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SEO Glossary


Above the Fold

This terminology was inherited from newspaper editors, who were preoccupied with getting their content to look perfect above the physical fold or crease in the paper.

Absolute Link

An absolute link includes all of the information needed for a server to find a site, including the protocol (such as HTTP), the domain name, the directory or subdirectory, and the file name and extension.

Active Server Pages (ASP)

Active Server Pages (ASP) is Microsoft’s server-side scripting environment, similar to the Common Gateway Interface (CGI).

Advanced Search Commands/Boolean Search

There are ways to get more direct answers with queries to Google (and most other search engines).

Adversarial Information Retrieval

In SEO, this is also referred to as search engine spamming or “spamdexing.” Basically, it consists of information retrieval from a user by malicious or manipulative means.


See Google AdWords.


This programming term is short for “asynchronous JavaScript and XML.” It allows multiple Web applications to send and retrieve data from a server in the background without interfering with the current display of the page (i.e. without having to reload).


Within the context of SEO, many people talk about Google’s algorithm. An algorithm is a mathematical term that describes a formula or procedure used for solving a problem.

Algorithmic Filter

An algorithmic filter is a search engine augmentation that can negatively affect a website that would otherwise be ranked higher.

Alt Text/Tag/Attribute

Those who are blind use screen reader software to read and understand the Internet. Alt text is the alternative text that can be used to describe an element, usually an image.

Anchor Text

Very rarely are URLs “naked.” The links that you click are often embedded in visible, highlighted anchor text.

API (Application Program Interface)

This phrase is used in computer programming to describe a set of routines, protocols, and standardized requests for software applications.


See Domain Authority.


An authority is a widely recognized leader in a specific field. An online authority could include the website of a government agency, a highly regarded brand, a college, or a reputable nonprofit.


A backlink can also be referred to as an inbound link, incoming link, or external link.

Bait and Switch

This is an old and often deceptive marketing trick: Someone advertises something with a low price, and then the customer goes to buy the product but finds that it’s unavailable.

Banner Blindness

Also called “ad blindness,” this describes a phenomenon where site users ignore banner ads or banner-like information (such as navigation menus).

Behavioral Targeting

This is an ever-evolving online marketing technique that attempts to pair advertisements with users based on Web-browsing behavior.

Benefit Statement

It’s a common sales tactic to focus on benefits rather than features. Features are the product’s attributes (for example, this coffee pot features a heat-resistant, gel handle), whereas benefits are what a customer gets out of using the product (the coffee pot’s soft-grip handle repels heat for easy pouring).


Bing is an alternative, less-popular search engine than Google; however, it is the default search engine on some systems.

Bing Ads

Bing Ads is the pay-per-click advertising option for the Bing and Yahoo! search engines.

Bing Webmaster Tools

As a free service, Microsoft’s Bing Webmaster Tools allows webmasters to index their site and invites them to troubleshoot issues.

Black-Hat SEO

These are the bad guys of the SEO world, using shady tactics that sometimes end in immediate gratification but can have horrible long-term results.

Block-Level Analysis

Basically, this is a way search engine crawlers view a Web page to assess link quality.


A blog is a website containing posts that can include content about a wide array of topics, from fashion to politics.

Blog Comment Spam

Blogs often allow readers to leave comments on entries.


When a webmaster wants to make text appear in a bolder version of a font, they’ll use the and HTML tags.


The majority of browsers allow users to “bookmark” or “favorite” pages that they like so that they can return to those pages more readily.

Bounce Rate

Picture this scenario: A user enters a query into Google and views the search results.

Branded Keywords

Branded keywords are search terms that include a brand name, or some variation of it, and suggest that the searcher is looking for your company or website specifically.

Broken Link

A broken link is a hyperlink that leads to a page that doesn’t exist or has been deleted or moved, often resulting in a 404 error.


A browser is an application used for viewing HTML files and navigating the World Wide Web.

Buying Cycle/Sales Funnel

It’s important to gauge how interested a person visiting your site actually is and to cater to people at each point of the buying cycle.

