SEO TERMS FOR BEGINNERS
When I first started to learn SEO, I struggled to keep track of all the different SEO terms and definitions. It felt like I was learning a whole new language.
And then, it dawned on me that an effective way to learn a new language is through a glossary, so I created this SEO glossary with all the SEO key terms I found.
Make sure to bookmark this page, so you can easily find it when you need it.
Let's get into it!
The Wikipedia definition of Algorithms states:
In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is a finite sequence of rigorous instructions, typically used to solve a class of specific problems or to perform a computation. Algorithms are used as specifications for performing calculations and data processing.
So what are algorithms in SEO terms? More often than not, it's the search engine algorithms. When a user is searching on Google, for example, Google's algorithms will process that search and determine what to display to the user based on many different criteria.
One of the most famous algorithms in SEO history is Google's PageRank algorithm. This algorithm is what determines where your website appears in the search results. It takes into several (ranking) factors, including the number and quality of links pointing to your website.
The algorithms used by search engines are constantly changing, which is why SEO is such a dynamic and ever-changing field. What works today might not work tomorrow, which is why it's so important to keep up with the latest information.
Alt Tag/Alt Text
Alt text stands for Alternative Text and is the short description of an image that is read aloud to visually impaired users who are reading your website content using a screen reader. It is also the text that is shown in the browser instead of the image if it cannot be displayed for some reason.
In addition, it is the text that search engines collect as information about the image, both to better understand what is being displayed on the image (and why), and also to provide additional context to the content on the page.
Writing alt text for all your images is a really good habit to get into – for two reasons:
- It makes your content more accessible for all users (including the visually impaired).
- It helps search engines index your page properly, which can improve your website's ranking (and you may also start ranking in Google Image Search).
Skipping to add Alt text/Alt tag on images is one of the most common mistakes I see bloggers make, so I always encourage new (and seasoned) bloggers to include alt text writing as part of their outline and preparation process – that way, you won't get stuck (and skip that step) when it's time to write and publish the blog post.
When you include links to other pages on your blog or external pages, you shouldn't write the actual link address. Instead, write a short and descriptive text about the linked-to page and then anchor the link to the text.
Anchor text is the text that you attach a hyperlink to.
For example, if you're writing a post about dog grooming and mentioning a specific tool, you may want to attach a link to a site where the reader can buy the tool. In that case, you write the tool's name in your blog post and attach the link (so they can easily purchase it) to the tool's name.
Backlinks are incoming links from another website.
When you link to another website, they get a backlink from you, and when a website links to any of your pages, you get a backlink from them.
Backlinks are important because they are one of many signals that Google and other search engines use to determine a site's authoritativeness and trustworthiness. A backlink is seen as a vote, and the more votes a site has, the higher the likelihood that the content is helpful and useful, so search engines will give it more visibility by showing it higher in search results.
There are two types of backlinks: follow and nofollow.
Follow links are the most common type of backlink and are the kind that Google and other search engines count as votes. Nofollow links are also valuable, but they don't pass along voting power (referred to as “link juice” or “link equity”).
Getting quality backlinks from high-ranking websites is one of the best ways to improve the visibility and ranking of your own website or web page. You can also increase the number of backlinks by creating great content that other websites will want to link to.
Black Hat SEO
Black hat SEO is a term used to describe practices that are used to get higher search engine rankings in an unethical way. This includes techniques that are not approved by the search engines and go against their guidelines. Some common black hat SEO practices include keyword stuffing, cloaking, and doorway pages. These practices can result in your website being banned from search engines.
Crawlers (also called spiders or bots) are search engine programs that browse the internet in a methodical, automated manner. These programs visit websites and collect information such as titles, descriptions, and keywords. This data is then stored in the search engine's index, which is used by the algorithms when someone is doing a search.
If you want to learn more about how search engines work, I go deeper into this in my beginner's course, SEO Basics for Bloggers.
A canonical tag is an HTML element that helps website owners prevent duplicate content issues on their websites.
The canonical tag tells Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines which version of a page is the original (or “canonical”) and should be indexed. This is important because some pages may have slightly different versions (for example, with different URL parameters) but contain the same content. If a search engine indexes both versions of the page, it can hurt the website's ranking and visibility. The canonical tag helps avoid this issue by telling the search engine which page is the original and should be indexed.
To mark a page as original, you place the canonical tag in the section of a webpage, and it looks like this:
In this example, the canonical tag tells the search engine that the original page is located at http://www.example.com/original-page.html. All other versions of the page should be ignored.
