Reading an SEO glossary might feel like studying a foreign language, but we’re here to help simplify things. This go-to resource is chock-full of easy-to-understand SEO terms for beginners. We’ll help you understand SEO vocabulary, SEO definitions, and frequently used SEO terminology.
Search engine optimization and digital marketing are ever-evolving, and new terms appear regularly. Keeping up with the SEO terminology is a constant battle. Check out some of the latest terms in our SEO Glossary essential for success in crushing the SERPs.
For starters, let’s begin with SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it’s the process of using digital best practices to improve your organic search engine rankings.
SEO Glossary of Terms
While this isn’t necessarily a comprehensive list of search engine optimization definitions (there are enough of those to fill a book), this is a great place to start. Knowing these SEO definitions will empower you to have deeper conversations with decision makers and understand the impact of SEO strategy.
A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect that is said to pass somewhere in the range of ~90% link juice (essential to ranking) to the redirected web page. The number 301 refers to the HTTP status code for this specific redirect. You’ll notice that when a redirect is needed, a 301 redirect is the way to go in the majority of cases.
Anchor text refers to the clickable text in a hyperlink to open the targeted web page. Ordinarily, it shows the blue underlined text; an example of anchor text would be BCC Interactive. The link leads a user to my homepage, and the Anchor Text is BCC Interactive. This is extremely useful when trying to build links to specific pages strategically—whether that’s external links or internal links.
The combination of signals search engines use to assess websites and web pages for ranking.
Authority sites are high-quality sites seen as sources of industry expertise. An external link from an authority site is an excellent way to boost your search engine ranking and give authority to your voice.
A broken link is any link that no longer works. That link might be incorrect and lead to a nonexistent page, or it might lead to a page with a 404 and no redirect.
A canonical tag helps prevent duplicate content issues by directing search engines to the “main” source of the content. If two pages on a website contain very similar or the same content, the canonical tag will help distinguish which web page should be featured in the index.
Canonical tags are placed in the Header section of the page’s HTML. Here’s an example of what you’d see:
A web crawler, also known as search engine bots or spiders, is a program that scans all of the pages across the web to analyze the content on them. From there, the crawler helps the search engine determine whether to index the data or structure it.
CTA (Call to Action)
A call to action (CTA) uses action verbs to encourage a page visitor to do something. Whether you want them to email you, donate, call, or click an internal link, well-crafted CTAs are critical to your site’s success.
CTR (Clickthrough Rate)
CTR is the percentage of times your search result is clicked on versus the number of times it is shown. You can calculate the clickthrough rate by taking the number of clicks your search results receive on a particular keyword and dividing it by the number of times your site appeared for the given keyword. The formula is as simple as clicks/impressions = CTR. For example, if you had 25 clicks and 1000 impressions, then your CTR would be 2.5%.
Deep links are kind of what they sound like — an internal link on a site that goes somewhere other than the front page to a ‘deeper’ piece of content. These deep links are vital to your SEO strategy. They build up the rank of a web page and add value to your content.
Domain Authority (DA)
Domain Authority is a metric that measures the relative “strength” of a website, created by the software company Moz to predict where a site may rank in search results. Domain Authority is measured on a logarithmic scale from 1 to 100, with the latter being the strongest.
Domain Rating (DR)
Just like Domain Authority, Domain Rating is a proprietary metric created by Ahrefs to demonstrate the strength of a website’s overall backlink profile. This is measured in both size and quality, so you have a complete view of the domain. The more outbound links targeted to your domain, the better it’ll rank.
Duplicate content is content that appears on the web in multiple locations. Generally, it refers to large amounts of text or full pages that are either exact duplicates or extremely similar to another online entity. It is generally assumed throughout the SEO community that Google consolidates duplicate articles to show only one version but will not penalize your website for duplicate content.
Header tags are beneficial for both the user and search engine crawlers, as they act as markers that help identify different points within an article. Header tags are labeled in a hierarchical structure from H1-H6, with H1 being the most important and descriptive of the overall web page.
Index refers to the search engine index, which is the collection of website data across the internet. Whenever you perform a search on Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc., it pulls from its respective index to provide you with the most relevant content for your search.
In SEO, juice or link juice is the power a web page or link contains. Something with a lot of juice is a powerful site (or an authority site — which we covered earlier). When you receive more inbound links from sites with quality link juice, it’ll improve your DA and PA.
The words or phrases that are entered into a search engine by a user. SEO experts do keyword research to identify the right phrases and develop content around these topics, questions, and ideas to help the search engines identify which pages are the most relevant to show in organic results.
