seo lingo, seo words, seo terms

The term “SEO” is commonly used in the ad industry, now featuring prominently in many brands’ marketing strategies. As an abbreviation for “search engine optimization,” SEO refers to the practice of improving a website’s or web page’s ranking in a search engine’s unpaid results. This is achieved through a variety of techniques, including on-page optimization, off-page optimization, and link building. To better understand more SEO terms, lingo and phrases, read on to learn more!

A-Z Guide to Understanding SEO Terms



Algorithms: When it comes to search engine optimization, algorithms play a starring role. Search engines like Google and Yahoo utilize algorithms to determine a web page’s rank. Updated algorithms may change the way rankings are made, requiring SEO specialists to constantly adapt to achieve the best results.


Alt text: This is the text that appears in place of an image if the image cannot be displayed. Alt text is important for SEO because it allows search engines to understand what an image is about, which can assist with image search rankings.



Backlinks: These links point to a website or web page from another website or web page. Because they help build credibility and trust of an online source, backlinks are key.


Black Hat SEO: Black Hat SEO tactics were used in the past to fool search engines into ranking a web page in a higher position than it truly deserves. Black Hat SEO tactics include, but aren’t limited to:


  • Unrelated keywords and keyword stuffing
  • Tiny text, hidden text (containing keywords), and hidden links
  • Duplicate content
  • Buying backlinks


Bots: Sometimes referred to as robots, spiders, or crawlers, bots are programs designed to complete a specific task without outside help. Because bots are nearly autonomous, search engines use them to find and add web pages to their search indexes.


Bounce Rate: Bounce rate is a term that often arises when working with analytics and visitor stats on your website. A “bounce” is triggered when a visitor clicks to your site and then leaves without navigating to another page or completing any action on the page. Bounce rate is expressed as a percentage of your total site visits – so the lower, the better! That said, Google considers an average bounce rate of about 40% to be acceptable.


Broken Links: Defective or broken links are links that don’t take the user anywhere. Links might break for a number of reasons, like when content has moved, the end website has moved, or a programming error has occurred.


If a site has numerous broken internal links, bots will struggle to accurately index its content, which may negatively impact SEO performance.



Canonicalization: This process ensures that a website or web page has a single, preferred URL. This is crucial because it helps to prevent duplicate content, which can harm a website’s overall search rankings.


Conversion: This type of analytic reveals how many people have converted from casual visitors to loyal customers. Conversions may refer to any action, like making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.


Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO): CRO is a fairly common practice employed to improve conversion rates (number of completed conversions in relation to the total number of visitors) – whether by amending page titles and META descriptions, adjusting the calls to action, or another method.



Domain Authority: Used to measure the credibility of a website or domain, domain authority is determined by factors like the age of the domain, its number of backlinks, and the quality of those backlinks. Domain authority can help determine how high a website or web page will rank.




E-A-T: This term refers to Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. E-A-T is a pivotal part of Google’s algorithm, detailed in Guidelines. Google uses this guideline to determine content’s quality, and while it’s not a direct ranking factor, it can make a big impact.


Check out these Google search quality evaluators:

  • Content creator’s expertise
  • Content’s, content creator’s, or website’s authority on the subject
  • Content’s, content creator’s, or website’s trustworthiness


External links: These are links that direct a user to a website or web page from another website or web page that is not part of the same domain.



Findability: This refers to the ability of a website or web page to be easily located by search engines and users. Findability is important for SEO because it provides insight into users’ ability to access content.


Followed Links: These are links that an SEO team has permitted to send link juice to their target web page or website. A followed link will have this attribute in the HTML code:




Followed links can be very beneficial. For instance, if you received a follow link from a reputable source, it could help increase your website’s trust flow/domain authority.



Google: Google is the most widely used search engine worldwide. Because of Google’s tremendous popularity, ensuring content ranks high in its search results is undeniably important.


