SEO Glossary

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200 Status: The webpage status is OK

301 Status- Moved Permanently: A permanent redirect of a webpage. Usually used for duplicate pages.

302 Status- Moved Temporary: The webpage has been redirected temporary. This is used when you are not ready to make a permanent redirect. It is a short term measure and does not transfer any domain authority.

404 Status- Page not found: The URL you are looking for has not been found. 404 status codes are sent when the webpage does not exist.

500 Status- Server Error: This is when the server goes down or there is a blip in the server.


Above the Fold: The area of content viewable prior to scrolling. This is the content that can be seen as soon as the webpage loads.  The fold refers to the scroll.

Absolute Link: A link, which shows the full, URL of the page being linked at. Some links only show relative link paths instead of having the entire reference URL.

Example absolute link

<a href="">Cool Stuff</a>

Algorithm: A program used by search engines to determine what pages to suggest for a given search query. Search engines will regularly update their algorithms to keep the search results fresh and relevant to what the customer is searching for.

Analytics: Software, which allows you to track your page views, user paths, and conversion statistics, based upon interpreting your log files or through including a JavaScript tracking code on your site.

  • Google Analytics - Google's free analytics program
  • Conversion Ruler - a simple and cheap web based analytic tool
  • ClickTracks - downloadable and web based analytics software

Anchor Text: The text that a user would click on to follow a link. In the case the link is an image the imagealt attribute may act in the place of anchor text.

API: Application Program Interface - a series of conventions or routines used to access software functions. Most major search products have an API program.

ASP: Active Server Pages - a dynamic Microsoft programming language.

Authority: The ability of a page or domain to rank well in search engines. Five large factors associated with site and page authority are link equity, site age, traffic trends, site history, and publishing unique original quality content.

Authorities: Topical authorities are sites that are well trusted and well cited by experts within their topical community. A topical authority is a page that is referenced by many topical experts.


Backlink: (see Inbound Link)

Bing: Microsoft's search engine, which also powers the organic search results on Yahoo! Search.

Black Hat SEO: Search engines consider certain marketing techniques deceptive in nature, and label them as black hat SEO. Those that are considered within their guidelines are called white hat SEO techniques.

Bot (Crawler): (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. Spammers often use bots to ‘scrape’ content for the purpose of plagiarising it for exploitation by the Spammer.

Bounce Rate:  The percentage of users who enter a site then leave it without viewing any other pages.

Blog: A periodically updated journal, typically formatted in reverse chronological order. Many blogs not only archive and categorise information, but also provide a feed and allow simple user interaction like leaving comments on the posts.

Most blogs tend to be personal in nature. Blogs are generally quite authoritative with heavy link equity because they give people a reason to frequently come back to their site, read their content, and link to whatever they think is interesting.

The most popular blogging platforms are Wordpress, Blogger, Weebly, and Typepad.

Blogger: Blogger is a free public blogging domain platform owned by Google.

Blogroll: This is a link list on a blog, usually linking to other blogs owned by the same company or friends of that blogger.

Branded Keywords: Keywords or keyword phrases associated with a brand or entity. Typically branded keywords occur late in the buying cycle, and are some of the highest value and highest converting keywords.

Breadcrumb Navigation: Web site navigation is a horizontal bar above the main content, which helps the user to understand where they are on the site and how to get back to the core areas.

Example breadcrumb navigation:

Home > SEO Tools > SEO for Firefox

Broken Link: A hyperlink that is not functioning. A link that does not lead to the desired location. Most large websites have some broken links, but if too many of a site's links are broken it may be an indication of out-dated content, and it may provide website users with a poor user experience. Both of which may cause search engines to rank a page as being less relevant.

 Browser: Client used to view the World Wide Web.

The most popular browsers are Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla's Firefox, Safari, and Opera.

Buying Cycle: Before making large purchases consumers typically research what brands and products fit their needs and wants.


 Canonical URL: (duplicate content)
Canon = legitimate or official version – it is often nearly impossible to avoid duplicate content as a result of merchandising one product to multiple product areas.  By implementing a canonical tag you can tell Google which page is the parent page, and which are the child pages. Google will then only take into consideration the parent page.