Keyword difficulty refers to the competition required to rank higher organically. If lots of companies (with high DA) are competing for a specific keyword, it’s going to be more difficult to rank for that specific phrase. However, if you’re the only one creating content focused around a search query, there’s a good chance you’ll face little to no competition—thus, it has low keyword difficulty.
The practice of using targeted keywords on a web page frequently, to the point that it is unnatural. This practice is frowned upon by Google and in the SEO world and will likely backfire if used as a consistent practice.
Latent Semantic Indexing
A mouthful of words for a mathematical method. Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) determines how terms and concepts relate in your content. In other words, when a search engine crawls your site, it uses LSI to identify the most common words and phrases and label them as the keywords for that web page. LSI uses synonyms, rather than simply relying on repeating keywords. It also places a lot of weight on content being legitimate and authentic, versus keyword stuffing a bunch of terms into otherwise useless content.
Looking for links? Linkbait might do the trick. This is content that is designed to go viral and be shared and linked across the web. Of course, this is a strategy that does not always work as easily as one might think. Still, viral content is usually funny, high in quality, and/or interesting. This happens organically but can theoretically be crafted into linkbait, too.
Your meta description is the SEO-friendly description of your blog posts that shows up underneath the title of your posts on SERPs. You want your description to include relevant keywords to your article, and you also want to use that space to entice readers to click on your post.
A Google algorithm update that ranks websites based on their mobile version, regardless of whether or not the search is done on a mobile device. As smartphones and other mobile devices overtake the market, it makes sense that the mobile experience is so important.
Off-Page SEO refers to everything going on under the hood of your website that contributes to its DA. This includes things like:
Page Authority (PA)
If Domain Authority measures the strength of the overall domain, Page Authority measures the strength of each web page on a domain individually. A metric developed by Moz, Page Authority also can predict how well a page may rank for its target keywords. Page Authority is also measured with a score from 1 to 100, the higher your score, the increased likelihood of you ranking well.
RankBrain is a Google artificial intelligence program. It processes search queries, revising search engine results pages based on the knowledge it has and learns. RankBrain is not the most important part of Google’s algorithm, but it is up there. Google says it is the third most important factor in ranking. What this means when creating your SEO plan is that it has to be agile. RankBrain is constantly changing, so your SEO has to be adaptable, too. Of course, this is a good plan no matter what! Every time Google changes its ranking search engine algorithms, companies must adapt.
A search query is the word (or words) people type into a search engine. Keyword research tools try to measure the volume of search engine queries so that you have an idea of the value behind each phrase.
This is a feature on a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) different from a basic organic results. SERP features include Rich Snippets, paid results, universal results, and knowledge graph data translated to panels or boxes. If a user Googles and sees review stars, AdWords ads, images or featured snippets, or a knowledge panel, for example, these are SERP features. To get your content into a SERP feature, you have to set up your back end correctly for Google to find it.
The title tag uses HTML code to name a page, and this is typically the result that’ll show up in search engine results pages. Your page title and title tag can be different. For example, you might have a blog post with a title tag trying to grab organic traffic, while your page title (what shows up on your website and blog) might just be trying to convince on-site readers to give the piece a read.
URL Rating (UR)
URL Rating is another Ahrefs proprietary metric, similar to Page Authority. Instead of the entire domain, URL Rating measures the strength of a specific URL’s backlink profile. This should give you a great idea of a specific URL’s likelihood of ranking for its target keywords. URL Rating is also measured on a logarithmic scale from 1 to 100, with the latter being the strongest.
Be it Siri, Alexa, or another voice assistant, many searchers are getting by with help from their AI friends. Optimizing your site for voice search is an important part of marketing in 2018 and beyond. Remember that people using voice search often use more conversational language and are looking for immediate, localized results. Position your content to meet those needs if you want to rank.
Tired of All the Nonstop SEO Changes?
There you have it—an SEO glossary full of must-know SEO terms for beginners.
These are just a few examples of the latest SEO trends. While some terms may sound esoteric at first, SEO techniques are developed through common sense and data analysis. From simple backlinking to keyword density, SEO is built on the basics and fine-tuned with these more nuanced concepts and tools.
SEO is a journey and a learning process. Keep up to date with the best practices and examine why they are best practices; you will benefit from better content, more engaged, targeted traffic, and more business success.
Don’t want to keep up with all the trends, changes, and updates? You don’t have to.
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