If you are new to the world of SEO, it can be daunting. There are so many acronyms, terms, and abbreviations that it’s difficult to know where to start. But don’t worry because this blog post will alleviate all your worries by providing an SEO glossary! It’s not as scary as you may think once you find out what each acronym means. We’ll go through them alphabetically for ease of use at the end of this article.
Above the Fold
Content that appears on a website before the user scrolls. Google created the Page Layout (Top Heavy) Algorithm in 2012 to lower the rankings of websites featuring too many ads in this space.
A complex computer program used by search engines to retrieve data and deliver results for a query. Search engines use a combination of algorithms to provide ranked web pages via a results page based on several ranking factors and signals.
Some algorithmic changes go entirely unnoticed. However, the impact of a significant algorithmic change can usually be seen relatively quickly, though the change sometimes takes a few weeks to roll out completely. Algorithmic changes come in three forms:
- Algorithm Update: The search engine changes certain signals of an existing algorithm.
- Algorithm Refresh: The search engine re-runs an existing algorithm using the exact same signals as last time.
- New Algorithm: The search engine adds a new algorithm to improve search quality. For example: Google Panda, Google Penguin.
HTML code provides information used by search engines and screen readers (for blind and visually-impaired people) to understand the contents of an image.
Also known as Alt Text
The science of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data to take future action based on what has (or hasn’t) worked historically.
Also, see Google Analytics.
The clickable word or words of a link; this text is intended to provide contextual information to people and search engines about what the webpage or website being linked to is about.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The science of making computers perform tasks that require human intelligence; Rather than following a set of programmed rules (like an algorithm), an AI computer system is a digital brain that learns. AI can also make and carry out decisions without human intervention.
The combination of signals search engines used to assess websites and webpages for ranking.
Short for business-to-business. In B2B SEO, the buying cycle is more prolonged, products and services are more expensive, and the audience is professional decision-makers.
Short for business-to-consumer. In B2C SEO, the buying cycle is typically more straightforward (though it still varies by industry), products and services are (mostly) cheaper, and consumers are the audience.
See: Inbound Link
The most popular search engine in China, Baidu, was founded in January 2000 by Robin Li and Eric Xu.
Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, launched in June 2009, replacing Microsoft Live Search (previously MSN Search and Windows Live Search). Since 2010, Bing has powered Yahoo’s organic search results as part of Microsoft and Yahoo’s search deal in July 2009.
A complex computer program that is poorly understood. Inputs and outputs can be observed, but there is no access to the process itself due to its confidential nature. For example, Google’s algorithm is a black box.
Risky tactics that go against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Also see: Webspam
A publication of content, sorted in chronological order, with the most recent content appearing at the top. The content reflects personal or corporate interests and can be written by an individual or a group of contributors. Blogs were initially called web logs or weblogs. However, as “weblog can also mean a server’s log files, the term was confusing. The abbreviation “blog ” was coined and became the standard term to avoid this confusion.
The percentage of website visitors who leave without visiting another page on that website; Bounce rates range widely depending on industry and niche. According to Google, although bounce rate can indicate potential content or website issues, it is not a direct ranking factor.
See: Crawler, Googlebot
A user’s query includes an exact match, or variation, of a specific company or brand name.
A navigational element that helps users quickly figure out where they are within a website.
See: Website Navigation
A link that leads to a 404 not found. Typically, a link becomes broken when:
- A website goes offline.
- A webpage is removed without implementing a redirect.
- The destination URL is changed without implementing a redirect.
A technology that temporarily stores web content, such as images, to reduce future page loading times.
A snapshot of a webpage as it appeared when a search engine last crawled it.
An HTML code element specifies a preferred website URL when multiple URLs have similar content to reduce duplicate content.
A country-code top-level domain. For instance, a company based in the United Kingdom would have a domain like this: www.example.co.uk, where the UK is the ccTLD.
Content is designed to entice people to click, typically by overpromising or being intentionally misleading in headlines so that publishers can earn advertising revenue.
