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SEO Glossary: 130+ Terms and Definitions Beginners Should Know

SEO Glossary: 130+ Terms and Definitions Beginners Should Know

If you are taking your first steps into the world of search engine optimization, or SEO, you have probably already come across many jargon words, terms, and abbreviations that you haven’t heard of before. There are quite a lot of them, indeed!

You can Google what those mean, of course, but wouldn’t it be easier to have the most common and most important terms and definitions neatly grouped in one place?

Well, look no further, we’ve got you covered! To ease your way into the SEO realm and save you the confusion (yep, we’ve all been there), we have created a comprehensive SEO glossary.

For better clarity, we have divided the information into sections and included relevant links for further reading. Also, consider bookmarking this page for future reference as it may take you a while to feel confident in using all the terms freely.

Now, without further ado, let’s get right into it.

SEO Basics

10 Blue Links: The format in which search engines display search results.

Algorithms: Search engines use a set of mathematical equations to match the user’s query to the best results.

Black Hat SEO: Search engines optimization tactics that violate Google’s SEO Guidelines (such as buying links, keyword stuffing, misleading redirects, etc.)

Broken Link: A link on a website that leads to a non-existing page or resource, either inside or outside the same website.

Computer-Generated Content: Content such as articles created by software with supposedly the same standards as a human writer.

Content Delivery Network (CDN): A server network that is distributed around the globe and enables users to quickly access a website.

Core Web Vitals: Metrics by Google’s Page Experience used to measure user experience.

Crawler: Also known as web crawler, bot, spider. It’s a type of program that search engines use to collect information from webpages. This information is used to update the pages’ search engine index.

Crawling: The process through which search engines discover web pages.

Entry Page: The first page a user sees when they open a site. It can be the home page, a landing page, a product page, etc.

Evergreen Content: Continent that stays relevant over time.

Gray Hat SEO: Tactics and strategies that blur the line between white and black hat SEO. These tactics should be used with caution, as they may cause Google to penalize the website.

Holistic SEO: The practice of optimizing all aspects of a website, and analyzing performance, so that its pages can rank higher in search engines.

Index: The database used by search engines to store and retrieve information about the pages collected during the crawling process.

Indexing: The process of organizing and storing content found during the crawling process. Also, it refers to sorting information.

Organic Search: The unpaid, or natural, listings (page links) that show up in search engine result pages (SERPs). These results are analyzed and ranked by algorithms, and aim to provide users with the most relevant content, based on their search query.

Query: The words users type into the search bar when looking for information.

Rank: The position on which a web page appears within the organic search results for a particular keyword.

Ranking: The process of ordering search results pages by relevance to the search query and keyword.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): The process of optimizing a website and its content so it can appear among the top positions in organic search results. It calls for understanding of how search engines work, what users search for (queries, keywords), and why they’re searching (intent). It’s a combination of on-page SEO, off-page SEO and technical SEO.

Search Engine: A software system with a large database, that enables users to search the internet using corresponding keywords and phrases (e.g. Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, etc.)

Search Intent: The reason(s) for which users make a search query – to learn new information (informational intent), look for a specific product/service (commercial intent), buy a particular product (transactional intent), or find a specific website/page (navigational intent).

SERPs: Stands for Search Engine Result Pages. These are the pages a search engine shows when a user conducts a search.

Traffic: Number of website visits.

URL: Uniform Resource Locators are the addresses or locations of the individual pages with content on the web.

Webmaster Guidelines: Guidelines created by search engines to help website owners and marketers create content that can be discovered, indexed, and ranked, so it can easily be discovered by users when they perform a search.

White Hat SEO: Search engine optimization tactics that comply with Google’s Webmaster and Quality Guidelines.

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Keyword Research Terms

Ambiguous Search Intent: Refers to a search phrase with an unclear goal that requires further action. This happens when a person knows what they are searching for, but what they’re typing into the search bar does not match it (e.g. typing in the word Pluto without specifying if you want to learn about the dwarf planet or the Disney character).

Commercial Queries: Search queries where a user wants to research and compare different products to find the one that best suits them.

Informational Queries: Search queries where the user is looking for information on a topic or product/service that they want to know more about.

Keyword Difficulty: An estimate of how difficult it is for a website to rank for a particular keyword. It’s often shown as a percentage.

Keyword Explorer: A tool that helps with keyword discovery and in-depth research.

Keywords Cannibalization: When a website targets the same keyword in multiple posts and pages. This is usually done unintentionally, but it can still be harmful to a site’s ranking.

