The Go Fish Digital team compiled a comprehensive list of the most notable SEO terms, what they mean, and why they are important for your business. Whether you are an experienced SEO professional, a marketing manager, or a student eager to learn about the world of search engine optimization, this glossary of SEO terms is sure to help you in your marketing career.
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Above the Fold
What it means: The portion of the web page that’s seen when the page first loads. This is the content that is seen before a user scrolls down on a page.
Why it’s important: The content above the fold is important because it sets up the first impression of your website for new visitors. It is also wise to put important links above the fold where users can easily see and click them.
What it means: An algorithm is a set of automatic rules that are followed by computer systems that read and interpret key data and information.
Why it’s important: Google uses an algorithm that analyzes web pages to determine the order in which they should rank in the search index. It is important for SEOs to remain aware of any algorithm updates that Google rolls out so that they can prepare web pages accordingly.
What it means: Alt text, also known as “alt tags” or “alt attributes,” is the alternative text that is displayed when an image does not load properly. Alt text is also read aloud when screen-reading tools are used to describe an image to a visually impaired user.
Why it’s important: Alt text is important because it ensures that your web page meets accessibility standards. Descriptive alt text allows users to confidently know what was shown in an image. Alt text also helps Googlebot crawl and rank your website more efficiently.
What it means: Anchor text is the visible, clickable text that links out to another web page. Anchor text is often displayed as a blue or underlined link.
Why it’s important: Anchor text signals to users and bots what the content of the hyperlinked page is about. It is an SEO best practice that anchor text is descriptive and relevant to the hyperlinked page’s content.
What it means: In terms of SEO, authority is a qualitative score that measures the strength of a given web entity to rank. Page Authority (PA) predicts how well a page will rank in the search index, while Domain Authority (DA) predicts how well an entire domain will rank.
Why it’s important: Knowing your website’s authority and the authority of your competitors will help you with your SEO strategy. If you have a much stronger domain authority than your competitors, you know that you are on the right track. If your domain authority or page authority is lower than your competitors, this is a sign that it may be time to reevaluate your on-page and off-page SEO.
What it means: A backlink is an incoming link to your web page from another website. These are also referred to as “inbound links” or “incoming links.”
Why it’s important: Backlinks send signals to Googlebot about how authoritative, trustworthy, and popular your site is. If you are receiving a lot of backlinks or even a few backlinks from reputable sites, this sends positive signals to Google that helps your site rank higher.
What it means: Black Hat SEO is a practice that violates search engine rules and guidelines. Some examples of Black Hat SEO strategies include keyword stuffing or buying links.
Why it’s important: Black Hat SEO is often used to boost website rankings, but it is not an efficient or ethical method for long-term success. It is good to be aware of Black Hat SEO practices so that they can be avoided.
What it means: The bounce rate is the percentage of website visitors that leave a page without interacting with the page.
Why it’s important: Knowing the bounce rate of certain pages can be a good measure of the relevance of your page and the user’s experience. For example, if bounce rates are high for a web page, this can be an indicator that the content was not what the user was searching for or that the web page was hard to navigate or visually unappealing.
What it means: A branded keyword is a word or phrase that contains your website or company’s branded name.
Why it’s important: Understanding where you and your competitors rank for your branded keywords is a good indicator of your site’s visibility. It is ideal to rank the top positions for branded keywords, especially when other competitors use similar branding.
What it means: A broken link is a link that doesn’t work. These broken links are often found when web pages no longer exist or when no redirect link was established. These often appear as 404-page errors.
Why it’s important: Knowing about broken links on your website is important so that you can remove them or redirect them to working pages. You could potentially be losing link equity for your website if you are receiving backlinks to these broken link pages.
What it means: A canonical URL or canonical link is a link that represents the best, most representative page on a website where there are possible duplicate pages.
Why it’s important: It is important to set canonical URLs so that bots understand which pages should be analyzed as the primary pages and which should be identified as duplicate content. This saves crawling time and provides clarity to bots about which pages should rank.
