SEO Glossary: 190+ Terms and Definitions You Should Know

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Marketing @ Ahrefs. Current learning project: Korean. I also summarise books on my personal blog.
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    You’ve probably noticed that there’s a lot of jargon and abbreviations in SEO. So we curated and categorized all the important SEO terms and their definitions below.

    Click to find a particular term you’re interested in, or keep reading for all definitions.

    # | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

    #

    10x content

    Content that is at least ten times better than the current top-ranking result for the target keyword.

    200 response

    HTTP status code indicating that the server has succeeded in its request to access a page or resource.

    301 redirect

    Redirect that takes users to a new URL and tells search engines that the page has moved permanently.

    302 redirect

    Redirect that takes users to a new URL and tells search engines that the page has moved temporarily.

    304 not modified

    HTTP status code that is an implicit redirection to a cached resource.

    404 error

    HTTP status code indicating that the server couldn’t find the desired page or resource.

    410 gone

    HTTP status code indicating that the requested resource is no longer available at the server and no forwarding address is known.

    A

    Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

    Open-source HTML framework for creating stripped-down versions of web pages that load faster on mobile.

    Ahrefsbot

    Web crawler that powers Ahrefs’ backlink index and SEO tools.

    Alt text

    Descriptive text that appears in place of an image if it fails to load.

    Anchor text

    Clickable word or phrase that links one webpage to another.

    Article spinning

    Spammy “writing” technique that turns one article into many “new” articles.

    Article syndication

    When websites republish content that originally appeared on another website.

    Auto-generated content

    Content that’s automatically generated using a program or code.

    B

    Backlinks

    Links from pages on another website.

    Bing Webmaster Tools

    Free service from Microsoft that helps you monitor and troubleshoot your website’s appearance in Bing’s search results.

    Bingbot

    Web crawler that powers Bing’s search engine.

    Black-hat SEO

    The use of SEO strategies and tactics that violate search engine guidelines.

    Bounce rate

    The percentage of visitors that take no further action after landing on a website.

    Branded keywords

    Words and phrases associated with your brand, products, or services.

    Breadcrumb navigation

    Internal links that give users (and search engines) a clear trail to follow around your site.

    Bridge page

    Page designed to rank for a keyword and redirect users elsewhere.

    Broken link

    Link on your site that points to a non-existent resource. They can be internal or external links.

    C

    Cached page

    What a web page looked like the last time Google visited it.

    Canonical tag

    HTML code that tells Google what you consider to be the “master” version of a page.

    Canonical URL

    URL that Google sees as the “master” version of a page or set of pages.

    Co-citation

    When a website is mentioned by two other websites.

    Computer-generated content

    Content created by software that is supposedly on par with what a human can create.

    Content Delivery Network (CDN)

    Globally distributed server network that makes it quicker for users to access your website.

    Content hub

    Interlinked collections of content about a similar topic.

    Co-occurrence

    When keywords show up together on pages about a certain topic.

    Core Web Vitals

    Metrics that are part of Google’s Page Experience signals used to measure user experience.

    Cornerstone content

    The most important pages or posts on your site.

    Crawl budget

    How fast and how many pages a search engine wants to crawl on your site.

    Crawlability

    A search engine’s ability to access content on a page.

    Crawler

    The computer bot search engines use to discover pages on the web.

    D

    Dofollow link

    Link that transfers PageRank. AKA a “followed” link.

    Domain Rating (DR)

    The relative strength of a website’s authority based on its backlink profile.

    Doorway page

    Pages designed to rank for similar search queries.

    Duplicate content

    Content that appears on the web in more than one place.

    Dwell time

    How much time passes between you clicking a search result and clicking back to the SERPs.

    Dynamic URL

    URL with content that depends on variable parameters.

    E

    Editorial link

    Link that points to your site (that you didn’t ask or pay for.)

    Email outreach

    The process of putting your product or content in front of relevant people by sending them personalized emails.

    Entry page

    The first page a searcher views on your site.

    Evergreen content

    Content that doesn’t go out of date.

    External link

    Link from your site to another site.

    F

    Faceted navigation

    Type of navigation found on category/archive pages of sites that deal with many listings.

    G

    Gated content

    Content that visitors can only access after providing their contact information.

