This SEO glossary explains a lot of the terminology that is casually thrown around by those who work in the industry, in simple terms. Whether you are trying to learn SEO or are looking to hire an SEO agency, we understand that all of this terminology can often be confusing! As a result, we have laid it all out in plain English. Not all of the words and phrases below focus on SEO but we felt that some clarification on web-based terminology would help. So here it is!
You can click on any of the terms below for a more detailed explanation. We have tried to use ‘non-techie’ speak, but should you need more detailed technical jargon we have included links to other explanations too. So grab a cup of tea and start learning about the world of search engine optimisation! P.S. this is a comprehensive list (the most in-depth on the web, actually) but if you have any other phrases that you are unsure about please just let us know.
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Permanent redirect from one web page to another. The user does not experience any delay as the redirect takes place instantly. Webmasters often use 301 redirects for canonical URL issues and deleted pages.
Unlike 301 redirects, a 302 redirect is temporary. Webmasters may place a 302 redirect while redeveloping a website or to avoid the passing of spammy link juice.
Similar to a 302 redirect but used only for HTTP 1.1.
An error message displayed on the screen to the user when a page cannot be found. 404 messages are often returned if a page has been deleted or the URL has been typed incorrectly.
An expression used to refer to the area seen by the user when they first visit a web page and have yet to scroll down. Also see: ‘The Fold’.
A bidding platform owned by Google. Users bid to be displayed to searchers in Google’s search results. Adwords results appear in a box at the top of results pages, separated from organic results.
An affiliate website exists to sell another website’s products or services. Usually, a referral scheme is set up to ensure that advertisers pay commission to the affiliate website.
A global traffic ranking system provided by alexa.com that is based upon a large panel of users and their activity over a 3 month rolling period. A website’s Alexa Rank is determined through a combination of unique visitors and pageviews. The ranking is updated on a daily basis.
An automatic penalty applied to a site by Google. Unlike manual penalties, algorithmic penalties are automated and are sometimes not accompanied by a message in Webmaster Tools. As such, the reason for an algorithmic penalty can be harder to identify and subsequently to recover from. Also see: ‘Google Penalty’.
A piece of code attached to an image that provides a textual description of the image itself. The user does not usually see the alt text – rather, since search engines are unable to ‘see’ what an image depicts, the alt text works to describe what they depict. Alt text is displayed to the user in the case of browser incompatibility issues. Although it should be used to provide genuine descriptions of images, alt text is often used in cases of keyword stuffing. Also known as: ‘Alt Tag’ or ‘Alt Attribute’.
An open source project driven by Google (and to an extent Twitter) to provide a coding structure that loads websites faster for mobile devices.
The name given to an initiative by Google to provide a web technology that allows mobile pages to load faster. See: above.
Anchor Text are the characters displayed to the user that contain a link. Anchor text is a useful way to input links into sentences and paragraphs without having to include the entire URL.
API (Application Programming Interface)
A set of instructions for programmers to be able to access a particular piece of software. API’s essentially allow other developers to connect what they have designed to this particular piece of software, usually to either include it on their website or power their website.
The practice of rewording an article multiple times, either to be posted for link building purposes or as content for a site. Article spinning is considered a low quality and therefore spammy tactic by Google and other search engines. ‘Spun’ articles are usually fairly easy to spot because sentences are not structured correctly and strange synonyms are used.
An SEO term used to describe the credibility and popularity of a website.
An overview of all the backlinks to a website or webpage. Backlink profile descriptions might include ‘strong’, ‘spammy’ or indeed ‘non-existent’.
Refers to links from external websites that point to another webpage. For instance, if a webpage was to contain a link to this page it would count as a backlink. Also referred to as external link, inbound link or incoming link.
A group or network of websites that employ spam tactics. Gaining backlinks from bad neighbourhoods can associate your website with spam.
Below the Fold
See the definition of ‘The Fold’ for more information. Below the fold refers to the area of a webpage which is not immediately seen when visiting said webpage, i.e in order to view this area of the page the user needs to scroll down.
Also described as spam, black hat SEO involves practices that contravene search engine guidelines, most notably Google’s webmaster guidelines.
Usually uses a content management system such as WordPress, blogs act as sites which document things in a time based format. Often individuals, blogs can be on anything from the musings of a coder to someone who is travelling the world and wants to document their trip online.
Part of the link building process, blogger outreach is the practice of identifying and contacting bloggers, usually for SEO purposes.
Refers to a community of bloggers. Can also refer to all blogs on the web. Much like the ‘Twittersphere’ anything posted on a blog and any engagement on a blog can be referred to as part of the blogosphere.
Recording a website address for future reference. Many web browsers have their own in built bookmarking system.
Also known as robot, spider, crawler and probably many other variations! A computer program which can interact autonomously. When bots are mentioned in reference to SEO it is usually in reference to search engine bots which are used to crawl the web and read or ‘index’ webpages for the search engine. Black Hat SEOs often use bots for automated, spammy link building purposes (see social bookmarking) or to scrape content from other sites.
A ‘bounce’ refers to a visitor to your site that leaves the website after only viewing a single page. Google define a bounce as a ‘single page session’. Therefore a website’s bounce rate is the percentage of single page sessions compared to total visitors. For more information see https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1009409?hl=en-GB
A core algorithm update designed to promote previously undervalued content
Also known as brand keywords, branded searches or branded search terms. These are search terms that include the name of a company, organisation. It can also be in conjunction with their product or service. For example, ‘Coca Cola’ would be a brand name, ‘Oracle’ or ‘Oracle ERP’ could also be considered a branded keyword.
An element on a website that displays the user’s navigation on a website.
Links that no longer connect to a webpage. This can be because the page no longer exists and therefore returns a 404 error, the URL has been incorrectly inputted in the code, or the link’s code is incorrect.
Browsers store information from websites to speed up processes such as load speed.
A change made to the way that Google indexes content on the web which fully rolled out in June 2010. Google claimed it would create 50% fresher results for searchers compared to the old system.
