New to the world of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or Search Engine Optimization as its spelt in different regions? Confused by all the jargon and acronyms? Here is a cheat sheet of the more common SEO terms and their meanings to make you an SEO expert in no time at all.
This is by no means an extensive or exhaustive list, but represents most of the common SEO expressions you will hear discussed. We’ve tried to stick to the basics and explain everything in layman’s terms.
301 code status: A 301 redirect is the most efficient and Search Engine Friendly method for Web page redirection. The code 301 is interpreted as moved permanently.
302 code status: A 302 code means that the file has been found, but is temporarily located at another URL. In the context of SEO, it is typically best to avoid using 302 redirects.
404 code status: A 404 code means that the file has not been found. This occurs is a broken link on your website when a page has been moved on your website or someone has typed in the wrong URL to find the page.
Algorithm: A set of programming rules which determine how a Search Engine displays the results of a search.
Alt tags: Stands for Alt tags. Alternative text to be shown in a web browser when images are not shown. Alt tags are provided for the benefit of vision impaired users but also used to optimise your website as Search Engines cannot read images. An alt tag should describe the image and not simply comprise a list of keywords.
Anchor text: A link created from a string of text. The “anchor” is the linked section of text. Effective use of anchor text involves linking targeted keyword phrases. For example, in this sentence Search Engine Optimisation is the anchor text, which in this case links to the home page of this site.
Auto-generated pages: Using a script or software program to create thousands of keyword-stuffed pages with content of no value to human readers. This is a black hat SEO strategy and Search Engines will take action against websites who are creating auto-generated pages.
Backlinks (or Back Links): External links or links from other websites to your website. Google’s Webmaster Tools can give you information on your backlinks but doesn’t always report all the links Google knows about. Yahoo’s Site Explorer can often give you a more complete picture.
Bad link neighbourhood: This is when questionable sites are linked back to your website in an attempt to increase your link equity/authority. The links usually include pharmacy, casinos, porn sites and so on.
Bing: This is a Search Engine owned by Microsoft and is one of the top three Search Engines including Google and Yahoo!
Black hat SEO: Search Engines like Google have guidelines which you must adhere to if you want your website indexed. Black hat SEO comprises of techniques and strategies which do not comply with these guidelines. Read more about black hat SEO.
Blogs: A blog can be part of your website or hosted on an external website. In the context of SEO, a blog is a series of articles that provide original and updated copy for your website and should be a key component of your SEO strategy. Read why you should have a company blog.
Bounce rate: Web surfers leaving a website within a few seconds (approx less than 10 seconds). A high bounce rate would indicate your site is not relevant to the search they performed or they judged your site to be poor quality.
Cache: A snapshot of your page taken when a Search Engine spider last visited. To see the cache of your page in Google type cache: followed by your page URL into a Google search box.
Call to action: A call to action is copy within text or an image used to encourage a person to complete an action defined by the company. This might be asking customers to fill in an online form, read more information about their products or directly book a hotel room on the website.
Citation: A reference to your site which isn’t necessarily a link, such as your company (hotel) name, telephone number etc.
Cloaking: This is a black hat SEO technique in which the content presented to the Search Engine spider is different to that presented to the user. This practice is used to manipulate the Search Engines and will likely to get your site banned or penalised.
Content: In the context of SEO, content is generally considered to be the readable text within the body of a page underneath the H1 heading as distinguished from headlines, subheadings, coupons, captions or illustrations and the like; also called body text or text.
Conversion: A conversion is when a desired action (goal/objective) has been completed. This could be a direct sale, a sales enquiry, subscription to your newsletter, downloading a brochure and so on.
CMS: Stands for Content Management System. This is a system that is inbuilt into a website that allows people to create, edit and delete content without needing any knowledge of HTML. Find out how to choose a SEO friendly CMS.
Crawl: When a Search Engine spider visits your site they are said to “crawl” your site. This is the process of collecting data and returning it to the Search Engine. Your site logs or analytics software can tell you which Search Engines have crawled your site and when that last occurred.
DMOZ: Also known as The Open Directory Project. DMOZ is a free, human, edited directory run by volunteers. A listing is considered beneficial for SEO, but getting listed can be a real challenge.
