In the early 2000s, SEO was simple. Over the years, as technology advances and the world wide web has grown, the process has become more complicated–and there are more SEO terms to learn now than ever.
We'll start with the basics to get you started on your SEO terminology journey: what the SEO acronym stands for, the five basic concepts, and even a quick review of the types of SEO.
As our grand finale, we’ll finish with the complete SEO glossary. This comprehensive list of SEO terms and SEO definitions will be an excellent resource for you to study today and save for later when you need to refresh your memory.
Let’s not waste another second–we’ve got a lot of SEO vocabulary to cover!
By now, you’ve seen the SEO acronym a few times–at the very least, thanks to this blog post! If you want to learn the basic SEO terms, you’ve got to understand what the SEO acronym stands for. SEO stands for search engine optimization.
Are you thinking, “So what does that even mean, Marketwake blogger?”
The definition of SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of improving a website to increase its visibility and rank on the search engine results page (SERP) when people search for products and services related to your business on Google, Bing, and other search engines.
We know you’re here to study SEO definitions, but we’d be remiss to let you skip right to the SEO terms without learning about the basic concepts of SEO.
The different types of SEO are merely SEO terms that divide the entire SEO process into smaller categories, making it easier to manage and understand the strategies and rules involved.
Now that you’ve got the basic SEO terms down, let’s dive into our SEO glossary filled with the SEO terminology you may come across on your new journey to learn SEO.
Wondering how you’ll ever learn this many SEO vocabulary words? You don’t have to when you have Marketwake as an SEO partner. We’ll hold your hand–even make you flashcards!–through the whole process of improving your site’s SEO.
Contact our team to get started–no studying required.
If you’re really feeling tenacious, keep scrolling for our full SEO glossary and bookmark this page to come back to later!
2xx status codes: A class of status codes that indicate the request for a page has succeeded.
4xx status codes: A class of status codes that indicate the request for a page resulted in an error.
5xx status codes: A class of status codes that indicate the server was unable to perform the request.
Advanced search operators: Special characters and commands you can type into the search bar to further specify your query, such as quotations around the search to force an exact-match search.
Alt text: Alternative text is the text in HTML code that describes what’s visible in the images on web pages.
AMP: Often described as “diet HTML,” accelerated mobile pages (AMP) are designed to make the viewing experience lightning fast for mobile visitors.
Amplification: Building awareness by sharing about your brand; often used in the context of social media, paid advertising, and influencer marketing.
Anchor text: Text that links to pages.
Async: Short for “asynchronous,” async means that the browser doesn’t have to wait for a task to finish before moving on to the next one while assembling your web page.
Backlinks: Also referred to as "inbound links," are links on other websites that refer to your website.
Black hat: Unethical search engine optimization practices that violate Google’s quality guidelines.
Bots: Also known as “crawlers” or “spiders,” these are what scour the Internet to find content.
Caching: A saved-in-time version of your web page.
Caffeine: Google’s web indexing system. Caffeine is the index, or collection of web content, whereas Googlebot is the crawler that goes out and finds the content.
Citations: Also known as a “business listing,” a citation is a web-based reference to a local business' name, address, and phone number (NAP).
Client-side & server-side rendering: Refer to where the code runs. Client-side means the file is executed in the browser. Server-side means the files are executed at the server, and the server sends them to the browser in their fully rendered state.
Cloaking: Occurs when different content is displayed to search engines than is shown to human visitors.
Commercial investigation queries: A query in which the searcher wants to compare products to find the one that works best for them.
Crawl budget: The average number of pages a search engine bot will crawl on your site.
Crawler directives: Instructions to the crawler about what you want it to crawl and index on your website.
Crawling: The process which allows search engine bots to discover and read your web pages.
CSS: A Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) is the code that makes a website look a certain way, such as its fonts and colors.
DA/DR: Domain Authority (DA) or Domain Rating is a metric used to predict a domain’s ability to rank in the SERP and is best used as a comparative metric (ex: comparing a website’s DA score to that of its direct competitors).
De-indexed: A page or group of pages that have been removed from Google’s index.
Directory links: An aggregate list of local businesses, usually including each business’s name, address, phone number, and other information like their website or social media channels. “Directory” also refers to a type of unnatural link that violates Google’s guidelines: “low-quality directory or bookmark site links.”
DNS: A Domain Name Server (DNS) allows domain names 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.
Domain name registrar: A company that manages the reservation of internet domain names, such as GoDaddy.
Duplicate content: Content that is shared between domains or between multiple pages of a single domain.
Editorial links: When links are earned naturally and given out of an author’s own volition (rather than paid for or coerced).
Engagement: Data that represents how searchers interact with your site from search results.
Faceted navigation: A number of sorting and filtering options often used on e-commerce sites 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 from lowest price to highest price or only display shirts in size large.
Featured snippets: Helpful answer boxes that appear organically at the top of SERPs for certain queries.