A feature of a web page that encourages the user to perform a specific action. Call to Action (CTA) usually refers to a button or a link that the user will click on in order to purchase something or make contact, although the desired action could be something as simple as reading more information or watching a video. For example, a classic call to action would be a ‘buy now’ button next to a product on a webpage.
The referenced or designated URL for a page. For SEO this is in relation to choosing a canonical URL for the whole website and 301 redirecting all duplicate pages to this canonical URL. For more information see https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/139066?hl=en
A security feature placed on websites that differentiates genuine users from spam-bots. There are a number of versions of CAPTCHA but all of them exploit the natural differences between human and machine thinking.
Part of MajesticSEO’s trademarked Flow Metrics, Citation Flow is a score given to a URL out of 100 (1 being the lowest, 100 the highest). It is an indicative score based on the amount of links pointing to that particular URL.
Also see ‘link bait’. a link or title of a page on the internet that entices people to click on it. Often used on social media platforms, these links or titles might be particularly controversial or luring. For example, instead of “20 shocking photos”, a click bait article would be “20 shocking photos, No.7 is insane!”. A good example of a website that enjoys using click bait is Vice – just follow Vice on Facebook and you will see why!
In direct relation to Google Adwords or any other pay per click advertising platform. Click fraud is when individuals click on an advert with the sole purpose of cost to the advertiser.
Also known as keyword cloaking. It is a black hat SEO technique where webmasters will attempt to hide text from the user, but make it visible to search engines for the purpose of manipulating the search rankings. A common version of cloaking is to place text on a webpage that is the same colour as the background.
CMS (Content Management System)
A software platform used by many websites which allows those with access to alter or change content without any specific knowledge of coding. There are a variety of Content Management Systems, some are opensource such as WordPress (this website is built in the WordPress CMS). Many Content Management Systems also give those with access the ability to easily change aspects relating to search engine optimisation such as meta data and alt tags without having any knowledge of coding. There are multiple SEO ‘plug ins’ for the WordPress CMS with one of the most popular and highly recommended one being ‘WordPress SEO by team Yoast’.
An SEO concept that is based upon communities. The co-citation concept works on the principal that good websites will link to/speak about other relevant and good websites. There is a lot of confusion in the difference between co-citation and co-occurence. Many believe that co-citation is the ranking benefit that a website (website A) will receive by linking to relevant websites (let’s say website B) which are in turn linked to other high quality, relevant websites (website C). Whilst website A might not have a direct inbound link from either website B or website C, the fact that website A is linking to website B means that it is being discussed in the same community as website B and C. Others believe that co-citation is the ranking benefit that a website might gain from being cited in article along with another relevant website (but not necessarily receiving a link). Whatever the definition, the concept is still relatively the same: being mentioned with your peers is beneficial even if it does not come with an inbound link.
A difficult concept to understand, more information and views:
See co-citation for more information on the difference between co-occurence and co-citation. Co-occurence is based upon latent semantic indexing. Essentially, due to the proximity of certain keywords to your brand name around the web, a website could receive a ranking benefit from this co-occurence even without a direct inbound link. For example, if Yellowball were to be mentioned in an article about SEO training, the fact that our brand name is being mentioned in the same sentence/paragraph or article which contains the keyword (or variations of) SEO training, then we would receive a ranking benefit for this search term.
A black hat SEO technique which involves commenting on websites in order to gain a backlink, without adding any value to the discussion. Comment spam is often automated by bots but can be prevented through a captcha on the website. Comment spam is an obvious black hat technique due to the fact that the comments (and link) are usually completely irrelevant and of low quality. For more information see our explanation of different types of linkspam
In relation to SEO this is where you look at online competitors and document their SEO efforts. For example you research the keywords that they are currently targeting or identify link building opportunities. We teach that competitor research should mean that you have all the information of what the market is trying to do with their SEO and therefore be able to create a strategy from there, it can also save a lot of time!
Usually refers to the text, images or video on a website.
Google’s definition is a website with low quality or thin content.
Based around the aims of a website, for instance an e-commerce website’s aim is to sell products. A conversion can be classed as when a user of the website fulfils this aim. For example, this could be when a user confirms payment for a product. A conversion does not necessarily have to be transactional and websites can have multiple conversion points. A further example would be of a business classing a website conversion as someone calling them or filling in an enquiry form.
See ‘conversion’ for more information. The conversion rate of a website is defined by its goals and is calculated by the ratio of visitors that complete these goals to the total number of visitors, usually given as a percentage.
Data sent from a website to a user’s web browser when they are on the site. This data is stored to track activity and also make browsing the site quicker in future.
CPC (Cost Per Click)
The amount paid by the advertiser when a user clicks on their advert. This cost can vary dramatically depending on the competitiveness of the keywords targeted or the popularity of the website upon which the advertiser is displaying their advert.
When a bot is on a webpage or website. Search engine bots will ‘crawl’ a website in order to index the site. More popular websites will be ‘crawled’ more often by search engine bots.
The concept that a certain amount of time is assigned to a bot to crawl and index a website placing greater emphasis on onsite optimisation.
An automated computer program that navigates web pages via links. Usually refers to bots used by search engines to constantly read and index webpages and websites.
The practice of analysing and improving a website’s conversion rate. This might include larger call to actions, more compelling content or easier navigation.
CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)
The CSS of a site will determine how elements in a the html code will be displayed. It is easiest to think of CSS as the design aspect of programming.
CTR (Click Through Rate)
The percentage of people that click on link or image compared with the amount of people that see the image. In SEO, CTR is commonly used to describe the percentage of people that click on a search result compared with the amount of people that have seen the search result. For example, everything being equal, the CTR for a website ranking 1st on any Google results page is generally considered to be higher than if they were ranked 4th. CTR can also be useful for determining the success of an online advertising banner.
Also known as being ‘removed from the index’, see ‘index’ for more information. If a website has been de-indexed it means that it has been removed from a search engine’s database. This is most regularly due to the website infringing on the search engine’s guidelines. For example, black hat SEO tactics can result in a ranking penalty or being completely removed from a search engine’s index. This in turn means that the website will not be displayed by the search engine for any search terms, not even if the exact URL is searched for.
