Many claims are made that the age of Search Engine Optimization is over. Perform a web search for “SEO is dead” and you will see what I’m talking about. But I would disagree: Search Engine Optimization is not dead but actually thriving. SEO is still an excellent internet marketing method and well worth the return on investment for driving targeted traffic to your website. By creating this SEO list of terminologies for marketers and business owners, we aim to create awareness about the important aspects of SEO and provide guidance on the right SEO investment. Here are a couple of our favorite SEO terms every beginner should memorize.


Our Top SEO Terminologies to Know:

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

In plain English, SEO means the processes that help a website achieve higher organic rankings on the search engines for specific keywords and phrases. The goal of SEO is to make your website more appealing to search engines so that it appears higher in the search results when people search for relevant keywords or phrases. This can lead to more organic (non-paid) traffic to your site, which is often crucial for businesses and website owners looking to reach a wider audience.

2. SERP (Search Engine Results Page)

“SERP” stands for Search Engine Results Page. The resulting output page after you run a query in a search engine. When you enter a search term or query into a search engine, the SERP is the page that shows you a list of websites and content that the search engine has determined to be the most relevant to your query.

3. Search Engine Algorithm

A search engine algorithm is essentially a complex set of rules, calculations, and processes that search engines like Google, Bing, and others use to determine the order and ranking of web pages in their search results…like SERPs noted above.

These algorithms are designed to provide users with the most relevant and high-quality search results based on their queries. Algorithms take into account various factors when deciding which web pages should appear at the top of the search results.

Key factors you may hear about include:

Some of the key factors include:

  1. Keywords: Algorithms analyze the presence and relevance of keywords in web page content, titles, headings, and meta tags.
  2. Content quality: They assess the overall quality and relevance of the content on a web page, including its uniqueness and depth.
  3. Backlinks: Algorithms consider the quantity and quality of backlinks (links from other websites) pointing to a web page as an indicator of its authority and trustworthiness.
  4. User experience: Factors like page load speed, mobile-friendliness, and user engagement metrics (like bounce rate) can influence rankings.
  5. Freshness: Some algorithms prioritize recently updated or published content for certain types of searches.
  6. Social signals: Social media activity and shares can also play a role in some algorithms.

4. Doorway Pages

This is a black-hat SEO method that involves creating a fake website page that users will never see. Doorway pages can be used to trick the search engine spiders into indexing a website page higher. If you get caught your website keyword rankings will get clobbered or your entire website may be banned from search engine results pages. DO NOT TRY!

5. Keyword

A keyword is a word that a user enters in search. Each web page should be optimized with the goal of drawing in visitors who have searched specific keywords. Keywords are the foundation of on-page SEO.

6. Long-Tail Keywords

An uncommon or infrequently searched keyword, typically with two or more words in the phrase. Small businesses should consider targeting long tail keywords, as they are lower difficulty and often have more qualified searchers. Common keywords such as ‘software’ are more competitive, and very hard to rank high for them in search.

7. Keyword Density and Keyword Stuffing

Keyword density measures the frequency of a particular keyword or keyphrase within a piece of page content, typically expressed as a percentage. Keyword density represents the ratio of how often a keyword appears in the content compared to the total number of words in that content. Because keyword density plays an important role in the indexing of your website, some webmasters try to trick search engines by artificially stuffing all the website content with keywords. It does not work and will get your website penalized. This is Black Hat SEO and is explained below.

Keyword density is calculated using the following formula:

Keyword Density (%) = (Number of Times Keyword Appears / Total Number of Words in Content) x 100

For example, if you have a 500-word article, and the keyword “SEO” appears 10 times in that article, the keyword density for “SEO” would be:

(10 / 500) x 100 = 2%

8. Page Title or Title Tag

The name you give your web page, which is seen at the top your browser window or browser tab. The title tag is coded within the head section of the web page. Page titles should contain keywords related to your business and the web page content. Words at the beginning of your page title are more highly weighted than words at the end.

9. Headings (H1, H2, H3, etc)

Text on your website that is placed inside of a heading tag, such as an H1 or H2. This text is often presented in a larger and stronger font than other text on the page.

10. Anchor Text

This is the text that will link to another website page or document within the current website.  Anchor text serves as a signal to both users and search engines about the topic or context of the linked page.

11. Inbound Link / Backlink

A link from one site into another. A link from another site will improve your SEO, especially if that site has a high PageRank.

12. Internal Link

A link from one page to another on the same website, such as from your homepage to your products page.

13. Nofollow Link

A nofollow link does not carry over any PageRank (PR) value to the page it is linking to. These are mostly used when you want to cut down irrelevant links to content to improve the overall value of your website. By default, if you don’t specify that a link should be “nofollow”, it will automatically be “dofollow”, which will carry value over to the destination page.

14. Metadata

Data that tells search engines what your website is about. Use elements to specify a description, keywords, author, and character set of a document.