Google Business Profiles: This tool allows businesses to create a listing that search engines present to users, providing both business details and location. It’s free to set up and can improve visibility in Google Maps and Google Search.



Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML): HTML is the base computer language used by the majority of web pages. SEO specialists and web designers often work in tandem to ensure proper formatting and functionality. This formatting can also be used to tell bots key details about a web page, helping them index the site.


Headings: These are the largest, most prominent texts on a web page, used to attract the eye. Headings are important for SEO because they provide much-needed structure to content and indicate the topics covered to search engines.



Inbound links: These types of links point toward a website or web page from another website or web page. Inbound links help establish credibility and authority.


Index: Indexing is the action of adding a web page to a search engine index. When used as a noun, it refers to a collection or database of web pages that is used by search engines to determine page ranking



JavaScript: A programming language often used to build interactive website features, JavaScript can affect how search engines crawl and index a website or web page.



Keywords: These are words or phrases that are relevant to web content, used to help search engines understand what a website is about.


Keyword Stuffing: This practice of cramming as many keywords as possible into content is not recommended. Widely considered a Black Hat SEO tactic, it once boosted overall rankings – but that’s no longer the case. Instead, use keywords organically to ensure content is relevant to readers.



Link building: This practice of acquiring backlinks is needed to improve a website’s search rankings and build trust among users.


Link Juice: Link juice describes a backlink’s value, and while not a technical SEO term, it is widely used among marketers. Put simply, if a high-quality website created a backlink to your website, some of their authority (juice) would flow to our site.



Meta descriptions: These are short descriptions of the content on a website or web page that are displayed in search results. A meta description is a type of meta tag that provides a brief summary of the content on a web page. It is usually displayed in search results below the title of the page and is intended to give users an idea of what the page is about and whether it is relevant to their search.


Meta tags: These are tags that are added to the HTML code of a website or web page and provide information about the content to search engines. Meta tags are important for SEO because they can help to improve the findability of a website or web page. For example, the title tag and meta description are both considered “meta tags.”



Navigation: This refers to the way that a website or web page is organized and how users can move around within it. Navigation is important for SEO because it can affect how well a website or web page ranks in search results and how easy it is for users to access the content.


Nofollow: The exact opposite of ‘Followed Links’ that we mentioned earlier, the nofollow attribute tells bots not to pass any ‘Link Juice’ on to the other website. For example, a nofollow link might be used if a link is paid for, or the content could be classed as irrelevant or untrustworthy. The attribute looks like this:





Off-page SEO: This is about promoting a website or web page to other websites and building credibility and authority in order to improve its search rankings. This includes activities such as link building, social media marketing, and local SEO.


On-page SEO: This is about optimizing the content and structure of a website or web page to make it more attractive to search engines.  This includes techniques such as keyword research, title tags, and meta descriptions.


Organic Search Results: These cover the ‘natural’ results that appear when you search for a term in search engines. This means they haven’t been paid for and although they often appear below the paid ads, research shows ‘Organic’ results on the first page usually (dependent on industry) have a higher CTR than those paid adverts at the top.


This is often because the organic results are more relevant to the searcher’s intent, although some people just refuse to click those Ads! The organic results that appear at the top of the search results are the ones that have been optimized the best for the search term you’ve just typed. They ‘should’, if the search engines algorithms have worked as intended, be the most relevant to your query.



PageRank: This is a measure of the importance of a web page, as determined by the number and quality of the links pointing to it. PageRank is important for SEO because it can affect how well a web page ranks in search results.


Paid Search Results: As we briefly touched on in organic search results, paid search results are the ones that appear right at the top of the SERPs. These are adverts that companies have paid the search engine for. They can work to increase traffic, but there is usually a lot of competition for a small amount of space.


Google AdWords and Bing Ads are the two main players when it comes to Paid Search results; they both work on a PPC (Pay Per Click) basis, meaning that you pay a set amount every time someone clicks on your advert. The amount you pay depends on the keyword you are targeting and how much competition there is for it.