When a hyperlink does not work. This can occur for multiple reasons, the destination web page may not be working, their may be issues with the links’ code or the webpage containing the link is not working.
Deeplink Ratio or Percentage
The amount of links pointing to inner pages of a website compared with the total amount of links pointing to any page on a website.
Links pointing to a webpage that is not the homepage of a website. Websites that only have links pointing to their homepage may suffer in their ability to rank due to the fact that it may indicate thin content.
The visitors to a website that have navigated to the site by typing the URL directly into their browser, rather than entering the site through referral channels such as search engines or adverts.
A webpage or website that is devoted to listing other sites, companies or organisations. For example, Yelp is a directory.
Usually works on a ‘Pay Per Click’ basis. The use of images or video to advertise on another website. Various platforms facilitate display advertising, one of the most comprehensive of which is the ‘Google Display Network’.
DNS (Domain Name System)
The system by which computers make sense of alphabetical addresses such as www.weareyellowball.com.
A unique address at which webpages or websites are located on the world wide web.
A score assigned to a website domain (out of 100) based upon its ability to rank on search engines, 100 being the highest score. This score was developed by Moz.com, for their definition see https://moz.com/learn/seo/domain-authority
A unique set of letters, dashes and points that make up the address at which a webpage or website can be found, followed by a standard internet suffix. For more information see https://support.google.com/a/answer/177483?hl=en
Domain Name Server
A server responsible for connecting a user to the destination website or address. There is a global network of domain name servers. Also see ‘Domain Name System’.
A page that is specifically designed to attract traffic from search engines, but then redirect them (not the search engine) to another page. Doorway pages are considered to be against Google’s webmaster guidelines due to the fact that they offer little to no value for the user and are created purely to rank for certain keywords and redirect the traffic from those searchers. Doorway pages often utilise exact match domains and keyword stuffing, they are generally poorly designed as well. For Google’s definition of a doorway page see https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2721311?hl=en
A term that refers to a user navigating away from (or ‘dropping off’) your site. This can be used to identify issues with user flow and can be accessed via Google Analytics’ Users Flow.
A webpage (or website) that displays exactly the same or very similar content as another webpage either on the same website or on another website.
A form of duplicate content, duplicate URL’s mean that the same content if being displayed on multiple webpages (therefore making it duplicate content). There are multiple ways in which this can happen: printer pages, URL parameters and session Id’s (see https://moz.com/learn/seo/duplicate-content). The webmaster should also choose a canonical URL because www.seotraininglondon.co.uk, seotraininglondon.co.uk, http://www.seotraininglondon.co.uk and all other variations of the homepage would count as duplicate content. As such, all duplicate URL’s should be 301 redirected to a canonical.
E-Commerce (Electronic Commerce)
Transactions occurring using the internet. A website that can complete a transaction online without face to face contact would be considered an E-commerce site.
See linkbuilding for a different method of gaining links. A website can earn links by providing content or design that other websites link to naturally. It is considered to be a sign of high quality content or design.
Also see ‘EMD’ (exact match domain). A Google update designed to reduce the impact of spammy exact match domains released in October 2012.
Used to refer to the constant changing of websites in the search engine results pages. Stems from Google’s constant crawling, indexing and ranking of website across the internet.
An SEO buzzword used to describe content that does not decrease in value with time. See ‘content rot/decay’ for more information. An example of evergreen content would be this index – as long as definitions do not magically change over time!
External Anchor Text
See ‘anchor text’ and ‘external links’. The clickable text on a link pointing to your website from a different website.
A link pointing to a webpage from another webpage not on the same domain/website. i.e if another website were to link to this website, that would count as an external link.
The first Google update which got real air time and caused havoc amongst webmasters!
Links are by their nature ‘followed’. There is no ‘follow’ tag to be placed on a hyperlink, it is only because of the ‘no follow’ tag that links without this tag are referred to as ‘followed’.
See ‘Linkspam’. A manipulative method of using forums to drop spammy links for the purpose of increasing a backlink porftolio.
A suspected Google Update that was released in March 2017 without any official notice. Initial reports pointed towards content heavy sites with a focus on ad revenue being affected.
A different name for a doorway page.
A program used by Google to determine which websites to rank in the search results for a given search term.
A platform which allows users to read and analyse data from their website. Google Analytics requires a piece of code to be added to the website in order for the platform to track the data. Data is based upon visitors to the site and their behaviour, such as bounce rates, visitor flow and location. Best used in conjunction (and linked with) Google’s Webmaster Tools.
Intrinsically linked with a Google + profile. Google authorship allows creators of content to link said content with their Google+ profile. Google trialled Google authorship for 3 years, but on August 28th 2014, John Meuller from Google announced that it would be discontinued. For more information on the history and reasons behind its discontinuation see https://searchengineland.com/goodbye-google-authorship-201975
Also see ‘bot’. A program used by Google to navigate and index webpages throughout the internet. Bots can travel between websites through hyperlinks.
A black hat SEO technique designed to reduce a website’s rankings through penalties (or get them de-indexed altogether). Google bowling involves creating multiple spammy links that link to a website, thus incurring a Google penalty.
A development of Google’s ‘one-box’ concept which was discontinued for local results in late 2014. The carousel appeared at the top of the Google search results and attempted to display relevant results, mostly for local results such as hotels or restaurants.
No longer occurring, the Google dance used to be a time every month where Google would update its web servers and add the new pages that it has identified during this time. As such, during the Google dance there could be substantial fluctuations in rankings. Google now crawls the internet 24/7 and updates its results in real time, therefore making the Google dance obsolete.
Google Direct Answers
Part of the ‘one-box’ approach, Google’s attempt to provide searchers with an answer to their question or search term without them having to click on a result. This information is scraped from sites that they feel have delivered the most accurate result. Heavily linked with Google’s Hummingbird Update.
A platform supplied by Google so that webmasters can submit a list of links which they want to be ignored by Google. Much has been written about the effectiveness of Google’s disavow tool. The disavow tool is part of the reconsideration request process for those websites that have received a penalty. Links can also be disavowed prior to a website receiving a penalty.