What it means: Any text, images, or videos that are included on a web page.
Why it’s important: A web page’s content is one of its most important ranking factors. Search engines favor content that is thorough, unique, and useful to the searcher.
What it means: A conversion is what happens when a user completes a goal or action. These can often be actions like filling out forms, signing up for emails, or purchasing products.
Why it’s important: Measuring conversions is a good way to tell how effective your marketing is and how users are responding to your web pages.
Core Web Vitals
What it means: Core Web Vitals is a Google initiative that measures the user experience of a website. These Core Web Vitals specifically measure loading, interactivity, and visual stability.
Why it’s important: As of June 2021, Google’s Core Web Vitals will be a ranking factor for web pages. Having strong Core Web Vitals also indicates that a web page is user-friendly.
What it means: A crawl budget is the number of web pages a search engine crawler can or will review during one time period.
Why it’s important: Site developers and marketers can use their knowledge of crawl budgets to make sites easier and faster to crawl. A well-designed website will have a logical hierarchy of pages so a search engine can crawl more efficiently and within their crawl budget.
What it means: When a web page, URL, or set of URLs is de-indexed from a search engine index, it means that they will no longer appear on the search engine results page.
Why it’s important: A web page could be de-indexed for a variety of reasons. Web pages are often intentionally de-indexed so that they won’t appear in the search results. If a web page is unintentionally de-indexed, there may be a need to open an investigation to fix a bigger issue.
What it means: If you disavow a link or set of links from your backlink profile, that means you are telling search engines to ignore those links.
Why it’s important: Disavowing links can be beneficial for websites that do not want their link equity or rankings to be negatively affected by the connection to spammy or low-quality inbound links.
What it means: Duplicate content occurs when the content on one web page is extremely similar, if not the exact same, to that of a different web page. Duplicate content can happen between two or more pages within one site or from different sites.
Why it’s important: Duplicate content can confuse search engines as to which content is the original and which web page should rank. Duplicate content should be addressed by either editing the content so that it is unique or by adding canonical links.
What it means: E-A-T is a common acronym for “expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.” E-A-T can be improved with strong backlinks, updated content, experienced authors, reviews, displayed credentials, etc.
Why it’s important: While E-A-T is good to have on any website, it is especially important for YMYL sites, like medical sites. This is because users need to have added confidence that information is accurate and trustworthy when viewing these types of web pages.
What it means: Engagement is how a user interacts with your website. Engagement metrics can include things like time on page, conversion rates, click-through rates, percent of returning visitors, etc.
Why it’s important: Understanding how users engage with your site and certain site elements can help you decide what content needs to be added or removed, what design elements are working, and what conversion goals should be created.
What it means: A featured snippet is a special search result that is sometimes shown at the top of search engine results pages. These featured snippets often answer or summarize information related to commonly searched queries or topics.
Why it’s important: Gaining a featured snippet ranking could improve the amount of traffic to your web page while also increasing brand awareness for your site.
Google Analytics (GA)
What it means: Google Analytics is a web analytics tool that allows you to see reports related to your website traffic, user engagement, acquisition channels, and conversions.
Why it’s important: Understanding Google Analytics reports can allow you to track the progress of your site and your SEO initiatives. It can also help you determine what strategies should be created moving forward.
What it means: Googlebot is the name given to the web crawler that Google uses to crawl and analyze websites.
Why it’s important: Googlebot is responsible for understanding what content is on a web page and identifying when new web pages are created. Optimizing your website for Googlebot is important for earning desired ranking positions.
Google My Business (GMB)
What it means: Google My Business is a tool that allows businesses to set up a profile where business information, such as the business’s address, phone number, email, social media links, and more can be shared.
Why it’s important: Setting up and maintaining a Google My Business profile is important because these profiles often appear in Search and Maps. Having a high-quality profile can also help searchers learn more about your business and potentially lead them to visit your site.
