Gl Gr

Here is a glossary of SEO terms and jargon which includes marketing tips and advice. See also our Glossary of marketing terms and Glossary of copywriting terms. Created and researched by SEO consultant and trainer Nigel Temple.

SEO is a complex subject and there is a considerable amount of terminology. This SEO glossary may help.

  1. 301 redirect: This is a permanent server redirect, i.e. a web page URL change of address. Typically used when relaunching a website, so that you can redirect visitors and search engines to the new pages.
  2. 404 or Not Found error message: The web page document could not be found, due to a broken link. (The server could be reached but it could not find the information requested). If your website visitors and the SEs encounter 404 messages they will not be impressed.
  3. Above the fold. The section of a web page that you can see without scrolling.
  4. Absolute link: A hyperlink that displays the full URL of the web page that is being linked to. You may see links that just show relative link paths and not the full URL. Due to canonicalization,  it is better to use absolute links, than relative links.
  5. Affiliate links: Don’t have too many, as you may be marked down by Google as ‘just an affiliate site’.
  6. AlexaAlexa.com provides an index of website page popularity, measured by the number of users who visit a website.
  7. Algorithm: A computer program used by search engines that decides the web pages to display with regards to a search queries. Google’s SEO algorithm has about 200 parts (factors) and each factor is given a different weight.
  8. Alt Tag: AKA Alternative Text Tag – a part of the Meta Data of a website. An Alt Tag provides information about an image. Important, because Google reads them. See ‘Alt text’, below.
  9. Alt text: Words which are used to describe a graphic image. Helps the SEs to  Alt text is important because search engines can’t tell one picture from another. Alt text is the one place where it is acceptable for the spider to get different content than the human user, but only because the alt text is accessible to the user, and when properly used is an accurate description of the associated picture. Special web browsers for visually challenged people rely on the alt text to make the content of graphics accessible to the users.
  10. Anchor text: The text within a hyperlink. This is important, as the SEs analyse this. For example www.marketingcompass.co.uk  …or…  The Marketing Compass impartial marketing advice. Search engines examine anchor text, in order to figure out what the destination web page is about. They are doing their best to be helpful to the searcher. Think of it this way: Google would like to know as much as possible about the subject of the page to which the link points. So inserting keywords into anchor text helps search engines such as Google to do a better job. Tip: if someone wants to link to your website, send them a pre-prepared hyperlink (along the lines of the one above – but with your URL / keywords within it). Here is another tip – within your website, all of your links to other websites should open up in a new browser window. If you have an easy-to-use CMS (Content Management System), you will be able to do this without getting involved in the code (HTML).
  11. Autogenerated content: Computer generated content, i.e. by using a Markov chain. Google is not keen on this.
  12. Backlinks (or in-bound links): Hyperlinks from other websites which link back to a page on your website. Currently, backlinks are still helpful, as long as they come from relevant, high authority websites.
  13. Black-hat SEO: Dodgy SEO techniques such as purchasing in-bound links.
  14. Blog: Contraction of ‘web log’. Google loves a blogger and regular blogging can improve your SEO results.
  15. Bodycopy word count (GAC, see definition below):  The number of words on a page is another Google Algorithm Component. All other things being equal, it is better to write long body copy (say 300 words) than hardly anything at all.
  16. Bot: AKA robot, crawler, spider – a computer program that SEs use to index web pages and add them to their databases.
  17. Breadcrumb navigation (GAC): For example: Marketing training ► SEO training ► Google Page Ranking Factors
  18. Broken links: It is not a good thing for the SEs to find broken links on your web pages.
  19. Bullet point (or numbered) lists: It looks like the SEs like these. As a writer, I have always liked these within web pages, as they are easy to read.
  20. Canonicalization: Where the same information appears within different URLs, canonicalization is the process which determines the original ‘canonical’ page. This is one of the reasons why it is not a good idea to copy content from other websites.
