SEO Glossary: Definitions To Inform You

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This SEO glossary comprises the most important jargon you will be encountered with in the realm of search engine optimisation and related efforts.

 

SEO, like any specialized area, has unique set of terminology, definitions, and abbreviations. I have tried to include only those terms that can be viewed as relatively important to a general understanding or organic search engine optimisation. Any one of these terms could merit a lengthy article by itself and I have linked to pertinent resources where appropriate but for the purposes of this glossary I’ve tried to explain each concept as concisely as possible.  That is this is a list of definitions not topics.

Table of Contents

A

Above the Fold

Content on a website before you scroll.

Algorithm

Program a search engine uses to rank web pages.

Algorithm Change

Changes to the program a search engine uses to rank web pages.

Alt Attribute

HTML code to understand the contents of an image.

Analytics

Tracking what has happened on your websites with regards to users who visit it.

Anchor Text

The words on a hypertext link. 

Authority

A domain’s strength in terms of algorithmic reputation.

B

Backlink/Inbound Link

A link from another web page to a web page on your website.

Black Box

A program where the inputs and the outputs are known but the way the outputs are reached is unknown.

Black Hat

Tactics that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Blog

Content published in chronological order.

Bounce Rate

How many people visit a web page and then leave without visiting any other pages on a websites out of 100 who visit.

Bot/Crawler/Googlebot

Software a search engine uses to read the contents of the internet automatically.

Branded Keyword

When a user’s query includes an exact match, or variation, of a company or brand name.

Broken Link

A link that brings up a 404 error message.

C

Cache

Temporarily stores content to reduce future page loading times.

Cached Page

A snapshot of a webpage when it was crawled.

Canonical URL

An HTML code element that states a preferred website URL to avoid duplicate content.

ccTLD

Country-code top-level domain.

Click Bait

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

How many people click on your search result out of 100 who could have done so. 

Cloaking

Showing different content or URLs to people and search engines.

CMS

Content Management System.

Content

Words, images, videos, or sounds that convey information.

“Content is King”

Content is requiredfor you to have SEO success.

Conversion

When a user does what your want them to do.

Conversion Rate

How many times a user does what you want them to do out of every 100 times a user visits.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Increasing the number and/or quality of conversions.

Correlation

The extent to which a relationship exists between two or more elements. Usually given in the form of the Pearson correlation coefficient where 0 means there is no correlation or relationship at all between two elements and 1 means that both variables move in the same direction together. A correlation of -1 would mean that as one variable goes up, the other goes down.

Crawler

A program search engines use to read the internet.

Crawling

How search engine bots read the internet.

D

Deep Link

A link pointing to a non-home page page of a website.

De-index

Removal from the Index.

Directory/Web Directory/Link Directory

A list of websites, usually separated into categories.

Disavow

A way to tell Google to disregard an inbound link.

Do-follow

A link that doesn’t use the “nofollow” attribute.

Domain

A website address.

Domain Authority

The overall algorithmic strength of a website.

DuckDuckGo

A search engine with a focus on user privacy.

Duplicate Content

When a significant amount of content contained on one webpage matches, or is incredibly similar to, content that exists elsewhere on the same website or a completely different website.

Dwell Time

The amount of time that elapses between when a user clicks on a search result and then returns to the SERP from a website.

E

E-commerce

The buying and selling of products, all conducted online.

Editorial Link

A link that is given by one website to another out of free will (merit).

Engagement Metrics

Methods to measure how users are interact with webpages.

External Link

Link to a webpage on a website other than your own.

F

Featured Snippet

When for who/what/where/when/why/how queries Google shows a special box above the main search results.

Footer Link

Links at the bottom of a website.

G

Google

The world’s number one search engine.

Google Analytics

Program to track traffic.

Google Search Console

Program that allows you to know how Google is crawling, indexing and serving your website in search results.

Google Webmaster Guidelines

Google’s best practices guidelines.

Gray Hat

Mix of ethical and on the edge of unethical SEO tactics.

H

Heading

Heading tags (H1-H6) separate content into sections.

Headline

An H1 tag.

Head Term/Head Keyword/Short-Tail

A popular keyword.

Hidden Text

Any text that can’t be seen by a user.

Homepage

The front page of a website.

.htaccess File

A server configuration file that can be used to rewrite and redirect URLs.

HTML

Hypertext Markup Language.

HTTP

Hypertext Transfer Protocol.

HTTPS

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure uses a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to encrypt data transferred between a website and web browser.

I

Index

The database search engines use to store and retrieve information gathered during the crawling process.

Indexability

How easily a search engine bot can understand and add a webpage to its index.

Indexed Page

A web page that has been crawled and indexed by a search engine and is qualified to be listed in a search engine results page.

Information Architecture

How a website is organized and where various content and navigational elements are located on webpages.

Internal Link

Link to a webpage on the same website.

IP Address

Internet Protocol Address.

