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SEO Terms: The Only SEO Glossary You Need

Encountering new words and phrases as you research search engine optimization (SEO)? Use our alphabetically-organized SEO glossary to understand what you’re reading and what your website may need.

Aug 9, 2023

15 m read

When optimizing your website to rank higher in search results, you may come across some unfamiliar SEO terminology. Keep this handy SEO glossary bookmarked to easily decode any terms you encounter.



301 Redirect

A 301 redirect sends visitors to a new web page when the original URL is moved or deleted. Any link equity from the original page passes to the new one.

404 Error Page

A 404 error page appears when users try to access a web page that doesn’t exist. 


Above the Fold

The area of a web page that’s visible before visitors begin to scroll is above the fold.


The use of AI tools to support the implementation of different SEO tactics. Also called AI SEO or SEO AI. Learn more about AI in SEO.


Search engines calculate how a web page ranks in search results by applying sets of internal rules known as algorithms.

Algorithm Change

Search engines regularly adjust algorithms to better serve content that meets user needs. 

Alt Attribute

An alt attribute, also known as alt-text, is a description of an image added to HTML code. It makes content more accessible and helps search crawlers understand the context of the image.


Analytics is the process of using raw data and statistics to track a website’s performance and create data-driven marketing strategies.

Anchor Text

Anchor text is a word or phrase on a web page that is clickable.


Authority is a ranking factor that considers how established and recognized a website is in its field. Authoritativeness is the ‘A’ in E-E-A-T.



B2B, or business-to-business, is a sales model in which one business sells to another. Learn more about B2B SEO.


B2C, or business-to-consumer, is a sales model in which a company sells directly to individual consumers.

Backlink is one of the most important SEO terms and describes a link from an external web page to a page on your site. Quality backlinks are seen as a vote of confidence in your page by a third-party and help build SEO authority.

Black Hat SEO

Black hat SEO is an attempt to boost a website’s search ranking by going against Google Search Essentials.


A blog is an online collection of articles on a certain topic, used to establish authority, create backlinks, and help rank for keywords.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is a metric that indicates the percentage of users leaving a site after viewing only one page.


Search engines use software applications known as bots, crawlers, or spiders, to gather information for indexing pages. Google’s is known as Googlebot.

Branded Keyword

Branded keywords contain the name of a specific brand product and indicate a user is aware of the product and may be close to purchase.

Breadcrumb navigation is a set of internal links, usually across the top of a web page, that shows how the page being viewed fits into a site’s hierarchy.

A broken link points users to a URL that can’t be accessed because it has been moved or deleted.


Cached Page

A cached page is a copy of a web page. Google keeps a copy of each web page after it’s been crawled, allowing users to view the cached page from SERP if the existing page is offline.

Canonical Tag

When your site has pages with identical or similar content, a canonical tag can tell search engines which page should be the primary one and appear in SERP. A canonical tag is markup language added to HTML code in the form of: rel=”canonical”

Canonical URL

Search engines consider a canonical URL to be the definitive version of a page for SERP when similar or duplicate versions exist. If there are no canonical tags, Google chooses the page it feels is the most representative of the pages.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Click-through rate is a metric that tells you how many people click on a link compared to the total views or impressions.


Cloaking is a black-hat SEO practice that disguises the content on a web page. When a web page is cloaked, the actual content that’s served is different from what search engines understand is on the site.


A CMS, or content management system, is a software platform that makes it easy to publish content to the web. For example, WordPress is a CMS.


In SEO search terms, conversion occurs when a visitor to your website takes an action that your business considers valuable. Examples include signing up for emails, requesting a consultation, or making a purchase.

Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is the percentage of conversions you get from organic traffic or a marketing campaign. This metric is calculated by dividing the number of conversions by total visitors or interactions.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

CRO is the practice of maximizing a website’s conversion rate through strategies such as improving user experience, strengthening calls to action, and performing A/B testing.