CMS: Content Management System. Tool used to help make it easy to update and add information to a website.

Co-citation: Links that appear near one another on a page may be deemed to be related. In latent semantic indexing (LSI) words that appear near one another often are frequently deemed to be related. Adding LSI’s around a link will help to build relevance to the site you are linking to.

Code Swapping: (bait and switch) Changing the content after high rankings are achieved.

Cold Outreach: The process of filtering out bloggers, webmasters and influencers within your industry to find the ones that are interested in working with you and syndicating your content.

Comment Spam: Posting blog comments for the purpose of generating an inlink to another site.

Content: (text, copy) The part of a web page that is intended to have value for and be of interest to the user. Advertising, navigation, branding and boilerplate are not usually considered to be content.

Content Syndication: This is the process of pushing your blog, site, or video content out into third-party sites, either as a full article, snippet, link, or thumbnail.

Conversion: A conversion occurs when a visitor to your website completes an action that the advertiser judges to be valuable (usually a purchase, but it can also mean a visitor signing up to a newsletter or completing an enquiry form).

Conversion Rate: The percentage of visitors who “convert”/complete a conversion (i.e. make a purchase, register, request information, etc.).

CTR: Clickthrough rate - The number of clicks on an ad divided by the number of times the ad is shown, expressed as a percentage.


Dead Link: A link that is no longer functional.

Deep Link: A link which points to an internal page within a website.

Deep Link Ratio: The ratio of links pointing to internal pages to overall links pointing at a website.

A high deep link ratio is typically a sign of a legitimate natural link profile.

De-Listing: Temporarily or permanently becoming de-indexed from a directory or search engine. This is what can happen if you are given a penalty by the search engines.

Description: Directories and search engines provide a short description near each listing which aims to add context to the title, also known as meta data.

Directory: A categorised catalog of websites, typically manually organised by topical editorial experts.

Some directories cater to specific niche topics, while others are more comprehensive in nature. Major search engines likely place significant weight on links from DMOZ and the Yahoo! Directory. Smaller and less established general directories likely pull less weight. If a directory does not exercise editorial control over listings search engines will not be likely to trust their links at all.

Disavow: The link disavow tool is a way for a webmaster to state they do not vouch for a collection of inbound links to their website (spam links). Usually used when a website sees a drop off in traffic or been penalised by Google.

DNS: Domain Name Server or Domain Name System. A naming scheme mechanism used to help resolve a domain name / host name to a specific TCP/IP Address.

Domain: Scheme used for logical or location organisation of the web. Many people also use the word domain to refer to a specific website.

Domain Authority (DA): This is a measure of the power of a domain name and is one of many search engine ranking factors. Domain authority is based on three factors: Age, Popularity, and Size.

Doorway Pages: Pages designed to rank for highly targeted search queries, typically designed to redirect searchers to a page with other advertisements.

Duplicate Content: Content which is similar or identical to that found on another website or page within your website. A site may not be penalised for serving the duplicate content but will receive little if any trust from search engines compared to the content that the search engine considers being the original. For duplicate content appearing on your site, canonical tags can be added to tell Google which is the master copy and which are the duplicates and therefore need to be ignored.


External Link: Link that references another domain.

Some people believe in link hoarding, but linking out to other related resources is a good way to help search engines understand what your site is about. If you link out to lots of low quality sites or primarily rely on low quality reciprocal links some search engines may not rank your site very well. Search engines are more likely to trust high quality editorial links (both to and from your site).


Filter: certain activities or signatures that make a page or site appear unnatural might make search engines inclined to filter / remove them out of the search results.

For example, if a site publishes significant duplicate content it may get a reduced crawl priority and get filtered out of the search results. Some search engines also have filters based on link quality, link growth rate, and anchor text. Some pages are also penalized for spamming.

