SEO Glossary of Terms
A Comprehensive List of Essential Digital Marketing Terms.
Don’t Let Internet Terms Confuse You
A 301 Moved Permanently error message is an HTTP response status code indicating that the requested resource has been permanently moved to a new URL provided by the Location response header.
A 302 Found error message is an HTTP response status code indicating that the requested resource has been temporarily moved to a different URL.
A 303 See Other error message is a redirect status response code indicating that the requested resource can be found at another address.
A 404, Page Not Found, or Server Not Found error message indicates that the browser was able to communicate with a given server, but the server could not find what was requested. The website hosting server will usually generate a “404 Not Found” web page when a user tries to follow a broken or dead link.
A 504 Gateway Timeout error message indicates that the server is experiencing issues.
Above the Fold
Content that appears on a website before the user scrolls. In 2012, Google created the Page Layout Algorithm to lower the rankings of websites that have too many ads in this area.
A complex computer program used by search engines to retrieve data and deliver results for a query. Search engines use a combination of algorithms to deliver ranked webpages via a results page depending on several ranking factors and signals.
Alt Attribute (Alt Text)
The “alternative” text version of an image that is displayed on a website when an image is not available used by search engines and screen readers (for blind and visually-impaired people) to understand the contents of an image.
The clickable word or words of a link intended to provide contextual information to people and search engines regarding what the webpage being linked to is about.
The combination of signals search engines use to assess websites and webpages for the purposes of ranking.
A link to a webpage that originates from an external website.
Founded in 2000 by Robin Li and Eric Xu, Baidu is the most popular search engine in China.
The name of Microsoft’s search engine. Launched in 2009, Bing replaced Microsoft Live Search (previously MSN Search and Windows Live Search).
A complex computer program where inputs and outputs can be observed, but there is no access to the process itself due to its confidential nature. Google’s algorithm is a black box.
Risky maneuvering that is not condoned by Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
A blog is an online journal of a person, company or brand located on a website. A blog usually contains content such as text, pictures, and videos.
The percentage of website visitors who leave without visiting another page on that website. A high bounce rate can indicate potential content or website issues. Bounce Rates range widely based on industry and niche.
When a user’s query includes an exact match, or variation, of a specific company or brand name.
A navigational element that helps users figure out where they are within a website.
A link that leads to a 404 not found. Usually, a link becomes broken when a website goes offline, a webpage is removed without implementing a redirect, or the destination URL is changed without implementing a redirect
Information from a website or app that is stored on your device to make the browsing process faster.
A snapshot of a webpage as it appeared when a search engine last crawled it and stored as a backup.
An HTML code element that indicates to search engines a preferred website URL, when multiple URLs have the same or similar content, to reduce duplicate content.
A country-code top-level domain. For example, a company based in Australia would have a domain like this: www.example.co.au, where au is the ccTLD.
A form of false advertisement which uses hyperlink text designed to attract attention and entice users to follow that link and view or listen to the linked piece of online content, with a defining characteristic of being deceptive or misleading.
Click-Through Rate (CTR)
The rate (expressed in a percentage) at which users click on an organic search result calculated by dividing the total number of organic clicks by the total number of impressions then multiplying by 100.
Showing different content or URLs to people and search engines. Cloaking violates Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
A Content Management System (CMS) is a web-based application that allows people to create, upload, and manage digital assets.
Words, images, videos, or audios that convey information that is meant to be distributed to and consumed by an audience. Search engines reward content that is informative, valuable, credible, useful, unique, and engaging with better traffic and visibility.
When a user completes a desired action on a website such as downloading a white paper, signing up for a demo, or making a purchase.
The rate (expressed in a percentage) at which website users complete a desired action. 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.
URLs that a search engine bot is unable to crawl.
A program search engines use to crawl the web. Bots visit webpages to collect information and add or update a search engine’s index.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) describe how HTML elements like fonts should appear on webpages and adapt when viewed on different devices.
The sum of experiences (touch points) that customers go through when interacting with your company and brand.
A webpage that links to no other webpages.
When Google removes a website or webpage, either temporarily or permanently, from its search engine and search results.
Directory/Link Directory/Web Directory
A list of websites usually categorized and maintained by human editors.
To discard harmful links pointing to your site. If you think your site’s ranking is being damaged by low-quality links you do not control you can ask Google to ignore them when assessing your site.
A website address, usually ending in an extension like .com, .org, or .net.
The overall “strength” of a website built up over time. It is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages
Webpages that are created to rank in search engines for specific keywords only for the purpose of redirecting users who click on that page to a different website.
