SEO Terms for Beginners: A Comprehensive Guide

  John /   23 Aug 2023
SEO Terms for Beginners: A Comprehensive Guide

Establishing a strong online presence is crucial for businesses and individuals alike. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plays an important role in enhancing visibility on search engines and driving organic traffic to websites.

Like any other industry, SEO has many industry-specific terms and acronyms that can be quite confusing for beginners. Understanding these terms is essential in laying a solid foundation for successful online ventures.

In this article, we'll explore and explain the fundamental SEO terms to help you embark on your SEO journey with confidence.

1. Algorithm

A step-by-step procedure or formula to perform a computer operation such as calculations and data processing.

In SEO, algorithm refers to the complex criteria that search engines use to determine the order in which web pages appear in search results when a user enters a search query.

Google's algorithm, for example, takes into account hundreds of factors to rank pages.

2. Analytics

The systematic analysis and interpretation of data to take future action based on what has (or hasn't) worked historically.

Analytics in SEO provides statistics on your website's usage, including how much traffic the site gets, where the traffic comes from, what keywords users use to get to your site, how the users navigate through the site, how long they stay on web pages, and much more.

3. Anchor text

Anchor text refers to the visible clickable text used in a link. The anchor text is generally a descriptive term that tells the user what the destination page is about.

It's important for SEO because it provides context to search engines about the content of the linked page.

4. Alt Text

Alternative text is the text added to HTML code to describe images on web pages. It is the text that gets displayed in the place of the image in the event that the image cannot be loaded. Alt text also provides search engines with information on what the image is all about.

5. Backlinks

Backlinks, also known as incoming links, inbound links, and inward links, are links from other websites to your website.

Backlinks are among the most important factors for SEO because they work as a vote of confidence, thus improving your website's authority and search engine rankings.

The more links from quality websites your website has, the better it appears to search engines.

6. Backlink profile

Also known as a link portfolio, a backlink profile is a term used to describe the collection of all pages and domains currently linking to a website.

7. Black hat SEO

SEO practices that go against search engines' guidelines. These practices attempt to manipulate their search engine rankings through means specifically and implicitly forbidden by search engines.

8. Blog

A blog is a website or a section of a website in which articles are published on a regular basis within a certain topic or theme. The articles are typically sorted in chronological order, with the most recent content appearing at the top.

Blogs are utilized by companies as well as by individual users with their contents reflecting their interests and views. It can be written by an individual or a group of contributors.

9. Bot

A bot(also known as a robot, crawler, or spider) is a program that search engines use to crawl the web autonomously.

The bots then send the collected data back to the search engines so they can add or update their index(a massive database of all crawled sites) and rank these sites. The search engines use these indexes to fetch data when compiling search engine results.

10. Bounce rate

Bounce rate is an analytics term that refers to the percentage of website visitors who enter a site and leave without visiting any other page on that website.

Regardless of how long a visitor stayed on the website if they left after viewing only one page, that is considered a bounce.

Low bounce rates are desirable, however, a bounce is not entirely a bad thing because it's possible the user found the information they were looking for on that page.

11. Broken link

A broken link is a hyperlink that links to a page/resource that doesn't exist, resulting in a "404 page not found" error.

Some of the major causes of broken links are when: the URL is incorrectly typed, a website goes offline, the webpage is removed without doing a redirection, or the destination URL is changed without implementing a redirection.

12. Canonical Tag

A canonical tag is an HTML link tag that tells search engines which version of a web page is the original and which are the duplicates when multiple URLs have the same or similar content.

The tag is placed in the <head> section of the HTML structure.

It informs that the current page is a copy of the page located under the address set in the canonical tag. The main idea is that when a search engine sees this tag it does not rank that page, but transfers all the rankings to the canonical page.

13. Click-Through Rate (CTR)

This refers to the rate at which users click on a search result to a website on the search engine results page. It is presented in percentages and is calculated by dividing the total number of clicks by the total number of impressions and then multiplying by 100.

14. Cloaking

This is a black hat SEO technique that refers to the act of showing different content to search engines from what you show to human visitors to try to manipulate the page rankings for certain keywords.

