If there was ever an industry that had its own language it’s SEO. Even the name of the industry is an acronym! The following in depth glossary was put together to assist you in deciphering the many terms used to rank your site.
I wish I could take credit for this comprehensive guide. However, at the bottom of the page you’ll see the many resources I used to compile these terms.
I went through over a thousand phrases from a host of other sites and whittled it down to what I felt were the most important. I then edited or updated them to make them as easy to understand as possible.
JUMP TO A LETTER
10 Blue Links: The format search engines used to display search results; ten organic results all appearing in the same format.
10x content: Coined by Rand Fishkin at Moz to describe content that is “10x better” than anything else on the web for that same topic.
301 Redirect: A way to make one web page redirect the visitor to another page. Whenever you change the web address of a page, apply a 301 redirect to make the old address point to the new one. This ensures that people who have linked to or bookmarked the old address will automatically get to the new one, and search engines can update their index.
Above the Fold: Content that appears on a website before the user scrolls. Google created the Page Layout Algorithm in 2012 to lower the rankings of websites featuring too many ads in this space.
AGC (Auto-generated content): Content that is created programmatically, not written by humans.
ALT Text/Tag or Attribute: A description of an image in your site’s HTML. Unlike humans, search engines read only the ALT text of images, not the images themselves. Add ALT text to images whenever possible.
Ambiguous intent: Refers to a search phrase where the goal of the searcher is unclear and requires further specification.
AMP: The AMP project (originally stood for Accelerated Mobile Pages) is an open-source framework developed with a mission to provide a user-first format for web content. When implemented, AMP makes your mobile pages load instantly. A lot of that speed is achieved with design restrictions, but the crucial advantage comes from a clever rendering trick that begins loading your page before it’s even visited.
API (Application Programming Interface): The creation of applications by accessing the features or data of another service like an operating system or application.
Anchor Text: The actual text of a link to a web page. On most websites, this text is usually dark blue and underlined, or purple if you’ve visited the link in the past. Anchor text helps search engines understand what the destination page is about; it describes what you will see if you click through.
Async: Short for “asynchronous,” async means that the browser doesn’t have to wait for a task to finish before moving onto the next one while assembling your web page.
Backlink: A backlink is created when some other website is linking to your website. In essence, it is a “vote of confidence,” a citation that shows that this other website points to you as a valuable and relevant source. The SEO effect works both ways — when someone links to you or when you are linking to other websites. An effective link has high link authority and high link relevance. The number of backlinks to a specific website is one of the most important factors when determining its page rank.
Baidu: The most popular search engine in China with a Chinese market share of 69.54% (the next in line are Shenma and Sogou) and a market share of 1.37% worldwide.
Bing: 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.
Black Hat SEO: A method to improve page rankings by using tactics which are against search engine guidelines. These tactics create content that is meant to manipulate the search engine and tends to ignore the human audience and their experience. They include keyword stuffing, cloaking, using paid links, doorway pages, over-optimization, hidden text, and much more.
Blog: A publication of content, sorted in chronological order, with the most recent content appearing at the top. The content reflects personal or corporate interests, and can be written by an individual or a group of contributors. Blogs were originally called web logs or weblogs. However, as “web log” can also mean a server’s log files, the term was confusing. To avoid this confusion, the abbreviation “blog” was coined, and became the common term.
Bookmark: A link to a website saved for later reference in your web browser or computer. Social bookmarking sites (example: Delicious.com) let users share websites they like with each other. Having links to your site in social bookmarking sites is a sign to crawlers that your website content is interesting to people.
Bounce Rate: A metric that shows how many visitors came to your website and then left without performing any actions or browsing any of your other pages. A rule of thumb is the lower bounce rate the better. Having a high bounce rate (over 70%) is a cause for concern and can be caused by many different issues like slow page load, low-quality content, unresponsive landing page, using too many ads, your visitors not finding your page relevant for the keywords they used etc.
Branded Keywords: These are keywords and phrases that include your company name or variations of it.
Breadcrumb Navigation: 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. It is beneficial for both user experience and crawling, as it provides an improved internal link structure for large sites. They can also be displayed in the SERPs instead of the usual site URL. This creates links that are readable and user-friendly. 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.
Cache: A technology that temporarily stores web content, such as images, to reduce future page loading times.
Cached page: A snapshot of a webpage as it appeared when a search engine last crawled it.
Canonical URL: The canonical URL is the best address on which a user can find a piece of information. Sometimes you might have a situation where the same page content can be accessed at more than one address. Specifying the canonical URL helps search engines understand which address for a piece of content is the best one.
ccTLD: A country-code top-level domain. For instance, a company based in the United Kingdom would have a domain like this: www.example.co.uk, where uk is the ccTLD.
Clickbait: 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.
Commercial investigation queries: A query in which the searcher wants to compare products to find the one that best suits them.
Competitor Assessment (or Competitor Analysis): 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.
CMS (Content Management System): A dynamic website where multiple users can edit, update, and maintain the content. They are simple to learn and easy to set up. One of the most popular examples of a CMS is WordPress.
Content: Content is all the information available on a website. It includes text, images, videos, and animations. In terms of SEO, content is a major factor in attracting traffic and influencing user experience.
Content Marketing: A marketing method that focuses on the creation and sharing of high quality, valuable online information (in the form of video, audio or text). The purpose is to draw interest and be perceived as a credible source, so you gain more visibility and increase brand awareness.
Content Spinning: A cheap SEO technique where the same article is rewritten, using synonyms or by changing the word order in the sentence. In this way, many articles are created in hopes Google won’t flag them as duplicates. These articles are them posted all over the web and link back to the original. It is a risky black hat SEO practice now done with various software.
