The A to Z of SEO
Search Engine Optimization.
There is a lot of technical lingo that can be helpful in understanding search engine optimisation.
SEO ~ is basically the technique used by blog or website owners and content producers to increase visitors to their site. In order to do so they strategise to obtain a high ranking in the search results pages of for instance Google.
If you are reading this wondering why I use ‘s’ instead of ‘z’ in optimisation and strategise, it’s cause I’m South African and that is how we spell it ヅ ).
SEO has its own set of terms and abbreviations. As a fairly new blogger I’ve become more and more curious about how to optimise my blog for better searchability and so have studied it in order to understand the user intent as well as its large dictionary of definitions.
This is an alphabetical glossary of about 200 terms I’ve come to know. This list is a work in progress and will be added to as I learn more.
Above the Fold
In email or web marketing it refers to the area of content that is visible before the user scrolls. It is also used to describe an ad location at the top of the screen. Google created an algorithm to penalize sites with too many ads in this space.
A link used for internal linking, which shows the absolute or full URL of the page/file/image being linked to.
This is used as part of an anchor tag. The anchor text is found inside the tag in HTML.
Eg: this is the anchor text
Google’s contextual advertising network.
Google’s advertisement and link auction network.
These marketing programs allow online merchants to expand their reach by paying commission to an external website for traffic or sales generated from its referrals.
A process or formula used by search engines to retrieve data and deliver results for a query. The algorithm assesses online content and decides where it should rank in search results.
Algorithmic change marks a change in how Google evaluates the quality of online content, and come in three forms:
- Algorithm Update: The search engine changes certain signals of an existing algorithm.
- Algorithm Refresh:The search engine re-runs an existing algorithm using the exact same signals as last time.
- New Algorithm:The search engine adds a new algorithm to improve search quality.
Alt Attribute (Alt tag)
It is a HTML attribute of the IMG tag. The IMG tag is responsible for displaying images. It provides text information used by search engines and screen readers to understand the contents of an image.
Also known as: Alt Text (Short for alternative text).
It is a software which provides insights for website owners. It gathers information about the website’s traffic, user paths, geo-location of visitors, bounce rate, keywords, organic search, conversion statistics and lots of other valuable information.
Anchor text is the clickable text that is used to link to a different page, on your website or an external web address.
An SEO term used to describe the credibility and popularity of a website.
The ability of a page or domain to rank well in search engines make it an authority with a high trust value.
Five factors associated with site and page authority are:
link equity, site age, traffic trends, site history, and publishing unique original quality content.
Backlink (Inbound links)
When another site links to your site, this is considered a “vote of confidence” in Google’s eyes.
Backlinks are considered as one of the most important ranking signals.
Aggressive SEO strategies with the attention of manipulating search engines. Risky tactics that go against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can receive a penalty or be banned from search results. Usually includes spam techniques.
A link to a website saved for later reference in your web browser or computer. Social bookmarking sites (example: Delicious.com) let users share websites they like with each other. Having links to your site in social bookmarking sites is a sign to crawlers that your website content is interesting to people.
Bot (crawler / spider)
A program (alternately spider, crawler,) that runs automated tasks / crawls or reads site content over the internet to gather information for proper indexing on search engines. Google’s main bot for web crawling is Googlebot.
Bounce rate refers to the percentage of users that view one page then leave a website without interacting on clicks or visiting other pages on the site. For example if 7 in every 10 users leave a website after viewing one page then there is said to be an 70% bounce rate. A high bounce rate will negatively impact your SEO.
In terms of anchor text, a branded link is a link which contains to a company brand or similar derivative in the anchor text. Example branded link for Hbubblesover would be “Hbubblesover” and “Hbubblesover.com”.
Breadcrumb (Website Navigation)
Breadcrumbs on websites or search engine results pages, are set of navigational links that refer to root areas and categories of a resource. A navigational element that helps users easily figure out where they are within a website.
