SEO Glossary: Terminology and Definitions

This SEO glossary contains the most used terms and jargon among SEO professionals, consultants and agencies. Whether you're just getting started with SEO, looking to hire an agency or happen to be a seasoned expert, this page provides simple definitions that are easy to remember.

A - F

301 Redirect

A directive given to crawl bots to permanently redirect all incoming traffic from one page, or folder(s) to another page, folder or domain.

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404 (HTTP Status Code)

An error message given when a user or web browser, attempts to visit a page but could not return any content. E.g. The page no longer exists.

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Alt Tag Attribute

An alt tag is a type of HTML text that contains information telling users and crawlers that there is an image present on the web page, and information about that image.

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Anchor Text

Anchor text, also known as a link title or link label, is the clickable phrase or keyword that embeds a hyperlink within it. It can link internally or externally. It often stands out from the rest of the text as a coloured link.

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Article Spinning

Article spinning, also known as content spinning, is where a piece of content, like a blog post, is rewritten hundreds of times, often with the help of ‘spinning software’. It is considered a black hat SEO technique as it usually produces poor quality and unhelpful content for the end user.

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Auto Generated Content

Auto Generated content is content that is created programmatically, for bots, with the intention to manipulate SERP ranking. This is a black hat SEO technique.

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Backlinks (SEO)

Backlinks are external hyperlinks used to link from one website to another. They form an integral part of search-engine optimization, often touted as the main ranking factor search engines use to rank pages.

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Black Hat SEO

Black hat SEO, is a form of search engine optimization where a website uses ill practices in order to artificially improve their rankings for search queries. These practices often break service agreements and can lead to penalties.

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Bottom of Funnel Keywords

Bottom of Funnel Keywords

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Breadcrumbs

A breadcrumb trail is a tool that helps users navigate a website and appears in the form of a menu or single line at the top of the page. Breadcrumbs notify the user of the structure of the website, enabling them to return to the homepage after exploring the site’s pages.

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Cloaking

Cloaking is a black hat SEO technique whereby a website presents different content to the crawler, in an attempt to index better and rank higher in SERPs. The user experience is very different and sites often appear unreadable.

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Content Decay

Content decay is a piece of content that has been decreasing in organic traffic over a long period of time.

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Content Delivery Network

A Content Delivery Network or CDN for short, refers to a group of web servers which are dispersed globally to provide a speedy delivery of content. This is much more efficient than using a central server and is typically used for websites that attract a lot of traffic.

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Content Farming

A content farm is a website or company that creates vast amounts of content that is usually duplicated and low-quality, written specifically to fulfil algorithms and rank highly in SERPs.

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Content Gap

A content gap can be defined as the space between what users are seeking out on the web, and the results they receive. It is essentially a gap in the market that needs to be filled in order to fulfil search intent.

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Content Optimization

Content optimization involves ensuring content is written and presented in a way so that it reaches the target audience.

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Crawl Budget

A budget assigned to a website by Google bots. Your crawl budget determines the number of URLs a Google bot is able to crawl.

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Disavow Backlinks

Disavow backlinks is the process of instructing Google to ignore unwanted backlinks in order to positively impact ranking in SERPs. This can be done using Google’s Disavow Tool.

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Dofollow Attribute

Any link that is not assigned a nofollow is a dofollow link. This is a HTML attribute assigned to a backlink that allows users and crawlers to discover and access the website.

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Domain Authority

Domain Authority or DA is a search engine score created and developed by SEO platform MOZ to determine how well a website will rank on SERPs.

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Duplicate Content

Duplicate content refers to content that is similar or identical to content elsewhere on your domain or other domains.

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Dwell Time

Dwell time is the duration of time a searcher spends on a web page after clicking on the link in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), before then returning to the list of search results.

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Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (EAT)

EAT is an acronym from Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines in ‘Page Quality’ and stands for Expertise, Authority and Trust. It is the metric by which Google determines the quality of a website, and its ability to rank.

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External Links

An external link is a hyperlink that points from one website to another, also called an outbound link.

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Flexible Sampling

Flexible Sampling

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Freshness Factor

The freshness factor is a part of search engine algorithms that gives priority to newer more recently updated content for some search queries.

