At Pearl Lemon, we know SEO. We have to, as it is a huge part of everything we do. However, we do realise that many people don’t, and so many of the terms we use are confusing.
While it’s a complicated topic and there is (always) a lot to learn, becoming familiar with some of the most commonly used terms and concepts in SEO can be very helpful to anyone who has to come into contact with it for any reason.
Business owners, entrepreneurs, would be website owners, you can all benefit from an upgrade to your SEO IQ. Which is why we decided to put together a glossary of the most commonly used SEO terms and explain a little more about each of them.
So here we go, in alphabetical order…
AMP (the shorter, cooler version of the term) is a set of functions that allows web pages to load faster when they are being viewed on mobile devices. Implementing AMP whenever possible is an SEO must for any website, as not only does it make for a better user experience but Google really loves speed too, and rewards faster loading mobile pages in the SERPs.
Adwords is the online advertising service that brings Google a big chunk of its revenue. It is a service that allows people to place paid ads within Google’s search results by bidding on their chosen keywords. It’s a bit of an art to get right – especially if you are trying to bid on very popular keyterms, but when it is done right it can be a fast, effective way to get your website noticed.
In very basic terms, an algorithm is a set of rules that is defined in order to solve problems via automation. Search engines use algorithms to discover pages on the web and then rank them in the way that they think is most relevant for searchers.
Search engine algorithms are complicated and – annoyingly perhaps – they change all the time. For example, Google admits to making use of over 200 signals or ‘rules’ at any given time when deciding where a webpage should rank in their results and while they will offer some basic guidance some of these factors are a supposed ‘secret’, so keeping up with algorithmic best practices is a daily, full-time job (which at Pearl Lemon we actually employ people to do)
This term is short for alternative text. Alt text is (obviously) text, and it is added to image descriptions to inform search bots just what the image is of. You see, as clever as they are search bots can’t see images in the way that humans do. They have to be told ‘verbally’ what is in an image in order for them to rank it, so that is just what alt text does.
Anchor text is clickable text that is used to link to a different web page, one that is on your website or to an external web address. Most of the time, the anchor text appears blue and underlined so that users can see that they are (potentially) being directed elsewhere. Anchor text is very important to search bots too. They love good links, hate bad ones and will adjust their ‘opinion’ of a web page based on where any anchor text leads and how it is phrased.
Backlinks – a term that is interchangeable with others such as incoming links, inbound links and inward links – are links from other websites that point towards yours. They are a lot like little votes of confidence and the more of them you have from high-quality websites the better. And if you have a lot of backlinks but they are all from ‘bad places’ they can be a real website killer, so monitoring your backlinks carefully is a must!
In SEO, a black hat technique is considered to be any method of trying to improve your website’s rankings that goes against a search engine’s guidelines. These bad methods include keyword stuffing, paid link schemes and more.
A blog, which was once short for weblog way back in the day, is a section of a website – or an entire site – on which content, normally articles, is published on a regular basis focusing on information – and keywords and key terms – on certain themes or topics.
A blog has become a great place for individuals and companies to share information, relevant knowledge and to get backlinks and attention from search bots. Adding a blog to any site is a great way to get crawled more frequently by search engines while also better engaging human website visitors.
This term refers to the rate at which visitors arrive at your website and choose to leave again – or bounce away – after visiting just one page. A high bounce rate can have a significant negative impact on your overall SEO.
A bot is any type of programmed application that can run automated tasks. Search engine bots, – or spiders or crawlers as they are also known – scour the web continually. Thanks to their ‘work’ search engines can build a massive database of all sites that have been crawled. These catalogs are then utilized when compiling search engine results.
Also known as CTR, this is the number of clicks on a link divided by the number of impressions. Usually referred to in SEO when talking about the number of clicks a page gets over the impressions the same page receives on the search engine results page
In SEO, content refers to any type of meaningful or useful information displayed on your website. This can be copy, images, videos, infographics, etc. High-quality content is one of the main factors that will positively impact your ranking.