Any URL that isn’t working as it should is a broken link. It would usually lead to a 404 not found. The occasional broken link will not affect SEO, but several broken links can create a negative signal to most search engine algorithms.
A technology that temporarily stores web content, such as images, to reduce future page loading times.
A snapshot of a webpage as it appeared when a search engine last crawled it.
Keyword cannibalisation occurs when several pages on your website are competing for the same keyword or phrase in search results. Having too many pages competing with each other, or trying to rank for the same keyword is not good for sites SEO and should be one of your key website optimisation tasks.
A canonical URL is the best URL address on which a user can find a piece of information. Sometimes you might have a situation where the same page content can be accessed at more than one address. Specifying the canonical URL helps search engines understand which address for a piece of content is the best one.
A country-code top-level domain. For instance, a company based in South Africa would have a domain like this: www.example.co.za, where za is the ccTLD.
Content that is designed to entice people to click, typically by overpromising or being intentionally misleading in headlines, so publishers can earn advertising revenue.
Click-Through Rate (CTR)
The rate (expressed in a percentage) at which users click on an organic search result. This is calculated by dividing the total number of organic clicks by the total number of impressions then multiplying by 100.
Cloaking is the black hat practice(not recommended) of showing different content to Google than as seen by users. This technique is generally only used by spammers. It is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Content Management System. A web-based application that lets people create, upload, and manage digital content to the web. Examples of CMS’s include WordPress, Shopify, Magento, Joomla, Drupal, etc.
How frequently two websites (or webpages) are mentioned together by a third-party website, even if the first two items don’t link to or reference each other.
Comments, often off-topic and self-promotional, sometimes posted by people or spambots in the hopes of getting a free link click.
Businesses usually know who their competitors are, but these companies may not be the same ones out-ranking your website in the search results. You get Direct Competitors that sell similar products and/or services, and target a similar audience both online and offline, and SEO Competitors that vie for the same keywords and organic search visibility.
Words, images, videos, or sounds that convey information that is meant to be distributed to and consumed by an audience. It is one of the two most important Google ranking factors (along with links). Search engines want to reward content that is useful, informative, valuable, credible, unique, and engaging with better traffic and visibility.
We all know ‘content is king’, but if the content is not relevant to the keyword we want to rank, it gives a negative experience to the user and the page’s ability to rank well. Content Relevance is one of the main ranking factors that Google uses for website evaluation, rankings and indexing.
When a user completes a desired action on a website.
A conversion can be defined as: a purchase made, an enquiry email sent, subscribing to an email list, downloading ebooks, video views, etc.
Conversion is the goal behind an SEO strategy. If your site is SEO optimized, you’ll get more organic traffic and more people will convert.
The rate (expressed in a percentage) at which website users complete a desired action. This is calculated by dividing the total number of conversions by traffic, then multiplying by 100.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
The practice of improving the user experience with the aim to increase the number or quality of conversions that occur on a website. Some tactics include testing changes to your design, copy, images, price, call-to-action, etc.
Allocated amount of pages that the Googlebot can crawl & index in a certain timeframe. Can be affected if site speed is slow or contains high number of pages.
URLs that a search engine bot is unable to crawl and return a status code error.
Errors could include DNS errors, server connectivity issues, or errors caused by the unavailability of a resource such as the Robots.txt file.
Cascading Style Sheets describe how HTML elements (e.g., color, fonts) should appear on webpages.
A webpage that links to no other webpages.
A backlink pointing to any internal webpage other than the homepage. Deep links can be great signals to help promote internal pages in the search results.
When Google removes a website or webpage from its search index. Google may de-indexed for violating the Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
An online categorisation, and listing of sites. Submitting your site to a directory gives you an inbound link that helps people find you.
You can use Google’s Disavow Tool in the Search Console to tell Google to ignore links that no longer serve your site. This tells search engines that a webmaster does not approve of the source of the link, and helps combat negative SEO or penalties.
A link that doesn’t use the “nofollow” attribute. In other words, a link.
A website address.
