Post originally written in 2020 by Seer Alumni, Zaine Clark
Updated in April 2023 by Samantha Ridgway
SEO Terms & Acronyms Explained
Every industry has their own slang and jargon that, if heard by someone outside the industry, would make absolutely no sense. Well, SEO is no different. I mean SEO is an acronym. Whether you are new to the industry, looking to learn more about SEO, or you’ve recently started working with an SEO agency, here is a list of terms that you need to know.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room - defining SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization. Search engine optimization is the practice of optimizing a website or web page to improve its visibility and ranking in search engine results pages for engines like Google or Bing.
Types of SEO
Under the blanket term “SEO,” there are several types, each with its own specific focus and objectives. Here are some examples with definitions:
Organic SEO is the most general or common form of SEO and refers to the process of optimizing a website's content, structure, and other elements to improve its ranking in organic (non-paid) search engine results pages.
Technical SEO involves optimizing the technical aspects of a website, such as site speed, mobile responsiveness, and crawlability, to improve its performance and ranking in search engine results pages.
Local SEO focuses on improving the visibility and ranking of a business in local search results, such as Google Maps, by optimizing its online presence and location-based information.
E-commerce SEO functions to optimize online stores to improve their visibility, traffic, and conversion rates by optimizing product pages, site structure, and other e-commerce-specific elements.
International SEO involves optimizing a website to rank well in search engines across multiple countries or languages, often by creating content that is tailored to specific regions or languages.
Mobile SEO focuses on optimizing a website for mobile devices, including ensuring that it loads quickly, is easy to navigate, and has mobile-friendly design elements.
Voice Search SEO
With the growing popularity of voice search assistants like Siri and Alexa, Voice Search SEO focuses on optimizing a website's content and structure to rank well in voice search results.
Now with some general knowledge on the types of SEO under our belts, we can get into defining many of the commonly used SEO terms and concepts. Whether you're a seasoned SEO professional or just getting started, understanding the terminology used in the industry is essential to improving your website's visibility and attracting more organic traffic. Here we go!
Table of Contents
# - 301 Redirect
A - Alt Tag, Anchor Text
B - Backlinks, Black hat SEO
C - Canonical tag, Cloaking, CTR
D - Dofollow link, Domain name, Duplicate content
E - External link
F - Featured Snippet
G - Geotargeting, Google Business Profile
I - Inbound link, Indexing
K - Keyword density, Keyword stuffing, Keywords
L - Landing page, Link building, Link farm, Long-tail keyword
M - Meta description, Meta keywords, Meta tags
N - Natural links, Nofollow
O - Off-page SEO, On-page SEO, Organic search, Out-ranking, Over-Optimization
P - PageRank, Position
Q - Query
R - Ranking factor, Redirect, Responsive design, Robots.txt
S - Search engine, SEM, SEO friendly, SERP, Search Engine Spider, Site map, Structured data
T - Title tag
U - URL
W -White hat SEO
A 301 Redirect tells search engines that the page has permanently moved from one location (URL) to another.
Alt Tag (IMG Alt Text)
Alt Text is a word or a phrase that is inserted as an attribute in HTML to tell search engines and users what the image is.
Anchor text is the clickable text that appears to be highlighted in a hyperlink; the text that anchors the link to the rest of the page.
A backlink is a link from a page on website1 to a page on website2. Backlinks are known to be a ranking factor for search engines, but an important note to remember for backlinks is that the quality of backlinks is more important than the quantity of backlinks.
Black hat SEO
Black hat SEO is practicing SEO against search engine guidelines. Black hat SEO tactics typically don’t help searchers or search engines. These tactics also end up resulting in penalties from search engines like Google.
Canonical tag (rel canonical)
A canonical link element is an HTML element that tells search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page. Canonical tags can help prevent issues such as duplicate content.
Cloaking (page cloaking)
Cloaking is a black hat SEO technique that makes the content presented to the search engine different from that presented to the user.
CTR (click through rate)
CTR is the rate at which web users are clicking a URL from your website compared to how many times they are seeing a URL.
clicks ÷ impressions = CTR
Dofollow is a descriptor of links describing that search engines crawl them. By default, all links are dofollow links unless they are modified to be nofollow links manually or are automatically changed by a website setting. Search engine’s crawlers follow dofollow links and use them as a score of quality.
A domain name is your website’s “name.” A domain name is the address on the internet where users can access your content. When looking at https://www.seerinteractive.com, “seerinteractive.com” is the domain.
Duplicate content is content that appears more than once. If the same content is appearing on two or more different URLs - that’s duplicate content.