Dofollow link: A link has the no follow attribute removed. This type of link will pass link juice/equity to another website or page on a website. Typically, this encourages visitor participation.
Doorway page: Not to be confused with a targeted landing page, a doorway page typically has no useful content and exists only to redirect visitors to another area of the site. Generally frowned upon by Search Engines and considered to be a black hat SEO technique.
Duplicate content: Content that is identical to other content on your site or anywhere else on the Web. It should be avoided when possible but where legitimate reasons for it exist, measures need to be put in place to instruct the Search Engines which pages should be indexed and which pages should not be indexed.
External link: An outgoing link from your website to another website/or: to a location on another website/domain.
Facebook: This is one of the biggest social networking websites, owned by Facebook, Inc. You can share photos, notes, groups, events and posted items with your network. It also offers advertising opportunities.
Feed: A common feature of blogs. This allows readers to subscribe to frequently updated content by adding the feed to their reader software or email client (e.g. Outlook). Feeds are typically created in a format called RSS (see below).
Flash: A technology developed by MacroMedia Corp. that allows a Web designer to embed interactive multimedia into Web pages.
Footer: Footer navigation is often displayed on every webpage at the bottom of the page and as such is global navigation. Footer navigation typically links to administrative content; about pages, contact us pages, legal disclaimers, website feedback links, Social Media networks etc.
Google: Currently the Web’s largest and most influential Search Engine, accounting for the great majority of searches performed.
Google AdWords: This is one of Google’s most popular products and offers pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and site-targeted advertising for both text and banner ads.
Google Analytics: A popular analytics tool created by Google to monitor your Web statistics. Find out more about Google Analytics’ popular reports and tools.
Googlebot: Google’s Search Engine program which visits your site and returns data to Google. Also known as web robots, web crawlers, bots and internet bots.
Google Buzz: Google Buzz is Google’s push into Social Media and integrates with your existing Gmail account. Buzz appears as an extra tab in your Gmail inbox and allows you to post content and share files from Twitter, Picasa, Flickr and Google Reader. Find out more about Google Buzz.
Google keyword tool: A popular tool used to find keywords based on actual Google search enquiries. Read more about other popular keyword research tools..
Google Local Business Listings: See Google Places.
Google Places: Formally known as Google Local Business Listings, Google Places are different to organic or pay-per-click listings. They typically only show up when the user types a service oriented business followed by the city for their search. Find out more about Google Places and how this can enhance your local search strategy.
Google sitemap: A file placed on your Web server and submitted to Google indicating which pages on your site need to be indexed. See XML sitemap.
Google sitelinks: In some search results Google lists multiple deep links rather than a single link. See example below.
Google Social Search: When you are logged into your Gmail account, it combines Search Engines results with your Social Media networks such as Twitter, Digg and blogs. Find out more about Google Social Search.
Headings (heading tags): Generally considered important for on-page SEO and good Web design. Heading tags are constructed in HTML using a H1 to H6 tag. Styling can be modified using CSS.
HTML: Stands for Hyper Text Markup Language and is a commonly used programming language to develop websites.
Image SEO: Stands for image Search Engine Optimisation and is the process of optimising your images for Search Engines. Find out more about image SEO.
Inbound links: An external link from another site to your site. Inbound links are an important asset that will improve your site’s link authority/equity.
Index: A Search Engine’s database in which it stores textual content from every web page that its spider visits.
Internal links: Links from a page on your site to another internal page on your site. Optimising your internal linking structure will benefit how Search Engines can crawl and index the pages within your website.
International SEO: Sometimes referred to as global SEO or multilingual SEO. This is a specialised SEO strategy to capture traffic in foreign markets. Find out more about international SEO strategies and how to attract a global audience.
Internet Explorer (IE): This is one of the most widely known Web browsers but not necessarily considered the most secure or the best browser to use.
Invisible text: This is a ‘keyword cloaking technique’ and involves putting keyword-stuffed text in the same colour as the background so it is invisible to human readers but not to Search Engines. This is a Black hat SEO technique.
Keywords: Sometimes called Search Engine keywords. This is a word or phrase (long tail keyword) which potential customers may use in a search for content relevant to your site. Read more about how to find the right keywords for your SEO strategy.
