An Ultimate SEO Glossary: 145 Essential Terms to Know in 2023
As search engines rapidly evolve, Valve+Meter defines the terms you need to know to ensure your web page is optimized to greater performance.
SEO Terms To Know
In order for your digital content to rank in search engines, your marketing team must understand search engine optimization. Search engine optimization (SEO) professionals use a wide range of terms, technical strategies, and best practice tactics.
A permanent redirect from one URL to another. These are manually created and can be used to redirect traffic and preserve the original link’s SEO value. 301 redirects should be used sparingly as they can slow down website performance and impede user experience.
This is an error message that means that the server was unable to retrieve the requested webpage. 404 errors typically appear if the page the user is trying to access does not exist or has been moved. There are two primary concerns with 404 redirects on your site: frustrating user experience and demonstrating to search engines that your site is not well maintained.
Above the Fold
The area of a webpage that appears on the screen without the user having to scroll. This is typically considered the most valuable real estate for website content, as it’s the user’s first impression of a website or web page.
A text description of an image that appears when the image fails to load or if the user hovers their cursor over the image. Alt attribute is used for accessibility and SEO purposes. Optimizing an image’s alt attributes can help it rank in the image results of search engine results pages (SERPs).
The clickable text in a hyperlink that provides context about the linked page’s content. The anchor text should help the user understand the content they’ll see if they click the link.
Anchor Text Optimization
The practice of optimizing the anchor text of internal and external links to improve SEO. Anchor text optimization involves using descriptive and relevant words and phrases that accurately reflects the content of the linked page.
Links from one website to another. These point to a particular page or website, indicating its popularity and authority. Google uses backlinks to better understand what a page is about and how valuable it may be to users. Backlinks are synonymous with inbound links.
Below the Fold
The area of a webpage that requires scrolling to view, considered to be less valuable than above the fold content. This is typically where secondary content or information is placed, such as additional content for long-form articles.
Black Hat SEO
Unethical techniques used to manipulate search engine algorithms to increase rankings, such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, and link spamming. Google can penalize websites that use black hat SEO tactics and prevent them from ranking for search terms.
A list of websites or IP addresses that have been banned or blocked by search engines or internet service providers, typically due to spam or malware. Being on a blacklist makes it nearly impossible to rank well within Google and other search engines.
The percentage of visitors who leave a website after viewing only one page. The lower the number, the better. Having a high bounce rate can signal that a site is not providing visitors with what they are looking for or that the user experience needs improvement.
The preferred URL of a website that search engines should index for a given search term, used to avoid duplicate content issues. Duplicate content can prevent search engines from properly indexing and ranking content on a website.
Canonical URL Tag
A tag added to a webpage that indicates the preferred URL for indexing, used to avoid duplicate content issues. Canonical URL tags help search engines better understand what URLs they should crawl and rank for a given search term.
The process of consolidating multiple URLs that display the same content into a single URL. Canonicalization reduces duplicate content issues.
Clickthrough Rate (CTR)
The percentage of users who click on a search result after seeing it on SERP. Clickthrough rate is a commonly used metric to measure the success of an SEO or PPC campaign. The number is calculated by dividing the number of clicks on a result by the number of times the search result was shown (impressions), expressed as a percentage.
Content designed to attract clicks, often with misleading headlines. The content on the actual page is typically not relevant to the headline, damaging the user experience and potentially impacting SEO. Clickbait is a blackhat SEO tactic.
The process of analyzing a website’s competitors to identify opportunities for improvement. The best competitive analysis should involve multiple competitor websites and focus on various aspects including design, content, user experience, and marketing strategies.
The process of evaluating and analyzing the content on a website to identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement. The content audit process involves examining all of the website’s content to ensure it’s up-to-date, relevant, accurate, and engaging for the target audience.
Content Gap Analysis
The process of identifying gaps in a website’s content that prevent it from ranking for specific keywords or phrases. Filling these gaps can help your site rank for high-value search terms and keywords.