Google Search Console (GSC)
What it means: Google Search Console is a tool that lets users monitor how their site is performing in search results. Google Search Console allows you to see site clicks, impressions, CTRs, ranking positions, indexing issues, site speed, etc.
Why it’s important: Google Search Console can help you identify areas of improvement that need to be made to your website and let you track the progress of the site as a whole or of individual web pages.
Google Tag Manager (GTM)
What it means: Google Tag Manager is a tool that allows users to create and deploy tracking tags on a website. Google Tag Manager works in conjunction with Google Analytics so that users can see when these tracked tags are deployed all in one place.
Why it’s important: Google Tag Manager can be beneficial to marketers who want to track certain events or goals. These could include link clicks, clicks on CTA buttons, visits to certain web pages, etc.
What it means: Gray Hat is a type of SEO practice that combines White Hat (compliant SEO) and Black Hat (risky and non-compliant SEO) tactics. Some Gray Hat SEO strategies include creating duplicate content or buying domains.
Why it’s important: While Gray Hat SEO is better than Black Hat SEO, Gray Hat techniques should still be avoided where possible.
What it means: Guest posting is a strategy often used to gain backlinks. Guest posting involves writing content for another site in hopes that they post it and link back to your website. Guest posting is not a good SEO strategy.
Why it’s important: Guest posting, if not done properly, can be considered inauthentic. Large-scale guest posting strategies can be flagged by Google and earn your site penalties. Because of this, if guest posting is a strategy your site uses, it should still be done with high quality standards.
What it means: An H1 heading is the most important heading on a web page. There should only be one H1 heading per page, and it should be featured near the top of the page.
Why it’s important: Crawlers read H1 headings to determine what the content on a web page is about. Since H1 headings are so valuable, they should be clear, well-written, and contain keywords where they fit naturally.
What it means: A hub page is a web page that broadly covers a topic, offering pillar content that links to more specific sub-pages. Hub pages are often great resources and are linked back to frequently.
Why it’s important: Having well-optimized hub pages is important for providing users an updated, informational resource that they can refer to when they are finding out more about a topic.
What it means: An inbound link, also known as a backlink, is an incoming link to your web page from another website.
Why it’s important: Inbound links let Google know how authoritative, trustworthy, and popular your site is. A large amount of inbound links, or a few very authoritative inbound links, sends positive signals to Google that help a site rank higher.
What it means: An indexed page is one that appears visible in search results or is eligible to rank for the search engine results page.
Why it’s important: For a web page to earn organic traffic from search, it must be indexed. If a web page suddenly stops earning traffic, it would be smart to check if the page was de-indexed.
What it means: A keyword is a term or phrase that is targeted and incorporated throughout the web page’s content in order to match what users are searching for.
Why it’s important: Optimizing keywords can improve rankings since search engines analyze keywords to understand what page content is about.
What it means: Keyword cannibalization occurs when two or more pages from your website are competing for the same keyword.
Why it’s important: It’s important to recognize keyword cannibalization and fix it quickly so that search engines have a clearer understanding of which page should rank for the target keyword.
Keyword Difficulty (KD)
What it means: Keyword difficulty is an estimated measure of how hard it will be for web pages to rank for that keyword. This is based on the competitive landscape of the keyword. Keyword difficulty tends to increase with terms that have very high search volumes.
Why it’s important: When performing keyword research, keyword difficulty should be kept in mind. If a keyword is too competitive, it may be more beneficial to target an easier keyword, even if it has a lower search volume.
What it means: Keyword stuffing is when an SEO professional or copywriter includes too many unnatural instances of a keyword in hopes of improving search rankings.
Why it’s important: Keyword stuffing should be avoided because it can hurt the readability of a web page and the user experience. If there is excessive, spammy keyword stuffing, Google may issue a manual action against your site.
What it means: A landing page is the web page a user first visits when clicking on a link to your website.
Why it’s important: Knowing which web pages users land on the most and the least can help you understand how users are navigating to your website and what content they see when they first arrive.