Click-Through Rate (CTR)
The rate (expressed in a percentage) at which users click on an organic search result. This is calculated by dividing the total number of organic clicks by the total number of impressions then multiplying by 100.
Showing different content or URLs to people and search engines. A violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Stands for Content Management System; A web-based application that lets people create, upload, and manage digital assets.
How frequently are two websites (or webpages) mentioned together by a third-party website, even if those first two items don’t link to (or reference) each other. This is a way search engines can establish subject similarity.
Poorly written comments, often off-topic and self-promotional, posted by spambots in the hopes of getting a free (but ultimately worthless) link.
There are two types of competition:
- Direct Competitors: Companies that sell similar products and/or services, serve the same needs, and target a similar audience both online and offline.
- SEO Competitors: Companies that vie for the same keywords and organic search visibility, but with unalike products or services that address different needs and/or target audiences.
- Words, images, videos, or sounds (or any combination thereof) that convey information that is meant to be distributed to and consumed by an audience.
- One of the two most important Google ranking factors (along with links). Search engines want to reward content that is useful, informative, valuable, credible, unique, and engaging with better traffic and visibility.
Content is King
A phrase often used by speakers at conferences and writers on popular SEO (and digital marketing) publications. In this context, “content is king” usually means that content is essential for you to have any SEO, digital marketing, or business success.
This phrase dates back to a Bill Gates essay, “Content is King,” published January 3, 1996.
When a user completes a desired action on a website, examples of conversions include:
- Completing a purchase.
- Adding items to a shopping cart.
- Completing a form (e.g., requesting a demo, registering for a webinar/event).
- Downloading premium content (e.g., ebook, whitepaper).
- Subscribing to an email newsletter.
- Video views.
The rate (expressed in a percentage) at which website users complete a desired action. This is calculated by dividing the total number of conversions by traffic, then multiplying by 100.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
The process of improving the number or quality of conversions on a website; Some popular CRO tactics include testing changes to website design, copy, images, price, call-to-action, and messaging.
The extent to which a relationship exists between two or more elements. They are often used in SEO research to infer relationships of variables on search rankings due to the black-box nature of algorithms. Always remember, however, that correlation ≠ causation.
The total number of URLs search engines can and want to crawl on a website during a specific period.
- URLs that a search engine bot is unable to crawl.
- URLs that return a status code error.
A program search engines use to crawl the web. Bots visit web pages to collect information and add or update a search engine’s index.
Also known as Bot, Spider, Web Crawler
The process of gathering information, using a crawler, from the billions of public webpages to update, add and organize webpages in a search engine’s index.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) describe how HTML elements (e.g., color, fonts) should appear on webpages and adapt when viewed on different devices.
All of the possible moments (or touchpoints) at which a prospect is exposed to or engages with a brand. These interactions are designed to persuade, influence eventually, and convert that prospect into a customer, client, or subscriber.
Though customer journeys can vary greatly by business type and industry, typically it is made up of four main “stages”:
Awareness > Consideration > Decision > Retention
Google’s Avinash Kaushik offers an alternative framework:
See > Think > Do > Care
Also known as Buying Process, Consumer Decision Journey, the Customer Journey to Online Purchase, Marketing Funnel, Path to Purchase, Purchase Funnel
All the complex numbers that represent real customers – the who, what, where, when, why, and how – all of which are needed to make informed decisions about SEO strategies and tactics.
A webpage that links to no other web pages; So-called because once a user or bot arrives on this page, there is no place to move forward.
- A link pointing to any webpage other than the homepage.
- A link pointing to content within a mobile app.
When Google removes a website or webpage, either temporarily or permanently, from search results, specifically its search index.
Google provides a Remove URLs tool in the Search Console for voluntary cases; however, a website may also be de-indexed as punishment for violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines in the form of a manual action.
Also known as Delisting
A list of websites, usually separated by related categories and maintained by human editors; Depending on the directory, inclusion could be free or paid. In the past, links from directories were highly sought after (e.g., DMOZ), leading to widespread abuse and devaluing this link building.
