SEO Glossary of Terms 

SEO Glossary Feature Image

Hey, marketers! Here are easy-to-understand definitions and explanations of SEO terms. Looking for a specific term? Just press CTRL+F then type the word and press enter. 

10 Blue Links

The format used by search engines to show search results; ten organic results all appearing in the same format. 

10x Content 

A term coined by Rand Fishkin. It refers to any content deemed “10x better” than anything else on the Internet for that same subject. 

5xx Status Codes 

A class of status codes that indicate the server is unable to perform the request. 

Advanced Search Operator 

Any special command or character that users can input into the search bar to specify their query further. 

Algorithm 

Any formula or process that’s used to retrieve or organize saved information. 

Ambiguous Intent 

A search phrase where the user’s aim isn’t clear and needs further specification. 

Amplification 

The act of sharing or spreading the word about your brand; usually applies in social media, paid ads, and influencer marketing. 

Anchor Text 

Refers to the text with which you link to other web pages. 

API (Application Programming Interface)

An API lets you create apps by accessing the features or data of another service such as an app or an OS. 

Async 

The shorter version of the term “asynchronous.” It means that the web browser doesn’t have to wait for a task to complete before moving on to the next one while loading a web page. 

Auto-Generated Content 

Any content that is generated automatically, as opposed to being written by people. 

Backlink (also known as an inbound link) 

A link from another website that directs to your website. 

Black Hat 

SEO practices or processes that are in violation of Google’s quality guidelines. 

Bot (also known as a Crawler or Spider) 

Its job is to roam the Internet and crawl web content. 

Bounce Rate 

Refers to the percentage of total visits that didn’t result in a secondary action on a website. To illustrate: If a user visits your website’s home page and then leaves before viewing any other web page, that is deemed a bounced session. 

Brand Authority 

Developed by the search engine tool Moz, Brand Authority™ is a metric that measures a brand’s total strength. 

Browser 

Refers to any web browser, such as Chrome, Firefox or Edge. It’s software that lets users access information on the Internet (or local network). When you make a request in a web browser (ex: “google.com”), you’re instructing it to retrieve the resources needed to load that web page on your computer or device. 

Bundling 

The act of combining several resources into one resource. 

Caching 

A saved version of a web page. 

Caffeine 

Refers to Google’s web indexing system. Note that Caffeine is the index, or collection of online content, while Googlebot is the crawler that finds the web content. 

ccTLD 

The short version of the term “country code top level domain.” It means a domain that’s associated with a country. To illustrate: .ru is the recognized ccTLD for Russia. 

Channels 

These are the various means by which you can get attention and get traffic, like organic search and social media. 

Citation (also known as a business listing) 

Any web-based reference to a local business’s NAP (name, address, and phone number). 

Click-through rate

This is the ratio of impressions to clicks on your URLs. 

Client-Side & Server-Side Rendering 

They refer to where the code runs. Client-side means the file is executed in the web browser. Server-side means the files are executed at the server and the server sends them to the web browser in their fully assembled state. 

Cloak 

To display web content to search engines that’s not the same content shown to human visitors. 

Commercial Investigation Query 

Refers to any query wherein the user wants to compare products to find the one that best suits them. 

Conversion Rate 

This is the ratio of visits to conversions. Conversion rate answers questions like how many of your site visitors are filling out your forms, calling your number, subscribing to you newsletter, etc. 

Crawl 

Crawling is how search engines discover content on your web pages. 

Crawl Budget 

The average number of pages a search engine’s bot will crawl on a website. 

Crawler Directive 

Any instruction given to the crawler about what needs to be crawled and indexed on your website. 

Critical Rendering Path 

The steps a web browser follows when converting HTML, CSS, and JavaScript into a viewable web page. 

CSS or Cascading Style Sheet 

It is the code that gives a website its unique look (fonts and colors). 

DA or Domain Authority 

Refers to a metric developed by Moz. It’s used to predict a domain’s ranking ability; it’s best used as a comparative metric like when you compare a website’s DA against its competitors. 

De-index 

To remove a page or group of pages from Google’s index. Sometimes this can happen when a site gets a manual penalty for not following Google’s quality guidelines. 

Directory Link 

When used in local SEO, “Directory” refers to an aggregate list of local businesses. The term can also mean a type of unnatural link that’s in violation of Google’s guidelines. 

