SEO jargon explained

Digital360 on 13 April 2017

If you’ve started optimising your website and want to make sure you’re on the same page as your technical team, our comprehensive glossary of search engine optimisation terms will ensure you're always kept in the loop.

SEO definitions

301 – A permanent redirect. If a webpage address has changed, a 301 redirect automatically takes visitors to the new address when they attempt to access the previous one, potentially via a bookmarked page.

AdWords – Google’s ‘cost per click’ advertising platform, which allows you to buy an ad space within the search engine itself, as well as other relevant webpages.

AdWords site – Also known as an MFA (Made-For-AdWords) site, which is a website specifically created to draw revenue from advertisements and optimised keywords.

Alt text – A description of an image embedded in your site’s HTML, which search engines can read. Search engines can’t differentiate one image from another, so alt text provides the text equivalent of those images. This is particularly important in making webpages accessible for those who are visually impaired.

Algorithm – An algorithm follows a set of instructions to make an automated decision. Essentially, it makes calculations to determine how to carry out a task. An algorithm is used by search engines to determine the pages to display from a search query.

Analytics – Software used to gather and analyse site data to help managers and analysts review the success of their site and search engine optimisation campaign.

Anchor text – Text that links to another webpage – the clickable text in a hyperlink. Anchor text helps search engines understand the content of the destination page.

Authority – How much trust or credibility is accredited to a site or brand in a search query. Authority is built by building links with other trusted, authority sites.

Authority sites – An authority site is one which has many incoming links and links built with other trusted sites. Simultaneous citation leads to high authority, which leads to high placement in search engine results.

B2B – Meaning ‘business to business’, where one business makes a commercial transaction with another.

B2C – Meaning ‘business to consumer’, where a business makes a commercial transaction with a consumer.

Backlink – A backlink is a link is an incoming link to a webpage. Any page to page link is called a backlink.

Black hat – Also known as 'black hat SEO', which refers to search engine optimisation techniques targeted only toward search engines, and not human users. The goal is to trick search engines into ranking sites high in results. Black hat SEO practices are often against search engine guidelines and best-practice.

Bot – Referring to a ‘robot’, is a program that runs tasks autonomously. Bots have multiple uses and users, such as search engines using bots to crawl webpages.

Bounce rate – A bounce rate refers to the rate or percentage of page visitors who visit a site and leave without accessing any pages beyond the home page.

Breadcrumbs – Breadcrumbs are links at the top of a webpage that allow a user to track the pages they’ve visited from the home page to get to the page they are currently on. They reflect the structure of a website.

Canonical issues – Canonical issues arise out of duplicate content. They happen when the 301 redirects are not in place, and search engines attempt to access a site using multiple URLs.

Canonical URL – This is the URL that visitors see, often used to describe or link to a home page.

Click fraud – Click fraud occurs with pay-per-click advertising, when an advertisement is repeatedly clicked on a hosted website for the purpose of generating revenue. Click fraud can be committed by humans, or by automated programs put in place.

Cloaking – This is a search engine optimisation technique that displays different content to different search engines and search engine users. For example, cloaking can be used to alter content depending on the user’s location. Using cloaking outside of search engine guidelines can result in offending sites being penalised.

CMS – Refers to ‘content management system’, software that manages the digital content on websites. Popular CMS programs like WordPress or SilverStripe mean users can manage site content creation without the use of website code.

Code swapping – Code swapping is the act of changing webpage content after high rankings have been achieved. This is also known as the 'bait and switch'.

Comment spam – This when a user comments on a blog post to generate backlinks to another site.

Content – Web content is the information contained on webpages and websites that visitors read, watch or hear. SEO content is often text, or 'copy', but content can also refer to video or images.

Conversion – Conversion is the goal webpages seek to achieve, and what SEO tactics and SEO agencies are used for. Conversions include subscribers, sign-ups, clicks, and sales made. Conversions are a performance metric which can measure the success of an SEO campaign or webpage.

Conversion rate – The percentage of conversions made from the total volume of traffic, often monitored using analytics.

CPC – Refers to ‘cost per click’, meaning the rate paid by a business for every click on their ad. Used in pay-per-click search engine marketing (SEM).

CPM – Refers to ‘cost per thousand (M) impressions’, using the Roman numeral ‘M’ for thousand. It is used to quantify the average cost of pay-per-click advertising.

Crawler – Similar to a bot, a crawler browses the web, gathering data. Search engines use crawlers to build a data index of the web and the content of websites. Also referred to as a search engine 'spider'.

CSS – Meaning ‘cascading style sheets’, CSS is a part of a webpage code where site managers can style the design of different site elements.

Directory – A website that is an index of pages, such as the Yahoo! directory. A directory hosts information about a business or website, including contact details.

Doorway page – Also known as a gateway page. These pages are used to attract search engine traffic by spamming the search engine index, using particular phrases to send visitors to a different page.

Domain – The domain name is your web address, as Google’s domain name is The older the domain and more often it has been renewed may increase its position in search engine rankings.

Duplicate content – Similar or identical content found on multiple webpages. Search engines will favour the original content that the duplicates emerged from. Sites using duplicate content tend to have lesser authority or are considered spam.