The cache is referred to in computing as the component that stores data so that future requests for the data can be served faster.
Call to Action (CTA)
A call to action could include anything from “call us for more information” to “fill out this online form.”
Within the study of computer science, canonicalization refers to the process of converting data with more than one representation into a standardized form.
Canonical URL
A canonical URL is the “right” version of a set of URLs with the same content.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, is a coding language used for creating visually engaging websites and user interfaces from XML documents (usually HTML and XHTML).
Click-Through Rate (CTR)
A call to action could include anything from “call us for more information” to “fill out this online form.”
Cloaking is a SEO technique that presents content to a search engine spider that’s different from the content that’s visible to the user.
Common Gateway Interface (CGI)
TIn its basic form, CGI refers to the connection between a form on a website and the server.
Content Fragmentation
Sometimes referred to as thin content, this has been used as a spam tactic for websites to achieve more organic visibility.
Content Management System (CMS)
A CMS is an application that allows non-technical users to edit, publish, modify, and manage a website.
Conversion simply refers to turning a potential buyer or participant into an actual buyer or participant.
Conversion Form
A conversion form is used to generate sales leads for a website.
An Internet cookie is just a piece of information stored as strings of text on a computer after its user visits a website.
Copyright is both a legal right and a form of intellectual property.
Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
Also called Cost Per Action, Cost Per Conversion, and Pay Per Action, CPA is a pricing model that only makes an advertiser pay when a specific action has occurred.
Cost Per Click (CPC)
Cost Per Click (CPC) is the price that marketers pay during Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns.
Cost Per Mille (CPM)
Did you know that CPM actually doesn’t refer to “cost per million” but cost per thousand?
Crawl Depth
Crawl depth is the degree to which a search engine indexes a site.
Crawl Frequency
Search engine spiders crawl sites for relevant terms and information.
The act of cybersquatting includes when a person registers a domain name with the intent of selling it to its rightful owner rather than using it.
Dark Web/Deep Web
Not to be confused with “dark Web,” “deep Web” refers to the large portion of the World Wide Web that’s not indexed by search engines like Google.
Dayparting is a marketing term inherited by search marketing from broadcast and television programming.
Dedicated Server
Websites are hosted on servers, usually either on a shared hosting server, a hybrid server, or one dedicated server.
A term used in both the academic study of geography and modern marketing, demographics feature statistical data relating to a population.
A domain is a subset of the Internet with one shared suffix, often owned by one company, organization, or individual.
Domain Age
Domain age refers to the amount of time since a domain name was first registered by its registrant.
Domain Authority
Domain Authority is the overall weight of a domain as a whole.
Domain Name Server (DNS)
A DNS or Domain Name Server takes our words (domain names and addresses) and translates them into machine-friendly numbers (Internet Protocol or IP addresses).
Domain Registrar
In order to create a website, a webmaster must first register a domain name.
Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is a common SEO technical issue.
Dynamic Languages
Many different programming languages, from PHP to JavaScript to Perl to Python, can be considered dynamic languages.
Engagement Metrics
Engagement metrics refer to several types of data sets that measure how potential customers engage with your content.
Ethical SEO
Ethical SEO, sometimes called white-hat SEO, refers to search engine optimization practices that abide by the rules and policies laid down by search engines.
Exit Rate
Exit rate refers to the percentage of users who leave a website after viewing a specific page.
Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML)
Extensible Hypertext Markup Language, abbreviated XHTML, is the successor to HTML, the language traditionally used to create Web pages.
Extensible Markup Language (XML)
Extensible Markup Language is a markup language used to describe data. XML, unlike HTML, has no predefined elements.
External Link
See Backlink.
A favicon, short for favorite icon, is a file containing a small (usually 16×16 pixels) icon associated with a website or Web page.
See Web Feed File Transfer Protocol (FTP) File Transfer Protocol is what it sounds like: a standard protocol on the Internet for transmitting and transferring files between computers.
See Algorithmic Filter
Adobe Flash is a program used in the creation of online multimedia elements such as animations, graphics, and games.
See Above the Fold.
A frame is a part of a Web page that is able to load independent of its container.
Google AdSense
This is Google’s program for content creators and publishers that allows them to place targeted online text or display ads next to their content and generate revenue.
Google Analytics
Google Analytics offers webmasters and online marketers detailed information regarding a website’s overall traffic.
Google Bomb
This refers to a malicious smear campaign, aimed at getting a company, group, or person to rank for unappealing or inaccurate keywords.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console, formerly Webmaster Tools, is a free service featuring useful programs to help webmasters monitor a website’s success in search.
Google Webmaster Guidelines
These are Google’s “best practices” for designing a site that will be noticed by Google on both a technical and overall quality level.
Google Webmaster Tools
See Google Search Console