Fresh Content: Content which is dynamic in nature and gives people a reason to keep paying attention to your website, or content which was recently published. Many SEOs experts talk up fresh content, but fresh content does not generally mean re-editing old content. It more often refers to creating new content.


Google Bomb: The combined effort of multiple webmasters to change the Google search results usually for humorous effect.

Google Bowling: Maliciously trying to lower a sites rank by sending it links from the ‘bad neighbourhood’.

Google Dance: In the past Google updated their index roughly once a month. Those updates were named Google Dances, but since Google shifted to a constantly updating index, Google no longer does what was traditionally called a Google Dance.

Google Webmaster Tools: Tools offered by Google which show recent search traffic trends, let webmasters set a target geographic market, enable them to request select pages be recrawled, show manual penalty notifications and allow webmasters to both disavow links and request a manual review from Google's editorial team.

Guestbook Spam: A type of low quality automated link that search engines do not want to place much trust on.


Headings: The heading element briefly describes the subject of the section it introduces.

Heading elements go from H1 to H6 with the lower numbered headings being most important. You should only use a single H1 element on each page, and may want to use multiple other heading elements to structure a document. An H1 element source would look like:

<h1>Your Topic</h1>

Headline: The title of an article or story.

Hidden Text: An SEO technique used to show search engine spiders text that human visitors do not see. While some sites may get away with it for a while, generally the risk is too high for most legitimate sites to consider using hidden text.

Home Page: The main page on your website, which is largely responsible for helping develop your brand and setting up the navigational schemes that will be used to help users and search engines navigate your website.

HTML: (hyper text mark-up language) directives or ‘mark-up’, which are used to add formatting and web functionality to plain text for use on the Internet. HTML is the mother tongue of the search engines, and should generally be strictly and exclusively adhered to on web pages.

Hummingbird: A Google-search algorithm update, which better enabled conversational search.


Inbound Link: A link pointing to one website from another website.

Index: A collection of data that search engines use as a bank to search through to find a match to a user fed query.

Internal Link: A link from one page on a site to another page on the same site.

It is preferential to use descriptive internal linking to make it easy for search engines to understand what your website is about.



Keyword: A word or phrase that relates to your product and/or service that your target market is likely to search for. Long tail and brand related keywords are typically easier to rank for than shorter and vague keywords because they typically occur later in the buying cycle and are associated with a greater level of implied intent.

Keyword Cannibalisation: The excessive reuse of the same keyword on too many web pages within the same site. This practice makes it difficult for the users and the search engines to determine which page is most relevant for the keyword.

Keyword Density: The percentage of words on a web page, which are a particular keyword. If this value is unnaturally high the page may be penalised.

Keyword Effectiveness Index (KEI):  This is one of the quickest ways to find keywords that show potential - that is, those keywords which are likely to help your site attract more traffic. The higher the KEI the greater the potential of the keywords

Keyword Research: The process of discovering relevant keywords and keyword phrases to focus your SEO and PPC marketing campaigns on.

Keyword Stuffing: Writing copy that uses excessive amounts of the core keyword.

When people use keyword stuffed copy it tends to read mechanically (and thus does not convert well and is not link worthy).


Landing Page: The page on which a visitor arrives after clicking on a link or advertisement.

Link: A citation from one web document to another web document or another position in the same document. Most major search engines consider links as a vote of trust.

Link Baiting: The art of targeting, creating, and formatting information that provokes the target audience to point high quality links at your site. Many link-baiting techniques are targeted at social media and bloggers.

Link Building: The process of building high quality links that search engines will evaluate to trust your website is authoritative, relevant, and trustworthy.

Link Equity: A measure of how strong a site is based on its inbound link popularity and the authority of the sites providing those links.

Link Exchange: A reciprocal linking scheme often facilitated by a site devoted to directory pages. Link exchanges usually allow links to sites of low or no quality, and add no value themselves. Quality directories are usually human edited for QA.

Link Farm: Website or group of websites that exercises little to no editorial control when linking to other sites. FFA pages, for example, are link farms.

Link Velocity: The rate at which a page or website accumulates new inbound links.

