SEO Glossary: 138 Fundamental SEO Terms Every Marketer Should Know

SEO Glossary: 138 Fundamental SEO Terms Every Marketer Should Know

seo terms glossary

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a crucial element to successful digital marketing. Search marketing encompasses both the technical and creative components required to improve rankings on search engine result pages, drive traffic and increase awareness within the search engine. This method of marketing will continue to be a priority for those who wish to remain competitive on the web because without SEO, your website or content might never be found in a search by thousands of potential customers.

Many marketers, however, still find the practice confusing as they try to understand the complex lingo and deep-dive analytics. Below, we’ve put together a list of 138 SEO terms a marketer should know before they begin search marketing.



301 redirect

A redirect is when a website visits one site or page, but is immediately directed to a different URL. A 301 redirection is a permanent redirect (others are temporary). While users can’t notice the difference between temporary and permanent redirection, it’s crucial that web developers understand the significance of it. The permanent redirection is a way of telling search engines that the page the visitor wants to access has changed its address permanently. Whatever page rankings the site already has in terms of SEO will be moved over to the new address.



Promotes another business’s services or products in exchange for commission or fee.



Algorithms are programs utilized by search engines to determine what pages and sites to suggest when a users creates a search query. This term is most frequently mentioned in regards to Google’s the programs Penguin and Panda used to weed out sites that use prohibited tactics to improve their SEO ranking.


ALT tag

The HTML attribute of an IMG tag. An IMG tag assists in displaying images. If an image can’t be loaded, the ALT tag is displayed instead. They also have SEO value, informing search engines about what is in your image.


ALT text

ALT text is like ALT tags – it is the description of an image in the case it is unable to load. It is very important to use the ALT text on your images because search engines only read this text instead of the actual image itself. If you don’t use the ALT text, a search engine will not be able to differentiate between one graphic and another.


Analytics (Google Analytics)

Software program that gathers and analyzes data about a website’s usage. Programs like Google Analytics are free while others are paid platforms.


Anchor text

The visible text of a link to a website or page. Like this.



No, not fake grass! This term actually refers to sites that try to advance a commercial or political agenda while attempting to appear impartial in a social group.



The amount of trust a site is given for a query. This authority comes from the related incoming links to the page from other trusted sites.


Authority site

Sites that have many incoming links from other related expert or hub sites. Authority sites have a higher pagerank and search results placement. Websites like Wikipedia and ESPN are examples of authority sites.



Business to business.



Business to consumer.



Any link into a page or site from another page or site. This link is placed on another website that takes the user back to your site. Your website’s search engine rankings will improve when you increase your number of backlinks.


Black hat SEO

Unethical or manipulative SEO practices. These tactics go against rules dictated in Google’s best practices. If you engage in black hat SEO, it can hurt your site or even get you banned from search engines.



Website that provides content on a regular basis. Blogs are utilized by almost every company on the Internet as well as individuals. Content is published on a content management system such as Squarespace or WordPress and each post is a new “page” that search engines index.



Flags users put on a website if they wish to return to it later. The site’s link is saved in your web browser for reference. Some websites are social bookmarking sites and allow users to share different websites with each other. Linking your site on social media also boosts your SEO.



Program that performs a task autonomously. Robots, spiders or crawlers are the most common bots used. Search engines will use bots to find and add sites to their search indexes.


Bounce rate

The percentage of users who enter a site and immediately leave without clicking or engaging in an event on the page.


Bread crumbs

A way the user can understand where they are on a site. These will also help them get back to a central area or where they started.


Canonical issues

Duplicate content. While difficult to avoid sometimes, these issues can be resolved by using the noindex meta tag and 301 redirects.


Canonical tag

An HTML link element that informs search engines about duplicate content pages that web developers have created. These tags are placed in the head section of the HTML structure, informing the search engine that the current page is a copy located at the address set in the canonical tag.


Canonical URL

Best address for a user to locate a piece of information. It’s possible to have more than one page that contains this content. Specify which URL is the canonical to ensure that search engines direct users to the best source of information.