Also known as Web Directory, Link Directory
If your link profile includes a high number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality inbound links that may be harming your rankings, you can use the Disavow Tool in Google Search Console (GSC) to tell Google to ignore those links.
The Open Directory Project. This human-edited directory of websites launched June 5, 1998, and closed March 17, 2017.
A link that doesn’t use the “nofollow” attribute.
A website address – typically ending in an extension like .com, .org, or .net.
- The overall “strength” of a website, built up over time, which can help a new page rank well quickly, even before that content has earned links or engagement.
- A score, between 0-100, SEO software company Moz uses to predict the ability of a website to rank in search results.
Webpages are created to rank in search engines for specific keywords only to redirect users who click on that page to a different website.
A search engine founded on September 28, 2008, is often praised for its heavy focus on user privacy and a lack of filter bubbles (search personalization). DuckDuckGo relies on more than 400 sources to serve its search results, including vertical search engines, its crawler, DuckDuckBot, Bing, and Yandex. In 2016, 4 billion searches were conducted on DuckDuckGo.
When a significant amount of content on one web page matches or is incredibly similar to content that exists elsewhere on the same website or a completely different website.
The time elapses when a user clicks on a search result and then returns to the SERP from a website. Short dwell time (e.g., less than 5 seconds) can indicate low-quality content to search engines.
The buying and selling of products, all conducted online.
A link that is given by one website to another without the recipient asking or paying for it.
Also known as Natural Link.
Methods to measure how users interact with web pages and content. Examples of engagement metrics include:
- Click-through rate
- Conversion rate
- Bounce rate
- Time on page/site
- New vs. returning visitors
- Frequency and recency
- Dwell time
People, places, organizations, websites, events, groups, facts, and other things.
Also see: Knowledge Graph
See: Outbound Link
For specific queries, usually questions (i.e., who/what/where/when/why/how), Google sometimes shows a particular block above the organic search results. This box contains a summary (paragraph, list, table, or video), the publication date, page title, link to the webpage from which the answer originated, and URL.
Also known as Position Zero.
How easily the content on a website can be discovered internally (by users) and externally (by search engines).
Links that appear in the bottom section (or “footer) of a website.
See: Website Navigation
Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded the search engine in September 1998. Google marked a radical departure from human-edited web directories, relying on web crawling technology and a complex algorithm to analyze hyperlinking patterns to rank websites. Google is the most-used search engine in nearly every country in the world.
A free web analytics program can be used to track audience behavior, traffic acquisition sources, content performance, and much more.
Visit: Google Analytics
A practice intended to make a website rank number one for a surprising or controversial search phrase; this was accomplished by linking many websites to a particular webpage with specific anchor text to help it rank for that term.
For example, in 2003, President George W. Bush’s White House bio ranked number one searching for “miserable failure.”
The crawling web system Google uses to find and add new websites and webpages to its index.
A term was used starting in 2002 for the volatile period when Google updated its search index, roughly every month.
A Google search algorithm was officially announced in September 2013 after being in use for a month. The purpose of Hummingbird was to understand better the full context of queries (i.e., semantic search), rather than specific keywords, to provide better results.
Google Panda Algorithm
A major Google algorithm update that initially rolled out in February 2011was followed by numerous subsequent updates. The goal of Google Panda was to reduce the visibility of low-value content, often produced by “content farms. In 2016, Panda became part of Google’s core ranking algorithm.
Google Penguin Algorithm
A series of updates and refreshes followed a Google algorithm launched in April 2012. The goal of Penguin was to reduce the visibility of overly-optimized sites or sites that excessively abused specific spammy tactics (e.g., building low-quality links, keyword stuffing). In 2016, Penguin started running in real-time as a part of Google’s core algorithm.
Google Pigeon Update
The name (given by the SEO industry, not Google) of a significant Google local search update launched July 24, 2014; the goal of Pigeon was to improve the accuracy and relevance of local searches by leveraging more traditional Google ranking signals and improving distance and locating ranking parameters.
A significant Google algorithm change was officially introduced in October 2015, although it had been in testing for months before this. With RankBrain, Google added machine learning to its algorithm and called it the third most important ranking signal. In June 2016, it was revealed that RankBrain had been involved in every query and impacts rankings.