Distance 

As it relates to the term local pack, distance is the location between the user who is searching and the location inputted during the query. 

DNS or Domain Name Server 

It allows domain names (ex: “digitalfeet.com”) to be linked to IP addresses (ex: “138.234.59.90”). It basically translates domain names into IP addresses so that web browsers can retrieve the web page’s resources. 

DOM or Document Object Model 

Refers to the structure of an HTML document. It defines how that document can be accessed and changed by things like JavaScript. 

Domain Name Registrar 

Any company that manages the reservation of domain names. One popular domain name registrar is GoDaddy. 

Duplicate Content 

Refers to any content shared between domains or between two or more web pages of a single domain. 

Editorial Link 

When a link is earned naturally and given out of an author’s own volition, as opposeed to being paid for or coerced, they are deemed editorial. 

Engagement 

Data that indicates how users interact with your website after being directed from SERPs. 

Faceted Navigation 

They offer sorting and filtering options that help users easily find the URL they’re looking for (from thousands of URLs). To illustrate: You could sort a shoewear web page by price (low to high) or by size (small to large). They’re often used on e-commerce sites. 

Featured Snippet 

An organic box of text that’s displayed at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) for some queries. 

Fetch and Render Tool 

Refers to a tool in Google Search Console that lets you see a web page how Google sees it. 

File Compression 

A process for encoding information using fewer bits; reducing the size of the file. There are many file compression techniques. 

Follow 

The link’s default state, “follow” links pass PageRank. 

Geographic Modifier 

Refers to any term that describes a geographic location or area. For example, “restaurant” is not geo-modified, but “restaurant in New York” is. 

Google Analytics 

A tool that helps a website owner get insights into how users are engaging with their website. Google Analytics reports include acquisition reports that show what channels your visitors are coming from and conversion reports that show the rate at which people are completing goals on your website. 

Google Analytics goals 

These represent the ideal actions you want your visitors to take on your website. If you set those up as goals in Google Analytics, you can track your conversion rate. 

Google My Business listing or GMB listing 

A free listing that’s made available to local businesses. 

Google Quality Guidelines 

Guidelines set by Google that detail tactics that are not allowed because they are malicious and/or meant to manipulate search results. 

Google Search Console 

A free program from Google that lets website owners check how their website is doing in SERPs. 

Google Search Operators 

Refers to special text that can be added to a query to further specify what types of results to look for. One popular example is the addition of “site:” before a domain name, which returns a list of indexed pages on the same domain. 

Google Tag Manager 

A hub that lets you manage multiple website tracking codes. 

Googlebot / Bingbot 

This is how popular search engines like Google and Bing crawl the Internet; their “crawlers” / “spiders.” 

Guest Blogging or Guest Posting 

Sometimes applied as a link building strategy, it is the act of pitching an article (or article idea) to a publication so that they will feature your content and let you include a link back to your website. Be warned: Large-scale guest blog posts with keyword-rich anchor text links violate Google’s quality guidelines. 

Header Tag 

Refers to an HTML element used to designate headings on a web page. 

Hreflang

A tag that tells Google which language (English, Norwegian) the web content is in. It helps Google serve the appropriate language version of a web page to users searching in that language. 

HTML or Hyper Text Markup Language 

The scripting language used to render web pages on the Internet. 

Image Carousels 

Image results displayed in certain SERPs that can be browsed by scrolling from left to right. 

Image Compression 

Refers to the act of speeding up pages by making image file sizes smaller without affecting the image quality. 

Image Sitemap 

A sitemap that contains only the image URLs on a website. 

Index 

To store and organize content found when search engines crawl. The term can also refer to a big database containing all the content found and deemed SERP-fit enough by crawlers. 

Index Coverage Report 

A report generated in Google Search Console that indicates the indexation status of a website’s pages. 

Informational Query 

Refers to any query wherein the user is searching for information, like an answer to a question. 

Intent 

In SEO, intent is what users really want when they use a specific keyword when searching. 

Internal Link 

A link on your website that directs to other web pages within your site. 

IP Address or Internet Protocol Address 

Refers to a string of numbers that is unique to each specific website. We assign domain names to IP addresses because they’re easier for users to remember (ex: “digitalfeet.com”). However, the Internet needs these numbers to find websites. 

Java Script 

A programming language that can incorporate dynamic elements to static web pages. 

