open book against yellow background
open book against yellow background
#SEO #DigitalMarketing

The Complete SEO Glossary: A Beginners Guide

Tonya Davis

Whether you're just starting our or a seasoned expert, this SEO glossary will ensure you have all the terms that you need to know.

 Entering the world of digital marketing can be both intimidating and overwhelming.  There’s a vast sea of jargon you need to navigate whilst trying not to drown under the waves of acronyms that come at you. Luckily you have us as a guiding compass to help. 

We’ve broken the list down into digestible sections so you can easily find the information you’re looking for. Each section will pertain to a different aspect of SEO. Don’t forget to save this page so you can have it as a quick reference when needed.

The Basics

Search Engine: A web-based tool such as Google, Bing or Yahoo, that helps users retrieve information from the World Wide Web. 

Browser: An application that is used to access and view websites. Examples: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Microsoft Internet Explorer. 

URL: Stands for Uniform Resource Locator. A URL is the address of a specific website or file. 

SERP: Search Engine Results Page. This is the page you see after conducting a search on any search engine. 

Crawlers: An Internet bot that scans your website. Depending on the search engine, it can be referred to as Googlebot, Bingbot, etc. Also commonly known as a “spider”

Backlink: Links placed on other websites that point back to your site. 

Internal Link: A link placed on your own website that points to other pages within your site.

Organic: Term commonly used to refer to a natural placement within the search results, as opposed to a paid listing.

Featured Snippets: Selected search results that are shown on the top of Google’s organic results with the aim of quickly answering a user’s question.

Image Carousel: A carousel is a set of rotating images that displays on the homepage of your store. This allows you to display up to five slides which can be linked to specific products or pages. 

Black Hat: SEO tactics that are used to try and manipulate the search results in a way that goes against Google’s quality guidelines. 

White Hat: SEO practices that follow Google’s quality guidelines. 

Cloaking: A black hat technique used in which the content presented to the search engine spider is different from what is presented to a user. 

Spamdexing: The deliberate manipulation of search engine indexes. Also known as Search Spam, Web Spam, or Spammy Tactics. 

Index: Another name for a search engine’s database. An index holds and organizes website content.

De-Index: A page, or multiple pages, that are removed from a search engine’s database. 

Algorithm:  a process or set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps. 

PageRank: Google’s algorithm used to rank web pages in their search engine results page.

Long-Tail Keywords: Search phrases with a longer word count. A long-tail keyword is more specific than short-tail keywords and generally has a better user intent. 

Navigational Searches: A search with the intent of navigating to a specific website or webpage. Example: if a user searched “Walmart” with the goal of finding that website. 

Informational Searches: A search with the intent of finding information. This generally applies to broad topics for which there may be many relevant results. Example: If a user searched “weight loss”, there is no specific intent other than gathering information. 

Transactional Searches: A search with the intent to complete a transaction, like a purchase. Generally, very specific searches that often include a brand or product name. Example: If a user searched “black Hydroflask water bottle”. 

DA: Stands for Domain Authority. This is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz to help predict how well a website will rank in the SERPs. 

PA: Stands for Page Authority. This is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz to help predict how well a specific page will rank in the SERPs. 

DR: Stands for Domain Rating. Afrefs developed DR to measure the quantity and quality of backlinks going to an entire domain. Similar to Moz, this also helps to predict how well a website will rank in the SERPs. 

UR: Stands for URL Rating. Ahrefs developed UR to measure the quantity and quality of backlinks going to a specific page on a website. Similar to Moz, this also helps to predict how well a specific web page will rank in the SERPs.

Keyword Difficulty: One of the most important metrics to consider when doing keyword research. The higher the difficulty score, the harder it will be to rank due to competition. 

Search Volume: The amount of average monthly searches a keyword receives. 

LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) Keywords: Words and phrases that are correlated to your main keyword. Google uses these to help determine content quality and relevance to the search term. 

People Also Ask Box: A dynamic SERP feature that shows sets of questions related to the searched topic. 

Caching: A snapshot or a saved copy of a web page that Google creates then stores after they have indexed a page.

The Technical

Robots.txt: A text file created by webmasters that provide instructions to web bots on how to crawl pages within the site. Also known as robots exclusion protocol or standard.

Crawl Budget: This is the maximum number of pages that Google will crawl on a website on any given day.

Robots Directives: Sections of code that provide instructions to website crawlers about how a page's content should be crawled or indexed.

Sitemap: A visual model of a website’s content that helps users and search engines easily navigate the site 

UX: Stands for User Experience. This refers to the interactions that someone has with a company, product, service, or website.

UI: Stands for User Interface. This refers to the graphical layout of an application.

Programming Language: A high-level language which contains set rules for instructing a computer or computing device to perform specific tasks.

JavaScript: A dynamic computer programming language.