Conversion: An act of getting the user to perform the desired action. As an example, this occurs every time a website visitor signs up, downloads your e-book, follows a link from your email or interacts with our CTA.
Conversion Form: A form through which you collect information about your site visitor. Conversion forms convert traffic into leads. Collecting contact information helps you follow up with these leads.
Conversion Rate: A percentage of users that completed the desired goal (made a conversion) out of all the users that have seen your ad/website/e-mail/CTA that was intended for the purpose of visitor conversion.
Crawl: The process performed by the search engine crawlers where the complete content/code of a website is analyzed. In simplified terms, this happens by the crawler following all internal and external links.
Crawl Budget: Made up of crawl rate and crawl demand, the crawl budget describes the number of your website URLs that Google will crawl. This does not affect small websites. Larger websites should, however, take this into consideration as pages with stale content that are found somewhere low in your link hierarchy (and especially if your website is not rather popular or healthy) will possibly be overlooked.
Crawl Demand: Part of the crawl budget, the crawl demand describes how much importance the search engine places on a specific URL. The deeper the page is in the link structure (more than 4 clicks from the home page for example), the less important it is.
Crawl Depth: The extent to which the search engine indexes a website. You can check this by testing how many clicks you need to reach a page starting from the home page. The deeper the page’s location, the harder it will be for it to rank well in the SERPs. You can reduce this problem by using breadcrumb navigation and internal linking.
Crawl Rate: Part of the crawl budget, this is a technical limitation in the algorithm. A specific number of pages the spider will index that day. This number can be further reduced for your website if Google doesn’t find your website particularly relevant.
Crawlability: 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, video and the proper use of redirects.
Crawler: An algorithm used to scan and analyze websites in order to rank and index them.
CSS (Cascading Style Sheets): The part of your code that defines how different elements of your site look (examples: headers, links).
CTA (Call To Action): An SEO term that refers to a website trigger (usually a button) designed to get an immediate response from a website visitor. These triggers commonly use commanding words that are meant to persuade the visitors to perform a certain act such as: Buy, Register, Write Now, Call, Sign Up.
CTR (Click Through Rate): 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.
Curated Content: Content that you didn’t create, but you find relevant and valuable for your visitors. You then organize and present it to them. It’s important to link back to the original content, so the search engines don’t count your content as duplicate content.
De-Indexing: The process of removing a web page from the search engine index making it unable to appear in the search engine result pages. This is done by setting the value of the HTML robots meta tag to “noindex.” The reason why you might want a page de-indexed could be if you have a page that does serve a purpose, but it isn’t ranking. Example of these pages include login and thank you pages.
Deep Linking: A method using internal links within the website content. A deep link is any link from one web page on a website to another web page on the same website. This is used in a call to action or within a blog post, where a link is used to lead the visitor to a page with more informative content.
Direct Traffic: The number of visits to your website where the visitor typed in your exact web address (URL) into their web browser.
Directory: Just like directories for people and phone numbers, there are directories for websites. Submitting your site to a directory gives you more than just an inbound link; it helps people find you.
Disavow: Not all backlinks are beneficial to your site. Backlinks from unrelated and untrusted sources are considered bad and can get you penalized or in the least have a negative effect on your SEO. This is where Google’s Disavow links tool comes in helping you notify Google that you do not want a certain link from an external site considered when your page is being ranked.
DNS (Domain Name Server): Allows domain names (ex: “example.com”) to be linked to IP addresses (ex: “127.0.0.1”). DNS essentially translates domain names into IP addresses so that browsers can load the page’s resources.
Dofollow Link: All links are by default dofollow links, meaning they pass along what we call “link juice” and let crawlers follow them helping a page’s placement in the SERPs.
Domain: The main web address of your site (example: www.yoursite.com). It’s good to renew ownership of your domain for several years.
Domain Authority: Domain authority shows the relevance of a website for its industry or subject area. It is a metric developed by Moz that measures how well the website will perform in SERPs and how competitive it is compared to other sites in its niche.
Domain name registrar: A company that manages the reservation of internet domain names. Example: GoDaddy.
Doorway Page: Created to manipulate the search engine and rank high for particular phrases and keywords while actually having low-quality content.
DuckDuckGo: 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 search engine results for a specific search term. DuckDuckGo has 4.7 million daily users, 50% of them are from the USA and 45% are European.
Duplicate Content: A substantial block of content that appears on more than one web page (within the same domain or across different ones). The problem with duplicate content is that when a search engine bot finds it, it will not be able to determine which domain has more relevance on the subject. But duplicate content is also a common occurrence within a page. For example, if you have a separate mobile or a local version of your website. In this case, you should pick a page that will be the original and add a piece of code (rel=canonical) to all the others, clearly pointing the search engines to the original version.
Dynamic URL: 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. 💡 Example: www.dynamicurl.com/forums/thread.php?threadid=12345&sort=date
E-A-T (Expertise-Authoritativeness-Trustworthiness): A ranking factor in Google’s search algorithm, was first introduced in 2014 and received further emphasis in their “Search Quality Guidelines” in late 2018.
- Expertise: Represents a person with comprehensive knowledge on a topic. Your content must demonstrate professional experience and knowledge about the topic. Example: A verified professional writing a blog post.
- Authoritativeness: Clearly demonstrate you are an expert and display the creator’s authoritativeness of the main content. Example: Displaying the author credentials, job title, bio, and relevant experience.
- Trustworthiness: Demonstrate trust signals to the user. Show users they can have confidence in the content creator. Instill confidence that the main content people are interacting with is safe. Example: SSL, HTTPS, easily visible contact info, professionalism.
