Alecan’s Comprehensive Glossary of Common SEO Terms

SEO Terms

SEO, like most Internet marketing specialties, has a language all its own. To help give individuals and business leaders a better understanding of the important ideas behind key SEO vocabulary words and strategies, Alecan Marketing has developed a comprehensive glossary of SEO Terms. Not the most tech-savvy individual? Don’t worry, our digital marketing experts have boiled down these definitions to their most basic, easy-to-comprehend elements!

301 Redirect – Method for redirecting users from one webpage to a different, more relevant page. The 301 redirect is Google’s preferred method of replacing old website content with new content, and according to Moz, the new link carries about 90%-99% of the same “link juice” as the old URL.

Alt Tag – A small bit of text which describes a webpage image when a visitor hovers over it. More importantly, alt tags tell search engines like Google about the image, and can therefore have a meaningful impact on a website’s SEO and impact its search engine ranking.

Analytics – Presumably a combination of the words “analysis” and “statistics,” Google Analytics provides webmasters and business owners with valuable information about website performance, including traffic patterns and user behavior.

Anchor Links – See Anchor Text.

Anchor Text – A textual link from one webpage to another. Though anchor text is historically blue, links today can be any color, even the same color as the text around it. Also, because search engines can read anchor texts, it is important that they look natural to the reader. Also called hyperlinks or anchor links.

Authority – A measure of how highly Google regards a website. Though there is no definitive metric for knowing a website’s authority, certain practices–filling web pages with comprehensive content, answering relevant questions, having inbound links from other websites, citing source material–have been shown to positively impact a website’s authority.

B2B – Short for “Business To Business Marketing.” B2B is when one business provides goods or services to another, for example: Alecan Marketing Solutions (business) providing SEO services to Bob’s Restaurant (business).

B2C – Short for “Business To Consumer Marketing.” B2C is when a business interacts directly with the end consumer, either through advertising or a business transaction. Example: Bob’s Restaurant (business) sells Mike (consumer) a sandwich.

Backlink – See Link (External).

Black Hat SEO – Strategies designed to manipulate how Google ranks a website, either by creating “unearned” links, keyword stuffing, or page swapping (changing web pages after they have been indexed by Google). While Black Hat tactics may have short-term benefits, websites that resort to these underhanded strategies risk incurring severe penalties.

Blog – A platform that allows people to contribute articles, called “blog posts,” to their website without changing the website’s static pages. SEO-wise, new blog posts help establish the domain as an authority on a particular topic, keep a website from becoming outdated by adding fresh content, and send signals for search engines to”crawl” the site often.

Bounce Rate – Measures the time a user spends on a site before “bouncing” back to the search engine. In the eyes of Google, a high bounce rate means visitors are not finding what they want when they visit a site (which can lead to a rankings drop), while low bounce rates indicate that visitors are happy with a website’s content and have remained on the page for an extended length of time.

Bot – See Spider.

Call To Action (CTA) – A webpage element that asks the user to do something specific, such as “Call Now” or “Fill Out This Form” or “Download This E-Book,” in hopes of generating a lead for website’s owner. Typically, a website’s Call To Action is the most visible and attention-grabbing element on the page.

Click-Through Rate – Measures how often someone clicks on an advertisement when it appears on the search engine results pages (called an Impression). Click-Through Rate = Number of Users Clicked ÷ Number of Times Ad Was Shown. High click-through rates indicate that the ad was successful.

Content Management System (CMS) – Software that allows users to publish and modify a website’s pages, blog posts, pictures, and videos without having to rewrite code or add new code for different web elements. Popular CMS Systems include WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.

Content Marketing – Creating high-quality, on-site content aimed at attracting both visitors and inbound links from other websites. An effective content marketing campaign also involves promoting and distributing content across social media platforms, through emails, and on other appropriate channels.

Conversion Rate – Measures how successfully a particular tactic “converts” into a desired result. In SEO, conversion rates most commonly refer to how often a user clicks on an organic link in a search engine results page (SEPR) or how often a website visitor responds to the “Call To Action” (i.e. calls the business or fills out a contact form).

