in Digital Marketing, SEO

A Big SEO Glossary Of Terms & Phrases44 min read

Digital marketing and specifically ‘SEO’ is all about trial and error until you find strategy that works. Often the trial and error involves getting stuck into things like coding, web technologies, content production, analytics, web design, the list goes on. Starting out, it can be extremely overwhelming.

I found jargon difficult to navigate as a beginner so, looking things up was something I found myself doing often but i’d regularly find that some sources weren’t that reliable and others made me more confused than when I started. So, here’s a jargon busting web marketers dictionary full of industry terminology written in super plain English, with examples, written by a web marketer.

There’s a lot of terms on the page so use the alphabet links, search box or CTRL + F to help find what you need:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P QRSTUVWXYZ#

A

AJAX 

Standing for ‘Asynchronous Javascript and XML’ which is a technique for creating faster, more intuitive and more interactive web applications and page content with the help of XML, HTML, CSS and Javascript. Most notably, it is a technique for exchanging server data and updating sections of a page without refreshing or reloading a page.

Example: AJAX can be used within a webpage for infinite scrolling that calls/requests more content on the fly.

 


API

An acronym for ‘Application Programming Interface’. An API is used as a messenger to fetch data in real time from an entirely separate application or system and returns a response based on the data.

Example: When booking a flight with an airline you will interact with a form online that is linked to an API that fetches & returns data from a system that holds seat booking information.

 


AB Testing/Split Testing

The simplest and most common form of web testing. It is the process of selecting a random group of web users and showing half of them one version of a web page (page A/Control page) and the other half another version of a web page (page B). The technique can be used in a variety of ways to test new web page elements such as calls to action to help determine which page or element on a page drives better results such as an increase in conversions.

Example: On my homepage, If I wanted to drive more email sign ups, I might change the colour of my email sign up element and improve the content to be more enthusiastic. Instead of going out on a limb, I run a split test/AB test with my control (my current email sign up elements) and my new page variation. I run the experiment for a length of time to see which content converts more sign ups. The winning variation gets rolled out on site full time.

 


Absolute URL

This is the full URL of a particular web page in its absolute entirety.

Example: For this web page the absolute URL is as follows: https://adamdurrant.co.uk/seo-glossary/. The Opposite of an absolute URL is a ‘relative URL’ which is doesn’t specify any protocol or domain but is relative to the website. For example for this web page the relative URL is: /seo-glossary/.

 


Affiliate Marketing

A method of driving sales using an external source. Affiliate marketing is a process of providing ‘click-through’ referral opportunities to external web sites that take commission for each referral click that converts into a sale.

Example: A popular voucher/discount website provides a 10% discount code for their users to apply to a merchant’s goods. When users click through to the merchant site and purchase goods, the voucher site receives a commission on the sale. Amazon have one of the largest affiliate networks on the planet.

 


Algorithm

In terms of application to a search engine, algorithms are a set of rules/formulas utilised to determine the quality & relevance of a web page in relation to a search query. Google uses a ‘recipe’ of algorithms to rank vast numbers of web pages to ensure they are relevant.

Example: Here are some google algorithms; Penguin, Panda, Pigeon, Possum, Pirate

 


ALT Text

Aka an ‘Alt Attribute’ or alternative tag. Alt text is a brief written description contained within the alt tag attached to an image on a web page. The alt tag is used by search engines to understand the context of an image. It is also used by visually impaired users who use screen readers to dictate the contents of an image & web page.

Example: Here is some raw HTML for an image together with alt text – <img src=”smiley.gif” alt=”Smiley face”>

Anchor Text

The written text contained within a hyperlink used heavily by search engines to determine the relevance & context of the page being linked to.

Example: Visit Adam Durrant for useful SEO blogs. The highlighted text within the hyperlink is the anchor text.

 


Authority

Often interchanged with ‘ranking strength’ authority denotes the power of a domain and it’s reputation. Backlinks from other websites bring varying degrees of authority to a page or domain depending on its own authority. There’s no one quantifiable metric for authority, it’s mostly used to describe strength.

Example: The BBC is very authoritative as a website and in terms of search performance. If I receive a followed link to adamdurrant.co.uk from bbc.co.uk, it will pass more authority (a bigger vote of confidence) than a link from a less authoritative website such as adamsbigwooferblog.com.

B

 


B2B

An acronym for ‘Business to Business’. Simply, it’s a business that markets is products & services to another business rather than direct to consumers.

Example: An SEO/digital marketing agency. 

 


B2C

An acronym for ‘Business to Consumer’. Simply a business that markets it’s products & services to consumers.

Example: Amazon.co.uk

 


A backlink is a hyperlink pointing to your website from another website. Every backlink is considered a ‘vote of confidence’ by one site linking to another site. Every backlink also has varying degrees of strength/authority which are determined by factors such as; the size & popularity of the website linking, the position of the link on the referring page & how many people click the link etc.

Example: huffingtonpost.co.uk wrote an article which referenced my blog post with a backlink. This is a positive signal that my website is reputable/useful enough to reference.

 


Backlink Profile

The totalling amount of backlinks/referring domains builds a profile of how trustworthy a website is. Search engines use backlink profiles to determine the authority of a website compared to others as well as identifying any manipulative link building activity that goes against their guidelines like these from Google.