  21. Contact us page: Surprisingly, this is a Google Algorithm Component. IMHO ‘Contact’ should always be the last item within your main nav bar list and Google looks for a reasonable of contact information.
  22. Content length: Aim for 300 words within your web pages and blog entries and this will help to attract the SEs attention (The more you write, the more you sell).
  23. Content marketing: Planning what you are going to be writing about, in a structured way. Usually based around a content marketing calendar. Great for SEO purposes as “the more you write, the more you sell.”
  24. Conversion: Within Google Analytics, a conversion (or ‘goal conversion’) is the completion of an activity on your website. i.e. a customer subscribes to your email newsletter (a Goal conversion) or they make a purchase (AKA transaction, e-commerce conversion). See also ‘Goal’.
  25. CMS: Content Management System. Software that allows you to make changes to your website. My experience is that some CMS’s are more SE friendly than others and I recommend WordPress in this respect.
  26. CPC: Cost Per Click. The price you pay each time someone clicks on your online advertisement (i.e. via Google AdWords or LinkedIn ads).
  27. Content updates (GAC): New pages, blog entries, sections in your website, images, videos, content edits etc. The greater the number of updates, the higher you are likely to rank.
  28. Dashboard: Software that can be used, amongst other things, for monitoring website analytics / SEO.
  29. Data mining: Analysing large quantities of data in order to find patterns, trends and other useful information.
  30. Description Tags (GAC): Part of your website’s meta data. 155 character’s worth of description of a web page’s content (used to be 165 characters within Google parameters – so it is worth checking that you now only have 155 characters in order to display correctly within Google SERPs pages.
  31. Domain age (GAC): Taken into account by the SEs, however, it is a relatively minor element.
  32. Domain history (GAC): The SEs may not be happy if a domain name has changed ownership many times.
  33. Domain name: A website address. For example www.bbc.co.uk is the domain name for the BBC website. Important within SEO because if you include keywords within your domain name you are more likely to be found.
  34. Domain name registration length (GAC): Amazingly, Google takes this into account (according to one of their patents). So if SEO is important to you, buy the maximum number of year’s worth of domain registration that you can (it will be cheaper, per year, that way).
  35. Duplicate content (GAC): This is bad news and can get your site marked down. (Original, fresh content is the answer).
  36. Early use of keywords (GAC): Include your keyword / phrase within the first sentence of a web page’s bodycopy and also within the first part of the Title Tag.
  37. Emboldened text:  A seminar delegate mentioned to me that he thought that emboldened text was picked up by Google.
  38. Exact match keyword phrase (GAC):  An exact match for a keyword phrase will help your rankings.
  39. Frequency of page updates (GAC): If you keep your website information up-to-date, the SEs will notice.
  40. GAC: Google Algorithm Component (AKA Google Ranking Factor), i.e. an element of Google’s search engine algorithm, which has about 200 parts to it.
  41. Goal: A Google Analytics term for a pre-determined outcome which you wish to achieve, i.e. a website visitor arrives at a specific URL.
  42. Google Analytics: A free to use service which gives a website owner a considerable amount of information about website traffic, where visitors are coming from, which pages they are looking at etc.
  43. H Tags (GAC): H Tags are part of HTML. They are used to markup a headline or subhead within a webpage. H1, H2 and H3 tags are read by Google (but H1 Tags are the most important).
  44. Hummingbird: A Google algorithm update, released in August 2013. Hummingbird ‘gets synonyms’ and shows that Google has moved towards a better understanding of natural (human) language in all of its complexities.
  45. Image optimisation (GAC): Images send SEs helpful information via their file name, title, alt text, description and caption. The inclusion of a single keyword within an image’s caption, for example, can be picked up by the SE and make a difference to how that page is ranked.
  46. Internal links: These are good news, as  ‘a link is a link is a link.” In other words, include lots of internal links within your website from one page to another and use anchor text when you do this.