Core Web Vitals

Core web vitals are ranking factors used by Google to assess technical aspects of your site. They are part of Google’s Page Experience ranking factors.

Crawl Bloat

Also known as index bloat, crawl bloat occurs when search engine bots crawl and index more pages of your site than necessary. 

Crawl Budget

Google provides every website with a crawl budget, which is the amount of time or resources it will spend crawling URLs before moving to another site.

Crawl Error

A crawl error occurs when a problem such as a DNS or server issue prevents a search bot from retrieving information.


A crawler is a software application that retrieves information from web pages to organize, index, and rank them for search engines. Crawlers are also known as search engine crawlers, search engine bots and web spiders. Google’s crawler is known as Googlebot.


Crawling is the process where bots discover text, images, video, and other content on the internet and index it for search engines.


CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets, a programming language used to determine the visual appearance of a web page.

Customer Journey

A customer journey refers to the stages a customer moves through before purchasing a product or service, such as awareness, consideration, and decision-making.



De-indexed pages are URLs removed from Google’s search index.


You can disavow, or deny association with, suspicious links to your site using Google Search Console. These bad backlinks affect the authority of your site.


A dofollow link is any link that a search bot can follow. All links are dofollow unless they’re assigned an attribute such as rel=nofollow.


A domain is the address where a website is located on the internet. The domain name for Victorious is

Domain Authority

Domain authority is a metric built by third-party SEO tools, such as Moz, to predict a website’s credibility in terms of search engine ranking factors. These scores are not used by Google.

Duplicate Content

Duplicate content refers to pages containing appreciably similar or identical content.

Dwell Time

Dwell time measures the time a user spends looking at a web page they’ve found through search. It’s calculated from the moment the user clicks on the link in SERP to the moment they return to SERP.

Dynamic URL

A dynamic URL is the address of a page that pulls content from a database. The content changes based on the data parameters.



E-E-A-T, formerly E-A-T, stands for experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. It’s considered to be a Google ranking factor.

Engagement Metrics

Engagement metrics — such as bounce rate, pages per session, and time spent on page — provide a picture of how users interact with your website.

Evergreen Content

Evergreen content has a long shelf-life and is relevant and useful over time.

An external link points viewers to a web page on another domain. It’s also called an outbound link.


Featured snippets are snippets that come before organic search results in SERP. These snippets are chosen by automated systems, but you can optimize a page to rank for it.


Findability is an SEO term describing the ease with which searchers locate the content they’re looking for on a website, both through search engines and after landing on a site.

A footer is the bottom section of a web page that may contain a list of links to other parts of the site.



Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a tool that helps you collect and analyze data about your website’s visitors and what they do on your site.


Google’s web crawler is known as Googlebot. Numerous Googlebot crawlers are running simultaneously at any given time.

Google Business Profile

Google Business Profile is a marketing tool that lets you customize how your business appears in maps and local searches.

Google Knowledge Panel

A Knowledge Panel is an informational box that appears on SERPs and displays the answer to a query based on content from multiple sources on the web. This information is automatically generated.

Google Penalty

Sites that violate Google’s Search Essentials are issued penalties that cause a drop in ranking or complete removal from search results.

Google RankBrain

RankBrain is the AI-driven component of Google’s core algorithm. It uses machine learning to analyze search intent and rank sites.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a tool that helps you monitor your site’s performance in SERP, providing insight into the keywords your visitors use, backlinks, and technical problems that may impact your ranking. Learn more with our Google Search Console guide.

Google Trends is a keyword research tool that shows patterns in search terms over time and by location.

Google Search Essentials

Google Search Essentials outline the best practices to follow to optimize your site for Google search results.

Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is an SEO strategy where you establish your expertise and create backlink opportunities by writing for an external blog.


H1 Tag

An H1 tag is used in HTML code to indicate the main title of an article or web page.

Helpful Content Update

Google released the helpful content update in August 2022. This update prioritized pages with useful content that was written with humans in mind. Spammy content saw rankings drops during this update.