A theorized and debated (but never confirmed by Google) “waiting period” that prevents new websites from seeing the full benefit of their optimization efforts. Typically, this effect is witnessed most often with new sites targeting competitive keywords and can only be overcome when the site gains enough authority.
Google Search Console
Google’s Search Console offers several helpful features, including the ability to monitor sites for indexing errors and site speed. These pages are also used to communicate manual action notifications.
A website where you can explore data visualizations on the latest search trends, stories, and topics.
Visit: Google Trends
Google Webmaster Guidelines
Google’s guidance on good website optimization practices and “illicit” techniques to avoid a manual action. Simply:
- Make unique, valuable, and engaging websites and webpages for users, not search engines.
- Avoid tricks and techniques that deceive users and are intended only to improve search rankings.
There is a supposed “gray” area between techniques that adhere to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines but add an element that slightly bends the rules.
A popular link-building tactic involves developing content for other websites in exchange for a backlink pointing at your pages.
Also known as Guest Posting.
Heading tags (H1-H6) separate content into sections, based on importance, with H1 being the most important and H6 being the least important. Headline tags should be used naturally and should incorporate your target keywords where relevant, as doing so may provide a small SEO benefit.
An H1 tag.
A popular keyword with high search volume that is usually difficult to rank for.
Also known as Head Keyword, Short-Tail, Root Keyword
Any text that a user can’t see is intended to manipulate search rankings by loading web pages with content-rich keywords and copy. This technique is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can result in a manual action. For example, adding text that is:
- Too small to read.
- The same color as the background.
- Using CSS to push the text off-screen.
Influenced by the HITS Algorithm and added to Google’s algorithm in 2003, Hilltop assigned “expert” status to certain websites or webpages published about a specific topic that links to unaffiliated pages about that topic.
Hyperlink-Induced Topic Search is a link analysis algorithm that assesses a value not just based on content and inbound links (authorities) but also its outbound links.
The default, or introductory webpage, of a website.
A server configuration file that can be used to rewrite and redirect URLs.
Stands for Hypertext Markup Language. HTML tags are specific code elements that can improve SEO effectiveness for web pages and websites.
The Hypertext Transfer Protocol is how data is transferred from a computer server to a web browser.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure uses a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to encrypt data transferred between a website and web browser. HTTPS is a minor Google ranking factor.
An authoritative central resource (e.g., page or article) dedicated to a specific topic (keyword) is continually updated and linked to and links out to topically relevant web pages.
A link to a webpage that originates from an external website.
The database search engines are used to store and retrieve information gathered during the crawling process.
How easily can a search engine bot understand and add a webpage to its index.
A web page crawler has discovered been added to a search engine index and is eligible to appear in search results for relevant queries.
How a website is organized and where various content and navigational elements are located on web pages.
The process of searching for information (e.g., text, images, video) from an extensive database and then presenting the most relevant information to an end-user.
See: Website Navigation
An Internet Protocol Address. IP addresses can be:
- Shared: Numerous websites share an address within one server or a group of servers (a.k.a., virtual hosting).
- Dedicated: A website has its own address.
Neither will help you rank better; however, a dedicated IP address can increase site speed.
An SEO professional or marketer targets the word, words, or phrases to match and rank for users’ search. The terms used on web pages can help search engines determine which pages are the most relevant to organic results when a searcher enters a query. Keywords usually represent topics, ideas, or questions.
Also known as Keyphrase.
A type of self-competition that occurs when multiple pages from one website rank for the same query on a SERP. This can result in a lower CTR, diminished authority, and lower conversion rates than having one consolidated webpage that ranks well.
How often a word or phrase appears within the content of a webpage. At best, this unproven concept is outdated, if ever really mattered to search engines. There is no ideal percentage that will help a webpage rank better.
The process of discovering any relevant topics, subjects, and terms searchers enter into search engines, as well as the volume and competition level of those terms. This practice is made possible by a variety of free and paid tools.
