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The complete SEO Terminology Guide A to Z

I began compiling this list some time ago when I was starting out. While browsing the various websites trying to learn everything there was. I would always come across much technical jargon being thrown around and found myself scouring the internet for each term.

That was when I would learn each piece of jargon and write it down for reference. Now I am going to share that with you so you can print this out or use it to keep record when you need it. It is always being updated and so if you want to include any terms I have missed out please leave a comment below. I will of course credit that person for taking part in this complete SEO Terminology guide!


301 Simply put easily a 301 is a permanent redirect from one URL to another. This is when there has been a permanent server redirect. That means when an address has been changed for a specific web page. This is found in the htaccess file on apache servers.

Adwords this is known as Google’s Pay Per Click advertising program, It now one of the most used and simplest forms of advertising on the internet.

Adwords site a made for Google site that is designed and implemented for the sole purpose of advertising. It tends to be frowned upon these days with people leaning more towards content.

Affiliate an affiliate website will try to sell or market a product which is not sold by them. Normally it will redirect you to another site for the product and providing someone buys, you earn commission.

Algorithm when you hear the word algorithm in SEO it can be used to describe a few aspects. The problem is sometimes it can be misleading. Some people explain that an algorithm is a program used by search engines to decide what pages are suggested based on a specific search. They are right to an extent. But it isn’t a program. It is a mathematical formulae which is used BY the program to do the task previously mentioned.

Alt text alternative text is text which is associated with an image that will describe and convey the same important information that the image is doing. This can be used if the image is not available to the user either because of browser compatibility issues, images could be turned off due to internet speed or even for the visually impaired. This is why if you choose to use alt text then do as properly as it can be frustrating for visually impaired people when they are met with bad text. Alt text is imperative in search engines because a search engine cannot tell one image from another without it. Alt text is also the only place where it is acceptable for the content to be different to the human user for the spider when scanning web page content. This is pretty much the ONLY time it is allowed from major search engines.

Analytics again analytics actually means the collection and computational analysis of that date which is then stored into a program so that each piece of data is easily visible and stored. It isn’t specific to web data. Arguably the most famous program of them all is Google Analytics. It’s free and very easy to set up. A program which assists in gathering and analysing data about website usage.

Anchor text the visible text of a link to a user. The anchor textlink labellink text, or link title is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. The words contained in the anchor text can determine the ranking that the page will receive by search engines. (Sourced from Wikipedia

Astroturfing this is when you claim to be impartial or neutral when in actual fact you’re not. You may have a political agenda or commercial one and you visit websites, mostly forums, in which you participate with a hidden purpose of promoting something. I.e. a product or brand.

Authority/ authority site (trust, link juice, Google juice) the amount of trust that a site for particular keywords or search strings. You become an authority site when other related websites link back to your own site. This is why gaining backlinks from authority websites are so valuable. When crawlers see that you have been linked from an authority site it can take you right to the top of the rankings. Very quickly. An authority site is the actual website which has received all of these links and seen as trustworthy. A perfect example of this is Wikipedia.

B2B Business to Business.

B2C Business to Consumer

Back link this is when any link goes into a page or site from any other page or site.

Black hat is a term which describes non acceptable tactics or practices to gain and improve your SEO. It also derives from hacking or ‘black hat techniques’

Blog A website which presents different forms of content such as news, reviews etc. and tends to be put in a chronological order. Content may or may not be time sensitive. Most blogs are now done with a Content Management System such as WordPress. Originally it was done without and was time consuming and difficult. Nowadays that allows the blogger to concentrate on content opening the doors to just about anyone who wants to write.

bot (robot, spider, crawler) A program which performs a task more or less autonomously. Search engines use bots to find and add web pages to their search indexes. Bots in this sense can be both good and bad. Search engines using it are good but an example of bad would be a bot that continuously spams an email box set to a periodical time of 1 second. The bot will continue this action until told to do otherwise. Bots can also be very complex and can perform multiple algorithms with no problem.

