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Whether you’re just getting started on SEO or looking for new ways to improve your rankings, the jargon can often be an obstacle if you’re unfamiliar with it. Moreover, there might just be so many new terms being thrown at you that you might find yourself at a loss on where even to start looking up SEO definitions.
I’ve been where you’re at, so I decided to create an SEO glossary that compiles 100+ of the most important terms in the industry with their corresponding definition. Ready to get started?
You might already be familiar with this SEO terminology, but it doesn’t hurt to refresh your memory before getting into the more complex vocabulary:
Crawler: Also known as “bot,” “robot,” or “spider,” a crawler is a program that search engines use to discover web pages and gather information about them to add to their indexes.
Crawling: The search engine process of using crawlers to discover new web pages and index them.
Index: The process search engines follow to analyze, organize, and store the information, content, and files found during crawling.
Keyword/Keyphrase: A word or series of words used to optimize content and web pages to attract users searching for those terms.
KPI: An abbreviation of the term “key performance indicator,” a value typically measured to determine how well a tactic or strategy is achieving a certain goal.
Long-tail keyword: A longer but more specific keyword that typically has a lower search volume but higher conversion potential.
Organic: Unpaid (earned) placement on the SERPs.
Paid advertising: Commonly known as “PPC” (pay-per-click advertising), it’s a tactic that involves paying to appear above the organic results on search engines. Paid ads can often be identified for carrying the word “sponsored.”
Query: A word or series of words a user enters into the search bar.
Ranking: Sorting pages in the search results according to their relevance to a particular query.
Ranking factor: An indicator or signal that the search engine algorithm uses to determine in which order to rank web pages in the organic search results.
Search engine: A piece of software that retrieves information in a database to match a user’s input request. Some of the most popular search engines include Google, Bing, and Yahoo, but YouTube, for example, is also considered to be part of this software group.
Search intent: The reason why users search for something online.
SEO: Short for “search engine optimization,” SEO refers to the practices or tactics used to enhance a website so it ranks higher on the SERPs and attracts more organic traffic.
SERP: Stands for “search engine results page” and refers to the page a user is sent to in response to a search query.
Traffic: The number of visits a website receives.
You might’ve found this post looking for SEO definitions regarding the different metrics you have to track to see whether your strategy is working. In that case, here’s a quick rundown of the most popular ones:
Bounce rate: Percentage of visitors that leave a website without performing any actions or interacting with the page they landed at.
Click-Through Rate (CTR): Ratio of the number of times users clicked on a specific link or ad to the number of times said link or ad was viewed. CTR is calculated by dividing the number of clicks on a link or ad by the number of impressions and then multiplying the result by 100 to express it as a percentage.
Conversion Rate: Percentage of visitors that took a desired action on a website, such as filling out a form, subscribing to a newsletter, making a purchase, and so on.
Core Web Vitals: A set of specific factors that impact the overall user experience.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Refers to any unexpected layout shifts of visible elements on a page when they’re loading or when users interact with them.
Dwell Time: Measure of the time a visitor spends on a page after clicking a search result before returning to the SERPs.
First Input Delay (FID): Metric that measures how long it takes for a page to respond to the first user interaction, like a click or tap.
Impressions: Number of times a web page, advertisement, or piece of content is shown to users.
Keyword Density: Ratio of the number of times a keyword appears on a webpage to the total number of words on said page, expressed as a percentage.
Keyword Difficulty: Measure of how challenging it is to rank for a specific keyword. It’s mainly based on competition, content quality, backlink profile, and other factors.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): A Core Web Vital metric that measures the loading time of a web page’s largest and most significant content element.
Metric: A quantifiable measure used by marketers, webmasters, and business owners to track and evaluate the performance and effectiveness of a particular strategy, campaign, website, or business.
Return on Investment (ROI): Measure of an investment’s profitability. Return on investment is usually expressed as a percentage of the gain or loss in relation to the initial investment.
Time on Page: Duration of a user’s visit.
Website Authority: Also known as “domain authority,” it refers to a website’s credibility and trustworthiness in its respective industry or field of expertise. Website authority is typically determined by factors like backlink and content quality, and user engagement.
10 blue links: Format used by search engines to display search results in the form of ten organic results, all following the same format.
301 redirect: HTTP status code indicating that a web page has been permanently redirected from one URL to another.
302 redirect: HTTP status code indicating that a web page has temporarily been redirected from one URL to another.
403 error: HTTP status code indicating a user-side issue that forbids them from accessing a valid URL.
404 error: HTTP status code indicating that a page can no longer be found at the given URL.
500 internal server error: HTTP status code indicating that the server got an invalid response while working as a gateway to handle the request.
502 bad gateway: HTTP status code indicating that the server doesn’t know how to handle a particular situation it encountered.
Affiliate: A marketing strategy through which an affiliate site promotes another company’s products or services in exchange for a fee or commission.