Adding irrelevant keywords or repeating keywords beyond what is natural to a webpage in the hopes of increasing search rankings. This spam tactic is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can result in a manual action.
Google uses an entity database to surface facts and information on people, places, and things (a.k.a., entities) and their connections in a Knowledge Panel or carousel at the top of search results on relevant queries.
A box appears at the top of, or on the right rail (desktop only), of Page 1 of Google’s search results for relevant queries. This panel contains facts and information on people, places, and things and related websites or Google searches.
It stands for a key performance indicator (KPI); Businesses use it as a measurement method to gauge whether marketing and business objectives, targets, and goals are being reached.
- Any webpage that a visitor can navigate to.
- A standalone webpage that is designed to capture leads or generate conversions.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)
An information retrieval method designed to help search engines identify the correct context of a word. LSI doesn’t play a beneficial role in SEO today.
A person who may or may not be interested in your product(s) and service(s); a lead willingly shares their email address (and usually other personal or contact information) in exchange for something they deem of value from the website.
A connection between two websites is built using HTML code. A link enables users to navigate to websites, social networks, and apps. Links play a critical role in how search engines evaluate and rank websites.
Also known as Backlink.
Intentionally provocative content that is meant to grab people’s attention and attract links from other websites.
A process designed to get other trusted and relevant websites to link to your website to help improve your organic search rank and visibility. Link building can be done by:
- Conducting outreach to media outlets, bloggers, influencers, and webmasters.
- Attracting editorial links naturally, by publishing various types of high-quality or sensational content.
- Paying for them. For example, you can obtain links via sponsored content, paid reviews, or paying for a specific type of link to appear on another website.
- Forging partnerships.
- Manually. For instance, you link together various properties you manage or own, or add your site to online directories or review sites.
The value of inbound links in terms of relevance, authority, and trust.
When a group of websites links to each other, usually using automated programs, in the hopes of artificially increasing search rankings. A spam tactic.
Also known as Link Network, Blog Network, Private Blog Network
A term you should never use in public or online.
Also, see Authority or PageRank.
Every type of link that points to a particular website. The quality of a website’s link profile can vary widely, depending on how they were acquired and the anchor text used.
How quickly (or slowly) a website accumulates links. A sudden increase in link velocity could be a sign of spamming or viral marketing or doing something newsworthy (intentionally or unintentionally).
A file records users’ information, such as IP addresses, type of browser, Internet Service Provider (ISP), date/time stamp, referring/exit pages, and several clicks.
Log File Analysis
The process of exploring the data contained in a log file to identify trends, administer the site, track users’ movement around the site, gather demographic information, and understand how search bots are crawling the website.
- Highly specific multiple-word terms that often demonstrate higher purchase intent.
- Less popular keywords that have low search volume that are usually easier to rank for.
A subset of Artificial Intelligence in which a system uses data to learn and adjust a complex process without human intervention.
Google’s term for a penalty. Google will take manual action on a website after a human reviewer (i.e., a Google employee) manually reviews a website to confirm its failure to comply with Google’s Webmaster guidelines. Penalized websites can either be demoted or removed entirely from search results, and manual actions can be assessed to the entire website or just certain web pages.
A tag that can be added to the “head section of an HTML document. acts as a description of a webpage’s content. This content isn’t used in ranking algorithms but is often displayed as the “snippet that appears in the search results. Accurate and engaging descriptions can increase the organic click-through rate.
A tag that can be added to the “head section of an HTML document; adding a bunch of keywords here won’t help you rank – search engine algorithms have ignored this tag for ranking purposes for years due to abuse (in the form of keyword stuffing).
Information that appears in the HTML source code of a webpage to describe its contents to search engines. The title tag and meta description are the most commonly used types of meta tags in SEO.
A way to measure activity and performance to assess an SEO initiative’s success (or lack thereof).
See: Editorial Link
A rare but malicious practice where webspam techniques are used to harm the search rankings of another website, usually a competitor.
A specific market or area of interest consists of a small group of highly passionate people.
A meta tag that tells search engines not to store a cached copy of your page.
