Ultimate SEO GlossaryThe SEO Glossary is a knowledge base of Search Engine Optimization terms and concepts. You may also find the SEO FAQs on the site to be of value once you’ve gotten these concepts down. Where possible we’ve added links to specific articles that go into detail on a term.
301 Redirect – A way to make one web page redirect the visitor to another page. Whenever you change the web address of a page, apply a 301 redirect to make the old address point to the new one. This ensures that people who have linked to or bookmarked the old address will automatically get to the new one, and search engines can update their index.
Above the FoldContent that appears on a website before the user scrolls. Google created the Page Layout Algorithm in 2012 to lower the rankings of websites featuring too many ads in this space.
Adwords (rebranded Google ADs) – Google’s own ad service, offering PPC and CPM advertising. Using Adwords means appearing on Google’s search and/or display network.
ALT Text/Tag or Attribute – A description of an image in your site’s HTML.Unlike humans, search engines read only the ALT text of images, not the images themselves. Add ALT text to images whenever possible.
Anchor Text – The actual text of a link to a web page. On most websites, this text is usually dark blue and underlined, or purple if you’ve visited the link in the past. Anchor text helps search engines understand what the destination page is about; it describes what you will see if you click through.
Authority aka Domain AuthorityThe combination of signals search engines use to assess websites and webpages for the purposes of ranking. Domain Authority itself is a metric created by Moz to forecast a site’s ability to rank a keyword. Authority can also be provided by using other competing metrics which includes CF, TF, DR, DS, DP to name a few.
BingThe name of 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 a search deal Microsoft and Yahoo struck in July 2009. (Just reminding folks there is more than Google….well a little more)
Blog – A part of your website where you should regularly publish content (e.g. commentary on industry/company topics, descriptions of events, photos, videos, etc.). Each blog post on your website is a new page that a search engine sees, and therefore a new opportunity to get found online. Make sure you keep your blog within your own domain.
Bookmark – A link to a website saved for later reference in your web browser or computer. Social bookmarking sites (example: Delicious.com) let users share websites they like with each other. Having links to your site in social bookmarking sites is a sign to crawlers that your website content is interesting to people.
Bounce rate – The percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing only one page. A high bounce rate means visitors don’t find your site to be interesting or relevant to their queries (content could be poor). Google could interpret this as a negative signal about your site.
Branded Keyword – When a user’s query includes an exact match, or variation, of a specific company or brand name. For instance, “Ultimate SEO”, “USEO”, “ultimateseo.org”, and “Ultimate SEO Guide” are a few examples of branded keywords. It’s important to remember that people have to be familiar with your brand name BEFORE they can search it. So Branded Keywords don’t really bring in the new visitors. Thats Unbranded Keywords and they are more or less your product names.
Cache – A technology that temporarily stores web content, such as images, to reduce future page loading times.
Canonical URL – The canonical URL is the best address on which a user can find a piece of information. Sometimes you might have a situation where the same page content can be accessed at more than one address. Specifying the canonical URL helps search engines understand which address for a piece of content is the best one.
CDN – Content Delivery Networks can help speed up a site often for free.
Citation Flow – (CF) Is like DA but from a competing SEO index and tool. Citation Flow tries to express the influence of a site regardless of its trust (TF).
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.
“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 actually dates back to a Bill Gates essay, “Content is King”, published January 3, 1996.
Conversion Form – A form through which you collect information about your site visitor. Conversion forms convert traffic into leads. Collecting contact information helps you follow up with these leads.
Conversion Rate – 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.
CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) – The part of your code that defines how different elements of your site look (examples: headers, links).
Crawler – A program that acquires information from new and updated web pages and stores it in a databank in order to create entries for a particular search engine index. Known as a “spider” or a “bot”, the crawler program is an automated process and happens regularly.
Directory – Just like directories for people and phone numbers, there are directories for websites. Submitting your site to a directory gives you more than just an inbound link; it helps people find you. The most popular web directories are Yahoo! Directory and moz.
