To save you a few Google searches, here is a list of important SEO terms. For a list of newer and/or increasingly relevant SEO terminology, please see our updated list of good SEO terms to know.

Above the Fold

Content that is visible before scrolling down a webpage. Often used when discussing the top results on a SERP. The term originally referred to information that was visible on the top-half of a newspaper’s front page.

Anchor Text

Highlighted text in a clickable hyperlink on a website. Refers to the text that a user can read, for example the words “hello world” in this link: hello world.


A Chinese search engine and internet services company. In November 2019, Baidu accounted for .83% of the global search engine market. src


A search engine developed by Microsoft. In November 2019, Bing accounted for 2.32% of the global search engine market. src

Black-Hat SEO

SEO tactics that violate a search engine’s terms of service or guidelines.


Short for Weblog, it is a website or set of self-contained pages on a website containing categorized posts on topics deemed relevant by the blog owner. Blogs are typically sorted in chronological order and can contain videos, photographs and comment sections. They often include sidebars containing items like recent or popular posts widgets.

Blogs tend to have high link equity as they can play a significant role in increasing web traffic, and allow individuals and companies to easily share quality content and build a wider user base.

Bounce Rate

The rate of website visitors who left a website before visiting another page over the total number of visitors. Considered a useful metric for assessing user engagement with various thresholds considered typical, although “expected” bounce rates can vary widely depending on content types and other factors.

Branded Keyword

A search keyword associated with or including an exact match to a specific brand name. For example “ValleyStormWeb” is a branded keyword compared to the unbranded “web development company”.

Cached Page

The stored version of a web page the last time it was crawled and indexed by a search engine.

Canonical URL

An HTML element designed to reduce duplicate content issues in search engines by designating the preferred URL for a page. A canonical URL is specified within a link tag and uses the attribute rel =”canonical”.  For example:

<link rel="canonical" href="" />

If you have multiple similar URLs pointing to the same page, the canonical URL will tell search engines which should be shown in search results.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Ratio of visitors who clicked a link to the total number of visitors who viewed the link. For organic search, CTR typically refers to the total number of users who clicked a link in search results over the total number of impressions.

Conversion Rate

The percentage of users who complete a desired task (visit a website, purchase a product, complete an online application, etc.) over the total number of visitors or impressions.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Efforts to optimize or increase conversions for a given website or application. CRO often involves A/B testing, different pricing, copy, calls to action, or other factors to determine which will produce the best conversion rate.

Cornerstone Content

Refers to a page or post that is meant to be the most important content on the website and is usually the content a website owner wants to rank the highest in search engines.


A process of removing duplicate copies of web pages from search engines. Also refers to efforts made after web pages are not being indexed due to being identified as duplicate content.

Disavow link

The process of reporting links pointing to your website which you consider spammy, fake, or of low-quality and have caused or you believe will cause a search engine to take manual action against your website. Google’s Disavow Tool is used to report such links to that search engine.

Domain Authority

The relative weight assigned to a website which affects how quickly content on that domain is ranked in search engines, how much value is assigned to outbound links from the domain, and more. Domain authority is ranked on a scale of 0-100 by some companies, where a higher value indicates stronger domain authority.


A search engine that emphasizes user privacy.

Featured Snippets

Results that are intended to provide an immediate, concise answer to a search query. Featured snippets appear at the very top of a SERP, usually in a gray box and often with an associated image.

Google Maps

A web service by Google that provides detailed geographic data, business location and contact information, and street views of locations around the world. Google Maps integrates with Google MyBusiness and Google Search to synchronize details about businesses, their services, and locations. Google Maps provides multiple APIs that can be used to expand and integrate the service into websites and apps.

Google MyBusiness

A web service by Google that provides location, contact information, hours, services, promotions, and other data about companies. Google MyBusiness integrates with Google Maps, and its listings play a role in ranking local businesses in search engine results.

Google RankBrain

A machine learning search algorithm by Google announced in 2015. Designed to provide more accurate results for users, learn new words and phrases, analyze searches and relationships between them, and help the search engine identify and remove content designed to game the system.

Google Search Console

A web service by Google for checking indexing status of websites, monitoring and correcting errors, receiving and addressing manual action notifications, and optimizing website speed and visibility. Google Search Console was previously known as Google Webmaster Tools.

Google Tag Manager

A tag management system that provides a web interface for quickly managing tracking tags on websites and apps.