It is a violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines and can get you penalized or even banned very quickly.

15. Conversion

Conversion is the predetermined, desired, and quantifiable goal accomplished by the visitor on a website. This goal could be: completing a purchase, sending an inquiry email, subscribing to an email newsletter, making a phone call, etc.

Conversion is the ultimate goal behind an SEO strategy. The more SEO-optimized your website is, the more organic traffic your site will get, and the more people will convert.

16. Conversion Rate

The rate (expressed in a percentage) at which website visitors complete a desired action. This is calculated by dividing the total number of conversions by traffic, then multiplying by 100.

17. Crawling

Crawling is an autonomous process by which search engines browse the web, look for new websites and pages, find what content they contain, and store the collected information in their indexes for use when rendering search results.

18. Deep linking

Deep linking is making a link that points to a specific webpage of a website instead of that website's main or home page.

Utilizing deep linking by linking to specific pages within your site with good anchor text will improve the ranking of these pages.

19. De-index (delisting)

Removal of a website or webpage, either temporarily or permanently from search engine index. This could result from a penalty by search engines due to webmaster guidelines violation or could be a voluntary case where one chooses to remove some URLs through Google Search Console.

20. Disavow

A process of identifying spam backlinks to a site and telling search engines to ignore them.

If your backlink profile includes a high number of spammy, low-quality inbound links that may be harming your rankings, and you don't have the ability to get them removed, you can use Google's Disavow Tool to tell Google to ignore those links.

21. Domain Name

A domain name is a unique address for a website on the Internet. For example, the domain name of this blog is

22. Domain Authority(DA)

A metric developed by Moz that is used to predict a website's SEO ranking ability; is best used as a comparative metric. The factors that makeup Domain Authority are popularity, incoming links, trust rank, and more.

23. Duplicate Content

Content that is identical or incredibly similar in substance to content on the same site or a completely different website.

The more duplicate content a page has is noticed by search engines in a negative manner. It does reduce the trust of the search engine.

It is believed by some SEO experts that search engines can penalize your website for duplicate content, so it's extremely important that all content is original, relevant, and of quality.

24. External link(outbound link)

A link to a page on a different website outside the domain of origin.

25. Google Analytics

A free tracking software developed by Google that provides statistics on your website's usage, including how much traffic the site gets, where the traffic comes from, which pages are visited, how visitors behave within the website, how long they take on the website and on each page, and much more.

26. Google My Business(GMB)

GMB is a robust directory created by Google that presents results on the branded search of your business. Reserved for business owners, this tool allows for the management of an online business within Google's map pack, also known as local search results.

27. Google Search Console

This is a free program provided by Google that allows website owners to monitor how their site is doing in search by providing valuable information, such as the number of impressions on search results, the number of clicks, and the ranking position for certain keywords.

It also provides tools to help you optimize your website (crawl reports, ability to submit a sitemap, check and fix errors, etc.).

28. Google Trends

Google Trends is a website that allows the user to explore data visualizations on the latest search trends such as how often specific keywords, subjects, and phrases have been queried over a specific period of time.

29. Home Page

The default, or introductory webpage, of a website. It is the first page to land when one types the domain name of a website in the browser address bar.

30. Impressions

In SEO, impressions often refer to the number of times your webpage appeared in search engine results.

31. Index

As a noun, an index is a massive database of all the crawled websites and their content Search engine crawlers have gathered and deemed good enough to render for search queries.

As a verb, to index means to add a web page to a search engine index.

32. Indexed Pages

This refers to the pages on a website that a search engine has crawled and stored in its index. Only the indexed pages get rendered in search engine results.

33. Indexing

Indexing is the process by which search engines collect data across the web and store it in their index.

34. Internal link

An internal link is a link from one page to another within the same website. Internal links are used to improve a site's usability and improve navigation between pages and sections.

35. Keyword

A word or phrase that users type into search engines when looking for information.

Writing high-quality content with relevant keywords in strategic places on your pages such as in the title, page URL, headings and subheadings, paragraphs, image alt tags, and throughout your content can help to give the search engines a better idea of what your page is about and thus a better ranking.