For example: hbubblesover.com is the domain of this blog.
Remember that the domain is without the ‘www’, while a URL is written with the ‘www’.
DA is a search engine SEO ranking score developed by Moz. It predicts how well a site will rank. The score ranges from 1 to 100. The factors that make up Domain Authority are popularity, links, trust rank and more.
Similar or nearly identical content found on multiple webpages. Duplicate content isn’t good for SEO because it isn’t clear to search engines which page to rank.
The time it takes from when a user clicks on a search result and then returns to the SERP from a website. A short dwell time can be an indicator of low-quality content to search engines.
The buying and selling of products online.
Methods to measure how users interact with webpages and content.
Examples of engagement metrics include click-rate, conversion rate, bounce rate, time on page, new vs returning visitors, dwell time, etc.
Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness (EAT)
EAT, an acronym for ‘Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness’, is a metric used by Google’s Quality Raters to assess webpages.
External Link (Outbound link)
A link from one domain that points to an external domain. These hyperlinks improve ranking power by improving link equity based on trustworthiness, relevancy, popularity, and anchor text used.
A SERP feature also called position zero, featured snippets are organic search results that appear at the top of the search listings before the first organic search result. These results tend to get more clicks than others.
Fetch as Google
A feature in the Search Console where you can simulate what a Googlebot actually ‘sees’ or crawls on your page. Convenient to spot bugs or errors that might affect your site’s SEO.
Links that appear in the bottom section (or footer) of a website.
I don’t think this one requires any explanation… other than it is the well known search engine founded in 1998.
A web analytics tool that can be used to track information about visitors and their behavior, content performance, and much more.
The crawling system Google uses to find and add websites and webpages to its index.
A Google algorithm change introduced in October 2015. Google added machine learning to its algorithm and it was revealed that RankBrain has been involved in every query and has an impact on rankings.
Google Search Console
Google’s Search Console offers helpful features including the ability to monitor sites for indexing errors and site speed.
Google Webmaster Guidelines
Google’s guidance on good website optimization practices.
Guest Blogging / Posting
A popular link building tactic that involves developing content for other websites in exchange for a backlink pointing at your own pages.
The heading tags starting with H1 to H6 are SEO terms for titles and headlines. They create structure and hierarchy within your pages. Adding these heading tags makes your content easily readable by site visitors and by Google’s bots, which means better SEO for your site.
An H1 tag.
Any text that can’t be seen by a user. This technique is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can result in a manual action. It is an action not necessarily done with intent, for example, text that is too small to read on some screens (but appears legible on your screen), is the same colour as the background, or CSS that push the text off-screen.
The default, or front page of a website.
HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is a very popular language for Search Engines. It is the most commonly used language in web development and is usually the first language learned by new developers. It is the scripting language used to define the structure of a web page. It can be used to improve the effectiveness of SEO for webpages and websites.
Stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It is how data is sent to a web browser from a computer server.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure uses a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to encrypt data transferred between a website and web browser. Google rewards secure sites with slightly higher rankings.
An authoritative central page or article, dedicated to a specific topic (keyword), that is continually updated and linked to.
This is the practice of optimising everything related to your images or graphics. You can do so by filling in your alt text.
The number of people that see a page or an item.
A hyperlink that originates from an external site that is directed to your website. Synonymous with a backlink.
A link from another site will improve your SEO, especially if that site has a high PageRank.
An index means a structured compilation of web pages. Search Engines use sitemaps to create indexes which help users in finding relevant websites and content. It is a database of web pages that make search easy and faster during the crawling process.
Pages that have been crawled and processed by Search Engine spiders are called indexed pages. They are stored by Search Engines and served when users search query related keywords.
The site structure or hierarchy of webpages.
Links from one page to another, but on the same site.
The word or phrase from which people might find a website by typing the word in the search box.
A type of self-competition that happens when multiple pages from one the same site rank for the same query on a SERP.