Click fraud

Improper clicks on pay-per-click ads that are normally done by the publisher in order to get undeserved profit. Don’t tell people to solely click on the ad just to accumulate clicks and profit. This will lower the advertiser’s confidence that are getting a true return on investment for their ad purchase.


Cloaking (page cloaking)

Building a web page that displays different content to people and search engines. This method fools search engine spiders into ranking websites for certain keywords, but then producing unrelated content to site visitors. This tactic is prohibited from all search engines and your site could be banned if you are caught.



Content management system. These services allow content creation for publishers who are not well-versed in coding skills and website development.


Code swapping

Bait and switch practice developers use to change site content once their website has achieved high search engine rankings.


Comment spam

Comments unrelated to a blog or social media post that usually direct users to a different site.



Text, images or videos on a webpage.


Contextual ad

Ad related to site content.



A quantifiable goal on a website: number of clicks, subscriptions, sign ups, etc.


Conversion rate

Percentage of users who convert on a website.


Cost per click – CPC

Rate that is paid to a pay-per-click advertiser.



Cost per thousand impressions. This statistical metric is used to quantify the average cost or value of a pay-per-click advertisement.



A program that “crawls” through the Internet using a link structure to gather data.


Cascading style sheets – CSS

Code that describes how different elements are displayed on your website. These include the design of your links, texts, headers, etc.


Deep linking

Hyperlink that refers to an internal page or image within a website. This page is usually “deep” within the website; that is, it’s not the site’s main or home page. Utilize deep linking by linking to specific pages on your site in order to improve the ranking of these pages.


Do-follow link

Standard HTML links that do not have the rel=”nofollow” attribute.


Domain name (hosting)

Unique main web address for your website. Site owners register (and pay) for a domain and renew it periodically to keep it from being bought and used by someone else. Search engines rank websites with longer registrations higher because it shows the site’s stability.



Webpage that is created to attract traffic from a search engine. It is also used to redirect visitors to a different page as well as implement cloaking.


Duplicate content

Similar or identical content to that of another site or page. The more duplicate content a page has, the search engine’s trust will be reduced and hurt the page’s rankings.


Ecommerce site

Retail sales sites.



Content that is delivered in a central, updated stream of information, like Instagram or a news aggregator.


FFA – Free For All

FFA sites contain numerous outgoing links to unrelated sites or provide little distinct content. These pages are also known as link farms and are created only for the purpose of boosting rankings.


The fold

The point on your site where the page is cut off by the bottom the screen. It’s crucial to put important, relevant information above the fold so that users continue to scroll through the rest of the page’s content. Search engines give value to the content above the fold since this is the first information a user sees.



Type of web page where two or more documents show up on the screen within their own frame. This design is not good for SEO because bots often have trouble navigating the frames. They also reduce the type of text and make it difficult to read the content.


Gateway page

Doorway page. A page that is designed to attract traffic from a search engine and then redirect the user to another site or page.


Gadget / Gizmo

Small application used on sites for specific functions like an IP address display or hit counter.


Google Ads

Google’s pay-per-click advertising program.


Google Ads site

Website designed solely as the destination for Google Ads advertisements.


Google bomb

Method to change search results for the purpose of humor.


Google bowling

Lowering a site’s rankings by sending links to it from “bad neighborhoods.” It has not been confirmed if this works, but it is a shady way to boost your website’s ranks.


Google dance

When search engine result pages (SERPs) were changed, there was a major disruption to the Google algorithm. The Google dance describes the shift that came because of this change.


Google juice

The amount of trust or authority a site gets from Google, which comes from the outgoing links to other pages.



Google’s version of a robot or spider.



Google-Yahoo!-Microsoft. The big three of search engines.



Occurs when a server sends an object, graphic, file or document. This metric used to be the only analysts could measure web traffic, but now there are more relevant measurements.



Expert or trusted page that provides high-quality content linked by other related pages.



Hypertext markup language is your website’s code that search engines read as they index the Internet. Keep your HTML clean so that the crawlers can easily read your site. You can achieve this by laying out most of your code in CSS.



Page view or event where a user visits a web page once.