36. Keyword density

The frequency with which a keyword or phrase appears on a particular webpage. It is expressed as a percentage and calculated by dividing the total number of keyword occurrences by the total number of words within a page and multiplying by 100.

It is now an outdated measure of the relevancy of a page for a search term and is no longer a valid technique as it can be easily manipulated.

37. Keyword Difficulty

Keyword Difficulty is an estimate, in the form of a numerical score, of how difficult it is for a site to outrank its competitors for a specific keyword. The bigger the score, the harder it it's to rank for the keyword.

38. Keyword Research

This refers to the process of researching and discovering which terms your target audience is searching for on the web.

Doing proper keyword research helps you to target topics with a decent search volume and relatively low keyword difficulty, easy to rank for. This process can be done using free or paid tools (eg. Semrush, Ahrefs, etc).

39. Keyword Stuffing

A spammy practice of overusing (repeating beyond what is natural) important keywords and their variants in a webpage to manipulate search engine rankings.

This spam approach is against Google's Webmaster Guidelines and can result in manual action.

40. Landing Page

A webpage on a website that is specific and unique to a group of users designed to capture leads or generate conversions.

41. Link

A link, also known as a hyperlink is an element on a web page that provides a connection from one web page to another web page, page section, or resource. When clicked, it redirects the browser to another page or another part of the current page.

The main role of a link is to help in navigation but also plays a critical role in how search engines evaluate and rank websites.

42. Link Accessibility

The ease with which a link can be found by human visitors or crawlers.

43. Link Building

The process of acquiring backlinks for a website or a page in order to positively impact its organic search engine rankings. It is considered to be the most important element of every SEO strategy.

To increase the chances of your web page getting ranked on search engines, you can get high-quality backlinks to it.

44. Link Equity/Link juice

The value and authority in which a link can pass to its destination page.

Link equity can be passed along to a webpage from both internal links (links coming from the same website) and external links (links coming from another website).

The higher the domain or page authority the linking page has, the more the link juice.

45. Long-tail Keyword

A phrase that contains more than three words that are a more specific set of search queries and is more narrow in nature. Long-tail keywords are less competitive and help target a more defined audience, which can help improve your conversion. A great majority of searches are long-tail in form.

46. Meta Tags

Meta tags are HTML code that contains snippets of text invisible to users that describe a page's content to search engines.

The title tag and meta description are the most commonly used types of meta tags in SEO.

47. Meta description

HTML markup that contains a descriptive summary of the webpage that is typically 160 characters in length. The meta description is not visible on the actual website but appears on the search engine results page below the page title and URL. If well written it can help increase the click-through rate.

48. Meta keyword

A tag that contains a list of keywords related to webpage content that is only visible to the search engines. They were used to help search engines determine what the web page was about, but nowadays search engines are much better at understanding content. Thus, they have been ignored by all major search engines.

49. Natural Links

These are the links that a webpage has acquired naturally from other websites without having to ask or pay for them. An example is when you have written a great article that goes viral on the Internet and a lot of people end up linking to it because they like it. All those links are natural links.

50. Nofollow Attribute

By default every link is a follow link, meaning whenever a search engine encounters a link, it follows it, checks where it leads to, and basically takes it as a vote to the linked website.

Nofollow is a link attribute used to tell search engines not to follow one specific outbound link in cases where a website doesn't want to pass authority to another webpage.

51. NoIndex

A meta tag that instructs search engine bots to not index a specific webpage to their indexes.

52. Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO is a combination of all practices done outside a webpage to improve its rankings. These practices include link-building outreach, guest blogging, article submissions, directory submissions, social media marketing, influencer marketing, forum contributions, blog commenting, etc.

53. On-page SEO

These are all the activities done within a webpage to improve its rankings.

These activities may include publishing relevant, high-quality content, improving title tags, optimizing keyword usage and density, increasing webpage loading speed, improving the internal linking structure, etc.

54. Organic Traffic

Traffic that comes to your website as a search result without having paid anything to appear on search results. Getting organic traffic to your website is the main objective of doing SEO.