Domain – The main web address of your site (example: www.yoursite.com). It’s good to renew ownership of your domain for several years. Search engine rankings favor websites with longer registrations because it shows commitment.
Domain Pop – Domain Pop is another proprietary SEO Metric. It simply counts the number of sites backlinking to a site.
Domain Rank – an Arefs metric that over laps Moz.com DA.
Domain Score – Is similar to DA, CF and DR but is an SEMRush.com metric.
The Fold – The “fold” is the point on your website where the page gets cut off by the bottom of a user’s monitor or browser window. Anything below the fold can be scrolled to, but isn’t seen right away. Search engines place some priority on content above the fold, since it will be seen right away by new visitors. Having too many ads above the fold can be seen as a negative issue, too. (See Panda).
Follow – or dofollow links. Opposite of nofollow, these links grant SEO “juice” or power to the target.
Featured Snippet – For certain queries, usually questions (i.e., who/what/where/when/why/how), Google sometimes shows a special block above the organic search results. This box contains a summary (in the form of paragraph, list, table, or video), as well as the publication date, page title, link to the webpage from which the answer originated, and URL.
Google Panda Algorithm – A major Google algorithm update that initially rolled out in February 2011, it was 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 major Google algorithm that launched in April 2012, it was followed by a series of updates and refreshes. The goal of Penguin was to reduce the visibility of overly-optimized sites, or sites that excessively abused certain 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.
Google RankBrain – A major Google algorithm change 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 has been called the third most important ranking signal. In June 2016, it was revealed that RankBrain has been involved in every query and has an impact on rankings.
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. Many people forget about Google Search Console and just look at Google Analytics but by doing so they are focusing only on the people who visited their site…not including those who searched for something on your site that didn’t click you. It’s the other half of the puzzle and you HAVE to know it to fix what’s wrong.
Headings – Text on your website that is placed inside of a heading tag, such as an H1 or H2. This text is often presented in a larger and stronger font than other text on the page.
HTML – The code part of your website that search engines read. Keep your HTML as clean as possible so that search engines read your site easily and often. Put as much layout-related code as possible in your CSS instead of your HTML.
Inbound Link – A link from one site into another. A link from another site will improve your SEO, especially if that site has a high PageRank.
Internal Link – A link from one page to another on the same website, such as from your homepage to your products page.
Indexed Pages – The pages of your website that are stored by search engines.
Indexing – Indexing is the search engines’ process for collecting and storing data across the web. The search engines are constantly scouring the web for updated and new pages to add to their massive databases of information. When the search engines to find new pages, they ‘index’ it, meaning they add a copy of it to their database, so that they can retrieve it during searches. A site can also be deindexed or removed from search results. This happens based on site error, security concerns with the site, web spam and more.
Keyword – A word that a user enters in search. Each web page should be optimized with the goal of drawing in visitors who have searched specific keywords.
Keyword Density – More a term of the past but often picked up by newer SEOs it refers to the number of times a keyword has been used in the content usually provided as a percentage. High density is a sign of keyword stuffing, there is no set optimal amount of times a keyword should be repeated.
Keyword stuffing – This is bad practice and is very much old school SEO. It’s when a site attempts to manipulate its position in search engine results by concentrating on keywords. Lots of them. Thing is, search engines are pretty clever, and can normally detect abnormal distribution of keywords in text or in a website’s meta tags – and will downgrade the site to appear lower down in search results. My favorite example of Keyword Stuffing, see if you get it:
James Cameron does what James Cameron does because James Cameron is James Cameron.
Links – There are two types of links that you will hear SEO’s talk about. Internal and external. Internal links are links that occur between pages inside of your website. For example, all links on the navigation bar of your website are internal links. External links are links coming or going from your website, either someone has linked to your website or yours to theirs.
Link Building – The activity and process of getting more inbound links to your website for improved search engine rankings.
