SEO Glossary


SEO Glossary


Above the fold – The section of a web page that is visible on a browser when the page first loads
Absolute Link – A link to a full URL including a domain and http:// or https:// at the start of it
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) – A project designed to make fast loading mobile webpages
AdWords – Google’s online advertising platform and management, including PPC as part of the search and display networks, and other advertising formats such as shopping and video
Ahrefs – An online piece of software that tracks backlinks, keywords and brand mentions of your site, and competitors’ sites
Algorithm – In terms of SEO, an algorithm is a set of rules and deciding factors, used by Google and other search engines to determine search result rankings
Alt text – Descriptive text that replaces an image, telling site viewers what it contains
Anchor text – The text that a website user clicks on to follow a hyperlink
Authority site – A high quality website that publishes trustworthy, relevant information


Backlinks – A link pointing to your website on another external site
Behavioral Targeting – A method of directing marketing towards individuals based on information about their internet usage behaviour, such as websites they’ve visited and searches they’ve made
Bing – A search engine created by Microsoft
Black hat – SEO techniques that are not approved by search engines and can sometimes lead to penalisation in rankings by guilty sites.
Blogger outreach – The practice of contacting relevant bloggers to contribute content to your website
Boolean operators – Words such as AND, NOT, OR and AND NOT used to make search results more specific and focused on particular keywords
Bot – Also known as spiders, robots and crawlers, a bot is a program operated by a search engine, that crawls and indexes web pages to determine search result rankings
Bounce rate – The percentage of users on a website who exit the site after only viewing one webpage.
Branded link – A short URL based around a company name (such as for Google or for Pepsi), typically created for use on social media
Breadcrumbs – A type of website navigation, displaying the hierarchy of pages viewed so previous pages are easier to get back to
Broken links – A link to an internal page or external website that no longer works, usually due to the page being taken down or moved to another URL.


Cache – A form of storage on an internet browser, storing certain web page elements to reduce loading time in future
Canonical Tag – A piece of code used to specify the preferred page to be indexed when there is duplicate content on multiple URLs
Canonical URL – The preferred page to be indexed and visited when duplicate content is on multiple URLs
Citation (Local SEO) – A reference to a business’s name, address and phone number online, used by Google as one of many factors to decide online authority
Click Through Rate (CTR) – In PPC, the number of clicks an ad receives, divided by the number of times the has been seen (how many impressions it’s received)
Comments Tag – In HTML, a way of inserting comments into the source code that won’t be visible on browsers. Comments usually relate around code and are for the benefit of the developer.
Content Delivery Network (CDN) – A system of servers that deliver webpages to users based on their location, as a way of reducing the load time on high traffic sites with global reach
Content marketing – A method of marketing that involves the creation of content not necessarily about promoting the brand but to stimulate interest in the topic area.
Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) – The practice of increasing the number of website visitors who become customers.
CPA – Cost-per-acquisition (or cost-per-action) is how much your PPC advertising costs, divided by the total number of conversions
CPC – Cost-per-click is how much you pay each time someone clicks your PPC advert.
CPM – Cost-per-thousand impressions is a type of AdWords strategy, allowing you to pay a certain cost for 1000 people to view your ads. This is aimed at advertisers who are prioritising brand awareness over conversions
CMS – A content management system is the software you use to update your website – CMS’s include WordPress, Shopify and Magento amongst others
Crawl / Crawling – The process of a search engine bot processing information from websites to determine their quality, relevance and rankings.
Crawl Errors – When a search engine bot encounters issues indexing web pages. A common error is 404 not found. A smaller number of crawl errors is seen positively by Google when determining search result positions.