Example: Hypothetically if adamdurrant.co.uk had 200 referring domains, this would build a profile of 200 differing domain strengths linking to the website. A rule of thumb is that a healthy profile should consist of a range of differing domain strengths as opposed to a profile with only low quality backlinks or only super high quality domains linking. Ultimately, the profile should be ‘natural’.

 


Bounce Rate

The calculated percentage of users who land on a website and leave without progressing to another page.

Example: Let’s say 100 users land on my website homepage via Google search in a given period. 20 of those users bounce (Don’t click on anything and leave). My bounce rate for this page in that period would be 20%.

 


Blog

Aka a ‘web log’. A blog is an online journal that typically surrounds a particular topic & often represents the personality of the author or web site.

Example: adamdurrant.co.uk is a personal website with a blog hosted on it, which holds written content like this glossary!

 


Brand

Applicable to B2B or B2C, a brand is an experience for customers presented by images, ideologies & symbols such as names, logos, fonts or colours that build a recognisable design scheme. A brand is developed to represent company values & personality and is often defined by a recognisable logo.

Example: Coca Cola is branded with a recognisable red and white coloured branding.

 


Brand Lift

An increase in consumer recognition for a branded company or a branded company’s product/service.

Example: As a consumer, I personally associate the brand Google primarily as a search engine. It is the Google brand I think of first over others hence the phrase ‘Google it’. The power of Google’s brand instilled this.

 


Brand Messaging

The underlying value conveyed by your brand through language utilised in content, social media & branding in an attempt to relate, inspire, persuade & motivate consumers to purchase from your company.

Example: Brand messaging can take many forms one of which is slogans such as ‘impossible is nothing’ – Adidas.

 


Brand Reputation

How a particular brand is viewed by others. Mainly this is identifies whether a brand is trustworthy & reputable. Brand reputation is very fragile & can be tarnished with something as simple as a tweet.

Example: The tax shaming scandal in 2013 had a negative effect on Starbucks’ brand reputation.

 


Branding Strategy

Strategically developing a strong brand reputation by appealing to consumers in order to increase recognition, create branded search volume & ultimately drive sales.

Example: Two important components to a branding strategy is purpose & consistency. Good brand strategy promotes brand lift.

 


Bucket/s

A grouping for related behaviours, demographic characteristics, keywords or other entities that need to be grouped. A bucket is industry jargon to describe a virtual container for stuff.

Example: When promoting an SEO campaign via outreach you may segregate prospects into separate buckets such as, bloggers, local media, national media etc.

 


Buying Funnel

Aka the ‘Buying Cycle’ or ‘Sales Funnel’. A buying funnel refers to the typical model of a consumer’s path when making a purchase online. Starting from brand awareness, educating themselves on the product/s, viewing product options & prices which develops to full intent to make a purchase.

Example: To provide a simplified path; when buying a product from amazon I have to visit amazon.co.uk, view a product, consider the price & educate myself on the quality based on reviews, add it to the basket & purchase. This could be considered an average buying funnel for amazon.co.uk.

 


Buzz Monitoring

Buzz is defined as ‘chatter’ or ‘publicity’ in the industry. Monitoring this buzz is beneficial for many reasons such as monitoring link building campaigns, PR, brand awareness or brand perception etc.

Example: I have utilised google alerts to crawl the web & find un-linked mentions of my brand in publications so that I can contact the writers of the publications to request a backlink to my website.

C

 


CPA

An acronym for ‘Cost Per Acquisition/Action’ which refers to the total costs of an advertising campaign (often PPC) divided by the number of visitors that actually performed a desired action e.g. purchasing.

Example: My latest PPC campaign cost £100 and resulted in 10 purchases on my eCommerce website. So my CPA is 100/10. It cost me £10 worth of clicks to generate 1 sale so my CPA is £10.

 


CPM

An Acronym for ‘Cost Per Thousand Impressions’. Associated with physical website display space CPM refers to how much a hosting website will charge for every 1000 user impressions.

Example: I enquire about advertising online with the huffingtonpost.co.uk to generate visitors to my website. Hypothetically, the charge may be £50 per 1000 impressions to host an advert in a space on their website.

 


Cookies

A small file generated by a website that is saved in your web browser containing preferences & data about a your behaviour on that website.

Example: When checking a ‘remember me on this computer’ checkbox, a cookie is created with this preference to remember credentials for next time.

 


CTR

An Acronym for ‘Click-Through Rate’ is the rate at which people click on a particular search result or PPC ad based on the number of impressions the search page receives. 

Example: If a search term has 1000 impressions per month on average and you receive 200 of those impressions via clicks, the CTR for your result is 20% of all impressions.

 


Canonicalization

Simply, it is the process of allocating the master page/URL to represent either one source of duplicated content or a collection of content referring to exactly the same topic. This is done using a HTML link reference in the source code of a web page.