If you have a website with duplicate content issues, using canonical tags is a good way to solve the problem. By telling search engines which page is the original, you can make sure that only that page is indexed, and your website's ranking will not be hurt by duplicate content.
Click Through Rate (CTR)
Click-through rate (CTR) is a metric used to measure the success of an online advertising campaign or the effectiveness of an email campaign. It's also used to measure how many people clicked through to your web pages from the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), social media, and other places where you may have published your link.
CTR is calculated by dividing the number of clicks on an ad or link by the total number of impressions (times the ad or link was seen). A low CTR can indicate that your ad or email campaign is not targeted correctly or that the Title Tag or Meta Description in SERP isn't enticing users to click through to your website.
You can see your website's average CTR in Google Search Console (GSC), under Performance. In the Performance section, you're also able to filter to see each page's average CTR.
De-indexing is the process of removing a page or site from a search engine's index. This can be done for a number of reasons, including:
- The page no longer exists
- The site has been penalized by the search engine
- The site is not accessible to the search engine's crawlers
De-indexing can have a major impact on a site's traffic, as it will no longer appear in search results. This could be especially detrimental if the site was previously ranking well for high-traffic keywords. If you believe your site has been de-indexed, you can check using a tool like Google Search Console. You can also try submitting your site to the search engine again, which may help re-index it.
Duplicate content is defined as substantial blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.
When search engines crawl the web, they attempt to identify which pieces of content are most relevant to a particular topic. To do this, they analyze the content on each page and compare it to other pages in their index.
If they find that two or more pages have similar content, they will flag the pages as duplicates and only include one of the pages in their search results. This can be a problem for website owners because it means that their content may not be visible to users who are searching for it.
There are a few ways to avoid duplicate content issues. One is to use canonical tags, which tell search engines which version of a page should be included in their index. Another is to make sure that your content is unique and not similar to other pages on the web. Finally, you can use redirects to send users from duplicate pages to the original version of the content.
Duplicate content is a common problem on the internet, but it is one that can be avoided with careful planning and execution.
Although you will often hear the term “Dofollow” and read about it in various places, Dofollow isn't an attribute that exists, but what people generally refer to when they talk about Dofollow links is a link that doesn't have the Nofollow attribute.
When a link has the Nofollow attribute, it tells search engines that they shouldn't follow that link, nor should they send any link juice through to that page or count that link as a vote for the linked-to page.
Domain Authority (DA)
Domain Authority (DR) is a metric that measures the strength of a website's backlink profile. A strong backlink profile indicates that the site is popular and has earned trust from other websites.
DR was first introduced by Moz and is calculated on a scale from 1 to 100. The higher the number, the more authoritative the website is.
To calculate domain authority, Moz looks at the quality and quantity of a website's inbound links and other factors such as MozRank and MozTrust.
A high domain authority score is an indicator of a strong website that is likely to rank well in SERP. On the other hand, a low score indicates that the site may have some work to do to improve its position in SERPs.
It's important to know that Domain Authority is not an official search engine metric used by Google or any of the other search engines. Nevertheless, it's still a helpful indicator to keep an eye on.
E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust. It's a set of guidelines that help Google rank websites based on the quality of their content. You can read more about what E-E-A-T means for new bloggers here.
An external link is a link that goes to a website or page outside of the one you are currently viewing. External links are often used to provide additional information or resources on a topic and can be found in the form of hyperlinks.
When creating external links, it is important that you ensure they are relevant and appropriate for your target audience. And that they are applicable for the blog post you're writing. For example, if you're writing about dog grooming, it makes sense to include a link to a shop where the reader can buy dog shampoo, but it wouldn't be relevant to send them to a shop where readers can purchase a shampoo for humans.
Additionally, you should take care to use descriptive link text so that users know where they will be taken if they click on the link.
Featured snippets are a type of rich search results that appear in a special box at the top of the search results page, and they are designed to give users quick and relevant information in response to their queries.
These snippets can come in different shapes and forms, but the most common ones are text snippets, video snippets, or image snippets.
Google chooses featured snippet results based on a variety of factors, including the content's relevance and the website's quality.
It's not possible to guarantee that your website will appear as a featured snippet result, but there are some things you can do to improve your chances.
- Make sure that your website's content is well-written and relevant to the user's query.
- Use clear and concise language, and break up your text into short paragraphs or bullet points.
- Including images or videos along with your text can also help increase your chances of getting your video or image to appear in the featured snippet.
If you're aiming for a featured snippet, it's also essential to make sure that your website is mobile-friendly and loads quickly.