Editorial Link: These are links placed within the body of the main content and serve the same purpose as a citation, meaning the author of the content has named you as a trustworthy knowledge source on the subject and thinks that their readers will find the link valuable and useful. They are part of a strong link profile and they are neither paid for or requested and these are the best backlink you could wish for.
Ego-Bait: One of the link building tactics where you use a link to a company/person/ organization in your content, then contact them in hopes they reciprocate with a backlink.
Engagement: Data that represents how searchers interact with your site from search results.
Exact Match Keyword: An SEO phrase that refers to a keyword matching option in Google Ads. Your ad will only appear in the SERPs if the user types in the exact word or phrase in the exact order.
Faceted navigation: Often used on e-commerce websites, faceted navigations offer a number of sorting and filtering options to help visitors more easily locate the URL they’re looking for out of a stack of thousands or even millions of URLs. For example, you could sort a clothing page by price: low to high, or filter the page to view only size: small.
Favicon: A favicon is a small icon (16x16px) representing your brand, business, or website, displayed on browser tabs, search history, and bookmark lists. A favicon has no direct influence on SEO, but it does improve usability which in turn increase user engagement metric, which are a ranking factor.
Featured Snippet: When the search term is in the form of a question the first listing in the SERPs might be in the form of a featured snippet. It is displayed in a box with an answer summary and the website link underneath. By using structured data we can help Google better understand our content and this can help us get our content listed as a featured snippet. Google determines programmatically which website best answers the question and displays it, however.
Fetch and Render tool: A tool available in Google Search Console that allows you to see a web page how Google sees it.
Footer Link: Links that appear in the bottom section (or “footer) of a website.
Freshness Factor: One of Google’s ranking signals. New or recently updated content is considered fresh and gets scored by Google. There is, of course, some content that does not need to be updated every day to be relevant, where content referring to trends, news, hot topics, updates, and recurring events needs to be refreshed regularly. Google checks trends and spikes in search volume for a keyword before determining how relevant freshness is for it.
The Fold: The “fold” is the point on your website where the page gets cut off by the bottom of a user’s monitor or browser window. Anything below the fold can be scrolled to, but isn’t seen right away. Search engines place some priority on content above the fold, since it will be seen right away by new visitors. Having too many ads above the fold can be seen as a negative issue, too. (See Google Panda).
Geographic modifiers: Terms that describe a physical location or service area. For example, “pizza” is not geo-modified, but “pizza in Oahu” is.
Google: 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 Ads: Previously known as Google AdWords, Google Ads is an advertising service developed by Google where users bid on keywords in order for their ads to appear in Google and its advertising network.
Google Analytics: Google’s web analytics service that gives you precise data on the use of your website. After you add the tracking code to your website you will receive detailed data on your website traffic.
Google Autocomplete: 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.
Google Bomb: An attempt to manipulate the search engine results and have a search query return a person or organization non-related to the keyword. This is mostly done for humorous or satirical purposes. 💡 Example: Some Google bomb examples include the query of “completely wrong” returning the knowledge graph with Mitt Romney and “miserable failure” returning George W. Bush in the results.
Google Bowling: A black hat SEO method where you create backlinks to your competitor on spammy, non-relevant websites trying to get the competitor penalized, reducing their rank in the SERPs.
Google Caffeine: First announced back in August 2009, Caffeine became the new web indexing infrastructure that was designed to deliver faster and fresher results and enable Google to crawl and index more web pages.
Google Dance: A term used starting in 2002 for the volatile period of time during which Google updated its search index, roughly every month.
Google Fred: A major algorithmic update to Google’s search and ranking system. Released in March 2017. it de-ranks gateway pages and websites created for the sole purpose of filling it up with ads and affiliate links.
Google Hummingbird: A major algorithmic update to Google’s search and ranking system. Released in August 2013. It improves the search results by matching to user intent instead of focusing on exact match keywords.
Google Keyword Planner Tool: 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.
Google Mobile Friendly Update: A major algorithmic update to Google’s search and ranking system. Released in April 2015, this update de-ranks websites that are not optimized for mobile viewing.
Google My Business: A service of Google’s that helps list your businesses. 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 in Google Maps.
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. Go to Google PageSpeed Insights to test the speed of your page.
Google Panda: A major algorithmic update to Google’s search and ranking system. Released in February of 2011, it focuses on the quality of the website’s content and down-ranks web pages with duplicate, plagiarized, thin, or low-quality content.
Google Penalty: 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 Penguin: A major algorithmic update to Google’s search and ranking system. Released in April of 2012. This update scrutinizes the link profile to identify and down-rank websites that use manipulative and spammy links and over-optimized anchor text.
Google Pigeon: A major algorithmic update to Google’s search and ranking system. Released in 2014. it connected Google Web search and Google Map and started using location as a key factor in ranking.
Google Pirate: A major algorithmic update to Google’s search and ranking system. Released in October 2014, it reduces rank for websites that had pirated content available to visitors.
Google Possum: A major algorithmic update to Google’s search and ranking system. Released in September 2016, it gives even more relevance to the searcher’s location.
Google Quality Guidelines: Published guidelines from Google detailing tactics that are forbidden because they are malicious and/or intended to manipulate search results.
Google Rankbrain: A major algorithmic update to Google’s search and ranking system, released in October 2015. RankBrain is part of Google’s Algorithm and builds on what the Hummingbird update already started by using machine learning and AI in interpreting search queries.
Google Related Search: Eight suggestions at the bottom of the SERP, that are related to your search term. The suggestions can be used for long tail keyword inspiration or for discovering user interests.
Google Sandbox: A theorized and debated (but never confirmed by Google) “waiting period” that prevents new websites from seeing the full benefit of their optimization efforts. Typically, this effect is witnessed most often with new sites targeting competitive keywords and can only be overcome when the site gains enough authority and age.