What it means: Link building is a strategy to get other websites to link back to your website. This can be done by promoting new, valuable content, reaching out to media outlets, or creating partnerships with other businesses.
Why it’s important: Link building, when done correctly, can improve your site’s authority. This can help improve your website’s search engine rankings and traffic.
What it means: Link equity is the value that a link brings to your site. Link equity can be determined by the referring site’s popularity, authority, and expertise.
Why it’s important: The more link equity a referring backlink has, the more it can help your website. Earning backlinks from sites with very high link equity is often a primary goal of SEO professionals.
What it means: This is a Google feature that displays a map and details of the top three local businesses in an area when a local search is conducted.
Why it’s important: Earning a rank in the local pack can drive a lot of local traffic and brand visibility to a business.
What it means: A long-tail keyword is a phrase that contains multiple words and offers more specific details than a traditional keyword.
Why it’s important: While long-tail keywords may not be searched as frequently, they can still be beneficial to rank for. They are often easier to rank for and could bring in users with strong search intent.
Meta Description (MD)
What it means: The meta description is a meta tag for a web page that describes what the web page is about. The meta description is often displayed under the search result on the search engine results page.
Why it’s important: Meta descriptions do not directly affect SEO or page rankings. However, they can improve the user experience and click-through rates when they are well written.
Monthly Search Volume (MSV)
What it means: The search volume of a keyword is the estimated number of times a keyword or phrase is searched.
Why it’s important: When deciding what keywords should be optimized on a web page, search volume is an important factor to consider.
Natural Language Processing (NLP)
What it means: Natural language processing is a type of artificial intelligence that analyzes large amounts of text or speech. Natural language processing makes it possible for computers to understand and communicate with humans.
Why it’s important: Natural language processing is important for SEO because this is one of the tools that is used to help Google understand the intent behind a website’s content. SEOs should incorporate semantic terms, along with keywords, to help NLPs understand the content on a webpage and how it relates to other entities on the web.
What it means: Nofollow is a meta tag that tells search engines not to pass link equity on to the linked web page.
Why it’s important: Nofollow tags should be used when a link is paid for since these links should not earn natural link equity.
What it means: Noindex is a meta tag that tells search engines to not list a certain web page within the search engine results page index.
Why it’s important: Noindex tags should be added to web pages that are not valuable and that users would not be searching for.
What it means: On-page optimization is the process an SEO professional uses to improve on-page content, URLs, metadata, and website navigation in an effort to boost page rankings and website traffic.
Why it’s important: When done correctly, on-page optimizations can make the user experience better, help a site be positioned as an informational, valuable resource, and improve rankings and visibility.
What it means: Organic search is the unpaid and natural web page listings that appear on the search engine results page.
Why it’s important: The top organic search results are often those that most accurately match what the searcher is looking for. Ranking as a top organic result can greatly improve traffic to your web pages.
What it means: An outbound link is a link that takes users from your website to another website.
Why it’s important: Including quality outbound links on your website can signal to Google that your website references trustworthy resources. This can improve your own website’s expertise, authority, and trust (EAT).
What it means: PageRank measures how important your web page is based on the backlinks it receives from other websites and web pages.
Why it’s important: Some backlinks will improve your web page’s PageRank more than others. Because of this, it is important to try to get backlinks from quality, high-authority websites.
What it means: Page speed measures the amount of time it takes for your web page to fully load.
Why it’s important: Page speed is a ranking factor, so it is crucial to make sure that your web pages load quickly and efficiently.
What it means: A penalty is an action taken against a website that has failed to meet Google’s Webmaster guidelines. Penalized sites are often moved down in the search rankings or removed completely.
Why it’s important: If you see your website suddenly lose rankings, it could be due to a penalty. This would indicate that the website needs to make changes to comply with the Google Webmaster guidelines.
People Also Ask (PAA)
What it means: People Also Ask is a feature that often appears in Google’s search results. This feature pulls answers from different web pages to answer commonly asked questions.