Founded in 2008, DuckDuckGo is a search engine that relies on more than 400 sources to serve its search results.
When a substantial amount of content on one webpage matches or is extremely like content that exists elsewhere, either on the same website or on 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 of less than 5 seconds can indicate low-quality content to search engines.
Commercial transactions conducted online.
A link that is naturally given by one website to another.
Methods to measure how users interact with webpages and content. For example, click-through rate, bounce rate, etc.
For queries that usually contain questions, Google will sometimes show a special block above the organic search results. This box contains a summary (in the form of paragraph, list, video, or table), as well as the URL, the publication date, page title, and link to the webpage from which the answer originated.
How easily the content on a website can be discovered, both internally by users and externally by search engines.
Links that appear in the bottom section of a website.
The most-used search engine in almost every country in the world founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 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.
A free web analytics program that can be used to track audience behavior, traffic acquisition sources, content performance, and a lot more.
A practice intended to make a website rank number one for a surprising or controversial search phrase accomplished by having a lot of websites link to a certain webpage with specific anchor text to help it rank for that term.
The web crawling system Google uses to find and add new websites and webpages to its index.
Google Hummingbird Algorithm
A Google search algorithm devised to better understand the full context of queries (i.e., semantic search), rather than certain keywords, in order to provide better results.
Google Panda Algorithm
A major Google algorithm update that reduced the visibility of low-value content, often produced by content farms.
Google Penguin Algorithm
A major Google algorithm that reduced the visibility of overly-optimized sites, or sites that excessively abused certain spammy tactics like keyword stuffing.
Google Pigeon Update
A significant Google local search update in 2014 named by the SEO industry. It raised the accuracy and relevance of local searches by leveraging more traditional Google ranking signals and improving distance and locating ranking parameters.
A major Google algorithm change where Google added machine learning to its algorithm. It’s been called the third most important ranking signal.
A theorized and debated waiting period that prevents new websites from seeing the full benefit of their optimization efforts. This has never been confirmed by Google.
Google Search Console
A web service by Google which allows webmasters to check indexing status and optimize visibility of their websites.
A website where you can explore data visualizations on the latest search trends and topics.
Google Webmaster Guidelines
Google’s guidance on good website optimization practices, as well as “illicit” practices that can result in manual action.
A gray area between techniques that adhere to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines but add an element that slightly bends the rules.
Guest Blogging (Guest Posting)
A link building strategy 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.
A popular keyword with high search volume that is usually hard to rank for.
Any text that can’t be seen by a user that is intended to manipulate search rankings by loading webpages with content-rich keywords and copy. Google’s Webmaster Guidelines do not condone this technique and it can result in a manual action.
Hyperlink-Induced Topic Search (HITS) is a link analysis algorithm that rates Web pages
The introductory webpage of a website.
A server configuration file that can be used to rewrite and redirect URLs.
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is the standard markup language for documents designed to be displayed in a web browser.
The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is how data is transferred from a computer server to a web browser.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) uses a Secure Sockets Layer to encrypt data transferred between a website and web browser.
An authoritative central resource dedicated to a specific topic (keyword), that is continually updated and linked to, and also links out to topically-relevant webpages.
The database search engines use to store and retrieve information accumulated during the crawling process.
How efficiently a search engine bot can figure out and add a webpage to its index.
A webpage that has been identified by a crawler, has been added to a search engine index, and is eligible to show up in search results for relevant queries.
Where assorted content and navigational elements are located on webpages and how a website is organized.
The process of searching for information like text, images, and video from a big database and then showing the most relevant information to an end user.
Links that go from one page on a domain to a different page on the same domain.
IP Address stands for Internet Protocol Address. They can be shared or dedicated.
• Shared IP Addresses: Numerous websites share an address within one server or a group of servers.
• Dedicated IP Addresses : A website has its own address.
A dedicated IP address can increase site speed but neither will help you rank better.
The word, words, or phrase that match and rank for what users are searching for. Relevant keywords used on webpages can help search engines determine which pages should show in organic results. Searchers usually use keywords that represent topics, ideas, or questions.
When several pages from one website rank for the same query on a SERP, it can result in diminished authority, a lower CTR, and lower conversion rates than from having one well-ranking consolidated webpage.
How frequent a word or phrase appears within the content of a webpage. There is no ideal percentage that will better a webpage rank and it is considered outdated.
The process of discovering any relevant terms searchers enter into search engines, as well as analyzing the terms’ volume and competition level.