Crawl – A term that describes how “spiders” move to and around a website. Sitemaps and internal links help these pieces of software index website content for search engines to consider when determining a search engine ranking.

Domain –  A website’s address on the web, usually expressed like this: Choosing the right domain can be a powerful SEO tool, especially if the domain name includes keywords relevant to the business. Also called domain name or URL.

Google Panda Algorithm – First released in 2011, this algorithm reviews and scrutinizes a website’s on-site content. If a site’s or page’s content, meta descriptions, speed, user interaction, responsiveness, and other elements fail to meet Google’s standards, the website may suffer a ranking drop on Google’s SERPs.

Google Penguin Algorithm – Implemented in 2012, this algorithm reviews a site’s off-site activity, specifically the links coming to and from a web page or website. Websites that use Black Hat linking strategies may incur penalties and see a drop in their Google Search ranking. Learn more on the difference between Google Penguin and Google Panda.

Hyperlink – See Anchor Text.

Impression – Term for when a website appears in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), either as an organic search result or as an ad. Webmasters often look at the “number of impressions” to assess the health of a website.

Inbound Link – See Link (External).

Inbound Marketing – Attracting customers to a website by creating high-quality content. Effective inbound marketing focuses on the needs, trends, and priorities of each business’s target market to achieve maximum efficacy and increase Return On Investment (ROI).

Keywords – Words or phrases used by Webmasters, SEO professionals, and Adwords specialists to help Google understand exactly what each website, webpage, or ad is about. Keywords are an extremely important aspect of any effective SEO strategy.

Keyword Density – Percentage of how many times a Keyword is used compared to the total number of words on a webpage. Using a certain keyword or keyword phrase lets search engines like Google know what the page is about, though overusing keywords, called “keyword stuffing,” can result in Google penalties and drops in a page’s or site’s ranking.

Keyword Stuffing – Using target keywords too often or having an excessively-high keyword density. While keyword stuffing was common practice only a few years ago, Google has since deemed the use of excessive keywords “poor practice.” Also called over optimizing or over optimization.

Landing Pages – See Static Pages.

Link – A connection between one webpage to another, usually through anchor text, pictures, or buttons. Links can exists between pages of a single website (internal links), or connect two different websites (external links). Because Google uses links to “crawl” websites and increase a domain’s or page’s authority, links are considered extremely valuable.

Link (Internal) – Anchor texts, buttons, or pictures that connect two different pages on the same website. An organized internal link structure can boost a website’s SEO by telling search engine spiders which pages are important and giving them a path over which to “crawl” to other web pages.

Link (External) –  Connections from one website to another. From an SEO perspective, high-quality external links are effective in boosting a website’s authority in the eyes of Google. Also called backlinks or inbound links.

Link Building – Finding high-quality, high authority domains that want to send an external link to your website. While Black Hat link building techniques (i.e. buying thousands of irrelevant links on low-quality domains) has been discouraged and penalized by Google, link building can still a powerful SEO tool when correctly implemented. Also called link acquisition.

Link Juice – Common slang used by Webmasters and SEO professionals, refers to the authority gained by a website from inbound links. Links from high-authority domains carry more “juice” (i.e. power to boost search engine rankings) than links from low-authority domains.

Long Tail Keywords – A detailed keyword or keyword phrase meant to target a specific audience or market. Example: Instead of using the keyword “Furniture Store,” a long tail keyword might be “Post-Modern Furniture Store in Palm Springs.” Long Tail Keywords often have low search values but high conversion rates.

Meta Description – A sentence or phrase that tells users what a website or web page is about. Well-written meta descriptions are informative, catchy, and provoke user clicks.

Meta Title – The 55-character-long (recommended) title of a web page. Because Google considers the meta title when determining a page’s or site’s topic and ranking, they must be unique, accurate, and include important keywords. Also called a title tag.