Content Management System (CMS)
A software platform used to create, manage, and publish digital content on a website. CMS allows users to easily create and edit web pages, upload media files, and organize content in a user-friendly interface without requiring a proficiency in programming languages such as HTML code or CSS.
The process of creating and sharing valuable content to attract and retain a specific audience and drive profitable customer action. Content marketing should be valuable for what your ideal audience is searching for.
The grouping of related content within a website’s architecture to improve organization and relevance. Each silo should have similar content that focuses on a specific topic or theme.
The process by which website visitors are guided towards taking a desired action, such as making a purchase or filling out a form. Conversion funnel content should be written in a way that helps the user take the next step towards converting, whatever that may look like for your site.
The percentage of website visitors who take a desired action, such as making a purchase or filling out a form. Performing conversion rate optimization can help conversion rates improve.
The amount of time and resources that a search engine bot allocates to crawling and indexing a website. A website’s crawl budget can be affected by various factors such as the website’s size, structure, server performance, and how frequently edits are made on the site.
The process by which search engine bots scan and index web pages to include them in their search results. In order for a web page to rank, it must be crawled and indexed by each search engine.
The distribution of click-through rates for search engine results, with a small number of top-ranking pages receiving the majority of clicks. Being in the 1-3 spots on Google is crucial as pages in these positions receive roughly 75% of clicks.
A tool offered by Google that allows website owners to disavow or disassociate spammy or low-quality backlinks from their website. Too many low-quality backlinks can tell Google that your website is using black hat SEO tactics, hurting your rankings.
A link attribute that tells search engines to follow the link and pass SEO value to the linked page. These are the types of backlinks that can improve your website’s ability to rank well within the SERP.
Domain Authority (DA)
A score that predicts a website’s ability to rank on SERPs, based on various factors such as age, size, and backlinks. The higher your domain authority, the more that Google and other search engines trust your website.
The name that identifies a website on the internet, such as “valveandmeter.com.”
Domain Name System (DNS)
The system used to translate domain names into IP addresses to connect to servers on the internet. DNS allows users to type in a web address and find the corresponding IP address of the web server.
Content that appears on multiple pages of a website or across different websites. Duplicate content harms SEO. Duplicate content can impact rankings and even cause you to compete with yourself for a given keyword.
Content that changes dynamically based on user behavior or other factors, such as personalized recommendations or real-time updates.
Content that remains relevant and useful over time, such as guides, tutorials, and resources. Depending on the type of content, evergreen content may need to be updated occasionally. Typically this content provides value to readers and viewers regardless of when it was created.
External Link Equity
The amount of SEO value passed from one website to another through external links. The more high-quality external links a website has, the greater its external link equity is, and the more likely it is to rank well in search engine results pages.
The practice of linking to other websites from a webpage, used to provide additional resources and establish credibility. SEO best practices recommend including external links in content as they can improve a website’s authority and relevance to search engines.
A search result feature that displays a brief and informative summary of a webpage’s content, appearing above organic search results. This section has a very high clickthrough rate and can dominate the rest of the organic search results.
A free web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic and user behavior. Google Analytics provides an in-depth look at how each web page on your site is performing.
Google Knowledge Graph
A database used by Google to enhance search results with rich and informative data, such as related entities, events, and organizations. The Knowledge Graph allows Google to provide users with more relevant and contextualized search results, as well as to power features like Google Assistant, Google Maps, and Google’s voice search.
Google Business Profile (GBP)
A free tool offered by Google that allows businesses to manage their online presence, including their appearance in Google Maps and local search results. Formerly Google My Business, GBP helps businesses with brick and mortar storefronts or that offer local services a greater profile to compete in your local marketplace.
Google My Business
Prior to GBP, Google allowed businesses to manage their online presence by providing key information such as their business name, location, operating hours. On Search and Maps, users saw GMB profiles as well as, customer reviews.
Google Search Console
A free web service offered by Google that provides tools and reports for website owners to monitor and improve your site’s performance in Google search results. This tool allows you to see how Google uniquely views your site. You can also see your website’s overall impressions and clicks, among other relevant data.
