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SEO Glossary

SEO - Stands for Search Engine Optimization. The process of optimizing a website so the search engines, like Google, are more likely to feature it in their results.


Search engines use a combination of algorithms to deliver ranked webpages via a results page based on a number of factors and signals.

The text description of an image on a web page. It's used by both screen readers and search engines, so it’s important for both accessibility and SEO. Also called “alternative text” 

The visible clickable text of a hyperlink. Google uses anchor text to better understand the content of the linked page.

Links from other websites that point to your website. Also called “inbound links”

Search engine optimization practices that violate Google’s quality guidelines.

These scour the Internet to find, crawl, index, and order web content. Also known as search engine “crawlers” or “spiders” 

The percentage of visits that did not result in a secondary action on your site. For example, if someone visited your home page and then left before viewing any other pages, that would be a bounced session.

The different mediums by which your website can get attention and acquire traffic, such as organic search, paid advertising, social media, and email campaigns.

The “rel=canonical” tag allows site owners to tell Google which version of a web page is the original and which are the duplicates.

The ratio of impressions to clicks on your URLs. Google may show your website 1000 times but if only 100 users click to the link to visit your site, your click-through rate is 10%.

The process of optimizing a site’s content strategy for search engines. This includes doing keyword research, optimizing meta tags with target keywords, and developing new content as needed.

The ratio of visits to conversions. Conversion rate answers how many of my website visitors are filling out my forms, calling, signing up for my newsletter, etc.

The process by which search engines discover and read your web pages.

Refers to a page or group of pages being removed from Google’s index.

Users that navigate directly to your site by typing the URL directly into the browser or by clicking on a bookmark.

Content that appears on the web in more than one place, either elsewhere on the same site or a completely different website.

Data that represents how users interact with your site.

Short snippets of text that appear at the very top of Google's search results in order to quickly answer a searcher's query.

The default state of a hyperlink, “follow” links pass PageRank.

An HTML element used to designate headings on your page. These include H1 (the "Page Title" in the Web Platform), H2, H3 and H4 tags.

Stands for HyperText Markup Language. This is the language used to create web pages.

Image results in some SERPs that are scrollable from left to right.

The storing and organizing of content found during crawling.

What users really want from the words they typed into the search bar. When you type “cvs” were you looking for the well-known pharmacy or the plural version of “cv”? Did you want information or were you looking to make a purchase?

Links on your own site that point to other pages on the same site.

A programming language that adds dynamic elements to static web pages.

The word or words that a site owner targets for the purpose of matching what users are searching for and ranking in the search engines. Also known as target “keyphrase”

Metric used by SEO tools to estimate a keyword’s ranking difficulty, or how competitive it will be.

The process of discovering which search queries or keywords are most popular or relevant for specific topics. Also includes reviewing search volume and keyword difficulty.

The number of times, on average, that users enter a particular search query into a search engine each month.

Adding irrelevant keywords—or repeating keywords beyond what is natural—to a webpage in the hopes of increasing search rankings. This spam tactic violates Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

The web page a visitor lands on when they enter your site via Google’s search results or another channel, such as an email marketing campaign.

While “building” sounds like this activity involves creating links to your website yourself, link building actually describes the process of earning backlinks to your site from other websites for the purpose of increasing your site’s authority in search engines.

Is a “you link to me and I’ll link to you” tactic. Excessive link exchanges are a violation of Google’s quality guidelines. Also called “reciprocal linking”

Highly specific multiple-word keywords/keyphrases that demonstrate more refined intent. These kinds of keywords usually have lower search volume but are easier to rank for.

An HTML attribute used to describe what a page is about. It appears in search results as a snippet under the title tag to provide more context. Accurate and engaging descriptions can increase organic click-through rate.

Information that appears in the HTML source code of a webpage to describe its contents to search engines. The title tag and meta description are the most commonly used types of meta tags in SEO.

Google began progressively moving websites over to mobile first indexing in 2018. This change means that Google crawls and indexes your pages based on their mobile version rather than their desktop version.

A list of links that help visitors navigate to other pages on your site. Often, these appear in a list at the top of your website (“top navigation”), on the side column of your website (“side navigation”), or at the bottom of your website (“footer navigation”).

The default state of a link, “follow” links pass PageRank. Links marked up with rel=”nofollow” do not pass PageRank.

A meta tag that instructs a search engine bot not to index the page it’s crawling.

Earned placement in search results, as opposed to paid advertisements.

The average number of pages people view of your website in a single session. Also referred to as “page depth”

The amount of time it takes for a web page to load. Faster load times means a better chance of ranking in the SERPs.

A component of Google's core algorithm. It is a link analysis program that estimates the importance of a web page by measuring the quality and quantity of links pointing to it. It still factors into the ranking algorithm but it is not as important as it previously was.

Refers to the way a search engine will modify a person’s results according to factors unique to them, such as their location and search history.

Stands for “Pay Per Click” advertising. Advertisers are charged a certain amount every time a user clicks on their ad.

Words typed into the search bar. Also called a “search term” or “search query”

Ordering search results by relevance to the query. The websites Google thinks best match the user’s need will rank first.

When a URL is moved from one location to another. Most often, redirection is permanent (called a 301 redirect).

Traffic sent to a website from another website. For example, if your website is receiving visits from people clicking on your site from a link on Facebook, Google Analytics will attribute that traffic as “ / referral” in the Source/Medium report.

A snippet is the title and meta description preview that Google shows of URLs on its results page. A “rich” snippet, therefore, is an enhanced version of the standard snippet. Some rich snippets can be encouraged by the use of structured data markup, like review markup displaying as rating stars next to those URLs in the search results.

A file that tells search engine bots which parts of your site they should and shouldn't crawl.

Code that “wraps around” elements of your web page to provide additional information about it to the search engine. Data using is referred to as “structured” as opposed to “unstructured”—in other words, organized rather than unorganized.

Stands for “Search Engine Results Page”—the page you see after conducting a search in Google.

An information retrieval program that searches for items in a database that match the query from the user. Examples: Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu (popular in China).

Visits sent to your websites from search engines like Google. This can be organic or paid.

How a website is organized and where various content and navigational elements are located on webpages.

Organizing and categorizing a website to maximize content findability and help users complete desired on-site tasks.

A list of URLs on your site that users (and search engine bots) can use to discover and index your content.

Another way to say “organized” data (as opposed to unorganized). is a way to structure your data, for example, by labeling it with additional information that helps the search engine understand it.

The process of optimizing a site’s technical elements (such as minimizing load times, reducing errors, etc.) so it’s more likely to rank in the search engines.

An engagement metric that tracks the amount of time someone spent on your page before clicking to the next page.

An HTML element that specifies the title of a web page. It appears at the top of your browser tab or window.

Visits to a website.

Stands for Uniform Resource Locator. It is the location or address for individual pieces of content on the web.

Stands for Urchin Tracking Module. It is a simple code you can append to the end of your URL to track additional details about the click, such as its source, medium, and campaign name.

Guidelines published by search engines like Google for the purpose of helping site owners create content that will be found, indexed, and perform well in search results.

Search engine optimization practices that comply with Google’s quality guidelines.