bounce rate The percentage of users who enter a site and then leave it without viewing any other pages. You want to keep this as low as possible.

bread crumbs yep as you think it is. You leave a bread crumb trail through a web sites navigational bar. So if you have an horizontal bar above any main content it can point them back to root areas such as about or contact etc.

canonical issues the meaning of canon is actually something which is legitimate. It is unfortunately impossible now to avoid some duplicate content. Content Management Systems sometimes duplicate urls and Google see them as a canonical issue. That is its duplicate content. www.SEOANDWP.COM, SEOANDWP.COM are seen as duplicates even though technically they are different. Regardless of its path being the same.

click fraud click fraud is when your either clicking on your own advertisement, you have paid someone else to do so or you may even be using a bot. Be prepared to lose your standings and account with whomever you are with. A very bad idea and should be avoided at all costs. Google especially takes this very serious as customers of their program have recently lost faith that they are actually getting their moneys worth.

cloak this is a sure fire way of getting your op and sites blocked from the search engine instantly. This is a black hat technique that hides certain information to the crawlers yet can still be seen by human users. Don’t attempt this.

CMS Content Management System – this is a type of software system which allows a user to control all it content and visual aspects through a ui. Because there is no need to understand sophisticated programming or languages it is chosen by most content creators on the web. WordPress is one of the most widely used CMS’s today with Drupal and Joomla also being popular. If custom websites are beign developed it is now common practice that CMS are built from the ground up in order for the owner to have full access to their website.

code swapping after you have achieved a high ranking with quality content you then proceed to change it for something else.

comment spam this is something we cant ever eradicate completely unfortunately. A user will post comments for the sole purpose of blocking a comment box, discussion, or to generate links to their own website.

content this is text, copy, writing of articles, images or video. Whatever is the bulk of your article page or subject page. It is where there is value and should be interesting to read or watch. It should be informative and well written. Advertising, logos, branding or other links are not content classified.

contextual advertisement Advertising which is related to the content.

conversion Achievement of a certain number of something. Such as visitors or clicks.

conversion rate A Percentage of users who actually convert from being a visitor into part of your revenue. Either by clicking your ad or buying a product through you. 1% conversion rate tends to be classified as normal. I.e.

CPC Cost Per Click – the rate that is paid per click for a Pay Per Click Advertiser

CPM (Cost Per Thousand impressions) A statistical metric used to quantify the average value / cost of Pay Per Click advertisements.

crawler also known as a bot or spider. This is a program which gathers data based off an algorithm to determine a certain something. A Google crawler tries to determine if the date it is looking at is quality. It reads it then depending if it ticks the right boxes will pass. These crawlers continue to do this with all information.

directory A site devoted to directory pages.

directory page A page of links to related WebPages.

doorway A doorway is either a link or web page which its sole purpose is to bring in traffic from a search engine. The problem is that it uses cloaking techniques to stop a crawler from being redirected as well. This clearly means it’s a black hat technique and should be avoided.

duplicate content This is fairly obvious but it is content which is identical to that on another web page or site. A website will lose trust in its users and search engines when found out to have duplicate content. If you are writing your own content or outsourcing it remember to use Copyscape which will tell you if the content is deemed original on the net or not.

e commerce site A website devoted to retail sales.

feed this is content which is automatically ‘fed’ into the page. This is usually from news sites.

FFA free for all. This is a website which has many articles or content which isn’t necessarily unique yet has many outbound links. There is usually no specific content and is used solely for the point of linking.

frames a web page frame is a box which houses a piece of information. If possible it should be avoided and an alternative should be found. It has been known to cause problems with SEO. Also if two pieced of information are being shown at the same time it can also be a frustrating user experience.

Gadget/ gizmo these are small pieces of programming which have a specific function. You may want to display a hit counter or the time in several time zones. These are great for baiting without using black hat techniques.