A link from your website to another website.
A box that appears at the top of search engine results pages with information related to the user's query.
The practice of targeting specific geographic regions with SEO or advertising efforts.
Google Business Profile
Previously coined Google My Business (GMB), a free tool from Google that allows businesses to manage their online presence across Google, including Google Maps and search results.
A link from another website to your website.
The process by which search engines add web pages to their database.
A link from one page on your website to another page on the same website.
Keyword density is the number of times a keyword appears on a given webpage. The number is given as a ratio or a percentage of the overall word count of the web page.
Keyword Density Formula:
([Number of times keyword is mentioned]/[total word count])x100
Keyword stuffing is not a delicious Thanksgiving side dish, rather, it is a black hat SEO technique. Keyword stuffing is when keywords are overloaded into the meta tags, content, backlink anchor text in an attempt to gain an unfair rank advantage in search engines.
Keywords are the words or phrases that searchers enter into search engines to find what they are looking for. SEO practitioners include keywords in their meta tags, page copy, and other SEO elements to signal to search engines that this content answers the search query.
Keyword ResearchThe process of identifying keywords and phrases that are relevant to a website or business.
The web page that users land on after clicking a link from search engine results or advertising.
Link building is the process of getting other websites to link to pages on your website. It is known that links are a ranking factor, but it is important to remember quality over quantity. Getting links from “spammy” sites is not going to help you in the long run.
A link farm is a group of web pages that are created for one reason, to link to a target page in an attempt to improve that page’s rankings. This is another black hat SEO tactic.
A specific, longer phrase that users search for, typically containing three or more words.
A meta description is an HTML element and a snippet of text shown in SERPs. Meta descriptions are typically around 155-160 characters, however, they can go up to about 320 characters.
Meta keywords are another HTML element that explain to the search engine what the page is about. Meta keywords aren’t used very frequently anymore
Meta tags are HTML elements that describe a page’s content to search engines. The meta tags don’t actually appear on the page when it is loaded.
Natural links are when another website naturally (organically, no tracking parameters, sponsorship or paid content) to content on your website. Natural links are good and can help new content.
Nofollow is a descriptor of links describing that search engines shouldn’t crawl them, or if they do crawl them, don’t associate them with my site. Search engine’s crawlers can still follow nofollow links, but they don’t use them as a score of quality.
Off-page SEO is the actions taken outside of your own website in an effort to impact your rankings within SERPs. Links are an example of off-page SEO.
On-page SEO is the actions taken on your own website in an effort to impact your rankings within SERPs. Meta tags and high quality, unique content are examples of on-page SEO.
When a keyword or key phrase is entered into a search engine, organic search results appear in a list based on relevance to the query and various other factors and exclude advertisements.
When one website appears higher in search engine results than another.
The practice of using too many keywords or other SEO techniques to the point of negatively impacting search engine rankings
[Oversimplification] PageRank is an algorithm used by Google to rank web pages in SERPs. PageRank works by counting the number of quality links to a page to determine how important, or authoritative, a page is.
The ranking of a website in search engine results for a particular keyword or phrase.
The words or phrases that users type into search engines.
A characteristic of a web page or website that affects its position in search engine results.
A process of forwarding one URL to another, often used to redirect users from outdated or deleted pages.
A design approach that optimizes a website for a variety of devices and screen sizes.
A search result that includes additional information, such as reviews, ratings, and other metadata.
A robots.txt file tells search engines crawlers which pages or files the crawler can or can not request from your website.
Code that helps search engines understand the content of a web page.
A search engine is a program that is accessed on the internet that searches for and identifies items in a database (index) that correspond to the keyword or key phrase entered by the user based on various factors.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is internet marketing that involves promotion of websites/ web pages by increasing their visibility in search engine results through paid channels (Pay-Per-Click).
Refers to a website or content that is designed to be easily understood by search engines.
Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
SERP is an acronym for Search Engines Results Page, which is the screen that appears after a user completes a search.
Search Engine Spider (Web Crawler)
A search engine spider is an internet bot that browses the internet by crawling through different URLs and storing the information for the search engine to index.
A file where information is provided about the pages, videos, and other files on your site, and the relationships between them, which is leveraged by crawlers.
Data that is organized and formatted in a specific way to make it easier for search engines to understand.
A title tag is another HTML element. This element is used to specify the title of the web page. Title tags are displayed in SERPs.
A URL is a Uniform Resource Locator (a web address). It is a reference to a web resource’s specific location on a computer network.
White hat SEO
White hat SEO refers to SEO tactics and strategies that are compliant with search engine guidelines, terms and conditions.