See Page Title


An .htaccess, or Hypertext Access, file allows you to make dynamic configuration changes to your server for a specific directory.


See Hypertext Markup Language

HTML Sitemap

An HTML sitemap is a page that links to all the other pages on a website.


HTTP, or Hypertext Transfer Protocol, is the underlying set of rules for all data communication on the World Wide Web.


HTTPS is short for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure.

Hub Sites

See Authorities


Google updates its algorithm frequently, but occasionally, it rolls out major updates.

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language, and it describes a language used for creating Web pages.

Inbound Link
See Backlink.
Indexed Pages
After Google’s spiders crawl a website, the next step is to index it.
Information Architecture
Information architecture blends the art and science of organizing websites, software, and online communities.
Information Retrieval
Information retrieval refers to the science of obtaining information from large data sets or a collection of resources, usually through the use of a computer or a computerized system.
Internal Link
An internal link directs to a page on the same domain as the domain the link exists on: Basically, it’s a link that points to another page on the same website.
The Internet is a vast global system of interconnected networks using one standard set of communication protocols (TCP/IP).
Internet Service Provider
An Internet service provider (or ISP) is an organization or company that provides services for accessing the Internet (including for business or personal use).
IP Address
In order to access the Internet using standard (TCP/IP) protocols, a person needs to use a device.
See Internet Service Provider.
JavaScript is a programming language used by Web developers and embedded into most Web pages.
When people type search phrases into Google, how does the search engine know which site is most relevant to those phrases?
Keyword Cannibalization
Keyword cannibalization refers to when a webmaster uses the same keyword or key phrase over and over again on multiple pages, which weakens the potential ranking power of all of those pages.
Keyword Density
Keyword density is a percentage devised from a simple ratio: the number of times keywords or keyword phrases appear on the page compared to the total amount of words.
Keyword Research
This is the practice of finding the most optimal keywords and search terms to help a site or page rank higher in search.
Keywords (Not Provided)
Google Analytics is a great tool for webmasters, providing a variety of useful information on organic search and visitor behavior.
Also sometimes referred to as “over-optimizing,” keyword-stuffing is repetitively using keywords on pages so that Google and other search engines will recognize them, even though the content itself may read poorly.
Knowledge Graph
Depending on the search, sometimes Google will show a small box of factual information on the right side of search results.
Landing Page
A user will often come to a landing page after clicking on an advertisement, email marketing link, social media link, or a search result.
See Google Bomb
To rank well in search engines, websites need other reputable sites linking to them.
Link Juice
Positive ranking power passes down from one site to another via links.
Log Files
Almost anything someone does on a computer can be recorded with log files.
Long-Tail Keyword
Specific, narrowly focused, and longer keyword phrases are often called long-tail keywords.
Made-For-Advertising Site (MFA)
Low-value sites with thin content and many ads are sometimes referred to as MFAs, or made-for-advertising sites.
Malicious Tagging
Malicious tagging happens mostly on the social media network Facebook.
Manual Action
More evolved search engines, such as Google, tend to rely heavily on algorithms to evaluate pages.
Manual Action
Reconsideration If your site has been penalized by Google or another major search engine, you may be able to fix issues and then submit a reconsideration request.
A meme, in its broadest definition, is anything that can be passed from one individual to another within a culture.
Metadata is data about data. In HTML, the <meta> tag is used to describe a document. Its information won’t appear on the actual page but will be machine-parsable.
Meta Description
In HTML, we use <meta> tags to denote information that won’t show up on the actual page. Meta Keywords Meta keywords are keywords related to the content on a given Web page that do not get displayed on the actual page. Mid-Tail Keyword A mid-tail keyword aims to balance between two extremes: the highly competitive, high-ranking short-tail keywords and the less competitive, longer, more conversion-driven long-tail keywords.
Negative SEO
This is a highly unethical, “black-hat” SEO tactic that involves attacking another site to lower its rankings.
