SEO Terminology: A Handy Glossary
SEO Terminology: A Handy Glossary

Optimizing your website for search engines is not an easy process. Even if you hire an SEO Company to help you with it, you should be aware of all the jargons pertaining to Search Engine Optimization. This also makes communicating with the SEO experts easier. 

This glossary can be of help. Here are a few important terms used in SEO and their simplified definitions for readers who are new to search engine optimization.


Alt text/tag – Obviously, search engines can’t read an image. Alt tags help them read images. They are descriptions of an image in a webpage which search engines will be able to read and index. 

Anchor text – Basically, the visible text in a hyperlink that directs users to a webpage. Usually appears in blue color, and may give users an idea of what they will see if they click the link.

Analytics – Helps with analyzing and collecting data about website usage. Eg: Google Analytics.


Blog – A frequently updated section of a website where you regularly publish contents. The post keeps visitors on the page and attract more visitors (if the content is impressive), driving traffic and helping the website rank higher in search engines. 

Backlink – An incoming link from another website to the targeted website. High quality back links boost search engine rankings.

Black hat SEO – Search engine optimization practices that don’t adhere to Webmaster’s guidelines from search engines. Might give quick rank boosts but also increases the likelihood of getting penalized with drop in ranks over time.

Bounce rate – The percentage of visitors to your website who exit without visiting any of your other webpages. Bounce rates should be kept minimum for ranking higher in search engine results.


Canonical URL – The best address where users will be able to find the right piece of information they seek. Specifying this URL makes it easy for search engines to identify which address has the best information. 

Content – Anything that you see displayed in a website (text, video, image etc.) is content. The more the quality of the content, the higher your rank in search engines. Up to date, informative contents help with the frequent indexing of a website. Contents related to trending topics rank higher in search engine results. Google’s algorithm scores such contents (freshness score).

Cloaking – An SEO technique that deceives search engine spiders by showing them contents different from that which is presented to a user. 

Conversion – A count of users who perform various desired actions like filling forms, making purchases, signing up or subscribing.


Duplicate content – Refers to contents that are identical to other contents found in other webpages. Search engines may penalize duplicate contents. 

Doorway page/Gateway page – A webpage that attracts traffic from a search engine and then redirecting the traffic to another webpage. Almost similar to cloaking. 


External links ¬– They point to an external website or domain.


Feed – Content delivered to users via news aggregators.


Googlebot/Spider – Google’s spiders or crawlers index webpages in the search engine’s database after considering various factors.


Headings – Text placed inside the heading tag (eg: H1, H2) in a website. Will normally have a larger font size compared to other text on the page. 

.htaccess – Plain text files hidden in the server and used to control how users interact with the website.


Inbound links – A link from one website to another website. A link from a high ranked site can improve your site’s SEO.

Indexed pages – The pages on your website that have been analyzed and stored by search engines.


JavaScript – A scripting language that allows changing the content in a website and add effects to them. Not easily read by search engines, and are less preferred. 


Keyword – The word/phrase that a user uses while searching for something through search engines. A webpage can be keyword optimized to attract users who use those keywords for certain searches.


Link building – The technique of cultivating incoming links to a website.


Meta tags – Found in the HEAD section of the HTML page. They are statements with information on the page. Meta description is a short description of the contents of a webpage, normally in under 160 characters. Often appears in search engine results but isn’t visible on the webpage. 

mozRank – Essentially a link popularity score reflecting why a webpage is important in the internet with respect to other webpages. Domain Authority (DA) is a score that predicts how well a website ranks in search engines. Page Authority is basically the probability of finding a specific webpage from your website on search engines. Trust rank is a link analysis technique that separates relevant webpages from spam.


Nofollow links – Not intended to be counted by search engine bots. Doesn’t make changes in ranking


Outbound links – Links from your website that directs to another website. 

Organic results – Search results that are unpaid and naturally organized by the content’s relevance.


Page title – The title you give your webpage seen at the top of the browser. It should have keywords related to your business. 

Panda – Updates from Google to discourage people from using vast amounts of mediocre content as part of keyword optimization that are of little value to users.

Penalty – Imposed by search engines either reducing website’s ranks or removing them from index altogether usually for practicing techniques that don’t adhere to webmaster’s guidelines.


ROI – Search engine ranking is the most common approach to SEO ROI. Basically ROI is what you get when your revenue exceeds your expense.

Rich snippet/Rich answers – Added to existing HTML so search engines can understand what information a webpage contains. Rich answers are the direct responses or answers you get from Google when you ask a particular question. Eg: If you ask ‘Who is Sylvester Stallone?’, you will get a direct response from Google about who Stallone is. 

Robots.txt – Tells the search engine spiders which webpages to crawl from your website. 


SERP – Search engine result pages where the results appear after you search for a topic in a search engine.

Sandbox – Speculated to be where Google puts new websites preventing them from going up in ranks for a specific period. Exact behavior of a sandbox is still a mystery.


Traffic – Essentially the visitors to your website.


URL – Refers to a particular page’s web address.


Visits – Basically the number of times a user visited your website, usually in a particular period. Visits are referred to as ‘sessions’ in Google Analytics.


White Hat – The best SEO practices recommended by search engines. Listed in Webmaster’s guidelines.


XML Sitemap – A file that lists the URLs you want the search engines to index. Often makes indexing faster and important pages aren’t missed by search engines. 


Zombie SEO techniques – Those techniques that have become outdated years ago. Keyword stuffing is an example. Zombie techniques aren’t effective now as search engine algorithms have evolved.