Dead Link – A link on a webpage that no longer works, due to the landing page being removed, permanently moved or no longer existing.
Deep Link – A link to a specific page on a website, rather than to the site’s home page
De-index / De-indexing – When a website is removed from a search engine, usually due to breaking the rules of the search engine.
Disavow – The process of telling Google to not take into account certain incoming links, if they are out of your control and low quality enough to harm your rankings.
DNS – A domain name system controls the website and email settings for your domain name.
Domain Authority (DA) – A score developed by Moz that predicts how a website will rank on search engines
Doorway page – A web page created for the purpose of spamdexing
Do-follow Link – A link to a website that counts towards search rankings
Duplicate content – Identical content that has been published in more than one place online
Dwell Time – The time between clicking a search result and returning to the search engine results page (SERP)


E-Commerce SEO – The process of making e-commerce sales websites rank higher on search engines
Engagement Metrics – Types of data that can measure how website visitors engage with content
Entry Page – The first page someone views when landing on your website
Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness (EAT) – One of Google’s search rating guidelines – “High quality pages and websites need enough expertise to be authoritative and trustworthy on their topic”.
External link – A link on a website to another website


Fetch as Google (Fetch as Googlebot) – A tool that allows you to test how Google crawls or renders a URL on your website
Firefox – An open-source internet browser created by the Mozilla Foundation
Fresh Content – New, unique content that keeps people visiting and using your website


Google Analytics – Google’s data service that allows website owners to view their site’s statistics such as traffic
Google Bomb – The practice of attempting to make an irrelevant website appear under certain keywords, usually for humorous purposes
Google Bowling – The practice of purchasing a Google Bomb service to send irrelevant, low quality site links to a competitor’s website, so Google penalises it and ranks it lower. This is now rare, due to changes in Google’s algorithm.
Google Dance – An outdated term referring to the period in which Google search results fluctuated while the search engine updated rankings. Since changes in 2003, this no longer notably occurs.
Google News Sitemap – A file used to control the content on a website that is submitted to Google News.
Google Posts – A feature that enables users to create content directly on Google, highly ranked in search results for the user’s name.
Google Search Console – A web service that allows website owners to check their site’s indexing status and optimise their site’s visibility.
Google Sitelinks – The links to other pages on your website that appear under the main search result for your site on Google, used to help visitors navigate easier
Google Trends – A service that shows how often specific search terms are used on Google
Google Webmaster Guidelines – The rules Google publish advising people on how to avoid search ranking penalisation (see:
Googlebot – What Google uses to crawl and index web pages
Grey hat – SEO techniques that aren’t against search engine rules but aren’t completely ethical and could become black hat techniques in future
Growth Hacking – Experimenting with marketing techniques to determine the most effective ways of growing business


.htaccess – A file that can be used to control a website – setting up redirects, custom error pages and banning certain users based on their IP address.
Homepage – The main, introductory page of a website
Heading Tags / Elements (H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6) – A text format hierarchy that can be useful for seo purposes
Hidden Text – A black hat seo technique, in which text is placed on websites that is invisible to users, but readable by bots, in an attempt to spam search engines. This can result in penalisation or banning from the search engine.
HITS – Hyperlink induced topic search; an algorithm that rates websites based on their content and links
Hreflang Tag – An attribute that tells search engines what language is used on a specific web page
Hummingbird – A Google search algorithm that was introduced in 2013.
H1 Tag / Element – The most important heading tag – usually the title of a post or other important text.


Image sitemap – A file that gives Google metadata about images that appear on a website
Inbound link – A link on another website that points towards your site
Index / Indexing – The process of adding a search engine’s crawled websites to its search results
Information Architecture – The concept of organising information into a hierarchical structure to create a more user-friendly experience
Internal link – A link on a website to another page on the same domain
Internet Explorer – The default internet browser on a Windows computer, developed by Microsoft and since replaced by Microsoft Edge


Javascript – A programming language that enables interactive effects to appear on websites


Keyword – The word or phrase used in a search engine query
Keyword Density – The percentage of words on a given webpage that are a specific keyword or phrase
Keyword Planner – A Google tool that helps to plan and create AdWords campaigns
Keyword Research – The process of researching different elements and data to determine what keywords should be targeted by a website
Keyword Stuffing – A black hat SEO technique that involves overusing a specific keyword on a webpage, making for a not very user friendly experience.
Knowledge Graph – The information box that appears on the right hand side of Google’s search results for certain keywords, with some instant details about the particular subject.
Knowledge Vault – A selection of over 1.6 billion automatically collated facts from the internet, stored by Google.