Long Tail: Longer more specific search queries that are often less targeted than shorted broad queries.

LSI:(Latent Semantic Indexing): is a way for search engines to mathematically understand and represent language based on the similarity of pages and keyword co-occurrence. A relevant result may not even have the search term in it. It may be returned based solely on the fact that it contains many similar words to those appearing in relevant pages that contain the search words.


Manual Penalty: Website penalties thst are applied to sites after Google determines they have violated the Google Webmaster Guidelines. Recoveries from manual penalties may take time, or a person can request a review in Google Webmaster Tools after fixing what they believe to be the problem.

Meta Description: HTML attributes that provide concise explanations of the contents of web pages. Meta descriptions are commonly used on search engine result pages (SERPs) to display preview snippets for a given page

Meta Keywords: The Meta keywords tag is a tag that can be used to highlight keywords and keyword phrases that the page is targeting.

The code for a Meta keyword tag looks like this

<meta name="Keywords" content="keyword phrase, another keyword">.

Many people spammed meta keyword tags and searchers typically never see the tag, so most search engines do not place much (if any) weight on it. Many SEO professionals no longer use meta keywords tags.

Meta Tags: People generally refer to Meta descriptions and meta keywords as meta tags.


Navigation: Scheme to help website users understand where they are, where they have been, and how that relates to the rest of your website.

Negative SEO: Attempting to adversely influence the rank of a third-party site. Over time Google shifts many link-building strategies from being considered white hat to grey hat to black hat. A competitor (or a person engaging in reputation management) can point a bunch of low-quality links with aggressive anchor text at a page in order to try to get the page filtered from the search results.

Niche: A topic or subject which a website is focused on.

Nofollow: An attribute used to prevent a link from passing link authority. Commonly used on sites with user-generated content, like in blog comments.

Non- Reciprocal Link: If site A links to site B, but site B doesn’t link back to site A, is considered non reciprocal.


Organic Search Results: Most major search engines have results that consist of paid ads and unpaid listings. The unpaid listings are called the organic search results. Organic search results are organised by relevancy, which is largely determined based on linkage data, page content, usage data, and historical domain and trust related data.

Outbound Link: A link from one website pointing at another external website.

Some webmasters believe in link hoarding, but linking out to useful relevant related documents is an easy way to help search engines understand what your website is about. If you reference other resources it also helps you build credibility and leverage the work of others without having to do everything yourself.


Page Authority: Page Authority is a score (on a 100-point scale) developed by Moz that predicts how well a specific page will rank on search engines. It is based off data from the Mozscape web index and includes link counts, MozRank, MozTrust, and dozens of other factors.

PageRank: A value between 0 and 1 assigned by the Google Algorithm, which quantifies link popularity and trust among other factors. Often confused with Toolbar Pagerank.PageRank is no longer used and has not been updated by Google in 3 years.

Page Title:  One of the most important on-page ranking factors and should be treated with care. Your page title tag shows up in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing use the title tag as the search results' title for that page.

Panda Algorithm: A Google algorithm that attempts to sort websites into buckets based on perceived quality. Signals referenced in the Panda patent include the link profile of the site & entity (or brand) related search queries.

Penalty: Search engines prevent some websites suspected of spamming from ranking highly in the results by banning or penalising them. These penalties may be automated algorithmically or manually applied.

Penguin Algorithm: A Google algorithm that penalises sites with unnatural link profiles.

Pigeon Update: An algorithmic update to local search results on Google, which tied in more signals that have been associated with regular web search.

Position: Where your organic listing appears in search results. Generally the higher the position the greater the level of traffic it will see.


Quality Link: Search engines count links votes as trust. Quality links with more votes count more than low quality links.

Query: The actual "search string" a searcher enters into a search engine.


Reciprocal Links: ink exchanges where websites try to build authority by trading links, using three way link trades, or other low quality link schemes.

Redirect: A method of alerting browsers and search engines that a page location moved. 301 redirects are for permanent change of location and 302 redirects are used for a temporary change of location.

Registrar: A company that allows you to register domain names.

