There are a huge amount of different terms when it comes to SEO. All this can be a little bit overwhelming, especially if you’re new to SEO.
Hopefully this glossary of some of the most common SEO terms will be helpful. All the terms are sorted alphabetically.
An absolute link shows the full URL path of the page being linked to. When linking to content on your own website you can use shorter relative links. It’s safest to always use an absolute link though.
Absolute link example:
<a href=“http://yoursite.com/webpage.html">The Link Text</a>
As opposed to a relative link:
<a href=“/webpage.html”>The Link Text</a>
The Alt Attribute is added to images on your web pages to describe what they are. Blind people and search engines can’t easily distinguish what’s in a picture so the alt attribute provides information explaining it.
<img src=“http://yoursite.com/your-image.jpg" alt=“This is the alt text describing the image” />
Anchor text is the actual text of a link that you click on. Here’s some example anchor text. In general you want links back to your website with your keywords in the anchor text.
When links are built naturally they tend to have a variety of different anchor text. Too much similar anchor text signals that you’re doing SEO work and could trigger a penalty.
<a href=“http://yoursite.com">This is the anchor text</a>
This is the ability of a domain to rank well in search engines. The major factors that make up a site’s authority are link equity, site age, traffic, site history and unique quality content.
A backlink is simply a link to your website from another site on the Internet. This is also called an inbound link.
In general the more backlinks your website receives the higher it will rank. Google and other search engines treat backlinks almost like a vote for the quality of your website.
Black Hat SEO
These are SEO techniques that are deceptive or outright illegal.
Hacking websites to include backlinks to your site or using automated software to spam links are examples of Black Hat SEO.
The percentage of visitors who leave a website after viewing only one page. In theory a high bounce rate is an indication of low quality content on your website.
Breadcrumbs are little links usually at the top of a page that explain the relationship between pages on your site.
If a user or a search engine shows up on a random page they might not know where they are on your site. Breadcrumbs help explain where they are in relation to other pages.
They typically look like this:
This is a link that no longer leads to the desired location. The page may have changed its URL or the site might no longer exist.
One common link building strategy is to point out broken links on a website as a show of help. Then also suggest when the webmaster fixes them to include a backlink to their site as well.
A single page on your website can have multiple URLs. For example:
Are all the same page but search engines can get confused. This could result in the same page being indexed multiple times.
The Canonical URL is the official link for the page that you want indexed. The other versions of the URL will redirect in the event that anyone links to them.
A Deep Link is simply a link that points to an internal page on a website.
If you’re building backlinks naturally you should end up with a lot of deep links to pages on your website.
Google has a link Disavow tool that can help you recover from penalties.
If you have links to your site from low quality sites that could hurt your rankings. The Disavow tool lets you tell Google to not count those links.
The Open Directory Project (dmoz.org) is the largest directory of websites on the Internet. It’s owned by AOL and run by volunteers. Anyone can submit a website to the directory and get a link back to their site.
This is the official site address for your website such as yoursite.com. Domain can also refer to a specific website.
These are pages that are designed to rank for specific search queries then redirect users to other pages on the website.
Search engines do not like indexing multiple versions of the same content. Copying content from other websites or have multiple pages on your site with the same content can get you penalized.
This is the amount of time a user spends on your website after clicking through a search result before they return to the search results.
In theory a low dwell time is a measure of low quality. The user didn’t find what they were looking for and went back to the search results.
This is content on your website that changes often. In general, the more dynamic content you have the more often your site will be indexed. Dynamic content can also help your website rank better.
An editorial link is a link within the content of an article. In general these links have higher value than links at the end or beginning because they look more natural.
This is the page on which a user enters your site.
An external link is simply a link from one website to another one.
There are 6 heading tags with HTML. In general it’s best to break your content up into sections with headings. You should also have the keywords you want to rank for in the headings as well.
<h1>This is an example of heading 1</h1>
You used to be able to hide text on your site that was full of keywords. Usually the designer would do something like make the text the same colour as the background and no one would see it.
If you try to do this today you will most likely be penalized.
This is a hidden Apache configuration file that you can use to set up redirects and other configurations. It’s best to not mess around with this file unless you’re sure you know what you’re doing.
A link pointing to your website from another one. Also referred to as a backlink.
A link from one page on a website to another page o the same site.
A keyword is the word or phrase someone types into a search engine that you want your website to rank for.
This is a measure of how many times your keywords appear in the content of a page.
Writing content full of keywords usually doesn’t convert well and could get you penalized. It’s best to write content for human readers and maybe slip in your keywords here and there.
You probably shouldn’t go over 2.5% with your keyword density.
The Yoast SEO plugin will track this for you if you have a WordPress website.
This is the process to finding the optimal keywords to focus your SEO or PPC efforts on. The goal is to find keywords with low competition and high amounts of searches that will convert well.
This is the page a user lands on after clicking on an online advertisement.
