Learning the SEO terms and jargon can be a bit boring. However, these terms are worth knowing, making maneuvering the ins and outs of SEO will be as smooth-sailing as possible. This is more so when availing SEO services for the first time.
Here are the must-know SEO terms and definitions.
A computer program that search engines use in retrieving data and delivering results for a query; the combination of algorithms also used in ranking webpages based on the presence of ranking signals and factors
An HTML attribute used in providing alternate text for images when the images cannot be displayed
The science of the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data to take future action based on what worked and did not work historically
An HTML tag used in creating a link to another webpage or when bookmarking the current webpage
A clickable word or phrase with a link, directing to another page when clicked; aims to provide contextual information on what the linked page is about
The the combination of search engine signals used in assessing a website and its pages for the purpose of ranking them; also, the status of the website and its influence on the users
A link that originates from other website and points to another webpage or website
Black hat SEO
An online content publication reflecting either personal or corporate interests; started as a weblog, which was shortened to simply blog, it can be written by a person or a group
The science of the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data to take future action based on what worked and did not work historically
The percentage of website visitors who leave without visiting another page on that website. Bounce rates range widely depending on industry and niche. Although bounce rate can indicate potential content or website issues, it is not a direct ranking factor, according to Google.
When a user’s query includes an exact match, or variation, of a specific company or brand name. For instance, “Search Engine Journal”, “SEJ”, “SearchEnginejournal.com”, and “Search Engine Journal SEO 101 Guide” are a few examples of branded keywords.
A link that leads to a 404 not found. Typically, a link becomes broken when: a website goes offline, a webpage is removed without implementing a redirect and the destination URL is changed without implementing a redirect.
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.
Stands for Content Management System. A web-based application that lets people create, upload, and manage digital assets.
Words, images, videos, or sounds (or any combination thereof) that convey information that is meant to be distributed to and consumed by an audience.
One of the two most important Google ranking factors (along with links). Search engines want to reward content that is useful, informative, valuable, credible, unique, and engaging with better traffic and visibility.
When a user completes a desired action on a website.
The rate (expressed in a percentage) at which website users complete a desired action. This is calculated by dividing the total number of conversions by traffic, then multiplying by 100.
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.
CPA (cost per acquisition)
The fee paid to the marketer for driving a specific action like a lead, subscription, or sale
CPC (cost per click)
The typical rate for measuring the spending involved in acquiring traffic
CTR (click-through rate)
The standard method for measuring an online campaign’s success, obtained by dividing the total number of users who clicked an ad by the total number of times the ad was displayed (or the impression); 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.
The process of gathering information, using a crawler, from the billions of public webpages to update, add, and organize webpages in a search engine’s index.
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.
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.
A website address – typically ending in an extension like .com, .org, or .net.
The overall “strength” of a website, built up over time, which can help a new page rank well quickly, even before that content has earned links or engagement.
A score, between 0-100, SEO software company Moz uses to predict the ability of a website to rank in search results.
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.
The amount of time that elapses between when a user clicks on a search result and then returns to the SERP from a website. Short dwell time (e.g., less than 5 seconds) can be an indicator of low-quality content to search engines.
A website with flexible contents wherein a page only shows the user-selected activities
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.
How easily the content on a website can be discovered, both internally (by users) and externally (by search engines).
The web crawling system Google uses to find and add new websites and webpages to its index.
A supposed “gray” area between techniques that adhere to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, but then add an element that bends the rules a little.
A popular link building tactic that involves developing content for other websites in exchange for a backlink pointing at your own pages.
Heading tags (H1-H6) separate content into sections, based on importance, with H1 being the most important and H6 being the least important. Headline tags should be used naturally and should incorporate your target keywords where relevant, as doing so may provide a small SEO benefit.
The default, or introductory webpage, of a website.
A link to a webpage that originates from an external website. For example, if Search Engine Journal were to link to Google, that would count as an inbound link on Google’s side; if Google were to link to Search Engine Journal, that would be an inbound link on SEJ’s side.
The database search engines use to store and retrieve information gathered during the crawling process.
How easily a search engine bot can understand and add a webpage to its index.
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.
How a website is organized and where various content and navigational elements are located on webpages.
A word that the search engine uses in determining the topic of any particular page; The word, words, or phrase that an SEO professional or marketer targets for the purpose of matching and ranking for what users are searching for. The words used on webpages can help search engines determine which pages are the most relevant to show in organic results when a searcher enters a query. Keywords usually represent topics, ideas, or questions.
A type of self-competition that occurs when multiple pages from one website rank for the same query on a SERP. This can result in a lower CTR, diminished authority, and lower conversion rates than from having one consolidated webpage that ranks well.