Google Search Console: A set of free tools and resources provided by Google. Using it you can track the performance of your website, submit sitemaps, see if there are any manual penalties set on your site and check if all your pages have been indexed. Access the tool here.
Google Search Operators: Special text that can be appended to your query to further specify what types of results you’re looking for. For example, adding “site:” before a domain name can return a list of all (or many) indexed pages on the domain you searched.
Google Trends: An online tool provided by Google that lets you check the popularity of keywords and phrases. It uses graphs to show the search volume over a period of time.
Google SEO Starter Guide: A collection of SEO best practices provided by Google that webmasters can take to make their websites better indexable or crawlable (found here). Moreover, the guidelines include a list of procedures that Google considers breaches of these guidelines which may result in the devaluation of a website or even exclusion from the Google index. The search engine Bing also has their own webmaster guidelines, based on the same principles as Google.
Gray Hat SEO: SEO practices that are technically allowed, but questionable.
Guest Blogging: A link building method where you write a blog article or contribute with a piece of content or quote and get a link to your website in return. It is considered an effective SEO tactic in gaining backlinks when the site is relevant to your own.
Heading Tags: Tags that are used in HTML to create structure. They mark titles and subtitles or emphasized text. There are six levels of headings in HTML – H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6. The higher the level, the more important the heading. They are the simplest way of telling both your reader and the spiders what you believe is the hierarchy of the content according to importance.
Hilltop Algorithm: Influenced by the HITS Algorithm, and added to Google’s algorithm in 2003, Hilltop assigned “expert” status to certain websites or webpages published about a specific topic that also link to unaffiliated pages about that topic.
Hreflang Attribute: The hreflang attribute is 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.
.htaccess File: A server configuration file that can be used to rewrite and redirect URLs.
HTML: The code part of your website that search engines read. Keep your HTML as clean as possible so that search engines read your site easily and often. Put as much layout-related code as possible in your CSS instead of your HTML.
HTML Sitemap: A page visible to people who visit your website (unlike the XML sitemap made for search engines) that shares the structure of your website. Made in a form of a bulleted list, it displays links to all the pages on the website. It shows the website’s hierarchy and helps visitors with navigation.
HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol): How data is transferred from a computer server to a web browser.
HTTPS (Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol): 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.
Hyperlink: A link that is clickable or an image that provides direct access to another page or section of a page, providing easy navigation through the web.
Image compression: The act of speeding up web pages by making image file sizes smaller without degrading the image’s quality.
Image Filename: An image filename is a unique name used to identify an image in a file system. It consists of a name you assign to it yourself and a file format. The filename is your chance of explaining the image content to the crawlers.
Image Sitemap: An image sitemap is an XML file containing all the images from your website you would like crawled and indexed. This can be a separate file or added to the existing XML sitemap.
Index: The search engine database which contains data about all the websites the crawler could find. If a website is not included in the index, it will not be displayed in the SERPs. You can easily check if and to what extent your website is indexed by checking the URL in Google’s Search Console. The results displayed will be all the pages on your website that have been indexed.
Indexability: A state of a website where it allows the search engine bots to index its pages for later use in the SERPs. This can be prevented by using the noindex value in the robots meta tag.
Indexed Pages: The pages of your website that are stored by search engines.
Indexing: The process of including a website in the search engine database.
Infographic: A method of presenting information in a visual way meant for easy and quick reading. They are more engaging than a traditional article because the convey complex data in a simple way. This type of content is shared more, takes less time to create and gets more natural links.
Informational queries: A query in which the searcher is looking for information, such as the answer to a question.
Internal Link: A link from one page to another on the same website, such as from your homepage to your products page.
Keyword: A word that a user enters in search. Each web page should be optimized with the goal of drawing in visitors who have searched specific keywords.
Keyword (not provided): A keyword status in Google analytics that does not provide the known query the user gave to find a specific web page. In the organic traffic section found in the Acquisition report most of the keywords are marked with (not provided). This happens because whenever a user is logged in to their Google account, the keyword they use in their search gets encrypted to protect their privacy. This is valuable information for anyone that is trying to figure out which keywords drive the most traffic to their websites. Fortunately, there are a few methods to get insight on some of these keywords: (1) Check out the Search Query section in Google, and (2) Go to Google’s Search console and check out the performance report, it contains a query list.
Keyword Analysis: The process of evaluating all the keywords that you are currently using and those that you discovered during your keyword research.
Keyword Density: Keyword density is the percentage of the keyword being used on a page compared to the total number of words. It is used to determine the relevance of a web page, but there is no clear information on what the optimal percentage is.
Keyword Frequency: Similar to keyword density, but this time you measure the total number the keyword was used on a web page. The amount of content on the web page is of no importance in this case.
Keyword Research: The process of discovering new keywords that are relevant to your business and suitable in terms of search volume and competition. Effective keyword research is crucial in the process of determining profitable niches, driving traffic, and promoting your business.
Keyword Stuffing: A black hat SEO tactic where a certain keyword is repeated over and over again on the same page in order to deceive the search engine spiders that the content is relevant for this keyword. What is most characteristic about it is that the keyword is placed into the content unnaturally creating a spammy text that will not bring value to anyone reading it.
Knowledge Graph: Meant to enhance the result of a Google search, a knowledge graph pulls information from several sources. The best example of it is the knowledge panel, a box placed to the right of the regular search results containing images, various detailed information, and suggestions for further search.
Knowledge Panel: A box that appears at the top of, or on the right rail (desktop only), of Page 1 of Google’s search results for relevant queries. This panel contains facts and information on people, places, and things, as well as links to related websites or Google searches.