A meta tag that tells search engines not to follow one specific outbound link. This is done in cases when a website doesn’t want to pass authority to another webpage or because it’s a paid link. The nofollow attribute looks like this:
<a href=”http://www.example.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Anchor text goes here</a>
A meta tag that tells search engines not to index a specific webpage in its index.
A meta tag that tells search engines not to show a description of your listing.
After search engines moved to secure search in 2011, keyword data was removed from Google Analytics, replaced with “(not provided)” – thus making it impossible to know which queries were responsible for visitors finding a website.
Demand generation and brand awareness activities that take place outside of a website. In addition to link building, promotion tactics can include social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, influencer marketing, and even offline marketing channels (e.g., TV, radio, billboards).
These activities all take place within a website. In addition to publishing relevant, high-quality content, on-page SEO includes optimizing HTML code (e.g., title tags, meta tags), information architecture, website navigation, and URL structure.
The natural or unpaid listings that appear on a SERP, organic search results, analyzed and ranked by algorithms, give users the most relevant effect based on their query.
Any webpage that is not linked to by any other pages on that website.
A link that directs visitors to a page on a different website than they are currently on.
According to Google: “PageRank is the measure of the importance of a page based on the incoming links from other pages. In simple terms, each link to a page on your site from another site adds to your site’s PageRank. Not all links are equal.” The algorithm was named after Google co-founder Larry Page.
The amount of time it takes for a webpage to load completely. Page speed is a ranking factor.
A webpage is loaded in a browser.
Pay-per-click advertisements that appear above (and often below) the organic results on search engines.
Stands for Private Blog Network.
See Link Farm.
It stands for a Portable Document Format file; PDFs can contain text, images, links, videos, and other elements.
See Manual Action
It is a fictional representation of an ideal website visitor or customer; their demographics, behavior, needs, motivations, and goals are all based on actual data.
Also known as Buyer Persona, Marketing Persona
Search engines use search history, web browsing history, location, and relationships to create a set of search results tailored to a specific user.
Hypertext Preprocessor is a scripting language used to create dynamic content on web pages.
Search engines aim to reduce the organic search rankings of content that infringes on copyright. Google introduced a filter in 2012 that reduces the visibility of sites reported for numerous DMCA-related takedown requests.
After entering a query, a searcher bounces back and forth between a SERP and the pages listed in those search results.
Also, see Dwell time.
Go to: Rank
PPC (Pay Per Click)
A type of advertising where advertisers are charged a certain amount (usually determined by bid, relevance, account history, and competition) every time a user clicks on the ad. Combining PPC and SEO can result in more SERP real estate, clicks, and conversions. Also, PPC data can inform your SEO strategy, and the reverse is also true.
Stands for query deserves freshness, where a search engine might decide to show newer webpages in search results (rather than older pages) if a particular search term is trending, perhaps because a news event has resulted in a surge in searches on that topic.
Content that helps you successfully achieve business or marketing goals (e.g., driving organic traffic or social shares, earning top search rankings, generating leads/sales).
An inbound link that originates from an authoritative, relevant, or trusted website.
The word, words, or phrases that a user enters into a search engine.
Also known as A search.
Where a webpage appears within the organic search results for a specific query.
An individual component contributes to a complex series of algorithms determining where web pages should appear with the organic search results for a specific query. For years, Google has said that its algorithms “rely on more than 200 unique signals” to help users find the most relevant webpage or answer.
Also known as Ranking Signal.
When two websites agree to exchange links to one another.
A technique sends a user (or search engine) who requested one webpage to a different (but equally relevant) webpage. There are two types of redirects:
- 301: Permanent
- 302: Temporary
URL data that identifies the source of a user’s webpage request.
The process of asking a search engine to return a website or webpage(s) to its search index after de-indexing.
A way search engines measure how closely related a web page’s content is aligned to match the context of a search query.
The practice of crafting a positive online perception of a brand or person, including in search results and on social media, minimizes the visibility of negative mentions.
Also known as Online Reputation Management, Public Relations
A website is designed to adapt to a user’s screen size, whether viewed on a desktop or mobile device automatically.