Why it’s important: Having your web page featured for a People Also Ask answer can be a good way to bring in traffic and increase brand awareness.
What it means: A query, also known as a keyword, is what the searcher typed into the search engine. This can be one word, many words, or a phrase.
Why it’s important: Knowing the queries that people are searching for can help you better understand the language people are using and the content they are interested in learning about. This can help you optimize the content on your website.
What it means: A rank is what position a web page appears in on the search results page when a keyword is searched.
Why it’s important: Having a good ranking position is important because it will likely increase your web page’s traffic and search visibility.
What it means: A ranking factor is a metric or signal that search engines use to determine which web pages should appear for a certain search query and which position they should rank in if any.
Why it’s important: Understanding the different ranking factors will help SEOs and web designers be able to tailor their web pages to be more likely to rank well.
What it means: A redirect is a method of forwarding users and search engines from one URL to a different URL. Redirects can either be permanent (301 redirects) or temporary (302 redirects).
Why it’s important: There are many useful purposes for redirects. In general, redirecting outdated pages to new pages is a good way to point users and bots to more relevant content.
What it means: Robots.txt, or the robots exclusion protocol, is a text file that gives permissions to search engine crawlers about which web pages should and should not be crawled. However, web crawlers do not always respect the permissions in a robots.txt file.
Why it’s important: Some pages, such as developer pages, should be blocked by web crawlers using a robots.txt file.
What it means: A domain is a website address. The domain often ends in .com, .net, .org, or .edu. The domain for this website is gofishdigital.com
Why it’s important: Every domain is different and unique from one another. Domains make it easy for users to find your site, so a good domain name should be memorable.
What it means: Schema is a type of code that, when added to web pages, tells Google and other search engines what type of content the page contains. Some common examples of Schema include FAQ, Recipe, How To, and Article.
Why it’s important: Adding a Schema, or multiple Schemas, to a page could help search engines better understand what is on the page and direct the appropriate searchers to its contents. Schema could also improve a page’s chances of ranking as a rich result.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
What it means: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving a web page’s content and other ranking factors with the goal of increasing its ranking position.
Why it’s important: Ranking well in the organic results can help a company increase its website traffic and, ultimately, achieve its marketing goals.
What it means: SERP stands for “Search Engine Results Page.” This is the page that search engines display to searchers after they submit a query. A SERP usually lists around 10 organic results and may possibly list paid ads, sponsored products, images, etc.
Why it’s important: Understanding a SERP for a specific query or keyword helps marketers have a better understanding of the competitive landscape for that query.
What it means: Sitelinks are the automatically generated links that can sometimes appear under the primary listing on the search results page.
Why it’s important: Sitelinks can improve a website’s traffic because they often redirect users to a specific page they are interested in.
What it means: A sitemap is exactly that, a map of the website created for the purpose of helping users and web crawlers navigate the site. A sitemap can either be in HTML or XML formats.
Why it’s important: An organized sitemap can help users have a better user experience and help web crawlers crawl the site more efficiently, meaning that they can reach more pages within their allotted crawl budget.
What it means: A slug is the part of the URL that is displayed after the domain.
Why it’s important: Slugs are important because they help both users and web crawlers understand what a web page is about when viewing the URL.
What it means: A subdomain is a separate part of a website that lives within the main domain. For example, many blogs live on a subdomain like blog.domain.com.
Why it’s important: Subdomains are mainly important for organizing large websites that have content that should be partitioned. Subdomains can make it easier for users and web crawlers to navigate a site’s hierarchy.
Time on Page
What it means: Time on page is a measurement that estimates how long a user stayed on a specific web page.
Why it’s important: Depending on the length and type of content on a web page, knowing the average time on page may help marketers understand if web pages are engaging users as intended.
Title Tag (TT)
What it means: A title tag is an HTML meta tag that is normally used by search engines as the title of a web page in the search results.