KPI (Key Performance Indicator): A metric to measure how effectively your business or team is performing toward reaching a business objective. 💡 Example: Some KPIs in the SEO industry are monthly organic traffic, keywords in top 3 SERPs, retention rate, the number of backlinks, and many, many more.
Landing Page: A specific page that appears after the visitor clicks on a link. These pages are optimized for promotion and conversion and are usually connected to a marketing campaign. In SEO each landing page can have different keywords and are optimized accordingly.
Lazy loading: A way of deferring the loading of an object until it’s needed. This method is often used to improve page speed.
Link Building: The activity and process of getting more inbound links to your website for improved search engine rankings.
Link Diversity: A link building strategy where you try to collect an array of links from different types of websites (blogs, news, directories, social media) and different domains (.com, .edu) with various anchor text, as well as having both “nofollow” and “do follow” links. Not all SEO experts agree that this is important, but it does give a signal of a natural link profile where a certain type of link isn’t being represented more than the other.
Link Equity: The notion of a link influencing the rank of a website. It is a term describing the process of one-page passing authority or value to another through the use of hyperlinks.
Link Farm: Mostly run by automated programs and services, a link farm is a group of websites that all link either to each of the websites in the group or to a website that is paying for this service. This practice can get you a hefty manual penalty and is best avoided.
Link Popularity: This refers to the total number of backlinks a website has. Every backlink is counted separately, even if it comes from the same website.
Link Profile: A term for all the links that point to your website. Whether a link profile is good or bad will depend on the value of incoming links, proper use of alt tags and anchor text and link diversity.
Link Reclaiming: The process of getting lost links back. It is a tactic with a high ROI because of the high likelihood of success.
Link Relevancy: Describes if the two websites that are involved in the linking process are topically connected and to what degree and how relevant the website that is giving the backlink is in its own field.
Link Rot: Eventually, your web pages become old. Also, the web pages you are linking to get old and very often they get moved or deleted. The effect this process has on your web page is then called link rot. It refers to having many broken links (external or internal) and it happens when you do not do regular site audits and check your link profile.
Link Spam: A method where many links are posted in blog comments, forums, guestbooks, or other similar places online, for the sole purpose of increasing your rank and without actually leaving anything of value in the post itself.
Link Velocity: The speed at which a website is creating new backlinks. How fast or slow you grow your backlink profile matters for your SEO. The more natural the link velocity seems, the better. Think logically, a new site with next to no content shouldn’t be getting a huge number of backlinks in a short time (also known as a link burst).
Linkbait: Valuable content that other websites will naturally link to. It is unique, high in quality and informative, with a tendency to go viral. Hard to achieve, but exceptionally beneficial for SEO.
Local Citation: Any mention of the company name, website address, physical address, or phone number for a local business. They can impact local search engine rankings and make it easier for users to find and discover businesses.
Local Pack: A search result displayed when the user searches for a local business or service. It is located either at the top of the SERP listings or right under the paid listings and consists of a map and 3 listing of businesses that match the query with their name, star rating, address, phone number, and links to their website and directions in Google Maps.
Local Search: A geographically constrained search that displays businesses that meet with their customers directly (usually physical stores or service providers) based on their own location and the user’s location.
Local SEO: The process of optimizing customer traffic based on a geographical location.
Long Tail Keyword: An uncommon or infrequently searched keyword, typically with two or more words in the phrase. Small businesses should consider targeting long tail keywords, as they are lower difficulty and often have more qualified searchers. Common keywords such as ‘software’ are more competitive, and very hard to rank high for them in search.
LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing): Words and phrases that are semantically related to your primary keyword. These words share the same context and are frequently used or found together. 💡Example: the LSI keywords of “SEO” are SEO tool, SEO agency, SEO audit, etc.
Manual Action: A Google penalty where a human reviewer concluded that your website did not follow Google’s webmaster quality guidelines. A site that receives a manual action either gets their rank greatly reduced or they get removed from the SERPs completely. You can check if your site has a manual action in your Google Search Console.
Metadata: Data that tells search engines what your website is about.
Meta Description: A brief description of fewer than 160 characters of the contents of a page and why someone would want to visit it. This is often displayed on search engine results pages below the page title as a sample of the content on the page.
Meta Keywords: Previously used by search engines in the 90s and early 00s to help determine what a web page was about, the meta keywords tag is no longer used by any major search engines.
Minification: To minify something means to remove as many unnecessary characters from the source code as possible without altering functionality. Whereas compression makes something smaller, minification actually removes things.
Mirror Site: 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 good user experience and fast page load.
Mobile Optimization: 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.
Mobile-First Indexing: An approach to indexing where the mobile version of a website is crawled and indexed first. The desktop version will still be indexed and ranked, but if there is no mobile version or the site is not entirely mobile optimized, it will have a negative impact on the rank.
Mobile-Friendly Website: A website optimized for viewing on a mobile device.
mozRank: A logarithmic ranking provided by Moz from 0-10.0 of the number and quality of inbound links pointing to a certain website or page on that website. A 10.0 is the best linked-to page on the internet, and a 0 has no recognized inbound links.
Negative SEO: The use of black hat SEO methods to lower the rank of a competitor. These include hacking the site to change the content and some off-page tactics like building spammy, unnatural links, and creating duplicate content.
Niche: A specific market or area of interest consisting of a small group of highly-passionate people.
Noarchive Tag: A meta tag that tells search engines not to store a cached copy of your page.
Nofollow: When a link from one site does not pass SEO credit to another. Do not use nofollow when linking to internal pages in your website. Use it when linking to external pages that you don’t want to endorse.
Noindex Tag: A meta tag that tells search engines not to index a specific webpage in its index.
Nosnippet Tag: A meta tag that tells search engines not to show a description with your listing.