Algorithm: In the context of SEO terminology, an algorithm is a set of procedures or computational processes that search engines use to rank web pages in search results for a user’s given query.
Alt text (Alternative text): An image’s text description on a web page. The alt text isn’t often displayed to users, but it’s used by search engines to differentiate between all the pictures on a page.
Anchor text: The words or phrases that function as a hyperlink’s visible, clickable text. It’s the text that usually appears underlined and in blue color.
B2B (Business to Business): Business model in which a company sells a product or a service to another company.
B2C (Business to Consumer): Business model in which a company sells a product or service directly to individual consumers.
Backlinks: Links from a page on one website to another. The quality of a page’s backlinks is an important indicator of trustworthiness for search engines.
Backlink profile: Assessment of a website’s backlinks and summary of their quantity, quality, relevance, and so on.
Black hat: SEO strategies or tactics that violate a search engine’s guidelines. While leveraging them can sometimes yield quick results, they can lead to penalization and removal from the search engine’s index.
Branded keywords: Keywords and keyphrases directly linked to your brand, products, or services.
Broken link: A link that points to a non-existent resource. It can often be called a “dead link,” and can be either internal or external.
Cache: A temporary storage location where data, files, and other frequently accessed information are kept to boost performance and help websites and browsers load faster.
Cached page: A version of a web page’s content and structure that’s saved by search engines on their servers when they last crawled it. This snapshot allows the search engine to display a version of the page to users whenever the original is temporarily unavailable
Call to Action (CTA): A prompt designed to encourage users to take a desired action or get an immediate response. A CTA is typically presented as a button, link, or message such as “Sign Up Now!” or “Click Here To Find Out More!”.
Canonical URL: A tool used to solve duplicate content issues. When you have multiple versions of a page with similar or identical content, the canonical URL allows you to tell search engines which one you want to be indexed and displayed in the SERPs over the other.
Content Management System (CMS): A program or app that helps users create, manage, and organize digital content on a website even if they don’t have any advanced coding skills or technical expertise. With a CMS such as WordPress, for example, individuals can create content and update text, images, videos, and documents more easily.
Content marketing: A strategic marketing approach that entails creating and distributing content (blog posts, ebooks, videos, infographics, etc.) that is valuable to an audience. The valuable content attracts attention to a brand, builds an audience, and eventually helps grow revenue.
Crawl budget: The number of web pages a search engine is willing to crawl on a particular website during a specific period.
Crawlability: A search engine bot’s ability to discover pages, navigate and access their content, and index them.
De-index: The removal of a webpage from the SERPS by a search engine.
Direct traffic: Users that visit a site by either typing the URL into their browser or by clicking on a bookmark.
Directory: A list of related websites manually compiled, categorized, and updated by an editor.
Dofollow link: Hyperlink that transfers authority and other SEO benefits, like improved visibility, from the referring page to the linked one.
Domain: A site’s main web address.
Domain Authority (DA): A metric that assesses a domain’s overall credibility. DA is a numerical score that ranges from 0 to 100 and usually predicts a site’s ranking potential in the SERPs.
Editorial link: A type of backlink that isn’t paid for or part of a link exchange but rather earned due to the linked content’s quality and relevance.
Email outreach: The practice of sending personalized emails to a highly targeted audience to build relationships, request backlinks, seek collaborations, and other specific objectives.
Entry page: Also known as “landing page” or “home page,” an entry page is the very first page a user views on a website.
Evergreen content: Any digital asset, such as articles, blog posts, videos, or infographics, that doesn’t go out of date and remains relevant, valuable, and informative for a long time.
External link: Also known as “outbound link,” it’s a link from one site to another.
Featured Snippet: A highlighted box that sometimes appears at the top of the SERPs, usually before the first organic result. The Featured Snippet is meant to provide a concise and relevant answer to a user’s query so they can quickly find the information they need without clicking on a specific search result.
Gated content: Online material, such as ebooks, articles, reports, etc., that visitors can access only if they provide their contact information.
Gateway Page: Web page heavily optimized and designed to rank high in the SERPs for particular keywords and queries. However, the page won’t actually offer an answer to the query or provide any useful information, as it’s meant to redirect the visitor to a different page.
Google Analytics: Google’s free web tracking tool that allows users to analyze visitors’ behavior on a site.
Google Business Profile: Google’s free online tool to create and manage a business online presence across various Google platforms.
Google Penalty: A punishment for violating the Google Webmaster Guidelines imposed by a human reviewer.
Google Search Console: Google’s free tool to help users check and keep track of their website’s performance in the search results.
Grey hat SEO: Any strategies and tactics that stand in between white-hat and black-hat SEO practices.
Google Webmaster Guidelines: Best practices from Google to help them find, index, and rank your site. Set of best practices provided by Google to help users optimize their sites so Google can find, index, and rank them.
Guest blogging: Writing and publishing an article or any other piece of written content on another person’s blog.