Google Trends

A web service by Google for viewing, analyzing, and comparing aggregate search data trends for specific keywords.

Gray Hat SEO

SEO tactics that may or may not violate a search engine’s terms of service or guidelines, but which might not only because they relate to an undefined or questionable area.


A configuration file on an Apache web server that can be used, among other things, to handle basic redirect functionality.


A secure version of Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), the HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is used to facilitate secure communications over the Internet. 

HTTPS URLs begin with https:// and browsers will usually indicate HTTPS is being used by including a padlock icon to the left of the URL in the address bar.

Inbound Links

A hyperlink from another website pointing to content on your website. Google Search Console can be used to produce a list of all inbound links pointing to your website.


Process by which a search engine processes and stores data to be presented in search engine results. Index refers to the search engine database itself.


The words or phrases used in content and SEO targeting efforts to rank websites by connecting them to specific searches. SEO keywords are essentially the phrases or variations of them entered by people conducting queries on search engines for a given topic.

Keyword Density

The number of times a specific keyword appears on a web page relative to the total word count of the page.

Keyword Research

The practice of finding popular topics and terms that are being entered by people conducting searches on search engines, as well as finding similar keywords and analyzing which will yield the highest return on investment.

Knowledge Panel

An information box that appears in Google search results for certain searches such as people, organizations, or places. The panel provides a snapshot of information about the query topic.

Landing Page

The web page a visitor accesses when clicking a link from another source, whether that’s a SERP, another website, or another page on the same site.

Landing pages in SEO and paid search usually refer to the designated page where a conversion is intended to occur, and the content typically includes targeted sales copy, a single or limited call to action, and some type of form.


A process of creating or encouraging inbound links from reputable, trusted websites including search engines, social media platforms, online business listings, news or editorial websites, blogs, and more.

Link-building also covers on-site links, and setting up logical connections between related content within a website to improve the user experience and make content easier to navigate.

Local Search/Local SEO

Search engine optimization focused on specific cities or geographic regions. Constraining a search by location creates a local search “market” where ranking for target keywords can be far more realistic and have greater advantages to local businesses and organizations. For example, a local search strategy might focus on ranking a website for a term like “Spokane dentist” vs “Dentists”.

Manual Action

Manual actions are issued by Google in the event that a human reviewer determines that a website’s pages violate the search engine’s guidelines. Typically manual actions are the result of efforts to “game” search engines. A consequence of a manual action can be the removal or lowering of a website’s position in search results.

Google notifies webmasters about manual actions via Google Search Console.

Meta Description

An HTML tag entered in the head of a web page summarizing the page’s content. An accurate and optimized meta description is a crucial component of on-page SEO.

Meta Keywords

An HTML tag entered in the head of a web page that tells indicates to search engines what the primary topic of the page is.

Nofollow Attribute

An HTML attribute used to qualify outbound links and tell search engines that the link should not influence the ranking of the link’s target. Typically used in cases where a website does not want to lend domain authority to the target website, for example, in links entered in comment sections.  Uses the attribute rel =”nofollow”. For example:

<a href="" rel="nofollow">Anchor text</a>

Noindex Tag

An HTML meta tag which returns a ‘noindex’ header in the HTTP request, telling search engines not to add the page to search results.

Off-Page SEO

Also called “off-site SEO”, refers to efforts and optimizations performed outside of a website with the explicit goal of improving a website’s visibility and prominence in search engine results.

On-Page SEO

Also called “on-site SEO”, refers to optimizations performed within a website’s content, URLs, and HTML code with the explicit goal of improving a website’s visibility and prominence in search engine results.

Organic Search

Also known as “natural search”, it refers to the unpaid search results that are returned when a user enters a query in a search engine.

Outbound Links

A hyperlink pointing to a different website than the one on which it appears.

Pay-per-click (PPC)

An online advertising model in which advertisers are charged each time a link to their website is clicked. PPC usually involves setting up campaigns within the advertising platform (a search engine, social media platform, etc.) and setting bid limits on keywords, selecting dates/durations for campaigns, and choosing target audiences based on demographics, devices, or locations.

In many cases, PPC and SEO can be thought of as two complimentary sides of the same search engine marketing coin, with PPC being the paid media half and SEO being the organic/earned media half.

Page Speed

A ranking factor which refers to how long a web page takes to load.

