SEO 101: Terms to Know 

January 12, 2017

In our previous blog post, we explained what search engine optimization (SEO) is and why your small business needs it. If you have a website (which you should!), you’ll need people to find your business amongst the millions of other websites on the internet. How do they do this? Most often, they’ll head to search engines like Google or Bing to type in what they’re looking for. These search engines have an entire system aimed at connecting users searching for something with the websites that they likely want to see. This isn’t just a formula that anyone can simply plug into, and there are engineers whose job it is to refine and hone these algorithms to keep websites to high standards and keep customers searching on their platforms.

Before we share more information about SEO and how you can keep your website up to the best standards of search engine optimization, there are key terms and phrases to become familiar with! Trust us, having an understanding of what these are will make implementation a whole lot easier.

Your Essential SEO Glossary, From A to Z


301: This is a permanent redirect. This means that a web page was renamed or moved, and to prevent a page from not being found, a 301 is applied.

302: A website has been moved and found, but it has not been permanently placed at another URL. This is not as strong as a 301.

404: A website or page has been removed and cannot be found by search engines. This is an error page that reflects poorly on the website’s architecture if a user cannot find what they’re looking for. While these happen, too many can be a problem!


Adwords: Google’s advertising system that takes clicks on an ad into account along with the amount of money an advertiser may pay and the quality of the landing page to determine where a website’s ads appear on their platform.

Algorithm: A system of complex math and engineering aimed at notifying search engines about the best pages to appear for specific search terms. This may be tweaked regularly to better hone these results.

Alt Tag/Alt Text: Text attributed to an image that allows search engines and readers to know what the image depicts.

Analytics: Tools used by SEO professionals to check the overall performance of advertising and marketing campaigns.

Anchor Text: The words on a web page that a link is attributed to. For example, many websites will link a word or phrase to a longer website instead of placing the link in on its own. It will usually be underlined and a different color than the other text. It helps to indicate what the link describes.

Authority: The factors that determine whether a website can be trusted to give information about what a user may be searching. This includes the domains and links that reference the website, how long the website has been around, how much traffic the site receives, and new, quality content, amongst other things.


Backlink: Any link pointing to a web page from a different web page or website.

Black Hat: Practices of manipulating search engines that trick some websites into showing up higher on search results that are considered to be deceptive and messes with the integrity of the algorithm.

Blog: An online space to write and comment on topics of interest to users. When attached to a website, this is a great way to contribute meaningful and fresh content.

Bot: Refers to a program that will scan through a website and find new pages and information – this is how search engines know a website has been updated!

Bounce Rate: This is the rate of users that enter a website and immediately leave, without interacting with it or clicking through to any other pages. This high bounce rate indicates a website does not have relevance to a user.

Branded Keywords: Any keyword that includes the name of the brand. For instance, “Tailor Brands Logo” is considered a branded keyword since it’s associated with a user searching for a specific brand that they are already aware of.

Broken Link: A link that does not direct a user to the place where they intend it to go. Broken links should be fixed as soon as possible since they can indicate outdated content.


Cache: When a search engine crawls your website, they’ll store a copy of the web page. These files will be the ones that search engines pull from, meaning you’ll want to update your cache when you make changes on your website.

Call to Action (CTA): Content used in advertising means to encourage a person seeing that ad to do something at that point in time.

Canonical URL: Avoiding duplicate content is a must for SEO, and a canonical URL is an HTML element that instructs search engines to crawl one, preferred web page – as many links as possible should point to the canonical URL.

Content: Also known as text or copy, this is the information on the website that is to be of use to a visitor. Ads, branding, and navigation tools are not considered to be content.

Conversion: There’s a goal for people on your website, whether it’s to purchase or build your email list. When this has been accomplished, it’s considered a conversion.

Conversion Form: Many websites will collect email addresses and other information about visitors to their website to follow up at a later time and encourage returning users.

Cookie: A data file that tracks a user’s actions that can help to customize a specific experience.

CPA: Short for cost per acquisition, which means the total cost that it takes to get a user to complete a conversion.

CPC: How much it costs for online advertising for a user to click on your ad. Getting a user to click is oftentimes easier than getting a user to convert.

Crawl: The action taken by a search engine when it goes through every single one of a site’s web pages for information and data.

CTR: Short for clickthrough rate, or the total percentage of users that click on an advertisement when it is shown to them on a search engine or web page. The higher the CTR of an ad, the more likely it is to be relevant to a user and their search.



Dead Link: A link that leads to a webpage that doesn’t exist or has been changed. Dead links should be removed as quickly as possible since they indicate a lack of good information.

Deep Link: It’s easy to send someone to a homepage, but there might be more valued in a targeted page of content that isn’t right off of the homepage. A link to one of these pages is known as a deep link. This indicates a strong link profile.

De-listing: Being removed from a search engine, which can occur due to duplicate content, poor link quality, improper redirects, or general spam.

Directory: A compilation of websites that are monitored by people –  since all sites are relevant to certain searches, these are valuable for SEO purposes.

Disavow: Not all links referencing your website are good, and a webmaster can inform a search engine that they don’t want certain links counted if they come from low-quality and spammy websites using a disavow.

Domain: A specific website.