Example: Let’s say i’ve opened up a new coffee shop & my website homepage lives at http://www.coffeeshop.co.uk but, due to the technology i’m using to run the website, the homepage also lives at http://www.coffeeshop.co.uk/index.html. Although humans won’t be able to tell the difference, a search engine will see each variation as a unique URL and therefore will identify each page as duplicate content. Using the Canonical tag  you can tell search engines that you have allocated one of those variations as the master URL. Here is an example of the HTML: <link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.coffeeshop.co.uk” />

 


CSS

An acronym for ‘Cascading Style Sheets’. CSS is a search engine friendly coding language utilized alongside HTML that customises how content is displayed & presented. Primarily CSS is used to design the layout of a page and how it’s mark up content is shown.

Example: I have used CSS to change the colour of this text.

 


Cloaking

An outdated blackhat SEO technique which involves displaying different versions of onsite content for users & for search engines.

Example: Showing a content rich & optimised page to search engines in order to manipulate how well the page will rank but, showing a completely different page to users which manipulates them into buying something.

 


Competitive Analysis

Aka ‘CA’ is the assessment & analysis of a competitor website in terms of search performance and authority.

Example: If you notice that a competitor has improved rankings on a commercial search term your are competing against, you may conduct some ‘CA’ to identify where the increase may have come from. You may find that link building efforts or on-site changes have implemented which you can learn from.

 


Content Management System

Aka ‘CMS’ is an application for managing content and documents within a website. A CMS eliminates the necessity to write a large amount of code when managing a website. With a CMS you can create new pages, publish content & structure content hierarchy etc using just a few clicks.

Example: An open source CMS that accounts for a huge amount of the web is WordPress.

 


Conversion Action

The intended action you’d like a user to take on your web page. This could include actions such as signing up to a company newsletter, requesting a demo, downloading of content or making a purchase etc.

Example: I may optimise a landing page to influence users to perform a conversion action such as signing up to my email newsletter.

 


Conversion Rate

Is the number of user sessions on a website that result in a completed conversion action such as purchasing goods or downloading a piece of content.

Example: If in one week you receive 1000 sessions and 300 sessions resulted in a sales conversion, then your conversion rate will be 300/1000*100 = 30%

 


Crawler

Aka a ‘spider’ or ‘bot’, a crawler is a programme that explores & gathers web page content by ‘reading’ a web page’s source code and following hyperlinks located on the webpage to discover more pages & more content. Crawling is the first stage of a search engine’s process of discovering content, indexing it and recalling the results when a query is made. 

Example: If you have produced a brand new piece of content on your website, you can request that the page be crawled by google (or googlebot) so that it is discovered quickly & indexed using google search console.

 


Crawl Budget

The amount of resource a search engine allocates to crawling a website. It’s often not viable or possible for search engines to crawl the entirety of a large website in one go. Crawl budget takes into account how often to crawl based on your server load as well as how popular a page is and how stale the content is in that is currently found in the search engine’s index.

D

 


DHTML

An acronym for ‘Dynamic Hypertext Markup Language’ which is the combination of website development technologies that come together to make a dynamic experience.

Example: HTML, CSS & Javascript coming together to make dynamic navigation menus, animation & text effects.

 


Doorway Page

Aka a ‘Bridge Page’, a doorway page is an outdated black hat SEO technique of building a web page (or domain) to rank highly within a search engine for a specific group of terms (often by keyword stuffing) for the sole purpose of gaining traffic to manipulate it.

Example: When a user clicks on a high ranking doorway page, rather than providing content relevant to the user’s query, the doorway page funnels the user to another page (often with popups & redirects) that is unrelated but is the desire of the site owner.

 


Deep Linking

A link that directs a user to a specific & relevant location of a website based on their query rather than a homepage.

Example: If you were to query ‘Mens raincoats’ using Google, you will likely receive a deep linked organic results of a website product pages featuring mens raincoats such as: https://example.com/product/mens/outerwear/raincoat

 


Domain

Refers to a specific web site address.

 


Domain Authority (DA)

A simple & effective metric used to identify how likely a website will rank in a search engine from 1-100. It is used as an initial indication of the power of a domain based on factors such as; referring domains, age, popularity & size.

Example: The BBC website has a DA of 100 & the Starbucks website has a DA of 63.

 


Dwell Time

Also referred to as ‘long clicks’ vs ‘short clicks’. Dwell time is the total amount of time a user spends on a particular page before clicking/going back to the search engine results page.

Example: It is considered a poor signal if a user clicks back to search results after a few seconds of viewing your web page as they did not find what they were searching for. If they stay for 1-2 minutes it’s hypothesised as a positive signal that the user has consumed some content and found it somewhat valuable.

 


Disavow Tool

A simple upload tool introduced by Google to remove backlinks pointing to your websites that are low quality or are considered manipulative. If you believe some links in your backlink profile are negatively affecting your website, you can use the disavow tool. It is simply a list of URLs or domains in a txt document.

Example: If you conducted link building which went against Google’s guidelines in the past. You can use the disavow to tool to ensure those links do not count towards evaluating the quality of your website.

E

 


eCommerce

Aka ‘Electronic Commerce’. ECommerce is the process of conducting commercial sales and transactions over the internet.

Example: Amazon.co.uk is arguably the biggest eCommerce website on the planet.

 


Eye Tracking Study

A study conducted to measure the point of an individual’s gaze (where their eyes are looking). In web terms, this is mostly used to understand user interaction within the confines of a website. Eye tracking studies help to optimise a website & improve UX.