Google Display Network (GDN)
A group of sites that have available advertising space and have joined Google’s Display Network. Google collate this information and list sites which can either be selected manually by the advertiser or groups of sites which Google will then display the advert on according to the type of user targeted or by cost. See http://www.google.co.uk/ads/displaynetwork/
See ‘Google bot’ and ‘bot’ for more information on the process of Google indexing websites. The Google index is Google’s database of what they have seen of the internet. Google’s bots are constantly crawling the world wide web, reading webpages and collating this information in their index. The development of Google’s index meant that data was much easier (and importantly much quicker) to decipher and return the most relevant result to a search term.
Google Keyword Planner
Part of Google Adwords platform. The keyword planner is a system provided by Google which allows you to check the monthly search volume, competition and average cost per click for chosen search terms. Search volumes should be treated as indicative rather than exact, and competition is either low, medium or high. Geographical locations can be designated, or new keyword ideas automatically generated. Used by many SEOs as one of the starting points for keyword research
Google Local Listing
Created through a Google+ profile. A local listing will mean that you will turn up on Google maps for relevant search terms. For applicable searches Google will display a box with Google local listings on the first page of results.
Google’s attempt to give the searcher all the information they require without having to click through to another website or scroll down. A similar concept to Google’s Direct Answers. A good example of this is when you type an actor’s name into Google and their information will appear on the right hand side. This information might include a picture, height, weight, age, recent films, related information, personal website, IMDB profile, etc.
A penalty assigned to websites that have been infringed on Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Penalties can be assigned algorithmically by Google’s system or manually by the webspam team. The impact is reduced ranking in Google’s results or the removal of the website from Google’s results altogether (de-indexed).
Google Plus (G+)
Google’s social network, it also provides a platform for business to provide information such as location and opening times.
A controversial term that has not been confirmed. It is a theory that Google places ranking restrictions on new websites for a period of time.
Updates made to Google’s search engine algorithm.
Google Webmaster Guidelines
A set of rules published by Google for webmasters. These rules were designed to help webmaster make their websites more visible to Google and ultimately rank better. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en
Grey Hat SEO
A popular term used to describe SEO techniques that could be considered borderline. These usually involve techniques that have not necessarily been openly denounced by Google but are likely to be in the future. In reality, grey hat SEO is still black hat SEO and should be avoided.
The practice of writing content for a website other than your own. People usually guest blog in order to gain a backlink for their own website (rather than out of the kindness of their own heart!) or to increase exposure for themselves or their website on the internet.
See ‘guest blogging’. A guest post if a piece of content on a website that has been written by a person not associated with that website or company.
Also known as H1, H2, H3 and so on. H1’s are considered to be more powerful for targeting search terms than H3’s, heading tags usually make text appear in a larger font or as bold to the user on the webpage. In layman’s terms heading tags create a title and subtitles for pages. For more information and technical implementation see how to use heading tags for SEO.
Commonly thought of as when someone visits a webpage or website.
The first and usually the main page for a website. It is the page from which the user can then navigate the website. The homepage is considered to be the most powerful page on the site in regards to targeting search terms.
Html (Hypertext Markup Language)
A computer language that is core to the creation of webpages. For more information on exactly what Html does see https://www.w3schools.com/TAgs/att_a_rel.asp
A procedure by which information is exchanged securely between users and websites on the internet. HTTPS works to authenticate websites and encrypt any information communicated between clients and servers, thereby protecting both from being compromised by hackers.
An update to Google’s algorithm released in late 2013 which focuses on conversational search terms rather simply keywords. Essentially Google will look at the meaning behind the phrase to give a more accurate result, rather than just looking at keywords. Many believe that this is in response to an increase in voice activated searches on smart phones. See https://searchengineland.com/google-hummingbird-172816
A link hat points to either information on the same document or another webpage.
A tag used to embed a document within another document. This is used on websites that are looking to display information from another source without the user having to visit another page.
The amount of times something has been seen on the internet. An impression does not count as a click or a ‘hit’. For example, if your website were to be seen as part of Google’s search results this would count as an impression even if the person clicked on a different result. Does not have to be in the search results, can also mean the amount of people that have seen an advertising banner.
Same as ‘external link’. This is a link to your webpage from a different website or domain.
See ‘Google Index’.
See ‘Google Index’ for more information. Indexed is used by SEOs to describe when a website has been crawled by a search engine and subsequently added to their index. Once indexed, Google (or other search engines) will then display your website for search terms that they deem relevant.
When used whilst talking about SEO, information architecture means the structure and organisation of a website. A clean and simple information architecture is not only beneficial for SEO but can also improve user experience.
When someone types a term into a search engine for the purpose of finding information, rather than a transactional or navigational search term.
a page on a website that is not the homepage. An inner page is separated from the homepage by a ‘/’. For example, https://www.domain.com/product
Internal Anchor Text
See ‘anchor text’ and ‘internal links’. The clickable text on links pointing to the same website.
Hyperlinks that point to a page on the same domain/website.
A Google update released in early 2017 that punished web pages with pop-ups and adverts that are damaging to mobile user experience.
A Google webmaster trends analyst, he is an important person to listen to about SEO.
When a keyword is used too many times on different pages on the same website. Google and other search engines then find it difficult to figure out which page to return as a result to the user. A similar concept to duplicate content.
See ‘keywords’ for definition. Keyword density is the percentage of times a keyword appears on a page or website compared with the total number of words. It is an outdated metric that should not be taken into consideration.
See ‘Exact Match Domain’.
The SEO practice of identifying which keywords will be targeted through an ongoing SEO campaign. We teach that keyword research should be incredible thorough as it is one of the driving factors behind campaigns. Keyword research can be conducted through brainstorming, Google’s keyword planner, competitor research and the autofill function of search engines.
Considered to be spam, it is where keywords are included on a webpage unnaturally. This might be repeating the keyword over and over again, or cloaking repetition of the keyword. Keyword stuffing is easily avoided asking yourself the question, if I didn’t know about SEO would I include that phrase?