JSON-LD 

The shortened version of the term “JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data (JSON-LD).” It is a format for structuring data. For example, schema.org can be implemented in different formats — JSON-LD is one of them, but it is the format preferred by Google. 

Kanban 

It is a scheduling system. 

Keyword Difficulty 

Refers to a numerical estimate of how difficult it is for a website to outrank its competitors. 

Keyword Explorer 

An SEO tool for performing in-depth keyword research and discovery. 

Keyword Research 

It is the process of determining and analyzing what users are searching for when using search engines such as Google or Bing. 

Keyword Stuffing 

A spammy tactic that excessively uses important keywords (and their variants) in content and links. 

Keyword Targeting 

The process of using keywords that are relevant to your product or service in your website and ad copy. The aim of keyword targeting is to get a top listing in SERPs. To determine which keywords to target, you need to perform proper keyword research. 

KPI or Key Performance Indicator 

A measurable value that represents how successful an activity is performing to achieve its goal. 

Lazy Loading 

A method of deferring the loading of an object until it’s needed. It is often used to load web pages faster. 

Link Accessibility 

Refers to the ease with which a link can be found by users or crawlers. 

Link Building 

The act of earning links to your website to build your website’s authority in a search engine. 

Link Equity 

The value or authority that a link can pass to its destination. 

Link Exchange (Also Known As Reciprocal Linking) 

It’s a “you link to me and I’ll link to you” strategy. Excessive link exchanges violate Google’s quality guidelines. 

Link Explorer 

A Moz tool used for link discovery and analysis. 

Link Profile

A term that describes all inbound links to a specific domain, subdomain, or URL. 

Link Volume 

Refers to the number of links on a web page. 

Linked Unstructured Citation 

Any reference to a business’s complete or partial contact information on a non-directory platform, such as online news, blogs, best-of lists, etc. 

Local Business Schema 

Refers to structured data markup placed on a web page that helps search engines understand information about a business. 

Local Pack 

Usually a pack of three local business listings that are shown for local-intent searches such as “restaurants near me.” 

Local Query 

Refers to any query wherein the user is searching for something in a specific location, like “coffee shop near me” or “restaurants in Queens.” 

Login Form

A web page that features login authentication before its content can be viewed. 

Long-tail Keyword 

Refers to a longer query, usually one that is over three words long. Because it’s longer, they are typically more specific than a short-tail query.

Manual Penalty 

A Google “Manual Action” where a human reviewer has decided that there are web pages on your website that do not follow Google’s quality guidelines. 

Meta Description 

Refers to an HTML element that describes a web page’s content. Google frequently shows meta descriptions as the description line in search result snippets. 

Meta Robots Tag 

Pieces of code that give instructions to crawlers on how to crawl or index content from web pages. 

Minification 

The act of minifying something means removing as many unneeded characters from the source code as possible without affecting functionality. Compression makes something smaller, while minification removes things. 

Mobile-First Indexing 

2018 saw Google start to move websites over to mobile-first indexing. This means that Google crawls and indexes web pages based on their mobile version instead of their desktop version. 

MozBar 

Refers to a plugin for Google’s Chrome web browser that lets you easily view metrics for a web page, such as DA, PA, title tag, and more. 

Navigation

A list of links that help a user navigate to other web pages on a website. They are often shown as a list at the top of the website (top navigation), on the left or right side column (side navigation), or at the bottom (footer navigation). 

Navigational Query 

Refers to any query where the user is trying to get to a certain location. To illustrate: CNN’s sports section (query = “CNN sports”). 

NoFollow 

Links that are marked up with rel=”nofollow” don’t pass PageRank. Google encourages website users to use NoFollow links in certain scenarios, such as for a link that’s paid for. 

NoIndex Tag 

A meta tag that tells a search engine crawler not to index the web page it has found. 

Organic

Earned placement in search results that is not a paid advertisement. 

Pa or Page Authority

PA predicts a web page’s ranking ability. 

Page Speed 

Page speed consists of several equally important qualities, like first contentful/meaningful paint and time to interactive. 

PageRank 

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

Pages Per Session (Also Known As Page Depth) 

It indicates the average number of web pages users view of your website in one session. 

Pagination 

A website owner can split their web page into many parts in a sequence, like a book’s pages. This can help in very large web pages.  