Fetch and Render tool: A tool available in Google Search Console that allows you to view a web page how Google sees it.
File compression: The process of encoding information using fewer bits; reducing the size of the file.
Follow: The default state of a link that gives points to boost search ranking.
Geographic modifiers: Terms that describe a physical location or service area, typically including the words “in” or “near”. For example, “coffee” is not geo-modified, but “coffee in Midtown Atlanta” is.
Google Analytics: A free tool (with optional upgrades) that provides website owners with insight into how people are engaging with their website.
Google My Business listing: A free listing available to local businesses which displays information like address, phone number, services, and/or products.
Google Quality Guidelines: Published guidelines from Google detailing tactics that are forbidden because they are malicious and/or intended to manipulate search results.
Google Search Console: A free program provided by Google that allows site owners to monitor how their site is performing in search.
Guest blogging: A link building strategy that involves pitching an article (or idea for an article) to a publication in the hopes they will feature your content and allow you to include a link back to your website. Use caution with guest blogging as large-scale guest posting campaigns are a violation of Google’s quality guidelines.
Header tags: An HTML element used to call out headings on your web page.
Hreflang: A tag that indicates to Google which language the content is in. This helps Google serve the appropriate language version of your page to people searching in that language.
HTML: The language used to create web pages. Stands for HyperText Markup Language.
Image carousels: Multi-image results in some SERPs that are scrollable from left to right.
Image compression: The act of making image file sizes smaller without degrading the image’s quality in order to make web pages load faster.
Image sitemap: A sitemap containing only the image URLs on a website.
Index: A huge database of all the content search engine crawlers have discovered and deemed high quality enough to display to searchers.
Index Coverage report: A report in Google Search Console that shows you the indexation status of your site’s pages.
Indexing: The storing and organizing of content that search engines find during the crawling process.
Informational queries: A query in which the searcher is looking for information, such as the answer to a question.
Intent: The information users really want to find from the words they type into the search bar.
Internal links: Links on your own site that point to other pages on the same website.
IP address: An internet protocol (IP) address is a string of numbers that’s unique to each specific website. We assign domain names to IP addresses because they’re easier for humans to remember, but the internet needs these IP address numbers to find websites.
Keyword Difficulty: An estimate of how difficult it is for a site to rank above their competitors in the form of a numerical score.
Keyword stuffing: Overusing important keywords and their variants in your content and links. Keyword stuffing is considered spammy and degrades your user experience.
KPI: A measurable value that indicates how well an activity achieves a goal.
Lazy loading: A way of deferring the loading of an object until it’s needed, often displaying an object only when it’s in view. This method is often used to improve page speed.
Link accessibility: The ease with which a link can be found by human visitors or crawlers.
Link building: The process of earning links to your site for the purpose of building your site’s authority in search engines.
Link exchange: Also known as reciprocal linking, this process covers tactics that follow “you link to me and I’ll link to you.” Excessive link exchanges are a violation of Google’s quality guidelines.
Link profile: A term used to describe all the inbound links to a domain, subdomain, or URL.
Link volume: The number of links included on a web page.
Local business schema: Structured data markup placed on a web page that helps search engines read specific information about a business.
Local pack: A collection of (typically) three local business listings that appear for local search queries such as “grocery store near me.”
Local queries: A query in which the searcher is looking for something in a specific location, such as “restaurants near me” or “coffee shops in Midtown Atlanta.”
Login forms: Refers to pages that require login authentication before a visitor can access the content.
Long-tail keywords: Longer queries, typically containing more than three words and often more specific than short-tail queries.
Manual penalty: A Google “Manual Action” where a human reviewer has determined certain pages on your site violate Google’s quality guidelines.
Meta descriptions: HTML elements that describe the contents of the page that they’re on. Google sometimes uses these as the description line in search result snippets.
Meta robots tag: Pieces of code that provide crawlers instructions for how to crawl or index web page content.
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.
Mobile-first indexing: Occurs when Google crawls and indexes your pages based on their mobile version rather than their desktop version. Google began progressively moving websites over to mobile-first indexing in 2018.
Navigation: A list of links that help visitors navigate to other pages on your site. Often, these appear in a list at the top of your website (“top navigation”), on the side column of your website (“side navigation”), or at the bottom of your website (“footer navigation”).
Navigational queries: A query in which the searcher is trying to get to a certain location, such as searching for the keyword “YouTube” to find YouTube.com.
NoIndex tag: A meta tag that instructs a search engine not to index the page it’s on.
NoFollow: Links marked up with rel=”nofollow” tell search engines to ignore links for page ranking. Google encourages the use of these in some situations, like when a link has been paid for.
Organic: Earned placement in search results that is not considered a paid advertisement.
PageRank: A link analysis program that estimates the importance of a web page by measuring the quality and quantity of links pointing to it. PageRank is a component of Google's core algorithm.
Pagination: A website owner can opt to split a page into multiple parts in a sequence, similar to pages in a 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.
