Ready to turn rankings into revenue? Discover everything you need to know about Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Ready to turn rankings into revenue? Discover everything you need to know about Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Wondering what all the jargon means? Tired of trying to guess what all the acronyms mean? Well, look no further than this ultimate list of essential definitions. This section is the must-have glossary on all things SEO.
Above the fold is the part of a web page a user can see before scrolling. In the earlier days of publishing, it was used for content that appeared on the top half of the front page of a newspaper - literally, above the paper’s fold.
In SEO terms, an algorithm refers to the list of rules and formulas used by search engines to rank websites in the results pages. For example, the Google algorithm uses more than 200 ranking factors.
Also known as “alt text”, the alt attribute is the "alternative" text version of an image displayed on a website when an image is not available. It tells search engines how to “read” the image by describing its appearance and function on a page.
Black hat SEO is the group of optimisation strategies and tactics that go against search engine guidelines to get a rapid boost in search rankings. Black hat tactics include cloaking, buying backlinks, keyword stuffing, content farms and more. They often end in a penalty from search engines.
Bounce rate tells you the percentage of visits where a user leaves your website from the landing page without browsing any further. As an SEO metric, it is useful in telling you how well your pages are converting visitors.
Breadcrumbs are links that let a user track their path on a website from the page they are currently viewing to the home page. They are usually shown close to the top of a page.
Cache is a snapshot of a web page that Google and other search engines create and store after they have indexed a page. The search engine serves the cached page to a user in place of the most recent version of your page.
The canonical URL is an HTML link element (rel="canonical") which allows you to specify your preferred URL to search engines. It’s especially helpful if you have duplicate pages and want to tell the search engine which page to use in search results.
Click-through rate (CTR) is a metric that measures the number of clicks advertisers receive on ads per number of impressions. It is often used to measure the success of paid search advertising and email campaigns.
Cloaking is an SEO technique in which the content presented to the user is different from that shown to the search engine crawler. It is considered a black hat technique.
A content management system (CMS) is a platform which lets you manage the creation, publishing and optimisation of digital content. The most popular examples of CMS are WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.
A conversion is the process of getting a user to respond to your call-to-action in the way you want. For example, the user is “converted” from being a web visitor to a customer or newsletter subscriber.
Crawl errors occur when a search engine crawler or bot tries to reach a page on your website but fails. They return a “crawl error”. An important part of technical SEO is to reduce the number of crawl errors on your site to zero.
The customer journey is the whole series of touch points and experiences that users go through when interacting with your brand. The customer journey encompasses everything from the first discovery of your brand to when they stop being a customer.
A dead-end page is a page with no internal links or calls to actions. It literally leaves visitors with nothing to do and nowhere to go next.
A deep link is a hypertext link to any page other than the home page. The link goes “deep” into the site's hierarchical structure of pages.
If you de-index a page on your website, Google will no longer be able to index it and return it in the search engine results pages.
Online directories are great places to get backlinks and online citations that support your website. Registering in web directories is considered an effective off-page SEO tactic.
Disavowing is the process of reporting inorganic inbound links - in other words, links that have been gained unnaturally or paid for. Because Google wants links to be earned organically, it has a disavow tool allowing webmasters to report inorganic inbound links for their domains.
Domain authority (aka website authority) is a search engine metric used to estimate how well a website will rank on search engine results pages (SERPs). Domain authority is a crucial metric for any successful SEO strategy.
Do-follow links are the backlinks you want Google and other search engines to count as “votes” for your site’s authority and trustworthiness. They do not include a rel=”nofollow” HTML tag.
Doorway pages are created to rank highly for specific search queries. They are generally bad for users as they can lead to lots of similar pages in search results, with each result taking the user to what appears like the same destination.
Dwell time is a SEO metric measuring the length of time that a visitor spends on a page before clicking back to the search results. It is one of the most important SEO metrics you can measure as it tells you how engaged visitors are with your site.
From an SEO perspective, engagement is an important element of the search engine ranking algorithm. It tells the search engines how relevant and useful people find your site. It can be measured using various SEO metrics, such as dwell time, bounce rate and time on page.
