It can be hard to keep track of all the technical terms and jargon used by digital marketers when they are talking about SEO. I often find myself searching for the meanings of different acronyms. I decided to put together a comprehensive glossary of SEO terms with definitions that explain what they mean. I hope you'll find this useful as you optimize your marketing efforts for search engines.
A/B Testing - The process of comparing two web pages, usually with subtle differences, to determine which page performs or converts better. (See Multivariate Testing, Split Testing).
Above The Fold - The area of a webpage that can be viewed without the user scrolling down.
AdWords - A contextual advertising network run by Google. One of the most popular online advertising methods.
Affiliate - An affiliate will promote and market a business or product in exchange for a commision on sales generated by the affiliate.
Affiliate Link - A trackable link affiliates use to promote their offers. (See Affiliate Tracking)
Affiliate Marketing - A type of performance marketing that allows businesses to pay affiliates a commision for new customers generated by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts.
Affiliate Network - A third party that connects merchants with affiliates.
Affiliate Program - A program that allows people to promote and refer a business’s products or services in exchange for a commission.
Affiliate Tracking - A unique ID attached to links that affiliates use to send traffic to a merchant. The merchant can in turn attribute sales to affiliate based on the unique ID attached to the link.
Affiliate Website - A website that was created for the purpose of generating income via Affiliate Marketing.
Algorithm - A set of criteria and rules used by search engines to determine what pages will be displayed for a given search query.
Alt Text - A description of an image or graphic that is not shown to visitors but is used by search engines to determine what the image or graphic is.
Analytics - A program that gathers and analyzes user data on a website.
Anchor Text - The visible text of a link.
Authority - The amount of credibility a site is given based on the number of internal and external links from credible websites. (See Trust, Link Juice).
Automation - The process of automating a manual task such as sending an email, posting on social media, etc.
B2C - Business to Consumer.
B2B - Business to Business.
Banner Advertising - A type of ad that is embedded on a webpage and shown to visitors. Banner ads typically use the CPM model. (See Display Advertising).
Backlink - Refers to a link to coming into a site from another page. (See External Link, Outbound Link).
Behavioral Targeting - A process used by advertisers to target users based on their browsing history. (See Remarketing).
Below The Fold - The area of a webpage that a user has to scroll down to view.
Black Hat SEO - A set of tactics used to increase a website’s search rankings that violate the search engine’s Terms Of Service. Examples include keyword stuffing, duplicate content, cloaking and link spamming. (See White Hat SEO, Grey Hat SEO).
Blog - A regularly updated collection of pages or posts.
Blog Network - A collection of blogs that contain links to each. Private Blog Networks (or PBNs) have been discredited and penalized by Google.
Bot - A program used by search engines to find and add new pages to their search index. (See Crawler, Spider).
Bounce Rate - The percentage of visitors who leave (or bounce) from a website before viewing another page.
Breadcrumbs - Links on a page that allow a website visitor to navigate from the they are on to the homepage.
Broken Links - Hyperlinks to pages that no longer exist. Users are typically served a 404 page.
Cache - Serves a static version of a dynamic page.
Call-To-Action - Also known as CTA, a call-to-action is a button or hyperlink that prompts the user to take an action such as filling out a form or buying a product.
Canonical Issues - Refers to duplicate content. Canonical issues can usually be solved with 302 Redirects or by using the NoIndex meta tag.
Churn Rate - Also known as Attrition Rate, Churn Rate is the percentage of customers who cut ties with a business or stop using their product/service during a given time period.
Click Fraud - The process of clicking on PPC Ads for undeserved profit. (See Black Hat).
Cloaking - The process of delivering information to a search engine bot or spider that is different than what is seen by the end user. (See Black Hat).
Content Management System (CMS) - A system that is used to manage a website. Examples include WordPress and Drupal.
Content - The section on a web page considered to be of interest and value to a user.
Contextual Advertising - Advertising that is related to the content on a given page.
Conversion - The act of converting from a visitor to a lead or customer.
Conversion Rate - Refers to the percentage of users who take a specific action, usually filling out a form or purchasing a product.
Conversion Rate Optimization - The process of improving or optimizing the conversion rate of a website or webpage.
CPA - Also known as Cost-Per-Acquisition, Cost-Per-Action or Cost-Per-Conversion, CPA is a type of advertising model where advertisers pay publishers on a per-action basis.
CPC - Also known as Cost-Per-Click, CPC is a digital advertising model where advertisers pay to publishers to direct traffic to a website on a per-click basis. (See Pay-Per-Click).
CPM - Also known as Cost-Per-Thousand-Impressions, CPM is used to describe the cost an advertiser pays per one-thousand impressions of an ad.
Click-Through-Rate - Also known as CTR, click-through-rate is a conversion metric used to describe the percentage of people who see a hyperlink and click through to another page.
Crawler - A program that analyzes the data of a website by way of link structure (See Bot, Spider).