The web crawler used by Google to discover and index web pages on the internet. Googlebot can simulate both desktop and mobile users, and it follows links on web pages to find new content to add to Google’s search index.
Heading Tag Optimization
The practice of using heading tags to organize and structure content on a webpage, used to improve readability and SEO. Your heading tag should be optimized to include the main target keyword of the page.
HTML tags used to indicate the hierarchy and structure of content on a webpage, such as H1, H2, H3, etc. Search engines use heading tags to better understand the content on a web page.
The process of adding web pages to a search engine’s database. In order for a web page to appear in a SERP, it must first be crawled and indexed by the search engine.
Internal Link Equity
The amount of SEO value passed from one web page to another web page through internal linking. Generally, the more internal links a particular page receives from other pages on the website, the more internal link equity it will accumulate.
The practice of linking to other pages within a website to improve navigation, user experience, and SEO. Adding internal links is a great way to help users discover more content on your site and help search engines understand the structure and hierarchy of a website and the relationships between pages.
Internal Linking Structure
The organization and structure of internal links within a website, used to improve navigation and SEO. Internal linking structure is a deliberate strategy to funnel users to specific pages. For SEO purposes, this strategy signals to search engines the most prominent pages on your site using internal link equity.
Words or phrases that users enter into search engines to find relevant content. Adding relevant keywords to your content can make it easier for search engines to understand what your content is about and show it to users who are looking for that type of content. Keywords can be informative, transactional, or navigational in nature.
The issue that arises when different pages on a website target the same keyword, causing multiple pages on your website to compete with each other. This dilutes the relevance, ranking ability, and authority of each page.
The percentage of times a keyword or phrase appears on a web page, compared to the total number of words on the page. Using a keyword too much in a page can be considered keyword stuffing and negatively affect rankings, while using it too infrequently may result in a lower relevance score for that keyword.
A measure of how difficult it is to rank for a specific keyword or phrase, based on competition and search volume. Short-tail keywords are typically searched more frequently, giving them a higher difficulty. Long-tail keywords are searched less frequently, but will have a lower difficulty.
The process of organizing keywords into related groups or themes, used to improve content organization and relevance. This can help website owners create more targeted and effective content.
The underlying motivation or goal behind a user’s search query for a specific keyword, used to create content that meets their needs.
The process of assigning specific keywords to specific web pages or content. This is used to improve content organization and keyword relevance.
The distance between keywords or phrases within content, used by search engines to determine relevance. The closer the words or phrases are, the more likely the content is relevant to the search query.
The process of finding and analyzing the search terms that users enter into search engines. The ultimate goal of keyword research is to find keywords and phrases that you can realistically rank for, provided you create high-quality and relevant content.
Keyword Research Tools
Tools used to research and analyze keyword data, such as search volume, competition, and trends. Different keyword research tools will provide different data and metrics, so finding the one that works best for you is important to the keyword research process.
The process of recognizing and matching variations of a keyword or phrase, such as singular and plural forms. By stemming keywords, variations of a keyword can be recognized and matched to improve the accuracy, relevancy, and effectiveness of search results.
The unethical practice of overusing keywords in content and meta tags to manipulate search engine rankings. This can negatively affect a page’s ability to rank.
Keyword Stuffing Penalty
A Google penalty that targets websites that use excessive and manipulative keyword stuffing tactics. If Google believes that a page on your website is keyword stuffing, it could result in lower rankings or even the complete removal of the page from search results.
Different versions or variations of a keyword or phrase that users might search for, which is used to optimize content for user intent.
The page on a website that a user lands on after clicking a link, typically designed to convert visitors into customers. These pages will typically contain all the information that a reader would need in order to convert and become a customer.
Content designed to attract backlinks and social shares, often by providing valuable information, resources, or entertainment. Creating valuable content that other websites want to link to can make it easier to find high-value external links.
The process of acquiring backlinks to a website to improve its authority and search rankings. When done ethically and correctly, this is a great way to help your website become more trusted by Google and users alike.