Adding irrelevant keywords, or repeating keywords more than necessary, to a webpage hoping that it will increase search rankings. This is considered spam by Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can result in a manual action.
Appears in a Knowledge Panel or carousel at the top of search results on relevant queries. An entity database Google uses to surface information on people, places, and things and their connections.
This panel contains information on people, places, and things, and links to related websites or Google searches. It is a box that appears at the top of, or on the right rail (desktop only), of Google’s Page 1 search results for relevant queries.
KPI (Key Performance Indicator)
A measurement method businesses use to meter whether their business and marketing objectives, targets, and goals are being reached.
Any webpage that a visitor can navigate to. It can be created to capture leads or generate conversions.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)
An information retrieval method designed to help search engines identify the correct context of a word. Not useful in SEO today.
A connection between two websites built using HTML code. Links enable users to navigate to websites, social networks, and apps and play a vital role in how search engines evaluate and rank websites.
Content that is designed to attract attention and encourage people viewing it to create hyperlinks to the site, hoping it will improve the site’s position in the search engines.
A process to get other trusted and relevant websites to link to your website to help improve your organic search ranking.
The value of inbound links, in terms of relevance, trust, and authority.
Link Farm (Link Network, Blog Network, Private Blog Network)
A spam ploy where a group of websites link to each other, usually using automated programs, hoping to artificially increasing search rankings.
Refers to the value or equity passed from one page or site to another through hyperlinks.
Every type of link that points to a website. Google favors links from an array of sites as well as high-authority sites. The quality of a website’s link profile can vary widely, depending on the anchor text used and how they were acquired.
How fast or slow a website accumulates links. A sudden increase in link velocity could be a sign of spamming, or it could be due to doing something newsworthy or viral marketing.
A file that records a user’s information, such as type of browser, IP addresses, Internet Service Provider (ISP), referring/exit pages, date/time stamp, and number of clicks.
Log File Analysis
The process of exploring the data contained in a log file to identify trends, track user’s movement around the site, gather demographic information, administer the site, and understand how search bots are crawling the website.
Highly specific multiple-word terms that often indicate higher purchase intent and generally have a lower search volume that makes it easier to rank for.
A subset of Artificial Intelligence in which a system uses data to learn and adjust a complex process without human intervention.
Manual Action (Penalty)
Google will take manual action on a website after 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.
A tag that can be added to the head section of an HTML document that acts as a description of a webpage’s content. It is regularly displayed as the snippet that appears in the search results but isn’t used in ranking algorithms.
A tag that can be added to the head section of an HTML document. This tag is now ignored by search engine algorithms for ranking purposes because of keyword stuffing.
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 way to measure activity and performance so that marketers can assess the success of an SEO initiative.
A link that occurs organically and exists as a reference to a piece of content, website, or source.
A rare but malicious practice where using webspam techniques to harm the search rankings of another website, usually a competitor.
A small group of people with a common interest from a broader market.
A meta tag that tells search engines not to store a cached copy of your page.
A meta tag that tells search engines not to follow one specific outbound link. Done in cases when a website doesn’t want to pass authority to another webpage or because it’s a paid link. The nofollow attribute looks like this:
<*a href=”http://www.example.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Anchor text goes here<*/a>
A meta tag that tells search engines not to index a specific webpage in its index.
A meta tag that tells search engines not to show a description with your listing.
Keyword data was removed from Google Analytics in 2011 after search engines moved to secure search and replaced with “(not provided)” –making it impossible to know which queries were responsible for visitors finding a website.
Promotion tactics that take place outside of a website, including link building, social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, influencer marketing, and even offline marketing channels like TV, radio, and billboards.
On-page SEO includes publishing relevant, high-quality content, optimizing HTML code (e.g., title tags, meta tags), information architecture, website navigation, and URL structure within the website.
The natural, or unpaid listings that appear on a Search Engine Results Page. Organic search results are analyzed and ranked by algorithms and are designed to give users the most relevant result based on their query.
Any webpage that is not linked to by any other pages on that website.
Outbound Link/External Link
A link that directs visitors to a page on a different website than the one they are presently on.
Google says PageRank is the measure of the importance of a page based on the incoming links from other pages. Each link to a page on your site from another site adds to your site’s PageRank. However, not all links are equal.
The amount of time it takes for a webpage to load completely. Page speed is a ranking factor.
A webpage loaded in a visitor browser creates a pageview.
Pay-per-click advertisements that appear above and below the organic results on search engines.
A Private Blog Network (PBN) is a network of authoritative websites used to build links to your money website(s) so they rank higher in the Google search engine.
