Posted on Jun 5, 2018

SEO Dictionary – Terms You Need to Know

SEO is always evolving and never remains stagnant. Because of this, even Search Engine Optimization (SEO) experts need to stay up-to-date with all the relevant SEO acronyms, terms, techniques, and technology. And, if you learn as much as you can about SEO, you’ll be able to stay miles ahead of your competition online.

If you’ve just built a website for your business or blog, here are a few statistics you’ll want to consider about SEO if you’re still on the fence about its effectiveness and vitalness.

  • Approximately 81 percent of shoppers conduct online research that starts with search engine queries before making big purchases.
  • The average traffic share the first Google organic search result gets is 32.5 percent, while the average traffic share generated by the sites listed on the first Google search results page is 91.5 percent.
  • 51 percent of all website traffic comes from organic search, 10 percent from paid search, 5 percent for social, and 34 percent from all other sources.
  • Over 40 percent of revenue is captured by organic traffic.
  • 76 percent of people who search on their smartphones for something nearby visit a business within a day and 28 percent of those searches for something nearby result in a purchase.
  • 78 percent of local-mobile searches result in offline purchases.
  • The estimated number of phone calls that will be generated from mobile search alone by the end of 2018 is 73 Billion.
  • 39 percent of purchasers have been influenced by a relevant search.

(Sources: HubSpot and Search Engine Journal)

Below are some of the most important SEO terms you’ll want to know as you begin your SEO journey.

Above the Fold

The top area of a webpage that a user can see without having to scroll down. Since the 2012 Google Page Layout Algorithm, websites can be penalized in search engines if they have too many ads in this area.


A complex computer program that provides you with relevant results for queries you enter into a search engine. They are updated often, so it’s important to be aware of any relevant and current algorithm changes. For a resource you can rely on, consult Moz’s Google Algorithm Change History, which is updated with each change or update made.

Alt Text/Alt Attributes

Also known as “alternate text” and is used to describe the HTML or images used on your website, so that search engines know what’s displayed on your website. It can also help visually impaired individuals understand what’s on your website.


Data and information your website collects and shows about users and customers. You can use this information to better inform your content and marketing strategies, among other things. For more information, read about Google Analytics.

Anchor Text

The (typically blue-colored) text that website visitors click on to be redirected to other website pages, which includes relevant hyperlinks.  


They’re also known as “inbound links” and they appear when other websites link back to webpages on your website. Google tends to trust websites that have other websites with higher authority linked back to them and will rank them higher in search engines.

Black Hat

SEO tactics, elements, and techniques that are considered to be highly unethical and go against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Bounce Rate

The percentage of visitors who land on your website and quickly exit it before clicking on anything or engaging with any of its content.


This is a part of the overall navigation of a website and typically includes links for website visitors to determine where they are on a website. Example: “Home -> Blog -> Top 5 Tips”.

Broken Links

URL or hyperlinks on a website that don’t lead to a live webpage but can be fixed or updated. They typically show the 404 error-code (see “Numbers or Error Codes” section below).


A technology that stores website content in a user’s browser or hard drive so that the next time they visit the same website it loads faster. It also decreases the user’s bandwidth usage and can decrease server loads and loading times.

Canonical Tag/URL

Tags that are used to specify preferred URLs and website content, to reduce duplicate content when similar content is used on a website.

Cascading Style Sheet (CSS)

Code used to describe the different sections and layout of your website. It outlines the structure, look, and flow of your website.

Click Through Rate (CTR)

The percentage of users who click on the website link you provided when it comes up in their SERP results from organic search results. This percentage is determined by dividing the total number of organic clicks by the total number of impressions then multiplying by 100.


This is a black hat technique where a website builder displays different content or URLs to search engines than what is displayed on a website. Google penalizes websites for this and may even take them out of certain indexes.


Used to distinguish similar subjects in a search engine and occurs when a search engine notices when third-party websites mention two websites together often.   

Content and Content Management System (CMS)

Content refers to images, text, videos, audio, and other files on a website. A CMS is what website owners use and helps them manage when and how content is published on a website. Websites with more unique and SEO-friendly content are more desirable to search engines and tend to rank better.


When a website visitor completes a desired action on a website such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, downloading a white paper, filling out a form, viewing a video, etc.


Small data files that are stored in web browsers. Cookies mainly store all the data and information about a user’s login credentials, shopping carts, credit cards, passwords, website preferences, etc.


Website crawlers, bots, or spiders, automatically scan (or crawl) a website and its webpages for its structure, content, and more. The information uncovered in their scans will determine where a website is placed within a search engine’s index or within a directory.


A website that has been de-indexed has been temporarily or permanently removed from search engine results.

Deep Link

A link that reroutes a website visitor to an app or a link on a website that is not the homepage.


An online site that categorizes websites based on similar content and relevance.


