Welcome to SEO Boy, the authority on search engine optimization -- how to articles, industry news, insider tips, and more! If you like what you see, you can receive free and daily updates via email or RSS.
Print This Post Print This Post

50 Search Engine Optimization Definitions Every Advertiser Should Know: A SEO Terminology Glossary

September 17th, 2009 | | Basic SEO Tips

Let’s face it, when it comes to SEO there are many terms that sound like they come from a foreign world. Whether you are new to search engine optimization (SEO) or looking to hire an agency, it is important to understand the industry lingo. SEO-speak can get pretty technical, I often get lost myself! But learning these 50 core SEO terms will get you a long way to understanding how the process works.

  • 301 Redirect – A means of forwarding content that has been moved permanently from an old URL to a new one automatically. It will prevent a webpage from losing traffic or PageRank that is associated with an old URL. The 301 redirect will automatically forward or redirect that traffic to the updated URL.
  • 404 Error – The 404 or Not Found error message is an HTTP response code that says the client was able to communicate with the server, but the server could not find what was requested, or it was configured not to fulfill the request. A 404 error page occurs when the URL of a page is moved and not redirected or when the URL is removed altogether.
  • Alexa Rank – A free web toolbar service that provides web masters with information about a sites traffic. Alexa collects internet usage data from toolbar users, which contributed to the Alexa Rank.
  • Anchor Text – A visible link active within text, commonly referred to as a hyperlink. It usually gives users a relevant, contextual description of the content of the links location. The words used in anchor text play a role in keyword rankings.
  • Algorithm – The mathematical criteria search engines use to determine a web pages relevancy for certain search words or phrases.
  • Backlinks – Links that are coming into a website from another website or web page. The number of backlinks on a webpage is an indication to search engines the popularity or importance of that website or page. Also known as incoming links, inbound links, in links, and inward links.
  • Black Hat SEO – The search engine optimization practice of using unethical or unfair techniques (i.e. keyword stuffing, link spamming) to improve website rankings. Sites that practice black hat methods run the risk of being penalized or banned by Google.
  • Bot – Nickname for the Googlebot, the search software used by Google to crawl, index and serve web content.
  • Canonical Tag – A code snippet used to tell search engines what URL is the original or “canonical” version of your webpage. Search engines use this as a guide for what URL to crawl and index, especially when duplicate pages exist.
  • Cache – The archived copy of a webpage that was indexed by a search engine. The cached version of a webpage is a copy of the page that is saved on search engine servers.
  • Competing Pages – The number of pages that rank for a given keyword in search engine results pages (SERPs). Found in the upper right-hand corner of the Google SERPs (i.e. Results 1 – 10 of about 1,450,000 for example keyword).
  • Crawl – An automated, computerized algorithm hosted by search engines that browses the web. The programs create a copy of each webpage for future indexing by the search engines. Also known as web crawl.
  • Internal Links (Cross-Links) – A link or hyperlink from one webpage to another within the same website or domain. Usually internal links work in a hierarchal structure, with the most internal links to the most important pages.
  • Duplicate Content – Refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that are identical or exact duplicates. In many cases this is not malicious or deceptive.
  • External Links – A link or hyperlink from one webpage to another on a different website or domain. External links point to your site but do not reside on your domain.
  • Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) – A free service provided by Google for webmasters. It allows webmasters to understand the sites indexing and visibility on the web, as well as identify any search engine crawl errors.
  • Header Tags – HTML code used to format text, define a page’s organizational structure, and simplify navigation— code appears as an <h1> through <h5>. For SEO, the header tags are a source for keyword optimization, which can help a page rank better on some search engines.
  • HTML Sitemap – A text version of your sitemap that is a bulleted outline of your sites navigation, with anchor text linking to each age. Provided on a website to aid in user navigation. It is also used to guide search engine bots through a website.
  • Alt Text Attribute – The image alternate (ALT) attribute is considered a text equivalent for a non-text element. It is recognized by search engines as an alternative text description to an image, since crawlers cannot otherwise ‘read’ image content.
  • Indexing – The process of search engines collecting, parsing, and storing webpage content for fast, relevant and accurate retrieval.
  • Keyword Optimization – The process of incorporating target keywords or phrases into metadata, images and on-page content to improve search engine rankings for that keyword of phrase.
  • Keyword Stuffing – Considered a black hat method for SEO, keyword stuffing is a technique used to increase a web page’s rankings by hiding text so it will not be seen by a visitor, but it will be crawled and indexed by search engines. Practices include hiding text behind and image, small text, and making the background the same color as the copy. Websites that participate in keyword stuffing will be removed from the Google index.
  • Linkbait – Any website activity that encourages or attracts links from other websites. It can include contests, newsworthy information, giveaways, tools, and other compelling content. It is an important practice in SEO because the backlinks to a website factor into search engine rankings,
