If you are new to SEO, then you are sure to have questions about what some of the jargon means. Here you will find a list of the most common terms you are likely to encounter in your leaning curve SEO.
Black hat SEO is the usage of manipulating search engine rankings by utilizing methods which are against the general guidelines set forth by the major search engines. These practices are designed to circumvent the algorithmic safeguards developed by the search engines, helping websites gain high rankings in search engine result pages without having the intrinsic merits to do so without such tactics.
White hat SEO is the process by which websites can gain higher organic rankings in search engine result pages. White hat SEO activities fall within the guidelines set forth by the major search engines, and do not utilize questionable methods to trick search engine algorithms to gain an unfair advantage over competing websites.
TrustRank is the process of algorithmically (this process is done) separating good quality pages and spam by evaluating linking relationships.
The title or title tag of a web page is used to describe its content web. Page titles appear in the search results as links which point searchers to the resulting pages which the search engine found to be relevant to the search conducted by the searcher.
A text link ad is a textual advertisement (sometimes inline) but often as a link on the side, or footer of a website.
A soft 404 is a webpage which has no technical issues, and loads properly and fully. However, due to no or thin content, Google deems the page as unhelpful, and assigns a soft 404. This information appears in the Google Search Console (previously known as Webmaster Tools).
A sitemap is a list of pages (usually only the important ones) of a website that is accessible to search engine spiders and users. Usually, it is coded in an HTML format. However, sitemaps which are a submitted directory to search engines (e.g., Google Sitemaps) and coded in XML.
Search Engine Result Page or SERP refers to the page which displays information generated based on a search query entered into the search engine.
Search engine optimization is the art (and science) of presenting information to the search engines in a manner that helps the search engine algorithms best understand the relevance of the queries being conducted by search engine users
Canonical URLs or "canonicalization" refers to the elimination of duplicate content through the designation of one version of a particular page of data as the dominant (authoritative) one. For example, within the e-commerce websites, certain set of products can be organized in a variety of ways: creating pages that have the same exact content but have different URLs. To fix this, a canonical tag is added to the non-primary pages to tell the search engines where to find the primary page of the content.
This process would look like, a website that sells furniture, that includes the pages tables of different colors and materials. We can arrive at the same set of products through the following scenarios:Furniture > Tools > Drill > Mesh (example.com/tools/drill/mesh)
With the use of the Canonical Tag, the website indicates which of these pages should be considered the primary page this eliminates the risk of duplicating content in search engines by instructing search engine spiders to not index the secondary pages.
The visible, clickable text in a hyperlink is called the "anchor text". The anchor text is generally a descriptive term which tells the user the topic or name of the destination page.
Example: <a href="http://www.rank.com">Search Engine Optimization Company In this example "Search Engine Optimization Company" is the anchor text.
Analytics or website analytics refers to the collection, organization, and presentation of website traffic and user activity data through a script/tag. The data gathered is used to track the performance of the website, and also help improve the functionality, and conversion rate of the website.
The "alt attribute" or "alt text" is used to indicate the alternative textual information which is to be displayed instead of an image in case the subject image cannot be rendered by the browser.
Example: <img src="https://www.example.com/images/seo-competition.png" alt="The alt text for the image.png goes here">
A style of HTML formatting developed by Google to help sites load lightning-fast mobile pages utilizing the Google delivery infrastructure. A webmaster can develop AMP versions of website pages which are then indexed and cached on Google servers. When a user clicks on an AMP page from within Google search results, Google delivers the cached page. AMP has certain limitations and is mainly designed to help a quick page load for mobile users.
An absolute link is one where the destination href value of the anchor tag is fully qualified and includes all of the following:
the transfer protocol: http://
domain name: www.example.com
file name: my-page.html
Example of fully qualified link: <a href="http://www.example.com/index.html">Example</a>
Contextual ads the most the most contextual advertising program displayed in relation to relevant content. Google AdSense for example, if a home improvement website is a Google AdSense publisher, the ads that would show on its pages would be determined based on the topic of each web page--a page on a macintosh business may show ads for macbook, or other parts and services.
This is a file that is placed in the root folder of a website and provides directives for the search engines as to which pages of the site should not be indexed.