Structured data can be added to the HTML of a website to provide contextual information to the search engines during crawling. This information can then be displayed in the SERPs, resulting in an enhanced listing, known as a rich snippet.
The Robots Exclusion Protocol (or Standard) is a text file, accessible at the root of a website, telling search engine crawlers which areas should be ignored.
Return on Investment (ROI)
A way to measure the performance of SEO activities; is calculated by dividing how much revenue you earned via organic search by the total investment cost multiplying by 100.
Once added to a web page, microdata creates an enhanced description (commonly known as a rich snippet), which appears in search results.
A technique used to copy website content or information using a computer program or script; search engines, such as Google, scrape data to build a searchable index of websites.
Also known as Web scraping.
A computer program enables users to enter a query to retrieve information (e.g., files, websites, webpages) from that program’s index (i.e., a web search engine, such as Google indexes websites, webpages, and files found on the World Wide Web). A search index is built and updated using a crawler, with items being analyzed and ranked by a series of algorithms.
Also, see Baidu, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Google, Yahoo, Yandex.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
An umbrella term for increasing a website’s visibility in search engine results pages, encompassing paid and organic activities.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The process of optimizing a website and all the content on that website will appear in prominent positions in the organic results of search engines. SEO requires understanding how search engines work, what people search for (i.e., keywords and key phrases), and why people search (intent). Successful SEO makes a site appealing to users and search engines. It is a combination of technical (on-page SEO) and marketing (off-page SEO).
See: On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO
Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
The page search engines display to users after searching. Typically, search engines show about ten organic search results, sorted by relevance. Depending on the query, other search features may be displayed, including:
- AdWords Ads (above and below the organic search results)
- Featured snippets (a.k.a., Position Zero)
- Knowledge panels
- Local Pack (with map)
- Related questions
- Related searches
- Shopping results
Also known as SERPs, when referring to multiple search engine results pages.
Search engines track every search users conduct (text and voice), every webpage visited, and every ad clicked on. Search engines may use this data to personalize the results for signed-in users.
Also known as Web Browsing History.
Share of Voice
How many impressions a brand receives in the SERPs for search terms compared to the total images that the brand’s competitors receive for those same search terms.
Up to six algorithmically-chosen links appear below the listing for the same website of a top-ranked organic search result. Pages can be blocked from appearing as sitelinks within the Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools.
Also known as Deep Links (Bing).
A list of pages on a website. There are two types of sitemaps:
- HTML: This type of sitemap, typically organized by topics, helps site users navigate a website.
- XML: This type of sitemap provides crawlers with a list of webpages on a website.
A link appears on every page of a website, typically in a sidebar or footer of blogs or websites that use templates.
Platforms (websites and apps) where users can interact with each other and share and consume content.
Any factors that demonstrate authority and influence on popular social networking websites. For example, the social authority of a user on Twitter.
Although many correlation studies have indicated that social signals impact rankings (e.g., number of Likes/shares a piece of content receives), Google has publicly stated that social signals are not a direct ranking factor. Popular sites that have a lot of social media engagement tend to rank well for other reasons.
A controlled experiment was used to compare at least two web pages to measure the effects of a different variable on conversions. A ” winner ” can be declared after the pages are shown for a long enough period for site visitors to gather adequate performance data; a “winner” can be declared.
Also known as A/B testing.
A digital certificate is used for website identity authentication and to encrypt information sent to the server using Secure Sockets Layer technology.
The response codes are sent by a server whenever a link is clicked, a webpage or file is requested, or a form is submitted. Standard HTTP status codes important to SEO:
- 200 (OK)
- 404 (Not Found)
- 410 (Gone)
- 500 (Internal Service Error)
- 503 (Service Unavailable)
A frequently used word. For example, a, at, for, is, of, on, the. Search engines have, in the past, ignored these words to save time/resources when indexing. Search engines have evolved dramatically since the early days, and stop words are sometimes meaningful, so this isn’t something to worry about for SEO purposes.
A separate section exists within the main domain.
Organizing and categorizing a website to maximize content findability and help users complete desired on-site tasks.
