SEO Glossary 2017

We thought it would be useful to put together a fresh SEO glossary updated for 2017.

We will make sure to adjust the ‘last updated’ date at the end of glossary every time we make a update. SEO best practice changes and evolves – something a good glossary should reflect.

This glossary has been produced by multiple experienced SEO experts and has been peer reviewed for errors. If you have a contribution or suggestion feel free to tweet us @SearchCandy or get in contact.

You can browse the glossary alphabetically using the index below or using full topic index in the sidebar.

SEO Glossary Index

 
 

A

Above the fold
Above the fold refers to the upper area of a webpage that is visible without a user having to scroll down.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project is a Google initiative to build fast loading pages for mobile users. So called ‘AMP‘ pages are designed to load quickly, whilst still including rich content such as videos, animations and ads. The pages are powered by the AMP HTML framework.
AdWords
Google AdWords is Google’s Pay Per Click online marketing platform, first launched in the year 2000. Users can buy advertising across the Google network of web properties and also on other third party websites via the Google Display Network.
Ahrefs
Founded in 2011 by Dmitry Gerasimenko, Ahrefs is an SaaS SEO platform most popular for its backlink discovery tool Site Explorer.
Algorithm
Algorithm, sometimes shortened to ‘algo’, refers to a set of rules that a computer program, or in this case a search engine, uses to make calculations or fulfill a task. It is most frequently used in relation to Google’s algorithms. The PageRank algorithm is one of the most famous examples of a Google algorithm.
Alphabet
Alphabet – full name: Alphabet Inc. – is Google’s new holding company as of August 2015. Based in California, the company has Google’s co-founders Larry Page as CEO and Sergey Brin as President. The largest subsidary of Alphabet is Google Inc., and is also the parent company of other ventures including Google Capital, X, Calico, GV, Google Fiber, Jigsaw, Nest Labs, Sidewalk Labs, and Verily.
Alt text
Alt text (alternative text) is a word or phrase that can be added to an image element in HTML, used to describe the image to users and search engines. Eg: <img src="/dictionary.jpg" alt="Dictionary with red cover" />
Anchor text
Anchor text refers to the words or phrase used in the text of a link. The anchor text is found inside the <a> tag in HTML. Eg: <a href="http://www.domain.com/">This is the anchor text</a>
Authority
Authority in terms of SEO refers to the authority of a website, which is measured by a variety of metrics and different services. A website that has attributes such as good rankings, strong backlinks and popularity, would be considered to have a high authority.
Authority site
An authority site is a particularly high quality website. An authority site could technically be a commercial website that is the authority on a topic, though for many SEOs in certain contexts (ie for the purposes of writing an article) an authority site is generally considered to be either governmental, an association, or otherwise neutral from a commercial perspective.
 

B

Backlinks are links from one site to another. The acquisition of backlinks is usually a standard part of a full SEO campaign.
Black hat
Black hat (also see: White hat, Grey hat) refers to an SEO or technique that that is more aggressive in nature. Blackhat SEOs frequently use combinations of (among other techniques) spam link acquisition and bulk site creation methods to try and rank in the search engine results.
Blogger outreach
Blogger outreach is the process of contacting and working with bloggers as part of a marketing campaign.
Boolean operators
Using boolean search operators it is possible to connect search words together to broaden or narrow a set of results. The three basic boolean operators are AND, OR and NOT. By default however search engines will usually apply AND for each part of a query unless specified otherwise.
Bot
A bot (alternately spider, crawler,) is a software application that runs automated tasks over the internet. Google’s main bot for web crawling is Googlebot.
Bounce rate
Bounce rate refers to the percentage of users that view one page then leave a website. For example if 8 in every 10 users leave a website after viewing one page then there is said to be an 80% bounce rate.
In terms of anchor text, a branded link is a link which contains to company brand or similar derivative in the anchor text. Example branded link for Search Candy would be “Search Candy”, “SearchCandy” and “SearchCandy.uk”.
Breadcrumbs, as seen on websites or on search engine results pages, are set of navigational links that refer to root areas and categories of a resource.
Brighton SEO
BrightonSEO is the biggest SEO conference in the UK by a long way. Founded by Kelvin Newman, conference tickets are known to sell out in minutes.
A broken link is a link to a URL that is not working correctly. If a user were to click the link it would lead to a 404 page or other type of error page in the browser.
 