The homepage of a website is the main page visitors see when landing on a site.

.htaccess File

An .htaccess file allows you to change the configuration of a directory and its subdirectories. It’s usually used by content providers who don’t have access to the main server configuration files.


When you have variations of a single page for different languages or regions, use the Hreflang attribute to tell Google when to serve each page. Use an x-default attribute to funnel traffic from unknown sources to a specific language page.


HyperText Markup Language, or HTML, is the coding language used to create pages viewed in web browsers.


Hypertext Transfer Protocol, or HTTP, is a set of rules that standardizes how a web client and a server communicate on the internet.


Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, or HTTPS, uses security protocols to ensure the safety of information exchanged on the internet.


An inbound link brings a visitor from an external web page to your website and is also known as a backlink.


An index is an inventory of all web pages that a search engine has found and cataloged.


Indexability refers to the ease with which a search engine can find, crawl, and understand a web page in order to add it to its database.

An internal link takes a user from one page to another on the same website.


Interstitials are large popups that appear over the content of a web page, giving users the option to continue to another page or return to the page they were on.

IP Address

An IP or Internet Protocol address is a series of numbers assigned to a website or device so information can be routed to the correct destination.


JavaScript (JS)

JavaScript is a programming language that makes a web page responsive and interactive. Learn more about JavaScript SEO.



A keyword is the word or phrase users enter into search engines to find information. Websites aim to rank for keywords in SERP to drive traffic.

Keyword Cannibalization

Pages that target the same keywords within a website compete against each other in SERP, diluting their SEO effectiveness. This is known as keyword cannibalization.

Keyword Density

Keyword density measures the number of times a keyword appears on a web page compared to the total number of words on the page.

Keyword Ranking

Keyword ranking refers to the position of your website in organic search engine results for a particular query.

Keyword Research

SEO specialists perform keyword research to identify the search terms target audiences are using and the most valuable ones to prioritize. 

Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is the overuse of a keyword in a piece of content to try to rank better in search results.


KPI is one of the most common SEO acronyms. Short for key performance indicator, KPI is any metric used to measure how well a marketing campaign is helping to achieve business goals. Here are some crucial SEO KPIs.



Landing Page

A landing page is the web page users arrive on after clicking on a marketing campaign.

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)

LSI is one of the more complex SEO terminologies. It describes the process used by search engines to find words that are related in meaning.

A link, also known as a web link or hyperlink, takes users from one web page to another when clicked.

Link building is an off-page SEO strategy focused on creating high-quality backlinks from external sources.

Link equity is the authority high-ranking web pages can pass to linked pages as a type of endorsement.

Link juice is another name for link equity.

A link profile is a report analyzing the quality of backlinks to your website. A strong link profile contains many diverse, high-quality backlinks from unique referring domains.

Link velocity refers to the rate at which a site is gaining backlinks.

Local SEO

Local SEO focuses on getting websites to rank for localized searches that use phrases such as “near me” or “in [city/state].”

Log File Analysis

A log file analysis is a review of a website’s log files, which show how users and web crawlers interact with a site and access information.

Long-Tail Keyword

Long-tail keywords are highly specific searches that help you reach a more targeted audience.


Manual Action

A manual action is a Google penalty issued after a human has reviewed a site’s SEO practices.

Meta Description

A meta description is a short snippet describing the content of your web page. It’s placed in your HTML code and displayed by Google in SERP.

Meta Keywords

Meta keywords are keywords placed in a web page’s source code for search bots. Google no longer uses meta keywords as a ranking factor.

Meta Tags

Meta tags are any tags placed in a web page’s HTML header to provide information about the content to search bots.


Mobile-friendliness refers to the ease with which a user can view and interact with a website on a mobile device.



Nofollow, or “rel=nofollow”, is an HTML attribute assigned to outbound links that you don’t want Google to associate your site with or pass link equity to.