Featured snippets are selected search results featured in a box at the top of Google's organic results, below the ads. Google uses featured snippets to answer the searcher’s question immediately. The featured website also gains higher exposure and visibility.
Footer links are links at the very bottom of a web page. They can be used as the last point to convert visitors or provide navigational links.
A Google bomb is where a group of people conspires to elevate a website in Google's search results by linking a particular word or phrase to the website. It’s considered a black hat technique. Google bombs can be politically motivated, pranks, or just motivated by self-promotion.
Gray hat SEO covers the SEO practices that fall somewhere between white hat and black hat SEO. They are riskier than white hat SEO tactics, but may not necessarily result in your site being penalised by search engines.
Guest blogging is where website owners write content for other blogs, usually in their industry. Guest blogging is an effective way to increase traffic, backlinks and authority for a website.
Headings are an on-page organisational tool that guide the user through the page content. Optimising headings with keywords is an effective SEO tactic - 80% of first-page search results on Google use a H1 header (source: Medium).
Headlines are the first thing a visitor sees on the page. They are generally written to engage the user, grab attention and make them want to read the page. As such, they are a powerful SEO tool.
Hidden text is any text on a web page that is visible to search engine bots but not to humans. For example, hidden text might use keyword stuffing to rank higher without turning away visitors. Using hidden text to get a higher search ranking is considered a black hat SEO tactic.
HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language, and is the standard markup language for creating web pages. HTML elements are the building blocks of web pages and are represented by tags.
HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. It is the protocol over which data is communicated between a browser and website. The communication is done by sending HTTP Requests and receiving HTTP Responses.
Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP. The 'S' at the stands for 'Secure’, which means all communications between a browser and the website are encrypted.
An inbound link is a hyperlink coming to your site from an external site. Consistently earning high-quality inbound links (aka backlinks) is a reliable SEO strategy, as it is widely believed to be one of Google’s top ranking factors.
A search engine index is the database of information on all the websites that Google (or any other search engine) could find. Search engines use crawlers or bots to crawl websites and create the index. A web page must be in a search engine's index in order to be returned in search results.
Indexed pages are the pages found by search engine bots and added to the index. These pages are found by the search engine to have enough quality for relevant search phrases, and will therefore be shown in the results for that search query.
Information architecture (IA) refers to the way you organise and structure your web content to improve the user experience. It covers things like navigation, sitemap, page types, page structure, wireframes, content organisation and more.
An internal link is a link to another page or resource within the same website or domain. For example, you may have an internal link from one blog to another blog, or from a web page to an ebook.
An IP address is a unique number which identifies a piece of hardware within a network. It looks like a long string of numbers separated by full stops. IP stands for Internet Protocol.
Keyword cannibalisation happens when two or more pages on your website compete for the same keyword or phrase in Google. Keyword cannibalisation can potentially damage your organic search rankings as Google is forced to choose between the pages to show the one that appears to be the most valuable to the search query.
Keyword density is the percentage of times a keyword or phrase appears on a page compared to the total number of words on the page. In SEO, keyword density was traditionally used to determine whether a page is relevant to a specific keyword, but it is now less important.
Keyword research is a critical SEO task where you identify relevant words and phrases for your target audience. You can then optimise your content and on-page elements to target these keywords.
Keyword stuffing is a black hat SEO tactic where a page is filled with an unnatural number of keywords in an attempt to manipulate a site's ranking in search results. Often these keywords appear completely out of context or in a list.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) is the use of terms and phrases that are similar or related to the target keyword in that page’s content.
A lead is a potential customer who has expressed an interest in your goods or services, but is not yet a converted customer.
Link bait is website content created for the sole purpose of getting other people to link to your site, so you can rank higher on search engine results pages.
Link equity, also commonly known as “link juice”, describes the way in which a link can pass authority from one page to another. For example, link equity can be passed to a webpage from both internal links (links within the same website) and external links (links coming from other websites).
A link farm is a website or group of websites created for the sole purpose of increasing the link popularity of another site by boosting the number of incoming links. A link farm typically looks like a normal web page, but the majority of the content is links to other websites, which are often unrelated.
