Glossary of SEO Terms

Like any subculture, the Internet has its own lingo. This post defines some basic Search Engine Optimization jargon, but is by no means a complete list. If you run across other SEO terms you’re not familiar with, either ask about them in the comments section or do a Google search.

  • 301 Redirect — Permanent redirection of an old webpage to a new location.
  • Affiliate Marketing — A marketing method where a product owner/author/developer pays a commission to others who sell or promote his or her products.
  • Algorithm — A complex formula used by search engines to determine the relevance of websites for displaying in the search engine results pages.
  • Alt Tag or Text — An attribute used within the IMG tag that provides alternate text when images either can’t be displayed or to aid visually impaired web users. (Click to read more information about Alt Image Text.)
  • Anchor Tag or Text — Text that is used when creating a hyperlink to an external website or page within a website.
  • B2B — Business to Business marketing.
  • B2C — Business to Consumer marketing.
  • Backlink — An inbound link from an external website. Also called IBL (inbound links).
  • Black Hat SEO — SEO tactics that put a site owner at risk of being banned by search engines. (Read “SEO Practices: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”)
  • Bot — Programs that automatically scanĀ  or “crawl” the web to index pages, spam sites, and other reasons. Also called web robots, crawlers, and spiders.
  • Cloaking — A spamming practice to display a different web page to a search engine bot than what human visitors see.
  • Conversion — Web traffic that fulfills a site owner’s goal. Usually either making a purchase or providing contact information by completing a form.
  • CPA — Cost per Acquisition. Commission paid to an affiliate marketer for either leads or sales.
  • CPC — Cost per Click. Rate paid for Pay-per-Click (PPC) advertising methods, such as Google AdSense.
  • CSS — Cascading Style Sheets. A code language that determines how a page or website will display. CSS is used to control colors, fonts, layouts, etc.
  • CTA — Content Targeted Advertising. The placement of relevant Pay-per-Click ads on content pages.
  • CTR — Click-through Rate. The ratio of ad clicks per impressions (amount of times the ad was displayed).
  • Deep Linking The practice of linking to internal pages within the same site.
  • Doorway Page (or Gateway) — A web page that is typically optimized to target a specific keyword phrase and created solely for the purpose of driving traffic to another page.
  • Dynamic Website — A site with content that changes frequently, such as a blog. A static website is a site with content that never or rarely changes.
  • FFA — Free for All. A basically useless site that posts long lists of unrelated links. Also known as a “link farms.” These sites are typically ignored by search engines and rarely used by humans.
  • Google PageRank — The numeric value that represents a site’s importance on the web. Also referred to as PR. The higher the number, the more important the website. PageRanks are rated quarterly.
  • Google SandBox — A reference to Google’s practice of “holding” PageRank for new websites.
  • Keywords/Key Phrase — Words and phrases used in search engine queries.
  • Keyword Density The ratio of keyword/key phrase usage to other text on a webpage. The recommended percentage for optimum keyword/key phrase density is 3-5 percent.
  • Keyword Research The process of determining which keywords or phrases to optimize a site for.
  • Keyword Stuffing (also referred to as “Google Bombing”) — The practice of adding superfluous keywords to a webpage. This makes the page appear as SPAM to search engines. Some site owners “stuff” a page with keywords that are the same font color as the page background or with type size too small (such as 1 px) to be seen by humans. Those practices violate the Terms of Service of most search engines.
  • Landing Page — A webpage with content focused on a particular topic or product, often used to create conversions.
  • Link Popularity — The number of inbound links to a website.
  • Meta Data or Meta Tags — A short HTML code within a webpage’s header that describes the purpose and topic of the page. These tags are used by search engines to help determine the page’s relevance in search results.
  • Mirror Site — An identical or nearly duplicate website used by Spammers to target keywords or phrases.
  • Organic Search — “Natural” search engine results that do not come by paid advertisements but rather because the site’s content is relevant to the words or phrases used by a human search query. This should be the goal of every website owner.
  • Paid Link Building (PLB) — The practice of paying another site owner to link back to your site in hopes of boosting your rankings in the search engines.
  • Portal — An authoritative hub site that some users set as their home page, such as Yahoo!.
  • PPC — Pay Per Click.
  • PR — PageRank.
  • Query — The keywords or phrases that search engine users enter into the search box.
  • Reciprocal Link — The “you link to my site, I’ll link to yours” method of increasing backlinks to a website. Most search engines are sophisticated enough to detect this practice and consider it a manufactured method of link generation. Click here to read about better link-building tactics.
  • Robots.txt — A file that “tells” spider bots which parts of a website they are authorized to crawl. (Note: Not all bots do as they’re told.)
  • Search Engine — A site that helps users find information by typing their question or keywords into a search box.
  • Search Engine Saturation — The ratio of indexed pages to total pages within a website. The more (and better quality) content a website has, the more pages will be indexed. Large sites with a lot of content are typically taken more seriously by search engines.
  • SEM — Search Engine Marketing. The practice of marketing a site to rank well in search engines by either optimizing to increase organic search, purchasing advertising, or a combination of these and other SEO (search engine optimization) methods.
  • SEO — Search Engine Optimization. Developing a site so that search engines spiders can easily “read” them, as well as creating relevant content for the purpose of gaining more traffic from search engine results pages. (For more information, read “An Introduction to Search Engine Optimization.”
  • SERP — Search Engine Results Page. A list of webpages relevant to a user’s search engine query.
  • SPAM — “Black Hat” techniques used to achieve higher search engine results but that violate search engine Terms of Service.
  • Stop Word — Words that are ignored by search engines, such as “the.”
  • TLD — Top Level Domain. One of the three main domain extensions: .com, .net, or .org.
  • URL — Uniform Resource Locator. More commonly known as a “web address.”

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