A word or phrase that is considered to be of high priority in terms of targeting through an SEO campaign. Can also be referred to as search terms.
Similar to Latent Semantic Indexing, Google’s collating of data in order to understand how people search and how everything is connected. They can then link relevant information and display it on the right hand side of the search results. For example, typing in an actor’s name, Google might also give you other actors that have been searched for and are relevant.
The first page that a user sees when visiting a website. This could be the first page after clicking on a Google result, or the page that a banner advert links to. Remember, first impressions count so make this page a good one!
A form of computer learning based upon fuzzy set theory. Probably easiest explained as Google learning about relevance between search terms by their proximity to one another on the web. A bit like Google developing a large thesaurus and constantly constantly developing this by looking at which words are repeatedly seen next to each other across the web. For instance, Google will know that link spam and black hat SEO are related phrases because they will both be mentioned in hundreds of articles about SEO. Co-occurence is a pretty similar theory to LSI; they both mean that you can target search phrases without actually using said phrase (in theory at least!).
In November 2018, Google released Version 5 of its PageSpeed Insights API. It now uses Lighthouse alongside data provided by the Chrome User Experience Report.
The practice of producing content on a site that will earn links from other websites. Whilst in an ideal world all content should be produced to ‘earn’ links, most people use the term link bait to describe a certain style of earning links. Link bait content is often controversial, so that its controversy will entice people into wanting to share it.
A common SEO practice, it is where someone will proactively look to gain links for a website. Link building is possibly the most infamous aspect of SEO, see ‘Penguin Update’ for more information. Ironically, whilst most SEO agencies claim to get ‘high quality natural links’ for their clients, by its very nature links gained through a link building campaign are completely unnatural.
See ‘link rot’.
See ‘Linkspam’. A Black Hat tactic where SEOs or automated systems identify websites, blogs and forums in where they can include links in comments or posts, hence ‘dropping’ a link.
The strength of a website in regards to the followed external links pointing to the site.
Link exchanging is where two (or more) websites agree to link to each other either for referral traffic or as part of their link building strategy. Also see ‘reciprocal linking’.
Also known as link farming. When websites are created in order to provide a link to a destination website. They usually do not link to each other in any way, but are built only to link to a specific website. Link farming is against Google’s webmaster guidelines.
Also known as ‘PageRank hoarding’. Due to the rel=”nofollow” attribute (introduced in 2005) which can be applied to links, webmasters began placing this on all outbound links in order to retain as much PageRank as possible.
Also see the definition for ‘Page Rank’. Link juice is the perceived value that is passed from a website to another when it links to said website. Think of it as the SEO power that links have. In basic terms it is the page rank that is passed to a website by a link, the higher the page rank of the link giving site the more link juice is passed. Link juice was traditionally thought of as flowing one way (to the destination site of the link) but the theory of co-citation argues otherwise.
all of the factors taken into account to determine the value of a link to a website. For more information see https://www.searchenginejournal.com/beginners-guide-to-link-metrics/19926/
a type of linkspam utilised by spammers to quickly build links. Link networks can be defined as a group of websites that are linked together. Whilst websites that are connected by links occur naturally, ‘link network’ is most regularly used to describe spammy sites that have linked together in order to increase the amount of inbound links each website has and therefore manipulate Google’s search results. They are often poorly designed websites and can have links from other completely irrelevant sites.
Link Rot / Link Decay
Links are not always permanent. Pages get deleted, information becomes irrelevant and websites alter their content. Link rot or link decay is the process by which links become broken or devalue due to lack of relevancy.
A term used to describe the various link building tactics used by spammers to attempt to increase search rankings.
The amount of time taken for a webpage or website to fully load on a browser.
Longer phrases used by searchers. See ‘Hummingbird Update’ for Google’s reaction to the increased use of long tail searches/keywords. These search terms are usually more targeted and have less search volume than more generic searches. For example, instead of searching for “restaurant London” a long tail keyword/search term might be “Italian restaurant in Mayfair” or “best luxury restaurant in Mayfair, London”. Long tail keywords are often best targeted through comprehensive content on the subject.
Transactions made through a mobile device. Also see ‘e-commerce’.
Released in December 2017, the unofficially titled Maccabees update is designed to tackle the issues of over-optimisation, particularly focusing on sites which use excessive landing pages – a way of targeting multiple keyword permutations.
Also known simply as ‘Majestic’, they are a data analytics and insights provider that are main rivals with MOZ. Creators of Trust Flow and Citation Flow their tools help SEOs create and manage SEO campaigns.
Also see ‘Google Penalty’. A manual penalty refers to a Google penalty that has arisen by an individual (not a computer algorithm) looking at your site and determining whether you have are in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Webmasters are usually informed of a manual penalty through the messaging system on Google’s webmaster tools.
Head of Google’s Webspam team. When Matt Cutts has news about a Google Update, the SEO world listens intently!
Released on 1st August 2018, this broad core algorithm update appears to target Your Money or Your Life sites; with a particular focus on sites involved in the medical and healthcare sector.
All of the information on a website that has a meta tag such as title tags, meta descriptions and meta keywords.
Could be considered a follow on to the title tag, the meta description is a more detailed (but still reasonably short) description of the web page. Whilst Google do not take into account the meta description for ranking purposes, it is still a very important piece of text for click through rates due to the fact that the meta description is displayed in search results. More information read our guide to meta descriptions
An area within a page’s code where relevant keywords to that page can be input. Google no longer take into account meta keywords when ranking webpages or websites. Read about why meta keywords are useless for SEO and should be avoided
Information within the HEAD of a page which describes the content of that particular page. Also used by search engines to display information about the site in the results.
Values or parameters in relation to SEO. For example, the amount of links pointing to a site could be described as a site’s link metrics. Read our definitive guide to SEO metrics for everything you need to know.
See ‘schema mark up’. Micro Data is the embedding of information about a webpage to specific parts, it helps search engines understand more about the content of the page.