Time on Page
An approximate estimation of how long a user spent looking at a particular webpage. Pages with high exit rates can significantly skew this data.
An HTML meta tag that acts as the title of a webpage. Typically, the title tag is the title search engines use when displaying search listings, so it should include strategic and relevant keywords for that specific page. The title tag should also be written, making sense to people and attracting the most clicks. Typically, title tags should be less than 65 characters.
Top-Level Domain (TLD)
The extension of a given web address. These include:
There are also many more industry and country-specific options.
Also known as gTLD (Generic Top-Level Domain); Domain Extension.
The people (and sometimes bots) who visit your website.
Generally applies to the history of a domain (e.g., whether it cites or features expert sources, builds a positive reputation, adheres to Webmaster Guidelines).
A link analysis technique is used to separate good “reputable seed pages” from the webspam.
User-Generated Content (UGC)
Any form of content – videos, blog posts, comments, reviews, etc. – created by users or customers.
When search engines pull data from multiple specialty databases to display on the same SERP, results can include images, videos, news, shopping, and other types of effects.
Also known as Blended Search.
Any links Google identifies as suspicious, deceptive, or manipulative. An unnatural link can result in Google taking manual action on your website.
A uniform resource locator is the specific string of characters that leads to a resource on the web. The term URL is usually short-hand for the letter-based web address entered into a browser to access a webpage.
The values are added to a URL to track where traffic comes from (i.e., which link someone clicked on to discover your website or webpage). Here’s an example of a URL parameter:
Also known as Query String.
How easy it is for people to use your website. Site design, browser compatibility, disability enhancements, and other factors all play a role in improving usability and making your site accessible for as many people as possible.
Web crawling software.
User Experience (UX)
The overall feeling users are left with after interacting with a brand, its online presence, and its product/services.
A specialized type of search where the focus is only on a specific topic, type of content, or media. For example, YouTube (video), Amazon (shopping), Kayak (travel), Yelp (business reviews).
A bot that uses natural language processing to perform tasks, such as conducting web searches. For instance, Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana.
The prominence and positions a website occupies within the organic search results.
A voice-activated technology allows users to speak into a device (usually a smartphone) to ask questions or conduct online searches.
A document that exists on the World Wide Web and can be viewed by web browsers.
A collection of web pages hosted together on the World Wide Web.
How a website connects its web pages to help visitors navigate that site. Website navigation comes in a few different forms, including:
- Main Navigation: The major topics or subjects your website is focused on.
- Secondary Navigation: Topics related to the main navigation.
- Footer Navigation: Typically this includes links to pages that contain important informational resources about a brand or business. These pages usually aren’t important for ranking purposes.
- Related Links: This area usually appears in the right rail or beneath content. It might be called “Most Popular,” “Most Read,” or “Trending Now.”
- Content Links: Links that appear within your main content (e.g., articles, landing pages).
- Breadcrumb Navigation: This type is less popular than it once was. Essentially, each webpage shows a “trail” to help quickly tell visitors where they are on your site. For example: Home > SEO > Link Building > What Is Website Navigation?
Also known as Internal Links (or Internal Linking), Site Architecture
Any methods exist solely to deceive or manipulate search engine algorithms and users.
Also known as Black Hat SEO, Spam, Spamdexing, Search Spam
Tactics that comply with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
The total number of words that appear within the copy of the content. Too little (or thin) content can be a signal of low quality to search engines.
A popular blogging and content management system (CMS).
Extensible Markup Language is a markup language search engines use to understand website data.
A list of all the pages on a website that search engines need to know.
Yahoo was born in April 1994 and was a prevalent search engine and portal in the ’90s. Yahoo search mainly was human-powered, at least until June 2000 when a then-unknown search engine called Google began powering Yahoo’s organic search results. That deal continued until 2004, when Yahoo started using its search technology. Since 2010, Yahoo’s organic search results have been powered by Microsoft’s search engine, Bing.
The most popular search engine in Russia, Yandex, was founded on September 23, 1997, by Arkady Volozh and Ilya Segalovich.