In-bound link

Another trusted site’s link to your page. These links are the source of trust, authority and pagerank.



(Noun) database of websites and their content created by search engines.

(Verb) add a web page to a search engine index.


Indexed pages

Pages that have been crawled and stored by search engines.



Also known as an in-bound link or incoming link. The links come from trusted related pages and boosts your rankings.


Internal link

Link from one page to another within the same website.



Scripting language that allows web developers to apply special effects or changes to their sites content as users browse it. Search engines can’t always read JavaScript, so try to limit your Javascript use unless it’s completely necessary.



Single word or whole phrase a user enters into a search engine for specific information.


Keyword cannibalization

The excessive reuse of the same keyword on too many web pages within the same website. Users and search engines alike find it difficult to determine which page is the most relevant for that specific keyword.


Keyword density

The percentage of keywords on a page. Many times, keyword density can hurt a site more than it helps if you overuse the keyword.


Keyword research

Research determining which keywords are appropriate for targeting a certain audience.


Keyword spam / keyword stuffing

Practice of using a keyword excessively within a site.


Landing page

Page a user “lands” on when they click a link in their search results.


Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)

Search engines will index commonly associated groups of words in a document. Since not all searches involve one specific word, search engines will analyze the content on your page and search for groups of similar words. These groups support your main keyword and will help boost your ranking.



An element on a web page that directs the browser to different website or internal page.


Link bait

Attracting links through use of highly viral content such as audio, video, images or text.


Link building

Getting more in-bound links to your site in order to boost search rankings.


Link exchange

Reciprocal linking that used to be facilitated through directory pages. However today, link exchanges allow links to sites that are of little value and do not monitor for quality.


Link farm

Groups of websites that all link together only to improve their search rankings. These pages are considered black hat SEO and looked down on as a way of boosting your SEO rank.


Link juice

Trust, authority or pagerank.


Link love

An outgoing link that passes trust to your site through another.


Link popularity

A measure of a website’s value based on the number and quality of sites that link to it.


Link sculpting

The “nofollow” attribute of a link allows web developers to make some links on your site unimportant from an SEO aspect. As this tactic is implemented, the web developers can sculpt the page ranks of certain pages within the website, making some stand out more amongst others.



Type of search that includes a specific, narrow set of search queries. Users that enter a longtail search are looking for very highly qualified and specific information. A majority of searches are in longtail form.



Web page that includes single purpose software or other small programs. These sites are popular with users and lead to good link bait.



Tells search engines what your website is about for future searches.


Meta description

A brief description of the contents of a page, telling users why they want to visit it. The descriptions are between 150-160 characters long and is normally displayed on search engine results below the page title and link.


Meta keywords

No longer used by major search engines. Meta keywords were once used to help determine what a website was about, but was replaced in 2009 with a meta description.


Meta tags

Both the meta description and meta keywords. The tags are placed in the head section of the HTML structure of a web page and include information meant for search engines, not users.



A standard of measurement used by an analytic program.


Mirror site

Identical sites located at different web addresses.



Extract income from a website.


Natural links

Page links acquired naturally without a site owner having to build it themself.



Command that instructs bots to not follow any of the links on the page or a specific link. This can be found in the head section of a page or within an individual link’s code.



Command that instructs bots to not index a page or specific link. This is found in the head section of a web page or within an individual link code.


Non-reciprocal link

A link to another site but the second site does not link back to the first one. Less SEO value is given to non-reciprocal links.


Outbound link

Link going from your website to another site.


Off-page SEO

SEO tactics that marketers implement outside of your page to improve your rankings, such as link building.


On-page SEO

This practice includes everything a marketer does on a web page to improve rankings. Try tuning the HTML structure, checking keyword usage and improving internal linking structure in order to increase your chances of moving up on the search engine results page.


Organic link

Link from someone else’s website, blog or social account without being asked. By creating great content, you’re more likely to increase your number of organic links.


Organic search

Occurs when you visit a search site (G.Y.M.), enter keywords and press search.


Organic search results (natural search results)

The results of an organic search.



A value between 0 and 1 and is assigned by the Google algorithm. It quantifies link popularity and trust among other factors.