Noindex Tag

You can prevent a web page from being indexed and appearing in SERP by adding a noindex meta tag in the page header.

Nosnippet Tag

Use a nosnippet meta tag when you don’t want a search listing to include a snippet description. This tag is useful for content that changes frequently and also prevents Google from keeping a cached copy of the page.


Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO refers to external optimization strategies such as link building, acquiring reviews, and optimizing your Google Business Profile.

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO are changes made to your website to boost ranking, such as adding quality content and making technical improvements.

Organic search is one of the fundamental SEO terms, and refers to the process of finding a website through unpaid search results.

Organic Traffic

Organic traffic refers to visitors who land on a website through organic search.

Orphan Page

An orphan page has no links from other pages, meaning users can’t navigate to it.

Outbound links point users from your website to an external site; also known as external links.



Google’s PageRank algorithm determines the authority of a web page for ranking purposes using factors such as backlinks.

Page Speed

Page speed is a Google ranking factor that considers the time it takes a page to fully load and become interactive.


Pageview is a metric that tells you how many times a page was loaded and viewed during a time frame.

Paid search refers to search listings purchased by businesses that appear above organic search results.

PBN (Private Blog Network)

A private blog network, or PBN, is a group of websites created to provide low-quality backlinks to other websites. PBNs are black hat SEO.


PHP, or Hypertext Preprocessor, is a common scripting language used with HTML to create interactive elements on a website.

PPC (Pay-Per-Click)

Pay-per-click, or PPC, is a form of online advertising where you pay a fee for each click on your ad.


Ranking Factor

An important entry in any SEO glossary, a ranking factor is one of the many indicators used by search engines to determine where web pages should appear in search results.

Reciprocal links are backlinks exchanged between two websites for SEO purposes.


A redirect sends users to another URL when the existing one is moved or removed.

Referring Domain

A referring domain is a website that directs traffic to your site through a backlink.


Relevance is a search engine ranking factor that describes how pertinent the content of a web page is to a search query.

Reputation Management

Reputation management is the practice of ensuring a brand is perceived positively by stakeholders, media, and the general public.

Rich Snippet

A rich snippet is a SERP listing that’s displayed with images, reviews, ratings, prices, and other information designed to attract searchers.


You can add a robots.txt file to your site to tell crawlers which URLs they may access and index.

Return on Investment (ROI)

Marketers use return on investment as a metric for assessing the performance of a marketing campaign. ROI is the ratio of revenue earned to the total cost of the campaign.




You can use schema markup language to give search engines additional information about the content of a page. This structured data is used to create rich snippets.

Search Engine

Search engines are software programs that help users find information on the internet. Google, Bing, and Yahoo are popular search engines.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM is a marketing activity designed to boost a website’s online visibility through paid search opportunities like PPC advertising.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is a marketing activity designed to boost a website’s positioning in organic search results by targeting keywords used by searchers.

Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

A search engine results page, also known as SERP, is the list of web pages that appears when you run a query through a search engine. SERP includes paid and organic search listings.

Search Intent

Search intent is the reason a person is performing a search. Marketers that understand search intent can create content that better satisfies the searcher’s needs.

Search Volume

Search volume is a measurement that shows how often a keyword is entered into search engines during a specific period.

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)

SSL is the technology that ensures an encrypted and secure website connection.

SERP Features

Google provides an array of features on SERP besides organic search results. Marketers can aim to rank in SERP features such as shopping results, the Image Pack, Local Three-Pack, and People Also Ask questions.

SEO Audit

An SEO audit is a detailed review of a site’s structure and content, with the goal of identifying weak points affecting search engine rankings. As an SEO agency, we offer an SEO audit service to help customers identify hot to improve their sites.

Some highly ranked web pages are displayed on SERP with a cluster of six links below the main URL. Known as sitelinks, these links are chosen by algorithms to provide users with shortcuts to popular pages.