Conversion means that the defined goal of a webpage is accomplished by the visitor. A goal can be defined as: a purchase made, an enquiry email sent, an email list subscription or whatever the defined goal for an individual page or function is.
Conversion is the ultimate goal of any SEO strategy. And the better SEO optimized your website is, the more organic traffic you’ll attract, and the more people will convert.
Crawling is what those search engine bots do all day (and night) when it reads the code of a website’s page. Once a web page is ‘crawled’, the information is sent to that massive index we mentioned earlier.
An online categorization and listing of websites that have been compiled by humans. In local SEO – something that is hugely important for many companies to pay careful attention to – online directories like Yelp, Google My Business and more can be used to promote businesses in their respective local communities.
The domain of your website is your address on the Web – yoursite.com. Having the right domain name can have a big impact on your SEO for years to come, so when choosing a new one you do have to give it some serious thought.
A metric developed by the Amercian SEO specialist company Moz that is used to give a score to a website’s SEO ranking ability. The factors that make up Domain Authority are popularity, links, trust rank and more.
This term refers to content that can be found in more than one place on the web, something that usually means search engine show just one of the links to the content. Although it is actually a matter of some debate some SEO experts believe that search engines will penalize a site that contains duplicate content, so the general wisdom is that all content should be original.
This is a hyperlink that originates from a website but points to an external, rather than an internal, domain address.
A search feature in which a result is shown at the top of the search page in a dedicated box which includes more text and visual elements. These types of results tend to get more clicks than others, because of the prime real estate and eye-catching format. It can be especially useful for a local business to gain placement there
Google. Child of Alphabet. The Big G. It That Should Be Feared. Whatever you call it, you really do not need an explanation here.
A free to use set of Internet-based tools developed and offered by Google that enables webmasters to track all sorts of information about their site, inclusing traffic, traffic sources, visitor behavior, bounce rate and much more.
Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools) is another free service provided by Google for website owners. Verifying your website with GSC is considered an SEO best practice. Once you claim ownership, you’ll get access to tons of tools to help you optimize your website and monitor its growth
The big Rulebook of the Big G. In reality, it’s ‘just’ a support doc in which all the best, as well as worst practices for optimizing a website are outlined. It’s a bit like a bible for SEO except it tends to change a lot, which is just one of the reasons that keeping up with SEO best practices can be so hard.
Heading tags – which are numbered from H1 to H6 – are commonly used terms for titles and headlines. Making use of a variety of header tags is a great way to add some extra structure and hierarchy to your web pages which makes it easier for both humans and search bots to read.
The ‘posh’ name for a link from one place to another on the web.
A link from an external source/website that is directed to your website. Another word for a backlink
One of the automated tasks of a search engine bot, in which a copy of a website’s pages is saved in a huge database from which SERP positions are determined.
Links that point from one area of a website to another within the same domain. They help to improve a site’s usability for all visitors, both humans and search bots.
A number that indicates how many people have visited a certain webpage or viewed a certain piece of content.
Not the stuff in your fridge, this refers to what is also sometimes called link juice. SEO juice is a reference to the ranking potential or ‘SEO power’ a page contains that can help – or harm – both the site the content is displayed on and other websites via backlinks.
Keywords are two to five-word phrases that your potential website visitors would type into a search engine when looking for you (or a business like yours). Choosing the right keywords for your web pages is essential if you want to get plenty of targeted traffic to your website.
A percentage that is calculated by looking at the number of keywords that appear on a web page and dividing that figure by the divided by the total number of words on the page. Too low is not good, too high is very bad, as far as search engines are concerned. And although this is subject to change ideally a keyword density of 2-4% is a good number to aim for.
