80 Essential SEO terms and terminologies that you should know

Posted on December 12, 2018

80 Essential SEO terms and terminologies that you should know

Search engine optimization, like any other industry, has a lot of industry-specific terms and acronyms which could be confusing especially if you are just beginning. Whether you are new to the field or just trying to brush up your skills, getting to understand these terms will go a long way to make your life a lot easier.

In this article we highlight and explain a list of the most common terms you are likely to encounter in SEO.


1. Algorithm

A step-by-step procedure or formula to perform a computer operation such as calculations and data processing.

In SEO, it can be defined as the procedure by which search engines retrieve stored information in an ordered and meaningful way and deliver results when a user enters a search query.

2. Analytics

The systematic analysis and interpretation of data to take future action based on what has (or hasn’t) worked historically.

Analytics in SEO provides statistics on your website’s usage, including how much traffic the site is getting, where the traffic is coming from, what keywords users are entering to reach your site, how the users are navigating within the site, how long they spend on web pages and much more.

3. Anchor text

Anchor text is the visible, clickable text used in a link. The anchor text is generally a descriptive term that tells the user the topic or name of the destination page.

4. Alt Text

Alternative text is the text in HTML code that describes the images on web pages. It is the text that gets displayed in the place of the image in the event that the image cannot be loaded. They also provide the search engines with information of what the image is all about.


5. Backlinks

Backlinks, also known as incoming links, inbound links, and inward links, are links from other websites that point to your website. Backlinks are one of the most important factors for SEO because they work as a vote of confidence. The more links from quality websites your website has, the better it appears to search engines.

6. Backlink profile

Also known as link portfolio, backlink profile is a term used to describe the collection of all pages and domains currently linking to a website.

7. Black hat SEO

SEO practices that go against search engines’ guidelines. These practices attempt to manipulate their search engine rankings through means specifically and implicitly forbidden by search engines.

8. Blog

A blog is a website or a section of a website in which articles are published on a regular basis within a certain topic or theme. The articles are sorted in chronological order, with the most recent content appearing at the top. Blogs are utilized by companies as well as by individual users with their contents reflecting their interests and views. It can be written by an individual or a group of contributors.

9. Bot

A bot(also known as a robot, crawler, or spider) is a program that search engines use to crawl(ie, browses the web, looks for new sites and pages, checks what’s going on on them) the web autonomously. Bots then send the collected data back to the search engines so they can add or update their index(a massive database of all crawled sites) and rank these sites. These indexes are then consulted when compiling search engine results.

10. Bounce rate

Bounce rate is an analytics term that refers to the percentage of website visitors who enter a site and leave without visiting any other page on that website.

Regardless of whether a visitor spent seconds or hours if he/she only looked at one page before leaving, it’s considered a bounce.

Low bounce rates are desirable, however, a bounce is not entirely a bad thing because it’s possible the user found the information he/she was looking for on that page.

11. Broken link

A broken link is a link that no longer works due to a variety of causes and often resulting in a 404 page not found. Some of the major possible causes of a broken link are when: a link is incorrectly typed, a website goes offline, the webpage is removed without doing a redirection, or the destination URL is changed without implementing a redirection.


12. Canonical Tag

A canonical tag is an HTML link tag that tells search engines which version of a web page is the original and which are the duplicates when multiple URLs have the same or similar content.

The tag is placed in the HEAD section of the HTML structure.

It informs that the current page is a copy of the page located under the address set in the canonical tag. The main idea is that when a search engine sees this tag it does not rank that page, but transfers all the rankings to the canonical page.

13. Click-Through Rate (CTR)

The rate at which users click on a search result to a website on the search engine results page. It is presented in percentage and is calculated by dividing the total number of clicks by the total number of impressions then multiplying by 100.

14. Cloaking

The act of showing different content to search engines from what you show to human visitors to try to manipulate the page rankings for certain keywords.

It is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can get you penalized or even banned very quickly.