The hallmarks of a paginated page are the rel=”next” and rel=”prev” tags. They indicate where each page falls in the greater sequence.  

These tags help Google understand that the pages should have consolidated link properties and that a user should be directed to the first page in the sequence. 

Panda 

A Google algorithm update that targeted content considered as low-quality. 

People Also Ask Box 

A box shown in certain SERPs that includes a list of questions (with corresponding answers) related to the query. 

Personalization

The way a search engine modifies a user’s results based on factors unique to them, like their search history or location. 

Programming Language 

Writing instructions in a way a computer can understand. A good example is JavaScript, which is a programming language that adds dynamic (not-static) elements to web pages. 

Prominence 

In the context of the local pack, prominence refers to well-known or well-liked businesses in the real world. 

Protocol 

Refers to the “http” or “https” that precedes the domain name. This governs how data is relayed between the server and the web browser. 

Pruning 

The act of removing low-quality web pages to improve the overall quality of the website. 

Purchased Link 

Exchanging money (or value) for a link. A purchased link constitutes an ad and should have a nofollow tag so that it doesn’t pass PageRank. 

Qualified Lead

If you use your website to invite potential customers to call your phone number or fill out a form, a “lead” is every contact you receive. Of course, not all leads will become customers. But “qualified” leads are relevant prospects that have a high likelihood of becoming customers. 

Qualified Traffic 

It means that the visit is relevant to the intended subject of the web page, and thus, the user is more likely to find the content useful and lead to a conversion. 

Query 

The words typed by the user on the search bar. 

RankBrain 

Refers to the machine learning component of Google’s core algorithm that adjusts ranking by promoting the most relevant, helpful results. 

Ranking 

The process of ordering search results according to their relevance to the query. 

Redirection 

This is what happens when a URL is moved from one location to another. Redirection is often permanent (301 redirect). 

Referral Traffic 

Refers to any traffic sent to a website from another website. If your website is getting visits from users clicking on your website from a link on Twitter, Google Analytics will mark that traffic as “twitter.com / referral” in the Source/Medium report. 

Regional Keyword 

A keyword that’s unique to a specific locale or region. For example: You can use Google Trends to check if “soda” or “tonic” is the more popular term in a state or city. 

Rel=canonical 

Refers to a tag that lets website owners tell Google which version of a web page is the original and which is the duplicate. 

Relevance 

In the context of the local pack, it refers to how well a local business matches what the user is searching for. 

Rendering 

The process of a web browser turning a website’s code into a viewable web page. 

Render-Blocking Script 

Refers to a script that forces a web browser to wait to be fetched before the web page can be assembled. Render-blocking scripts can require additional round trips before a web browser can fully render a web page. 

Resource Pages 

Used for link building, resource pages usually come with a list of helpful links to other websites. To illustrate: If your business sells accounting software, you could search “accounting” intitle:resources and reach out to the owners of these websites to check if they would include a link to your website on their web page. 

Responsive Design 

It is Google’s preferred design pattern for mobile-friendly websites. It lets the website adapt to fit whatever device it’s being accessed on. 

Rich Snippet 

A regular snippet is the title and description preview that search engines show of URLs on their SERPs. A rich snippet is an “enhanced” version of a regular snippet. Some rich snippets can be encouraged by structured data markup, such as review markup displaying as rating stars next to those URLs in SERPs. 

Robots.txt 

These are files that suggest which parts of a website search engines should and shouldn’t crawl. 

Schema.org 

Code that “wraps around” elements of a web page to give additional information about it to search engines. Data using schema.org is “structured” (which means it’s organized) instead of “unstructured” (unorganized). 

Scraped Content 

The act of retrieving content from a website that’s not yours and republishing it without permission on your website. 

Scroll Depth 

Refers to a method of tracking how far a user is scrolling down a web page. 

Scrum Board 

This is a method of keeping track of tasks that need to be done to achieve a bigger objective. 

Search Engine 

An info retrieval program that searches for items in a database that match the query inputted by the user. Popular examples: Google and Bing. 

Search Form 

A search bar or search function that helps users find pages within that same website. 

Search Quality Rater Guidelines 

These are guidelines for human raters who work for Google to assess the quality of real web pages. 

Search Traffic 

Visits sent to a website from a search engine (Google, Bing). 