Portable Document Format (PDF) files can contain text, images, links, videos, and other elements.
Persona (Buyer Persona, Marketing Persona)
A fictionalized representation of an ideal website visitor or customer – their demographics, behavior, needs, motivations, and goals –based on actual data.
A set of search results tailored to a specific user created by using search history, web browsing history, location, and relationships.
Hypertext Preprocessor is a scripting language used to create dynamic content on webpages.
Search engines aim to reduce the organic search rankings of content that infringes on copyright. In 2012, Google introduced a filter that reduces the visibility of sites reported for numerous DMCA-related takedown requests.
When, after entering a query, a searcher bounces back and forth between a SERP and the pages listed in those search results.
PPC (Pay Per Click)
A type of advertising where advertisers are charged a specified 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. PPC data can inform your SEO strategy, and vice versa.
Stands for Query Deserves Freshness, where a search engine might opt to show newer webpages in search results, rather than older ones, if a certain search term is trending, maybe because a news event has resulted in a surge in searches on that subject.
Content that helps you achieve business or marketing goals (e.g., driving organic traffic, earning top search rankings, generating leads).
An inbound link from an authoritative, relevant, or trusted website.
Also known as a search, it’s the word, words, or phrase that a user types into a search engine bar.
Where a webpage appears within the organic search results for a specific query.
Ranking Factor (Ranking Signal)
An individual component that contributes to a complex series of algorithms that determine where webpages should appear with the organic search results for a specific query.
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. There are two types of redirects:
· 301: Permanent
· 302: Temporary
URL data that identifies the source of a user’s webpage request.
The process of asking a search engine to return a website or webpage(s) to its search index after de-indexing.
A way search engines measure how closely connected the content of a webpage is aligned to match the context of a search query.
The practice of crafting a positive online perception of a brand or person by minimizing the visibility of negative mentions in search results and on social media.
A website designed to automatically adapt to a user’s screen size, whether it’s on a desktop, tablet, or phone.
An enhanced listing displayed in the SERPs from structured data that is added to the HTML of a website to provide contextual information to the search engines during crawling.
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.
Return on Investment (ROI)
A way to measure the performance of SEO activities calculated by dividing how much revenue you earned via organic search by the cost of the total investment, then multiplying by 100.
Schema is structured data or a code that can be used to talk to search engines to create refined searches or rich snippets.
A technique used to copy website content or information using a computer program or script. Search engines, like Google, scrape data to build a searchable index of websites.
A computer software system that enables users to enter a query in order to retrieve information (e.g., files, websites, webpages) from that system’s index (i.e., a web search engine, such as Google, indexes websites, webpages, and files found on the World Wide Web). A search index is built and updated using a crawler, with items being analyzed and ranked by a series of algorithms.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
A term for increasing a website’s visibility in search engine results pages, encompassing both paid and organic activities.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The process of optimizing a website – as well as all the content on that website – so it will appear in top positions in the organic results of search engines. SEO requires an understanding of how search engines work, why people search (intent) and what people search for (i.e., keywords and key phrases). Successful SEO combines technical (on-page SEO) and marketing (off-page SEO) and makes a site appealing to users and search engines.
Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
The page search engines display to users after performing a search. Usually, search engines show 10 organic search results, sorted by relevance. Depending on the query, other search features may be shown, including:
· AdWords Ads (above and below the organic search results)
· Featured snippets (a.k.a., Position Zero)
· Knowledge panels
· Local Pack (with map)
· Related questions
· Related searches
· Shopping results
Search engines track every search user’s conduct (text and voice), every webpage visited, and every ad clicked on. Search engines may use this data to personalize the results users that are logged in.
The practice of writing content so that search engines can attempt to generate the most accurate results possible. At one time, search engines used to be able to only analyze the exact phrasing of a search term when matching results with a search query, but now they can consider the intent and contextual meaning of search phrases when serving content to web users.
Share of Voice
How many impressions a brand receives in the SERPs for search terms when compared to the total impressions that their competitors receive for those same search terms.
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. There are two types of sitemaps:
· AN HTML sitemap is usually organized by topics and helps site users navigate a website.
· An XML sitemap provides crawlers with a list of webpages on a site.
A link that appears on every page of a website, typically in a sidebar or website footer.
Websites and applications that enable users to interact with each other and create and share content.
Any factors that demonstrate authority and influence on popular social networking websites. For example, the social authority of a user on Instagram.
Google has publicly stated that social signals are not a direct ranking factor (e.g., number of likes/shares a piece of content receives). However, popular sites that have significant social media engagement tend to rank well for other reasons.