An update to Google’s mobile search algorithm which favoured websites that display correctly on mobile devices. Read our articles on the run up to #mobilegeddon and the reaction after the release of the mobile-friendly update
A recent update to Google’s mobile search algorithm favouring web pages that load quickly on mobile devices.
In November 2016 Google announced that they would switching their algorithms to prioritise content displayed on mobile devices over desktops.
The nickname given to the Mobile-Friendly Update of 2015.
A popular web-based, inbound marketing platform, Moz provides services search as Opensite Explorer. Visit their website: https://moz.com/
Stands for Name, Address and Phone. Commonly used in reference to how a website or business’ contact information is found on the web.
See ‘NAP’. NAP consistency refers to whether a website or business’ contact information is the same across the web or whether there is conflicting information. NAP consistency is often considered to be a basic requirement for local search ranking or location specific search behaviour.
A search term used to find a particular website, can be very similar to branded searches.
Needs Met Rating
The Needs Met Rating is a metric developed by Google to determine the helpfulness of a search result. It rates the relevance of a particular result, focusing on how satisfying it is for the search user. It is specified in the Google Search Rater’s Guidelines and ranges from “Fully Meets” to “Fails to Meet.”
Introduced in 2005 by Matt Cutts and the webspam team at Google it was designed to help prevent webspam. Nofollow is a piece of code (part of the rel attribute) added to a hyperlink to prevent the passing of link juice to the destination site of the link, it is supposed to prevent search engine bots from following the link and crawling the destination site. See more at https://googleblog.blogspot.com/2005/01/preventing-comment-spam.html
A meta tag that prevents search engine bots from indexing a page. It essentially makes the webpage (or website) invisible to the search engines so that it will not turn up in search results. The page can however still be seen by the user if navigated to.
See ‘onsite optimisation’ for a comparison. Describes the work conducted outside of the website in question to improve its rankings on search engines. The most common offsite SEO practices are link building and social media.
Work conducted on the pages of a website to help with its SEO. This might include (but is not exclusive to) filling in the meta data, improving load speed or information architecture, alt tags or content. See ‘offsite SEO’ for a comparison.
An API developed by Facebook to allow developers to connect their website with Facebook. It allows activity on 3rd party websites to be connected with Facebook. For example, Facebook comments plug-in is part of Facebook’s opengraph.
Opensource software is software that can be seen and altered or modified by anyone. Many popular platforms such as WordPress are opensource platforms. Think of it as something developed by a community rather than a private organisation. For a more detailed explanation see https://opensource.com/resources/what-open-source
Used in an SEO sense this can mean when something occurs naturally (see ‘earned links’). It can also refer to the organic results on search engines – these are the results that are not paid for, i.e not adwords or display advertising.
See ‘earned links’. A naturally occurring link.
The results displayed by search engines that have not been paid for.
A meta tag used in conjunction with syndication-source to show which website published the original news story, to be used solely on Google News. See syndication source for more information.
A link from your website to another website i.e pointing out of your website.
When an aspect of SEO has been overused. Common places of over optimisation are link anchor text and over use of keyword rich Alternative Text on images
Also known as webpages. Refers to a single webpage (not a website).
A metric developed by Moz to determine how likely a particular page is to rank on Google. Page Authority is ranked on a scale of 0-100 (100 being the highest score).
An update that penalised sites with excessive advertising above the fold. It also looks at how content is displayed to the user. Also known as the ‘Top Heavy Update’.
An algorithm developed by Google which assigns a score of 0-10 (10 being the highest) to websites. PageRank is determined by the value of links pointing to a website. Named after one of Google’s founders, Larry Page.
The amount of times a page has been viewed.
Also see ‘link building’. Links which have been acquired through a transaction. Does not necessarily have to be a monetary transaction; a paid link could also be defined as one acquired by the gifting of a product.
A Google update released in February 2011, it is one of Google’s major updates and is designed to prevent onsite spam. This meant that Google placed more emphasis on high quality content on a website, and punished those that had low quality, spammy content.
Multiple versions of the Payday Loan Update hold this industry to a higher standard in the search results. A direct effort by Google to protect the interests of the searcher.
A Google update released in April 2012 that joined forces with the Panda Update. This update focuses on penalising websites that engage in link spam.
Google updates that have been released with no pre warning or explanation. They are rare, but the two phantom updates thus far have had some serious consequences for websites that have been caught out by them!
A programming language that is widely used by developers. For more information see https://php.net/manual/en/intro-whatis.php
A Google update released in 2014 designed to improve local search results according to the searcher’s location.
A Google update released in August 2012 that works to penalise sites with numerous copyright infringement notices.
A piece of software that can be installed into another to provide a specific piece of functionality.
An update released in the latter half on 2016 that had a profound impact on local searches affecting 2/3 of local searches.
PPC (Pay Per Click)
Bidding platforms for advertisers, PPC is also used to describe Google Adwords. PPC can be for any type of digital advertising that charges the advertiser every time the advert is clicked on.
Also known as a canonical domain, it is the domain (or URL) which you would like search engines to index. Set through the search console. For more information see our guide to canonical URLs.
Quality Score (PPC)
A term used by Google Adwords which can affect the rank and cost of an advert. Scored on a scale of 1-10. Quality Score is based upon the relevance and use of the website to the user for any given keyword. For more information see https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/2454010?hl=en-GB
Also see Phantom Update. This was an unannounced update looking at rewarding sites with high quality content and user experience.
When a computer requests information. It can also be used to refer to a ‘search term’, i.e what someone types into a search engine.
Co-founder of Moz.com and co-author of “The Art of SEO”. He is possibly the most well known person in the SEO world behind Matt Cutts.
A form of AI tested by Google in conjunction with their Hummingbird search algorithm designed to provide better results for queries that have never been entered into Google before (15% of all searches are uniquely new). Read more on Rankbrain here.
Usually given as a number, the position in which Google returns your website within their results for given search terms.
When two websites link to each other. Reciprocal links are naturally occurring but when proactively developed can be deemed as link spam. Also see ‘link exchange’.