The SEO value that is passed from one webpage to another through backlinks. The more high-quality and relevant backlinks a website has, the more link juice it can potentially receive, ultimately leading to higher search engine visibility, domain authority, and traffic.
The process of reclaiming lost or broken backlinks to a website, typically by contacting the linking site and requesting a fix. Several SEO tools can help website owners find external backlinks that have broken.
The rate at which a website acquires backlinks, used as a ranking factor by search engines. The more frequently that a website acquires backlinks, the more valuable Google will perceive the entire website to be.
A mention of a business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) on a local directory or website, used to improve local search rankings. High-value citations can build domain authority and make your website appear more trustworthy to Google.
A Google search result feature that displays local businesses related to a search query, typically appearing above organic search results. In order to appear in the Local Pack, a company must have a well-optimized Google Business Profile.
The practice of optimizing a website for local search, such as “near me” or location-based search queries. Companies that solely operate in a given area must utilize local SEO strategies in order to improve local traffic and leads.
Content that is longer and more comprehensive than traditional blog posts, such as guides, white papers, and case studies. This type of content can help users stay on your site for longer periods of time, which is an important metric and indicator for Google.
More specific, longer phrases that users search for, often with less competition than shorter, broader keywords. For example, “red running shoes for men” is a more specific and less competitive keyword than “red shoes”. The more targeted and specific a keyword is, the more likely it is to attract qualified traffic.
A brief description of a webpage’s content that appears on the search engine results pages. This can help a searcher better understand if the page is relevant to what they’re ultimately searching for.
HTML tags used to provide information about a web page to search engines, including the page’s title, description, and keywords. Well-crafted meta tags can encourage users to click through to a website.
The process of optimizing a website for mobile devices to ensure a seamless user experience and improve mobile search rankings. Over 50% of web traffic occurs on mobile devices, making it crucial that a website is optimized for mobile performance.
The ability of a website to adapt and optimize its content for different mobile devices, used to improve user experience and SEO. A website that is not mobile-responsive can lead to a poor user experience, making it difficult for visitors to navigate content and ultimately convert.
The process of Google using the mobile version of a website’s content to index and rank pages, given the shift towards mobile search. Google’s shift towards Mobile-First Indexing is a response to the growing number of users accessing the internet through mobile devices. As more people use mobile phones and tablets to browse the web, it’s essential for websites to provide a positive user experience on smaller and vertical devices.
The practice of using unethical tactics to harm a competitor’s search engine rankings, such as spammy backlinks or fake reviews. Negative SEO is considered to be a black hat SEO tactic and is strictly prohibited by search engines.
A link attribute that tells search engines not to follow the link or pass any SEO value to the linked page. These do not help or hurt a website that is receiving the nofollow link.
The process of optimizing a website’s external factors, such as link building and social media marketing, to improve its ranking and relevance.
The process of optimizing individual web pages to improve the page’s ability to rank and relevance to specific keywords or phrases.
The native search results that appear on SERPs, as opposed to paid advertising results. These typically appear below paid ads, local map packs, and featured snippets.
Website traffic that comes from search engine results pages, as opposed to paid advertising or social media. Organic traffic is often a direct result of both on-page and off-page SEO.
Page Authority (PA)
A score that predicts a specific web page’s ability to rank on SERPs, based on factors such as content relevance and the quality and quantity of backlinks. Similar to domain authority, web pages with high page authority are more likely to rank for a search query.
The time it takes for a web page to load. Searchers will click off of a page and go to a competitor if a page takes too long to load, making page speed a critical factor in user experience and search engine rankings.
Page Speed Optimization
The process of optimizing a website’s code, content, and infrastructure to improve page load speed. Consumers demand information as quickly as possible, and a faster page speed not only provides a better user experience but also leads to higher engagement and conversion rates.
A central part of the Google search algorithm, PageRank was developed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were both PhD students at Stanford University. The algorithm was first described in their 1997 paper, “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine”. It is used to determine the importance of web pages and to rank them in search results.