CSS - A programming language used for styling HTML page.
Directory - A directory is a website containing a categorized collection of external links on a certain niche.
Disavow - The Google Disavow Link Tool is an application within Search Console that allows webmaster to tell Google ignore certain links when crawling a website.
Display Advertising - A type of digital advertising that uses a variety of formats to display ads to a website visitor. (See Banner Advertising).
Domain Name - A domain name is a unique set of characters accessed via HTTP that is associated with a website. (See URL).
Duplicate Content - Content that is the same that is found on the same or other websites. This could potential lead to a Panda penalty. (See Panda).
eBook - An electronic version of a book or document. Commonly used as lead magnets. (See Lead Magnet).
eCommerce - A website used to sell products or services online.
Email List - A collection of emails from people who have opted-in (agreed) to receive email.
Email Marketing - The process of promoting a product or service to people who have opted-in (agreed to) to receive email from a business.
EPC - Also known as Earnings Per Click, EPC is a measurement of the amount of money an affiliate makes every time a user clicks on their tracking link. This is used to determine whether or not the affiliate is making a profit on the campaign.
eEPC - Also known as Effective Earnings Per Click, eEPC is the actual amount of money an affiliate makes per click after they have been paid by their network.
External Link - A link on a website that points to a URL that is different from the website it is displayed. (See Outbound Link).
Feed - Content that is delivered to users via websites, apps, and aggregators. (See RSS Feed).
Funnel - The steps a user goes through to become a customer.
Geotargeting - The process of targeting users based on their geographic location.
Google Bot - A program created and used by Google to crawl and index webpages.
Grey Hat SEO - A set of tactics used to rank a website higher in search engine rankings that are not technically against the search engine’s Terms of Service but could one day be.
Hashtag - An octothorpe symbol (#) used to categorize content. Most commonly used on Twitter.
Header Tags - HTML page elements (H1-H6) used to create a hierarchy of headings and subheadings on a webpage. Header tags are important for on-page SEO and should include your primary keywords.
Hits - The total number of files that have been requested from a web server. Hits are an outdated and generally unused traffic metric.
HTAccess - A configuration file stored on a web server used by servers running Apache that allows you to implement url redirecting and rewriting among other things.
HTML - Also known as Hypertext Markup Language, HTML is a set of markup tools for styling text and graphics on a webpage. This language is the backbone of the internet.
HTTP - Also known as Hypertext Transfer Protocol, HTTP is used for transferring and displaying files on the internet. Whenever you connect to the internet, you are using some form of HTTP.
HTTPs - Also known as Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, HTTPs is an secure and encrypted version of HTTP typically used for protecting user information such as credit card numbers or other sensitive informative.
Hyperlink - Otherwise known simply as a “link”, a hyperlink is a piece of text (word or phrase) that contains a link to an internal or external
Impression - A metric used to describe the number of times a page is loaded in a web browser.
IP Address - A unique identifier associated with an individual device that is connected to the internet via a network.
Inbound/Internal Link - A link on a web page that directs users to another page on the same website.
Interstitial - A type of ad that is displayed to users when they are navigating from one page on a website to another.
Joint Venture - Also known as JV, a Joint Venture is a one-time business collaboration as opposed to an ongoing, permanent relationship.
Keyword - The phrase or term used in search engine queries.
Keyword Density - The percentage that a certain keyword appears on a page compared to the total number of other words on the page.
Keyword Research - The process of finding keywords with the most potential for a website or piece of content.
Keyword Strategy - The process of optimizing a website to rank for specific keywords in search engines.
Landing Page - The first page on a website that visitor sees when they visit (or ‘land’) on a website.
Lead Generation - The process of obtaining the information of potential customers or clients.
Lead Magnet - A piece of content designed to attract new leads and collect their contact information.
Long-Tail Keyword - A longer and more specific keyword phrase used for generating organic search traffic (See Short-Tail Keyword).
Meta Description - A tag used by search engines to tell users what the page is about. (See SERPs)
Meta Keywords - A tag used to tell search engines what the topic of the page is about. Meta Keywords are not used by modern search engines as a ranking factor.
Meta Robots - A tag used to tell search engines not to crawl or index a specific page.
Meta Tags - A collection of tags used in HTML page headers to tell a search engine what the web page is about.
Meta Title - A meta tag used to name a web page. Meta Titles are also used for the name of a page in the top of a browser.
Multivariate Testing - Where A/B testing is processing of comparing two web pages to see which performs better, Multivariate Testing is the process of comparing many pages at the same time, usually with very subtle differences between them. (See A/B Testing, Split Testing).
Native Advertising - A type of advertising disguised as legitimate content on a website.
Negative SEO - A set of tactics to negatively impact a website’s search rankings. Typically conducted by a competitor or jilted customer. (See Black Hat SEO).
Niche - A specific topic, category or market segment.
NoFollow - A meta tag used to tell search engines to not give any weight to the current page when ranking and to stop following links of the current page.