This is the exercise of ensuring that the message of your company/brand is prominent in search results when a search is conducted for your company/brand name or any other recognizable product, trademark, or copyright.
Reputation management is also possible for individuals who are looking to protect their name.
A relative link is one where the destination href value of the anchor tag is relative to the location of the current page.
Example of relative link: <a href="../index.html">Example</a>
If a website has been penalized and excluded from a search engine's index due to spamming, there is an appeal process put in place by the search engines that allows the website owner to request to be included back into the search engine index after having fixed the infraction that caused the penalty.
A redirect is the process of redirecting a search engine spider or web browser from one location on a site to another location on the same site (or outside). There are two types of important redirects:301: Moved Permanently - this is the preferred method of page redirection, especially for SEO purposes as it helps pass along any link/authority value the page has to its new location. 302: Moved Temporarily - this redirects the page being requested from its original server to a temporary relocated new URL.
It's the exercise of exchanging links in hopes of gaining better rankings in the search engine results pages. Basically, the idea is "I'll link to you meaning (the authority website) if you link to me meaning (your website)". This generally results in a low quality link profile and not much (if any) improvement in rankings, especially if the only incoming links to a site are based on a reciprocal linking scheme.
It is machine learning search algorithm developed by Google. RankBrain was developed to understand new queries for which it had no previous reference, providing users with relevant results even when they submit for entirely unique queries.
It is the process of obtaining listings on web properties such as business directories by paying a fee and going through an editorial review process.
It is a value between 0 and 1 that is assigned to a web document by the Google algorithm. It is one of the measures used to determine the value/relevance of a page in relation to a particular search term. PageRank is distinct from Toolbar PageRank from its value between 0 and 10 assigned algorithmically by Google that indicates the importance of a page (Google algorithms). The Toolbar PageRank is updated a few times per year.
Organic search results refers to the portion of results on the search engine result pages that are unpaid. These listings are different from the paid ones generally by the way they appear on the top, right, and bottom of the organic listings.
It's a hyperlink attribute which is used to prevent a link from passing value/authority. This attribute is most often used in user-generated content (e.g., blog comments, and forum posts)to discourage link spam.
It is the process of acquiring inbound links for a website in order to positively impact its search engine rankings. Not every type of link is considered high quality so link building can be a laborious and time-consuming process providing high quality, useful, and/or engaging content.
It is one or more websites that provide linking opportunities. They exercise virtually no editorial control over listings within the site or collection.
This describes a search term which is more specific but has a much smaller search volume compared to the main keywords of a category of keywords. For example, a 'green widget' being one of the top keywords in a category would have related long tails such as 'custom wooden dark green widget', which has a relatively small number of searches but is much more descriptive/specific. Though long tail keywords have small number of searches individually, they comprise the majority of the searches conducted in the search engines.
It is a meta tag that allows a descriptive sentence or two about the website or specific web page. Relevant meta description tag content can appear in the search results below the page title.
Example of a meta description tag:
<meta name="description" content="The content of the meta description goes here." />
It is a meta tag that can be used to provide the search engines a list of keywords relevant to a page's topic. The meta keywords tag has a very big impact on search results nowadays.
Example of meta keywords tag:
<meta name="keywords" content="widget, blue widget, blue wooden widget" />
It is a meta tag that is used to make a browser refresh (this is not a redirect) to another URL.
Example of meta tag refresh:
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="3;url=http://www.example.com/orange-widget.html" />
Note: The number in the 'content' portion of the meta tag indicates the number of seconds the browser should stay on the page before refreshing. Using a '0' would refresh to the destination page instantaneously.
The term meta tags is generally used to refer to three of the multiple possible head tags which can be found in an HTML document: meta description, meta keywords, and title tag.
Using hidden text on web pages is a risky SEO technique which is basically the process of hiding optimized, and often voluminous text stuffed with keywords from regular website visitors while still accessible to search engine spiders. This approach goes against search engine guidelines and will (once discovered) get a website banned from search engines.
HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. HTML is also the markup language in which most website pages are written.