Example: Eye tracking studies have revealed common traits of a web user such as the infamous ‘F-shaped Pattern for Reading Web Content’ which although was conducted in 2006 is still relevant today.

 


Engagement Metrics

Metrics that reflect user engagement when interacting with a website or search engine results page. Although not currently announced by Google, many believe that google are actively using engagement metrics as a ranking factor.

Example: Metrics that are thought to be factored include bounce rate, time on page, session length, dwell time etc.

 


Everflux

The way in which Google determines ranking positions is in a constant flow of change. This has come to be known as the ‘Google Everflux’. It means that Google’s algorithms & signals are constantly changing & conflicting with one another to determine quality & relevance. 

Example: Some competitive search results have been known to change hourly as a result of everflux. This is often referred to as a ‘Google Dance’.

 


External Link

The opposite of an internal link in that an external link is a link from your own website out to another. External linking can be a positive signal for a website, providing the links are going to be useful for readers as a further resource.

Example: If I wrote an article about banana smoothie recipes. I could include an external link to a well known banana smoothie chef (if that’s even a thing). This contributes to the ecosystem of the web as well as helping users find banana smoothie information.

F

 


Flash

Aka ‘Adobe Flash’ previously ‘Shockwave Flash’ is a software platform popularly used to add animation & interactivity to a web page as well as being used to create desktop & mobile game applications. Flash is currently not crawlable or indexable by search engines.

Example: The interactive & animated elements of monoface are built with flash.

 


Favicon

An identifiable icon associated with a website usually displayed in the address bar.

Example: You can find my favicon at the top of your browser tab which looks like this.

 


Fuzzy Search

A spell checker that assists with common input errors by returning search results that are most relevant to a search query that is misspelled or ‘Fuzzy’.

Example: Typing ‘Misissipi’ into Google will likely prompt a fuzzy search and you will be served a list of relevant results as well as a question, ‘Did you mean Mississippi?’.

 


A link attribute that is identified to pass a ‘vote of confidence’, ‘link juice’ or ‘authority’ to the destination page. When adding a link to a web page, a hyperlink is set to ‘follow’ by default. The opposite to this is a nofollow link.

G

 


GUI

An acronym for ‘Graphical User Interface’. GUI is a type of interface that allows users to interact with a website, electronic device or application through visual icons, buttons and visual indicators that represent functioning code or commands.

Example: A basic example could be programme icons on your desktop. These are simple icons execute a command such as opening a browser when they are clicked.

 


Guest Posting

Writing a post or article on another website as a guest. Often guest posts are written by authoritative industry leaders discussing a topic in a ‘thought leader’ style to tap into another audience whilst giving value to the owner of the blog.

Example: A common link building tactic and brand amplification method is to guest post on other websites who have an active readership.

 


Geo-Targeting

A method of delivering tailored content specific to an area of locality someone searches from. Companies that sell goods online & via physical stores often geo-target searchers & provide content that differs from their standard offering to increase conversion.

Example: If you google ‘flower delivery’ when i’m having a coffee in London, you will be served a geo-targetted web page or physical florist store rather than a regular web page that generally advertises flowers.

 


Google Search Console (GSC)

Previously known as ‘Google Webmaster Tools’, GSC is a free service provided by Google to help webmasters monitor and manage their search engine presence.

 


Google Analytics

A web analytics tool provided by Google that reports website traffic & provides statistics such as bounce rate, users, sessions, page views etc.

H

 


Hybrid Anchor Text

Bearing in mind anchor text is used primitively by Google to understand the context of a destination page. Hybrid anchor text is anchor text that semantically supports the targeted keywords of a page but are not exactly matching.

Example: If you write a blogpost titled ‘Everything you need to know about Eggnog’. And you receive backlinks to this page, you may receive hybrid anchor texts from these backlinks such as; ‘What is Eggnog’, ‘Types of Eggnog’, ‘How to make Eggnog’, ‘Types of Eggnog’ etc.

 


HTTP

An Acronym for “Hypertext Transfer Protocol.” HTTP is the foundation of data communication on the world wide web.

Example: When entering adamdurrant.co.uk into your browser, you are requesting to fetch my homepage from the web server that I host my website on. In return, you will receive the source code that makes up the page including HTML & CSS.

 


HTTPS

An acronym for “Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure”, HTTPS is the same as HTTP but is encrypted from end to end. Meaning when you request access to a HTTPS page and actually get the data, it is encrypted and therefore more secure from malicious activity. Currently HTTPS is considered a minor ranking factor.

 


Head Terms

Search terms that are short, often commercial, competitive & have large search volume. Head terms are often priority keywords for a website as a whole that often drive a lot of revenue.

Example: If you own an eCommerce store online that sells keyboards, your head terms might be; keyboards, cheap keyboards, gaming keyboards etc.

 


Hummingbird

A Google algorithm implemented to understand & pay more attention to every word within a query. Hummingbird ensures that the semantic and conversational meaning of a given query is taken into account when returning search results.

Example: Searching Google for ‘ The best place for chinese’ – hummingbird interprets that ‘place’ refers to a restaurant and ‘chinese’ refers to a type of food.