C

Canonical Tag
The rel="canonical" link element can be used to specify the canonical URL of a webpage.
Canonical URL
The canonical URL is the preferred URL a webmaster wishes to display for a particular webpage, and can be used to rectify a variety of canonicalisation and duplicate content related issues.
Citation (Local SEO)
When looking at local SEO, a citation is usually seen as a reference to the name, address and phone number (NAP) of a business.
Click Through Rate (CTR)
Click Through Rate (CTR) is the rate, usually expressed as a percentage, at which users click an ad in PPC, or a link in a result set in SEO.
Cloak / Cloaking
Cloaking is the black hat (and not recommended) practice of serving different content to Google than as seen by users. It is a technique that is generally still used only by spammers and those with malicious intent.
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A Content Delivery Network, usually shortened to CDN, is a distributed network of hosting locations that serve HTML or static resources based on user geo-location.
Content marketing
Content marketing involves the creation and distribution of content as part of a marketing strategy, usually designed to attract new customers.
Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)
Conversion Rate Optimisation, usually shorted to CRO, is the practice of optimising the user experience of websites and landing pages to achieve the most goals/revenue.
Crawl / Crawling
Crawling is the process by which a bot visits a website. In the search engine indexing process, crawling is when a search engine bot (such as Googlebot), visits a web resource in order to view, parse, and then if required index the resource.
Crawl Errors
Crawl errors are errors that occur during the crawling process by a search engine bot or other crawler. Errors could include DNS errors, server connectivity issues, or errors caused by the unavailability of a resource such as the Robots.txt file.
 

D

De-index / De-indexing
A resource that has been de-indexed has been temporarily or permanently removed from search engine results. the resource is no longer in the search engine index.
Domain Authority (DA)
Domain Authority is a metric created by Moz, which on a 100 point scale is designed to reflect how well a domain will rank in search engines. A higher score represents a higher domain authority.
Doorway page
A doorway page is a resource that is designed to attract SEO traffic but which usually contains little real value to users.
A do-follow link (or ‘follow link’) is a link which has not had the Nofollow rel attribute applied to it. This means generally speaking that it is a link which passes PageRank. ‘Do-follow’ is not a value or attribute that is used in the code itself.
Duplicate content
Duplicate content is text based content which appears in more than one location, or replicates partially or fully content that already exists elsewhere on the web.
 

E

E-Commerce SEO
SEO that is focused on increasing traffic and sales for e-commerce related websites that sell products online.
Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness (EAT)
EAT, which is an acronym for ‘Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness’, is a metric by which Google’s Quality Raters assess webpages.
An external link is a link that points to a different website than the link is found on. For example a link from http://www.domaina.com/ to http://www.domainb.com/.
 

F

Fetch as Google (Fetch as Googlebot)
Found in Google Search Console the Fetch as Google tool allows webmasters to submit to and check the rendering of a resource in Google – simulating a visit from Googlebot.
 

G

Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a web analytics tool available at both a freemium and premium level by Google. Users can track information about visitors, including data on pages viewed and much more.
Google Bomb
The process of multiple web users trying to change Google’s search rankings, often for comic (though sometimes malicious) effect.
Google Bowling
Google Bowling refers broadly to negative SEO: the practice of trying to maliciously affect the results of a website or competitor.
Google Dance
Google’s search engine results change frequently, and more so in the past when rankings and algorithms changed less frequently, this shuffling of results became known as the Google Dance.
Google I/O
Google I/O is Google’s annual developer conference focusing on technologies such as Android, Chrome, Chrome OS, APIs and more. The I and O in the name of the conference stands for ‘input’ and ‘output’.
Google News Sitemap
A Google News Sitemap is a sitemap used to assist Google in the indexing of Google News specific content. A Google News Sitemap should only contain resources that adhere to the various Google News guidelines.
Google Posts
Google Posts is a limited new social service from Google. It is described by Google as “Your Podium On Google Search”.
Google Webmaster Guidelines
The Google Webmaster Guidelines are a set of suggestions and rules from Google that webmasters should follow to ensure websites are indexed optimally.
Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools is the old name for the Google Search Console.
Googlebot
Googlebot is Google’s primary bot that is used to crawl web pages.
Grey hat
Grey hat SEO is the practice of SEO techniques that fall between white hat and black hat SEO. Much of SEO conducted could arguably be said to fall within the area of greyhat SEO.
Growth Hacking
Growth Hacking is the practice of using data/analytical driven and viral marketing techniques to generate sales and exposure.
 

