SEO Glossary Terms
Chapter 1: SEO 101
Black hat: Search engine optimization practices that violate Google’s quality guidelines.
Crawling: The process by which search engines discover your web pages.
De-indexed: Refers to a page or group of pages being removed from Google’s index.
Google My Business listing: A free listing available to local businesses.
Indexing: The storing and organizing of content found during crawling.
Intent: In the context of SEO, intent refers to what users really want from the words they typed into the search bar.
KPI: A “key performance indicator” is a measurable value that indicates how well an activity is achieving a goal.
Organic: Earned placement in search results, as opposed to paid advertisements.
Ranking: Ordering search results by relevance to the query.
SERP: Stands for “search engine results page” — the page you see after conducting a search.
Traffic: Visits to a website.
White hat: Search engine optimization practices that comply with Google’s quality guidelines.
Chapter 2: How Search Engines Work – Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking
Backlinks: Or “inbound links” are links from other websites that point to your website.
Bots: Also known as “crawlers” or “spiders,” these are what scour the Internet to find content.
Citations: Also known as a “business listing,” a citation is a web-based reference to a local business’ name, address, and phone number (NAP).
Crawl budget: The average number of pages a search engine bot will crawl on your site.
Crawler directives: Instructions to the crawler regarding what you want it to crawl and index on your site.
Google Search Console: A free program provided by Google that allows site owners to monitor how their site is doing in search.
HTML: Hypertext markup language is the language used to create web pages.
Internal links: Links on your own site that point to your other pages on the same site.
NoIndex tag: A meta tag that instructions a search engine not to index the page it’s on.
Robots.txt: Files that suggest which parts of your site search engines should and shouldn’t crawl.
Spammy tactics: Like “black hat,” spammy tactics are those that violate search engine quality guidelines.
Chapter 3: Keyword Research
Commercial investigation queries: A query in which the searcher wants to compare products to find the one that best suits them.
Informational queries: A query in which the searcher is looking for information, such as the answer to a question.
Local queries: A query in which the searcher is looking for something in a specific location, such as “coffee shops near me” or “gyms in Brooklyn.”
Long-tail keywords: Longer queries, typically those containing more than three words. Indicative of their length, they are often more specific than short-tail queries.
Navigational queries: A query in which the searcher is trying to get to a certain location, such as the Moz blog (query = “Moz blog”).
Seasonal trends: Refers to the popularity of keywords over time, such as “Halloween costumes” being most popular the week before October 31.
Transactional queries: The searcher wants to take an action, such as buy something. If keyword types sat in the marketing funnel, transactional queries would be at the bottom.
Chapter 4: On-Site Optimization
Alt text: Alternative text is the text in HTML code that describes the images on web pages.
Duplicate content: Content that is shared between domains or between multiple pages of a single domain.
Header tags: An HTML element used to designate headings on your page.
Keyword stuffing: A spammy tactic involving the overuse of important keywords and their variants in your content and links.
Link equity: The value or authority a link can pass to its destination.
Meta descriptions: HTML elements that describe the contents of the page that they’re on. Google sometimes uses these as the description line in search result snippets.
Local business schema: Structured data markup placed on a web page that helps search engines understand information about a business.
Redirection: When a URL is moved from one location to another. Most often, redirection is permanent (301 redirect).
Rel=canonical: A tag that allows site owners to tell Google which version of a web page is the original and which are the duplicates.
SSL certificate: A “Secure Sockets Layer” is used to encrypt data passed between the web server and browser of the searcher.
Title tag: An HTML element that specifies the title of a web page.
Chapter 5: Technical Optimization
AMP: Often described as “diet HTML,” accelerated mobile pages (AMP) are designed to make the viewing experience lightning fast for mobile visitors.
Browser: A web browser, like Chrome or Firefox, is software that allows you to access information on the web. When you make a request in your browser (ex: “google.com”), you’re instructing your browser to retrieve the resources necessary to render that page on your device.
Client-side & server-side rendering: Client-side and server-side rendering refer to where the code runs. Client-side means the file is executed in the browser. Server-side means the files are executed at the server and the server sends them to the browser in their fully rendered state.
CSS: A Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) is the code that makes a website look a certain way (ex: fonts and colors).
DNS: A Domain Name Server (DNS) allows domain names (ex: “moz.com”) to be linked to IP addresses (ex: “127.0.0.1”). DNS essentially translates domain names into IP addresses so that browsers can load the page’s resources.
Domain name registrar: A company that manages the reservation of internet domain names. Example: GoDaddy.
Faceted navigation: Often used on e-commerce websites, faceted navigations offer a number of sorting and filtering options to help visitors more easily locate the URL they’re looking for out of a stack of thousands or even millions of URLs. For example, you could sort a clothing page by price: low to high, or filter the page to view only size: small.
Fetch and Render tool: A tool available in Google Search Console that allows you to see a web page how Google sees it.
File compression: The process of encoding information using fewer bits; reducing the size of the file. There are many different compression techniques.
Hreflang: A tag that indicates to Google which language the content is in. This helps Google serve the appropriate language version of your page to people searching in that language.
IP address: An internet protocol (IP) address is a string of numbers that’s unique to each specific website. We assign domain names to IP addresses because they’re easier for humans to remember (ex: “moz.com”) but the internet needs these numbers to find websites.
Lazy loading: A way of deferring the loading of an object until it’s needed. This method is often used to improve page speed.
Minification: To minify something means to remove as many unnecessary characters from the source code as possible without altering functionality. Whereas compression makes something smaller, minification actually removes things.
Mobile-first indexing: Google began progressively moving websites over to mobile first indexing in 2018. This change means that Google crawls and indexes your pages based on their mobile version rather than their desktop version.