I

 


Iframe

A HTML element that allows you to embed a document from another source inside it. The Iframe behaves like an inline image as users can scroll it out of view.

Example: Youtube’s default embed code contains an Iframe to display only the playable video. It’s kind of like a portal to another web page.

 


Impression

A single display of your organic/paid search result

Example: When five users search a query and your web page is relevant and ranking high up on the first page, your page will likely receive five impressions. However, if your web page ranks on the second page of search results, it is likely you will get no impressions from those same five users, unless they click to the second page.

 


Index

The index of a search engine refers to the database of pages crawled and stored in a series of data centres ready to be returned as search results.

 


Internal Link

A HTML link that points from a page on your own website to another page on your website. Internal links are a good signal that helps google understand the topical relevance of the page being linked to using the anchor text of the link and content on the referring page.

Example: A header navigation link referring to other pages are examples of internal links.

 


Information Architecture (IA)

Simply, IA is the organisation, categorisation and structure of web pages and content to enable it to be easily navigated easily crawled and interpreted by search engines to improve overall indexability.

Example: Generally speaking, for a typical website the architecture will follow a path of homepage > category pages > specific content pages > content sub page. This enables everything on the site to be reached within 3 or less clicks from the homepage.

J

 


JavaScript

A scripting language that can be utilised in a HTML document to apply dynamic features outside the realms of HTML & CSS.

Example: JavaScript can change CSS elements, calculate, animate, generate and more.

 


JSON-LD

An acronym for ‘JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data’ which is a lightweight linked data format that is easily interpreted and written by humans. 

Example: JSON-LD is adopted by Google to leverage the implementation of Schema. JSON-LD is the preferred way to implement Schema and structured data as it can simply be pasted into a HTML document.

K

 


Keyword

Keywords are ideas or topics that define the topic of your content.

Example: This piece of content is a glossary of terms, so a keyword to include within the body and heading of my content could be ‘seo glossary’. ‘seo glossary’ is a keyword a potential searcher may use to find this content.

 


Keyword Density

The number of times a keyword or phrase appears on a page divided by the amount of words on a page. A high keyword density is a clear indication of spam to a search engine which may result in being demoted or even penalised.

Example: If a keyword appears 5 times on a page with 100 words, the keyword density is 5%. Content should be written for humans not machines, so this isn’t that relevant anymore.

 


Keyword Stuffing

An outdated technique of adding an inordinate amount of keywords into the HTML or meta tags of a website in order to manipulate search engines.

Example: This is an SEO glossary, this SEO glossary will provide you with all the SEO terms and SEO phrases you could possible need from an SEO glossary… you get the idea.

 


KPI’s

An acronym for ‘Key Performance Indicators’. KPI’s are metrics used to determine the success of business or personal targets. 

Example: If a business objective is to drive more visits to a website a KPI of this goal could be an increase in ‘users’ on your website.

 


Knowledge Graph

A knowledge base used by Google to enhance search results with more direct answers. 

Example: Googling ‘Will Smith’ will display a knowledge panel with images, information about net worth and movies Will Smith has appeared in etc. All this information is pulled from a variety of sources housed in the knowledge graph.

L

 


Landing Page

A web page that a searcher arrives at/lands on after clicking on a result. A landing page serves as an entry point into a website.

Example: Often companies will optimise a landing page for potential customers to convert on such as, providing examples of their work, information about their service along with a clear calls to action.

 


Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)

A mathematical technique of understanding the relationships between words & phrases within a piece of content. This is also taken into account with how the page is indexed by google. In other words, LSI will enables google to return quality and relevant results that don’t contain the exact keyword entered in the initial search query.

Example: This piece of content is a ‘Glossary’ however, it may also be relevant for people searching ‘Dictionary’. LSI understands that glossary and dictionary are very closely related and indexes them together.

 


Link Farming

A group of websites that link to each other in the group. These are often created with automated programmes.

Example: Establishing 5 web sites that all link to each other with no real purpose other than to manipulate search engines. These website are often used as part of paid link schemes.

 


Linkbait

Content on a website designed purely to attract people to create links to it and improve search engine visibility.

Example: Creating a definitive or ultimate guide on a niche topic & acting as a go to resource.

 


Log File

All server software stores information about incoming and outgoing activities on a website. Web log files function like a “black box” that records everything. If you do not have permission to access these files, then you will need the help of a server administrator/ developer to get access.

Example: Log files record everything from IP addresses, types of machines used to access a site or which pages & files were viewed etc. Log files contain a lot of data which help SEO’s understand how Google is crawling and behaving in websites.

 


Long Tail

Keyword queries that are long, specific & yield lower but more niche search volume.

Example: A long tail query about banana smoothie may read; ‘how to make banana smoothie with milk’.

M

 


Meta Description

Aka ‘Description Tag’ is a brief description that summarises the content of your page. A meta description is designed to provide a searcher with a description of page content so they can understand if the page is likely to satisfy their search intent before clicking through. The description is optimal between 150-160 characters.

 


Meta Title

Aka ‘Title Tag’ is the title you provide a search engine for your web page. Title tags appear as the blue link in a results page. The tag sits in the <head> of your web page & is required to be around 60-65 characters in length to be optimal.