  47. Keyword(s): Words or phrases which people search for (i.e. within Google, Yahoo or Bing). As part of your SEO strategy, it is a good idea to have a consistent list of keywords and phrases which appear within your website’s content and meta data, in order to attract the search engines.
  48. Keyword within domain name (GAC): If you include a keyword or (short!) keyword phrase within your domain name, this is helpful as it is a Google Algorithm Component.
  49. Keyword density (GAC): Still a factor, but don’t go overboard. It is better to use synonyms than endlessly repeating a keyword or keyword phrase.
  50. Keyword first paragraph (GAC):  Have your keyword or phrase within the first paragraph / sentence of the page.
  51. Landing page: A webpage that has commercial intent, i.e. newsletter signup, event registration, sales lead generation or sale.  Tip: online advertisements work better when they link to a landing page.
  52. Linkable. If you can link directly to a web page, it is linkable. If you have to login first, then this is not the case.
  53. Local SEO comprises techniques to raise SEO visibility within the local area. For example, a pizza delivery company is only interested in local search traffic. It would like to appear when someone searches for ‘pizza +(local place name)’.
  54. Meta Data: Within websites, this refers to information held within the Header section of a web page, which helps SEs to decide what that page is about. Meta Data includes the Title Tag and Description Tag.
  55. Metrics:  A series of numbers (or charts) which show the performance of a marketing initiative or campaign. For example an SEO campaign. The advent of digital marketing has given marketers a wealth of real-time metrics.
  56. Natural links. These are backlinks that occur when a website owners links to you, because you have creating interesting, useful, helpful content.
  57. Organic search results: A term used within digital marketing to distinguish between paid for and ‘natural’ search engine results (which appear within SERPs pages).
  58. Off-site SEO (sometimes referred to as off-page SEO). All of the things that you can do outside of your website to influence the search engines. For example, gaining backlinks for creating great content (hint, hint).
  59. On-Page ranking factors. This begins with the content within the page. Well written, helpful content is better than poorly written content. Good content must help the searcher and be linkable (see separate definition). The second factor is the Title Tag. The third factor is the URL.
  60. Outbound links (GAC): Including outbound links to authoritative websites is good news, however, don’t have too many of them within a single page.
  61. Page: A page within a website has a unique URL and may or may not be part of the navigation bar structure. Pages usually contain useful information, relevant to the purpose of the website.
  62. Page count: The SEs prefer larger websites with many pages.
  63. Page loading speed (GAC): Sometimes referred to as Page speed. This is a search engine ranking factor. There are many things that you can do to improve page loading speed. For example, don’t upload enormous files to your web pages or use poor quality hosting services.
  64. PageRank: This was the first algorithm used by Google. It is a link analysis system that gives a 0 – 10 score. It figures out the relative importance of a website, based on the number of links. The name comes from Larry Page, one of Google’s founders.
  65. Panda: A significant update to Google’s algorithm, released in February 2011. Panda aimed to lower the rank of low-quality websites.
  66. Penguin: This is a codename for an update to the Google algorithm on April 24th 2012. The update hit owners of websites which violated Google’s webmaster guidelines (i.e. sites which had bought dodgy in-bound links in order to increase their page ranking).
  67. Privacy page (GAC): Google likes to see a detailed Privacy page.
  68. Recency (GAC): The SEs like fresh content and favour it over outdated content. Hint: It is a good idea to update pages within your website, when information changes (particularly if there is a time element involved).
  69. Referring domains: See ‘Backlinks’.
  70. Robots.txt. This is a small text file that tells search engine robots how to crawl the pages in your website. If you go to your homepage and add: /robots.txt …to the URL you should see your robots.txt file.
  71. RSS: Really Simple Syndication. An RSS (‘Feed’) enables people to follow your blog. I
  72. Scraped content: (AKA syndicated or stolen content). Basically, the SEs are smart enough to figure out that a site is doing this and will mark them down. Originality will always beat plagiarism.