Search Volume 

Refers to the number of times a keyword was searched. Keyword research tools typically display an estimated monthly search volume. 

Seasonal Trend 

The popularity of keywords during a specific time, like “Christmas gifts” being most popular during December. 

Seed Keyword 

Refers to the primary words that describe a product or service. 

Sentiment 

It means how users feel about your brand. 

SEO audit (Also Known As Website Audit Or Web Audit) 

It is the process of determining how well your website is optimized to be crawled by search engines. An SEO audit will help you detect and fix SEO issues that may be affecting your website SEO-wise. 

SEO Cleanup 

It is the process of removing any incorrect, outdated, and unneeded elements from your website. SEO cleanup can apply to your website content, as well as your meta tags. 

SEO Maintenance 

Refers to the ongoing process of implementing improvements to your website to maintain or enhance your search engine ranking results. Continuous SEO maintenance is important in improving your organic traffic over time. 

SERP or Search Engine Results Page 

The web page that is displayed after performing a search. 

SERP Feature 

A search result that’s shown in a non-standard format. 

Sitemap 

Refers to a list of URLs on your website that crawlers can examine to detect and index web content. 

Spam Score

This is a metric developed by Moz. It measures a domain’s relative risk of penalization by using a series of flags that are highly correlated with penalized websites. 

Spammy Tactic 

Like “black hat,” a spammy tactic is any tactic that violates search engine quality guidelines. 

SRCSET

Like responsive design for images, SRCSET signifies which image version to display for certain scenarios. 

SSL Certificate or Secure Sockets Layer Certificate 

A “Secure Sockets Layer” is used to encrypt data passed between the server and web browser of the user.

Structured Data (Also Known As “Organized” Data) 

Schema.org is one way to achieve structured data by labeling it with additional information that helps search engines understand it. 

Thin content 

Refers to any content that adds little or no value to the user. 

Thumbnail 

An image thumbnail is a smaller version of a bigger image. 

Time On Page 

This is the amount of time a user spends on a web page before clicking to the next web page. Google Analytics tracks time on page by when a user clicks the next page. That’s why a bounced session will log a time on page of zero (0). 

Title Tag 

An HTML element that indicates the title of a web page. 

Traffic 

The number of visits to a website. 

Transactional Query 

Refers to any query wherein the user wants to take an action, like purchase a product. If keyword types sat in the marketing funnel, transactional queries would be at the bottom. 

Unnatural Link 

Per Google, an unnatural link is a link that was not editorially placed or vouched for by the website owner on a web page. This violates Google’s guidelines and could result in a penalty against the offending website. 

URL or Uniform Resource Locator 

The specific address or location for an individual piece of content that’s accessible on the web. 

URL Folder 

Refers to a section of a website occurring after the TLD (“.com”), separated by slashes (“/”). To illustrate: In “digitalfeet.com/blog” we could say “/blog” is a URL folder. 

URL Parameter 

Any information that follows a question mark appended to a URL to change the web page’s content (active parameter) or tracking information (passive parameter). 

UTM Code or Urchin Tracking Module Code 

This is a simple code that you can add to the end of a URL to track additional details about the click, like its source, medium, and campaign name. 

Vertical Search 

A special kind of search wherein the focus is only on a particular topic, type of content, or media. Examples: YouTube (videos), Amazon (online shopping), Yelp (business reviews). 

Visibility 

Refers to the prominence and positions your website occupies within the organic search results. 

Voice Search 

This is a type of voice-activated tech that lets users speak into a computer or mobile device to ask questions or perform a search online. 

Webmaster Guidelines 

Guidelines set by search engines to help website owners create content that can be crawled, indexed, and rank in SERPs. 

White Hat 

SEO practices or processes that follow Google’s quality guidelines. 

X-robots-tag 

Like a meta robots tag, this tag gives crawlers instructions for how to crawl or index web page content. 

Yahoo

A popular search engine in the 1990s before Google started. Yahoo is now powered by Bing, the search engine from Microsoft. 

ZMOT or Zero Moment of Truth 

It’s a concept developed by Google. It refers to the most crucial moment in a user’s decision-making before buying something. Popular SEO tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush can identify and analyze ZMOT. 

Conclusion 

We hope this SEO glossary of terms help you better understand SEO. Again, if you need to find a specific term, simply press Ctrl+F on your keyboard then type the term you are looking for. 

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