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SEO Glossary

by | Feb 11, 2024 | SEO, SEO Glossary

SEO Glossary




  • Algorithm: 

“Search algorithms look at many factors and signals, including the words of your query, relevance, and usability of pages, the expertise of sources, and your location and settings.” – Google. Essentially, the algorithm helps determine what gets shown to whom and when. 


  • ALT Text: 

ALT texts describe website images to help people understand what the image conveys. They can include physical descriptions, context about the image, and other details. Search engines also use the information to understand its content. However, ALT text should always be considered for people, especially for people with disabilities. Refer to ADA compliance standards for ALT Text.




  • Backlink: 

Unlike an “internal link,” which is a link from a page on your website to another page on your website, a backlink is a link from an outside website to your website. For example, if the NYT wrote an article about you and added a “link” to your website, that is considered a “backlink. Think of it as a “Thumbs up” from other websites. When you have more backlinks, you have more “votes of confidence.” 


  • Breadcrumb

“A breadcrumb trail on a page indicates the page’s position in the site hierarchy.” Google. For people and search engines, breadcrumbs make it easier to visually and physically see where a page sits in the overall hierarchy of the website.




  • Crawling:

Crawling is the process of Googlebot visiting a page to find out what it’s about. “Googlebot uses an algorithmic process to determine which sites to crawl, how often, and how many pages to fetch from each site.” – Google.


  • Content: 

Content includes the text, images, videos, and any other “stuff” on your website. “Google’s core ranking systems look to reward content that provides a good page experience” and provides “people first content.” – Google.




  • Domain: 

A domain name is your website address. It’s what people use to type in your business name and find your website in your browser. 


  • Duplicate Content: 

When you have duplicate content, it means you have content that is a “duplicate” from either another page on your website, or another page on the internet. There is no direct penalty for duplicate content. However, it can cause problems with ranking or cannibalization (multiple pages competing for the same keywords). 




  • External Link: 

An external link is a link “outside” your website ecosystem. It can refer to when websites point to your website, or when you link to other websites. 

External Link:

Your Website -> A Different Website 

Internal Link:

Your Website -> Your Website

  • Engagement: 

This refers to any time a person interacts with your content, such as clicking, scrolling, commenting, etc. 




  • Featured Snippet: 

A featured snippet is often referred to as “Position 0,” and it means that it’s the first “result” Google appears for certain queries. A featured snippet differs from other types of results in that it’s usually a summary of the answer on the ranking page. This answer always answers the question of the query and often provides context as well. 


  • Fresh Content: 

Content is “fresh” if it’s recently published or up-to-date. However, it’s not really necessary to have “freshness” for all content on your website. Any time you change content on your website, you risk ranking changes, so all updates and refreshing should be made with careful consideration. 




  • Google Analytics

The most popular and widely used website analytics tool for websites.  The latest version is called GA4, although you might see it referred to as UA (Universal Analytics), which is the previous version. 


  • Google Search Console: 

A popular tool by Google that helps you monitor your website performance, and manage core web vitals, and other forms of search appearance. It’s the number one tool you must use to maintain your website search appearance. 




  • Header Tags: 

Header tags are used to help create visual and physical (HTML) structure on your website pages. HTML and CCS can be designated differently, and do not need to use the same styling. 


  • HTML: 

HyperText Markup Language is the standard coding language for building websites. You can find the HTML of any website by going to the website, hitting right-click, and selecting “Inspect,” Or “View Page Source.” Both options will allow you to see the page’s HTML. 




  • Indexing: 

The process of Google taking your website files and attempting to understand them. Then, it either adds them to the “index” or “database,” or does not. This is the second step in the Crawling-Indexing-Serving process. 


  • Internal Link: 

An internal link is a link “inside” your website ecosystem. It refers to “linking” to pages on your website to other pages on your website. 

External Link:

Your Website -> A Different Website 

Internal Link:

Your Website -> Your Website



  • JavaScript: 

After HTML and CSS, Javascript is the third language (in the trio of programming languages) used to power your website. You might recognize JavaScript for its ability to create animations, movements, form submissions, clicks, and any other basic interactions on your website. It is commonly confused with Java, but the two are distinct programming languages. 


  • JavaScript Rendering: 

Javascript “rendering” is basically the “loading” of Javascript on your website. “JavaScript rendering involves taking the script and the instructions it contains, processing it all, then running it so that the required output is shown in the browser.” – Rachel Castello, SEO & Content Manager, Lumar




  • Keyword Density: 

Refers to how “keyword rich” a page is. If it has more keywords, it has a higher density. Less keywords, lower density. This term doesn’t really matter so much, and you don’t need to try to make any page or document more or less “keyword dense.” 


  • Keyword Research: 

Keyword research is the process of studying search data across website platforms to determine a topic or search term’s popularity, search result type, and realistic ability for a particular website to rank and generate traffic from that search term.  




  • Link Building: 

The process of getting more “backlinks” from other websites. There are many ways to “build links,” including creating relevant content, guest posting, and creating digital PR campaigns. 


  • Local SEO: 

Local SEO focuses on building website traffic for local businesses. This can be done through local listings, such as Yellow Pages, Google Business Listings, and the locally-based website itself. 




  • Meta Description: 

Meta descriptions appear in search results and a “summary” of the website page. Google uses meta descriptions to help understand the context and content of the page, and may or may not rewrite this summary for you depending on the query of the person searching. 


  • Mobile-Friendly: 

Google has switched to “Mobile-First Indexing,” meaning your website’s mobile version will take precedence over the desktop version. Your website should always be designed and built with a mobile-first mindset. 