Googlebot is the collection name of Google's web crawlers. They collect and store information about websites. It visits billions of pages on the internet every day to systematically map the content online. This information is then stored in Google's search index and used by Google's algorithm to serve up relevant pages when someone is searching online.
Google My Business (GMB)
Google My Business (GMB) is a tool provided by Google, where business owners with a local presence can add details like photos, videos, product listings, business names, addresses, phone numbers, and business hours.
GMB, which is free to use, is an easy way to help customers learn more about your business (and also an easy way for them to contact you).
You can edit your business name, address, phone number, and hours; add photos, videos, and product listings; respond to customer reviews. And even post updates to keep your customers informed. Google My Business makes it easy to start and grow your business online.
Google Search Central
Google Search Central (used to be called Google Webmasters) is a site where Google provides a wealth of information on how to get your website to show up on search. They also offer tools to help you troubleshoot any issues your site may have.
If you're having trouble getting your website to show up on search, or if you see strange results in your search traffic, Google Search Central can help you figure out what's going on and how to fix it. They have a ton of resources, including:
-A search engine optimization (SEO) starter guide
-A comprehensive list of Google's ranking factors
-Guidelines on how to build a search-friendly website
-Troubleshooting tips for common issues
I highly recommend that you check it out!
Heading tags are HTML tags used to indicate headings and subheadings on a web page. You use them to create a hierarchy of information on a page in descending order (H1 being the most important information).
Here are some best practices for using heading tags in blog posts:
- Use the <h1> tag for the main title on top of your page.
- Use the <h2> tag for your primary sections.
- Use the <h3> – <h6> tags to further segment your sections within each <h2> section.
Index (and Indexing)
The Index is the repository (database) that Google store the information that their crawlers collect about web pages.
Indexing is the process of crawling and storing web page information, and it's one of the most important aspects of SEO, as it is what enables your web page to appear on SERP. If you want your website to rank high on SERP, you need to make sure that it is indexed by Google.
The best way to do that is to optimize your website for SEO.
An inbound link is a link coming in from another website.
Inbound links, also known as backlinks, are essential for search engine optimization (SEO) because they help search engines determine the importance of a website. The more links you have coming into your website, the more Google sees your site as a trustworthy site to display in SERP.
An internal link is a type of hyperlink that connects one page to another on the same website.
Internal links are essential because they help visitors navigate your website and find related information.
They also help search engines navigate your site and understand how your pages are connected to each other.
There are different types of internal links – contextual, navigational, footer, and image.
Contextual links are text-based links placed within a page's content. They help visitors find related information on your website. For example, if you’re writing an article about dogs, you might include a contextual link to another blog post about different breeds of dogs.
Navigational links are links placed in menus and other navigation areas on your website. They help visitors find their way around your site. For example, if you have a website about cars, your navigational links might include links to pages about different types of vehicles, such as SUVs, sedans, and convertibles.
Footer links are links placed in the footer of a web page. They usually include links to other pages on the same website. For example, if you have a website about pets, your footer might consist of links to pages about different types of pets, such as dogs, cats, and reptiles.
It's also common to display your terms & conditions, privacy, and contact page as a footer link (if you scroll down this page (or any of the pages on my website, you'll see the footer links I have for my site).
Image links are links placed on images. You can use them to link to other pages on your website. For example, if you have a website about travel, you might include an image of a map with a link to blog category pages about different countries.
Keywords are the words and phrases people type into search engines to find what they're looking for. For example, if you were looking for information on starting a business, you might type in “small business” or “business ideas.” Including these keywords in your content can help ensure that your site comes up in the search results for those terms.
There are several different types of keywords.
These are the broad, high-level keywords you start with when you first begin your keyword research. For example, if you were starting a business in the fashion industry, some seed keywords might be “clothing,” “shoes,” or “accessories.”
Short-tail keywords are the most common keywords that are one or two words long. Short-tail keywords are generally more competitive than long-tail keywords because they are more general. For example, “business” is a short-tail keyword, while “starting a small business” is a long-tail keyword.
Long-tail keywords are more specific keywords that are less common than seed keywords. They are often longer and more detailed. For example, rather than just “shoes,” a long-tail keyword might be “women's black leather flats.”
Local keywords are keywords that include our city, state, or region. So, for example, if you were starting a business in New York City, some local keywords might be “business in NYC” or “starting a business in New York.”
Product keywords are keywords that describe the products or services that you offer. For example, if you sell clothing, some product keywords might be “dresses,” “pants,” or “shirts.”