55. Orphan page

Any webpage that is not linked to by any other pages within the same website.

56. Page Authority(PA)

Similar to Domain Authority(DA), Page Authority is a metric to predict a page's ranking ability.

57. PBN

PBN (Private Blog Network) is a network of websites (generally owned by one company or individual) used to build links and pass authority to a single website for the purpose of manipulating search engine rankings.

This is a black-hat practice and not recommended at all as it may result in manual action or penalty from Google.

58. Paid traffic

Traffic that comes to your website that you have paid to obtain through advertisement promotions such as through Google Adwords and Facebook Ads.

59. Page Rank(PR)

PageRank is the measure of the importance/authority (with a scale of 0-10 with 10 being the highest authority) of a page based on the incoming links from other pages.

60. Page title

This is the HTML element that summarizes the content of a webpage and also used to tell search engines what is the ‘name’ of your page. It should include strategic and relevant keywords for that specific page. It can be viewed at the very top of your browser window.

It is displayed in search engine results so it should be written in a way that makes sense to people and attracts the most clicks.

61. Pruning

In the SEO context, pruning can be defined as the removal of low-quality web pages in a website in order to improve the overall quality of the website.

62. Ranking

Positioning and ordering web pages on search engine results page by search engines based on the relevancy of the page content to the search query.

63. RankBrain

A machine learning search algorithm developed by Google to help understand new queries in order to provide users with the most relevant, helpful results.

64. Referral Traffic

Traffic received on a website from another website, e.g. when people click on a link to your site on Facebook, Google Analytics will attribute that traffic as “ / referral” in the Source/Medium report.

65. Responsive Web Design (RWD)

This is an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing and interaction experience, easy reading, and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling across a wide range of devices (from desktop computers to tablets and mobile phones).

66. Robots.txt

This is a text file on a website that instructs search engines to ignore certain parts of the website. These are created to prevent search engines from crawling the whole website or some pages that you don't want to be indexed for various reasons such as the admin section, logins, cart pages, etc.

67. Seed Keywords

The primary keywords mostly comprising of one or two words from which other keywords can be derived.

68. Search Engine

A computer program that enables users to enter queries in order to search for information such as web pages and files over the Internet.

They search from millions of pages and documents to display the most relevant and quality results possible based on a user's search query.

Examples of major Search Engines are Google, Bing, Duckduckgo, Yahoo, Yandex, Baidu, etc.

69. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

This is internet-based marketing that targets gaining traffic and visibility from search engines through both paid and unpaid efforts. It encompasses both SEO and paid advertisements.

70. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

All the activities that are done on or off the website to make it rank in a higher position in the organic search engine results for certain search queries as a way of increasing website traffic.

71. Search Engine Result Pages (SERP)

A list of pages that get displayed by search engines when a user performs various search queries. Typically, these pages show about 10 organic search results sorted by their relevance. Each of these results is made up of a page title, a URL to the result page, and a description of the destination page(meta description).

72. Search Intent

This is the ultimate goal of the person using a search engine to perform a search query.

73. Search Volume

The number of searches conducted for a particular keyword that is often expressed by many tools as searches per month.

74. Session

A session is defined as a group of interactions one user takes within a given time frame on a website. Google Analytics defaults that time frame to 30 minutes.

75. Sitemap

A list of pages on a website that is easily accessible to search engines, crawlers, and users. Typically, sitemaps are formatted as an HTML or XML file.

HTML sitemaps are made and organized by topics to help site users easily navigate a website. XML sitemaps are created to provide search engine crawlers with a list of webpages on a website to easily discover and index the content.

76. (often called Schema) is a semantic vocabulary of tags that you can add to your HTML to improve the way search engines read and represent your page in SERPs.

77. Traffic

Number of visitors coming to a website.

78. URL

A uniform resource locator is the address of a specific resource on the Internet such as a webpage or file.

79. Webmaster guidelines

Guidelines that are published by search engines for the purpose of helping website owners create content that will be found, indexed, and perform well in search results.

80. White hat SEO

Search engine optimization strategies and techniques that are aligned with search engine best practices that focus on human with the goal of improving the organic visibility of a website.