Google bomb a very difficult feat in itself and takes some of the most influential authority sites out there to do. It is a combine’s effort to change a Google search result mostly for giggles but can also be done for political or activist purposes. Anonymous are known for using this technique

Google bowling lowering a competitors site ranking by linking negative content towards it. Comment spam and bots are usually used.

Google dance when Google decides to change something and webmasters are worried about them losing traffic, revenue or both.  Serp’s.

Google juice Trust from Google through links from other websites.

Googlebot Google’s spider program

GYM Google – Yahoo – Microsoft, the main three search engines.

hit this term isn’t used much anymore but originally meant whenever someone had interacted with a page. Wether that was click and image or link etc. Now it has been replaced with page views. Although a page view now is slightly different in that a user only needs to land on a page for it to count.

hub a central location which is normally considered trusted and links out to other trusted content and sites.

HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) this language converts normal text to react and do something on a web page. This could be formatting or functionality. It allows text to be seen on the internet and as such is the main language used by search engines. Fortunately CSM’s now take care of the headache that comes with HTML.

impression (page view) An impression and a page view are essentially the same with only one slight difference. An impression normally relates to the page view of an advertisement. A company normally buys 1000 advertisement impressions. Meaning when that advertisement has been seen 1000 times the order is complete.

in bound link Inbound links from related content websites are now one, if not the most important measures for google to trust and pagerank.

index Noun – a database of WebPages and their content used by the search engines.

index Verb – to add a web page to a search engine index.

indexed Pages The pages on a site which have been indexed.

inlink See inbound link.

keyword – key phrase This is the word or phrase used to find the content of your page/ site. Keywords are used to find relevant content. Also very important to choose your keywords wisely.

keyword cannibalization This is classified as a negative term. It is when you use the same keywords on multiple pages of content and thus making it very difficult for users and search engines alike to understand what is relevant and what isn’t. Try to use a keyword search tool to find relevant keywords that would allow you try different words for different articles.

keyword density This describes how many times the keyword has been used within a blog post or content. Too little and it can hurt your search engine SERPS. Too high and you will get penalized for having an unnatural density. 1%-2% is more than enough.

keyword research This is where a lot of time is spent and is a lot of hard work. This is the task of researching what keywords should be used in order to be found. It normally entails finding relevant words and then seeing how many times it has been searched, both broad and exact. Then what the competition is and how often it is used in headings and titles. You should aim for anywhere from 3000 monthly searches (Exact) or upwards. Make sure it has low to mid competition though for those kind of figures.

keyword spam (keyword stuffing) Similar to keyword cannibalization except it refers to within the actual context of the post. An unnecessarily high usage of keywords within the same content or page.

keyword stuffing (keyword spam) See above.

landing page the page that a visitor will land on when they click on a link after a search. Normally the main home page or welcome page.

latent semantic indexing (LSI) This is for informally known as a Long Tail Search. Most of the time when someone searches the internet for something more specific it usually has more than three words put together into a sentence. If you were to try rank for ‘WordPress’ it would be very difficult. Yet ranking for ‘How to install WordPress on my Computer’ would be much easier to rank for. This is due to it becoming very specific.

link It does exactly what it sounds like. It ‘links’ one page to another. Normally highlighted in blue and underlined these are very recognisable.

link bait A webpage which is designed to attract inbound links

link building actively building incoming links to a site.

link exchange A two way trade where websites can link to a given website in return for one back. While before auto sites could be accepted into SERPS, due to new technology and crawlers the level of quality has had to be improved.

link farm These are a group of smaller websites which are all linked together and normally owned by one person. If done properly they can gain page rank quickly and are a great source of revenue if looked after and maintained well.

link juice (trust, authority, pagerank)

link love This is when someone links to a website.

link partner This is when two sites are linked to each other.

link popularity Certainly an important factor after new updates in 2013. A site with a high link popularity means that there are many other websites who are linking to your site.

link spam (Comment Spam) One of the biggest nuisances ok blogs today. This is when there is a lot of spam commonly in the comments sections of blogs linking to unwanted products or services.

link text (Anchor text) The user visible text of a link

long tail See LSI for the full description.

mashup Commonly used as link bait, small sites which have little bits of software or widgets. Normally link out to another website. Good sources of income.

