SEO is an exciting industry, but there are a lot of technical terms to get your head around.
If you are just getting started in the industry, it’s easy to feel a bit lost.
Even if you’re a seasoned pro, you can’t use jargon to communicate with clients. Tell a client they should focus on E-E-A-T to climb the SERP and boost their CTR, and you’ll likely be met with a blank stare.
This glossary is designed to break down SEO jargon into quick, easy-to-understand concepts.
Each entry provides a concise definition to help you explain technical terms in a way that resonates with your clients.
It contains all the essential SEO acronyms, abbreviations, and terms categorized into the following sections:
- Most important SEO terms
- Keyword research
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
- Technical SEO
- SEO metrics and KPIs
Most Important SEO Terms
SEO: Search Engine Optimization
SEO is the process of optimizing a website to improve its visibility and ranking on search engines. SEO includes multiple strategies aimed at increasing organic traffic. Read our full guide What Is SEO? here.
SERP: Search Engine Results Page
The page displayed by a search engine in response to a user’s query. Each SERP includes organic results and may contain paid ads, featured snippets, and other SERP features.
A specific phrase users enter into search engines to find relevant information.
A hyperlink from one website to another website. High-quality backlinks from authoritative websites significantly impact search engine ranking. We’ve got a full guide covering what backlinks are and how to get them here.
The position of a web page in search engine results for a specific keyword. Websites with higher rankings usually receive more organic traffic.
Non-paid traffic generated from search engine results. Organic traffic is a key indicator of SEO performance.
The process search engines use to discover and index web pages. Crawler bots visit websites, follow links, and collect information to update search engine indexes. For a more in-depth look at crawling and crawl budget, check out our full post.
The process search engines use to add web pages to their database so they can appear in search results. We cover indexing links and how to do it here.
White Hat SEO
Ethical optimization techniques that adhere to search engine guidelines.
Black Hat SEO
Unethical practices that attempt to manipulate search engine rankings. This can include keyword stuffing, using a private blog network (PBN) for link building, and other tactics.
— Neil Patel (@neilpatel) August 23, 2021
Latent Semantic Indexing keywords are semantically related terms that help search engines understand the context of a website or web page.
For example, if “digital marketing” is your primary keyword, LSI keywords would be terms like “online advertising” and “lead generation.”
The average number of times a specific keyword is searched for within a given timeframe. Most SEO tools show monthly search volume.
Long Tail Keywords
Longer, more specific keyword phrases that typically contain three or more words. Long tail keywords usually have a lower search volume but can result in higher conversion rates.
Short Tail Keywords
Short, general keywords that often have a high search volume and high competition.
Analyzing the strategies and performance of competing websites in search results.
A metric used by SEO tools to estimate how hard it is to rank web pages for a specific keyword.
Highly relevant, foundational keywords that serve as the starting point for keyword research.
The underlying purpose behind a user’s search query.
One of the fundamentals of understanding search intent:
Understanding your customer.
The more you understand their:
• Pain points
The more you can design content that specifically answers their questions and scratches their itch.
— Matt Caramenico (@mcaramen) August 5, 2023
The exact words a user types into a search engine to find relevant information.
Keyword Gap Analysis
Identifying keywords that competitors are ranking for but your website is not.
An HTML element that specifies the title of a web page. Title tags are displayed in search results and browser tabs. We’ve got a full post all about title tags here.
A summary of a web page’s content displayed in search results.
The practice of linking from one page to another page on the same website. Internal links distribute authority and help user navigation. We’ve produced a full guide on how to master internal linking here.
The strategic selection and placement of keywords to increase the chance of a page ranking for relevant search queries.
E-E-A-T: Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness
The perceived expertise and authority of a website on a specific topic.
HTML elements that provide additional information about a web page’s content to search engines and users.
Header Tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.)
HTML tags used to indicate the context of a web page to search engines and increase readability for users.
Low-quality or shallow content that offers little value to users.