Keyword Research: A process that involves finding popular words and phrases that people use in their search queries, then including those keywords strategically within your content to help your site appear higher on SERPs.

Local Queries: A search query that people use to find information about something in a particular location (e.g. dry cleaners near me, or restaurants in New Jersey).

Long-Tail Keywords: Keywords with a low search volume that are, more often than not, easier to rank for. There can be very specific terms with higher purchase intent, as well as niche topics that are less popular.

Regional Keywords: Keywords that are unique to a particular location. You can spot these in Google Trends.

Search Volume: The number of times a particular keyword has been searched. Keyword search tools often display this as a monthly search volume.

Seasonal Trends: The popularity of keywords over a specific period of time.

Seed Keywords: The main keywords used to describe products/services you offer.

Transactional Queries: Search queries which indicate that the user is ready to make a purchase.


  • Intent-Based SEO: Driving Website Traffic the Smart Way
  • Content Writing for SEO: How to Create SEO-Friendly Content

    Indexing and Ranking Terms

    2xx status codes: A class of status codes, indicating that the request for a page was successful (e.g. 202 Accepted).

    4xx status codes: A class of status codes, indicating that the request for a page resulted in error (e.g. 404 Page Not Found).

    5xx status codes: A class of status codes, indicating that the server is unable to perform the request (e.g. 502 Bad Gateway).

    Backlinks: Also known as inbound links, backlinks are links from third-party websites that point to another website. These are very important for SEO because they indicate to search engines that other sites find your content valuable enough to link back to it. As a result, they help boost your site’s authority and ranking.

    Caching: A saved version of a webpage that allows the server/browser to render it in less time.

    Cloaking: A tactic used to show different content to search engines compared to the ones shown to humans.

    De-indexing: When a page or a group of pages is removed from Google’s index.

    External Link: Link from an outside website leading to your website.

    Google My Business Listing: A free listing that businesses can create on Google to improve visibility in local searchers.

    Google Penalty: An action issued by Google to demote a website or a page in search results.

    Google Search Console: Free software by Google that enables website owners to monitor how well their website performs in searches.

    Google Webmaster Guidelines: Best practices suggested by Google for better discovery, indexing, and ranking of a website.

    HTML: Also known as Hypertext markup language. This is the language used to create web pages.

    Index Coverage Report: A report in Google Search Console that keeps a record of the indexation status of a website’s pages.

    Internal Links: Links on a website that point to other pages on the same website.

    Local Pack: A pack of local business listings, typically three, that appear for local-intent searches (such as hair salons near me).

    Manual Penalty: It is a penalty action where a human reviewer, employed by Google, determines that certain pages on a website violate Google’s guidelines.

    Meta Robots Tag: Pieces of code that tell bots how to crawl and index web page content.

    Meta Description: Information used to describe the content of a page to search engines. It’s added to the HTML source code of a page. Along with title tags, meta descriptions are the most commonly used meta tag types in SEO.

    Navigation: A list of links that help users browse the pages on a site. These are usually in the form of a list at the top of the website (top navigation), to one side of the screen (side navigation), or at the bottom of the page (footer navigation).

    Page Rank: This is a link analysis program, part of Google’s core algorithm, that estimates how important a web page is by measuring, amongst other things, the quality and quantity of links pointing to it.

    Robots.txt: Files that indicate to crawlers which parts of a website should or shouldn’t be crawled and indexed.

    Search Quality Rater Guidelines: Guidelines that Google employees use to determine and evaluate the relevancy and efficiency of search results based on web page quality.

    Sitemap: A list of all the URLs on a website that the site owner provides so that the crawlers can find and index the content more easily.

    Spammy Tactics: Black Hat SEO approaches that violate search engine quality tactics. Any strategies that are considered underhanded or spammy to boost your website’s ranking.

    Title Tag: A type of HTML meta tag which indicates the title of a web page. It’s usually this which search engines display but it can also be replaced by the algorithm depending on its relevance to the query.

    Title tags should include the keywords for the specific page, be written in a way that makes sense to both readers and bots and contain no more than 65 characters.

    URL Parameters: Information added to a URL following a question mark. They are used to track information (passive parameters) or change the page’s content (active parameters) by adding values and variables (such as product sizes and colors in eCommerce stores).


Link Building Terms

Article Spinning: A spammy writing technique used to “rewrite” an article in order to avoid a duplicate content penalty. It’s done by replacing words, phrases or entire sections of an online article so it becomes a slightly different variation (“spin”) of an existing article.