META tags It’s the little description under the link title when on the search results page. It is important to make it clear and correct. Describe what that page is about as the search engine will also use it to determine if the content is relevant to the search carried out. It is written in the ‘head’ tag of an HTML page. You also place common keywords here although many search engines do not read them anymore. It certainly doesn’t hurt though.

metric A standard of measurement used by analytics programs.

MFA Made For Advertisements – This is a website or landing page which has been specifically built to produce revenue from advertisements.

mirror site An identical website but using a different url.

monetize To monetize a site means to allow you to make money from it normally through clickable adverts. Google Adsense and Chitika are two popular choices. There are also affiliate possibilities and per set of impressions with companies like BuySellAds.

natural search results Similar to Organic Traffic which is that the visitor has naturally found its way there without using paid traffic advertising or other direct targeting methods.

nofollow A command found in either the HEAD section of a web page or within individual link code, which instructs robots to not follow either any links on the page or the specific link.

noindex A command found in either the HEAD section of a web page or within individual link code, which instructs robots to not index the page or the specific link. A form of link condom.

non reciprocal link This is the term used when a site links to another but does not have one back. For example if site 1 links to site 2 that’s good. But if site 2 does not link back to site 1 then this is classified as non-reciprocal. Search engines tend to like these kind of links as it shows trust, but also because they tend to be more realistic than a trade in links

organic link organic links are published links that the webmaster has found to be useful for visitors. Perhaps he or she has linked to a specific plugin that has been mentioned on an article.

outlink This is an out going link.

pagerank (PR) a value between 0 and 10 assigned by the Google algorithm, which shows how popular the site is and its trustworthiness with links. It is based on other (many) factors as well.

pay for inclusion PFI Charging a fee to get included in a search engine. This method of inclusion is quite normal.

portal Google, Yahoo, and MSN are portals. They include many small software’s which allow you to check and do everything under one page or place. They are trying to become your home page.

PPA (Pay Per Action ) Very similar to Pay Per Click except publishers only get paid when click through result in actual products being sold (or equivelant). It is necessary for the conversion to take place.

PPC (Pay Per Click) an advertisement program where advertisers pay for a set number of clicks. They set a price limit and then everytime a click is completed it will be tallied until their funds have run out. There are many versions of this with Google Adsense being the most popular.

proprietary methods. This is normally false advertising or stating something which guarantees a result through a certain method. Normally from SEO providers who are promising something which simply is not possible.

reciprocal link Opposite of non-reciprocal links. This is where the two sites link to each other. Again the opposite result is that search engines don’t tend to find these as trustworthy. They are seen as deliberately being set up.

redirect This is when you land on one website domain but it instantly redirects you to another. This is good when a business, blog or other website has moved to another domain and is directing people to its new premises. This method is used negatively as well.

robots.txt a file in the root directory of a website used to control search engine spiders. There may be links or content that you do not need to be crawled. This again can be used both positively and negatively. Black hat methods are for masking data.

ROI (Return On Investment) Analytics software use this term to tell you how much you have made based off your initial investment. Useful if you have bought advertisement space to see conversion rates etc.

sandbox At the time of writing this is merely an internet myth of much debate and speculation. The ‘theory’ is that when a new site is indexed by Google it is but in a sandbox in order to stop it from ranking well until either certain requirements have been passed or a certain amount of time.

scrape the term to ‘scrape’ means that a bot would copy content from a website and then alter it to be wrote differently, thus it not being plagiarism.

search engine (SE) it is a program which searches files, information, and websites based off a set of keywords imputed by a user. More advanced forms of SE will go on to pick similar keywords and suggest related content. Google and Yahoo are such example.

search engine spam These are pages which are solely created to present users with the wrong set of information. This was used in the anonymous attack on Google which resulted in many people seeing unusual pages for simple keyword searches.