For when clients want their thin content, third copy of a landing page to rank well: pic.twitter.com/avm1QMKE3f
— Van Der Win (@VanDerWin) May 16, 2023
Identical or very similar content that appears on multiple pages of the same website or on other websites.
SEO Tip of the Day!
You NEED Backlinks!
A backlink is when another website links to content on your site.
Sites with high authority (think NYT) pass along the most “link juice”.
But don’t resort to backlink steroids.
There are white hat and black hat tactics.
— Noah Kain | SEO Consultant 🔎 (@Noahs4Cents) April 23, 2020
Various SEO metrics used by SEO tools to predict how likely a website is to rank in search engine results pages (SERPs). Websites are given a score on a scale of 1 to 100 based on their backlink profile and other factors.
Domain Authority (DA)
Domain Authority is a proprietary metric from Moz that predicts how well a domain will rank based on backlinks, content quality, and relevance.
Page Authority (PA)
A metric developed by Moz that predicts how well a specific page will rank based on backlinks, content quality, and relevance.
The visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. Relevant anchor texts help search engines understand the content of the linked page.
A domain that contains a link pointing to your website. The number and quality of referring domains contribute to website authority.
A link with an HTML attribute that instructs search engines not to pass authority from the linking page to the linked page. Here’s how Google Search Central describes the three types of link attributes:
A standard hyperlink that allows search engines to follow the link and pass authority from the linking page to the linked page.
The authority passed from one web page to another through hyperlinks. Link juice is also known as link equity.
Optimization techniques aimed at improving a website’s visibility in local search results. Local SEO involves tactics like local citations and Google Business Profile optimization.
Analyzing the backlinks of competitors to identify potential link-building opportunities.
The format of web addresses. URL structure can affect user experience and search engine crawling. Google prefers simple and descriptive URLs:
When multiple pages on a website target the same keyword. Cannibalization issues can dilute authority and impact ranking potential.
User Experience (UX)
The overall experience a user has when interacting with a website. A poor user experience will impact user engagement and SEO performance.
A text file that directs how search engines crawl and index a website.
A file that provides an organized list of URLs to help search engines understand a site’s structure.
A permanent redirect from one URL to another. Websites use 301 redirects to preserve link equity when content is moved, or URLs are changed.
A status code returned by a server when a requested page is not found.
Structured Data Markup
Code added to a page’s HTML to provide search engines with context about the content. Search engines use structured data to enhance search results with rich snippets.
The process of selecting the preferred version of a web page for search engines to index and display. URL canonicalization helps address duplicate content issues.
Alternative text is added to images to provide a description for users who cannot view the content. It also helps search engines understand the image.
Additional SEO Metrics And KPIs
The percentage of visitors who navigate away from a site after viewing only one page. A high bounce rate may indicate low-quality content or a poor user experience.
The average time users spend on a website during a single session. Longer session durations indicate high user engagement and valuable content.
The total number of times a web page has been viewed. Pageviews provide insights into the performance of individual pages.
Pages per Session
The average number of pages viewed by a user during a single session.
New vs. Returning Visitors
The percentage of new visitors compared to returning visitors. This metric can provide insights into user behavior and your content strategy.
The percentage of users who complete a desired action, like making a purchase or filling out a form.
Click-Through Rate (CTR)
The ratio of users who click on a link after viewing it in search results. CTR is used to measure the performance of meta tags.
The number of times a web page is displayed to users. Impressions are used to measure visibility in search results.
The average ranking of a web page in search engine results for a specific keyword.
The position of a page in search engine results for a specific keyword. Keyword ranking is an important metric for measuring SEO performance.
The different channels that people use to find your website. Traffic sources can include organic search results, direct traffic, paid traffic, referral traffic, and social media.
Traffic generated from external websites that link to your site.
Traffic generated from users directly typing your website URL into their browser.
SEO Return on Investment (ROI)
The revenue generated as a result of SEO efforts. SEO ROI helps businesses measure how effective SEO campaigns are at driving business results.