Keyword density: This is a measure of how often a keyword or keyword phrase is within the content of a page.
Keyword stuffing: Using multiple keyword repetition on a web page HTML in such a way that it detracts from the readability and usability of a given page for the purpose of artificially boosting the page’s rankings in Search Engines. Search Engines prefer keyword usage that is more natural and used within context of the Web page.
Keyword research: This is a process to find the right keywords and monitor your ongoing keyword strategy. Find out more about keyword research tools.
Keyword rich: This is what you are aiming for in SEO copywriting – using keywords in an intelligent, seamless and natural way within the text.
KPI: Stands for key performance indicators. These are quantifiable measurements that reflect the critical success factors of an organisation, campaign or project.
Landing page: This is a page which targets a specific keyword phrase by including content relevant to that phrase. A landing page will typically include the keyword phrase in the title, description, headings, links and body content of the page. Find out how to optimise landing pages to increase your conversion rates.
Links: In SEO terms, this is generally considered to be inbound links to your site i.e. a surfer clicks on a link on another website and lands on your website. In basic terms, a Search Engine considers a link to your site as a citation or a vote, and factors this into its ranking algorithm.
Link authority: ‘Authority’ gained by a webpage through quality incoming links. This is for instance expressed in the PageRank given by Google. Also referred to as link authority or equity.
Link bait: Content which is useful, interesting or entertaining and encourages other websites to link to it and improve your link profile.
Link building: Having an ongoing link building campaign is an important part of your SEO strategy. It is the process of acquiring inbound links to your site. Read more about link building strategies.
Link Equity: See link authority above.
LinkedIn: One of the biggest professional networking Social Media sites.
Link juice: The value a Search Engine places on a link to your site. Links from a high authority and trustworthy site will have a significant effect on your rankings while other links will have no value at all.
Link farm: This is the practice of buying links or participating in linking schemes in the hope of increasing your Search Engine ranking. This is known as a black hat SEO strategy.
Long tail keywords: This is the strategy of targeting less competitive niche keywords rather than the hugely competitive broad keywords. An example of long tail keyword is ‘4wd rental perth’ while a short tail keyword is ‘car rentals’. Long tail keywords usually have a lower search volume but a higher conversion rate. Read more about how to optimise pages for long tail keywords.
Metatags (Meta Tags): HTML code which Search Engines read and use in various ways such as meta description tags and meta keywords tags.
Meta description: This provides a summary of the page content. Search Engines often use the meta description to display in their search results just below the title tag. Google says that they do not use the meta description tag but it should always be provided as a guide for Search Engines.
Meta Keywords: A list of keywords relevant to the page which has become less relevant over the years. Google has openly said they do not use the “keywords” meta tag in their web search ranking.
Mozilla Firefox: Mozilla Firefox is a Web browser that has steadily grown in popularity over the last few years.
Nofollowed link: A link which carries the rel=”nofollow” attribute. A link with the rel=”nofollow” attribute, doesn’t carry any weight, and doesn’t count towards your overall link authority/equity (also knows as PageRank in Google Web searches).
Organic Search Results: These are the unpaid search results delivered by Search Engines. This is a long term strategy to improve brand visibility and rankings in Search Engines. Find out more about organic search or organic SEO.
PageRank (PR): This is Google’s logarithmic formula for calculating the importance of a web document based on links. PR plays a pivotal role in Google’s ranking algorithm but just how much is hotly debated by SEOs.
PPC (Pay per click): Pay Per click also known as paid search is where an advertiser bids on keywords associated with an advertisement in order to achieve higher position on Search Engine results pages (sponsored links section) for searches on that keyword. Find out how PPC can work with SEO campaigns.
Penalty: A drop in your Search Engine ranking when you have broken the Search Engine’s guidelines with black hat SEO – trying to manipulate the Search Engines or artificially boost your ranking. Find out what to do is your website is penalised or banned by Google.
Ranking: A keyword position on a Search Engine.
Reciprocal linking: The process of exchanging links i.e. where site A links to site B, and in return site B links to site A.
Robots.txt: A robots.txt is a permissions file that can be used to control which Web pages of a website you want a Search Engine to index. The text file must be placed in a websites root directory.