  73. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation): The science (and art) of attracting the search engines to your website.
  74. SERPs: Search Engine Results Pages. This is the list of website pages which appear when you use a search engine. Within Google, there are 10 results per page. Sometimes called ‘organic search results’.
  75. Server location (GAC) The location of the computer server which hosts your website. If you are running a website for the UK market – it is a good idea to host your website within the UK
  76. Silo website: AKA SEO Siloing. A well organised website with related information group together. This can be done via the nav bar and internal links. Publish relevant material in the appropriate part of your website.
  77. Sitemap: A complete, hierarchical  list of all of the pages within a website, much loved by crawlers and some website visitors.
  78. Spelling: It would appear that this is taken into account by the SEs. Even if this changes, I would recommend that you always checking your spelling as it would be a shame to put visitors off, after all of this hard work, wouldn’t it?
  79. SSL Certificate (GAC): A data file, installed on a web server, that binds a cryptographic key to an enterprise. The URL changes from “http” (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) to “https” (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure). This process enables secure connections from the web server to an internet browser. SSL is used for credit card transactions and secure data transfers. Some web browsers display a padlock symbol within the address bar to show that an https connection is in use.
  80. Stop words. Commonly used words such as: a, and, but, for ….the SE’s ignore them and you should try to avoid them in URLs, anchor text links etc if you can.
  81. Subdomain (GAC): A domain that is part of a larger domain. For example nigeltemple.com = my domain and I could create a subdomain entitled: marketingconsultant.nigeltemple.com Relevant for SEO purposes as the subdomain keywords can rank quite highly.
  82. Synonyms: A word or phrase that means the same as another word or phrase. For example: comical / funny. Important within SEO as the SEs pick up synonyms. See Hummingbird.
  83. Title Tag (GAC): Part of your website’s meta data. Title Tags appear with SERP pages and look like headlines. Currently, 55 characters are allowed for maximum Title Tag visibility within Google SERPs.
  84. Title Tag first keyword: Ensure that your most important keyword is placed at the beginning of the Title Tag.
  85. UA code:  A short string of characters which are included within a web page so that it can be tracked by Google Analytics. If you use a CMS such as WordPress, your UA code only has to be entered within WordPress once and then it is automatically added to new pages (and blog entries).
  86. Uptime (GAC): The percentage of time that your site is up and running properly, i.e. 99%. It is the opposite of Downtime. Lots of downtime can affect your SE ranking.
  87. URL: Uniform Resource Locator or, more simply, a website page address. For example: www.bbc.co.uk It is important to think in terms of page addresses, as the SEs list URLs within their giant indexes of the web. Keywords and phrases are then associated with specific URLs.
  88. URL length: Really long URLs may hurt your SE rankings.
  89. Visitor: A ‘Unique Visitor’ (UV) to your website is identified by their IP (Internet Protocol) address. In a period of one month, let’s say that person Y visits in the first week and person Z visits in the second week. The website in question has two unique visitors. However, if person Y visits again in the third week, the site still only has two UVs. A high number of UVs is a good indication of a website’s popularity.
  90. White Hat SEO. This term refers to SEO techniques that the search engines approve of, i.e. writing helpful and interesting content, as opposed to doing dodgy things like buying in-bound links from remarkably cheap suppliers.
  91. WhoIs, private (GAC): Can appear to be suspicious to the SEs when other factors are also taken into account (“what are they trying to hide here?”)
  92. YouTube: The world’s second most popular search engine, after Google. My advice is to have a YouTube channel and tag your videos (just like you would a website page) as this is yet another way of being found. Don’t forget to include a URL back to your website.
  93. XML sitemap. A sitemap is a list of all of the URLs within a website. It should update automatically. XML is a markup language; it stands for Extensible Markup Language.

Created and researched by SEO consultant and trainer Nigel Temple.


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