Pagination: A website owner can opt to split a page into multiple parts in a sequence, similar to pages in the book. This can be especially helpful on very large pages. The hallmarks of a paginated page are the rel=”next” and rel=”prev” tags, indicating where each page falls in the greater sequence. These tags help Google understand that the pages should have consolidated link properties and that searchers should be sent to the first page in the sequence.
Rendering: The process of a browser turning a website’s code into a viewable page.
Render-blocking scripts: A script that forces your browser to wait to be fetched before the page can be rendered. Render-blocking scripts can add extra round trips before your browser can fully render a page.
Responsive design: Google’s preferred design pattern for mobile-friendly websites, responsive design allows the website to adapt to fit whatever device it’s being viewed on.
Rich snippet: A snippet is the title and description preview that Google and other search engines show of URLs on its results page. A “rich” snippet, therefore, is an enhanced version of the standard snippet. Some rich snippets can be encouraged by the use of structured data markup, like review markup displaying as rating stars next to those URLs in the search results.
Schema.org: Code that “wraps around” elements of your web page to provide additional information about it to the search engine. Data using schema.org is referred to as “structured” as opposed to “unstructured” — in other words, organized rather than unorganized.
Structured Data: Another way to say “organized” data (as opposed to unorganized). Schema.org is a way to structure your data, for example, by labeling it with additional information that helps the search engine understand it.
Chapter 6: Link Building & Establishing Authority
DA: Domain Authority (DA) is a Moz metric used to predict a domain’s ranking ability; best used as a comparative metric (ex: comparing a website’s DA score to that of its direct competitors).
Deindexed: When a URL, section of URLs, or an entire domain has been removed from a search engine index. This can happen for a number of reasons, such as when a website receives a manual penalty for violating Google’s quality guidelines.
Editorial links: When links are earned naturally and given out of an author’s own volition (rather than paid for or coerced), they are considered editorial.
Digital PR: This is a strategy to increase brand awareness using online techniques. Common strategies include SEO, Content Marketing and Social Media.
Follow: The default state of a link, “follow” links pass PageRank.
Google Analytics: A free (with an option to pay for upgraded features) tool that helps website owners get insight into how people are engaging with their website. Some examples of reports you can see in Google Analytics include acquisition reports that show what channels your visitors are coming from, and conversion reports that show the rate at which people are completing goals (ex: form fills) on your website.
Google search operators: Special text that can be appended to your query to further specify what types of results you’re looking for. For example, adding “site:” before a domain name can return a list of all (or many) indexed pages on said domain.
Guest blogging: Often used as a link building strategy, guest blogging involves pitching an article (or idea for an article) to a publication in the hopes that they will feature your content and allow you to include a link back to your website. Just be careful though. Large-scale guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links are a violation of Google’s quality guidelines.
Link building: While “building” sounds like this activity involves creating links to your website yourself, link building actually describes the process of earning links to your site for the purpose of building your site’s authority in search engines.
Link exchange: Also known as reciprocal linking, link exchanges involve “you link to me and I’ll link to you” tactics. Excessive link exchanges are a violation of Google’s quality guidelines.
Link profile: A term used to describe all the inbound links to a select domain, subdomain, or URL.
Linked unstructured citations: References to a business’ complete or partial contact information on a non-directory platform (like online news, blogs, best-of lists, etc.)
NoFollow: Links marked up with rel=”nofollow” do not pass PageRank. Google encourages the use of these in some situations, like when a link has been paid for.
Page Authority: Similar to DA, Page Authority (PA) predicts an individual page’s ranking ability.
Referral Traffic: Traffic sent to a website from another website. For example, if your website is receiving visits from people clicking on your site from a link on Facebook, Google Analytics will attribute that traffic as “facebook.com / referral” in the Source/Medium report.
Resource pages: Commonly used for the purpose of link building, resource pages typically contain a list of helpful links to other websites. If your business sells email marketing software, for example, you could look up marketing intitle:”resources” and reach out to the owners of said sites to see if they would include a link to your website on their page.
Unnatural links: Google describes unnatural links as “creating links that weren’t editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner on a page.” This is a violation of their guidelines and could warrant a penalty against the offending website.
Chapter 7: Measuring, Prioritizing, & Executing SEO
API: An application programming interface (API) allows for the creation of applications by accessing the features or data of another service like an operating system or application.
Bounce rate: The percentage of total visits that did not result in a secondary action on your site. For example, if someone visited your home page and then left before viewing any other pages, that would be a bounced session.
Channel: The different vehicles by which you can get attention and acquire traffic, such as organic search and social media.
Click-through rate: The ratio of impressions to clicks on your URLs.
Conversion rate: The ratio of visits to conversions. Conversion rate answers how many of my website visitors are filling out my forms, calling, signing up for my newsletter, etc.
Google Analytics goals: What actions are you hoping people take on your website? Whatever your answer, you can set those up as goals in Google Analytics to track your conversion rate.
Google Tag Manager: A single hub for managing multiple website tracking codes.
Googlebot / Bingbot: How major search engines like Google and Bing crawl the web; their “crawlers” or “spiders.”
Pages per session: Also referred to as “page depth,” pages per session describes the average number of pages people view of your website in a single session.
Page speed: Page speed is made up of a number of equally important qualities, such as first contentful/meaningful paint and time to interactive.
Scroll depth: A method of tracking how far visitors are scrolling down your pages.
Search traffic: Visits sent to your websites from search engines like Google.
Time on page: The amount of time someone spent on your page before clicking to the next page. Because Google Analytics tracks time on page by when someone clicks your next page, bounced sessions will clock a time on page of 0.
UTM code: An urchin tracking module (UTM) is a simple code that you can append to the end of your URL to track additional details about the click, such as its source, medium, and campaign name.