15. Meta Description

A brief description of fewer than 160 characters about the contents of a web page and why someone would want to visit it. This is often displayed on search engine results pages (SERP) below the page title as a sample of the content on the page.

16. PageRank or PR

This is part of the algorithm that Google uses to estimate the importance of pages. The idea is that a link from a page with a high PR is seen as a vote of trust to the page it is linking to. PageRank was named after Larry Page, one of the founders of Google.

17. Ranking Factor

One element of how a search engine determines where to rank a certain page, such as the number of inbound links to a page or the contents of the title tag on that page.

18. Alt Text

This is a tag that you can place on links and images for SEO purposes. It is the text that is displayed when you hover your mouse over the object.

19. Bot (Spider)

These are programs used by search engines to crawl your website.

20. Indexed Pages

The pages of your website that are stored by search engines.

21. Canonical URL

The canonical URL is the best address on which a user can find a piece of information. Sometimes you might have a situation where the same page content can be accessed at more than one address. Specifying the canonical URL helps search engines understand which address for a piece of content is the best one. This is an important SEO terminology to save your site from a penalty due to duplication.

22. Link Building

The activity and process of getting more inbound links to your website for improved search engine rankings.

23. White Hat SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

White hat SEO is the body of approved (ethical) search engine optimization tactics designed to increase a website’s position on a search engine results page (SERP).

24. Black Hat SEO

This is the under-the-table, unethical method of gaining rankings on search engines. If you practice black-hat SEO and you’re caught, your website can be heavily penalized by the search engines.

25. Cloaking

This is another black-hat method to show a one website page to search engines and a different one to users. The purpose of cloaking is to get ranked for specific keyword phrases, and then redirect the incoming traffic to another page.

26. Link Farm

A link farm is a website or directory that groups websites together and links to each one with the sole purpose of increasing PR and gaining top organic rankings. Link farms used to work back in the day, but are now considered black hat by the search engines.

27. Citation / NAP

The acronym NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone Number. This citation is extremely important because it is considered one of the major ranking factors for ranking locally. If you’re running a local business, it is very important to verify that you have such NAP consistency across all your local listings within directories. This is a crucial sign of telling search engines that your business listing is legitimate and will actually improve on your local ranking.

28. 301 Redirect

This directive is also known as a permanent redirect. Use a 301 redirect to direct your visitors to the new page or website that has been moved permanently. This is to tell Google or other search engines that your original web page is no longer valid and you would like them to de-index the page so that it can pass all the link juice to your newly redirected page or site.

29. 302 Redirect

Unlike a 301 redirect, a 302 redirect is a temporary redirect. In other words, if your content is temporarily moved to a new page or site, you can implement a 302 redirect to tell the search engines to redirect your visitors to this new location. This ensures that search engines do not pass the link juice and the anchor text over to this new place because your original page or website will resume back to its original state.

30. Cache

A storage location that collects temporary data to help websites, apps, and browsers load faster.

31. Canonical URL

A canonical URL is the primary address on which a user can find a piece of information. There are times you might have a situation where the same page content can be accessed at more than one address. Specifying the canonical URL helps search engines understand which address for a piece of content is the best one.

32. Featured Snippet

Highlighted excerpts that appear at the top of some Google search results, known as position 0.

33. Sitemap

A “sitemap” is a file or page that provides a structured, organized list of all the pages, posts, or content on a website. Sitemaps are used to help search engines understand the structure and content of a website, making it easier for them to crawl and index the site’s pages.

34. Domain Authority

“Domain Authority” is a metric or score developed by Moz, a company specializing in SEO. It is used to predict the ability of a domain (usually a website) to rank in search engine results, particularly on Google. Domain Authority is not an official metric used by search engines like Google; instead, it’s a proprietary metric created by Moz to help SEO professionals and webmasters assess the strength and authority of a website.

Summary: SEO Glossary of Common Terms:

Armed with a solid understanding of the common terms and concepts outlined in this SEO glossary, you’re well on your way to mastering the art of search engine optimization. The above are the basic terms and SEO terminologies that every SEO marketer should learn. So, whether you’re a business owner, a content creator, or an aspiring SEO professional, this glossary serves as a valuable resource on your journey to SEO success. Embrace these terms, put them into practice, and watch your online visibility soar. Happy optimizing!

About the Author: Brad Fogel

Bradley Fogel is a professional web designer and SEO consultant. Bradley has been working in the digital marketing field for over 20 years and is the CEO of Operation Technology, a digital marketing agency based in Chicago, IL. Starting his own company was something he had always wanted to do. It has been very rewarding to him seeing the team at Operation Technology helping small local businesses to large national clients with their digital marketing needs. His passion is developing strong online strategies for clients while making new connections within the industry. Brad’s background also includes a PMP certification from the Project Management Institute. Learn more about Brad Fogel.