Pay-per-action (PPA)

Like pay-per-click with the exception that publishers are paid only when the “click” results in a specified action.


Pay-per-click (PPC)

A contextual advertisement structure where advertisers pay ad agencies whenever a website visitor clicks on their promoted ad.



Web service that offers enticing features so users will make the portal their homepage. Yahoo! and MSN are examples of portals.


Proprietary method

Terms used by SEO providers to say they have special techniques that will achieve top rankings.


Ranking factor

Describes one element of how a search engine ranks a page. These include the title tag, meta tag and number of in-bound links.


Reciprocal link

When two sites link to each other, also known as link exchange. These types of links are not viewed highly by search engines because of the interdependent nature of the connection.



Method of moving a user from one domain to another. For example, when a site’s domain name changes, they will be redirected to the new domain.


Referrer string

Information sent by a user’s browser each time they go to a new page on the Internet, including what sites the user was on before their current site. This helps developers understand how users come to their site.


Regional long tail (RLT)

Multi-keyword term that includes a location, city, region or any other geographical indication.



File in the root directory of a website. It is used to restrict content, notify search engines of the restricted areas and exclude pages from spiders.



“Return on Investment”. Analytics software is used to determine this return as it weighs the cost and benefits of different SEO patterns.


RSS feed

“Really simple indication” is a subscription to get updates on new content as it is posted to a site. Many readers subscribe to blogs via RSS feeds so that they will be alerted when you have posted new content.



Copying content from a site, often done by automated bots.


Search engine

Program that searches a document or group of documents for matches associated with a user’s keyword phrase. The search engine then gives a list of matches based on the search.


Search engine spam

Pages created to trick search engines into producing unrelated content for a specific keyword search.


Search engine marketing – SEM

Search engine marketing. This act of researching, submitting and positioning a site on a search engine is designed to achieve maximum exposure.


Search engine optimization – SEO

Search engine optimization. This is the process that increases the number of visitors to your website and helps your site to achieve higher rankings in search results.



The results received after typing in a search query.



Document created by a web developer detailing a map of all pages on the website. This makes it easier to navigate through the site.


Social media

Platforms created to share information among individual profiles like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. Social media results now show up on organic search results, so it’s important to keep your site updated with links to your social media.


Social media marketing – SMM

Promoting a brand or website through social media.


Spam ad page

“Made for advertisement” page that uses machine-generated copy for content and offers zero value to site visitors.



Practice of modifying web pages to wrongly increase the chances of being ranked higher in search results.


Spider (crawler, bot, robot)

Computer program that scans the Internet and collects information about websites.


Splash page

Flashy graphic pages created to be be interesting to users, but are dead ends to search engine spiders.


Static page

Page with no dynamic content such as special effects. These types of pages are great for SEO because they are spider-friendly.



The ability to keep users on a website longer. Web developers want to reduce the bounce rate on their sites, so they work to increase the “stickiness” of the web pages.


Supplemental result

Search results with lower rankings, but are still relevant to a search query.


Supplemental index

Index of supplemental results on a search engine results page.


Text link

Plain HTML link that does not include a graphic or use special code.


Title tag

Heading of a web page that is only visible to users on their browser’s title bar.



Number of visitors coming to your site.


Traffic rank

Measurement of how much traffic your site gets and comparing it to other industry-related sites on the Internet.


Trust rank

Ranking method that differentiates between spam and valuable pages. These rankings indicate the level of relationships between trusted seed pages.



Uniform Resource Locator. The web address of a page or website.


User-generated content

Source of content for social media and blogs that is created by the user himself.


Walled garden

Group of pages that link to each other, but are not linked by other pages. Walled gardens usually have a low pagerank.


White hat SEO

Techniques that improve your site’s SEO. When engaging in white hat tactics, these guidelines are the best practices.


XML sitemap

File with main function to give search engines a map of the URLs a website’s blog contains.

SEO is a crucial part of digital marketing. Starnes Digital has all the tools to help you produce better organic search results and boost website traffic. Fill out the form below to contact us and get started today!