 



Metrics

A standard of measurement that usually takes more than one characteristic into account.

Example: A very well known SEO metric is domain authority which quantifies several characteristics to determine how likely a website is to rank in a search engine.

 


Multivariate Testing

A type of testing that tests a wide variety of different variants. Unlike A/B testing which modifies one variable and tests it against a control. 

Example: Rather than A vs B, multivariate may be; A vs B vs C vs D vs E variants to determine the best outcome or combination of outcomes. Traffic is split between each variant to get enough data to make a decision on the winning test.

 


Manual Penalty

Aka ‘Manual Action’ is an intentional penalty given to a website that has been manually actioned by a google employee. Manual actions are given if google have determined that your website or page/s do not comply with Google’s webmaster quality guidelines.

Resource

N

 


Naked Links

A hyperlink with anchor text that exactly matches the destination URL.

Example: https://adamdurrant.co.uk

 


NoFollow Link

A link that does not pass authority or pass link influence to the destination page. This is sometimes crudely referred to as a ‘link condom’ which is hilarious.

Example: If a company has sent a blogger goods or money to review a product and they write a post with a link to the company site, best practice dictates that the link should be tagged with ‘NoFollow’ to adhere to google guidelines as this is technically a link acquired through financial gain and therefore falls into the category of paid links.

 


NoIndex

A directive that can be applied on a page level in the form of a meta tag. This directove could be used at a domain level in robots.txt file but it was discontinued in September 2019. Noindex is a simple directive that tells search engines not to index either the page containing the directive.

Example: The noindex directive can be used if you have an on-site search function that creates a new page for every search entered by users. These pages will likely be thin, filled with duplicate content & won’t likely provide anything unique to searchers so it doesn’t need indexed. Indexing these types of pages may in fact harm & dilute your SEO efforts such as PageRank.

Resource

 


Negative SEO

The process of using black hat techniques to demote or penalise another website. It is mostly used in the context of link building.

Example: To demote a competitor website (although I do not recommend this) you could build poor quality, spammy links on mass that violate google guidelines and point them to the site. This potentially makes the website look as though they were built by the webmaster and may get the site in trouble. Negative SEO gets raised often and Google tell webmasters to ignore this type of activity nowadays however, i’d recommend keeping yourself aware.

O

 


Organic Results

Search results that are returned organically or naturally. In other words the 10 listings on a search engine results page that have not been acquired through paid advertising.

Example: Results that are not organic are differentiated with a small [Ad] box.

 


On-Page Optimisation

Refers to measures applied on a web page to improve search engine visibility such as keyword optimisation, intent analysis and internal linking.

Example: Including a <h1> header on a web page with a main target keyword inside it is good practice on-page optimisation to target a webpage.

 


Off-Page Optimisation

Refers to measures applied away from a web page or website in order to improve search engine visibility.

Example: Link building.

P

 


Pagination

The process of linking to content throughout multiple pages on your website systematically.

Example: This glossary may (eventually) be found on a 2nd, 3rd or 4th page of my blog. Those pages are ‘paginated’ by hyperlinks to allow users and search engines to visit more content without a webpage loading everything at once.

 


External backlinks acquired from another website through payment in order to flow authority from one site to another. Paid links go heavily against Google guidelines. Google actively builds algorithms to identify paid links and either ignores them or actively penalises websites as a result – see penguin

Example: A website owner approaches an authoritative site and requests a link in exchange for financial gain. Large household name website have been removed from Google’s index as a direct result of building paid links.


PPC

An Acronym for ‘Pay Per Click’ which refers to the placement of paid ads in google’s search engine based on keywords.

Example: I could utilise PPC to place an ad in the search engine results page whenever a user searches for ‘SEO Glossary’. When the user clicks my ad I will be charged the cost of the keyword at that time. The cost of a keyword is determined by users bidding on terms.

 


PageRank (PR)

Simply put, PageRank is an algorithmic scale between 1-10 that estimates & measures the level of importance of a website. PR is influenced by number & quality of links that point to a particular domain. Today, the PR algorithm is still utilised to provide an idea of how authoritative a website is however, it is working alongside several hundred other contributing factors.

Example: The assumption with PageRank is that more ‘important’ and usually higher quality websites have more backlinks, subsequently higher PageRank and therefore rank with more authority in search results.

 


Personas

Profiles of customer or target audience to help you sell your product or content. A persona is often referred to when building marketing strategy.

Example: A brief persona for a blog about SEO may be someone like Tim. Tim is a web marketer or business owner, aged between 25-39, a decision maker, possibly married with children, living in an urban location with a degree education. His goals are to save time online, find & share content that will help his strategy/business & maximise the potential for his website to perform.

 


Position (P)

Usually referring to the number of organic results (1-10) down a search engine results page your content page appears for a given query. 

Example: Hypothetically, lets say this glossary page ranks position 7 (P7) in the UK for the query ‘SEO Glossary’. 

 


Penguin

An algorithm designed by google to sniff out un-natural links & catch websites that buy links or gain them through a black hat link network. This algorithm is now real-time, meaning when it spots an unnatural link it will discount it from your profile.

Example: Pre-penguin algorithm, webmasters could spam google’s search results with content that was irrelevant, poor quality & useless to users by buying & sourcing links unnaturally and pointing them to this content.