There are several free tools available to measure page loading speeds. Caution should be taken before assigning too much weight to the results these tools produce, as their overall impact on a website’s SEO can be overstated or misleading.


Also known as a page tracking hit, a pageview is an instance of a web page being loaded or reloaded in a browser.


The words or terms entered into a search engine to perform a search.

Redirect Codes

Status codes sent from a server in response to HTTP requests which indicate whether the requested resource has moved or been found. There are two primary redirect codes:

  • 301 (Moved Permanently)
  • 302 (Found – previously Moved Temporarily)


The source of a request to a website. If a visitor comes to your website from a link on, Facebook is the referrer.

Rich Snippet

Also known as an “enhanced listing”, a rich snippet provides extra information beyond the URL and content description in a search result. This information can include star ratings, prices, availability information and more, and differentiates the listing from a standard snippet, which typically includes only the web page description and link.


A text file which tells search engines which parts of a website to ignore in order to manage search engine crawler traffic, and help keep the page off the search engine.


Also called, a microdata format which creates enhanced or “rich” descriptions to improve how web pages are interpreted and presented in search results.

Search Engine

A program that analyzes a term or phrase entered by a user and returns corresponding information from its stored index. Search engines use programs called “spiders” to crawl the web and add website links, website caches, and metadata to their indexes. Information on results pages are ranked according to proprietary and carefully guarded search algorithms.

According to StatCounter, in November of 2019 the top 6 most popular search engines ranked by global market share (across desktop, tablet & mobile) were:

  • Google (92.95% global search market share)
  • Bing (2.32% global search market share)
  • Yahoo (1.3% global search market share)
  • Baidu (.83% global search market share)
  • Yandex (.55% global search market share)

Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

The page of results displayed on search engines after a search. In addition to organic search results, SERPs display other results, including maps, rich snippets, knowledge graph data, images, tweets, news, and more.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The sum of technical and content-driven methods used to help a website move to higher positions and greater visibility in organic search results.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

A combination of organic (SEO), paid (PPC) search engine optimizations, and marketing techniques meant to improve visibility and prominence of a website in search engine results.


Sitelinks (also known as deep links on Bing) are links that appear under top results on search engines, providing additional pages and other information for that website. Sitelinks are automatically selected by the search engines’ algorithms.


A file that lists information about the pages and files on a website and outlines the relationships between them. Sitemaps can benefit websites and help search engines crawl and possibly index all of the content on it.

SSL Certificate 

A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate is a file on a web server that cryptographically verifies details about an organization and creates a secure HTTPS connection between the server and a web browser. Invalid or expired certificates will cause an error in the browser, while valid certificates will generate a padlock icon in the browser’s address bar.

Status Codes 

Response codes sent by a server when an HTTP request is sent. Common status codes are:

  • 200 (okay)
  • 301 (Moved Permanently)
  • 302 (Found – previously Moved Temporarily)
  • 404 (Not Found)
  • 500 (Internal Server Error)

Structured Data

Standardized microdata format about a web page, designed to be read by search engines. Provide the foundation for rich snippet data presented in search engines.


A subdirectory is a nested directory, folder, or subset of data within the root of a website. Subdomains appear after and are separated by a ‘/’ from the main domain.

For example, all of the bolded sections below are subdirectories:



A subdomain is a subdivision of an Internet domain. Subdomains appear before and are separated by a dot from the main domain.

For example, all of the bolded sections below are subdomains:


Top Level Domain (TLD)

The last part of a domain name, i.e. .com, .gov, etc. As of 2019 there were 1581 TLDs.


A uniform resource locator (URL) is the location of a resource on the Internet which includes the protocol (for example, ‘https://’), any subdomains (for example, ‘www’), as well as the web address (for example, ‘’).

URL Parameters

URL parameters, also known as query strings, are information appended to the end of URLs to pass additional data along with the request.

URL parameters begin with a ‘?’ and an ‘&’ is used to separate multiple parameters.

For example, the following URL has two parameters added by Google Analytics to send tracking information about the link. In this case, the parameters indicate an imaginary product and the source of the click (Facebook):

Unnatural Link

A link Google has deemed suspicious, manipulative, or low-quality.

User Experience (UX)

A user’s sum feelings and attitudes while interacting with a website, product or system.

White-Hat SEO

SEO tactics that are in compliance with a search engine’s terms of service or guidelines.

404 Code

The HTTP status code which indicates that a resource (page) was not found on the server.