Why it’s important: The title tag is used as a ranking factor, so it should include primary keywords. It is also used to draw in users, so it should be descriptive and easily readable.
What it means: Traffic is the measurement of users that visit a web page or website.
Why it’s important: A sudden increase in traffic could be a sign that your web page is becoming more popular or that its topic is trending. On the other hand, a sudden decrease in traffic could be an indication that there is a problem with the page’s content or technical structure that needs to be addressed.
What it means: User-generated content is any type of content that users created themselves. This content is often in the form of reviews, comments, or posts on discussion boards.
Why it’s important: Crawlers view user-generated content the same way as content posted by the website publisher, so it can affect SEO and increase engagement. However, user-generated content will often need to be monitored to make sure it is not low-quality or spammy.
User Experience (UX)
What it means: User experience measures the overall satisfaction a user gets when visiting a web page or website. User experience can be impacted by site speed, quality of content, website navigation, and more.
Why it’s important: As a marketer and website owner, you want your visitors to have a positive experience. This will influence how they feel about your brand, how likely users are to revisit your site, how much time they spend on your site, and their likelihood of making a conversion.
What it means: Visibility, or search visibility, is an indicator of the share of traffic and clicks your web page will receive based on its ranking positions. Having a highly visible search presence means that your web page is seen by most users searching for that keyword. Search visibility often improves with better rankings.
Why it’s important: Having a web page or website with strong visibility should be a goal since it increases brand awareness, clicks, conversions, and overall traffic.
What it means: A web crawler, also known as a spider, is a type of bot that crawls the internet to find new web pages to index in the search engine and to adjust current search engine results page rankings. Web crawlers can determine the type of content on web pages to make sure they match the query the searcher is looking for.
Why it’s important: Web crawlers are important for SEO because they are the first step in determining page rankings, which affects web page visibility and traffic. Because of this, SEOs need to make web pages easy for web crawlers to find and navigate.
What it means: Website navigation is the interface that allows users to find different web pages on a site.
Why it’s important: A website’s navigation should be easy to use and understand so that users can find valuable information and web pages.
What it means: White Hat SEO is the practice of using ethical SEO strategies that comply with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines to improve rankings. Some White Hat SEO tactics include creating quality content, making a website accessible and easy to navigate, and naturally including strong keywords.
Why it’s important: Following White Hat techniques often improves a site’s quality, enhances the user experience, and reduces the risk of the site being penalized.
What it means: Word count is the number of words that appear within a web page’s content.
Why it’s important: While the word count of a page is not used as a ranking factor, analyzing the word count of similar competitor pages could be beneficial. For example, if your web page has very few words compared to the top-ranking competitors, this could be a sign that more content needs to be added to the page to make it more valuable.
What it means: XML, or extensible markup language, is a text-based markup language that defines how a web page should be read by search engines. The XML Sitemap is a map that guides search engine crawlers through the site.
Why it’s important: The XML Sitemap makes it easier for Googlebot and other crawlers to navigate their way through a site’s important pages. This saves on crawl budget and helps search engines rank pages.
What it means: YMYL is an acronym that stands for “Your Money or Your Life.” This term is often used to describe websites that sell products or services that can have a large influence on a person’s overall health, finances, safety, or general happiness. These websites are often in the healthcare, legal, and financial services industries.
Why it’s important: YMYL sites can be looked at with more scrutiny by web crawlers. These types of websites need to take extra precautions to ensure that their sites are authentic, accurate, and valuable to users.
Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT)
What it means: The Zero Moment of Truth refers to the stage in a consumer’s decision-making process where they are almost ready to make a purchase decision but want to conduct more research first.
Why it’s important: The Zero Moment of Truth is important to SEO because consumers in this stage are likely to make a conversion soon. If they can easily find your site on search and then find your content valuable, they may be more likely to make a final decision.
If you’re looking to improve your site’s search visibility, feel free to reach out to our SEO agency at Go Fish Digital.
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