Researching keywords is important for SEO health. Before you start any SEO campaign, you need to identify the keywords that will be relevant for your campaign. The right keywords will target the best audience and enable a better conversion rate.
A standalone webpage that is designed to capture leads or generate conversions.
A person who may or may not be interested in your product or service. A lead willingly shares their email address (and usually other personal or contact information) in exchange for something they deem of value from the website.
A link enables users to navigate to websites, social networks, and apps. Links play a role in how search engines evaluate and rank websites.
Content that is meant to grab people’s attention and attract links from other websites.
A process designed to get other websites to link to your website to help improve your organic search rank and visibility.
SEO that is aimed at local and regional listings in search engines.
A file that records users’ information, such as IP addresses, type of browser, Internet Service Provider (ISP), date/time stamp, referring/exit pages, and number of clicks.
Log File Analysis
The process of exploring the data contained in a log file to identify trends, administer the site, track user’s movement around the site, gather demographic information, and understand how search bots are crawling the website.
A phrase that contains a combination of four words or more that is used in order to describe something in a more accurate way. Long tail keywords target a more defined audience, which can help improve your conversion.
Manual actions are taken by Google to demote or remove web pages or websites as a whole. They are simply a manual action to punish websites for failing to comply with the Google’s Webmaster guidelines.
Appears in search results just below a webpage’s title, describing the page and encouraging searchers to click.
Information that appears in the HTML source code of a webpage to describe its contents to search engines. The title tag and meta description are the most used types of meta tags in SEO.
A way to measure activity and performance in order to assess the success (or lack thereof) of an SEO initiative.
Since mobile traffic now surpasses desktop traffic, Google primarily crawls & indexes the mobile version of websites. Beginning in July 2019, all new websites will have the mobile version indexed by default.
A specific market or area of interest.
A meta tag that tells search engines not to store a cached copy of your page.
When a link from one site does not pass SEO credit to another. Do not use nofollow when linking to internal pages in your website. Use it when linking to external pages that you don’t want to endorse.
Written in HTML as:
A meta tag that tells search engines not to index a specific webpage in its index.
Demand generation and brand awareness activities that take place outside of a website. In addition to link building, promotion tactics can include social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, influencer marketing, and even offline marketing channels (e.g., TV, radio, billboards).
These activities all take place within a website. In addition to publishing relevant, high-quality content, on-page SEO includes optimizing HTML code (e.g., title tags, meta tags), information architecture, website navigation, and URL structure.
The natural, or unpaid, listings that appear on a SERP.
A link that directs visitors to a page on a different website than the one they are currently on.
A type of marketing in which bloggers and influencers are approached with the objective of obtaining recognition, in the form of either links or a social media share.
A number from 0-10, assigned by Google, indicating how good your overall SEO is.
It is technically known as ‘Toolbar PageRank.’
The amount of time it takes for a webpage to load. Page speed is ranking factor.
A web analytics metric defined as the total number of pages viewed on a website within a given amount of time. The higher your Pageviews number is, the better.
Pay-per-click advertisements that appear above (and often below) the organic results on search engines.
PPC (Pay Per Click)
Pay Per Click simply means that advertisers will pay the website owner or publisher each time a user clicks on an ad. It is used in effective targeting and ensures that advertisers only pay for the leads they receive. Google AdWords is an example of this.
Virtual IP addresses that can be used to change your location. They are used for SEO and allow you to run keyword ranking reports, search results in other countries, extract web data and view local display ads.
Query Deserves Freshness. A search engine may decide to show newer webpages in search results if a particular search term is trending.
The word or phrase that a user enters into a search engine.
The position where a webpage appears within a SERP for a query.
There are over 200 ranking factors that a search engine considers when ranking a website in the SERPs. Some consider the impact of backlinks, keywords, content quality, domain age, relevance, social signals and much more.
When two websites agree to exchange links to one another.
A technique that sends a user (or search engine) who requested one webpage to a different (but equally relevant) webpage. There are Permanent (301) and Temporary (302) redirects.
