SEO Glossary

SEO is full of funny words. We present you with this Glossary in the hope that we can work together using a shared understanding of what optimizing for search engines entails. Successful projects have in common successful communication. Have at it, and if you feel you still need clarification on anything, please do not hesitate and reach out to us to become SEO experts together.

301 Redirect: A signal to the search engines that a web page has moved. A person attempting to reach the original page gets taken to a new page that’s the closest match.

404 Error: A type of technical SEO error that signals the web page could not be found (often because it’s been moved or deleted).

Advanced search operators: Special characters and commands you can type into the search bar to further specify your query.

Algorithm: A process or formula by which stored information is retrieved and ordered in search engine results.

Alternative Text, alt text, alt tag: Tags placed on images that provide the search engines with a written description of an image.

Authority: A measurement of a website’s strength, which gets built up over time. A website with stronger authority will get its content to rank more quickly and easily. 

Backlinks: Links that point from other websites to yours. These links are valuable because of their ability to pass authority (ranking power) from one website to another. The higher the authority of the website giving the link, the more authority that link will pass to the website to which it’s pointing.

Black Hat SEO: Search engine optimization practices that violate Google’s quality guidelines.

Bots: Another name for search engine spiders or web crawlers.

Bounce Rate: The percentage of visitors to a web page or website who leave after viewing just one page on the website.

Broken Link: A link on the web that points to a moved or non-existent page. Broken links are frowned upon by the search engines because the crawlers are being directed to dead ends, which wastes resources.

Browser: A web browser, like Chrome, Opera, or Firefox, is software that allows you to access information on the web.

Channel: The different vehicles by which you can get attention and acquire traffic, such as organic search and social media.

Citations: Business listings that include your business’ name, address, and phone number.

Click-Through Rate: The ratio of people who click on your link when they see it appear in the  Google search results. Higher click-through rates mean more clicks or visits. The closer your website is to the top of Google, the higher its click-through rate.

Cloaking: Showing different content to search engines than you show to human visitors.

Competition: Other websites that are also trying to rank based on — and drive traffic from — your keywords. Other websites that are trying to reach the same audience as you are.

Content is King: An often-used phrase that emphasizes the importance of content to search engine optimization. The search engines value content because it’s proof of your relevance and expertise.

Conversion: A visitor who completes a desired action on your website — such as filling out a form or making a purchase.

Crawling: The process by which search engines discover, explore, and index your web pages.

Deep Link: A link on your own website that points to pages deep within your site (not to your homepage, for example). These links act as votes of confidence for individual pieces of content, such as blog posts.

De-indexed: Refers to a page or group of pages being removed from Google’s index.

Engagement: Data that represents how searchers interact with your site from search results.

Featured Snippets: Answer blocks that appear at the top of a search engine results page, featuring content pulled from another web page and displayed on Google.com.

Geographic modifiers: Terms that describe a physical location or service area. For example, “marketing” is not geo-modified, but “marketing in Mississauga” is.

Google Ads: An advertising platform from Google which powers the paid listing space on Google.

Google Analytics: A free, enterprise-level web analytics tool from Google which allows you to monitor your website’s performance.

Google My Business: Google’s tool for managing your Google Maps listing.

Google Search Console: Google’s tool that allows site owners to monitor how their site is doing in search, understand which keywords are driving traffic to your website, and how well the search engines are crawling and indexing your content.

Image carousels: Image results in some SERPs that are scrollable from left to right.

Index: A database of all of the content the search engine crawlers have collected.

Indexing: The storing and organizing of content found during crawling.

Informational queries: A query in which the searcher is looking for information, such as the answer to a question.

Intent: In the context of SEO, intent refers to what users really want from the words they typed into the search bar.

Internal Links: Links on your website which point to other pages within your website.

Keyword Research: The process of identifying the words and phrases your audience uses to search for your products, services, or expertise.

Keyword Stuffing: The tactic of placing too many keywords on one page.

Keywords: The words and phrases which users enter into the search bar. Keywords are also known as “search queries.” The search results for these words and phrases will direct people to your website.

KPI: A Key Performance Indicator is a measurable value that indicates how well your marketing initiative met the overall campaign goal.

Landing Page: Any page on your website that serves as the first page a person will view. Most landing pages have specific purposes.

Link building: The process of earning links to your site for the purpose of building your site’s authority in search engines.

Local business schema: Structured data markup placed on a web page that helps search engines understand information about a business.

Local Pack: A group of (typically) three Google Maps listings representing local businesses and appearing on the search engine results page.