A kind of bot that’s typically operated by search engines to index the content of websites across the Internet so that those websites can appear in search engine results.
Split Testing (A/B Testing)
A controlled experiment used to compare at least two webpages to measure the effects of a different variable on conversions. A winner is usually declared after the pages have gathered an adequate amount of performance data.
A digital certificate used for website identity authentication and to encrypt information sent to the server using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology.
The response codes sent by a server whenever a link is clicked, a webpage or file is requested, or a form is submitted.
A word that is used frequently such as a, at, for, is, of, on, the. Usually, search engines ignore these words to save time/resources when indexing.
A separate part that exists within a main domain. For example: http://lists.reachmarketing.com/ is a subdomain that exists within the main domain of https://www.reachmarketing.com
The way a website organizes its data into categories and subcategories to maximize content findability and help users complete desired on-site tasks.
Time on Page
An estimation of how much time a user spent looking at a webpage. Pages with high exit rates can significantly skew this data.
An HTML meta tag that acts as the title of a webpage and is usually the title search engines use when displaying search listings. It should include strategic and relevant keywords for that specific page and be written so it makes sense to searchers and attracts the most clicks. Title tags should be less than 65 characters.
Top-Level Domain (TLD)
The extension of a given web address. These include:
There are also many more industry and country-specific options.
Also known as gTLD (Generic Top-Level Domain); Domain Extension.
The amount of data sent and received by visitors to a website.
Mainly applies to a domain’s history (e.g., whether it features expert sources, adheres to Webmaster Guidelines, builds a positive reputation).
A link analysis technique used to separate good “reputable seed pages” from webspam.
User-Generated Content (UGC)
Any form of content that is created by users, including comments, blog posts, videos, reviews, etc.
Universal Search (Blended Search, Enhanced Search)
When search engines pull data from multiple specialty databases to display on the same SERP. Results can include videos, images, shopping, news, and other kinds of results.
Any links Google identifies as deceptive, suspicious, or manipulative.
A uniform resource locator is the specific string of characters that lead to a resource on the web such as www.unrealwebmarketing.com.
URL Parameter (Query String)
The values added to a URL to track where traffic comes from (i.e., which link someone clicked on to discover your website or webpage.
How easy it is for people to use your website. Site design, browser compatibility, disability enhancements, and other elements play a role in improving usability and making your site more accessible.
Web crawling software that acts on behalf of a user.
User Experience (UX)
The overall experience users are left with after interacting with a brand, its online presence, and its products or services.
A specialized type of search that focuses on a specific topic, type of content, or media. For example, Vimeo (video), Amazon (shopping), Travelocity (travel).
A bot that uses natural language processing to perform tasks, such as conducting online searches. For instance, Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa.
The positions and prominence a website occupies within the organic search results.
A type of voice-activated technology that allows users to speak into a device such as a smartphone to ask questions or perform an online search.
A document that exists on the World Wide Web ordinarily written in HTML that can be viewed by web browsers.
A collection of webpages hosted together on the World Wide Web.
How web pages connect to a website to help visitors navigate that site. Website navigation comes in a few different forms, including:
• Main Navigation: The major topics your website is focused on.
• Secondary Navigation: Topics related to the main navigation.
• Related Links: Routinely appears in the right rail or beneath content, sometimes called “Most Popular,” “Most Read,” or “Trending Now.”
• Content Links: Links that appear within your main content (e.g., articles, landing pages).
• Breadcrumb Navigation: Each webpage shows a “trail” to help quickly tell visitors where they are on your site. For example: Home > Services> Web Design > Pricing
Webspam (Black Hat SEO, Spam, Spamdexing, Search Spam)
Any deliberate human action intended to cause an unjustifiably favorable relevance or importance for a web page, to manipulate search engine algorithms and/or users.
The usage of optimization strategies, tactics, and techniques that focus on a human audience opposed to search engines and comply with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
The total number of words in a piece of content. Having too little content may indicate low-quality to search engines.
An open-source content management system popularly used for blogging and websites.
Extensible Markup Language is a markup language search engines use to understand website data.
A list of all the page URLs on a website that allows search engines to crawl the site more efficiently.
In 1994, Yahoo was founded and quickly became a popular search engine. Google began powering Yahoo’s organic search results in 2000, which up until then had been human-powered. From 2004 -2010, Yahoo used its own search technology. Now Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, powers Yahoo’s search results.
In 1997, Arkady Volozh and Ilya Segalovich founded Yandex, the most popular search engine in Russia.
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