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G - L

Gateway Page

A gateway page is a page that redirects a user to a new page without fulfilling their request or answering their search query.

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Google Crawlers

A Google Crawler is the name of the automatically programmed internet robot that Google uses to find, review and track new content. It discovers new content through jumping from internal and external links. Google’s lead crawler is the Google Bot.

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Google Penalty

A Google penalty is an action of penalisation placed on a website for using ill practices to artificially increase their rankings on Google’s search engine.

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HTTP Status Response Codes

HTTP Status Response Codes

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Header Tags

A header tag, or HTML tag is used to divide up the different headings in a page’s content. They are hierarchically structured from H1- H6 with H1 being the main header and the subsequent tags being the subheadings.

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Indexing (SEO)

Indexing is the process by which Google crawlers store and categorise information and content they find on websites, ready to be displayed in SERPs.

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Internal Links

Internal links or inbound links are hyperlinks on a web page that link to another web page in the same domain.

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Keyword Cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization, or topic duplication, refers to the phenomenon of having multiple pages targeting the same keyword. This can occur by accident, or can be a deliberate tactic.

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Keyword Clustering

Keyword clustering refers to the process of creating a group of keywords that are semantically linked to target a page, rather than just focusing on one targeted keyword.

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Keyword Difficulty

Keyword difficulty is the metric by which website owners can measure how much competition there is for a particular keyword, and in turn determine how difficult it is to rank for it in SERPs. It is scored from 0-100, and the lower the score the easier it is to rank for a keyword.

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Keyword Research

Keyword research is a market research based activity. Often used to identify words and phrases most appropriate to target, in order to generate brand awareness and attract a specific target audience.

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Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is the process of inserting as many keywords as possible into the content of a web page in hopes of optimising it for higher rankings in SERPs.

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Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) is used by search engines to discover terms related to keywords within content so they can provide search results that accurately reflect searcher intent.

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Link Building

Link building is an SEO-based marketing activity of generating backlinks from a set of websites to your website in order to rank pages higher in search engines.

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Link Equity

Link equity, also referred to as “link juice”, is a search ranking signal based on the idea that a link can pass authority from one page to another.

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Local SEO

Local SEO is the practice of increasing search visibility and brand awareness of local businesses to users who are searching for their product or service right now.

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M - R

Meta Description (SEO)

A short description search engines use to categorise web pages in their index. Length can range from 120-160 characters.

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Meta Tags (SEO)

Descriptive tags which search engines use to place web pages in their index.

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Meta Title Tag (SEO)

A descriptive title of a web page which search engines use in their index. Maximum of 60 characters.

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Middle of Funnel Keywords

Middle of Funnel Keywords

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Negative SEO

Negative SEO or Google Bowling is the practice of employing black hat SEO techniques against other websites, in an effort to get them penalised and lower their ranking in SERPs.

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Nofollow Attribute

Nofollow is a HTML attribute that instructs Google crawlers not to follow a hyperlink. It first made an appearance in 2005 and was created with the intention of combating comment spamming.

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Noindex Meta Tag

Noindex is meta tag that can be attached to the HTML code of a web page, which instructs Google crawlers not to index a specific page to ensure it doesn’t show up in SERPs.

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On-Page SEO

The process of optimising web pages for search engines and end users. Making it easier for search engines to figure out what a web page is about.

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Orphan Pages

Orphan pages are pages on a website that don’t have any outgoing links. This means they don’t link to anywhere else on the website for further navigation or exploration and are effectively a dead end.

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Page Authority

Page Authority or PA is a score which was created and developed by marketing analytics company Moz, to indicate where a specific page will rank on SERPs. Page authority is different to domain authority, which measures the authority of an entire website.

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Page Readability Score

A page's readability score measures the accessibility of the content of a web page. This is based on a range of factors like sentence length and the number of words within the page’s text.

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Panda Update

The Panda Update was first launched in 2011 and named after Google Engineer, Navneet Panda, when content farms rose in popularity. It was developed to decrease the number of low-quality websites appearing in SERPs and boost the rankings of websites that adhered to guidelines. It is now integrated into Google’s core algorithm.