K

Keyword

The word, words, or phrase that you seek to rank in search results for..

Keyword Cannibalization

When multiple pages from a website rank for the same search term.

Keyword Research

Finding topics, subjects, and terms searchers are likely to perform searches for in the future.

Keyword Stuffing

Repeating keywords more than is needed to try to rank for that keyword.

KPI

Key Performance Indicator.

L

Landing Page

The web page where a user enters your website.

Lead

A person expresses an interest in discussing a purchase of goods or services.

Link Bait

Content that entices links from other websites.

Link Building

Accruing links to a website.

Link Equity

The value of a link algorithmically.

Link Farm/Network

Outdated spam tactic where a group of websites link to each other.

Link Profile

Every link pointing to a website.

Link Velocity

Speed with which a website gets inbound links.

Long-Tail Keyword

Less popular keywords that are more specific.

M

Manual Action

A Google penalty.

Meta Description

A tag to describe what a webpage is about.

N

Nofollow Attribute

A meta tag that tells search engines bots not to follow a specific outbound link.

Noindex Tag

A meta tag that tells search engines not to index a webpage.

O

Off-Page SEO

Brand awareness that takes place outside of a website.

On-Page SEO

Publishing relevant, quality content along with optimizing HTML code, information architecture, website navigation, and URL structure.

Organic Search

Merit based search.

Outbound Link

A link that directs visitors to a page on a different website than the one they are currently on.

P

PageRank

PageRank is a measure of the importance of a page based on the incoming links from other pages.

Page Speed

How long a webpage takes to load completely.

Pageview

A webpage is loaded in a browser.

Paid Search

Pay-per-click advertisements that appear above (and often below) the organic results on search engines.

PDF

Portable Document Format.

Personalization

When search engines use search history, web browsing history, location, and relationships to create a set of search results tailored to a specific user.

PHP

Hypertext Preprocessor is a scripting language used to create dynamic content on webpages.

Q

QDF

Query Deserves Freshness.

Quality Content

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).

Quality Link

An inbound link that originates from an authoritative, relevant, or trusted website.

Query or Search

What a person types into a search engine.

R

Rank

Where a webpage appears within the organic search results for a specific query.

Ranking Factor/Signal

A single factor that is part of the several hundred ranking factors that makes up the Google algorithm.

Reciprocal Links

When two websites agree to exchange links to one another.

Redirect

Sends a user who requested one webpage to a different webpage.

Reinclusion

The process of asking a search engine to return a website or webpage(s) to its search index after de-indexing.

Relevance

A way search engines measure how closely connected the content of a webpage is aligned to match the context of a search query.

Responsive Website

A website that automatically adapts to a user’s screen size.

Rich Snippet

Structured data added to the HTML of a website to provide contextual information to search engines.

robots.txt

Robots Exclusion Protocol.

S

Schema

Microdata which creates an enhanced description for search engines.

Search Engine

A program that allows users to enter a query in order to retrieve information.

Search Engine Marketing

SEO & PPC.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The process of optimizing a website for the purposes of heightened search engine visibility & traction.

Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

The page a search engine returns after a user submits a search query.

Search History/Browsing History

What you have searched for in the past.

Sitelinks

Algorithmically-selected links that appear below the listing for the same website of a #1 ranked search result.

Sitemap

A list of pages on a website.

Sitewide Links

A link that appears on all pages of a website.

Social Signal

Factors that infer authority and influence on social media.

SSL Certificate

Used for website identity authentication and to encrypt information sent to the server.

Subdomain

A separate section that exists within a domain.

T

Taxonomy

Organizing and categorizing a website.

Time on Page

How long a user spent looking at a webpage.

Title Tag

Tag used as the title of a webpage.

Top-Level Domain (TLD)/gTLD (Generic Top-Level Domain)/Domain Extension

The extension of a web address.

Traffic

People who visit a website.

TrustRank

A link analysis method to find reputable web pages.

U

User-Generated Content

Content created by users.

Universal Search

When search engines pull display images, videos, news, shopping, and other types of results.

Unnatural Link

Any link Google regards as suspicious, deceptive, or manipulative.

URL

Uniform Resource Locator.

URL Parameter/Query String

Characters added to a URL to track where traffic originated.

Usability

Ease with which people can use your website.

User Experience

How well your website services user needs and expectations.

V

Visibility

The prominence of a website within organic search results.

Voice Search

Voice-activated technology that lets users conduct an online search.

W

Webpage

A document on the World Wide Web and can be viewed by web browsers.

Website

A collection of webpages hosted together on the World Wide Web.

Website Navigation/Internal Links/Site Architecture

How a website connects its webpages to help users navigate efficiently around the site.

Webspam

Any methods that exist solely to deceive or manipulate search engine algorithms and/or users.

White Hat

Tactics that comply with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Word Count

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.

WordPress

A popular blogging and content management system.

X

XML

Extensible Markup Language.

References

What impact will voice search have on SEO in 2020?