JSON-LD: Stands for JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data. Traditionally used by UX designers, this is a lightweight Linked Data format to easily read and write structured data using

CSS: Stands for “Cascading Style Sheet”. This is another coding language that is used to stylize websites.  

HTML: Stands for Hypertext Markup Language. This is the language used to create web pages.

Hreflang: This attribute instructs Google which language you are using on your website or on a specific page. This is so the search engines can serve that result to users searching in that language. 

Static & Dynamic HTML: “Static” means unchanged or constant.  A Static web page contains the same content each time the page is loaded. “Dynamic” means changing or animated. A dynamic web page can be interactive and lively.

Meta Tag: Snippets of text that describe a page’s content. Not visible on the front end of a website. 

NoIndex Tag: A meta tag that can be added to the HTML source code to instruct search engines to not include that page in the search results. 

NoFollow Tag: A meta tag that can be added to the HTML source code to instruct search engines to ignore a particular link on the page.

Noopener Tag: Applicable when a link is set to open in a new browser tab, often accompanied by “rel=noreferrer”. Some JavaScript features allow new tabs to gain control of it’s referring window. If you have a link pointing to an external site affected by malicious code, this tag prevents that code from stealing information and spreading. 

USG: Stands for user-generated content. This refers to any type of content created by users of online platforms. 

AMP: Stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. A shortened version of HTML coding design specifically for mobile versions of websites to help them load quickly. 

IP Address: Stands for Internet Protocol Address. This is a string of numbers unique to each website. 

Minification: The process of removing all unnecessary characters within the source code while maintaining functionality. This is done to help a page load faster. 

DNS: Stands for “Domain Name Server”. This is the Internet’s system for converting websites into IP addresses. For example, if you were to type “” into your browser, DNS servers would then return the IP address of the web server associated with that name. 

Domain Name Registrar: A company, like GoDaddy, that allows you to officially register your desired website domain name. 

Pagination: The process of separating content into multiple pages, similar to that of pages in a book. This helps to make the content user-friendly and easier for search engines to understand and crawl.

2xx Status Codes: A class of status codes that indicate the action requested was received, understood and accepted. 

4xx Status Codes: A class of status codes used in situations in which the request for a page resulted in an error.

5xx Status Codes: A class of status codes used to indicate the server failed to fulfill the request.

3xx Status Codes: A class of status codes that indicate additional action must be taken to complete the request. Many of these status codes are used in URL redirects. 

Responsive Website: A site that has been designed to adapt and change based on the technology and type of device being used by the visitor. 

Parallax Scrolling: A technique that is used in computer graphics where background images are set to move more slowly than foreground images, creating an illusion of depth and immersion.

Advanced Search Operators: Special commands that help extend the capabilities of regular text searches. Also known as Google search operators. 

Image Compression: The process of minimizing the size in bytes of an image file without affecting or degrading the quality of the image to a greater extent.

Faceted Navigation: A technique where websites, usually Ecommerce, allow visitors to filter and sort results based on certain attributes.

The On-Site

Alt Tags: An HTML attribute that is applied to image tags to provide “alternative text” for search engines. 

Duplicate Content: Generally refers to considerable blocks of content that either match other content within or across domains, or are very similar. 

Thin Content: Content that provides little to no added value. 

Auto-Generated Content: Content is not created by humans, but programmatically. 

Scraping Content: The process of taking content from other places on the web and publishing it on your own website. 

Title Tags: an HTML element that is critical to SEO, which specifies the title of a web page.

Meta Descriptions: A tag in HTML, usually around 155 characters long, that provides a summary to users on what a web page is about.

Header Tags: An HTML element that is used to define the header for a page, document or section.

Anchor Text: Text that appears highlighted and links to other pages.

SSL Certificate: Stands for Secure Sockets Layer certificate. Creates a secure link between a website and a visitor’s browser. 

KD: Stands for Keyword Density. This is the percentage of times a certain keyword or phrase appears on the page of a site compared to the number of total words on the page. 

Keyword Stuffing:  The process of loading a web page with keywords in an attempt to manipulate a site's ranking.

Schema Markup: Code that you place on your website to help search engines understand what your data means, not just what it says. 

Rich Snippet: A term used to describe structured data markup that can be added to existing HTML by site owners. This allows search engines to better understand what information is contained on a web page. 

URL Redirection: The process of sending a user from one URL to another. 

Canonical: A tag that tells search engines that a specific URL represents the main copy of a page. Also known as rel=canonical.

Page Speed: The measurement of how quickly the content on your web page loads. 

Above the Fold: The section of a web page that is visible when the page first loads.  

Lazy Loading: The process of loading web content only when it's needed rather than all at once.

CDN: Stands for Content Delivery Network. This is a group of servers that provide cached content to a user to accelerate its delivery. 

