This glossary of SEO terms isn’t exhaustive. It does contain the majority of commonly used terms as well as a lot of terms which are used less commonly. If you have anything to add please leave a comment below. If you find this page helpful please bookmark it and share it over social media.
Above the fold: The portion of the web page that you see when it first loads without having to scroll. Also used to mean areas which your eyes are drawn to, or the areas in which search engines favour content because they are more likely to be viewed by visitors.
A/B Test: Creates two similar pages for the same purpose in order to test which performs better. Named A/B because half of visitors who click a link on site are taken to page A and half take to page B and then analytics records metrics after the split.
Adwords: Google’s pay per click(PPC) paid (sponsored) advertising system. Adverts are shown as the top results on Google or down the right hand side.
Ad Copy: The Paid search equivalent of a meta description – the text you see in the image above for example.
Affiliate Marketing: Selling a product or service, made by somebody else, on your website for commission. Commonly bloggers use affiliate marketing as their main revenue stream.
Algorithm: The function which search engines use to return results after a search is made. Generally, most of the factors which different engine’s algorithms uses to rank websites are kept a secret.
Analytics: tools which you can use to collect, store and represent data on people who have visited your website.
Anchor Text: The user created text for a link which describes the destination and hides the URL. Generally blue and underlined.
API: Application program interface, coding libraries which allow two programs to talk to each other in as simple a manner as possible.
Audit: Having a program or person go over a web page to suggest SEO improvements.
Authorship: Marking up the author of a blog article to appear in Google’s news feed.
B2B sales: Business to business sales
B2C sales: Business to consumer sales
Backlink: A link built from one site to another. Search engines often use backlinks as a ranking factor on the idea that people don’t link to low quality sites. See page rank.
Bait and switch: Black hat method of changing the content of a page after it has achieved a good ranking so content that wouldn’t normally rank highly can get to the top of the
SERP. Not particularly effective any more.
Black hat: Techniques like keyword stuffing which have historically helped with SEO but are frowned upon by search engines.
Blog: Web pages written in the style of a diary, updated chronologically and often used as diary’s for specific themes. Search engines like blogs because they are usually logically laid out and regularly updated.
Blog Farm: A group of interlinked blogs used to boost each other’s rankings. Content is automatically generated by software that gets data from other blogs and rewrites it.
Bounce: People who visit your site and then quickly leave. Commonly because site loads slowly or the content doesn’t match what they expected to find.
Bounce Rate: The percentage of visitors to your site which bounce. A low bounce rate is considered desirable for SEO. Use analytics to measure bounce rate.
Bread Crumbs: A navigational tool which allows for easy navigation on a web page back to where you came from.
Broken Link: If a URL moves without a 301 redirect you get left with a broken link and usually a 404 page
Caching: Saves a copy of your webpage’s coding on your server to improve page load time.
Call to Action (CTA): Suggestion is a powerful marketing tool. Saying “call today” will make a user more likely to call today. These little encouragements to take an action are known as call to actions(CTA).
Canonical URL: If you have the same piece of content on multiple URLs to avoid duplicate content issues with search engines you assign one URL as the canonical URL – which is the main or best URL for the search engine to list.
Content Delivery Network(CDN): Are businesses with servers all over the world, they sell their server space on monthly subscriptions to improve international traffic speed to your website by proximity.
Click through rate(CTR): The percentage of all searches for a specific keyword which click onto a specific website – e.g. 100 searches for optimise-u, 10 click onto http://www.optimise-u.co.uk = 10% click through rate.
Competitor Analysis: Various techniques to estimate where a competitor gets their traffic from and how they funnel that traffic into lead generation.
Content management system (CMS): E.g. WordPress. A system which allows for quicker or easier publishing of a website than traditional coding.
Conversion rate optimisation(CRO): The practice of maximising the turnover of visitors into paying customers.
Conversion Tracking: Measuring the percent of your visitors who translate into a goal you have set, for example buying a product.
Content: The visible aspect of a page – EG. videos, images and text – which aren’t code.
Cost per action(CPA): Advertising term for payment on result. A target outcome – EG. buying a product – is defined and payment is made each time this target is hit.
Cost per click(CPC): A common method of paying for advertising. Payment is only made when the advert is clicked on taking the user to a desired destination. Used by Google Adwords and many other sites. See PPC
Cost per mille(CPM): Also known as cost per thousand impressions. Advertising price is based off every thousand times the advert is served or loaded on a website/popup. Commonly used in banner advertising.
Crawlers: Programs which collect data on the internet going from page to page. Search engines use these to index websites.
Crawl depth: The level of your website that crawlers go to – most websites block crawlers from certain areas.
Dark/Deepweb: The parts of the internet which can’t be traditionally indexed and require special browsers to visit.
Deep Content: Pages deep within a website’s index. Usually 2 layers away from the homepage.