Domain Age: How long a domain has been around on the internet. The older a domain is, the increased chance it has to be linked to by other websites, thereby increasing its relevance and authority.

Duplicate Content: Content that is the same as other content found on another web page. This is usually a negative trigger for crawlers.

Dynamic Content: Content and information that changes based on new information or user behavior.


Entry Page: The page that a visitor lands on your website on.

Error Page: A page that does not have any information on it, and states “Page Not Found” when the domain is entered.

External Link: A link on a website that points to a completely different website.


Favicon: A small icon that appears next to the URL in the web browser. For example, when someone opens Gmail, there will be a small envelope to the left of the domain name.

Flash: Interactive media embedded on a website that oftentimes takes up more space and can slow down the load time of a website.

Fold: The part of a website that you are unable to see without scrolling. Information found above the fold will be a higher priority and seen right away.

Fresh Content: Dynamic content that has recently been added to a website, which can keep search engines crawling a website and grow the number of pages associated with the site.


Geographical Targeting: Targeting pages on a website or search engine advertising to a specific location, which increases the site’s presence on local search results.

Google Update: Google changes its algorithm to hone and refine search results for users and prevent black hat SEO tactics. Panda and Penguin are the names of larger updates to the search platform.


Headings: Text on a website that is placed in a heading tag, known as H1, H2, that appears larger and bolder than other text.

Homepage: The main page on a website that all other pages are connected.

HTML: Code language that is read by search engines.


Impression: Any single instance of an online advertisement appearing.

Inbound Link: A link to a website coming from another website.

Indexed Page: A page that has already been crawled by a search engine.

Internal Linking: Links to other pages on your website, encouraging a visitor to your page to look deeper in the website for more information.


Javascript: A coding language that allows for effects and changes to websites. Can be difficult to read for search engines.


Keyword: A word that a user would search on a search engine to land on a web page.

Keyword Density: The amount of the same keyword repeating over and over on a website – too high can be seen as spammy.

Keyword Research: Determining what kind of phrases people are searching and which ones will bring visitors to your site.

Key Performance Indicators: KPIs. These are performance goals that can be achieved and measured.


Landing Page: A web page that a user lands on when they click on an advertisement or search listing.

Link Building: The exchange of links between websites to encourage a flow and thread through all web pages instead of keeping links in a vacuum.

Link Profile: Link profile is all of the links from other websites that point to your website. The more backlinks that a website has, from websites that are respected, the more trustworthy that the website is considered to be.

Local Search: Adding geographical keywords to a search to serve a local community.

Long Tail Keyword: A phrase that a user may search on a search engine when looking for information.


Metadata: Data that directly tells search engines what a website and web page is about.

Meta Description: When you search a term or phrase, a website shows up with a sentence about what the website is about. This information can impact the decision of a user to click on a website.


Negative Keyword: Terms that a website does not want their ad or content associated with.

Nofollow: A command for crawlers that informs them that they can ignore a link, not passing any power from one domain to the other.


Off-site SEO: Tactics to increase the ranking of a website that does not occur on the website, such as writing articles for link building or increasing a social media presence.

On-site SEO: Tactics a user can make on a website to increase rankings.

Organic Search: Search results that appear underneath paid results that are free and natural.


Page Title: The name of a web page that appears at the top of the browser.

Paid Search: Placement on search engines that is paid for and appear as part of an auction system.

Panda: A series of Google search engine algorithm updates that targets websites with a high amount of poor content.

Penalty: For those that use black hat SEO tactics, a penalty will be bestowed. This indicates issues with content on the website or links that point to the website.

Position: A place in the search results that a website is placed in relation to the first organic tanking. Most users only click on the first 10 websites, and there’s value to be in these spaces.

PPC: Pay Per Click. A method of advertising where an ad generates revenue for the advertising service every time the ad is clicked.


Ranking Factor: Different factors that determine where a page ranks on a search engine.

Reach: How many different users will see an ad or page over a set period of time.

Redirect: Moving a user automatically away from one website and taking them to another without needing the user to take any further action.

Referrer: Any other web page that contains a link to another web page and brings visitors to the other page.

Relevance: The closeness that a web page will be helpful to a user searching for it.

ROI: Return On Investment. The total benefit of investing money into any project.


Search Engine: Any website that allows users to type in a search and offers them a list of other websites that they will find useful. Popular examples are Google and Bing.

Search Terms: A word or phrase a user would search in order to find a website and result.

SEM: Search Engine Marketing. Using both paid and unpaid methods to attract new and returning users to a website.

SEO: Search Engine Optimization. Optimizing a website and content so that search engines can easily navigate the website and provide information about relevant results.

SERP: Short for search engine results pages. This refers to where a website appears on search engines for key terms that relate to your website.

Site Optimization: All of the ways that a website can be edited to best be read by search engines and appear relevant to specific search terms.

Spam: Anything that the guidelines of a search engine would find suspect or deceptive.


Traffic: Visitors to a website.

Traffic Rank: How much traffic a website gets compared to all other websites on the internet.


URL: The web address of a page.


White hat SEO: SEO best practices that help ensure that a website is valuable for human searches.


XML Sitemap: A list of all pages on a website that makes it easy for search engine crawlers to determine if pages have been added or removed.