Using nofollow is a way of linking to another site without transferring any PageRank to the site.
This is a highly unethical, “black-hat” SEO tactic that involves attacking another site to lower its rankings.
Organic Traffic
Organic traffic refers to traffic that comes to your site directly from organic search and not from paid search or referrals.
Google looks at the amount and quality of links a site has to determine its importance.
Page Segmentation
Page segmentation refers to when separate parts of a website are treated differently in terms of SEO.
Page Title/Heading
In HTML, heading tags are used to create section headings on a Web page. This can be useful in organizing the information on the page.
In 2011, Google’s Panda update rolled out many changes to the search engine’s algorithm.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
PPC refers to an advertising model that only requires a marketer to pay when an ad is clicked.
See Manual Action.
In 2012, Google announced another major change to its algorithm, which came to be known as Google’s Penguin update, and it has since undergone a series of updates.
PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor
PHP is a scripting language often embedded into HTML and used for Web development.
Portable Document Format (PDF)
A PDF is a widely used file format that captures a printed document as an electronic image.
A query is a request for information from a database or an information system.
Query Deserves Freshness (QDF)
Some queries that searchers enter into engines are very frequently updated, whereas others are less frequently updated.
Query Refinement
Have you ever noticed how Google interacts with you when you’re entering in a query?
Ranking Factor
A ranking factor is anything that is taken into account by a search engine’s ranking algorithm.
Referral String
When someone follows a link on a Google results page, they are redirected through a Google-generated URL before they are brought to the page they intend to visit.
Relative Link
A relative link is different from an absolute link, which includes all of the information needed for a server to find a site.
After a marketing campaign, some people may have come to your website and were interested in your product but did not make a purchase.
Return on Investment (ROI)
Return on investment is a measure of how the gains from an investment compare to the cost of the investment.
Webmasters can tell search engine robots how to crawl their site (or, more accurately, how to not crawl their site).
See Return on Investment.
RSS Feed
RSS stands for Rich Site Summary (or, according to others, Really Simple Syndication) and refers to a format for publishing recent website updates in syndication.
SERP stands for search engine results page and refers to a list of results obtained by performing a search using a search engine.
Shared Server
A shared server is a Web server that hosts many different websites, each on a different partition.
Short-Tail Keyword
A keyword that’s short, often including only one or two highly popular words or phrases, is called a short-tail keyword.
A sitemap is a file that lists the pages of a website and includes other important information about these pages.
Search engines run certain types of programs, or “bots,” that systematically browse the World Wide Web, collecting information about each page they visit and saving a copy for later processing.
The <strong> tag in HTML gives strong emphasis to specific text.
Title Tag/Page Title
Title tags establish the title of a given Web page.
Top Heavy (Google Update)
On January 19, 2012, Google updated their page layout algorithms and websites with too much ad-space above the fold were devalued.
Website traffic refers to the number of visitors a site receives, how many links they click, and how long they stay on a given page.
In HTML, the <u> tag is used to underline text on a Web page, often for emphasis.
Unique Selling Point
See Benefit Statement.
URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator and refers to a string of characters that directs a browser to a specific resource on the Web, often a Web page.
User-Generated Content
Any content that’s created by the users of an online service or system is user-generated content.
Web Directory
A directory is a list of links based on categories and subcategories.
Web Feed
A Web feed, also referred to as a syndication feed, is a popular format for providing users with frequently updated data and content.
White-Hat SEO
See Ethical SEO.
In terms of SEO, it usually refers to a small Web application that is fun or useful.
XML Sitemap
An XML sitemap is not a viewable page on a website but a file that contains links to all of the pages on the site.
Yahoo began in 1994 as a Web directory created by Stanford University students David Filo and Jerry Yang.