Directory: Similar to search engines. A website used to index other websites of a specific theme – Eg. yell.com
Disavow: The process of unapproving a link to your website which means that search engines don’t take the link into account if it is from an irrelevant source.
Domain authority(DA): A measure of a website (or domain). Search engines use this to vet backlinks.
Duplicate Content: Content which can be found identically in two different places. Google doesn’t approve of this and if you have duplicate content you should prevent it from being indexed.
Ecommerce/Estore: An online sales platform.
Ego Bait: is A strategy whereby you create content with the main intention of appealing to a target’s ego and (hopefully) getting a link, share or recognition from them in return..***
Engageability: How well optimised a web page is for encouraging people to spend time on it.
Fetch as Google: Part of Google’s Webmaster Tools. Fetch as Google allows webmasters to view their website as Googlebot does. Fetch as Google is used to find errors on page which may not appear when using the webmasters computer and can be used to view the website as various different devices – e.g smartphone or tablet to find device specific errors.
Footer : An area at the bottom of web pages which can be edited separately to the main page. The footer is usually the same across all pages of a website.
GEO Targeting : Targeting an advert to a specific location or ‘GEO’.
Googlebot: Google’s crawler – see spiders. Collects information by visiting websites and indexing their code to return information from searches.
Grey Hat: SEO Techniques which may be frowned on or considered cheating but aren’t expressly forbidden.
Guest Post: Making a guest appearance on somebody else’s blog. People often make guest posts to promote their own content or build links under the guise of useful content.
Hyper text markup language (HTML): The most common coding language on the internet. Used to design websites and markup data.
Hyperlink:A link from one document or website going elsewhere. Hyperlinks most commonly link one webpage to another, however the term also covers links to and from emails, office suits’ such as word, excel etc.
Inbound Links: The backlinks which point to a website are that website’s inbound links.
Index: The database in which search engines store websites. Also used as (to) index – the practise of using a crawler to add websites to this database.
Indexability: How logically a site is laid out defines how easy it is for a crawler to index the site – or it’s indexability.
kebab-case: The industry standard HTML class syntax – HTML is not case sensitive and it is a good practice to use hyphens to split multiWord classes. (see caMel case and Classes)
Keyword: The word or phrase used in a search (this usage means the same as search term). Also words used on a website to target specific search terms.
Keyword Density: The percentage of the text on a page taken up by a keyword. There is no clear golden percentage for keyword density and it is more important to write naturally.
Keyword Research/planning: Using tools like the adwords keyword planner to choose what keywords you want to target on a page.
Keyword Stuffing: Writing text in an unnatural way to add more keywords with the goal of improving search rankings. Hasn’t been an effective SEO technique for a long time.
Keyword Targeting: Using SEO techniques with the aim of appearing for a specific search keyword or phrase rather than just improving general website traffic.
Knowledge graph: A database Google is collecting which returns relevant information to a search so that queries can be answered without having to leave Google. See Rich Snippets.
Landing page: A page optimised generally to target one specific search term or group. Also landing pages are generally ultra optimised for selling one product.
Leads: Another word for potential client (pre sale).
Lead generation: The method you use to get clients.
Link Bait: Snappy articles designed to generate inbound links (to help SEO) and to catch a reader’s attention.
Link Building: The process of building backlinks to a website to improve SEO rankings. John Mueller has said that link building is a bad idea for SEO. This is disputed.
Link Circle: Method of creating reciprocal links designed to retain the link juice. Person a builds a link to person B. Instead of building one back person B builds a link to person C who builds a link back to person A.
Link Juice:: The authority passed on by building a link.
Link Spam: Creating links from many websites to your own whether they are relevant websites or not with the goal of generating traffic.
Link Quality: The domain authority of a website which builds a link linking offset against how relevant the link is. Link quality is used to determine what effect creating a link will have on SEO.
Long Tail Keywords: Targeting multiple word search terms which are more specific and usually easier to rank for than shorter keywords. Long tail keywords often result in better conversions into paying customers as they are more specific but can generate less traffic
Latent Semantic Indexing: A system used where the subject of a text (or web page) can be identified by the context of keywords within the page. Google use machine learning and are getting very accurate with their LSI.
Meta Description: The text that you see on a search engine which describes a site on the SERP.
Meta Tags: A set of HTML tags which help search engines index a website.
Meta Title: The title of a website, can be seen above the description on the SERPs.
Microdata, Microformats: Microdata and Microformats are both extensions of HTML 5.0 which allow markup of data in ways that search engines can understand. These markups have allowed for the evolution of Google’s knowledge graph.
Minify Code: To make coding as optimised for page speed as possible by shortening it. There is often more than one way to achieve coding goals. Literally means to make mini, by reducing file size you decrease page load speed.
Naked link(Naked URL): A link with no anchor text
Natural Listings: The non paid for search results – all results except sponsored listings.