Landing Page – A page specifically designed to be the entry point to a website.
Link Bait – Content specifically created to increase and attract backlinks to the page
Link Building – An SEO process of increasing backlinks to a website, usually by contacting a list of good quality relevant sites, and sometimes offering a reciprocal link.
Link Equity – The number of inbound links going to a specific page on a website.
Link Exchange – Also known as a reciprocal link, this is when one website asks another for an inbound link, in return for an outbound link back.
Link Popularity – The number and quality of backlinks linking to a specific website
Local SEO – The process of optimising marketing so a local business website appears highly in a search engine’s local results
Long Tail – A business concept introduced by Chris Anderson in 2004, stating that low demand products could collectively make up a bigger market share than best selling products in some situations
LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) – A mathematical method that determines the relationship between terms and concepts in content. It occurs when a webpage is crawled, and the most common words are collated and identified as the page’s keywords.


Manual Penalty – When a website is penalised manually by a Google engineer, due to a breach of Google Webmaster Guidelines
Matt Cutts – Google’s former head of the web spam team and the official spokesperson for publisher and webmaster issues
Meta Description – A HTML attribute that concisely describes a web page’s content, and appears as part of each result on a search engine
Meta Keywords – A type of meta tag that tells search engine crawlers what the topic of the web page is.
Meta Tags – Text snippets that describe a page’s content to crawlers, but aren’t visible to site visitors
Moz (SEOmoz) – An SEO tool that monitors and evaluates a website’s SEO.
MozRank – A score determined by the number and quality of inbound links to a website, that reflects the importance of a web page.


Navigation – Part of a website, usually a menu, that allows visitors to get to different pages and sections
Negative SEO – Targeting another website with black hat SEO techniques to lower search engine rankings
Niche – The general topic area in which a website is based on
Noarchive – A meta tag that tells Google not to store a cached version of your webpage
Nofollow – A meta tag that tells Google not to follow links on your webpage
Noindex – A meta tag that tells Google not to index a certain webpage whilst crawling a site


Open Graph Protocol / Open Graph META Tags – A set of rules used to add a webpage into a social graph. A web page is turned into a graph object through the use of open graph meta tags.
Organic Search Results – Results on a search engine that appear due to their relevance, rather than paid advertising
Organic Traffic – Traffic that comes to a website through organic search results
Outbound Link – A link on a webpage that takes you to another webpage or website


PageRank – An algorithm google uses to determine where websites appear in search results. This was previously viewable and trackable by site owners, but is now only available internally at Google
Page Authority (PA) – A score given to a website by Moz to predict how likely it is to rank higher in search engine results
Panda Algorithm – A Google search algorithm introduced in 2011, which aimed to lower the rank of low quality sites, and put higher quality sites back near the top.
Pay Per Click (PPC) – A type of online advertising used to direct traffic to websites
Penalty – When a search engine punishes a site for black hat SEO techniques, by lowering rankings or de-indexing.
Penguin Algorithm – A Google algorithm update introduced in 2012 that aimed to more effectively catch websites thought to be spamming search results.
Pigeon Update – A Google algorithm update released in 2014 that revolved around increasing the ranking of local listings in search results.
Preferred domain – Also known as canonical domain, the domain you’d like used to index a site’s pages.
Proximity – When indexing a page, the distance between two keywords will be measured, to determine whether or not the page is good enough to match a query containing both terms
Private Blog Network (PBN) – A set of domains owned by someone who uses them to give backlinks to their main sites


Quality Content – Content that is relevant, unique and good quality enough to gain backlinks
Quality Link – A inbound link from a relevant, high domain authority website
Query – The keywords/phrases typed into a search engine