A Google algorithm update that targeted websites with low-quality or thin content, penalizing them in search rankings. Google’s unveiling of the Panda Algorithm marked a significant shift in Google’s approach to search quality.
A Google algorithm update that targeted websites with spammy or manipulative backlink profiles. Google wants to provide users with as much relevant and high-quality content as possible, and the Penguin Algorithm was designed to penalize websites that tried to cheat the system by acquiring low-quality backlinks.
A website’s position in search engine results for a particular keyword or phrase. Following SEO best practices can help a site and its web pages rank higher than its competitors.
A tool used to track and monitor search engine rankings for specific keywords or phrases. Rank checkers provide the information necessary to see which pages are performing well and find others that may need additional attention.
A tool used to track and monitor search engine rankings for specific keywords or phrases. This can help you monitor trends and find when Google may have recently unveiled an algorithm update.
A Google algorithm update that uses machine learning to better understand user intent and improve search results. This was created in an effort to provide searchers with high-quality content that is relevant to their search query.
A method used to send website visitors from one URL to another, used to preserve SEO value and maintain website functionality.
A series of multiple redirects that occur before ultimately reaching the final destination of a URL. This can harm a page’s SEO value and its website speed. SEO tools can help you find redirect chains that might currently be hurting your website’s performance.
Media that includes interactive or multimedia elements, such as videos, images, and animations, used to improve user experience and engagement. Rich media is an important aspect in SEO, as it provides engaging content that will help users stay on your site for longer periods of time.
A visual enhancement of a search result that displays additional information about a webpage, such as reviews, ratings, and images. Rich Snippets can also display information like event dates, product prices, and other structured data that can be useful to users when they are searching for specific information.
Robots Meta Tag
A tag that is used to control how search engine bots crawl and index a web page. It is an HTML tag that is inserted into the <head> section of a webpage and helps search engine robots, such as Googlebot, understand how to properly crawl and index the page.
A file that instructs search engine crawlers which pages on a website should or should not be crawled and indexed.
Code added to a website that helps search engines understand the content and context of the page. By adding structured data to the markup of the page, you can provide additional information about the content of the page, such as the type of content, the author, date published, ratings, and more.
A collaborative project between Google, Bing, and Yahoo! to create a standardized vocabulary for structured data on the internet.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
The practice of using paid advertising to improve visibility and rankings in search engine results. SEM typically provides faster results than SEO, but it can be much more expensive and requires ongoing investment to maintain a steady stream of results.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The process of optimizing a website or webpage to improve its visibility and ranking in organic search engine results pages (SERPs) for specific keywords or phrases. SEO can provide long-term results for a website, but it can take a while to gain momentum and begin seeing results.
Search Engine Results Page (SERP) Features
Special features on SERPs that provide additional information and functionality, such as featured snippets, people also asked (PAA), and knowledge panels.
Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)
The pages that display the results of a search query. This includes the local pack, paid ads, featured snippets, and the organic results. The ultimate goal of SEO is to rank on page one of the SERP for any search term that is relevant to your website.
The number of times a keyword or phrase is searched for on a search engine over a given period of time, used to assess keyword popularity and competition. Oftentimes, a keyword’s search volume is directly connected to its difficulty. Keywords with higher difficulty are often harder to rank for, and vice versa.
The process of understanding and interpreting the meaning behind search queries and web content, used to provide more relevant search results. Semantic search is becoming increasingly important, as more people use natural language queries and expect search engines to understand their meaning and deliver relevant results.
A comprehensive analysis of a website’s SEO performance, typically including technical, on-page, and off-page factors. The purpose of an SEO audit is to find ways that your site can improve in order to maintain or improve rankings and organic results.
Special features on search engine results pages, such as knowledge panels, featured snippets, and local packs.
SERP Ranking Factors
The various factors that search engines use to determine the ranking of a webpage on a search engine results page. These factors include on-page elements like keywords, as well as off-page factors such as link building.
The structure and organization of a website’s content and pages, used to improve navigation and user experience. This involves planning and executing the hierarchy of a website, including main categories, subcategories, and how they are interlinked.
