50 Essential SEO Terms Explained

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a complicated topic. Especially whenever you’re new to it. Because of this, I wrote this post to help those of you who aren’t familiar with terms related to SEO.

But first, what is SEO?

I define it as this: SEO is the process of maximizing your webpage’s ranking on search engines.

SEO sounds like a great thing to have, yeah? Well, I agree!

Consequently, you will a hard time getting users on your website if your pages aren’t optimized for search. So, knowing these SEO terms will come in handy.

In the meantime, feel free to bookmark this page and share it with friends!

SEO Terms Glossary

301 Redirect – This is a server side code that lets search engines know that a page has permanently moved. These are especially helpful during a website redesign, or whenever deleting or moving content.

ALT Text/Tag or Attribute: An HTML code used to indicate alternate text for content such as images. Whenever the content in question doesn’t load properly, the alt text is shown in its place.

Analytics: The statistical data that indicates performance metrics of a website. Analytics help digital marketers know how to best optimize their content.

Anchor Text: The text that displays within a hyperlink. The anchor text is particularly useful for letting users know what to expect whenever they click on a link.

Authority: Generally known as the amount of “pull” that a website has in search engine rankings. Factors such as high-quality backlinks and domain age help websites have a higher amount of authority.

Backlink: A link from another website that points to your website. These are essentially “referrals”. The higher quality the backlink, the better it is for rankings.

Blog: A place where users post content related to their industry, general thoughts, or news and updates. Blogs are great for SEO since you can create content geared towards particular keywords and topics.

Bounce Rate: The percentage of users that only visit one webpage on your website. If a page has a high bounce rate, this means that users did not explore any other pages on your website. This is usually a bad thing.

Canonical Tag: An html code that lets search engines know what piece of content is the original source. If a user has two identical blog posts on two different websites, adding a canonical tag would prevent duplicate content issues from happening.

Canonical URL: The webpage that the canonical tag is referring to within the code. Again, by setting this, you will prevent duplicate content issues.

Content: The text, images, or videos within a webpage. Know this, content is the king of giving users relevant and helpful information.

Conversion: A metric that triggers whenever a user completes a specific action. Hence, if a user signs up for a service or calls the business from a webpage, it could be considered a conversion.

Conversion Form: A tool found on websites used specifically with the intent of gathering leads. Examples of this would include having a user complete a contact form, or signing up for an email list.

Conversion Rate: The percentage of users that complete are converted (see Conversion). Example: If 100 users visit your website and 10 of them fill out a contact form, you would have a conversion rate of 10%.

CPM: Cost Per 1000 impressions. This metric is typically found on paid advertising platforms.

Directory: A website that contains lists of websites. Some of the biggest directories still found today are Yahoo, Yelp, Blogarama, and more!

Domain: An “easy to remember” label that points to the IP address of a web host. For example, evantwyman.com is the name of the domain that you are currently visiting.

Duplicate Content: Pages that have identical (or nearly identical) words within a page. It’s important to note that Google sees this as a negative thing. So, never ever copy and paste large amounts of content from other websites or pages! Always use original content!

The Fold: The section or area of a webpage that users can see without scrolling.

Googlebot: Web crawling software created and developed by Google. These bots scan the content of webpages for indexing purposes. Bots are also called spiders, because they “crawl” (index) web pages.

Headings: A formatting tag for webpage text. Using headlines will break up your content into easy-to-read chunks. This is helpful for visitors wanting to quickly scan your content for information they may be seeking.

HTML: Short for Hypertext Markup Language. This is the program language that most webpages are built on.

Impression: A statistic that shows how many times a webpage or advertisement is displayed to a user. For example, if you create Google ad that’s seen 1,000 times, that means it had 1,000 impressions.

Inbound Link: In simple terms, it’s a link that points from someone else’s website to yours. Inbound links are also known as a backlinks.

Internal Link: A link that points from one page of your website to another. These are helpful for visitors on your website, as you can direct them to related or helpful content.

Indexed Pages: Web pages identified, crawled, or recognized by bots or spiders. Whenever pages are indexed, they can be displayed on the search engine results page.

Javascript: A programming language that controls many different webpage elements. These types of scripts can range from Google Analytic codes, all the way to triggering visual elements such as mobile menu animations.

Keyword: Words used to trigger a user’s search engine queries. Keywords play a big part in search engine optimization.

Landing Page: A web page typically used to convert users. You will typically use these for marketing or advertising purposes.

Link Building: The process of getting other websites to link back to your website. Link building can be a good strategy to increase your search rankings, however if done incorrectly it can end up hurting you.

Long Tail Keyword: A keyword made up of more than one word. Some great examples of this would be “SEO consultants in the US”, or “Coffee shops near San Diego”.

Metadata: The description of data within a website. In other words, it’s data about data (so meta!). This information tells bots what the data of a webpage is about. Without proper metadata, you could be hurting your search engine rankings.

Meta Description: A brief excerpt of what content is on a webpage. It’s important to know that search engines display meta descriptions on the search engine results page.

Meta Keywords: Data pointing to which keywords the webpage is trying to rank for and what the topic of the page is about. This used to be an important factor in SEO, but doesn’t have nearly as much weight as it used to.

Nofollow: An HTML tag you can assign to a webpage. When you use a Nofollow tag on a page, you are essentially telling search engines to not index it.

Page Title: The HTML element (or tag) that lets search engines know what the title of a particular webpage is. Search engines display the title tags on the search engine results page. Also, the page title appears at the top of your internet browser.

PageRank: The assigned value of a website’s ranking within search engines. The higher the page rank, the better the results.

Panda: A major search engine algorythm update that Google rolled out in February of 2011. This update effectively purged “thin-content” and “low-quality websites” from search engine results.

Permalink: The unchanging destination of a website’s URL structure. For example, this page’s permalink is “/essential-seo-terms-explained/”. Including keywords within the permalink is an SEO best practice.

PPC (Pay-Per-Click): A metric which defines how much an online advertiser pays-per-click on their ad. This metric is common on platforms such as Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising, and social media advertising platforms.

Ranking Factor: An element that search engine algorithms take into account when factoring search engine rankings. There are over 200 ranking factors that go into Google’s search engine algorithm. Without knowing search engine ranking factors, you are flying blind. Therefore, these are essential to know!

Referrer String: An http field that tracks where a website visitor came from. For example, if someone found your website through Facebook, Google Analytics would be able to tell you. Google analytics is a great resource for tracking referrals.

RSS Feed: An internet technology that allows users to subscribe and get updates on your content.

SEO: An abbreviation of search engine optimization.

SERP: Shorthand for Search Engine Results Page. In other words, it’s the page that displays the results of an internet search.

Sitemap: A structured file that helps bots and spiders index your full website.

Social Media: Platforms such as Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, etc. where users interact with one another. These are great places to post content that you’ve created and start user engagement.

Spider: They are internet bots that crawl and index websites. This is so users can find them in the SERPs. No bug spray required!

Traffic: A performance indicator of how many users are visiting your website. High traffic is usually a good thing, unless of course your target audience is not visiting your website.

URL: Short for “Universal Resource Locator”, though no one says that. Simply put, a URL is a website or webpage’s address.


Phew! It was a good exercise defining all of these SEO terms!

So, did you learn any new SEO terms? Did you already know them?

Are there any SEO terms that I left out that you would say are essential?

Let me know in the comments below!

1 thought on “50 Essential SEO Terms Explained”

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