Directory Links: In the context of local SEO, directory links are a part of an aggregate list of local businesses, and typically include each business’s name, address, phone number, website, etc. These may help build traffic and make a website more trustworthy.

However, in the context of link building, directory links are an outdated practice that brings next to no direct SEO value.

Domain Authority (DA): A metric used to predict a domain’s ranking ability.

Domain Rating: A method to measure how authoritative a domain is based on its backlink profile.

Do-Follow Links: The default state of a link, intentionally placed into content.

Editorial Links: Links which are earned naturally by having good quality content and marketing practices and that don’t violate Googles’ quality guidelines.

Google Analytics (GA): A free analytics tool by Google that helps website owners analyze their website’s engagement. For example, you can see where your visitors are coming from and learn how they have found your website. You can monitor your conversions – i.e. how many people are subscribing, downloading an ebook, filling out a form, etc. Or you can see how long visitors stay on your site.

Google Search Operators: Combinations of text and symbols that can be added to a search query to further specify the types of results a person is looking for.

For instance, adding “site:” before a domain name and search term (e.g. wordpress) can return a list of indexed pages on that specific domain. Sometimes this type of search can show better results than the website’s internal search bar.

Guest Blogging: This is when an outside party contacts or is contacted by a publication/website to write an article (or idea for an article) for them.

This can also be a link building opportunity, but you should be careful not to violate Google’s guidelines.

Link Bait: Content specifically created to attract other websites to link to it (not to be confused with Click bait: headlines that compel the user to click but the corresponding content doesn’t deliver.)

Link Building: Describes the process of earning links for a website, so as to boost its authority in searches. Even though the name might suggest it, link building is not about creating links to your website yourself.

Link Exchange: It involves negotiations along the lines of “you link to me and I’ll link to you”. Keep in mind, however, that excessive link exchanges are a violation of Google’s quality guidelines.

Link Explorer: Tools for discovering and analyzing links.

Link Profile: A portfolio of all the backlinks (inbound links) to a select domain, subdomain, or URL.

No-Follow Links: Links marked up with a rel=”nofollow” attribute to the <a> tag, that do not usually pass PageRank. Google encourages a very limited use of these links, like when a link has been paid for without violating Google’s guidelines.

Page Authority (PA): Similar to domain authority, PA predicts an individual page’s ranking ability.

Paid Links: Exchanging money, or products, for a link. Buying and selling links is generally considered a violation of Google’s rules. However, paid links that are used for advertising purposes, and not for manipulating search results, are permitted but must be specified as such by adding a rel=”sponsored” attribute to the <a> tag.

Qualified Traffic: This type of traffic means that the visit to the website is relevant to the users’ search query and the intended topic of the page. When this is the case, the visitor will be more likely to find the content useful and convert.

Referral Traffic: This is when traffic is sent to a website from another website. It could be through a backlink or affiliate link on another site.

Resource Pages: These pages are commonly used for link building, and typically contain a list of helpful links to other websites.

Spam Score: A metric used to measure a domain’s relative risk of penalization.

Unnatural Links: These are links that are not editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner. This is a violation of Google’s Guidelines and can result in a penalty for the offending site.


On-Page SEO Optimization Terms

Above the Fold: The content users see on a page before they scroll down.

Alt Text: Or Alternative text, is a text in the HTML code used to describe the images on web pages.

Anchor Text: The clickable words of a link. The anchor text is used to provide context to search engines and readers about the webpage.

Breadcrumb Navigation: Internal links that track how a page is related to the rest of the website’s information architecture..

Duplicate Content: Content which appears more than once. It can be shared between multiple pages of a single domain, or between domains.

Google Panda Algorithm: An important Google algorithm update which was first rolled out in February 2011.It was created to target low-quality content, often produced by “content farms”, and remove it. Today Panda is part of Google’s Core Ranking algorithm.

Google Penguin Algorithm: An algorithm update by Google which downgrades sites that engage in keyword stuffing and manipulative link building schemes.

Header Tags: An element in the HTML of the page, used to designate the different headings.

Image Compression: Resizing images on the web without reducing their quality, so that web pages can load faster.

Image Sitemap: A sitemap with only the image URLs on a website.

Image Thumbnails: Smaller versions of a larger image.

Keyword Stuffing: A spammy tactic that involves overusing high ranking keywords and similar phrases throughout content and links.

Link Accessibility: The ease with which users and crawlers can find a link on a website.

Link Equity: The value or authority a link can pass to its destination.

Link Volume: The amount of links that appear on a page.

Protocol: The “http” (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) or “https” (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) that precede a domain name in the site’s URL.

