SEO Glossary

  • SEO glossary
  • SEO glossary


Above the fold

The portion of your website which is visible to the visitor without them having to scroll up or down. In web marketing terms it is considered prime real estate.

Algorithm

The technology used by a search engines to determine what pages to serve for a given search query. Search engines utilise many different and ever changing algorithms in tandem in order to deliver what it deems to be the most relevant and high quality search results.

Alt text

A written description of an image which is only displayed to the end user if the image is not deliverable. Alt text is an important part of image optimisation because search engine spiders cannot read or interpret images. The alt text tells a search engine what the image relates to and may also be used in website accessibility for the visually impaired.

Anchor text

The visible text on which a hyperlink is placed within a web page. In the past, much SEO emphasis was placed on anchor text links (search engines do to some extent look for relevancy and similar themes running between linked sites) however today anchor text has less relevance in the SEO mix.

Analytics (see also Google Analytics)

Analytics programs assists in gathering and analysing key data about a website, its users and their behaviour. Many paid analytics tools exist however Google Analytics is the most commonly used free tool.

Authority

Authority is the measure of trust and credibility a site is credited with by a search engine, which is used as a factor when determining the best results to serve to a searcher. Authority and trust is partly derived from the number of relevant inbound links from other trusted sites which are deemed to be like votes of confidence for that site and its content. Many factors are associated with authority including the number of relevant inbound links, domain age, traffic and site history, along with the rate at which unique, quality content is added to the site.

Backlink

An incoming link to a web page from a third party website. Backlinks can be followed and carry authority from one site to another or nofollow which does not.

Bounce rate

The rate (shown as a percentage in Google Analytics) of visitors who enter a site and then leave it without navigating to or viewing any other pages. High bounce rate may (among other things) indicate low quality content, technical and usability issues, slow load time or inappropriate advertising that promises something that the sites landing page fails to deliver.

Black hat SEO

Search engine optimisation techniques that are counter to the best practices outlined in Googles Webmaster Guidelines are considered black hat. These tactics are aimed at falsely manipulating the search results. Google actively tries to penalise sites using such unethical techniques and regularly updates its algorithms to uncover new and emerging black hat techniques.

Canonical tag

A piece of html code used by search engine spiders to tell search engines which URL is the original version of your webpage. Literally canon meaning the legitimate or official version – a canonical tag is used to help website owners avoid duplicate content (a factor which Google ranks negatively).

Cloaking

A highly black hat, unethical SEO technique that delivers different content to the search engine spider than is seen by a human user in order to trick the search engine and positively influence rankings. Sites undertaking cloaking are likely to be penalised heavily by Google if caught.

CMS

A content management system (CMS) is a program that allows publishing, editing and modification of content from a central interface. It makes webmaster tasks such as creating content or inserting media easier for those who may not be familiar with coding languages such as html. Popular CMSs include WordPress and Joomla.

Code (see also HTML)

Anything written in a language intended for computers to read e.g html, JavaScript etc.

Comment spam

The posting of fake or low quality blog comments purely to generate an inbound link to another site - a black hat SEO technique thats pointless and ineffective.

Contextual link

A link within site content that is related and relevant to the topic being covered.

Conversion rate

The rate at which a site or page achieves a quantifiable goal as determined by the website owner. Common goals to measure include newsletter sign-ups, form fills, clicks, sales or social media shares.

Crawling

The process by which a search engine spider (see also Googlebot) discovers new and updated pages to be added into Googles index.

Duplicate content

Content on a website that is identical or similar to that found either on an alternate page on the same domain (or a third party domain if plagiarised). Google does not like duplicate content and duplicate content may affect a sites overall rankings.

Google AdSense

AdSense is Google's contextual advertising network whereby publishers of all sizes are able to publish relevant advertisements near their content in order to share the profits from Googles PPC advertising model.

Analytics and Web Insight
Google Analytics
(also known as GA)

A popular service (pictured right) offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about a website's traffic, sources of visits, visitor behaviour and that measures conversions. There is both a free and enterprise (paid) level of service.

Google AdWords (see also Pay-Per-Click)

AdWords is Google's advertising platform and main source of revenue. Offering a pay-per-click model Google AdWords offers text, banner, and rich-media advertising options.

Googlebot

Also known as the Google robot, spider or crawler, the Googlebot is a web crawling robot used to help create the search results. Using a huge set of computers to crawl billions of pages on the web Googlebot uses an algorithmic process to determine which sites to crawl, how often, and how many pages to fetch from each. Googlebot's crawl process begins with a list of websites generated from previous crawl processes. As Googlebot visits each of these websites it detects links on and adds them to its list of pages to crawl. New sites, changes to existing sites, and dead links are noted and used to update the Google index.

Google Keyword Tool

A useful keyword research tool which estimates the competition for a keyword, recommends related keywords, and tells you what keywords Google thinks are relevant to your web page or website.

Hit

Once the standard by which website traffic was judged, Hits are now a largely meaningless metric replaced by Page views or Impressions.

HTML

Hyper Text Markup Language or HTML is the mother tongue language of the search engines. It is the most common authoring language used to create websites and defines the structure and layout of a web page by using a variety of tags and attributes.

Impression

The exact number of times a specific web page has been accessed or viewed by a user (a page impression) or the number of times an advert has been served (with or without an additional action such as a click).

Inbound link (see backlink)

Index

A database of web pages and their content used by the search engines (noun). May also be a verb: meaning to add a web page to a search engine index.

Indexed pages

The pages on a website which have been indexed by the search engines.