  • Link Building – The practice of increasing the number of relevant in-links on a website or specific webpage with the goal of increasing search engine rankings and website traffic.
  • Metadata – Located in the header section of a web pages source code, metadata was is intended to provide information about a website’s content. Includes robots, title, description and keywords.
  • Meta Description – A part of the metadata, it is located within the code header and appears as the webpage description in organic search engine results. The description is used to describe the webpage content to search engine crawlers. The meta description can be up to 160 characters.
  • Meta Keywords – A part of the metadata, it is used to list the keywords that are relevant to the content on your page. The meta keywords tag used to have significance to search engine rankings.
  • Meta Robots – A part of the meta data, the robots are used to control search engine crawling activity at the page level. For site-level search engine controlling, use the robots.txt file.
  • Meta Title – A part of the metadata, it is located within the code header and appears at the top of a search window. It is also the hyperlinked title in organic search results. The meta title is an important element in declaring the content on a page to crawlers and potential visitors. Each meta title is between 50-60 characters and should be unique to the content on the page.
  • NoFollow – A meta tag that tells search engines that a page can be crawled and indexed, but the search engines will not follow any outgoing links, and no PageRank flows from that page.
  • NoIndex – A meta tag that allows search engines to crawl a page and give it PageRank, however the search engines do not to index the page, and it will not show up in the search results.
  • NOODP – A meta tag, <meta name=”robots” content=”NOODP” />, used to opt a page out of listing in the DMOZ open directory project.
  • NOYDIR – A meta tag, <meta name=”robots” content=”NOYDIR” />, specifically used to prevent the search engines from displaying a page title and meta description in the Yahoo! Directory.
  • Organic (Natural) Search Results – Non-paid search engine results located below all sponsored (or pay-per-click) advertising on a search engine results page.
  • Page Rank (PR) – According to Google, “PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important”.
  • Page Rank Sculpting – The practice of guiding search engines to pages of your site that have more value more over others, by adding in nofollow tags, consolidated links, and other elements on pages that are of lesser value. Due to changes to the Google algorithm in 2009, it is believed that PageRank sculpting with the use of nofollow tags no longer works to help flow more PageRank to the more valuable pages of your site.
  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC) – A method of advertising where the advertiser pays for each click he receives on the search engines.
  • Rankability Score – A statistical guide used for keyword selection, calculated by taking the search volume divided by the number of competing pages. The rankability score is a guide to help identify keywords that statistically show greater potential for achieving rankings quickly
  • Ranking – According to an algorithm, a search engine will determine which page content retrieved for a search is the most relevant. It will list (rank) each web page in order of relevancy.
  • Reciprocal Link – Mutual external link between two different websites. This is a large practice of link building in SEO, but it is also controversial. A reciprocal link can help a website’s Page Rank if the linked content is relevant. However, excessive reciprocal linking and link farms can hurt a website.
  • Robots.txt – A text file that instructs the search engine bots which directory paths and pages should and shouldn’t be crawled. Any pages blocked by search engines in the robots.txt file will not pass PageRank.
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – An umbrella term that includes any form of internet marketing that promotes a websites visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs)— including, pay-per-click, search engine optimization, display advertising, and contextual advertising.
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – A form of internet marketing that can effectively increase organic search engine placement, site traffic and qualified leads to a website.
  • Search Engine Results Page (SERP) – The results a user sees in the search engines after typing in a search query. The results would consist of a series of Organic ads as well as Paid or sponsored search ads.
  • Search Query – A basic search query is a keyword or a keyword phrase a user enters when searching on any search engine.
  • Social Media – Many definitions exist, but according the Wikipedia, “social media is media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media supports the human need for social interaction, using Internet- and web-based technologies to transform broadcast media monologues (one-to-many) into social media dialogues (many-to-many).”
  • Spiders – Similar to the Googlebot, a spider automatically crawls content on the web and feeds the pages to search engines.
  • White Hat SEO – The ethical and fair practice of search engine optimization on a website.
  • XML Sitemap – An XML sitemap lists URLs for a site so that search engines can more intelligently crawl a website. Sitemaps include instructions for the search engines telling them the relative importance of the page (homepage being the highest), the estimated frequency of updates (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) and most importantly the exact URL structure for your website’s pages.
  • Yahoo! Site Explorer – A free tool that allows web masters to explore web pages indexed by Yahoo! Search, including, the most popular pages from any site, sitemaps, and webpage links.
Facebook   IN   Stumble Upon   Twitter   Sphinndo some of that social network stuff.