Off-Page SEO: This refers to all the actions that improve your website’s rankings in the SERPs that were not done on the web page itself. Included here is link-building and marketing for the sake of exposure in the form of guest posting or social media marketing.
On-Page SEO: On-page SEO is the optimization of all the individual pages on your website. It is both optimizing the content and the HTML source code in order to improve visibility and search engine rankings.
Online Reputation Management: A process where you attempt to shape how a person, brand, product, or organization are perceived online.
Organic Traffic: Organic traffic is the “free traffic” you get when a visitor finds your website through search engines. It is the opposite of paid traffic you get through advertising and what you are trying to influence by SEO.
Orphan Page: A page on a website that has no links pointing to it. They cannot be found by a search bot, so they are useless for SEO.
Outbound Links: Links that lead away from your website. They affect your SEO as they help the search engine understand your niche and improve the trustworthiness and quality of your content.
Outreach Marketing: A type of marketing where you find individuals/companies/organizations that share our industry niche and could find what you have to offer valuable (this could be products and services or content). This type of approach is very targeted and personalized.
Over-Optimization: The practice of optimizing to please (or even trick) the search engine instead of delivering user-friendly and relevant content to the visitor.
Page Authority: Domain authority measures how well the website will perform in SERPs and how competitive it is compared to other sites in its niche and page authority does the same but for an individual page.
Page Cloaking: A black hat SEO technique where the search engine is presented with a version of the content that is different from that which the visitor sees. This is done by delivering content based on the user’s IP address.
Page Speed: A measurement of how much time it takes for your entire web page content to be displayed in the browser window. The loading speed affects both your rank and user experience. Visitor bounce rate tends to be higher on slower web pages and it even affects the dwell time and engagement.
Page Title: The name you give your web page, which is seen at the top your browser window. Page titles should contain keywords related to your business. Words at the beginning of your page title are more highly weighted than words at the end.
PageRank: A number from 0-10, assigned by Google, indicating how good your overall SEO is. It is technically known as ‘Toolbar PageRank.’ Note: PageRank relevancy is changing.
Pageview: A request to load a page of a website. More plainly, it is each time a visitor loads a specific page. This is tracked by Google Analytics’ tracking code and if the visitor reloads the same page it will be counted as an additional page view.
Pagination: A website owner can opt to split a page into multiple parts in a sequence, similar to pages in the book. This can be especially helpful on very large pages. The hallmarks of a paginated page are the rel=”next” and rel=”prev” tags, indicating where each page falls in the greater sequence. These tags help Google understand that the pages should have consolidated link properties and that searchers should be sent to the first page in the sequence.
Paid Links: The process of purchasing backlinks that pass link equity. This includes any type of payment like exchanging products or services in exchange for links or giving free products to reviewers or influencers, not to mention some of the black hat techniques. It is a risky method that could earn you a penalty.
Paid Search Engine Results: A Google feature where you pay for a position at the top or bottom of the SERP’s sponsored ad section by using Ads or Google shopping.
Paid Traffic: Any incoming traffic to your website that resulted from a visitor clicking or tapping on an ad you are paying for. It is a very popular strategy as the results are almost instantaneous. Two well-known paid traffic platforms are Google Ads and Facebook.
PBN: Stands for Private Blog Network. See Link Farm.
People Also Ask Boxes: A box in some SERPs featuring a list of questions related to the query and their answers.
Persona: A fictionalized representation of an ideal website visitor or customer – their demographics, behavior, needs, motivations, and goals – all based on actual data. Also known as: Buyer Persona, Marketing Persona.
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.
Pillar Content: Also known as Cornerstone Content and is the most important, extensive articles on your website. They are high quality, easy to read and cover everything that is important in a specific topic. They are usually hub articles that are at the center of your link structure linking and linked to many of your web pages.
Piracy: Search engines aim to reduce the organic search rankings of content that infringes on copyright. Google introduced a filter in 2012 that reduces the visibility of sites reported for numerous DMCA-related takedown requests.
Pogosticking: When, after entering a query, a searcher bounces back and forth between a SERP and the pages listed in those search results.
Poison Words: Words that degrade the quality of the page for search engines classify it as being of low quality. These are usually words and phrases that trigger mistrust or loss of respect. There is no exact list of poison words, but it is suspected that phrases like “buy PageRank” or “buy backlink”, terms related to gambling, politically incorrect terms and vulgar language can get your page buried in the SERPs, especially when used in the web page URL, title and description.
PPC (Pay-Per-Click): Advertising method in which an advertiser puts an ad in an online advertising venue and pays that venue each time a visitor clicks on his/her ad. Google AdWords is the classic example of this.
Primary Keyword: The most used keyword on a web page, with the most potential to drive traffic.
Pruning: In an SEO context, pruning typically refers to removing low-quality pages in order to increase the quality of the site overall.
QDD (Query Deserves Diversity): One of Google’s ranking algorithms. It tries to match user intent by displaying broader match results. Google monitors user behavior and identifies search patterns where the user did not find the results relevant (the user either gives up the search, tries a different query without clicking on the result or bounces from site to site).
QDF (Query Deserves Freshness): One of Google’s ranking algorithms. Its focus is on delivering the freshest content for certain queries. These include the latest trends and news, hot topics and recurring events and they are determined based on search volume spikes.
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 (aka search query): The word or phrase a user writes into a search box in order to get information that matches.
Ranking Factor: One element of how a search engine determines where to rank a certain page, such as the number of inbound links to a page or the contents of the title tag on that page.
Reciprocal Linking: An agreement between two websites to provide backlinks to each other. It should be done with caution, as exchanging backlinks with a company that doesn’t share a topic with you might hurt your site’s backlink profile and make it harder for the search engine spiders to classify your site’s topic.