A sitemap is like a roadmap to a website. It showcases the site hierarchy, highlights important URLs, and makes it easy for search engine crawlers to find, access, and index web pages. An HTML sitemap is a user-friendly sitemap, while an XML sitemap is used to share information with web crawlers.

Social Signal

A social signal is an interaction on a social media platform, such as a like, share, or review.


Also known as a web crawler or search bot, a spider is a software application used by search engines to gather information and index pages on the internet.

SSL Certificate

An SSL certificate verifies a website’s identity and ensures connections are secure. A site with an SSL certificate shows a padlock icon in the address bar.

Status Codes

When a website’s server receives an information request, it responds with a three-digit status code to indicate the status. Common status codes include 301 (permanent redirect), 302 (temporary redirect), and 404 (not found).

Stop Word

Stop words are common words that search engines tend to ignore in search queries, such as “a”, “the”, or “in.” You can add stop words to make awkward keywords more readable in your content.

Structured Data

Structured data provides search engines with details for rich snippets, such as the calories in a recipe or hours of a business.


Websites use directories to create a hierarchy and organize pages. A subdirectory, or subfolder, is contained within a higher-level directory.


A subdomain is a separate website created within the main domain. An online shop, blog, or forum may live on a subdomain.


Technical SEO

Technical SEO focuses on optimizing the technical elements of a website, such as page loading speed, mobile friendliness, and security.

Thin Content

Pages with thin content lack unique or in-depth information, making them of little interest or value to readers.

Time on Page

The time-on-page metric measures the average time a user spends on a particular web page.

Title Tag

Also known as a meta title, a title tag is used to give your web page a descriptive name that appears in SERP, browser tabs, and social media links.

Top-Level Domain (TLD)

A TLD, or top-level domain, is the suffix of a domain name that appears after the dot. Common TLDs are .com and .org

Transport Layer Security (TLS)

TLS is used interchangeably with SSL to describe the technology that ensures secure communications over the internet. TLS is a newer version of SSL.


Trust refers to the credibility of a website in terms of its expertise and reputation. Sites that demonstrate trust are more likely to rank higher.


TrustRank is a Google algorithm that looks at the quality of a site’s backlinks, among other factors, to determine its trustworthiness.


User-Generated Content (UGC)

User-generated content, or UGC, is content about a brand or its products created by the public, such as comments, images, videos, reviews, and social media posts.


A website URL is the address used to find a web page or piece of content on the internet.

URL Slug

The slug is the part of a URL that you can customize to identify a page. In the URL, “referring-domains” is the URL slug.

URL Parameter

URL parameters can be inserted into your URLs to track which marketing campaigns a user clicks on to arrive on a page.

User Experience (UX)

User experience, or UX, is a design process focused on delivering a positive experience to users to meet their needs.



Visibility refers to the prominence of a website in organic search engine rankings. A site with high visibility ranks well for its target keywords.

Voice searches are conducted through digital voice assistants such as Apple’s Siri or Google Home.


Website Migration

A website migration involves significant changes to a site, such as technology upgrades or a domain move.

Website Structure

The structure of your website, or its architecture, refers to the way sections and pages are organized.

White Hat SEO

SEO tactics that are implemented in good faith and follow industry best practices are considered white hat SEO.


WordPress is a popular content management system used to build websites and publish content.


XML Sitemap

An XML sitemap is written specifically for search engines to show the structure of your website and how pages are related.

X-Robots Tag

X-Robots is a tag placed in a URL’s HTTP header response that tells search engines what content they can crawl.


Your Money or Your Life (YMYL)

Your Money or Your Life, or YMYL for short, is an SEO term that describes any web page with important information that could significantly impact a person’s life if wrong. These pages cover health, law, finance, and other topics.

Need Help Boosting Your SEO Knowledge?

Now that you’ve mastered your SEO vocabulary, you’re ready to fine-tune your marketing efforts. Download our How to Measure SEO ebook and learn how to track your SEO campaigns and ensure they’re delivering results.

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How to Measure SEO

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