Link Building Scheme – Is arguably anything that is meant to gain backlinks. The term is arbitrarily used to denote any backlink building campaign that is prone to abuse such as PBNs or link exchanges. Link Building Schemes are prohibited by Google and can earn penalities.
Long Tail Keyword – An uncommon or infrequently searched keyword, typically with two or more words in the phrase. Small businesses should consider targeting long tail keywords, as they are lower difficulty and often have more qualified searchers. Common keywords such as ‘software’ are more competitive, and very hard to rank high for them in search.
Mentions – Backlinks counterpart in social media. If a person places a link to your site in their post on social media its referred to as a mention.
Metadata – Data that tells search engines what your website is about.
Meta Description – A brief description of fewer than 160 characters of the contents of a page and why someone would want to visit it. This is often displayed on search engine results pages below the page title as a sample of the content on the page.
Meta Keywords – Previously used by search engines in the 90s and early 00s to help determine what a web page was about, the meta keywords tag is no longer used by any major search engines.
mozRank – A logarithmic ranking provided by SEOmoz from 0-10.0 of the number and quality of inbound links pointing to a certain website or page on that website. A 10.0 is the best linked-to page on the internet, and a 0 has no recognized inbound links.
Moz Moz.com is an index much like Google but not as large and made for the purpose of guessing what Google knows about a site, allowing speculation as to a site’s rankability. Moz is the inventor of Domain Authority, a popular SEO metric.
Nofollow – When a link from one site does not pass SEO credit to another. Do not use nofollow when linking to internal pages in your website. Use it when linking to external pages that you don’t want to endorse. Google recently introduced UGC and Sponsored as link types.
Names Servers – name servers help translate domain names into ip addresses allowing humans to remember names like Google.com rather than its IP address 18.104.22.168. Name servers are also called Domain Name Servers.
Offpage optimization – The measures taken outside of the actual website in order to improve its position in search rankings, for example: social media. These measures create high-quality backlinks.
Onpage optimization – The measures taken directly within your website in order to improve its position in search rankings, for example good internal linking and clear, logical navigation.
Organic search results – The free/unpaid/natural results that appear when you type a search phrase into a search engine. They appear below the paid-for ads. The organic results that appear at the top of the search engine results page should be the pages that have been optimised the best for that particular search query.
Page Title – The name you give your web page, which is seen at the top your browser window. Page titles should contain keywords related to your business. Words at the beginning of your page title are more highly weighted than words at the end.
Page Speed – or Page Load is a measure of the time it takes for a page to load on a visitors computer.
PageRank – A number from 0-10, assigned by Google, indicating how good your overall SEO is. It is technically known as ‘Toolbar PageRank.’ Note:PageRank relevancy is changing.
Panda – Refers to a series of updates released by Google to its search engine ranking algorithm that are intended to discourage people who create large amounts of mediocre content in an attempt to claim many keyword rankings without generating much value for users. Read a marketer’s guide to understanding Google Panda here.
Pixel – A facebook term for a small section of code that allows site owners to track the effectiveness of Facebook advertising campaigns on their web sites.
PPC (Pay-Per-Click) – Advertising method in which an advertiser puts an ad in an online advertising venue and pays that venue each time a visitor clicks on his/her ad. Google AdWords is the classic example of this.
Ranking Factor – One element of how a search engine determines where to rank a certain page, such as the number of inbound links to a page or the contents of the title tag on that page.
Referring Domain – domains that link to a target domain are called referring domains. So if ultimateseo.org is the primary domain and 10 other sites link to it, that would mean ultimateseo.org has 10 referring domains.
Referrer String – A piece of information sent by a user’s browser when they navigate from page to page on the web. It includes information on where they came from previously, which helps webmasters understand how users are finding their website.
Rel=”author” – Google’s Authorship Markup, also known as rel=”author” is a tag that is used to associate authors with their Google+ profiles. This helps to put a face behind your brand, can help increase click-through rates in the search engines, promote thought leadership and can be seen as a ranking signal to Google. Rel=”author” is a great tool for any author that creates content online and has many benefits.