The number of times a keyword or key phrase appears or is used in the webpage compared to the total word count; How often a word or phrase appears within the content of a webpage. At best, this unproven concept is outdated, if ever really mattered to search engines. There is no ideal percentage that will help a webpage rank better.
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.
Adding irrelevant keywords, or repeating keywords beyond what is natural, to a webpage in the hopes of increasing search rankings. This spam tactic is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can result in a manual action.
A content and keyword-rich webpage or main navigation discussing a specific topic or traffic with the goal of conversion; Any webpage that a visitor can navigate to. A standalone webpage that is designed to capture leads or generate conversions.
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.
A process designed to get other trusted and relevant websites to link to your website to help improve your organic search rank and visibility.
Highly specific multiple-word terms that often demonstrate higher purchase intent.
Less popular keywords that have low search volume that are usually easier to rank for.
LSI (latent semantic indexing)
A Google algorithm used in determining the relationship between words as used contextually on any given webpage
Google’s term for a penalty. Google will take manual action on a website after a human reviewer (i.e., a Google employee) manually reviews a website to confirm whether it has failed to comply with Google’s Webmaster guidelines. Penalized websites can either be demoted or removed entirely from search results. Manual actions can be assessed to the entire website or just certain webpages.
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.
Meta tag or metadata
A descriptive text or information on a webpage that helps search engines in identifying the topic and purpose of such a page; 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.
A rare but malicious practice where webspam techniques are used to harm the search rankings of another website, usually a competitor.
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.
A meta tag that tells search engines not to index a specific webpage in its index.
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.
Unpaid search results or those results that come up naturally on results pages because of indexing within the search engine; 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.
Google decides which pages on the site are unique and useful. Put links on the most important pages.
A link that directs visitors to a page on a different website than the one they are currently on.
Pay-per-click advertisements that appear above (and often below) the organic results on search engines.
The numeric value which represents the importance of a page online; was used to refer to as Google juice or simply the value afforded to the web links
PPC (pay per click)
An advertising method where the advertiser pays for displaying the ads if a user clicks on a specific ad; A type of advertising where advertisers are charged a certain amount (usually determined by bid, relevance, account history, and competition) every time a user clicks on the ad. Combining PPC and SEO can result in more SERP real estate, clicks, and conversions. Also, PPC data can inform your SEO strategy, and the reverse is also true.
The amount of time it takes for a webpage to completely load. Page speed is a ranking factor.
A webpage is loaded in a browser.
Paid link building
Websites that backlink to the site for a fee
An authority website that links to another site
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).
The word, words, or phrase that a user enters into a search engine.
Where a webpage appears within the organic search results for a specific query.
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.
The practice of placing the link on a website so the website will link back to the website; 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.
A way search engines measure how closely connected the content of a webpage is aligned to match the context of a search query.
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.
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 website whose or main business or function is helping users find relevant webpages regarding any given search term or topic; 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).
SEM (search engine marketing)
The act of marketing or promoting a website through a search engine including, but are not limited to organic listing, paid listing, and the combination of the two
SEO (search engine optimization)
The act of modifying a website or webpage so it will appear on search listings of the search engines when a relevant keyword is searched for; 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).
SERP (search engine results page)
The listing of websites or webpages that the search engines display once a user searches for a term; The page search engines display to users after conducting a search. Typically, search engines show about 10 organic search results, sorted by relevance.
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.
A list of pages on a website.
A program written for automatically scouring the web for various purposes including indexing aka crawlers or bots
A graphics-heavy introductory webpage that purports to grab the attention of the user
A website with fixed content thus manual changes are required if changes are needed
A metadata element with which the search engine used in determining the title of any given webpage showing on the top bar of the browser and the hyperlink that shows in the SERP; An HTML meta tag that acts as the title of a webpage. Typically, the title tag is the title search engines use when displaying search listings, so it should include strategic and relevant keywords for that specific page. The title tag should also be written so it makes sense to people and attracts the most clicks. Typically, title tags should be less than 65 characters.
TLD (top-level domain)
The three primary domain extensions namely .com, .net and .org
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).
Any links Google identifies as suspicious, deceptive, or manipulative. An unnatural link can result in Google taking manual action on your website.
URL (uniform resource locator)
A web address; A uniform resource locator is the specific string of characters that lead to a resource on the web. The term URL is usually short-hand for the letter-based web address (e.g., www.searchenginejournal.com) entered into a browser to access a webpage.
The prominence and positions a website occupies within the organic search results.
A document that exists on the World Wide Web and can be viewed by web browsers.
How a website connects its webpages to help visitors navigate that site.
White hat SEO
The use of accepted SEO methods and practices so the site will get more traffic and higher ranking, among others; Tactics that comply with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
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.