Link juice, also commonly known as “link equity”, describes the way in which a link can pass authority from one page to another. For example, link juice can be passed to a webpage from both internal links (links within the same website) and external links (links coming from other websites).
Link velocity is the speed of link growth to a page or domain. It is often measured in new links per month or new linking root domains per month.
A link profile is the type of links directing to your site. Good SEO practice aims to create a high quality link profile of earned links from a variety of high-authority sites.
The meta description, a meta tag in HTML code, is a snippet of up to 155 characters which summarises a page's content. Optimising the meta description is crucial for on-page SEO because search engines mostly show the meta description in results when the keyword or phrase is within the description.
Meta keywords are a meta tag that appear in the HTML code of a web page to tell search engines what the topic of the page is. Search engines are looking for keywords to accurately reflect the content of the page.
Meta tags are snippets of text in the code used to describe a page's content to search engines. They don’t appear on the page for users.
Negative SEO is the use of black hat tactics on other websites with the goal to get them penalised by Google.
In SEO terms, niche refers to a niche market. In other words, targeting a small subset of your market. The niche is very specific and will impact your buyer personas, price point, keywords and more.
The NOARCHIVE tag tells Google not to store a cached copy of your page in the index. This means the search engine will not return your cached page in search engine results.
Nofollow is an HTML attribute value used to instruct search engines bots that a hyperlink should not be counted towards the target's ranking in the search engine's index.
Nofollow links are backlinks you want search engines to ignore when ranking your site. They include a rel=”nofollow” HTML tag which tells search engines not to count them towards the page ranking.
Including a no-index tag in the page’s HTML code prevents a page from being indexed and shown in search results.
The no-snippet tag tells Google not to show a snippet (description) under your search listing.
On-page SEO is the practice of optimising individual pages in order to rank higher in search engines. There are lots of onpage SEO elements, including meta tags, headlines, images and more.
An orphan page is a page that cannot be found by internal linking, as it is not linked to from anywhere.
Outbound links are links that directs visitors from your site to another site. They are typically used in content to verify sources and facts, or point visitors to useful resources.
PageRank (or PR) is a mathematical algorithm used by Google to evaluate the quality and number of links to a webpage. This helps Google to determine a score of the page's importance and authority.
A Google penalty is a punishment against a website that has gone against Google’s rules or policies. A penalty can be a result of an update to Google's ranking algorithm, or a manual review that indicates a page used black hat SEO.
A pageview, also known as a pageview hit or page tracking hit, is a single instance of a page being loaded in a browser. As as SEO metric, it is the total number of pages viewed.
Reciprocal links, also known as link exchanges, are when two webmasters agree to provide a hyperlink to each other's sites. In other words, “I’ll link to you if you link to me”. According to Google, excessive use of link exchanges can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results.
A redirect is created to send users and search engines to a different URL from the one originally requested. Three commonly used redirects are 301, 302, and Meta Refresh.
A referrer is a source that drives visits and visitors to your website. It could be an online directory, social media post, pay-per-click ad or something else.
Reinclusion is where you ask a search engine to re-list a webpage that was previously penalised or punished for black hat SEO.
In SEO terms, relevance describes how well the page content corresponds to the search query. Relevance is hugely important to search engines, and is an important ranking factor for Google. The more relevant your page, the higher it are likely to rank.
Reputation management is the process of creating a positive online image for a brand or company. It can include a social media strategy, guest blogging, reviews and more.
A rich snippet is what searchers see in the search results when you add structured data markup to your HTML code. Structured data markup tells search engines how to display the information contained on a page. A rich snippet then shows this extra information on the search engine results page.
Crawlers (aka spiders, robots or bots) are search engine programs that browse the web to find and index content. Crawlers can look at text, links, sitemaps, images, videos and more.
Robots meta tag is a piece of code that tells search engines what to follow and what not to follow. Put the code in the <head> section of your web page based on whether you want to show the page to search engine crawlers so they can index it, or hide the page.
Robots.txt is a text file you can create to instruct search engine crawlers on how to crawl and index pages on your site. It’s also known as the robots exclusion protocol or standard.