H

Homepage
The front page of a website. Usually found at the root of a domain, eg http://www.example.com/.
Heading Tags / Elements (H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6)
The heading element in HTML defines a structure for headings in a document. Starting with H1 as the most important heading, descending to H6, heading tags have been a standard part of HTML since HTML 2.0.
Hits
Hits are visitors to a website. A successful campaign could be said to be one which delivered a lot of hits. Hits are not necessarily specific to a particular platform, they could be search engine visits, PPC, social media, or from people clicking a link on another website.
Hreflang Tag
The hreflang attributes can be used to ensure the correct language and regional websites are served in search results. The Hreflang specification can be applied using the rel="alternate" and hreflang="x" attributes with the applicable language code inside a link element, via a HTTP header or a sitemap. Read our guide to the Hreflang specification here.
Hummingbird
Hummingbird is a Google search algorithm, first announced August 2013. Hummingbird was aimed at understanding the concepts behind keywords.
H1 Tag / Element
The H1 tag is the most important heading element on a web resource. Generally there should only be one H1 on a page, but it is not a major problem to use more than one if it helps to describe the content of a page, if there are for example there is more than one section on a page.
 

I

Image sitemap
An image sitemap is an XML sitemap file that is designed to show to a search engine the images used on a website.
An inbound link is a link that comes from another website.
Index / Indexing
Index (noun) & Indexing (verb) in SEO can refer to various processes related to being crawled and then stored in a search engine’s database. A webmaster that is having indexing issues is having problems at some stage that is causing a resource or resources not be found (indexed) in a search engine.
An internal link is a link that points to a resource found on the same website that the link is found on. For example a link from http://www.domain.com/about/ to http://www.domain.com/contact-us/.
 

J

Jobs
SEOs usually work either at a marketing agency, in-house for an organisation, freelance, part-time, are self-employed, or own a company. SEO job titles include: SEO executive, blogger outreach, link building, content marketing, technical SEO, campaign manager, account manager, SEO manager, Head of SEO, and executive level positions.
John Mu
John Mu is Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, and a very active figure in the webmaster community.
 

K

Keyword
From an SEO perspective a keyword is a word (or phrase) from which people might find a website when used as a query in Google.
Keyword Planner
The Google Keyword Planner is a service for finding keyword ideas that is part of Google AdWords.
Keyword research
Keyword research is the process by which SEOs try to find the words and phrases that potential customers might search for to find a resource.
Knowledge carousels, alternatively known as knowledge graph carousels, display lists of knowledge graph entities in a carousel format at the top of Google results.
Knowledge Graph
The Knowledge Graph is a knowledge base system created and set of new richer features from Google first announced in May 2012. Knowledge Graph results provide structured and detailed information about topics.
Knowledge Vault
The Knowledge Vault is a knowledge base project by Google that encompasses over 1.6 billion facts that have been collected from the internet.
 

L

A link (also see backlink) is a hyper-link that when clicked will take a user from one resource or area of a page to another.
Link bait is a piece of content or action that is undertaken for the purpose of gaining links. An example of a piece of link bait might be an incendiary blog-post on a topic.
Link equity is a concept that generally refers to the links has acquired via followed links or 301 redirected websites.
A link exchange is a relatively outdated and ill-advised method of acquiring backlinks, in which two people exchange links in some form.
Local SEO
SEO that is aimed at local and regional listings in search engines.
 

M

Matt Cutts
Head of Google’s Webspam Team, currently on extended leave.
Meta Description
The meta description is an attribute that describes the content of the webpage to search engines. The meta description may then be implemented in the snippet shown in search engine results.
Meta Keywords
Meta keywords are a now relatively outdated but still widely used way of indicating to search engines keywords that describe the content of a webpage. Meta keywords are not used by Google, but may be still be used by some search engines around the world.
Mobile usability report
The Google Mobile usability report tool shows a count of mobile usability errors for a domain in Search Console.
Moz (SEOmoz)
Moz (formerly SEOmoz) is an SEO focused SaaS platform and website aimed at SEOs and small business owners.
 