A file that lists all the pages on a website, used by search engines to better understand the structure and content of a website. A well-optimized sitemap includes the URLs of each page and can improve the visibility and ranking of a website in search engine results pages.
Social Media Marketing
The practice of promoting a brand or website on social media platforms to improve visibility, engagement, and traffic. Most consumers spend some amount of their free time on social media, so it’s important to meet them where they are and become visible where they’re spending their time.
Social Media Optimization (SMO)
The process of optimizing a website’s content and sharing it on social media platforms to increase its visibility and traffic. The more places your content exists, the more likely you are to be found by relevant and interested searchers in your target audience.
Indicators of social validation or credibility, such as customer reviews, social media shares, and endorsements, used to improve trust and engagement. It is a powerful idea that suggests people are more likely to conform to the actions and beliefs of others when they are uncertain about what to do or believe.
Indicators of social media activity related to a website, such as likes, shares, and comments. These are all used as a ranking factor by Google and other search engines.
A term that is used to describe search engine crawlers that scan and index web pages on the internet. Spiders are used to help search engines understand, discover and organize information on your website. When a spider visits a web page, it follows links to other pages and collects information about the content, including keywords, titles, and metadata.
A security protocol that encrypts data transmitted between a website and its visitors, used as a ranking factor by search engines.
Code added to a website that helps search engines better understand and categorize its content. Structured data is used to enhance search results with rich snippets and other features.
Content that lacks depth, relevance, or value, typically consisting of low-quality or repetitive content. Google can recognize thin content and may penalize websites that have it by lowering their search engine rankings, thereby harming SEO.
A meta tag that provides a brief and descriptive title for a webpage, appearing on search engine results pages. A title tag should be informative and help a searcher understand exactly what your page is about.
Title Tag Optimization
The practice of using descriptive and compelling titles for web pages, used to improve click-through rates and SEO. While it’s important to craft compelling titles, staying away from clickbait is important in helping users stay on your pages for longer periods of time.
The expertise and relevance of a website’s content to a specific topic or industry, used to improve search rankings. The more authoritative that Google believes your content to be, the higher it will rank it within the SERPs.
A metric developed by Yahoo! that measures the trustworthiness of a website based on the quality and quantity of its inbound links.
The complete address of a web page on the internet, such as “https://www.google.com/search?q=SEO“. The domain name in this example is “Google.com” and everything after is referred to as the “slug”/
User Experience (UX)
The overall experience a user has on a website, including design, navigation, content, and functionality. Websites that provide a better user experience are more likely to be successful in engaging and retaining users, achieving their goals, and ultimately achieving business objectives.
The underlying motivation or goal behind a user’s search query, used to create content that meets their needs. Understanding the user’s intent is a crucial aspect of SEO, as it can help website owners create content that aligns with their audience’s needs and preferences, resulting in a better user experience and higher engagement.
User-Generated Content (UGC)
Content created by users, such as reviews, comments, and social media posts, used to improve engagement and SEO. Google values engagement and considers user-generated content as a valuable signal of a website’s relevance and authority.
The process of using voice commands and virtual assistants, such as Siri or Alexa, to conduct searches on the internet. The increasing popularity of virtual assistants makes it important to consider voice search when optimizing content.
The time it takes for a website to load, used as a ranking factor by search engines and a critical factor in user experience.
White Hat SEO
Ethical techniques used to improve a website’s ranking and visibility, such as keyword research, content creation, and link building. These methods are accepted by Google as a great way to improve your website’s search engine rankings.
A detailed report or guide that provides valuable information and insights on a specific topic or industry, used for lead generation and SEO. This is a type of long-form content that is typically written by companies or organizations to showcase their expertise and thought leadership in their field.
A file that lists all the pages on a website in XML format, used by search engines to better understand the structure and content of a website.
The process of optimizing video content on YouTube to improve visibility and engagement, such as using relevant keywords and creating engaging titles and descriptions. Other factors include engagement such as likes and comments.
A search result that provides users with the information they need directly on the search engine results page, without the need for a click-through to a website.
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