Query: This is a word or phrase that a user enters into a search engine in order to find information. Queries are important for SEO because they help to determine the relevance of a website or web page to a particular search.



Reciprocal links: These are quite simple really. Reciprocal links refer to the process of someone who links to your site, in return for a link to theirs. If you ever get an email with the general tone of “if I link to you, will you link to me?” – that’s a reciprocal link. This is still a bit of a ‘Grey Hat’ tactic and is sometimes seen in the same way as paying for a link, so we don’t suggest this method unless it makes sense for both websites.


Redirects: Redirects are where you tell search engines and browsers to redirect users from one URL to another. Redirects are usually set up because you’ve changed the web address (URL) of a landing page, or a website has moved to a different domain. Have you ever seen those “Whoops this page can’t be found” notices when you click a link? That often happens because someone hasn’t set up a redirect.


Robots.txt: This is a file that is placed on a website or web server and tells search engines which pages or files they should or should not index. Robots.txt is important for SEO because it can help to prevent certain pages or files from being indexed, which can improve the findability of other pages or files.



Search engine: These are websites that allow users to search for information on the internet. Search engines are important for SEO because they determine how well a website or web page will rank in search results.


SERPs: The term SERP stands for Search Engine Result Pages. A SERP is the page that a search engine displays to a user after they conduct a search. Google SERPs typically include seven to ten links to different web pages that are relevant to the user’s query, along with additional information or images. Many SERPs contain paid ads at the top, followed by organic results underneath.


There are three primary types of Internet search:

  • Informational
  • Navigational
  • Transactional



Title tags: These are tags that are added to the HTML code of a website or web page and provide a brief description of the content. Title tags are important for SEO because they give search engines an idea of what the page is about and how it should rank in search results.



URL: This stands for Uniform Resource Locator and is the address of a web page or website. URLs are important for SEO because they help to identify the location of a website or web page and give search engines an idea of its content.



Visibility: This refers to how easy it is for a website or web page to be found by search engines and users. Visibility is important for SEO because it determines how well a website or web page will rank in search results and how easy it is for users to access the content.


Visits: Honestly, this is just the number of visitors that you get to your website. These can be tracked using Google Analytics and can be filtered by unique visits, repeat visits and even through social media referrals.



Web hosting: This is the process of storing a website or web page on a server and making it accessible to users over the internet. Web hosting is important for SEO because it can affect the speed and performance of a website or web page, which can impact its search rankings.


White Hat SEO: The exact opposite of Black Hat SEO (remember that at the top?), White Hat SEO are the actions SEO teams take to enhance the organic Search Engine rankings of your website.


These are ‘by the book’ practices that aren’t penalized by search engines and help to contribute to a website’s performance over time. Unfortunately, no ‘Instant wins’ here!


A few White Hat SEO tactics include:

  • Keyword research and copy optimization
  • Image optimization, including Alt text
  • Inbound and outbound linking to reputable sources
  • Optimizing a site for page loading speed


Widget: A widget is a small tool that can be installed to display certain pieces of information on the front end of your website.


For example, you may have a widget installed that shows your most recent blog posts, a social media feed, or the total number of visitors that your website has received (that last one’s a bit outdated, but we won’t judge you…much).



XML sitemap: This is a file that lists the URLs of a website or web page and is used by search engines to crawl and index the content. An XML sitemap is important for SEO because it helps search engines to discover new pages and understand the structure of a website or web page.



Yoast: Yoast is an extremely popular plugin that many WordPress websites use to set the title and META descriptions of website pages and blog posts. It also lets you create XML sitemaps, whilst verifying your Google and Bing webmaster tools, amongst other nifty bits and pieces that make an SEO’s job just that little bit easier.


YouTube: YouTube is a video sharing platform that is owned by Google. It is important for SEO because videos can rank in search results and can also drive traffic to a website or web page.



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