    Gateway page

    Pages created to rank for specific, similar search queries. Also known as doorway pages.

    Google Alerts

    Free service from Google that monitors the web for content changes matching a specific search query.

    Google algorithm

    Set of rules used by Google to rank matching results when a user performs a search.

    Google Analytics

    Free service from Google for tracking and monitoring website traffic.

    Google autocomplete

    Search suggestions given by Google when entering a search.

    Google bombing

    Where you get a website to rank higher in Google for irrelevant or unrelated search queries using black-hat SEO tactics.

    Google Business Profile

    Free business listing from Google that shows up in maps and web search results.

    Google Caffeine

    Search index introduced by Google in 2010 that allowed them to index more content and provide fresher search results.

    Google dance

    Slang term describing the volatility a new website or page experiences when Google is trying to determine where it should rank.

    Google Hummingbird

    Algorithm update released by Google in 2013 to return better search results. It emphasized the meaning of search queries over individual keywords.

    Google Knowledge Graph

    Knowledge base of entities and the relationships between them.

    Google Knowledge Panel

    SERP feature that provides information about the main subject of the query.

    Google My Business

    Free service from Google that allows business owners to create, manage, and optimize their Google Business Profile.

    Google Panda

    Algorithm update released in 2011 by Google that rewarded higher-quality sites and downgraded the presence of lower-quality sites in their search results.

    Google penalty

    Penalty issued by Google to demote a page or site in its search results. Can be algorithmic or manual.

    Google Penguin

    Algorithm update released in 2012 by Google to downgrade sites that engaged in manipulative link schemes and keyword stuffing.

    Google Pigeon

    Algorithm update released in 2013 by Google to improve search results for local search queries.

    Google sandbox

    Alleged filter by Google that prevents new websites from ranking in Google’s top results.

    Google Search Console

    Free service from Google that helps you monitor and troubleshoot your website’s appearance in their search results.

    Google Top Heavy Update

    Algorithm update released in 2012 by Google to downgrade web pages with too many ads at the top.

    Google Webmaster Guidelines

    Best practices from Google to help them find, index, and rank your site.

    Google Webmaster Tools

    Old name of Google Search Console.

    Googlebot

    Web crawler that powers Google’s search engine.

    Grey-hat SEO

    The use of SEO strategies and tactics that blur the line between white-hat and black-hat.

    Guest blogging

    When you create content for another website.

    Guestographic

    Infographic created by you but published on other websites.

    H

    H1 tag

    HTML heading that’s most commonly used to mark up a web page title.

    Header tags

    HTML elements used to define headings and subheadings on a page.

    Hilltop algorithm

    Algorithm adopted by Google in 2003 to identify authoritative web pages to rank.

    Holistic SEO

    The practice of improving all aspects of a website to rank higher in search engines.

    Hreflang

    HTML attribute used to tell Google about alternate versions of a web page for different languages and regions.

    HTTPS

    Encrypted version of HTTP that protects the communications between your browser and server from being intercepted and tampered with by attackers.

    I

    Inbound link

    Link from another site to your website.

    Indexability

    A search engine’s ability to analyze and store a web page in its database.

    Informational query

    Query where someone wants to find information, not products.

    Internal link

    Link from another page on the same website.

    Interstitial ad

    Full-screen interactive ads that cover the interface of the website or app.

    J

    Javascript SEO

    A part of technical SEO that seeks to make JavaScript-heavy websites more search-friendly.

    K

    Keyword cannibalization

    When a single website unintentionally targets the same keyword across multiple posts or pages.

    Keyword density

    Percentage of total words on a page that are a specific keyword or phrase.

    Keyword Difficulty

    Metric used by SEO tool providers to estimate a keyword’s ranking difficulty.

    Keyword ranking

    Your position in organic search for a particular keyword.

    Keyword stemming

    Process of reducing a word to its ‘stem’ or ‘root’ (e.g., flowers, flowery -> flower).

    Keyword stuffing

    Repeating the same keywords (or similar phrases) in your content to try to manipulate rankings.

    Keywords

    Words and phrases that people type into search engines to find what they’re looking for.

    L

    Link bait

    Content specifically formulated to attract links.