HTTP governs how data is transferred from a computer server to a web browser. Whereas, HTTPS uses a secure socket layer (SSL) to encrypt the data that is being transferred between a website and a web server, and is a minor Google ranking factor.

Scraped Content: Republishing content that is not the publishers’ property, derived from other websites without asking for permission.

SSL Certificate: A digital certificate that uses Secure Sockets Layer technology to identify the authenticity of a website and encrypt the data sent to the server.


Technical Optimization SEO Terms

Algorithm Changes: When search engines make changes, updates or release new algorithms to improve the search, indexing or ranking quality of the websites.

AMP: Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is an open-source HTML framework, designed to create stripped-down mobile versions of web pages for faster loading and a better user experience.

Async: Short for asynchronous. This is a type of programming that allows the browser to not have to wait for a task to finish before moving onto the next one. The page can, therefore, change dynamically without reloading.

Bundling: The practice of combining multiple resources into a single resource.

Canonical Tag: An HTML attribute that lets search engines know which is the “master” version of a page when there are similar versions across the website and/or the internet.

Client-side Rendering (CSR) and Server-side Rendering (SSR): These refer to where the code runs. Client-side rendering means that the files on a website render directly in the web browser. While server-side rendering means the files on a website are on the server, which then sends them to the browser in their fully rendered state.

Critical Rendering Path: This refers to the sequence of steps a browser follows to convert HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files/code into a viewable web page.

Domain Name Server (DNS): Allows websites’ domain names to be linked to IP addresses, so browsers can easily load the page’s resources.

Document Object Model (DOM): The structure of an HTML document that defines how a specific document can be accessed and changed online.

Domain Name Registrar: A company that offers and manages domain name registrations.

Fetch and Render Tool: A Google Search Console tool that allows a person to see a particular web page the same way Google sees it.

File Compression: The process of reducing the size of the file so it doesn’t slow down the site’s loading speed.

Hreflang: An HTML tag attribute that tells Google which language the content is in, so that the browser can serve the appropriate version of the page to users searching information in that language.

Internet Protocol (IP) address: A unique string of numbers that each device, user and/or website has which tells the internet where to send the data and helps browsers find a particular location on the web.

JavaScript SEO: A practice used to make JavaScript-heavy websites more SEO-friendly.

Mobile-First Indexing: Google’s ranking algorithm for crawling and indexing web pages based on their mobile version.

Structured Data: A standardized way to provide search engines with organized information about the contents of a web page.

Voice Search: Technology that enables users to give voice commands to a device (smartphone, tablet, computer) so that it can perform a search on the Internet, an application, or a website.

Web Browser: Software, like Chrome or Safari, that gives users access to information on the web.


SEO Metrics Terms

Bounce Rate: The percentage of total visits to a web page that did not result in a secondary action. For example, visiting the home page and then leaving before opening any other pages.

Channels: The different mediums through which to engage online users and acquire website traffic (e.g. organic search and social media).

Click-Through Rate: The rate in percentage at which users click on organic search URLs.

Conversion Rate: The rate in percentage of visits to conversions. It essentially states how many visitors fill out forms, sign up for newsletters, request a demo, make a purchase, etc. It’s calculated by dividing the total number of conversions by the amount of website traffic, then multiplying by 100 to get a percentage.

Qualified Lead: A potential customer that contacts a company through their website and has a high likelihood of becoming a paying client.

Google Analytics Goals: A list of activities, set by the website owner, that visitors should complete on a website in order to convert.

Google Tag Manager: A single hub that allows website owners to manage the tracking codes on their site – conversion tracking, site tracking, retargeting, etc.

Key Performance Indicators (KIPs): Measurable variables that track how well an activity is doing.

Pages Per Session: The average number of pages people view on a website in a single session.

Page Speed: How long it takes for a page to load. It’s part of Google’s Core Web Vitals.

Pruning: Removing low-quality pages from a website to increase the overall site’s quality.

Scroll Depth: A way to track how far visitors scroll down a web page.

Search Traffic: This refers to the number of users who visit a website by clicking on a link from the search engine result page (SERP) .

Time on Page: How long a user spends on a page before clicking away to another page.

UTM code: Urchin tracking module (UTM) codes are snippets of code included at the end of a URL used to track how effective digital marketing campaigns are.



There you have it! We really hope our glossary helps you better understand what search engine experts are talking about and that you can implement the best SEO practices out there.

For more practical resources about search engine optimization and its importance to your business, we strongly encourage you to read our blog. And if you find yourself in need of additional help, do not hesitate to contact us.