Reinclusion: If a site has been penalised for spamming they may fix the infraction and ask for reinclusion. Depending on the severity of the infraction and the brand strength of the site they may or may not be added to the search index.

Referrer: The source from which a website visitor came from.

Relative Link: A link that shows the relation of the current URL to the URL of the page being linked to. Some links only show relative link paths instead of having the entire reference URL within a href tag. Due to canonicalisation and hijacking related issues it is typically preferred to use absolute links over relative links.

Relevancy: A measure of how useful searchers find search results.

Robots.txt: A file in the root directory of a website used to restrict and control the behaviour of search engine spiders. 


Sandbox: There has been debate and speculation that Google puts all new sites into a ‘sandbox’, preventing them from ranking well for anything until a set period of time has passed. The existence or exact behaviour of the sandbox is not universally accepted among SEOs.

Search Engine: A tool used to find relevant information. Search engines consist of a spider, index, relevancy algorithms and search results.

SEM: Search engine marketing.

SEO: Search engine optimisation is the art and science of publishing information and marketing it in a manner that helps search engines understand that your information is relevant to relevant search queries. SEO consists largely of keyword research, SEO copywriting, information architecture, link building, brand building, building mindshare, reputation management, and viral marketing.

SEO Copywriting: Writing and formatting copy in a way that will help make the documents appear relevant to a wide array of relevant search queries.

SERP: Search Engine Results Page is the page on which the search engines show the results for a search query.

Search Marketing: Marketing a website in search engines. Typically via SEO, buying pay per click ads, and paid inclusion.

Session: Previously know as visitor.  An individual visit to a website. Visitor numbers are typically higher than unique visitor numbers as often people will visit a site more than once within a given time frame, now known as a Session.

Site Map: A page that can be used to help give search engines a secondary route to navigate through your site.

Social Media: Websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.

Spider: Search engine crawlers which search or "spider" the web for pages to include in the index.

Many non-traditional search companies have different spiders that perform other applications. For example, TurnItInBot searches for plagiarism. Spiders should obey the robots.txt protocol.

Stop Words: Common words (ex: a, to, and, is ...) which add little relevancy to a search query, and are thus are removed from the search query prior to finding relevant search results.

It is both fine and natural to use stop words in your page content. The reason stop words are ignored when people search is that the words are so common that they offer little to no discrimination value.

Submission: The act of making information systems and related websites aware of your website. In most cases you no longer need to submit your website to large scale search engines, they follow links and index content. The best way to submit your site is to get others to link to it.


Toolbar Pagerank: A value between 0 and 10 assigned by the Google algorithm, which quantifies page importance and is not the same as pagerank. Toolbar pagerank is only updated a few times per year, and is not a reliable indicator of current status.

Trust Rank: A method of differentiating between variable pages and spam by quantifying link relationships from trusted human evaluated seed pages.


URL: Uniform Resource Locator is the unique address of any web document.

Unique Visitor: A statistic that counts each individual visitor to a site only once within a given timeframe.

Usability: How easy it is for customers to perform the desired actions. The structure and formatting of text and hyperlink based calls to action can drastically increase your website usability, and thus conversion rates.





Warm Outreach: The process of connecting with bloggers, webmasters and influencers within your industry on social media in order to build a relationship with them. The aim of warm outreach is for bloggers, webmasters and influencers to become your brand advocates.

White Hat SEO: SEO techniques, which conform to best practice guidelines, and do not attempt to unscrupulously manipulate SERPs.

Widget: 1. (gadget, gizmo) small applications used on web pages to provide specific functions such as a hit counter or IP address display. These programs can make good link bait. 2) a term borrowed from economics which means “any product or commodity.”

Wordpress: A popular open source blogging software platform, offering both a downloadable blogging program and a hosted solution.


XHTML: Extensible HyperText Markup Language is a class of specifications designed to move HTMLto conform to XML formatting.

XML: Extensible Markup Language is a simple, very flexible text format derived from SGML, used to make it easy to syndicate or format information using technologies such as RSS.


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