Panda: A Google algorithm update that filtered out websites with thin, low quality content and rewarded high-quality websites.
People Also Ask boxes: A widget in some SERPs featuring a list of questions similar or related to the query and their answers.
Personalization: The way a search engine will modify a person’s results on factors unique to them, such as their location and search history.
Prominence: In the context of the local pack, prominence refers to businesses that are well-known and well-liked in the real world.
Protocol: The “http” or “https” listed before your domain name. This governs how data is relayed between the server and browser.
Purchased links: The act of exchanging money, or something else of value, for a link. If a link is purchased, it constitutes an advertisement and should be treated with a nofollow tag.
Qualified traffic: Explains when a web page visit is relevant to the intended topic of the page, and therefore the visitor is more likely to find the content useful and convert to a sale or customer.
Query: Words typed into the search bar.
RankBrain: the machine learning component of Google’s core algorithm that adjusts ranking by promoting the most relevant, helpful results.
Ranking: The ordering of search results according to relevancy to the query.
Redirection: Occurs when a web page sends users and search engines to a different URL from the one they originally requested. Most often, redirection is permanent (301 redirect).
Relevance: In the context of the local pack, relevance is how well a local business matches what the searcher is looking for.
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 pin on Pinterest, Google Analytics will attribute that traffic as “pinterest.com / referral” in the Source/Medium report.
Regional keywords: Keywords unique to a specific locale, for example using the term “football” to find sports information on soccer in Europe vs. American football in the United States.
Rel=canonical: A tag that allows site owners to tell Google which version of a web page is the original and which are duplicates.
Rendering: The process of a browser turning web code into a viewable page.
Render-blocking scripts: A script that forces your browser to wait to be fetched before the page can be rendered. Render-blocking scripts can cause your page to load slower.
Resource pages: Pages typically containing a list of helpful links to other websites commonly used for link building. If your business sells email marketing software, for example, you could look up marketing intitle:"resources" and reach out to the owners of these sites to see if they would include a link to your website on their page.
Responsive design: Allows the website to adapt to fit whatever device it’s being viewed on, such as on a mobile or tablet. Google prefers responsive design pattern for mobile-friendly websites.
Rich snippet: A snippet is a title and description preview for a specific URL that search engines show on its results page. A “rich” snippet, therefore, is an enhanced version of the standard snippet. Some rich snippets can be encouraged by the use of structured data markup, like review markup displaying as rating stars next to those URLs in the search results.
Robots.txt: Files that suggest which parts of your site search engines should and shouldn't crawl.
Schema.org: Code that wraps around elements of your web page to provide additional information about it to the search engine. Data using schema.org is referred to as “structured” as opposed to “unstructured”—in other words, organized rather than unorganized.
Scraped content: Republishing content you don’t own onto your own site without permission.
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 engine optimization: The process of improving a website to increase its visibility and rank on the search engine results page (SERP) when people search for products and services related to your business on Google, Bing, and other search engines.
Search forms: Refers to search functions or search bars embedded on a website that help users find pages within that website.
Search volume: The number of times a keyword was searched. Many keyword research tools show an estimated monthly search volume.
Seasonal trends: The popularity of keywords over time, such as “Thanksgiving turkey” in the month before the Thanksgiving holiday.
Sentiment: How people feel about your brand.
SERP features: Search results displayed in a non-traditional, organic format such as the People Also Ask box.
Search Quality Rater Guidelines: Guidelines for human raters employed by Google to determine the quality of real web pages.
SERP: (Or search engine results page) the first page you see after conducting a search.
Sitemap: A list of URLs on your site that crawlers can use to discover and index your content.
Spammy tactics: Like “black hat,” spammy tactics are those that violate search engine quality guidelines.
SRCSET: Like responsive design for images, SRCSET indicates which version of the image to show for different situations.
Structured Data: Another way to say “organized” data (as opposed to unorganized). Schema.org is a way to structure your data, for example, by labeling it with additional information that helps the search engine understand it.
Traffic: Visits to a website.
Transactional queries: Occurs when the searcher wants to take an action, such as buy something.
Thin content: Content that provides little-to-no value to the visitor.
Thumbnails: Smaller version of a larger image.
Title tag: An HTML element that specifies the title of a web page.
Unnatural links: Described by Google as “creating links that weren’t editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner on a page.” This is a violation of their guidelines and could warrant a penalty against the offending website.
URL: (Or Uniform Resource Locators) the locations or addresses for individual pieces of content on the web.
URL folders: Sections of a website occurring after the TLD (“.com”), separated by slashes (“/”).
URL parameters: Information following a question mark that is appended to a URL to change the page’s content (active parameter) or track information (passive parameter).
White hat: Search engine optimization practices that comply with Google’s quality guidelines.
X-robots-tag: Like meta robots tags, this tag provides crawlers instructions for how to crawl or index web page content.
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