RSS Feed – RSS stands for ‘really simple syndication.’ It is a subscription-based way to get updates on new content from a web source. Set up an RSS feed for your website or blog to help your followers stay updated when you release new content.
SEM (Search Engine Marketing) – Not SEO which is organic, SEM is paid. PPC falls into SEM as well as sponsoring articles on a blog or any other compensation method to get the attention on yourself.
SERP (Search Engine Ranking Page) – The page that you are sent to after you run a query in a search engine. It typically has 10 results on it, but this may vary depending on the query and search engine in question.
Sitemap – A special document created by a webmaster or a piece of software that provides a map of all the pages on a website to make it easier for a search engine to index that website.
Shopify – A web hosting site that delivers ease of use at the expense of customization. Historically the disdain of SEOs due to the limitations placed, now proShopify SEO articles are numerous, all sponsored by Shopify. It’s a good shop site for those just starting out and needing some kind of web presence.
SMO – Social Media Optimization is the organic promotion of content on social media. Similar to SEO but strictly dealing with social media.
SMM – Social Media Marketing is the paid promotion of social media content. Similar to SEM / PPC campaigns but on social media.
Social Media – Online media created by and shared among individuals. Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter are popular social media websites. Links from many social media sites now appear in searches. It’s important to have links to your site spread throughout social media.
Spider – A computer program that browses the internet and collects information about websites.
Technical SEO – Is a growing out crop of SEO that’s highly technical and separate from On Page SEO or Off Page SEO. Technical SEO may center around server optimization, page speeds and coding or markup languages.
Traffic – The visitors to your site.
Title – The title of a page on your website, which is enclosed in a
Tier – Tiers are often used when referring to backlinks, especially when they are PBN focused. Tier 1 links are the best and go to your “money” site. Tier 2 links come from less establish PBN sites and might point to your best PBN sites.
Unbranded Keywords – are keywords that do not include a proprietary terms. A hamburger is unbranded, but a Big Mac is a branded term.
VPS – (Virtual Private Server) is a server usually hosted and rented from a cloud provider. The server is not a physical server but provisioned from resources on a much larger server along with other VPS servers.
Webspam – Any methods that exist solely to deceive or manipulate search engine algorithms and/or users.
White Hat – Tactics that “comply” with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. I use ” because technically anything done solely to gain position would technically not “comply” with Google’s guidelines. I consider White Hat tactics to be Unicorns … nonexistent things. Many Grey Hat tactics claim to be White Hat.
Wix – is a platform for hosting static web pages that claims to take the web designer out of the picture. To allow anyone to make a site though they must prevent customization and often this is at the risk of customization of SEO options.
Word Count – How many words exist on a page. Remember that Google loves text and the top results in search rankings generally have over 1400 words on the page. Words in images don’t count, nor do they help in SEO.
WordPress – Is a content management system powering the largest chunk of PHP based sites today. Its popularity set it apart in the early 2000s for its easy of use and versatility.
WordPress.org – The official site of everything WordPress. Open source, self hosted, free source of WordPress And WordPress Updates Available for download to anyone.
WordPress.com – WordPress hosted solution. A private company offering the WordPress.org software on their proprietary infrastructure. Not WordPress, but they offer WordPress.
XML – Extensible Markup Language is a markup language search engines use to understand website data.
XML Sitemap – A list of all the pages on a website that search engines need to know. Or an index of additional sitemaps on a site that then include each page. Sitemaps are vital pieces of information to search engine spiders and can help focus attention where you wish and how often a page is updated in a search engine.
Yahoo – started in 1994 an early comer to the search engine world. Yahoo was a directory based, mostly human powered search engine until 2000 when Google began powering Yahoo searches. Since 2010 Yahoo has used Bing’s index but its own formula for search rankings. If you’re not in Yahoo you should check with Bing.
Yandex – founded in 1997 a Russian search engine thats retained its popularity in its region. You may see your site crawled by its spider. While Google exists in Russia, this IS the google of Russia.