representing links between them. This link web is your structure and how it is executed matters for the site relevance. It is also important that it is clear and logical to simplify navigation.
White Hat SEO
The opposite of the black hat techniques described earlier. White hat SEO refers to the usage of SEO strategies, techniques and tactics that focus on a human audience opposed to search engines and completely follow search engine rules and policies.
The total number of words that appear within the copy of content. Too little (or thin) content can be a signal of low-quality to search engines.
A popular blogging and content management system.
Extensible Markup Language is a markup language search engines use to understand website data.
A list of all the pages on a website that search engines need to know.
Yahoo was born in April 1994 and was an incredibly popular search engine and portal in the ’90s. Yahoo search was mostly human-powered, at least until June 2000 when a then-unknown search engine called Google began powering Yahoo’s organic search results. That deal continued until 2004, when Yahoo started using its own search technology. Since 2010, Yahoo’s organic search results have been powered by Microsoft’s search engine, Bing.
The most popular search engine in Russia with a market share of 53.28% (0.58% worldwide). The search results in Yandex are divided into geo-independent and geo-dependent. This makes it very easy to promote local businesses as users from different regions will get different search results.
A must-have SEO plugin for WordPress.
The biggest video sharing service (also the second most used search engine) with more than 1.5 billion users. It can also be classified as a social media site and is mostly used by teens for this purpose.
A server response code that indicates all is well on a webpage.
301 Moved Permanently or 301 Redirect
A server response that automatically redirects a user who attempts to visit a certain web address to another one (the one it is redirected to).
302 Found is a response code used for temporary redirection. It is less rarely requested than a 301, and is only used in situations where a redirect is known to be temporary.
404 Not Found
A 404 is an error message displayed by a browser which lets you know that an Internet address cannot be found (page has been deleted, there is a mistake in the URL, etc.).
410 Gone means that a resource is no longer available, and will not be made available again in the future. This is used in situations where a resource has been removed and will not be made available again.
500 Internal Server Error
500 Internal Server Error is a generic error message that means there was a problem that prevented the web page from loading.
Hope this Search Engine Optimization "SEO" Glossary with terms and definitions is very helpful as well as strengthen your understanding of the SEO industry and terminology used.