Also see ‘Google Penalty’ and ‘Disavow Tool’. A reconsideration request is sent to Google once a website has removed any spam so that Google can check and subsequently remove a Google penalty. See https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35843?hl=en.
See ‘301 redirect’ and ‘302 redirect’. A piece of code that automatically redirects a browser to another webpage.
Web Traffic that has come from other websites. For instance, if a blog were to link to a website, any traffic that arrived on the site through this link would be considered referral traffic.
A piece of code which specifies the relationship between two documents. See https://www.w3schools.com/htmL/html_intro.asp
A rel attribute assigned to a page to identify the webpage where the original content is situated.
An often used term in SEO to describe how closely aligned either content or another website is to your content or website. Can include keywords.
Most commonly used by display advertisers, remarketing displays your advert on 3rd party websites that are within a particular network to customers who have visited your website. Popular with e-commerce sites, remarketing usually runs through established platforms such as Google’s Display Network and runs on a Cost Per Click Basis.
Also known rep management, online reputation management or ORM. It is the monitoring of an online presence through either manipulating websites, utilising SEO techniques to push more positive material higher up in the results or in rare cases using Black Hat techniques such as Google Bowling.
Using networks such as the Google Display Network and Facebook to display adverts to recent visitors of your site, on another platform. For example, displaying an advert to someone on Facebook who has recently visited your site. Also see remarketing.
see Quality Update and Phantom Updates.
A type of markup data that attaches more information to content. Introduced to Google’s algorithm in 2009 rich snippets are displayed in Google’s results to give the user more information on results. This could be in the form of user review scores or price. See https://developers.google.com/structured-data/?visit_id=636973303393779619-2285085110&hl=en&rd=1.
See ‘bots’. Automated computer programs that navigate and store data from the web.
Also known as the Robot Exclusion Standard, it is a file added to a website with instructions for bots that are entering the site. These instructions can include pages that you do not want the bot to index or a request at how often the search engine should visit your site.
Stands for ‘return on investment’. Usually quantified in monetary terms it is a question often asked in relation to company spend and how long a service or product will take to recoup the spend and how much money will be made as a result of the spend. For example, if I were to hire your SEO agency for £1000 per month, how long would it take for my website to start making £1000 per month profit (or more) as a direct result of your service?
A feed which allows you to collate information from other sources in one place. Think of an RSS feed as a constant news feed taken from your favourite places, whether that be BBC news or Twitter. Many argue that RSS stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’.
Essentially a labelling system which gives search engines more information. Schema mark up is structured data which can be assigned to certain aspects of a webpage in order for search engines to return more information to the searcher. Also see ‘rich snippets’.
A collaboration between Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! to provide a mark up language.
Taking content from another website and placing it on your website (or another). This is often completed by automated bots. Whilst scraping content is not necessarily spammy, scraping content and then ‘spinning’ it as your own is considered to be spam.
Formerly known as Webmaster Tools. Search Console is a free platform provided by Google to display analytics and searcher behaviour for a website. Unlike Google Analytics (with which it can be synced), Search Console looks at CTR from search, link profiles and provides opportunities to submit your sitemap to Google, amongst a range of additional functionality.
A program that allows the user to search for documents on a database or on the world wide web. Search engine is a term most commonly used in reference to programs such as Google, Yahoo! or Bing which allow their users to search for websites or pages on the internet.
The keyword or phrase entered into a search engine by a user.
Also see ‘search engine’. These are the results given back to the user of a search engine for any given search term.
Same as ‘search query’.
An incredibly useful principle in ensuring that your keyword research is efficient and that the keywords you target in an SEO campaign will bring you the best results. It is used to define the objective of a person when searching using a search engine.
SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
The practice of gaining increased exposure for a website or webpage through services offered by search engines. This can include ‘SEO’, ‘display advertising’ or ‘PPC’.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
The practice of increasing a website’s ranking on the search engine results pages (SERP’s) through various tactics.
SERP (Search Engine Results Page)
A webpage that offers results according to a searcher’s query, i.e the page that you see when you search for something on Google. As a standard default, Google tends to return around 10 results per page (or SERP).
A metric via Google Analytics that represents a visitor to your site. They can visit multiple pages in a session or have multiple sessions (tabs) open but the maximum time limit for a session is 30 minutes. It is often easiest to think of a session as someone visiting your site for a given period.
The way in which a website is laid out. Site Structure can be incredibly important for SEO and should be taken into account whilst designing the site.
Sitelinks are the useful sub links shown in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) below the main link, giving users the ability to dive into internal pages straight away.
A page which documents that layout of each page on the website and provides a link to that page. Traditionally thought of as allowing a search engine bot to easily index and entire site from one page.
Also known as a carousel. A popular way of displaying images that rotate on a webpage, usually on the homepage of a website.
SMM (Social Media Marketing)
The technique of increasing exposure for an individual, company or website through the use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat or Google+.
A series of events around the world put on by SearchEngineLand.com. These events are focussed on search engine marketing.
A search snippet is a short summary of the content of a webpage that is displayed below the URL of an organic search result. It describes how the content of that page is relevant to the user and highlights keywords from the search term. The length of these descriptions are affected by different factors and can vary in length.
A convenient way to bookmark sites online. In other words, instead of noting down a useful website in a book, or using a bookmarking system on your computer, social bookmarking allows the user to do this online and therefore access it from anywhere. On public sites these social bookmarks also provide a backlink and as such have been heavily used by spammers.
The sharing of information via social media platforms. For example, the ‘share’ button on Facebook or retweeting on Twitter.
Also see ‘Black Hat SEO’. There are various definitions of spam (we are not talking about the process meat here!). Internet spam can come in a variety of forms, the most popular of which is email spam. Spam is usually nonspecific, irrelevant and low quality, ‘pray and spray’ methods of either increasing exposure on the web or more maliciously, attempts at monetary or identity theft. In an SEO sense, spam is anything that contravenes Google’s webmaster guidelines. For more information on what Google treat as spam either see the webmaster guidelines or https://searchenginewatch.com/sew/how-to/2286153/what-is-pure-spam-10-examples-from-google.