 


Panda

An algorithm designed by google to demote websites with ‘thin’ & poor quality content from ranking highly and providing a poor search experience. 

Example: The algorithm prevents websites such as affiliate websites or thin content sites from ranking highly over genuine quality. These websites are usually produced with the sole purpose of generating ad revenue. Site owners produce poor quality or spun content from another source that spam a search engine with poor quality results.

Resource

 


Pirate

An algorithm designed by google to penalise websites that produce or provide access too pirated material. Although google don’t produce the pirated content, they do play a huge role in distributing the content when someone searches for pirated content, hence the combating algorithm.

 


Pogo-sticking

A user pogo-sticks when they enter a query into google, click on a result and realise it is not going to answer their question or satisfy their intent. When the user realises this, they then bounce back to the results page & click on another result. This process of jumping in and out of results on one page is known as pogo-sticking.

Example: Users pogo-stick because they cannot find relevant content to their desired intent for searching. If a user searches for ‘Banana Smoothie’ and they see a search result with information about banana smoothies they are likely to click on it. If however, they are searching for a recipe in particular and the piece of content does not have a recipe, the user is likely to bounce and subsequently pogo-stick until they find a recipe.

 


Pigeon

An algorithm designed by google to make local search queries more relevant, accurate and useful for users. Pigeon incorporates many of google’s trademark quality & relevance factors & applies them to local results.

Example: Searching ‘flowers’ returns a local pack of florists in the area local to you with addresses, telephone numbers & aggregated reviews to choose from.

Q

 


Query

A word or phrase a user enters into a search engine in order to find information. There are three types of query; transactional, informational and navigational.

Example: An informational query users may use to find this guide may be ‘SEO glossary’.

R

 


ROI

An acronym for ‘Return on Investment’. ROI for SEO is often discussed while strategising. It is very difficult to calculate an accurate ROI for SEO as campaigns can affect multiple keywords & multiple channels. However, the simplest way of calculating ROI is to find; the conversion rate of current organic traffic, average order value of user base traffic & current average monthly visitors. Using this, it’s possible to calculate an anticipated ROI for SEO.

Example: Hypothetically, if your website converts at 10%, users spend £15 per order on average and you have 1,000 users a month, your ‘size of prize’ for organic search is around £1,500 per month. If you spend £1000 on an SEO campaign and anticipate from this, to accumulate an additional 1000 visitors per month to your website (via similar commercially led pages). You can safely estimate from this that an additional 1000 visitors are likely spend another £1500 on your website. The ROI calculation on this campaign is therefore 100% as we are doubling our revenue (return).

 


Reciprocal Link

Aka ‘Cross Linking’, reciprocal linking is two sites that link out mutually to each other. 

 


Relevance

Refers to the purpose and applicability of content served in search results. Relevance is important in order to satisfy searcher intent.

Example: I may title a page with ‘banana smoothie recipe’ but unless my content is relevant to this title, searchers will bounce from my content.

 


Robots.txt

A text file that lives in the root directory of a website which is used to instruct search engine crawlers from crawling specified segments of your website.

Example: To allow search engines to crawl your entire site excluding one folder your robots.txt file may contain the following:

User-agent:*

Disallow:/folder/

You can view my robots.txt file here

 


Reconsideration Request

If a website has been flagged for contravening google’s webmaster guidelines & has been de-indexed penalised, you will receive an opportunity to fix the issues & request that google re-considers your website so that any penalties are removed.

Example: If a website breaks webmaster guidelines by purchasing backlinks on mass , it will eventually receive a manual penalty threatening to deindex their website from google’s search engine. The offending webmaster has the opportunity to remove these links by disavowing them and requesting a reconsideration to remove the penalty.

S

 


SEM

An acronym for ‘Search Engine Marketing’ which refers to the application of both SEO and PPC to market goods & services.

 


SEO

An acronym for ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ which is the process of adding context to a website through on-page & off-page methods in order to improve a search engines understanding of your website’s quality & relevance in relation to other websites in a similar vertical.

Example: An SEO can ensure that search engines understand the content on a webpage by researching and including appropriate keywords and prioritising these words. Search engines cannot currently understand the contents of an image. An SEO can add context to an image using the ALT tag.

 


SERP

An acronym for ‘Search Engine Results Page’ which is the page that is presented to users when typing a query into a search engine.

Example: When searching using google you will be returned 10 organic results & possibly a variety of paid ads and local/knowledge graph information in a SERP.

 


Search Engine

A search engine is actually a software programme that searches through a database and algorithmically identifies relevant web pages related to a user input of words & phrases.

Example:  Searching for ‘banana smoothie recipe’, a search engine will match this query with keywords found on web pages within its index. There are many more factors that are taken into account when determining quality & relevance of results but generally speaking that is what a search engine does.

 


Siloing

The process of dividing a website’s content into separate categories and subcategories. Groupings or silos should be linked & architecturally built to improve indexability and search engine crawling.

Example: A basic example of a silo is to start page architecture with a main topic/theme & link into a subtopic from this page. If I have a main topic of banana smoothie recipes, I could link into subcategories such as banana smoothie recipes with peanut butter, banana smoothies with ice cream etc.