The process of building backlinks to your website. The more links you have the higher authority your website.
How strong your website is based on its inbound links and the authority of the sites providing those links.
Long Tail Keywords
Long tail keywords are much more detailed longer phrases. In general these keywords are easier to rank for and have higher conversion rates. They also have a much smaller search volume though.
An example of a long tail keyword would be:
“luxury condos for sale in San Antonio”
As opposed to a head keyword like:
This is a bit of code that’s entered into the head section of a webpage. The code contains a sentence or two that describe the content on the page.
When a page shows up in the search results the meta description is displayed below the title.
The meta description is also usually included when the page is linked to on social media sites like Facebook.
It’s usually recommend to keep your meta descriptions to under 160 characters.
The code for a meta description looks like this:
<meta name="Description" content=“This is your meta description. " />
This is a similar bit of code to the meta description that is also added to the head section of the page. It includes keywords and phrases that the page is targeting.
In the early days of the Internet people filled these tags with keywords. Today most search engines don’t count them and most people don’t even bother with them.
If you do enter meta keywords anyone can look at your site’s code to see what keywords you’re trying to rank for as well.
Negative SEO is the process of trying to build bad or low quality links to a competitors website to hurt their rankings.
This is a type of Black Hat SEO.
Any negative links can also be disavowed using Google’s disavow tool so this probably isn’t the best strategy to use.
This is an attribute added to the code of a link which prevents that link from passing on authority.
Blog comments usually add nofollow to their links to prevent people from spamming their comments with links. Any links they add won’t pass on any value to the website.
The code for nofollow looks like this:
<a href=“http://yoursite.com“ rel=“nofollow">This is your anchor text</a>
These are the steps you take off your website to improve your rankings. Off-Site Optimization generally revolves around getting backlinks, improving your social media presence or advertising online.
These are the steps you take on your website to improve your rankings. On-Site Optimization needs to be done first, before any Off-Site Optimization efforts or you’ll waste your time.
On-Site Optimization involves writing quality content, properly optimizing your meta tags, optimizing keyword density on pages, optimizing images and more.
This is a link from one website pointing to another different website.
Pagerank is a measure of the importance of websites. It’s a logarithmic scale that’s based on the links a website receives.
In general the more links a website has from high page rank sites the higher its own page rank.
Google’s algorithms no longer put an emphasis on Page Rank. In the past, the higher your Page Rank, the higher your rankings.
PPC stands for Pay Per Click. It’s a type of advertising on search engines where advertisers are charged when a user clicks on their ad.
This is valuable content that people naturally want to link to. The more quality content you add to your website the more natural backlinks you’ll receive and the higher your rankings.
Different links have different levels of quality. In general a quality link is:
- From a trusted source
- Is hard to get
- Was built in the past, the longer the better
- From a related website
- Within the content on the page (an editorial link)
Redirects tell search engines and browsers that a page has been moved to a new URL.
If someone types the URL or clicks on a link to that URL they will be redirected to the new URL.
301 redirects are used when a page has moved permanently.
302 redirects are used when a page has moved temporarily. During site maintenance for example.
These are links on a website with a shorter URL that is relative to the page with the link.
In general it’s best to use absolute links any time you link on your website.
Relative link example:
<a href=“/webpage.html”>The Link Text</a>
As opposed to an absolute link:
<a href=“http://yoursite.com/webpage.html">The Link Text</a>
This is a file on the root of your website with instructions for search engines on which pages to crawl and which ones not to crawl.
Not all search engines will honour what you put in your robots.txt file so be careful.
Search Engine Marketing
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Results Page. This is the page that shows you the results for the keyword you searched for.
A site map is a file or page that gives search engines a map of all the pages on your site and their relation to each other.
The site map is usually easier for a search engine to navigate then your actual website.
Splash pages are often used as home pages. These are usually fancy pages with some kind of graphic and a button to click through to your actual website.
These are terrible for both SEO and user experience and should never be used.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. SSL is the standard security technology for making an encrypted link between a website and a browser.
With SLL the data shared between the web server and browser is private.
Websites that operate online stores or collect personal information should have an SSL certificate.
Google also uses SSL as a factor in its ranking algorithm.
This is content on your website that does not change frequently
This meta tag is probably the most important part of on-site SEO. In general titles should be between 50 to 60 characters long and include the keywords you’re trying to rank for.
They should accurately describe the page and every page should have its own unique title.
The title also appears in the search results as the link that searchers click on. Therefore your titles should make people want to click through. Don’t just fill them with keywords.
The code for a meta title goes in the head section of the code and looks like this:
<title>This is my meta title</title>
White Hat SEO
White Hat SEO includes the various strategies that are approved by Google and won’t get you in trouble.
In general these strategies are much more work.
An example of White Hat SEO would be to create a lot of high quality content for your website that people naturally want to link to.
If there are any additional terms you’ve seen that we haven’t included here let us know and we’ll add them in!