The Algorithms

Caffeine: Wasn’t as much of an algorithm update as it was a complete overhaul. This update brought a new web indexing system which allowed Google to crawl and store data more efficiently, which in turn produced fresher results. 

Panda: Aimed to reduce the quantity of low-quality and thin content in the search results, and to provide a boost instead to unique and compelling content.

Penguin: Aimed to eliminate link spam and manipulative link building tactics.

Hummingbird: Another major overhaul. Aimed towards better understanding conversational search queries, to return more relevant results. 

Pigeon: Aimed at improving local search. Google now used common ranking factors to influence local results.

Mobile-Friendly Update: Aimed to provide a boost to mobile-friendly websites in the search results, as well as improve the results for mobile searchers. 

Phantom: Aimed to improve how Google evaluates quality signals. 

RankBrain: Currently the only live AI (artificial intelligence) that Google uses in its search results. RankBrain uses machine learning to filter the search results to provide users the best answer to their queries. 

Fred: A sort of “catchall” for any quality-related algorithm updates that Google does not otherwise identify. Mainly targeted towards low-value content. 

Medic: A broad core algorithm update named “Medic” by many in the industry. Although Google denies it was targeted towards health, fitness, and medical websites, those were the most heavily impacted by this. 

BERT: Stands for bidirectional encoder representations from transformers. This is the next big step that Google has taken to better understand user intent. BERT can decipher the meaning of a word by analyzing the words that come before and after.

The Tools

Google Analytics: A tool created by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. You might need to learn Google Analytics to understand it's full potential and use it for the benefit of your business.

Sessions: A single visit to your website, can consist of one or more page views. The default setting for a session is 30 minutes, meaning that if someone were inactive on your website for over 30 minutes, it would count as a new session when they become active again.

Bounce Rate: The percentage of single-page visits to a website. 

Avg. Session Duration: Provides an overview of how long users on average are spending on your website. 

Users: A unique visitor to your website. 

Click-Through Rate: The measurement of clicks to your site per the number of impressions.  

Conversion Rate: The number of visitors to a website that complete a desired goal. 

Goals: Measures how well your site fulfills your target objectives. 

Events: A custom action that you want a user to take, which is tracked.

Channel: Provides an overview of traffic sources. 

Google Search Console: A tool created by Google that helps you monitor and troubleshoot your website's presence in the search results.

Crawling Errors: Happens when a search engine attempts to reach a page on your website but fails.  

Crawling Statistics: Provides an overview of Googlebot's activity on your website for the last 90 days.

Fetch and Render: Allows you to see how Google “sees” your website, as well as how a user sees your website. 

Mobile-First Indexing: This means that Google is mainly using the mobile version of your content for indexing and ranking.

Manual Penalty: Unrelated to algorithms, these are manual actions from Google that demote or remove web pages or websites as a whole from the search results. 

Index Coverage Report: Shows details on the indexation status for pages on a site.

Google Tag Manager: A tool created by Google that allows you to update and deploy tags easily on your website.

Container: A collection of tags, triggers, and variables installed on a given website.

Data Layer: A JavaScript object used to send information from your site to your container.

Debug Console: Allows you to browse a site where your container code is installed and troubleshoot various tags. 

Firing Trigger: Tells the tag to fire when a certain event is detected. Every tag must have at least one trigger.

Tag: Segments of code provided by various vendors that allow integration of their products into websites. 

Trigger: Listens to your website and tells the tag to fire when a certain event is detected.

The Links

Link Building: The process of gaining hyperlinks from other websites to your own. 

Link Exchange: The process of exchanging links with other websites. A “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” type of scenario. 

Link Portfolio: A combination of all of the different types of backlinks you have obtained to your website.

Amplification: The process of helping your desired content reach a much larger audience. 

Business Citations: Any mention of your business on the web that consists of your NAP (name, address, phone number). 

Directories: Helps users search for companies, services or products in their area in a more targeted way. It makes the website in question easier to find provides a backlink.

Social Bookmarks: A way to coordinate, collect, and submit your website on different bookmarking submission sites. 

Guest Post: The act of publishing a piece of your original content to another’s blog. 

Resource Page: A page on a website that provides a list of links that the site owner feels would be helpful to their users. 

Unnatural Links: According to Google, this is defined as any link placed with the intent to manipulate PageRank or the search results. 

Purchased Links: Exchanging money for a link. 

Link Juice: Common term used amongst SEOs that refers to the value passed from one page to another. 

DoFollow: A link that allows search engines to follow and pass link juice.

Referral Traffic: Traffic that comes to your site from other sources outside of search engines. 

Qualified Traffic: Generally speaking, this is the type of traffic that will be most likely to convert on your website. 

Local Pack: The listing of businesses, most commonly three, you see first in the search results when conducting a local search, accompanied by a Map. 

Google My Business: A tool created by Google for businesses or organizations, which allows them to easily manage their online presence on Google search and Maps.