URL data that identifies the source of a user’s webpage request.
A website designed to automatically adapt to a user’s screen size.
The robots.txt file tells search engines the pages and sections of your website not to index.
Return on Investment (ROI)
A way to measure the performance of SEO activities. This is calculated by dividing how much revenue you earned via organic search by the cost of the total investment, then multiplying by 100.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
An umbrella term for increasing a website’s visibility in search engine results pages.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
The process of optimising a website as well as all the content on that website so that it will appear in prominent positions in the organic results of search engines.
Stands for Search Engine Results Page. A list of pages that shows up when searching for a certain keyword.
Search engines track users queries, every webpage visited, and every ad clicked on. Search engines use this data to personalize the results for signed in users.
A sitemap is a list of pages on your website. It shows how the pages are connected to one another.
Sitemaps tell Google about pages on your site that may otherwise not be discovered.
A link that appears on every page of a website, typically in a sidebar or footer.
Platforms where users can interact with each other, as well as create, share, and see content.
A digital certificate used for website identity authentication and to encrypt information sent to the server using Secure Sockets Layer technology.
A separate section that exists within a main domain.
Time on Page
Time On Page is how long a user spends on a web page before moving to another page or leaving the website. This metric can be found on the Google Analytics’ software.
This is an HTML element that signifies a web page name. Title tags are shown in SERPs as clickable text links for a given result and are necessary for SEO.
Top-Level Domain (TLD)
This is the extension of a given web address. For instance:
Your website visitors are your ‘traffic’. Bots too.
User-Generated Content (UGC)
Any form of content like videos, blog posts, comments, reviews, etc. created by users.
A uniform resource locator is the address of a specific webpage or file.
The values added to a URL in order to track where traffic comes from (i.e., which link someone clicked on to discover your website or page).
How easy it is for people to use your website.
User Experience (UX)
The overall experience a user has when interacting with a site.
Factors include pagespeed, site navigations, mobile responsiveness, brand connection, engaging content, etc.
A type of search where the focus is only on a specific topic, type of content, or media. For example, YouTube (video), Amazon (shopping).
A bot that uses natural language processing to perform tasks, such as conducting web searches. For instance, Apple’s Siri.
A metric measuring how visible a site is to users based on standings in SERPs.
A type of voice-activated technology that allows users to speak out loud into a device to ask questions. A voice recognition software will register the question and fetch results.
A document that exists on the World Wide Web and can be viewed by web browsers.
A collection of webpages hosted together on the World Wide Web.
How a website connects its webpages to help visitors navigate that site.
Any methods that exist solely to deceive or manipulate search engine algorithms and/or users.
Practices that are in compliance with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
These are special apps on web pages that allow users to perform specific activities. It is not the main content of a site but acts as supplementary content.
The total number of words that appear within the copy of content. Too little (or thin) content can be a signal of low-quality to search engines.
A popular blogging and content management system.
An index of all the pages on a website that are intended for search engines to rank.
This file should live in the /sitemap.xml folder of each domain.
Site managers can submit their XML sitemaps in Google Search Console.
Yoast SEO is a plugin within WordPress that assists with optimisation.
200 OK is a server response code that represents a successful load of the webpage. This is the standard HTTP status response.
301 Moved Permanently / 301 Direct
301 Moved Permanently is a server response code used for permanent redirection.
In SEO it is frequently requested as it is the ideal type of redirect for situations such as if a URL changes.
302 Found is a response code used for temporary redirection. It is less rarely requested than a 301, and is only used in situations where a redirect is known to be temporary.
404 Not Found
404 Not Found is a response that a resource cannot be found at this time. The resource may still be available in the future.
500 Internal Server Error
500 Internal Server Error is a generic error message that means there was a problem that prevented the web page from loading. This normally gives me a near heart attack!
If you made it through the entire glossary, congratulations!
I hope that it was not information overload, but a guide in understanding the lingo, so that you find the task of optimisation a little easier going forward.