  • Nofollow: 

A nofollow link means you don’t want Google to crawl or pass any authority to that page. You can use these when you’re linking to a page you don’t endorse or when it is a sponsored/ affiliated link.




  • Organic Traffic: 

Organic traffic refers to all search engine traffic that is “unpaid” or not driven by ads. 


  • Orphan Page: 

This refers to a page with no links from within its own website ecosystem. Internal links are an important way to improve your SEO performance, so when you don’t have a link to a page, it floats out on the website without a way for a person to get to it. If you value a page, you want it to be linked to within 3 clicks from the homepage. 




  • Page Rank: 

The algorithm used by Google to rank web pages in its search engine results. “The Google search engine has two important features that help it produce high-precision results. First, it makes use of the link structure of the Web to calculate a quality ranking for each web page. This ranking is called PageRank…” – Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page.


  • Page Title: 

Otherwise known as the “SEO Title,” the page title is the “title” of the page, and is typically displayed in search engine results. It also appears as the “page name” in your browser when you open the page on your desktop or mobile device. Google sometimes replaces these titles in its results for the H1 on the page, depending on the searcher and their query.  




  • Query: 

The terms, words, or variations of words a user enters into a search engine. 


  • Quality Content: 

The quality of the content on your website. High-quality content is typically well-written, informative, and valuable. High-quality content also answers the search intent directly and is specific and qualified from experience or expertise. Low-quality content is usually too long or short, generically answers questions, doesn’t answer the search query, is hard to read, or doesn’t meet the needs of the user.




  • Ranking: 

Refers to the positions a page or pages appear in search results. On average, higher-ranking results drive more traffic than lower-ranking pages.


  • Redirect: 

Redirects automatically send people from one page to another, and can be “temporary” or “permanent.” Redirects are essential when a page has a lot of website traffic and you decide to change the URL structure, such as during a website redesign or migration.  




  • Schema Markup: 

Schema helps Google understand the different “entities” of your website, and how they relate to each other. For example, you’ll use “Author Schema” to mark pages that are written by specific authors. You can use “recipe” markup, “product” markup, and more depending on the content on the page. 


  • SERP (Search Engine Results Page): 

SERP is the term used when discussing “search engine results,” and refers to the page displayed after entering a search query in Google. The SERPs have many different categories of results depending on the query, including ads, products, videos, links, snippets, maps, and more.


  • Sitemap: 

There are two commonly used sitemaps in SEO: the HTML sitemap and the XML sitemap. Both contain pages on your site. However, the HTML sitemap is typically created for people, whereas the XML sitemap is more comprehensive and used for search engines. 




  • Title Tag: 

The Title Tag on a page defines the Page Title, and is often shown in search results and in the browser. 


  • Traffic: 

Refers to the number of visitors a website receives, and is commonly triggered after a person has spent 30 seconds or more on the website. SEO professionals often measure traffic in terms of time, so “Traffic over the last X amount of time.”




  • Usability: 

Refers to how easy or difficult a website is for a person to navigate and read. Good usability helps increase the website experience for people, and can indirectly impact your SEO efforts.


  • User Intent: 

All search queries have an intent, and they refer to a person’s need or desire when typing something in the search bar. If you search for “ice cream near me,” then you want to find the nearest ice cream store, not an ice cream recipe. Google strongly considers the user intent behind search queries, so it can serve the best results for people. 


  • User Experience (UX): 

The overall experience a person has while using a website, and includes the design, navigation, copy, brand, colors, load time, and content.




  • ​​Visbility: 

Visibility refers to the likelihood that a page will be seen by someone when they search for it. For example, you might have more “visibility” for a subset of keywords after you optimize your website for those search terms. When you have low visibility, it means that people are not seeing your content, since your pages appear lower in search results and are “visible” less often than results with “high visibility.”


  • Voice Search: 

Voice search refers to when people use a device to “search” with their voice, instead of typing their query. This topic trends up and down as technology changes. But, overall, this method of search involves creating strong relationships between your website and its “entities.” 




  • Webmaster: 

The person responsible for managing and maintaining a website. This term is used less often now, but still, no less fun. 


  • White Hat SEO: 

White Hat SEO refers to “ethical SEO,” although as an industry it’s a non-inclusive term and should be replaced in favor of something more mindful of racially biased language. 




  • XML sitemap: 

The XML sitemap is a comprehensive file on your website containing all the pages you want Google to crawl, index, and rank. These can be split into different groups, such as a specific sitemap by page type or local language. 




  • YouTube SEO: 

Refers to the optimization of YouTube videos to improve visibility both within the platform and on Google search results. 


  • YMYL (Your Money or Your Life): 

Refers to content and websites that impact people’s money or their lives. Examples of YMYL are topics or companies impacting the health, financial stability, or safety of users. Such pages are held to a higher standard in terms of content quality and expertise.


  • Yoast SEO: 

A plugin for WordPress that helps you optimize your website for SEO. Yoast is not a replacement for SEO, it is simply a tool to help in the process of SEO. 




  • Zero-Click Search: 

A search result where a person has their question answered without clicking on the actual search result. SGE is Google’s new Generative AI result and will contribute to a much higher influx of Zero-Click Results within the next decade.

Written by Crystal Ortiz

Crystal Ortiz is the Founder of Socialhart. She's a Marketing and SEO expert with 8 years of experience in digital marketing. She's worked with local businesses, founders, marketing executives, and global brands across many industries, both in-house and agency-side. She's taught digital marketing programs at several universities, including NC State and University of Wisconsin-Madison.



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