Internal link

A link from one page on a website to another page on the same domain. Often used to add value to the reader, internal links also help search engines to understand what a website is about. By placing links to relevant related pages within the site this will help demonstrate the relationship between pages and improve the usability of a website.

Keyword

The word or phrase that a user enters into a search engine to initiate a search.

Keyword density

The amount of times (usually as a percentage of the total word count) that a particular keyword appears on a web page. If this value is unnaturally high (such as with keyword spamming techniques) the site is likely to be penalised by Google (see keyword spam).

Keyword research

The method of determining which keywords are most suited to a specific site in order to help drive relevant traffic. Often used as the starting point for any targeted SEO or PPC campaign.

Keyword spam

Also known as keyword stuffing, this black hat technique involves stuffing content with an unnaturally high number of targeted keywords in order to unfairly influence search engine rankings.

landing.page

Landing page

The web page that a user lands on when they click on a link in a SERP or in an advert (example pictured left).

Link bait

A web page or piece of content which has the main purpose of attracting incoming links and social media shares.

Link building

Content marketing and online PR activity (also known as Off-Page SEO) that is tasked with creating natural, high quality and relevant backlinks to a website or page in order to build authority and improve search engine rankings.

Link exchange

The act of building a reciprocal link in return for a backlink to your site. Usually of low quality, and adding no value, reciprocal links are often considered an unethical, black hat SEO technique.

Link juice

An SEO term for the authority that is passed down via backlinks between authoritative sites.

Meta tags

Code in a web page that gives important information about that page to the search engines. Some meta information may be visible in the SERPs but is not visible on the page e.g. the meta description. It is very important to have unique and accurate meta titles and descriptions for each and every page on your site because they provide the information that the search engines rely upon to determine what that page is about. Also, they act as the first impression that users get about your page within the SERPs.

Nofollow link

An html command found in either the head section of a web pages code or within individual link code, which instructs search engine spiders to not follow either any links on the page, or a specific link. This attribute is used to prevent a link from passing link authority.

Open source

Software which is distributed freely with its original source code so that developers can modify and provide additional plugins for it as they see fit. Open-source software is often developed in a public, collaborative manner (e.g. WordPress).

Organic search results

Also known as natural search results, organic search engine results are those that are not sponsored or paid for and which are served based on a search engine's calculation of relevance to the search query entered by the user.

Page view

The exact number of times a specific web page has been viewed by a user. Note there may be multiple page views per unique visitor.

PageRank (PR)

The value between 0 and 10 assigned by Googles algorithm, which quantifies the importance it places on individual web pages and websites in their entirety. Hundreds of factors are considered when determining Google PageRank and it is a logarithmic scale. PageRank is one of many factors used to determine search engine results.

ppc2Pay-Per-Click (see also Google AdWords)

Pay-Per-Click (also known more commonly as PPC) is an internet advertising model used to increase traffic to websites whereby an advertiser pays the search engine (or other publisher) when their advert is clicked. The results in yellow in the image on the right are examples of PPC adverts.

Redirect

Any of several methods used to change the address of a landing page such as when a page or website is moved to a new domain.

Robots.txt file

A file in the root directory of a website used to restrict and control the behaviour of search engine spiders. Essentially, this file tells search engines which files and pages not to crawl or index. This may include development sites pages, closed offer pages or pages not to be made publicly available/directly accessible from the SERPs.

Search engine optimisation (SEO)

The process of optimising and improving your site to help achieve a higher ranking in search engine results pages. The overall aim of SEO is to increase the site's visibility amongst potential readers and its target audience attracting more organic search traffic.

The techniques used focus on making a website more accessible and crawl friendly for a search engine and by producing high quality content that encourages natural backlinks from high quality third party sites to aid relevancy and authority. Also described as "the science behind publishing information and marketing it in a manner that helps search engines understand your information is relevant to relevant search queries."

SEM

SEM stands for search engine marketing, and covers all aspects of digital and web marketing, including SEO and PPC. In the USA it is more commonly associated with paid search (PPC).

SERP

The search engine results page.

Site map

A page tasked with linking to every user accessible page on a website. Its aim is to provide a more usable site by clarifying the structure of the sites pages for users to navigate.

SMM

Social media marketing (SMM) is the act of marketing and promoting a site through social media channels.

SMO

Short for social media optimisation, SMO is the act of optimising ones site for social media (e.g. by adding social sharing functionality and direct integration) and promoting its content using social channels (SMM). Similar to search engine optimisation SMOs goal is to generate traffic and brand awareness for a website.

Spider

The search engine spider (also known as the Googlebot or crawler) is a robot used by search engines to find and add web pages to their indexes. The name spider refers to its ability to crawl web pages (see GoogleBot for more information).

Splog

The name for a spam blog which usually contains little, if any, content of value to human readers. Splogs are often machine generated and made up of scraped or spun content.

Spun content (also known as article spinning)

A black hat SEO technique whereby an author rewrites all or parts of existing articles and republishes them. Often article spinners use a machine to insert common synonyms in place of the original words and this produces very low quality content which is not at all reader friendly.

Time on page

The amount of time that a user has spent on one page before clicking to another page. Time on page (along with time on site) can be a good indicator or page quality and relevance.

White hat SEO

Ethical, sustainable SEO techniques which conform to Googles best practice guidelines, and do not attempt to unscrupulously trick search engines and manipulate SERPs. Based on customer-centricity and the importance of quality content, white hat SEO techniques bring increased rankings and long-term results.

WordPress

A very popular, easy to use and open source blogging and website management software platform. Visit WordPress.org for more information.

XML sitemap

An XML sitemap (often kept in the root directory of a website) is there to help search engine spiders find all of the site pages easily.