Inbound links are links that point from one website to another. The link terminology is subjective, since the website receiving the link would describe it as an inbound link, and the website providing the link would describe it as an outbound link.
The information Architecture (AI) is the art/craft/science of developing a user interface, and organizational structure for websites to improve user experience (UX).
The Internal links refer to hypertext links that points from one page on a site to another page on the same site.
A keyword in the online marketing context is a keyword or phrase that describes a product, service, or piece of information that a user with a specific intention (i.e., buying, or learning) will use to query the index of a search engine.
It is an outdated measure of the relevancy of a page for a search term based on the frequency with which the keyword or phrase appeared on a particular page. This measure of optimization and relevancy is no longer a valid technique as it can be easily manipulated.
It is the exercise of researching and discovering keyword and keyword phrases relevant to the topic at hand. The keywords are then used to develop an SEO and PPC campaign and strategy.
It is the exercise of writing website copy/content which uses an excessive amount of keyword repetition in hopes of positively impacting search engine rankings.
It is a hypertext citation from one web document (i.e., webpage, website) to another, or another place (anchor) on the same page.
This is the art/craft of creating and targeting content specifically designed to provoke a reaction (attention) from a target audience, which in turn results in high quality incoming links.
It is the process of acquiring inbound links for a website in order to positively impact its search engine rankings. Not every type of link is considered high quality so link building can be a laborious and time-consuming process, since the links which are worth having can only be obtained by providing high quality, useful, and/or engaging content.
The fuzzy search is the technology which helps retrieve relevant results even if the search terms are misspelled (or fuzzy).
The FTP (or File Transfer Protocol) is a protocol for transferring data between two or more computers. FTP capabilities are built into many pieces of software such as Dreamweaver (a web development software). FTP software is also available as a standalone tool that allows for transfer of files between computers, and is mostly used by web developers to transfer files from local machines to web servers.
Fresh content is newly developed content which has hitherto not been published anywhere on the web. Fresh content is beneficial in helping attract attention to a website, whether the attention is given by users or search engines. The re-editing of old content does not make it fresh. Fresh content provides a variety of advantages including, growing archive of content (which will improve ranking possibilities), can coax the search engines to crawl your website more often (to find new content), and giving people a reason to return to your website.
Frames are HTML elements which allow for the placement of multiple site elements on a single page to create a larger cohesive unit, or to place content from external files onto an HTML page. Though in the early days of the web frames were very useful in providing useful tools for webmasters, they have become mostly obsolete for general web design and development purposes. Furthermore, the use of frames provides particular challenges when it comes to linking, and search engine rankings.
Flash is a vector graphic-based software which facilitates the creation of highly interactive and rich-looking websites. Flash is owned by Adobe and is widely supported by browsers and platform. However, currently Apple's mobile devices do not support Flash. Websites which are developed entirely in Flash have a tough time gaining high rankings in search engines as search engine algorithms have very little on which to base ranking decisions. So it is recommended not to build your website in its entirety with Flash software and only use Flash elements.
FFA (Free for all) directory or page is a web property which allows anyone to add a link. These types of links are considered highly undesirable as these pages can be easily spammed and thus hold very low (if any) value when it comes to helping improve organic search engine rankings.
It is an informational box at the top of SERPs (search engine result pages) which generally answers a question in the query. The Featured Snippet is not always taken from the top ranking website. This provides the opportunity to rank at the top of the SERPs page without ranking number one for a given term.
An external link is a hyperlink from a website which points outside the domain of origin. For example, on our site we have several links pointing to SEO-related resources on Google...those are external links. External links can be a helpful signal for search engines to determine the topic of a website, assuming the links are pointing to relevant resources and are designed to help users find answers or solve a problem.
Ethical SEO is the process of providing full disclosure regarding risk, possibilities, and expectations as it relates to search engine optimization services. Furthermore, ethical SEO practices require that the SEO service provider be forthcoming with their level of expertise and charging a fair fee for the services they are able to provide.
Editorial links are those that are earned based on a websites merits and generally without direct solicitation. Search engines want to see these types of links, and value them highly, which in turn can result in improved search engine rankings.