Ecommerce – Ecommerce sites are online shopping sites. Ecommerce is any business transaction conducted online.

Fold – Used commonly to refer to either ‘above the fold’ or ‘below the fold’. The fold point is where your screen cuts off the browser window, and anything below the fold is content that needs to be scrolled down to be seen. Content above the fold can be seen immediately, without scrolling.

Frames – This is feature that allows a webpage to display different content across multiple frames. Like a page within a page, frames allow a site to embed the content of another site on their page.

Google juice – Google juice is a term that refers to a page's authority on Google and the strength of its backlinks. High authority pages with few links will pass most of its 'juice' to linked pages.

Googlebot – Googlebot trawls to find new, updated pages to add to Google’s index. See 'crawler'.

Headings – Webpage text placed under H1 and H2 tags, often in larger, bold font above the body text on the remainder of the page.

Hit – Meaning each time something is downloaded on a webpage, including graphics, photos and, buttons. Each of these are individual hits.

HTML – HTML stands for ‘hypertext markup language’, and is the language used by search engines. HTML is used for basic formatting of webpages.

Impression – Also called page views. The number of impressions is the number of views a webpage has accrued.

Inbound link – A link from one site into another. The number of inbound links is a key factor in search engine optimisation.

Index – An index is a database of webpages used by search engines to sort and rank webpages.

Javascript – A programming language that is used to make webpages interactive.

Keyword – Or key phrase. This is the word or phrase a user enters into a search engine. These words or phrases are targeted by webpages using search engine optimisation to draw visitors to their site.

Keyword density – The percentage of words on a webpage or blog post that are keywords.

Keyword research – The research process to find which keywords should be targeted for search engine optimisation.

Keyword spam – Refers to unusually high keyword density. Refer to 'black hat'.

Landing page – The page that a user will be directed to when they click a link via search engine results.

Link bait – A page with content designed to encourage visitors to create links to the site. The goal of this process is to increase the number of inbound links and search result rankings.

Link building – The process of improving search engine rankings by creating inbound links with other high-ranking sites.

Long tail keyword – Meaning an uncommon search query, and often a phrase of two or more words with a keyword included. These are less competitive keywords, and are therefore easier to rank for.

Metadata – This is data that summarises information about other data, which tells search engines what a website or webpage is about.

Meta description – A brief description of a website or webpage, often displayed in search engines beneath the title of the webpage.

Natural search results – Search engine results and rankings that occur naturally, without paid campaigns or sponsorship. Also referred as 'organic' search engine results.

Negative SEO – The act of manipulating Google to harm a competitor's search engine rankings, often done by pointing ‘bad links’ to a site to get it penalised.

Nofollow – A term used for a link that does not pass on its SEO credit ('link juice') to another site. Often used when a webpage doesn't want to endorse another.

Organic link – A link one page makes to another page, without having being asked to create that link. Also referred to as a 'natural link'.

PageRank – An algorithm used by Google to determine the importance of a website. It works by analysing the number of inbound links a website receives.

PPA – ‘Pay-per-action’. Different to pay-per-click advertising in that payment is only made when an action – such as a conversion – happens.

PPC – ‘Pay-per-click’. A method of search engine advertising where an advertisement's cost is calculated by each time it is clicked by a user.

Ranking factor – What a search engine evaluates when determining where to rank a webpage, taking into consideration its inbound links and title tags.

Redirect – The name given to the method of changing the address of a page when a site has moved.

ROI – ‘Return on investment’, the return generated by an investment, such as a SEO program. Expressed as the amount of money generated from the investment compared to the cost of making the investment.

SEM – ‘Search engine marketing’, meaning a type of marketing campaign where a website is promoted by increasing its visibility in search engine results. This is an effective type of paid marketing campaign.

SEO – ‘Search engine optimisation’, which is a series of processes working to ensure a site is accessible to search engines, and ranks for target keywords. There are search engine optimisation agencies and specialists whose role is to drive high traffic to websites.

SERP – ‘Search engine results page’. The results page that appears once a search query has been entered into a search engine.

Sitemap – A document where a list of the webpages of a site are kept, which can be used to tell search engines the structure of the site and where the content is.

SMM – ‘Social media marketing’, meaning any advertising or marketing campaigns conducted via social media.

Social media – Online media where groups and individuals can connect online. These include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn, and Google +.

Spider – Like Google Bots, spiders trawl website data so the sites can be indexed in search engine databases.

Stickiness – A sticky website means the website is often visited by users, and these users remain on the site for a long time.

Traffic – This refers to the number visitors to a site.

URL – A URL is a webpage’s web address.

UGC – ‘User generated content’, meaning content that has been created by users visiting a website. UGC can be used as an effective crowdsourcing SEO technique.

White hat – Also called 'ethical' SEO, white hat SEO techniques follow best-practice search engine optimisation guidelines. These avoid techniques that attempted to manipulate search engine results.

Keeping on top of SEO

As SEO terms and techniques are ever-changing. It can be hard to keep track of the latest developments, especially on top of managing your business – so why not consider consulting an SEO company?

An SEO company will help to ensure that your business always uses effective best-practice strategies, no matter how much these strategies may change, to attract the right kinds of traffic.

Talk to an SEO agency in Melbourne today.