News Feed: Search results which show recently written articles and blogs usually high up on search engines natural listings. The news feed usually only keeps articles for 48 hours maximum.
Nofollow: A tag to prevent search engines from crawling aa link.
Noindex: A tag to prevent search engines from indexing a page.
Off page: Stands for off page off page search engine optimisation(SEO). Practises which include link building and social signals which can benefit search engine rankings.
On page: Stands for on page search engine optimsation(SEO). Generally involves optimising a website’s code and content to rank highly on search engines.
Organic Listing: Like natural listings, the organic results (listings) are all the unpaid search results, not including rich snippets and knowledge graph results.
Page rank: One of Google’s algorithms named after Larry Page. Page rank works off the idea that a webpage with a lot of inbound links is more reliable and should rank higher then websites without inbound links. Based off citations in scientific studies – if a study is cited a lot it should be reliable.
Page Speed: Page speed is a search engine ranking factor. Often SEOs presume everybody is aware of this so bad page speed can be synonymous to bad rankings.
Paid search: The sponsored search results which are paid for e.g. Google Adwords
Pay Per Click(PPC): Paying for for advertising on a cost per click(CPC) basis.
Proxy: A proxy cloaks your I.P address so in theory your internet habits are less traceable.
Private blog network(PBN): A black hat method where one owns several blogs on the same subject all linking in a circle to each other for the illusion of reliability.
Quality Score: A score given by an advert based on how relevant and successful the website being advertised is predicted to perform. The quality score can adjust cost of advertising. Used predominantly for paid search engine adverts – EG. Google Adwords.
Ranking Factor: The factors which search engine’s algorithms use to rank websites against each other in their SERPs.
Readability: How easy it is to read the content of a page. Depending on your target audience, a recent study multiple studies I have done have shown if you want to rank well on Google readability is one of the strongest factors. As AI continues to improve this will become even more apparent.
Reciprocal link: Person A links to Person B who links back to Person A. Search engines generally find reciprocal link to have less authority against regular backlinks.
Redirect (301): Can be used to change the URL of a web page without losing it’s authority.
Redirect (404): Page not found errors. A 404 often means that content has been moved without setting up a 301 redirect.
Responsive website: A website that works conveniently with mobile devices such as phone and tablet. Seen as good for SEO.
Return on investment(ROI): The monetary returns from an advert weighed against the price of this advert.
Robots.txt: A file in the root directory of a web site which tells crawler how to behave.
Rich Snippets: Marking your webpages up with structured data can result in rich snippets on search engines. These snippets improve your listing by showing the data you have marked up on SERPs.
Scraper Sites: are made by programs which crawl the internet for a specific subject and rewrite existing content to build new pages or whole websites (scrape together) with unique text but no new unique content.
Search Engine Marketing(SEM): Advertising on search engines both using paid search and search engine optimisation(SEO)
Search Engine Optimisation(SEO): The process of improving a web page so that it ranks better on search engines. Blanket term for both on page and off page SEO techniques.
Search Engine Results Page(SERP): A search engine’s results page after a search is made.
Sitemap: A collection of all the pages of a website presented in a logical order for search engines to crawl. Coding can be used to markup how frequently crawler should visit a website.
Social Followers: People who follow what a person is doing on their Social Media.
Social media: Sites where users interact with each other socially in different ways – E.g. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, linkedIn, Pintrest and Instagram.
Social Media Marketing(SMM): Using social media to promote a product or service. Includes both paid advertising and general social media promotion.
Social Shares: (usually the number of) people sharing a piece of content which person A has posted on their social media account so that all of person B’s social followers can see it.
Social Signals: Shares, likes, followers or other factors from social media can potentially help with SEO. There is an ongoing debate about whether it is direct cause or indirect effect from link building or other reasons as to what impact social signals have on SEO.
Spider: See crawler.
Squeeze Page: See landing page. These one page websites are designed to squeeze an action or piece of information – usually a users email address, from said user. Often “get rich quick working from home” schemes.
Thin Content: Content which can be found in multiple places worded differently. Not duplicate content because thin content is has unique wording but not useful as websites which have been around longer offer the same thing.
Time On Page: The length of time a user spends on a page. Can be measured with analytics. A high time on page is considered desirable for SEO.
Usability: How easy it is to find the content you want on a site. Multimedia is considered desirable to improve usability as different people find different media easier to use.
Unique Visitors: New visitors who have never visited a site before. Can be seen through analytics.
Webmaster Tools: Both Google and Bing offer their own Webmaster Tools which give webmasters access various tools useful for SEO and general website improvements.
White Hat: Techniques to improve SEO which search engines approve of and often actively encourage.
- Direct: A user inputs the website’s URL into their address bar.
- Refferal: A user clicks a link and visits the website.
- Organic (Search): A user finds the website using a search engine and then clicks through to a page.
- Social: Referral traffic from Facebook, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn. ETC