N

Negative SEO
Negative SEO (also see Google Bowling) is the practice maliciously trying to alter the search engine results of a website or competitor.
Noarchive
The Noarchive value when used in a Robots meta tag or similar method, instructs Google and other search engines not to store a cached archive copy of a resource.
Nofollow
Nofollow is an value that can be assigned to the rel attribute in HTML, for the purpose of not passing on SEO value. No follow links are now the standard when it comes to comment links for example.
Noindex
To ‘noindex’ a resource is to issue an instruction to search engines not to index (include) the resource in search engine results. Noindex is a value that can be applied to the Robots meta tag, or via another method such as using the X-Robots-Tag HTTP header.
 

O

Open Graph Protocol / Open Graph META Tags
The Open Graph Protocol is a structured data platform created by Facebook. Using Open Graph Meta tags such as og:title and og:image it is possible to provide information about a resource to Facebook and other platforms.
Organic Traffic
Organic traffic is genuine web traffic (users/visitors to a web resource) that originates from non-paid search engine queries. Ie. visits from search engines that did not come from AdWords or other paid search engine distribution channels.
 

P

PageRank
PageRank is a computer algorithm used by Google as part of their ranking systems. Developed in 1996, PageRank is named after Larry Page, one of the Google co-founders.
Page Authority (PA)
Page Authority is a metric created by Moz, which on a 100 point scale that attempts to reflect how well a specific page/URL will rank in search engines. A higher score represents a higher Page Authority.
Panda
Google Panda is a series of changes to Google’s algorithm for ranking websites aimed at improving results, named after the engineer Navneet Panda. Panda is often considered to be a content focused algorithm.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
Pay per click, usually shortened to the acronym PPC, is a marketing model whereby adverts are shown to users with the aim of delivering traffic to a resource. Advertisers are charged simply speaking on the basis of how many times users click the adverts and visit the resource. Google’s PPC marketing platform Adwords is the current market leader in much of the world.
Penguin
Google Penguin is a series of algorithm updates designed to improve Google results. Penguin is considered to be an update that focuses on link related metrics.
Pigeon
Pigeon is the name given to a Google algorithm launched in July 2014 that was aimed at improving local search.
Preferred domain
The preferred domain refers to the domain (www vs non-www) which a webmaster would like Google to use in search engine results pages.
Private Blog Network (PBN)
A Private Blog Network, usually shorted to PBN, is a network of blogs created for SEO/link purposes.
 

Q

Query
A query is a request for information from a database or service. In SEO it refers more specifically to the query that a user makes to a search engine.
 

R

RankBrain
RankBrain is a machine learning artificial intelligence project announced to be in use by Google in October 2015.
Rankings
Rankings as they are known in SEO refers to the position(s) of a website in the Google – or another provider’s – search engine results pages (SERPs).
Reputation management (online/SEO)
Online reputation management looks at the search engine results for certain keywords – usually for name or brand based queries – and often for the purpose of removing or pushing down negative results, or otherwise ensuring a good results set.
Rich cards
Rich cards are a new type of mobile-optimised search result format developed from rich snippets.
Rich snippets
Rich snippets are enhanced results in Google, such as those that have been customised with structured data.
Robots.txt (robots exclusion standard)
The Robots.txt file is used as communication method to control indexing from search engine bots. It is possible to allow and disallow all or specific search engines on areas of a website.
Robots Meta Tag
The Robots meta tag can contain one or more comma separated values which instruct search engines as to how a resource should be indexed and/or its links crawled. Possible values include Noindex, Nofollow and Noarchive. Index, Follow is the default value so does not need to be expressed.
ROI (Return On Investment)
ROI, short for Return On Investment, refers to the benefit that can be received from a service or action.
Root domain
The root domain of a website is the shortest possible formation of a domain name/URL, not including a subdomain. For example website.com is the root domain of http://www.website.com/.
 