Off-Site SEO – Everything that influences the ranking of your website that doesn’t actually exist on your website. Off-site SEO is concerned with elements like social media signals, external links, content distribution, and brand mentions.

On-Site SEO – All website elements that directly or indirectly contribute to a website’s authority and overall ranking. A website’s domain (URL), copywriting, pictures, alt text, layout, load speed, user behavior, meta titles, meta descriptions, internal linking structure, relevancy, keywords, and dozens of other factors influence a website’s on-site SEO.

Organic Search Results – Any websites or pages returned by a search result that aren’t paid advertisements. The higher a website or page ranks in the Organic Search results, the better the site or page has been optimized per the search engine’s standards.

Outbound Marketing – Reaching out to customers through email blasts, PPC advertisements, print ads, television commercials, and other forms of tradition advertising. Outbound marketing attracts new customers through the advertisements, not through the product or content itself.

Pay Per Click (PPC) – An method of advertising where the advertiser (or digital marketing company representing a business) only pays when a user clicks on the ad link or banner image. Typically, the price of each click is determine by the value of the keywords used in the advertisement. Here is more more information on Pay Per Click Advertising.

Ranking – Describes a website’s or webpage’s position on the SERPs for a particular keyword search. A high ranking means that the website or page has met Google’s content standards and has achieved a high authority, while a low ranking indicates that a website has failed to comply with Google’s standards or is being outranked by a more relevant, high authority domain.

Responsive – Refers to a website that performs well on any screen size or on any type of device. Due to the increase in mobile users, responsive websites are fast-becoming an industry standard for web designers.

Robots.txt – A way for webmasters to keep search engine spiders / bots from indexing a web page or website. The robots.txt file also helps Google know which pages should be considered in the website’s ranking and which should not.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – Using a website’s search engine ranking, coupled with paid listings and advertisements, to generate traffic to the site. SEO professionals are primarily concerned with search engine marketing strategies.

Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) – The pages full of links that Google, Yahoo, or Bing returns when a user performs a search. Because few users venture past the first or second page when looking for a service or for an answer to a question, gaining a high search engine ranking is important to the success of small and medium-sized businesses.

Sitemap – A file that lists every index-worthy web page on a website. Sitemaps help search engines like Google better understand the structure and importance of each web page, which in turn improves the likelihood that a site or its pages will be ranked.

Spider – A piece of software that “crawls” through websites for indexing purposes, though spiders can also carry malware, spam, or may steal information from a website. Google uses the information that spiders collect to determine how well each site or page adheres to their ranking algorithms. Also called bots or web crawlers. Here is more information on spam bots and how to stop them.

Social Media – Any platform where users can post pictures, articles, videos, songs, or content and interact (through “likes,” “shares,” and  “pins”) with other users. Popular social media platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pinterest.

Social Media Marketing – Distributing a person or company’s brand identity, content, and marketing material on relevant social media platforms. Google recently revealed that “social signals” and “brand mentions” contribute to a website’s overall ranking, making social media marketing a powerful way to increase a business’s online visibility.

Static Pages – Web pages that are not regularly changed or altered. A website’s “Home” page is the most common example of a static page, though many sites also have “About Us,” “Contact,” and “Services” static pages. Also called landing pages.

URL – The web address of a website, short for Uniform Resource Locator. Websites with keyword-focused URLs enjoy an advantage over websites with brand name URLs, though with proper marketing, ranking a website without a keyword URL is possible.

Webmaster – Someone who designs and manages a website, web pages, digital marketing campaign, and search engine optimization strategies. Also called SEO professionals or digital marketing consultant.

White Hat SEO – Search engine marketing that follows Google’s guidelines regarding on-site content, link building, and other digital marketing practices. White Hat SEO is the best way to achieve positive, long-term search engine rankings.

Need help understanding the SEO process or the vocabulary used by digital marketing gurus? Contact Alecan Marketing Solutions today to speak to one of our friendly SEO specialists–we’re here for you!