15. Conversion

Conversion is the predetermined, desired, and quantifiable goal accomplished by the visitor on a website.
This goal could be: completing a purchase, sending an inquiry email, subscribing to an email newsletter, phone call, etc.
Conversion is the ultimate goal behind an SEO strategy. The more SEO optimized your website is, the more organic traffic you’ll get, and the more people will convert.

16. Conversion Rate

The rate (expressed in a percentage) at which website visitors complete a desired action. This is calculated by dividing the total number of conversions by traffic, then multiplying by 100.

17. Crawling

Crawling is an autonomous process by which search engines browse the web, looks for new websites and pages, find what content they contain and store the collected information in their indexes for use when rendering search results.


18. Deep linking

Deep linking is making a link that points to a specific webpage of a website instead of that website’s main or home page.

Utilizing deep linking by linking to specific pages within your site with a good anchor text will improve the ranking of these pages.

19. De-index (also called delisting)

Removal of a website or webpage, either temporarily or permanently from search engine index. This could result from a penalty by search engines due to webmaster guidelines violation or could be a voluntary case where one chooses to remove some URLs through Google Search Console.

20. Disavow

A process of identifying spam backlinks to a site and telling search engines to ignore them.

If your backlink profile includes a high number of spammy, low-quality inbound links that may be harming your rankings – and don’t have the ability to get them removed – you can use Google’s Disavow Tool to tell Google to ignore those links.

21. Domain Name

Domain is your unique address for your website on the Internet. For example the domain of this blog is thecodepot.com.

22. Domain Authority(DA)

A metric developed by Moz that is used to predict a website’s SEO ranking ability; best used as a comparative metric. The factors that make up Domain Authority are popularity, incoming links, trust rank, and more.

23. Duplicate Content

Content that is identical or is incredibly similar in substance to content on the same site or a completely different website.

The more duplicate content a page has is noticed by search engines in a negative manner. It does reduce the trust of the search engine.

It is believed by some SEO experts that search engines can penalize your website for duplicate content, so it’s extremely important that all content is original, relevant, and of quality.


24. External link(also known as outbound link)

A link that points to a page on a different website outside the domain of origin.


25. Google Analytics

A free tracking software developed by Google that provides statistics on your website’s usage, including how much traffic the site is getting, where the traffic is coming from, what keywords users are entering to reach your site, how they behave within the website, how long they take on the website and on each page, and much more.

26. Google My Business(GMB)

GMB is a robust directory created by Google that presents results on the branded search of your business.
Reserved for business owners, this tool allows for the management of an online business within Google’s map pack, also known as local search results.

27. Google Search Console

A free program provided by Google that allows website owners to monitor how their site is doing in search by providing valuable information, such as the number of impressions on search results, amount of clicks, and your position for certain keywords.

It also provides tools to help you optimize your website (crawl reports, ability to submit a sitemap, check and fix errors, etc.).

28. Google Trends

Google Trends is a website that allows the user to explore data visualizations on the latest search trends such as how often specific keywords, subjects, and phrases have been queried over a specific period of time.


29. Home Page

The default, or introductory webpage, of a website. It is the first page to land when one types the domain name of a website in browser address bar.


30. Impressions

The number of people that see an item. In SEO, impressions often refer to the number of times that your webpage appeared in search engine results.

31. Inbound link

This is a link from another website that point to your website.

32. Index

As a noun, index is a massive database of all the crawled websites and their content search engine crawlers have gathered and deem good enough to render to search queries.

As a verb, to index means to add a web page to a search engine index.

33. Indexed Pages

This refers to the pages on a website that a search engine has crawled and stored in its index. Only the indexed pages get rendered in search engine results.

34. Indexing

Indexing is the process by which search engines collect data across the web and store it in their index.

35. Internal link

An internal link is a link from one page to another within the same web site.
They are used to improve a site’s usability and improve navigation between pages and sections.


36. Keyword

A word or phrase which describes a product, service, or piece of information that users with specific intentions (such as learning or buying) would type into a search engine to get to your website.
Using relevant keywords in your title tags, headlines, and throughout your content can help to give the search engines a better idea of what your page is about.