Duplicate content is a content that is duplicated across two or more pages on one or more websites. Duplicate content can include text, images, and file names. Duplicate content is undesirable as it is demoted by search engine algorithms, so it is important for a website to avoid the creation of duplicate content whether by design or accident. Many websites fall prey to a duplicate content penalty by inadvertently creating duplicate content by such features as sorting through HTML links, and printer friendly pages
A doorway page is a webpage that is designed to rank for a small number of highly targeted keywords, but has no logical place in the hierarchy of a website. Doorway pages funnel traffic to other parts of a website which usually are filled with ads or a facility to help the owner of the page make money from the traffic. Since these types of doorway pages are generally of low or no value to the user, search engines take great measures to algorithmically find and penalize such pages and sites. However, since it takes time for the search engines to catch on to such schemes, the owners of such pages continue to develop new pages/sites solely for this purpose, and run the websites/pages until the search engines penalize/ban them. And then, they move on to a new website and a new set of doorway pages.
A cookie is a small text file that stores data about the user on his local machine. The cookie can be used to store a variety of information including the contents of a user's shopping cart, the login status, and website preferences. Cookies are often cited as a privacy concern, but are an essential part of utilizing the web and the many services offered by websites.
The crawl depth is the range to which a website is indexed by a search engine. Depth is the degrees of separation as measured by the number of clicks (through links) it takes to get to a particular page from the home page of a website. Since search engine spiders follow links to discover pages, the deeper a search engine spider is willing to go into a site, the more content it is able to find. Search engines determine the crawl depth of each website based on the authority assigned to it by the search algorithm-higher quality sites are rewarded by a deeper crawl which in turn makes more of their content available to searchers through a search engine's index.
The crawl frequency is the constancy by which a website is indexed. Generally, most sites/pages are on a 30-day crawl cycle, which means that the site will get crawled every thirty days. This does not necessarily mean that the entire site will be crawled in one day, but that each page of the website will get crawled again about thirty days after the last crawl. Like crawl depth, crawl frequency is determined by the search engine algorithm and the value which it assigns to a particular page or website. For example, if a website is updated often, and is given 'enough' value by the algorithm, the crawl frequency of the site may be as high as hourly or it may even be measured in minutes.
Cascading Style Sheets is a method of formatting (adding styles to) web documents. CSS offers a variety of formatting options which can be applied through the use of "external" style sheets, that control the formatting options of site-wide elements. For example, an external cascading style sheet can set the look of an H1 (heading) tag across an entire website, by setting elements such as the color, type-face, and spacing.
An external style sheet is linked to an HTML document through the use of a tag as follows:
<link rel="stylesheet" href="http://www.example.com/style.css" type="text/css" />
A dedicated server is a web server that is operated by a single entity for hosting one or more sites owned by said entity. A dedicated server has the benefit of allowing the owner to not share server resources (e.g., processor cycles, hard drive space, RAM, etc) with other websites.
The Domain Authority is a metric developed by SEOMoz to predict the ability of a website or domain to rank in search engines. Domain authority uses a 0 to 100 logarithmic scale. A high Domain Authority score means your entire website, all the pages on your domain, have the potential to rank well in search engine results.
A deep link is a link that points to an internal page of a website (a page other than the home page) from an external source. Deep links are important as they are specifically targeted to deep content, and not just the home page of the website. Deep links are generally highly relevant as they point from closely relevant pages. Also, the typical link profile of a high quality website will have a variety of deep links and not just links pointing to the home page, so many webmasters attempt to mimic this phenomenon when working to acquire links for their websites.
The cloaking is the exercise of serving (displaying) content to search engines which is different than that served to regular website users. Generally, in the world of Black Hat SEO, cloaking is used to manipulate search engine rankings. However, there are legitimate uses (e.g., location based content variations) of cloaking which are within search engine guidelines.
A conversion is the completion of a goal which has been predetermined as the desired outcome for a particular advertising campaign. A conversion happens when a desired goal is completed. There are a variety of goals that can be set by a completion plan which can result in a conversion, some of these goals are:
- completion of a quote/lead form
- the visiting of a particular page on a website
- the completion of a purchase
- phone call
- a sign-up for a newsletter