ROI (return on investment): The benefit gained in return for the cost of investing budget into advertising or a project ROI is expressed as a percentage or ratio, and is calculated with the following formula: “Total Revenues (generated from campaign or project) minus cost of investment divided by cost of investment.”
RSS feed: This stands for Really Simple Syndication. RSS feed uses an XML document to publish blog articles.
Search Engines: A Search Engine is a Web portal to find information on the Internet through using keyword searches. Major Search Engines include Google, Yahoo and Bing.
Search Engine banning: This is when your website has been removed from a Search Engine indexes. Do a site search by typing in ‘site:yoursite.com’ and see if Google return any results.
Search Engine Optimisation (also spelled optimization): In basic terms, the process of optimising a page through its on-page content, structure and link profile to rank highly for specific search queries. In broader terms, this is the process of increasing revenues and profits for businesses marketing their products or services online.
SEM: This stands for Search Engine Marketing. This encompasses all aspects of building traffic through search, including natural (organic) Search Engine Optimisation and PPC (pay per click) Search Engine advertising.
SEO: Stands for Search Engine Optimisation (Optimization). This focuses on natural (organic) Search Engine ranking (see below).
SEO audit: An SEO Audit is like a health check for your website. It looks at the technical infrastructure of your website, the on-page elements and off-page essentials to maximise any Search Engine Optimisation activities.
SEO copywriting: SEO copywriting is writing copy for a website that is keyword rich and designed to attract Search Engines spiders but still be compelling and interesting for readers. Find out more about SEO copywriting.
SEO consultants: Act as a business consultant and partner with you to reach your Search Engine Optimisation goals. Also known as SEO experts. Read more about what really makes an SEO expert.
SEO toolbars: Toolbars that can be downloaded and integrated seamlessly with your Web browser to give you important SEO resources at your fingertips to optimise your website and analyse your competitors’ websites. Read more about SEO Toolbars.
SERP: This stands for Search Engine Result Page. This is the list of links and descriptions listed on a Search Engine when a keyword search is performed.
Social bookmarking: A sub-category to Social Media that allows you to share, organise and manage your bookmarks, or favourite websites, with other users that use the same social bookmarking tool, such as Delicious, Stumbleupon and Digg.
Social Media: This is sometimes called Web 2.0 and used to describe user generated websites and blogs that encourage engagement and allow interaction. Popular sites include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs.
Social networking: A sub-category to Social Media encompassing ‘networking’ activities and includes social networks such as Facebook
Spider: Sometimes called Search Engine spiders. These are programs written to scour the web automatically for various reasons (to index Web pages, for spamming purposes, etc.) Also known as web robots, web crawlers, bots, Internet bots.
Technorati: Technorati is one of the biggest blog Search Engines.
Title Tag: This is also known as the meta title or page title. It is shown at the top of a browser window and is considered to be very important in on-page SEO.
Traffic: This refers to the number of visitors to your website.
Twitter: Twitter is a Social Media networking site that works like a micro-blog and lets you write and read messages of up to 140 characters.
URL: This stands for Uniform Resource Locator. This is the Web address of a document and an important on-page element.
XML Sitemap: A list of pages you want the Search Engines to find which is created in XML format and submitted to the Search Engines.
VSEO: This stands for Video Search Engine Optimisation and is the process of optimising your videos. Find out more about VSEO.
Web 2.0: This refers to Social Media websites which encourage user generated content and social interaction online. Popular sites include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs.
White hat SEO: This is a process of boosting your Search Engine ranking by using methods approved by Search Engines. Read more about white hat SEO.
WordPress: WordPress is an excellent open source web publishing system or content management system (CMS). Find out more about how WordPress SEO .
Yahoo!: One of the oldest and established Search Engines. It is one of the best Search Engines along with Google and Bing.
YouTube: YouTube is an online video community and one of the biggest user generated content websites owned by Google. Find out more about how to optimise your YouTube videos.
Find out more about our SEO Packages and SEO Services and how our SEO experts can partner with you in your business to increase your Search Engine visibility and improve your bottom line. Contact us if any SEO terms need clarification or you would like any SEO terms to be added to the list.