A metric featured on MOZ’s Open Site Explorer to indicate how many spam flags on a website. It’s a score out of 17 (zero being the best) with indications of each of the flags to help you improve your spam score.
See ‘spam’. Someone who engages in spam on the web.
Spammy Guest Blog
Also known as a ‘splog’, they rose to prominence after guest posting was suggested as a legitimate form of link building. SEOs decided to ignore quality as a factor and built blogs purely for the sake of hosting articles with links. See our article on Guest Blogs for more information.
See ‘bot’. An automated program used by search engines to index the world wide web.
See ‘article spinning’. When someone takes content from a website and rewrites it. Spinning is often low quality and used by spammers.
A spam blog. A splog is set up purely to help manipulate the search engines by providing backlinks to other sites, splogs are an evolution of link directories. They are relatively easy to spot because of little user engagement, pure quality articles and irrelevant subject matter.
The name says it all. Content that remains the same. Think of it as the opposite to a Twitter feed.
In general this means any data that has been organised (in any format). In regards to SEO, structured data is normally used to describe mark up languages such as ‘schema.org’. Essentially a previously agreed language in order to correctly label content, making it easier for search engines to display results and information.
A type of meta tag released by Google so that websites can label content that has been scraped from other websites. For instance, if an article from a news site has been posted on your site, you can then place a syndication source tag on the page to tell Google that it is not the original source of the content.
Also called ‘Anchor Text’ this is the clickable text that a user can see of a link on the internet.
Refers to the space on a freshly loaded page where information above the point does not require the user to scroll down, and anything below this point requires the user to scroll down. The fold is a term that has come about because of printed newspapers. Newspapers are usually folded in half and as a result, anything above the fold would be seen by the reader first thus making it more attractive for advertisers.
Content that provides little or no use to the user. Thin content is often used by spammers to increase the amount of content and therefore keywords on a website.
Most often used in relation to the relevancy of content. If a piece of content is highly specific to a point in time it is likely to have a high time decay because it will quickly become irrelevant. For example, a promotional piece for an event. In contrast, see Evergreen Content.
Also known as ‘title elements’, the title tag describes the content of a web page. It is often one of the first places that keywords are inserted into a web page. Unless automatically changed by Google, it is also often the text seen in search results. Read more on title tags.
Top Heavy Update
See Page Layout Algorithm. The nickname given to an update which sought to improve user experience and prevent large amounts of advertising being displayed to the user when they visit a site.
The people that visit a website. Does not necessarily have to be people, although traffic from robots may be considered spam traffic.
Also see ‘search query’. Transactional keywords are keywords (or searches’ that are used by someone for the intention of finding something to buy. For example, ‘brown leather shoes’ is a transactional keyword.
Part of MajesticSEO’s trademarked Flow Metrics, Trust Flow analyses a website’s ability to rank based on the trustworthiness of their backlink profile. Like Domain Authority, MajesticSEO assign a score of 100 for Trust Flow with 100 being the best.
URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
A unique web address. See Oracle’s definition: https://docs.oracle.com/javase/tutorial/networking/urls/definition.html
A person using the internet.
How a website attracts and engages people on the web. User acquisition could be in reference to advertising or marketing on third party sites, but could also refer to how a website converts visitors into customers.
When someone is using your website. There are varying levels of user engagement, from reading content or watching a video to writing product reviews or filling in a questionnaire. For the most part, increased user engagement is good for websites.
User Experience (UX)
Also known as UX. It is the experience that someone has when they visit a webpage or website. UX takes into account everything from how content is written, to the design of the website and how easy it is to find information or buy something.
The method by which a user navigates the site and the route that they might take. Analysing user flows can hep web designers to create higher converting websites and identify key drop off points.
User Generated Content
Content on a website that is produced by visitors to a site. A common form of user generated content are product reviews.
When an SEO talks about ‘user intent’ it is usually in reference to searcher intent, i.e what was the searcher really wanting to achieve by typing in their search query?
User Interface (UI)
Often confused with UX, UI most commonly refers to the design of a site and how a user interacts with it. Think men structures and layout.
The way in which someone navigates a website (or the internet as a whole!). Analysing user journeys can help you increase how efficiently your website converts visitors into customers.
Also see User Experience and User Interface. Whilst specialist areas, this term is used to broadly describe the thought process behind how a user interacts with a website and how that website makes them feel. Bear in mind that you can be a specific UX designer or a specific UI designer.
A Google update based upon the user’s location. When relevant, Google will return local results in the organic results rather than just in the Google local box. See https://moz.com/blog/understand-and-rock-the-google-venice-update.
Voice Search is a way of searching a search engine’s database by vocalising your query to an eyes-free device, such as a mobile phone, computer or virtual assistant, and having the results spoken back to you. Voice search is becoming an increasingly popular way for users to source information from the internet. But how is it shaping the future of SEO?
A term used to describe a shift in how the internet has been used. Broadly categorised into dynamic web pages (rather than static pages) and the heavy use of social media.
The person responsible for the administration of a website. This can include but is not exclusive to buying and registering the domain, designing and developing the website, along with the continued maintenance, growth and planning of the website.
A free platform provided by Google which tracks how a website is performing on Google’s search engine and also allows webmasters to submit sitemaps. It could also be linked with Google Analytics. Rebranded to Google Search Console in 2015. For more information see https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/9128668?hl=en&visit_id=636973303414741344-3485717263&rd=1.
White Board Fridays
A weekly video and transcript created on Moz.com discussing SEO techniques and updates.
SEO techniques that abide to search engine guidelines. Generally speaking, White Hat SEO is focussed on the user rather than purely attempting to manipulate the search rankings.
An application that can be imbedded into a website to perform a function.
An opensource Content Management System popular with bloggers.
Also see ‘sitemap’. An xml file that documents all the pages on a website and can be submitted to search engines.
In March 2018, Google rolled out an update that removed organic results for a number of definitive search queries such as dates and times, famous birthdays and mathematical equations. The update was stopped by the end of March but could see a return.