S

Sandbox
The ‘Google Sandbox’ is an algorithm that has allegedly existed since 2004, a filter that potentially affects new websites and/or links.
Search Console
Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools) is the search engine’s main webmaster portal. Search Console allows users to register websites with Google, adjust settings, submit sitemaps, and use a variety of site maintenance related tools such as Fetch as Google.
Search engine friendly (SEF) URLs
URLs which are seen as friendly to search engines – specifically looking at the characters and symbols that come after the domain name. Namely URLs which have characteristics such as being clean of unnecessary information and descriptive as to topic of the page.
Search operators
Using search operators it is possible to possible to refine search results and access other search engine features. Operators include words such as site:, cache: and info:, as well as punctuation such as the minus symbol (-). The official list of Google search operators can be found here.
Search visibility
How visible a website is in the search engine results for different keywords. A website with a high search visibility can be found in high positions for multiple keywords and queries.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Search Engine Optimisation, usually referred to by the acronym SEO, is the process of using optimisation techniques to help a website or resource to rank properly in search engines, with the ultimate aim of delivering an increased amount of organic traffic, leads and customers.
SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages)
SERPs, short for Search Engine Results Pages, are the search engine results for a particular keyword search.
Sitemap
A sitemap allows webmasters to submit to search engines a list of crawlable resources for indexing.
Static / HTML Sitemap
A static or HTML sitemap, is a user view-able HTML sitemap that links to resources that can be viewed by users and also crawled by a search engine for indexing.
Structured data
Using structured data markup it is possible to annotate content so that it can be understood by Google and other web applications. With structured data it is possible to get rich snippet results in Google for your web pages, and for the data to be included in the Knowledge Graph.
 

T

Title tag
The title tag (<title>) is used to indicate the title of a webpage to search engines. The title tag is one of the most important SEO related elements on the page, and may be implemented by Google and other search engines as the main title in a search engine result snippet.
Topical Trust Flow
Topical Trust Flow is a metric from Majestic that looks at the categorization of links pointing to a website or URL.
Trust Flow (TF)
Trust Flow is a metric created by Majestic that is designed to reflect on a 100 point scale the quantity and trustworthiness of links that are pointing to a website or URL. A higher score represents a site that appears to have more trustworthy and less questionable links. To calculate the ranking Majestic look at a range of seed sites and work on a process they call Majestic Trust Flow.
 

U

Unique content
Unique content is a term used in SEO to mean text based content that is original and has not been used before. If a webpage is said to be lacking in unique content, it means that it has little content that is unique to that particular page.
 

V

Vertical
A vertical or niche is a specific target market or area of operation in internet marketing.
 

W

Website speed
Website load speed refers to how quickly a webpage loads for users. In 2010 Google announced that website load speed is now an official ranking factor.
White hat
White hat SEO is the practice of SEO methods that are intended to stay within the Google Webmaster Guidelines.
Widget
In terms of websites, widgets are usually simple dynamic apps that can be added to websites. Links included in widgets are subject to the Google Webmaster Guidelines.
 

X

X (Google X)
X (previously known as Google X) is a research and development subsidiary of Alphabet.
XML Sitemap
An XML sitemap is an .xml file that contains a sitemap/list of resources for search engines to crawl and index.
X-Robots-Tag HTTP header
The X-Robots-Tag is a method of implementing Robots exclusion standards on resources via HTTP headers.
 

Y

Yoast
Yoast is run by Joost de Valk, developer of various plugins such as the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin.
Your Money or Your Life (YMYL)
‘Your Money or Your Life’ (YMYL) is a phrase used in Google’s Quality Raters’ Handbook, which refers to pages where PQ (Page Quality) is particularly important – because they have “an impact on your current or future well-being (physical, financial, safety, etc.)”.
 

Numbers

200 OK
200 OK is a server response code that represents a successful load of the webpage. This is the standard HTTP status response.
301 Moved Permanently
301 Moved Permanently is a server response code used for permanent redirection. In SEO it is frequently requested as it is the ideal type of redirect for situations such as if a URL changes.
302 Found
302 Found is a response code used for temporary redirection. It is less rarely requested than a 301, and is only used in situations where a redirect is known to be temporary.
404 Not Found
404 Not Found is a response that a resource cannot be found at this time. The resource may still be available in the future.
410 Gone
410 Gone means that a resource is no longer available, and will not be made available again in the future. This is used in situations where a resource has been removed and will not be made available again.
500 Internal Server Error
500 Internal Server Error is a generic error message that means there was a problem that prevented the web page from loading.

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Glossary last updated: 12th August 2017.