H1 tag: The most important heading on a page, as it usually marks up its title and summarizes what it’s about.
Header tags: HTML tags that set headings and subheadings apart from the rest of the page’s content.
HTML (HyperText Markup Language): Language used to create and format online content on web pages.
HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol): Protocol for retrieving resources from the server and transferring them to a computer’s web browser.
HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure): A secured version of HTTP that encrypts the data transferred between the server and the browser to prevent it from being intercepted and tampered with.
Inbound link: Link from another website to yours.
Internal link: Link between different pages on the same website.
Indexability: The ability of a search engine to crawl a page and store its data in a database.
Keyword ranking: A site’s organic rank in the SERPs for a specific search query.
Keyword research: The practice of identifying potential keywords to target in digital content and analyzing their search volume, difficulty, intent, and other factors to determine their viability.
Keyword stuffing: Overusing keywords in a piece of content with the goal of boosting rankings. It’s worth mentioning that this practice usually has the opposite effect.
Link building: A strategy of building your website’s reputation by getting other sites to link to your pages.
Link exchange: The agreement of linking to another site so they’ll link to yours.
Link scheme: Links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results.
Local SEO: Practice of improving a company’s online presence to rank higher in relevant local searches.
Manual action: Penalty issued by a search engine and imposed by a human reviewer when a website doesn’t with their guidelines. It usually involves the demotion or removal of the site or page.
Metadata: Information that facilitates the organization, indexing, and retrieval of data and tells search engines what a site is about.
Meta description: HTML attribute that describes what a page is about. It’s usually shown in the SERPS, social media, messaging apps, etc.
Meta tags: Pieces of code that convey key information about your web page to search engines.
Mobile-first indexing: Google’s approach to using a website’s mobile version for indexing and ranking that was introduced in 2016.
Natural link: External link placed voluntarily by a website owner.
Nofollow: Tag used to prevent search engines from taking a link into account for ranking purposes.
Noindex: Tag used to prevent search engines from indexing a page.
Noopener: HTML attribute used to set links to open in a new browser tab.
Noreferrer: HTML attribute used to prevent referrer information from passing through a link.
Off-page SEO: Any efforts taken to build a good reputation and credibility for your website, such as getting backlinks, positive reviews, etc., in order to boost its search engine rankings.
On-page SEO: The optimization of a page’s visible content, such as titles, headings, and images, to make it more appealing to visitors and search engines.
Organic traffic: Visitors who come to a website naturally from the SERPs or other channels that aren’t paid ads.
Orphan page: A page that lacks internal links.
Outbound link: Also known as “external link,” it’s a link from one site to another..
Paid link: A backlink that the linked site’s owner pays for.
People Also Ask: Feature on the SERP that highlights typical questions related to the user’s query and provides short answers to them.
Pillar page: A comprehensive and high-level page about a broad topic. A pillar page is usually formatted as a guide and broken down into smaller sections or subtopics for easier navigation.
Primary keyword: Main keyword that a web page targets.
Query: The word or phrase a user enters into a search engine’s search bar.
Redirection: Shift of a page from one URL to another.
Referral traffic: Visitors sent to a site through a backlink.
Related searches: Search queries related to a specific keyword that a user types into a search bar. Related searches are usually found listed at the bottom of the SERP.
Resource page: A page that features a curated list of resources.
Responsive design: Creating a website that adapts to and looks good on any screen size and device, be it a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Schema markup: Code that can be added to a website to provide search engines with additional information about it so they can better understand its content. Schema markup is also known as “structured data”.
Search visibility: Estimated percentage of clicks a website gets from its organic rankings.
Search volume: Average number of times that a particular query is typed into a search bar each month.
Secondary keywords: Additional terms or phrases closely related to the main keyword.
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL): A standard security protocol for establishing an encrypted connection between networked computers so that any data shared between them remains private.
SEM (Search Engine Marketing): All the tactics and strategies designed to bring more traffic to a website through search engines.
SEO audit: The evaluation of a website’s performance in search engines.
Short-tail keywords: Short terms with high search volumes.
Sitemaps: An XML file that lists all the pages you want a search engine to crawl and index.
Technical SEO: Technical adjustments such as mobile optimization, page speed improvement, website structuring, and so on, to help search engines better understand, crawl, and index a website or page.
Title tag: HTML element that specifies a page’s title.
Uniform Resource Locator (URL): A page’s or a document’s web address.
User Experience (UX): Users’ perception of a website when interacting with it mainly in terms of ease of use and accessibility.
Visibility: A website’s prominence within the organic search results.
White-hat SEO: SEO strategies and tactics approved by search engines.
Phew, those were definitely a lot of SEO definitions! Nonetheless, if you made it this far, then it means it was a useful read.
Hopefully, this post can become your go-to resource whenever you encounter a new term while working on your SEO. I promise to keep it updated!