Local queries: A query in which the searcher is looking for something in a specific location, such as “marketing agencies near me” or “graphic design in Mississauga”

Long-Tail Keywords: Multiple-word phrases that are entered into the search bar for a specific reason. These phrases make up 70% of the total online searches! For example, “what is the best SEO strategy”. Long-Tail keywords are often less competitive than shorter phrases and tend to have higher conversion rates.

Meta Descriptions: A tag in the header code of each web page. The search engines often use these to display these in the description portion of the listings you see on a search engine results page. Meta descriptions directly contribute to the likelihood of a person clicking (or not clicking) on your listing in the search results.

Meta Directive: Code snippets that live in the header code of each web page. These directives aren’t visible to website visitors, but they provide search engine bots with page-by-page instruction on how to index a page’s content.

Mobile-First Indexing: In 2018, Google started crawling and indexing your pages based on the mobile version of your website instead of the desktop version.

NoIndex tag: A meta tag that instructions a search engine not to index the page it’s on.

Organic: Earned placement in search results, as opposed to paid advertisements.

Organic Search: The free listings displayed on search engines.

Pages per session: Also referred to as “page depth,” pages per session describes the average number of pages people view of your website in a single session.

Page Speed: The amount of time it takes for a web page to load. They’re also critical for improving your search ranking.

PageRank: A component of Google’s core algorithm. It is a link analysis program that estimates the importance of a web page by measuring the quality and quantity of links pointing to it.

Page Titles: Also known as title tags. Page Titles are tags in the header code of each web page. The search engines use these to craft the linked titles of the results you see on a search engines results page. Page titles influence the likelihood of a person clicking on your listing (the click-through rate).

Pay-Per-Click: Also known as PPC. A model of marketing where a marketer pays for website traffic on a cost-per-click or cost-per-visit basis.

People Also Ask: A block displayed on some search engine results pages, featuring questions and answers relating to the search query.

Personalization: The ability of the search engines to customize the results you see based on factors such as your location or your past search history.

Query: A word or series of words entered into the search bar.

RankBrain: A machine learning aspect of Google’s algorithm which rewards the most relevant search results.

Ranking: The order of the search engine results, with #1 being the best and located at the top of the page. Ordering search results by relevance to the query.

Reciprocal linking: Link exchanges that involve “you link to me and I’ll link to you” tactics. Excessive link exchanges are a violation of Google’s quality guidelines.

Referral Traffic: Traffic sent to a website from another website. For example, if your website is receiving visits from people clicking on your site from a link on Facebook, Google Analytics will attribute that traffic as “facebook.com / referral” in the Source/Medium report.

Regional keywords: Refers to keywords unique to a specific locale. Like “pop” vs “soda”.

Rel=Canonical: A tag in the code of a web page that tells the search engines which version of the page is the original, and which are duplicates or copies.

Relevancy: The relevance of the content on your website to search for queries. The more relevant your content, the more likely your web page will perform well (appear higher) in the search results.

Robots.txt: A file on your website that tells the search engines where they’re not supposed to go.

Schema: Code that tags elements of your website with structured information that the search engines can then extract and display on the search engine results pages. For example, schema powers the recipes that show up directly in the search results.

Search engine: An information retrieval program that searches for items in a database that match the request input by the user. Examples: Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

Search traffic: Visits sent to your websites from search engines like Google.

Search Volume: The estimated average number of monthly searches completed using  a search engine like Google. Search volume is measured separately for each keyword.

Seed keywords: The term we use to describe the primary words that describe the product or service you provide.

SEO: Search engine optimization is the art and science of getting your website found using the free (organic) keyword space.

SERP: A Search Engine Results Page is what you see after you enter something in the search bar on Google, Yahoo, or Bing.

Sitemap: A list of URLs on your site that crawlers can use to discover and index your content.

Site Speed: A measurement of how quickly a sample group of your web pages loads. 

Site Structure: How your website content is organized. For example, the homepage is the top (most important) page, followed by those located in your main navigation. Often described by the number of clicks away from the homepage a particular page is located.

SSL Certificate: Secure Sockets Layer encrypts the data that gets passed between a server and a web browser. It makes your website appear as HTTPS, which is more secure.

Structured Data: Snippets of code that give search engines precise information about a web page’s content. Structured data allows search engines to easily organize web pages in the search results.

Time on page: The amount of time someone spent on your page before clicking to the next page.

Title tag: An HTML element that specifies the title of a web page.

Traffic: Visits to your website.

URL: The web address of an individual web page.

Webmaster guidelines: Guidelines published by search engines for the purpose of helping site owners create content that will be found, indexed, and perform well in search results.

White Hat SEO: SEO practices that are in line with Google’s quality requirements.

XML Sitemap: A file on your website that tells the search engines what to explore.