Keyword stuffing is the practice of overloading a web page with keywords in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Ten years ago websites got away with doing this and some even did well in the SERPs because of it. Now it’s one of the quickest ways to devalue any content contained on your site in the eyes of the search bots (and of most humans)
The process of obtaining quality incoming links or backlinks in an effort to encourage the search engines to trust your website and increase its ranking and importance.
Local SEO refers to actions you can take to make sure that your site appears in search results when someone is looking for a business in your area.
A clear, concise, accurate description of a web page that should be about 300 characters in length. It is not visible on the actual website but appears on a SERP so good ones are very important in SEO terms.
A list of keywords that you fill in that is only visible to the search engine, or by viewing the source of your website. Filling in your meta keywords is an outdated SEO technique. In the past, the meta keywords were used to inform search engines what the topic of the web page was, but nowadays search engines are much better at understanding content. Thus, the filling in of meta keywords is redundant.
See SEO title.
An algorithm update (rumored to have begun in early 2018), in which Google ranks websites based on their mobile version – even when results are displayed on a desktop.
A noindex tag is a piece of HTML code that prevents a page’s contents from being listed in the Google web index even if other sites link to it.
Site traffic that comes to your website as a result of unpaid search results. The main reason that SEO exists in the first place.
Links pointing to external URLs outside the website. The same as an external link
A type of marketing in which bloggers and online influencers are approached with the objective of obtaining recognition, in the form of either links or a social media share. At Pearl Lemon, we have folks who are amazing at doing this, especially our founder and Managing Director, Deepak.
One of Google’s biggest algorithm updates (from 2011). Panda was introduced in order to combat poor quality websites making their way in the search results.
One of Google’s other big algorithm updates (from 2012). Penguin was brought about to fight against spammy websites appearing in search results, as a result of link schemes, i.e. buying links or link exchange. This is highly frowned upon, and against Webmaster Guidelines.
Short for Pay-Per-Click, it is a model of Internet marketing in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked on.
A web analytics metric defined as the total number of pages viewed on a website within a given amount of time. The higher your pageviews number is, the better.
In SEO, a position refers to a website’s rank in the search engine results page. A page’s position is dependant on more than 200 factors, and some of those change all the time.
In search terms, a query is basically the word or phrase that is entered into a search box when someone is looking for something online.
This is a file that is added to restrict access to a site by the search engine bots that crawl the web.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization means everything you can do in order for your website to appear in the best possible position in search engines’ (mainly Google’s) results.
A title tag is technically a piece of HTML code used to tell search engines the ‘name’ of your page. An SEO title can be up to 70 characters long (when optimizing for Google). It can be viewed at the very top of your web page (in a browser’s tab), in your website’s source code, as well as any time your website shows up in a SERP.
Search Engine Marketing is a type of Internet marketing that involves paying for advertisements in order to increase your visibility on search results.
Stands for Search Engine Results Page. A list of pages that shows up when searching for a certain keyword.
A sitemap is in simple terms a plan of your website. Sitemaps tell Google about pages on your site that may otherwise not be discovered. It appears as a list of all your site’s links, and can be accessed by adding sitemap.xml to the end of your site’s URL.
This metric can be found on the Google Analytics’ software. It indicates the time visitors spend on one web page. A higher time on page is associated with a better ranking.
See SEO title.
This stands for “Uniform Resource Locator”. A URL is the address of a specific web page or file on the Internet.
The time it takes for your website’s page to load. Basically, the faster the better is the standard golden rule here.
The opposite of the black hat techniques described earlier. White hat SEO refers to the usage of SEO strategies, techniques and tactics that focus on a human audience opposed to search engines and completely follow search engine rules and policies. It’s what Pearl Lemon does, but we do not normally actually wear white hats while doing it. We’re more beanie people.
A server response code that indicates all is well on a webpage.
A server response that automatically redirects a user who attempts to visit a certain web address to another one (the one it is redirected to.)
A 404 is an error message displayed by a browser which lets you know that an Internet address cannot be found (page has been deleted, there is a mistake in the URL, etc.)