37. Keyword density

The frequency with which a keyword or phrase appears on a particular webpage. It is expressed as a percentage and calculated by dividing the total number of keyword occurrences by the total number of words within a page and multiplying by 100.
It is now an outdated measure of the relevancy of a page for a search term and is no longer a valid technique as it can be easily manipulated.

38. Keyword Difficulty

Keyword Difficulty is an estimate, in the form of a numerical score, of how difficult it is for a site to outrank its competitors.

39. Keyword Research

The process of researching and discovering any relevant words and phrases that are most appropriate for targeting a certain audience.
The research helps as well in knowing the volume and competition level of those terms through a variety of free and paid tools.

40. Keyword Stuffing

A spammy practice of overusing (repeating beyond what is natural) important keywords and their variants in a webpage to manipulate search engine rankings.

This spam approach is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can result in a manual action.


41. Landing Page

A webpage on a website that is specific and unique to a group of users designed to capture leads or generate conversions.

42. Link

A link is an element on a web page that provides a connection from one web page, document, or element to another web page.
When clicked on, directs the browser to another page or another part of the current page.
Their main role is to help in navigation but also play a critical role in how search engines evaluate and rank websites.

43. Link Accessibility

The ease with which a link can be found by human visitors or crawlers.

44. Link Building

The process of acquiring backlinks for a website or a page in order to positively impact its organic search engine rankings.
It is considered to be the most important element of every SEO strategy. If you want to have a well-ranked page you have to get high-quality backlinks to it.

45. Link Equity/Link juice

The value and authority in which a link can pass to its destination page.

Link equity can be passed along to a webpage from both internal links (links coming from the same website) and external links (links coming from another website).

The higher the domain or page authority the linking page has, the more the link juice.

46. Long-tail Keyword

A phrase that contains more than three words that are a more specific set of search queries and are more narrow in nature.
Long-tail keywords are less competitive and help target a more defined audience, which can help improve your conversion.
A great majority of searches are long-tail in form.


47. Meta Tags

Meta tags are HTML code that contain snippets of text invisible to users that describe a page’s content to search engines.

The title tag and meta description are the most commonly used types of meta tags in SEO.

48. Meta description

HTML markup that contain a descriptive summary of the webpage that is typically 160 characters in length.
The meta description is not visible on the actual website but appears on search engine results page below the page title and URL. If well written it can help increase the click-through rate.

49. Meta keyword

A tag that contains a list of keywords related to webpage content that is only visible to the search engines. They were used to help search engines determine what the web page was about, but nowadays search engines are much better at understanding content. Thus, they have been ignored by all major search engines.


50. Natural Links

These are the links that a webpage has acquired naturally from other websites without having to ask or pay for them.
An example is when you’ve written a great post that gets viral on the Internet and a lot of people end up linking to it because they like it so much, all those links are natural links.

51. Nofollow Attribute

By default every link is a follow link, meaning whenever a search engine encounters a link, it follows it, checks where it leads to, and basically takes it as a vote to the linked website.

Nofollow is a link attribute used to tell search engines not to follow one specific outbound link in cases where a website doesn’t want to pass authority to another webpage.

52. NoIndex

A meta tag that instructs search engines’ bots to not index a specific webpage to their indexes.


53. Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO is combination of all practices done outside a webpage to improve its rankings.
These practices include link building outreach, guest blogging, article submissions, directory submissions, social media marketing, influencer marketing, forum contributions, blog commenting, etc.

54. On-page SEO

These are all the activities done within a webpage to improve its rankings.

These activities may include publishing relevant, high-quality content, improving title tags, optimizing keyword usage and density, increasing webpage loading speed, improving the internal linking structure, etc.

54. Organic Traffic

Traffic that comes to your website as a search results without having paid anything to appear on search results. Getting organic traffic to your website is the main objective of doing SEO.