 


Spam

Taking many forms, Spam in terms of SEO can be classified as techniques to manipulate a search engine & exploit its algorithms into ranking web a page. These techniques are black hat and therefore contravene webmaster guidelines. 

Example: Doorway pages, content farms, link farms, duplicate content, keyword stuffing, hidden text etc.

 


Splash Page

A page that users see before hitting the main content of a website. Splash pages are often quite ‘showy’ & interactive to entice a user to go further into a website.

Example: A designer may use a splash page to show off their best content from their portfolio to impress potential clients immediately hitting their website.

 


Sitemaps

A sitemap is an exhaustive list of URLs to provide a crawling map for search engine crawlers. It is a page containing links to all pages on the website. Think of it as a sandwich of links that can be fed to Google so it doesn’t have to hunt for your site’s content. A HTML sitemap can also be useful for users looking to navigate for larger sites. 

Example: adamdurrant.co.uk/sitemap.xml

T

 


Traffic

The number of unique visitors/users that visit a website. Often broken down into channels such; organic traffic, direct traffic, affiliate traffic etc.

 


Traffic Analysis

The process of looking at inbound traffic to a website to determine increases, decreases, comparison & growth.

Example: If you discover that most of your traffic is organic, you can visit google search console to find which keywords are driving the traffic and formulate a strategy.

 

U

 


Unique Visitor

Aka ‘Unique User’ refers to a web user that is tracked by IP address when they land on a website. A unique user can visit multiple pages & have multiple sessions but will still only count as a single unique visitor. By the combination of Google Analytics & Cookies, a unique visitor can be identified weeks after their first session.

Example: If you have never visited this website before, then you are a unique user to the site & this page.

 


Usability/User Experience (UX)

Referring to how easy a website is to navigate & use for its main purpose. A site with good UX will encourage users to return & will often count towards increasing conversions.

Example: Intuitive navigation, large clickable buttons, clear, legible text all enhance a user’s experience & overall usability of a website.

 


User Agent

A piece of software being used or initiated to access a website. The most common user agent being a web browser that a user would utilise to access a website. Crawlers such as googlebot are also considered user agents.

 


URL

An acronym for ‘Universal Serial Locator’ which simply specifies a unique address on the internet where a web file is located.

Example: https://www.adamdurrant.co.uk is the URL for my homepage which identifies as the source code contained in my homepage file which is rendered by your browser.

V

 


Verticals

A type of business, group, niche or category of things. Often in SEO, a vertical is often the industry where competitors are also active.

Example: A company in the same vertical of social media as Facebook, could be Twitter.


Viral Marketing

A marketing technique that increases brand awareness by encouraging consumers to share content and information about a company’s goods & services viraly. Usually achieved using social media to reach a large number of consumers rapidly.

Example: Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic freefall – Aka ‘red bull space jump’.

W

 


White Hat SEO

Optimising websites within search engine rules & guidelines to ensure techniques and strategy is suitable for users and search engines.

Example: Creating quality web content that serves a purpose, answers users questions & comprehensively covers a topic is a white hat model that search engines will generally reward you for long term.

 


WHOIS

A query and response service that sources information about a domain name including name & address details of registrants.

Resource

X

 


XML

An acronym for ‘Extensive Markup Language’. XML is a coding language similar to HTML that is utilised for its simplicity in consolidating large amounts of information into a structured document.

Example: In SEO, XML is primarily used for building a sitemap.

Y

 


YMYL

An acronym for ‘your money or your life’, YMYL is a Google search guideline concept that relates to information on a website that, if presented poorly, inaccurately, deceptively or untruthfully could have a direct impact on the readers safety, health and happiness.

Example: If you run an eCommerce website that sells supplements and write regularly about the health benefits of supplements – the articles you write would be considered as a YMYL page. It will therefore be ‘analysed’ more harshly and Google will insist on high quality, reliable and unbias content. If the content you write about is only to funnel users into buying your supplement products, Google will likely see this as a negative signal.

#

 


301 Redirect

A webpage response code implemented to redirect visitors to a newly allocated page permanently. A 301 redirect also passes link authority & PageRank so it is considered an ‘SEO friendly’ redirect.

Example: A 301 redirect can be used on an eCommerce store when a product is no longer available and will not be returning to sale. Any visiting users, links and historical ranking power of the product page will be redirected on to the new destination.

 


302 Redirect

A webpage response code implemented to redirect visitors to a new page temporarily. A 302 is considered not ‘SEO friendly’ as it will not transfer any link authority or historical ranking power to the newly allocated page.

Example: A 302 redirect could be used to redirect users temporarily from a product page which is no longer in stock but will be coming back. All associated authority will remain on the page being redirected.

 


404 Error

An error response code that is commonplace on the web when users visit a page URL that is no longer live or has been deleted.

Example: If this content page was deleted within my CMS, the URL & links pointing to this page will still be active. If I do not use or 301 or 302 redirect, users will hit this page and receive a 404 error message.

 


 

I hope you found this list useful.

I’ll keep this up to date and add in more terms, examples, resources and images as time goes by.

If there’s a definition that you expected but couldn’t find, drop me a message or comment below and i’ll update the page!  💙

 

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