Brand keywords are key phrases that include a brand name. For example, if you're writing a blog post about gym clothing, some brand keywords might be “Nike shoes” or “Nike clothing.”
Primary keywords (a.k.a focused keywords)
The primary keyword (or focused keywords) is the main phrase you want your blog post to rank for. It's the phrase you expect your target readers to use when searching for the kind of information found in your blog post.
Related keywords are variations of your primary keyword. They are similar to your primary keyword but not precisely the same. If your primary keyword is “dog training,” for example, some related keywords might be “puppy training,” “dog obedience training,” or “dog behavior.”
You can use keyword research tools like Keysearch and Semrush to find the right keywords for your business. Google Keyword Planner is also a good option if you want to use a free tool. These tools will help you see how often people use the specific keyword when searching and also give you ideas for other related keywords to include in your content.
Once you have a list of keywords, you can start using them in your content so your blog post is fully optimized. The RankMath SEO Content AI is the tool I use for this.
Doing keyword research and including those in your blog posts is essential to ensure that your site is more visible in the search results.
Link Equity (or Link Juice)
Link equity (or link juice) is the value passed from one page to another on the internet through links. This value helps search engines determine how important and relevant a page is.
When a website links to one of your blog posts, search engines take that as a sign that your blog post probably includes related and helpful content on the topic the linked-from website covered on their page (otherwise, the website wouldn't link to it). So they may send their crawlers to your page and check it out.
If another website links to that same blog post, and that website covers a similar subject to what both you and the first website's content, search engines get a second signal that your page is relevant, helpful, and can probably be trusted. Now you have two independent links.
And the more links you get, the more link equity you accrue.
It's important to know that not all links are equal and that some links pass on link juice and others don't. The overall authority of the website that is linking to you matters. The relevance of the linking page and the link type also plays a role in how much link juice is passed on.
For example, a link from the home page of the New York Times website is going to pass a lot more link equity (and authority) than a link from some random blog post written by somebody with no expertise or authority on the subject.
Link equity is one factor that determines how well your website will rank on the search engine results pages (SERPs). The more link equity you have, the better your chance of ranking well.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) words are those that are related to the main topic but are not necessarily synonymous with it.
You often hear the term LSI words in connection with keyword research or on-page optimization. That means that, in addition to the target keyword (a.k.a focused keyword), you should also use related words throughout your content to help Google better understand the overall topic.
For example, let's say you're writing a blog post about The benefits of black garlic. Some LSI keywords for this topic might be health benefits, antioxidant properties, immune system support, etc.
Let's take another example. The word APPLE.
If you're writing about Apple, the company, you'd probably include words like: iPhone, iPad, mac, computer, data, release dates, etc. But if you're writing about apple the fruit, you're most likely to include words like fruit, sweet, red, green, recipe, food, etc.
So it's these words that are being referred to as LSI words.
I want to point out that the concept of Latent Semantic Indexing isn't “Google” terminology – it isn't even a search engine terminology. LSI was invented and patented by Bell Labs in the 80s as an indexing approach for compact static databases. Yet, LSI words as a concept are so commonly used to label the words and phrases you use in connection with your target keywords that I would be remiss not to include them here.
The meta description is an HTML tag that describes a web page's content.
Placed within the section of the code, Meta Description is meant to provide a brief, descriptive summary of what the page is about. Most of the time, this is also the description search engines display in SERP as the text snippet below the page title.
While meta descriptions are not technically a ranking factor, they are still important to your on-page SEO because they impact click-through rates (CTR).
The meta description is an opportunity to convince potential website visitors to click through to your site. Therefore, it should be carefully crafted to promote your brand and highlight the unique value of your content.
A higher SERP CTR means more users clicked through to your page when they saw it on SERP, which can lead to better organic results over time.
Therefore, writing unique and compelling meta descriptions for each page on your website is important.
A mobile friendly website is a website that is designed to be used on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Mobile friendly websites are typically designed with a responsive layout, which means that the website will resize itself to fit the screen of the device it is being viewed on.
This makes it easier for mobile users to view and navigate the website.
Nofollow is an attribute added to links to tell search engines that they should not crawl the link, nor take the link into account when calculating page rank.
Search engines may still crawl the linked-to site, but a link with a Nofollow attribute will not receive any link equity (link juice) from the linked-from website.
You can read more about Nofollow vs. Follow (and when to use them) here.
Off-page SEO is the practice of optimizing a website for better search engine rankings through activities that happen away from the actual site. This can include activities like social media engagement, guest blogging, link building etc.