Referral Traffic: All traffic coming into your website outside of the search engine. You’ll include all the backlinks you have gathered and links from other platforms like social media.
Referrer String: A piece of information sent by a user’s browser when they navigate from page to page on the web. It includes information on where they came from previously, which helps webmasters understand how users are finding their website.
Reinclusion: When your website receives a manual penalty, you will have to request a review after fixing the issues to be reincluded to the SERPs or start climbing the ranks again. You can select Request review in your Google Search Console.
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 designed to automatically adapt to a user’s screen size, whether it’s being viewed on a desktop or mobile device.
Rich Snippet: Pieces of information usually found in boxes at the very top of Google’s SERPS. They serve as enhanced results and have extra visual or interactive features. The only way to get your content displayed as a rich result is to properly use structured data markup (or Schema). You can read the full list of all the varying types of Rich Snippets with descriptions and examples in Google Search Central.
Robots Meta Tag: A piece of code that lets you control how a search engine bot will crawl and index your web page content. The default value is “index, follow,” meaning the search bot will both index your page and follow all the links pointing away from it.
Robots.txt: A text file used by a website to communicate to web robots (most commonly search bots) how to process each page of your website. Here you can set certain pages as off-limits for the bot and scan only the most useful content.
RSS Feed: RSS stands for ‘really simple syndication.’ It is a subscription-based way to get updates on new content from a web source. Set up an RSS feed for your website or blog to help your followers stay updated when you release new content.
Scraping: Using an automated program (web scraper) to gather data (usually metadata) from multiple websites. The data you gather could be all the titles of your competitor’s blog, along with their meta descriptions. This technique can be used for black hat SEO where the content is scraped and then posted in its entirety on a website you will now have to compete with.
Search Engine Algorithm: A process or a set of rules that a search engine uses to determine the value of a website in order to rank it. It is not just one program but a whole collection of algorithms, each with his own purpose and task.
Search Engine Rank: Refers to the position where your website appears in the search engine result pages after a user queries a particular keyword.
Search Intent: Search intent is the user’s purpose when typing a query into the search engine.
Search Quality Rater Guidelines: Guidelines for human raters that work for Google to determine the quality of real web pages.
Search Result Feature: The common name for all the different ways Google uses to display information in the SERPs.
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 Volume: The total number of search queries a certain keyword or phrase gets in a certain period of time.
Secondary Keywords: These are usually long-tail and LSI keywords that have a very specific niche and a lower search volume.
Seed Keywords: 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.
SEM (Search Engine Marketing): A form of digital marketing where you try to gain website traffic by increasing visibility in the SERPs. SEO and paid search are both components of search marketing. Depending on the source, sometimes the term SEM refers solely to paid search.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization): A form of marketing focused on improving visibility and rank in the organic SERPs and gaining organic traffic. It focuses on ensuring a good experience for the user, as this is what the search engine bots are trying to ascertain while analyzing your website.
SERP (Search Engine Ranking Page): The page that you are sent to after you run a query in a search engine. It typically has 10 results on it, but this may vary depending on the query and search engine in question.
Site-Wide Link: A link that shows up on all the pages of your website. These are usually links placed in the header or footer section which is then used across your website.
Sitelinks: Links shown under a search engine result, meant to navigate the user to your subpages. They appear for branded organic search and in the paid SERPs. You can set up the site links in the paid SERPs by using Google Ads. However, in a branded organic search the situation is a bit different. The process is automated, so you cannot influence if you will have site links, how many, and which pages they will link to. All you can do is make sure your website optimization is on point providing good user experience.
Sitemap: A special document created by a webmaster or a piece of software that provides a map of all the pages on a website to make it easier for a search engine to index that website.
Skyscraping: A method where you find popular web pages with many backlinks, write content that improves on them and then reach out to websites that are linking to them offering your link with the improved content instead.
Snippet Bait: A short piece of content optimized so Google can display it as a featured snippet. It is placed at the beginning of an article and usually answers the query within 2-3 sentences, making it easy for Google to take that piece of content instead of pulling content from various positions on the web page and piecing them together. Some websites highlight these pieces of content and include the question they are meant to answer. Another method of getting displayed in the rich results is to optimize content using FAQ schema so your content gets displayed in FAQ rich results.
Social Media: Online media created by and shared among individuals. Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter are popular social media websites. Links from many social media sites now appear in searches. It’s important to have links to your site spread throughout social media.
Social Signal: An SEO term that describes the engagement activities on social media like shares, votes, pins, views, etc. It is not quite clear if engagement signals from social networks influence ranking, but they for sure increase the likelihood that a website will be cited increasing the number of backlinks and improving brand authority.
Spider: A computer program that browses the internet and collects information about websites.
SRCSET: Like responsive design for images, SRCSET indicates which version of the image to show for different situations.
SSL Certificate: A digital certificate used for website identity authentication and to encrypt information sent to the server using Secure Sockets Layer technology.
Static URL: A web address of a web page that has content that is always the same. The URL never changes. They are readable, descriptive, can include keywords, and are easy for the user to memorize.
Status Code: A server response when the browser requests a webpage. There are five types:
- 1xx – informational responses
- 2xx – success (200 – the request succeeded)
- 3xx – redirection (301 – moved permanently, 302 – temporarily moved, 304 – not modified, 307 – temporary redirect, 308 – permanent redirect)
- 4xx – client error (403 – forbidden, 404 – not found, 410 – gone, 429 – too many requests)
- 5xx – server error (500 – internal server error, 501 – not implemented, 503 – service unavailable, 550 – permission denied)
Crawlers use these to determine the health of a website and discovering and fixing some of these will have an impact on your rank.