55. Orphan page

Any webpage that is not linked to by any other pages within the same website.


56. Page Authority(PA)

Similar to Domain Authority(DA), Page Authority is metric to predict a page ranking ability.

57. PBN

PBN(Private Blog Network) is a network of websites (generally owned by one company or individual) used to build links and pass authority to a single website for the purpose of manipulating search engine rankings.

This is a black-hat practice and not recommended at all as it may result to manual action or penalty from google.

58. Paid traffic

Traffic that comes to your website that you have paid to obtain through advertisement promotions such as through Google Adwards and Facebook Ads.

59. PageRank(PR)

PageRank is the measure of the importance/authority (with a scale of 0-10 with 10 being of the highest) authority) of a page based on the incoming links from other pages.

60. Page title

This is the HTML element that summarizes the content of a webpage and also used to tell search engines what’s the ‘name’ of your page. It should include strategic and relevant keywords for that specific page. It can be viewed at the very top of your browser window.

It is displayed in search engine results and so it should be written in a way that it makes sense to people and attracts the most clicks.

61. Pruning

In the SEO context, pruning can be defined as the removal of low-quality web pages in a website order to improve on the overall quality of the website.


62. Ranking

Positioning and ordering web pages on search engine results page by search engines based on the relevancy of the pages’ contents to the search query.

63. RankBrain

A machine learning search algorithm developed by Google to help understand new queries in order to provide users with the most relevant, helpful results.

64. Referral Traffic

Traffic received on website from another website, eg when people click on a link to your site on Facebook, Google Analytics will attribute that traffic as “facebook.com / referral” in the Source/Medium report.

65. Responsive Web Design (RWD)

This is an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing and interaction experience, easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling across a wide range of devices (from desktop computers to tablets and mobile phones).

66. Robots.txt

This is a text file on a website that instructs search engines to ignore certain parts of the website. These are created to prevent search engines from crawling whole website or some pages which you don’t want indexed for various reasons such as admin section, logins, cart pages etc.


67. Seed Keywords

The primary keywords mostly comprising of one or two words from which other keywords can be derived.

68. Search Engine

A computer program that enables users to enter queries in order to search for information such as web pages and files over the Internet.

They searches from millions of pages and documents to display the most relevant and quality results possible based on a user’s search query.

Examples of major Search Engines are Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, Ask, Baidu etc.

69. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

This is internet-based marketing that targets on gaining traffic and visibility from search engines through both paid and unpaid efforts. It encompasses both SEO and paid advertisements.

70. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

All the activities done on or off the website to make it rank in a higher position in the organic search engine results for certain search queries as a way of increasing website traffic.

71. Search Engine Result Pages (SERP)

A list of pages that get displayed by search engines when a user performs various search queries. Typically, these pages shows about 10 organic search results sorted by their relevance. Each of these results is made up of page title, URL to result page and a description of the destination page(meta description).

72. Search Intent

This is the ultimate goal of the person using a search engine to perform a search query.

73. Search Volume

The number of searches that occur for a particular keyword often expressed by many tools as searches per month.

74. Session

A session is defined as a group of interactions one user takes within a given time frame on a website. Google Analytics defaults that time frame to 30 minutes.

75. Sitemap

A list of pages on a website that is easily accessible to search engines, crawlers, and users. Typically, sitemaps are formatted as a HTML or XML file.
HTML sitemaps are made and organized by topics to help site users easily navigate a website.
XML sitemaps are created to provide search engines’ crawlers with a list of webpages on a website to easily discover and index your content.

76. Schema.org

Schema.org (often called Schema) is a semantic vocabulary of tags that you can add to your HTML to improve the way search engines read and represent your page in SERPs.


77. Traffic

Number of visitors coming to a website.


78. URL

A uniform resource locator is the address of a specific resource on the Internet such as a webpage or file.


79. Webmaster guidelines

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

80. White hat SEO

Search engine optimization strategies and techniques that are aligned with search engine best practices that focus on human with the goal of improving the organic visibility of a website.

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