    Link building

    The process of getting other websites to link to pages on your website.

    Link equity

    Authority’ that is passed when one page links to another.

    Link exchange

    Agreement between two websites to link to each other.

    Link farm

    Group of websites created to link to each other to improve search engine rankings.

    Link popularity

    The number of backlinks that point to a website.

    Link profile

    Assessment of all the backlinks (quantity, quality, diversity, etc.) a website has.

    Link reclamation

    The process of trying to get back lost links.

    Link rot

    Natural tendency for links to become broken on the web over time.

    Link scheme

    Links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results.

    Link spam

    Irrelevant links placed on pages to try and improve search engine rankings.

    Link velocity

    The rate at which a website’s backlink profile is growing.

    Local business schema

    Type of structured data markup to help local businesses optimize for local SEO.

    Local citation

    Any mention of your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) online.

    Local pack

    SERP feature that appears for local queries and displays local Google business listings.

    Local search marketing

    The process of improving your presence in local search using SEO or paid ads.

    Local SEO

    The process of ‘optimizing’ your online presence to show up and rank higher in relevant local searches.

    Log file analysis

    Where you analyze the crawl behaviour of search engine bots in server logs to discover opportunities to improve SEO.

    Long-tail keyword

    A low-volume search query.

    LSI keywords

    Misnomer for semantically-related words and phrases. (LSI keywords don’t exist.)

    M

    Manual action

    Demotion or removal of websites/webpages issued by Google to sites that do not comply with their webmaster guidelines.

    Meta description

    HTML attribute used to describe what a page is about.

    Meta keywords

    Meta tags that give some search engines (not Google) more information about a page’s content.

    Meta redirect

    Code that tells the web browser to redirect the user to a different URL after a set amount of time.

    Meta robots tag

    HTML snippet that tells search engines how to crawl or index a page.

    Meta tags

    Snippets of code that tell search engines important information about your web page.

    Mirror site

    A copy of a website hosted on another server.

    Mobile-first indexing

    Google’s shift to using the mobile version of content for indexing and ranking.

    N

    Natural link

    A link that occurs organically.

    Navigational query

    Query where someone is looking for a specific website.

    Negative SEO

    When a competitor uses black-hat tactics to attempt to sabotage the rankings of a competing website or web page.

    Nofollow

    Tag that tells Google not to take a link into account for ranking purposes.

    Noindex tag

    Tag that instructs search engines not to index a page.

    Noreferrer

    HTML attribute that prevents referrer information passing through a link.

    Not provided

    Keyword data that Google omits from sharing with you in Google Analytics.

    O

    Off-page SEO

    Any efforts taken outside of a website to improve its search engine rankings.

    On-page SEO

    The practice of optimizing a web page’s visible content and source code to rank higher.

    Open Graph meta tags

    Snippets of code that control how URLs are displayed when shared on social media.

    Organic search results

    Non-paid search results from a search engine that can’t be bought or influenced by advertisers.

    Organic traffic

    Traffic from a search engine’s organic results.

    Orphan page

    Page with no internal links pointing to it.

    Outbound link

    Link that points to a page not on your website.

    P

    Page speed

    The amount of time it takes for a web page to load.

    PageRank

    A formula that judges the value of a page by looking at the quantity and quality of other pages that link to it.

    Paid link

    A backlink that you pay for.

    People also ask

    SERP feature that answers questions related to the user’s search query.

    Pogo-sticking

    Back-and-forth process between the SERPs and its results when a searcher is unable to find the content they want.

    Private Blog Network (PBN)

    A network of websites designed specifically for linking to and improving the rankings of other websites.

    R

    RankBrain

    Component of Google’s algorithm that uses sophisticated machine learning algorithms to understand the meaning of unfamiliar words and phrases.

    Reciprocal link

    When two websites link to each other.

    Reconsideration request

    Request to have Google review your site after fixing problems identified in a manual action or security issues notification.

    Related searches

    Search suggestions related to your query that appear at the bottom of the SERPs.

    Resource pages

    Web pages that curate and link out to useful industry resources.

    Rich snippet

    Google search result with additional data shown alongside it, usually from structured data on the page.

    Robots.txt

    A file that tells search engines where they can and can’t go on your site.