NoIndex - A meta tag used to tell search engines not the index the current page.
Off-Page SEO - Refers to the optimization of search engine ranking factors that are not on the target website. Obtaining backlinks from authoritative websites is the most common form of Off-Page SEO. (See On-Page SEO).
On-Page SEO - Refers to the ongoing optimization of search engine rankings factors on a website. (See Off-Page SEO).
Opt-In - A term used in email marketing to describe a user agreeing to receive further communication.
Organic - Also known as Organic Search or Organic Traffic, organic refers to traffic from visitors coming from a search engine such as Google or Yahoo.
Outbound Link - A hyperlink that directs visitors a different website.
Panda - A ranking algorithm used by Google to penalize websites with duplicate or thin content.
Pay Per Call - Also known as PPCall, Pay Per Call is a type of performance marketing where advertisers only pay for quality calls to their business. Publishers are assigned a unique tracking phone number and are paid out when a caller who sees their ad fulfils the requirements set out by the advertiser such as call duration, the geographic location of the caller and the time they called in.
PPC - Also known as Pay-Per-Click, PPC is a type of advertising model where advertisers only pay for clicks on their ads.
Paid Search - A type of advertising where advertisers pay to have their ads shown on search engines.
Penguin - A ranking algorithm used by Google to penalize spammy websites with paid links.
PHP - An open source scripting language used for building web applications and embedding HTML.
Query - A word or phrase that a user enters into a search engine.
QR Code - Short for Quick- Response Code, QR codes contain information that, when scanned, direct users to a website or piece of content.
Reach - The total number of people who see an ad or piece of content.
Redirects - The process of directing users away from pages that don’t exist to pages that do exist.
Remarketing - Also known as Retargeting, remarketing is the process of serving ads to users who have already visited a certain website via browser cookies.
Responsive - Refers to a website that automatically scales according the size of the device it is being displayed on.
RSS - Also known as Really-Simple-Syndication, RSS feeds are XML files used by content aggregators to display content from a website.
Schema or Schema.org - Refers to a set of markup tags created by major search engines to standardize structured data on webpages.
SEM - Short for Search Engine Marketing, SEM is the act of using search engines to achieve marketing goals.
SEO - Short for Search Engine Optimization, SEO is the ongoing process of improving a website’s search engine rankings for specific keywords related to the site’s niche.
SERP - Short for Search Engine Results Page, SERPs refer the page that is displayed when a user types a query into a search engine.
Short-Tail Keyword - A short phrase or single word used in search queries. Short-tail keywords are more broad and harder to rank for. (See Long-Tail Keyword).
Social Advertising - Refers to advertising on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
Social Graph - A model used to describe to the connections a user has across a variety of social media platforms.
Social Media - A website or application used for connecting with other users.
Social Posting - The process of posting (and/or scheduling) social media content that has been optimized for specific social media platform.
Spider - A program used to crawl websites and index them for future use. (See Bot, Crawler).
Split Testing - The process of comparing web pages to see which performs or converts better. (See A/B Testing, Multivariate Testing).
Targeting - The process of targeting specific users for a piece of content, ad or website. (See Audience Targeting, Behavioral Targeting, Geotargeting).
Traffic - A metric used to describe the number of visitors to a website.
Unique Visitors - The total number of unique users that visit a website. Unique Visitors exclude visitors who have already visited the website. (See Visitors).
URL - Short for Universal Resource Locator, URL refers to address of website.
Visitors - The total number of user that visit a website. (See Unique Visitors).
VPN - Short for Virtual Private Network, VPNs are used to allow users to connect to a private network over public or shared networks. They are typically used to circumvent region blocking on sites like YouTube and Netflix.
Webinar - An informational seminar promoted and attended online.
Web Design - The process of designing websites.
Web Development - The process of creating web applications with complex features.
Whitelabeling - Refers to a merchant or supplier allowing affiliates to sell their products under their own brand with no mention of the original merchant.
White Hat SEO - A set of tactics used to rank a website higher in search engine rankings that abide by the search engine’s Terms of Service. (See Grey Hat SEO, Black Hat SEO).
Whitepaper - A long-form piece of content featuring in-depth reporting on a particular topic. Commonly used in lead generation. (See Lead Magnet).
XML - A markup language similar to HTML that is used to describe data. Sitemaps are commonly found in XML format as they are “crawler-friendly”. (See Sitemap).
200 - An HTTP status code indicating that a page or image was successfully found and loaded into the browser. The reverse is known as a 404 or ‘file not found’.
301 - An HTTP status code indicating that a url has permanently moved to a new location. Also known as a 301 Redirect, they are more common than 302 Redirects.
302 - An HTTP status code indicating that a url has temporarily moved to a new location. Also known as a 302 Redirect.
404 - An HTTP status code indicating that a page or image was not found. Users are served a 404 page when they click on a link to a page that does not exist.