SEM (search engine marketing) SEM is when you are conducting research, acting on that research by submitting content and also trying to get your website on SERPS or Page Rank. This is the broadest term used and things like SEO, paid traffic and web design fall under this term. Anything which results in exposing your website to more traffic and visitors.

SEO Short for search engine optimization, the process of increasing the number of visitors to a web site by ranking highly on a search engine for certain keywords. It is normal that the higher you are ranked on SERPS the more likely a user will click on your website. Most tend to not click past the first few pages and so it is always very competitive. Paying for SEO ensures that you are getting the most out of your content and web site. It also ensures that you are using the right keywords, achieving the highest visitor rate possible.

SERP Search Engine Results Page

site map A sitemap is a page or group of pages thank allow the user to be linked to every part of a website. It is designed to improve user accessibility. Normally the procedure is to keep an XML document kept in the root directory of your site which helps when bots are crawling.

SMM (Social Media Marketing) Promoting a website through social media

social bookmark A form of Social Media where users bookmarks are aggregated for public access.

social media This is various forms of the internet to be ‘sociable’ and discuss, debate and share information. It can be delivered via forums, blogs, reviews, business related social media websites, chat rooms. Pretty much anything which directly allows for social contact to be made. Some of these has becoming multi million pound online business’s and even started trading on the stock markets.

social media marketing An effective way of marketing through social media

Spam Blog A blog which is full of spam content. It’s of no value to humans but tends to gain ad clicks deceptively or hold links. Beware when ordering SEO backlinks from places like Fiverr. They will often use this method to post links to your website. They WILL damage the reputation of your site. NOT make it better.

spamdexing Spamdexing or search engine spamming is the practice of deceptively modifying web pages to increase the chance of them being placed close to the beginning of search engine results, or to influence the category to which the page is assigned in a dishonest manner. – Wikipedia

spammer A person who uses spam either to cause harm to someone or their website. To advertise a product or to slow down a website.

spider see Bot and Crawler. Similar to Crawler which searches web pages to include and index into the given search engine.

spider trap This is a complicated written software which causes the spider bot to constantly be told to search another link and thus encapsulates it in a web not allowing it to continue. splash page A single page which has lots of graphics. Can be used to re-direct traffic or to advertise a service or product. It can be difficult to rank with splash pages because they tend to look like dead ends to crawlers and so can be detrimental to the campaign regardless of how flashy they are.

static page A web page which has no dynamic content.

supplemental index (supplemental results) These are pages or sites which either don’t have a PageRank or are very lowly ranked. They are still seen as useful or relevant though and once a user has typed in keywords and received search results you might find one of the appear with a ‘supplemental Result’ next to its name. I still can’t figure out why Google would still allow it to be seen on certain high SERPS if it hasn’t gone through the same process. (If anyone knows more about this please leave a comment and I will amend it)

text link A plain HTML link. These are the ones that are in blue and underlined normally.

time on page The amount of time someone has spent on a single page. It ‘can’ be a way of understanding the relevance of the article to the user. I say ‘can’ because it tends to be an average and it’s undeniable that some people will click back on browsers, refresh the page etc.

URL Uniform Resource Locator – Or a Web Address as commonly known.

user generated content (UGC) User generated content means pretty much what it says. Content which has been created by us. But the term is used also to describe websites, blogs or wikis which relies on input from users to fill the website. There is mixed views on this because it is seen as both very intelligent if done properly. But also very cheeky because the website owner is normally the one who pockets any revenues. Very much debatable.

web 2.0 Is characterized by websites, which encourage user interaction.

white hat SEO techniques which are all above board and are completed within guidelines that do not effect reputation or standings with visitors or search engines negatively.

widget (gadget) a small application used on web pages which will show small pieces of information or function to provide information. IP locator, advertisement boxes, news, tags etc are all classified as widgets. These programs can make good link bait.


The complete SEO Terminology Guide A to Z by Simon Thomas

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