Stop Words: These refer to the most commonly used words in a given language. In English, these are: the, a, and, but, at, for. Search engines have been programmed to ignore these words, so it is recommended to exclude them in URLs, image names, anchor text, as long as it doesn’t hurt your readability.
Structured Data: When added to your website’s HTML, structured data markup helps you point the searcb bot to elements that contain valuable information in determining the web page’s content. In 2011, Schema.org joined together with Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex to create a list of standard structured data that they will support and display in their SERPs.
Subdomain: A separate section that exists within a main domain. For example: http://subdomain.example.com/ is a subdomain that exists within the main domain of https://www.example.com/
Syndicated Content: A method where content is republished on another site, so we can reach new audiences, increase traffic and build links. This method does, however, fall in the area of duplicate content, meaning that the other site could very likely rank better than you on your own post if it has more authority. It is nonetheless a minimal effort and possibly a high benefit tactic.
Taxonomy: Organizing and categorizing a website to maximize content findability and help users complete desired on-site tasks.
Technical SEO: This is the part of SEO that deals with making it as easy as possible for the search engine bot to crawl and index your website and focuses on improving its rendering phase. Technical SEO is the foundation of all your other SEO activities and absolutely necessary if you want to keep your website performing optimally.
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.
Thin Content: In its essence, thin content is defined as content that offers little to no value to the user. This could be anything from pages with very small amounts of text, computer-generated content, duplicate pages, copied pages, low-quality affiliate pages or doorway pages.
Title: The title of a page on your website, which is enclosed in a <title> HTML tag, inside of the head section of the page. It appears in search engine results and at the top of a user’s web browser when they are on that page.
Top Heavy: A Google algorithm update (released in 2012.) that reduces rank for websites that have too many ads above the fold.
Topic Clusters: A method of grouping related content into distinct categories (or clusters) and subcategories within a website in order to help both humans and search engines understand its relevance.
Traffic: The visitors to your site.
Traffic Rank: The ranking of how much traffic your site gets compared to all other sites on the internet. You can check your traffic rank on Alexa.
Transactional queries: The searcher wants to take an action, such as buy something. If keyword types sat in the marketing funnel, transactional queries would be at the bottom.
Trust: 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).
TrustRank: A link analysis technique used to separate good “reputable seed pages” from web spam.
UGC (User Generated Content): Any type of content posted by users of a website. This includes comments, reviews, images, videos, and posts on social media and more. User-generated content strengthens SEO since they will often use long-tail keywords and related links in what they post.
UI (User Interface): Everything displayed on your website that the user can interact with. Making a positive impression on our visitors and giving them a good user experience is the purpose of UI. Since these are the factors that affect dwell time and user engagement they are crucial for SEO.
Unique Visit: The first time a user arrives at your website and continues to browse. If a visitor with the same IP address comes back at a later point (usually within 30 days) it will not be counted in your analytics as a unique visits.
URL (Uniform Resource Locator): The web address of a page on your site (example: https://www.yoursite.com/contact).
URL Parameter: Values set dynamically in a page’s URL during a query. Example: www.dynamicurl.com/query/thread.php?threadid=64&sort=date In the example, everything following the ? is the query string that contains link parameters containing data about the content.
User Engagement: A metric describing how good a website is at holding the visitor’s attention and keeping them browsing your website.
UTM code (Urchin Tracking Module Code): A simple code that you can append to the end of your URL to track additional details about the click, such as its source, medium, and campaign name.
UX (User Experience): User experience is a search engine ranking factor, that describes how easy or pleasant it is to use a product (such as a website) or service. The factors that influence user experience are the simplicity and usability of the UI, site structure, site speed, and responsiveness (mobile-friendliness). These factors affect both human visitors and search engines alike and have an impact on our SEO.
Vertical Search Engine: Search engines that have specialized functions and focus on a specific segment of online content (usually by topic or media type). These include a multitude of Google’s vertical search engines like Google Maps, YouTube, Google News, Google Images, and Local search, but also social search engines like Facebook, or sites like Momondo.com and Pipl.com.
Video Optimization: A process of increasing the search visibility of a video, usually on YouTube. There are two parts for this process – optimizing your channel and optimizing the video itself.
Viral Content: A piece of media (article, image, video, tweet) that gets very popular in a short time. This content spreads fast through the internet getting backlinks and social media likes and shares.
Visit: Each time a user arrives at your page and continues browsing and interacting with it. A visit will be counted no matter if that person has visited your page before unless the time between visits is less than 30 minutes.
Voice Search: 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.
Website (0r Site): A collection of web pages and multimedia content all sharing the same domain.
Website Architecture: The way your website is structured or, more specifically, how your website’s structure can help users easily and quickly find information and drive conversions.
White Hat SEO: Good SEO practices focused on optimizing content, so it caters to the human audience instead of the search engines. This type of strategy follows search engine rules and policies.
WordPress: A popular blogging and content management system.
XML Sitemap: An XML file containing all the URLs of your website you would like to crawl with additional information (metadata) on each of the URLs. It improves SEO since it puts you in control of how your website (and which pages) will be crawled and indexed. There are plenty of tools that generate an XML sitemap automatically and all that is left for you to do is to submit it to the search engine.
Yandex: 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.
YMYL (Your Money or Your Life): A term that comes from Google search guideline. YMYL pages are those that contain tips on finance, happiness, health, parenting, or nutrition. Advice like this can have a very big impact on the life of an individual and bad information can have irreparable consequences. This is the reason why Google is very hard on YMYL pages and judges them harshly, insisting on high quality, reliable information to protect the user.
Zero Click: A search query which does not receive any clicks. Occurs when users search for a string and for some specific reason do not click on any of the results. One common reason why a query does not get any clicks is that it is a very top-level informational search in which Google answers the question through some form of rich results.
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