    S

    Schema markup

    Code that helps search engines to better understand and represent your content in the search results.

    Search algorithm

    List of rules used by search engines to rank matching results when a user performs a search.

    Search engine poisoning

    When malicious hackers create dummy websites that appear to be legitimate search engine results. Their goal is to steal personal information or install malware.

    Search intent

    The reason behind a search.

    Search query

    The words and phrases that people type into search engines to find what they’re looking for.

    Search visibility

    How visible your website and its related pages are in a search engine’s organic results.

    Search volume

    How many times per month, on average, people in a given country search for your target keyword.

    Secondary keywords

    Terms closely related to the keyword you want to target.

    Seed keywords

    Keywords that define your niche and help you identify your competitors.

    SEO

    The practice of optimizing a website or webpage to get more high-quality traffic from a search engine’s organic results.

    SEO audit

    The process of evaluating and assessing your website to see how well it’s performing in search engines.

    SEO silo

    The grouping together of topically-related web pages via internal links.

    Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

    Pages that search engines show in response to a user’s search query.

    SERP features

    Non-traditional search results that provide information directly within the SERP, so users do not have to click.

    Share of voice

    How visible your brand is in the market.

    Short-tail keywords

    Terms with high search volumes.

    Sitelinks

    Links to other pages or sections of a page that appear under some Google search results.

    Sitemap

    XML file listing all the important content on your website.

    Sitewide link

    Outbound link that appears on every page of a website.

    Spamdexing

    Deliberate manipulation of search engine results using techniques that are against their guidelines.

    Sponsored link attribute

    Link attribute that shows a link is an advertisement, paid placement, sponsorship, or affiliate link.

    Srcset

    HTML attribute that allows you to display different versions of an image for different screen sizes and resolutions.

    Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)

    Protocol for establishing a secure private connection between networked computers.

    Sidenote.
    SSL is a deprecated technology that has been replaced by Transport Layer Security (TLS). However, people typically still use the old terminology (SSL) when referring to TLS.

    Structured data

    A standardized way to provide information about a web page.

    Subdomain

    The part of a URL on the left of the root domain, e.g., help.ahrefs.com

    T

    Taxonomy SEO

    Optimizing for search engines by organizing the structure of content.

    Technical SEO

    Making technical adjustments to help search engines find, crawl, understand, and index your pages.

    TF-IDF

    Statistical measure that aims to judge the relative importance of a word in a document.

    Thin content

    Content that has little or no value for the user.

    Title tag

    HTML element used to specify the title of a webpage.

    Top level domain (TLD)

    Last segment of a domain name, like .com or .org.

    Transactional query

    Query where someone is looking to purchase something but hasn’t yet decided where to buy it from.

    Transport Layer Security (TLS)

    An updated, more secure version of SSL. Used interchangeably with SSL.

    TrustRank

    Algorithm that analyzes links to separate useful web pages from spam.

    UGC link attribute

    Link attribute that shows a link is user-generated content (UGC). Used for comments, forum posts, or any other content sections where users can add content.

    U

    Unnatural links

    Links in a page’s content that are not editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner.

    URL Rating (UR)

    The strength of a target page’s backlink profile on a 0–100 scale, with 100 being the strongest.

    URL slug

    The end part of the URL that (typically) explains a page’s content.

    v

    Vertical search

    Search engine dedicated to a specific area of focus.

    Voice search

    The use of voice to interact with a search engine (rather than searching by text).

    W

    Website structure

    How a site is organized and its web pages interlinked.

    Webspam

    Web pages created to manipulate search engine rankings.

    Website authority

    A metric from SEO tool providers that measures the relative strength of a site. (Ours is Domain Rating.)

    White-hat SEO

    The use of Google-approved website SEO strategies, techniques, and tactics.

    X

    X‑robots-tag

    HTTP header sent from a web server that controls indexing of a page.

    Y

    YMYL pages

    Pages about topics that could impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.

    Keep learning

    If you’re just getting started with SEO and want to learn the basics, check out our beginner’s guide to SEO. It covers everything you need to know, including:

    Any questions or comments? Ping me on Twitter.

    • Monthly traffic 216
    • Linking websites 76
    • Tweets 95
    Data from Content Explorer