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Penguin Update

The Penguin Update was launched in 2012 and named the ‘Webspam Algorithm Update’. It was created by Google to help reduce the number of sites appearing in SERPs that were using black hat seo techniques to manipulate results with link schemes. It is also now part of Google’s core algorithm.

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Permalink

A permalink is a permanent URL attached to a web page that appears in SERPs. Permalinks are made up of a domain name, which comes before the ‘.co.uk’ or ‘.com’ and the slug which follows the backslash.

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Pillar Page

A pillar page is a single web page on a site that gives an in-depth and comprehensive insight into a particular topic, usually linking to sub-topics elsewhere on the website. It is optimised to rank highly in SERPs for this specific term or topic.

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Position (SEO)

The place a web page ranks in search engines for a given keyword or search query.

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Private Blogging Networks (PBNs)

A private blog network (PBN) is a network of authoritative websites that are used to build backlinks for a single website. It’s a list of unrelated sites all linking to one central domain to pass link equity to it and improve its’ rankings.

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Rank Tracking (SEO)

The process of tracking a website's search engine ranking positions for a chosen set of keywords or search queries.

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Redirects

Directives and commands given to search engine robots to control the index coverage of a website.

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Rich Results

Rich results are the cards and snippets that improve search results with images, reviews, ratings and other similar information from your site.

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Robots.txt

A text document used to give directives to search engine bots and spiders on how to crawl and index a website.

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S - Z

SEO Content Audit

The process of analysing and improving the SEO performance of a website's content pages.

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SEO Strategy

An SEO strategy is a plan of action created to optimise a website in order to rank higher in SERPs.

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SEO Website Audit

An SEO website audit is the process by which website owners can gain insight into the performance of their website, and understand the impact and shortcomings of their SEO strategy. 

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SEO-Friendly URL

An SEO friendly URL is a URL that is optimised to rank highly in SERPs and fulfil the searcher’s needs and queries.

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SERP

A SERP or Search Engine Results Page, is the web page presented to a user when they search a query into a search engine. Every SERP is unique, based on the searcher’s location, their browsing history, and their settings.

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Schema Markup

A schema markup is a kind of structured data that informs crawlers about the content of a website and what it means.

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Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short, is the practice of optimizing a website to achieve a higher ranking in search engines in order to increase quality traffic to the site.

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Search Intent

Search intent can essentially be defined as the goal of the searcher, when they search a query into the search engine.

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Search Quality Evaluator

Search quality evaluators are people who evaluate Google search results.

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Search Queries

A list of phrases and keywords users enter in search engines to find things of interest.

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Search Snippets

A search snippet, or Google snippet, is a generated extract of content from a web page that is presented in SERPs, drawn from a search term and collated from stored meta data.

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Search Visibility (SEO)

A metric which shows how visible a business is on search engines for keywords of interest.

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Search Volume (SEO)

The average amount of monthly searches made for a given keyword.

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Semantic SEO

Semantic SEO is the process of optimising your web pages around topics instead of individual key phrases.

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Share of Voice

A metric used by SEO software to show how your rankings compare to your competitors, painting a detailed picture of a website's SEO. There is often a positive correlation between share of voice and actual organic search traffic.

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Structured Data

Structured data, also known as schema markup, is a type of code that makes it easier for search engines to organise, crawl and display your web pages in search results.

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TF-IDF Score

TD-IDF or term frequency-inverse document frequency is a Google algorithm used to score and rank a piece of content’s relevance to any given search query.

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Target Keyword

Target keywords are particular words or phrases that a website knows potential traffic/customers may use when utilising a search engine and seeking out the services that the particular website offers.

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Technical SEO

Technical SEO is an aspect of on-page SEO and refers to the process of optimising the technical side of a website to enhance crawlability, indexing and ranking in SERPs.

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Topical Relevance

Topical relevance is a process that search engines use to decipher how relevant a web page is based on the backlinks, keywords and the content.

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White Hat SEO

White Hat SEO refers to legitimate techniques used to increase a website's ranking on SERPs, in line with Webmaster Guidelines and search engine algorithms.

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XML Sitemap (SEO)

An XML is a document which provides search engines with a map of content pages to index.

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