Return on investment (ROI) is a financial metric that tells you how much revenue you are earning from your investment in search engine marketing (SEM)
Schema (or Schema.org) is a vocabulary of tags that you can add to your HTML to improve the way search engines understand your page content and how it should be displayed.
A content scrape (or web scrape) is an automated programs that pulls data from multiple websites. It is a way of seeing what content and SEO tactics competitors are using to get the best results.
Search engine marketing (SEM) is an umbrella term for any tactics used to rank higher in paid and organic search results. It includes pay-per-click ads, display advertising and SEO.
Search engine optimization (SEO) refers to the techniques and strategies used to drive targeted traffic to your website from organic search engine results. It includes on-page and off-page tactics.
A search engine results page (SERP) is the list of results shown by a search engine, such as Google, in response to a search query. The SERP includes paid and organic listings. The higher a page is shown in the SERP, the more chance a searcher will click on it.
A sitemap is a file you create to provide information about the pages, content, media and files on your site, and show the relationships between them. This helps search engines understand the layout of your site, which makes it easier to crawl and index.
Split testing, also known as A/B testing or multivariate testing, is the process of conducting controlled experiments to improve a site performance metric, such as clicks or conversions. Split testing is used to test headlines, images, colours, page layouts and more. The idea is to only change one element at a time, so you can clearly see what is making a difference to the results.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It’s a security protocol used to establish encrypted links between a web server and a browser. When installed on a web server, the SSL certificate encrypts the site using HTTPS (Hypertext Transport Protocol Security) rather than HTTP (Hypertext Transport Protocol), so any data going between your web server and browser remains private and secure.
An HTTP status code is a server’s response to a browser’s request. When a user visits your website, their browser sends a request to your server, which then responds to the request with a code. This is the HTTP status code. If the server cannot find the page, for example, the code might be 401. Two very important codes for SEO are 301 (permanent redirect) and 302 (temporary redirect).
A subdomain is an extension to a main domain. They are created to organise your website and make it easier to navigate. For example, store.mywebsite.com is a subdomain of mywebsite.com.
A top-level domain (TLD) is the part of the domain name located after the dot. The most common TLDs are .com, .net, and .org. Some TLDs are restricted. For example, .edu requires the registrant to represent an educational entity. TLDs also have country codes, like Australia’s .com.au.
Time on page is an SEO metric measuring the amount of time users spend on a single web page. It is often measured as an average of all users’ time on page.
A title tag is an HTML element that identifies the title of the webpage. Title tags are shown on search engine results pages (SERPs) as the headline that searchers click on for the result. Good title tags are optimised for usability, SEO, and social sharing.
Universal search refers to the method Google uses to deliver search results. Launched in May 2007, it’s the way Google blends results from “vertical” search engines like Google Images and Google News into its general web search listings. This means results can include images, articles, videos, news, books and more.
A uniform resource locator (URL) is the internet address of a resource. There are two parts to a URL: the name of the resource and the protocol used to access it. For http://myshop.com, the protocol identifier is http and the resource name is myshop.com.
Usability is a broad term that refers to how easy a website is to use. It is another way of expressing “user experience”. The goal of website design is to make the online experience as user-friendly as possible, which may help the site rank higher in search engine results.
User experience (UX) is the overall experience of an individual using a website or app. UX typically focuses on how easy, intuitive and enjoyable a website is to use.
Vertical search is a more specific search than universal search. For example, Google Images, Google Trends and Google News are vertical search engines.
White hat SEO refers to the group of optimisation tactics and strategies that improve your search rankings on a search engine results page (SERP) while following the search engines' rules and policies and maintaining the integrity of your website. White hat SEO practices tend to have a big focus on improving user experience.
XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language. XML is a markup language used to store and transport data, while HTML is used to format and display the data.
An XML sitemap acts as a roadmap of your website for search engines. Done well, it will lead Google to your important pages for indexing.
Yahoo is a search engine, an email platform, news site and content company. Yahoo’s homepage is the fourth most visited website in the entire world, according to Yahoo.
Yandex is a search engine and the largest media property in all of Russia. It was created specifically for the Russian market as it is better able to handle specific Russian language search challenges.