RankBrain – A Google algorithm that uses search data to improve relevancy on less often searched terms.
Rankings – Where websites place on search engine results
Reciprocal Links – When a website links to another website, in return for a link back from said site
Reinclusion – What is requested by websites after dealing with a black hat SEO technique that caused penalisation by a search engine
Referrer – The source of the click that led to a user coming to a website
Relative Link – A type of link that doesn’t use a full URL, used when a server knows what directory the document linked to is located
Reputation Management (online/SEO) – Ensuring keywords related to your brand give results that reinforce your brand’s reputation.
Rich cards – A type of search result introduced in 2016, displaying visual content amongst normal search results
Rich snippets – Structured data markup that can be added to a site’s HTML to allow search engines understand better what information is on a web page
Robots.txt (robots exclusion standard) – A file uploaded to a website that is used to instruct or restrict search engine bots/spiders during site crawling
Robots Meta Tag – A meta tag that is used to tell robots not to index a page’s content
ROI (Return On Investment) – The results returned from investing money into marketing.
Root domain – The main domain on a website (eg.
RSS – Rich Site Summary is a way of passing information from a website to a feed reader


Sandbox – The period of time in which a new website doesn’t rank well on Google
Search Engine Friendly (SEF) URLs – URLs easily readable by both humans and search engine bots, clearly explaining the path to a particular page.
Search Operators – Specific strings of text added to search queries to narrow down the focus of a search.
Search Visibility – How visible a website is in search engines across numerous keyword searches.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – The process of increasing the search visibility of a website through various methods.
SEO Copywriting – Writing copy for a website in a way that will be beneficial towards SEO efforts, usually through efficient placing of keywords.
SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) – The pages that shows the results for a search query on a search engine.
Sitemap – A page on a website that helps search engines understand the structure of a site
Spider – Another name for a search engine crawling bot, that crawls and indexes websites.
Structured Data – On-page markup that helps search engines to understand information on HTML generated from stored databases


Term Frequency – How often a keyword appears on a webpage
Title tag – Used on search result pages to display preview snippets of a webpage
Topical Trust Flow – A measurement of how authoritative and trustworthy a website is within its topic niche.
Trackback – An automatic notification received by a blog when another blog has linked to it.
Trust Flow (TF) – A score given to a website based on quality


Unique Content – Fresh content that doesn’t appear anywhere else online
URL – The address of a web page. Stands for “Uniform Resource Locator”
Usability – How simple the process of completing a task and navigating a website is for a visitor.
Usage Data – Data about how and when visitors use the website, which can be useful for SEO purposes


Vertical search – A type of search engine that focuses on a particular field, such as YouTube for video search
Viral Marketing – A type of marketing that aims to be shared by consumers, to spread brand awareness.


Website Speed – The speed in which pages and elements of a website load and operate at
White Hat – SEO techniques that are recommended and recognised as positive attributes by search engines
Whois – An accessible record of domain name ownership data
WordPress – A content management system, and also a blogging website


Xenu Link Sleuth – Free software that enables users to check a website for broken links
XML Sitemap – An XML file that lists all of the URLs on a website, along with any needed additional information about each
X-Robots-Tag HTTP header – A tag that controls search engine bots when crawling a website’s content.


Yahoo! Site Explorer – A now defunct tool that gave information on websites in Yahoo!’s search index. It merged with Bing Webmaster Tools in 2011.
Yoast – A Dutch SEO company that has created a range of optimisation tools and apps for WordPress users.
Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) – A type of webpage that has the potential to impact on the wealth or life (happiness, health etc) of users


200 OK – Response for a successful HTTP request
301 Moved Permanently – HTTP response code meaning the URL a link goes to has been moved, and links should be updated to the new URL.
302 Found – HTTP response code given for a URL redirection, including a URL in the location header field
404 Not Found – HTTP response code given when a web page cannot be found, but could be available again at some point in the future.
410 Gone – HTTP response code given when a web page cannot be found, and will not be available again.
500 Internal Server Error – HTTP response code given when an unexpected error has occurred for no specific reason.


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