You can disavow backlinks linked to your website if you don’t want them to link to your website. While most backlinks are desirable, some links from spammy or irrelevant sites can actually hurt your SEO ranking. Read Google’s “Use rel=”nofollow” for more information.

Domain Authority

The overall strength of a website and its ranking in search engines. A website with a high domain authority typically shows up first in search engines for different types of search queries, and has a lot of strong backlinks, and SEO-Optimized content, is trusted across the web, etc.

Doorway Page

A webpage that has links to other webpages and is created to rank well in search engines. Another version of this is a gateway page on a website that is created solely for generating more traffic and directs visitors to other pages of a website.

Engagement Metrics

Engagement metrics are used to see how useful your website is to your users and search engines. They include:

  • CTR (Click-through Rate)
  • Conversion rate
  • Bounce rate
  • Time users spend on your page or website
  • New vs. returning visitors

External Links

External links or “outbound links” are URL links that take a website visitor to a different website, other than the one they are currently visiting.

Gray Hat

Gray hat SEO techniques don’t necessarily break Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, but they do bend them a little. Gateway and Doorway Pages (mentioned above) could be considered example of gray hat SEO.


Search engines scan headers and header tags (H1-H6) in text on a website for keywords and overall relevance. Such headers are used to section off web content so that it’s easier for everyone to read. Title tags also indicate the names of each webpage for search engines and act like headers for the webpage itself.


HTML stands for “hyper-text markup language” and entails specific code elements that make content of all types on a website easier for search engines to read and scan.


The amount of website visitors that are viewing a website at any given time. One impression equals one website visitor that is viewing a website.

Internal Linking

URL links that link a website visitor to another URL in the same domain. An example would be if one blog post linked to another blog post on the same website.


Words that users use to search for something in a search engine. Websites with a lot of relevant keywords on them are much more likely to be found in search engine queries. Similarly, a long-tail keyword is a term consisting of multiple words that users use when searching for something in a search engine.

Lead Generation

When a website and its SEO uncover more leads or people who may be interested in buying your products or service on an ongoing basis.

Link Bait

Website content that is created solely with the purpose for more backlinks.  

Link Building

A strategy created to get more backlinks and to create more external links for your website so that it gains a higher ranking in search engine results.

Link Equity

The overall value of internal links on a website, which gauges a website’s domain authority, ranking, and trust.

Local SEO

Information on a website that links it to searches that are based by a physical region or location.

Meta Descriptions/Tags/Elements

Attributes that describe the content of a webpage to search engines. Descriptions are usually around 100+ characters and contain keywords.  

Numbers and Error Codes

Here are some numbers you’ll want to know when they appear after typing in a URL or clicking on a link on your website, as they will determine the performance of your website and how it’s ranked in search engines.


If you see this number when trying to access a page on your website, it means the page has been automatically redirected to another webpage and is no longer available. This is known as “permanent redirection” and can be helpful for websites with new URL and domains


This number indicates a bad URL request, which means the URL has an error in it and can’t be processed by the website’s server. You’ll need to update the link to one that can be processed if you see this error. 


When you receive a 404 error, it means the server can’t find the URL. This typically happens when a page is accidentally deleted or when an incorrect URL is being used.


This webpage error code means that the webpage is gone and can no longer be retrieved on the website.

Organic Traffic

When users reach your website via organic search results—when they type a query into a search engine and click on a link in the results listed.

Page Authority

The strength of your website pages and the overall likelihood that they’ll be found in search engine results and yield high amounts of organic traffic.

Page Segmentation

The areas in which keywords are placed on a webpage.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

Also known as “cost-per-click”—is where advertisers are charged a nominal fee each time a web user clicks on their advertisements when they show up in related search engine results. For more information, look at Google AdWords.

Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

The page with links that shows up after a user enters a query or search request into the bar in a search engine. Each SERP typically contains about eight webpages.  


A portion of a website that lists all the pages on the website and can be displayed in XML or HTML versions.

Split Testing (A/B Testing)

When two landing pages with different content and sometimes URL links are shown to a percentage of your site traffic to determine which marketing campaign or landing page is generating more traffic, sales, etc. 

Structured Data

Annotated data on a website which makes it easier for search engines to find. Learn more via Google Support.

As you implement SEO on your website, be sure to keep this SEO dictionary nearby.


Featured image: Pixabay

Sources Cited

Crowe, Anna, “Google Page Layout Algorithm: Everything You Need to Know”: Search Engine Journal, Accessed 3/15/2018.

Goodwin, Danny. “60+ Mind-Blowing Search Engine Optimization Stats”: Search Engine Journal, Accessed 3/15/2018.

Google Support. “Introduction to Structured Data,” Accessed 3/15/2018.

Google Support. “Use rel=”nofollow,” Accessed 3/15/0218.

HubSpot. “The Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics Source,” Accessed 3/15/2018.

Moz. “Google Algorithm Change History,” Accessed 3/15/2018.