The goal of off-page SEO is to create signals outside of your website that will encourage search engines to see your site as more relevant, authoritative, and trustworthy, which will eventually lead to better rankings.
There are many different ways to go about off-page SEO, but the most important thing is to focus on creating high-quality content that will be of interest to your target audience. The more engaging and useful your content is, the more likely people are to link to it, share it, and talk about it.
On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing a website for search engine searches to earn higher web traffic levels and improve the site's visibility.
The main aim of on-page optimization is to ensure that your website is easy to access and navigate by both readers and search engines. In addition, it's about ensuring that the content is helpful for a particular target audience, and that the content is well-written and relevant to the users search query.
On-page SEO is a critical part of any good SEO strategy. Optimizing your blog posts (and your entire website, for that matter) can improve your chances of ranking higher in search results and earning more organic traffic.
An outbound link is a link that points to another website.
Outbound links are often used to provide additional information or resources that are not available on the current website, or to reference a a source for the included information.
When used correctly, outbound links can improve the user experience by providing access to related content.
People Also Ask
People Also Ask is a box that appears on Google search results pages. It is made up of a list of questions related to the user's search query. users can click on these questions to see the answer.
People Also Ask boxes can help users find the information they are looking for more quickly and easily.
For bloggers, People Also Ask boxes can be a great way to come up with new content ideas. By looking at the questions that people are actually searching for, you can create content that is more likely to be relevant and useful to your audience.
Ranking and Ranking Factors
Ranking factors are criteria used by search engines to rank websites in their search engine results pages (SERP). There are many different ranking factors that search engines take into account when determining the order of the results, but some of the most well-known ones include the quality and quantity of backlinks, the relevance of the website's content, and the structure of the website. The weight that each of these factors has varies depending on the search engine, but they all play a role in how websites are ranked.
All search engines update their ranking factors frequently, so although many articles list the different ranking factors, there is no definitive answer. There's no public up-to-date list with all the ranking factors outlined.
However, by understanding how search engines work, you can get a better idea of how search engines rank websites and what you can do to improve your own website's ranking.
Robot.txt is a text file that tells search engine crawlers which pages on your website to index and which to ignore.
This is useful if you have pages on your site that you don't want appearing in search results, or if you want to make sure that only certain pages are indexed.
Robot.txt is also used to tell crawlers how often to check for new content on your site, and can be used to help keep your site's traffic from getting overwhelmed by too many crawlers.
Search Engine Result Page (SERP)
A Search Engine Result Page, also referred to as a SERP, is the page that appears in a browser window when a query is put into a search engine.
The primary purpose of a SERP is to list all of the web pages that are relevant to the search query, in the order that the search engine's algorithms have deemed them suitable.
In addition to listing web pages, a SERP may also include other results such as videos, images, and maps.
A sitemap is a file where you provide information about the pages, posts, products and other files on your site, and the relationships between them.
This helps search engines index your site so people can easily find it.
You can create and submit a sitemap for free using various online tools. I use RankMath for creating and submitting the sitemap for all my websites.
A title tag is an HTML element that specifies the title of a web page. It's the Title tag that is typically displayed as the title of your blog post in SERP, and whenever you share the link.
You don't have to add a Title tag, but it is best practice to use one. This is because the title helps search engines understand your page. And by adding the Title Tag yourself (as opposed to letting the search engine create one for you). you can make sure that your Title is accurate and descriptive.
Title tags are also important for social media sharing. When you share a link on social media, the title tag is often used as the title of your post. So, by adding a title tag, you can control what people see when they share your content.
URL (Slug, Permalink)
URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. Simply put, it's the unique address to your blog post (or website page). It's what helps people find your content online.
When creating a new blog post, give it a unique URL that includes relevant keywords for your topic. This will help people find your content more easily, and it can also help improve your website's ranking in SERP.
URLs are also called “permalinks,” and “slug.” If you're using WordPress, you can find the URL for your blog post by clicking on the “Edit” button in the Permalink section.
Here's an example of a blog post URL:
As you can see, the URL includes the blog post title, “How to Choose a Unique URL.” This is helpful for people who are searching for that particular topic.
URLs are important for SEO and should be given careful consideration when creating new content. Be sure to choose a unique URL that will help people find your content easily.
That's it for the SEO terms for beginners. SEO can be a complex and confusing topic, but I hope this glossary has helped to clear up some of the jargon for you. If you're interested in learning more about SEO, I'd love for you to check out my SEO Basics for Bloggers course.