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GUIDE: SEO Glossary of Terms (the top 25 you should know)

Search engine optimization (SEO) uses various terms that might be confusing if it is your first time learning about the broad concept. Below, we have provided a brief SEO glossary of terms you will encounter in SEO.


WHITE HAT SEO – Refers to all the acceptable SEO practices recommended by Google Webmasters and other major engines. Some techniques, such as using hidden texts that only bots can detect, amount to a violation of terms and can get your website removed from SERPs. White hat SEO sticks to recommended practices, such as link building and providing quality content and a better user experience.


BACKLINK – A backlink is a type of link that points back to your website. They can come from social media platforms, blogs, influencers and any other online source other than your website. Search engines assign value to backlinks, which are crucial metrics for determining your authority in the markets you serve.


DOMAIN AUTHORITY – This is another important term you will encounter in any SEO glossary. Domain authority refers to the overall strength a website has built over time. It can influence the ranking of new pages, allowing your new content to rank highly even before the content gains links and engagements.


LINK JUICE – One of the non-technical SEO terms used to refer to the value of backlinks or hyperlinks to a given website. Search engines like Google count links as votes that indicate your website is valuable and worth a visit. You need high-quality links to rank on the first page of SERPs.


INDEXING – Search engines use a database (index) to store and retrieve data collected as the bots crawl your website. Your site’s indexability affects how easily bots can understand your site to rank it. Pages discovered by crawlers are added to the index and eligible to appear in search results.


GOOGLE CRAWLERS/SPIDERS – Google uses crawlers and spiders to find new websites and add them to the database. Although the Google Bot System is robust, marketers are required to optimize the website for crawlers. This may include adding a sitemap and deploying recommended content structures.


CONVERSION RATE OPTIMIZATION – CRO aims to improve the number or quality of conversions that take place on your site. Conversions occur when visitors perform an action, such as joining a mailing list, subscribing, or purchasing a product. Popular CRO tactics include changing the web design, call-to-action, pricing, images and more.


DWELL TIME – This refers to the amount of time visitors spend on your site before going back to the search engine results page. A short dwell time, like five seconds, can indicate low-quality content to search engines, so you should aim to increase dwell time through better engagements.


ANALYTICS – Refers to the process of tracking audience behavior, content and strategy performance, traffic sources and several other metrics needed for marketing decisions. Google Analytics is the most popular analytics tool, but there are several different ways to track, collect and analyze various business aspects.


B2B/B2C – B2B is an acronym for business-to-business models that often feature longer buying cycles, expensive products/services and professional decision-makers. B2C refers to business-to-consumer, where buying cycles are shorter with cheaper products and consumers as the audience. There are more significant differences between the two models.


BOUNCE RATE – While not a direct ranking factor for search engines like Google, high bounce rates should be a concern. It refers to the percentage of web visitors that leave your site without visiting another page or clicking any links on the site.


CANONICAL URL – When you have two URLs for similar content, Google will choose one as the canonical URL, which is the one with the best or most relevant content. This is the URL that will be ranked in SERPs and you can specify it.


ANCHOR AND ALT TEXTS – Anchor text refers to the word or phrase that carries a link. It can be a keyword or any text you want the audience to click on for more information. Alt-text is the description that appears in case an image fails to load. Besides describing the image for the audience, Alt text can be used for SEO.


META DESCRIPTION – This refers to a tag that you can add to the header of an HTML document. The tag is a description of the webpage and should be around 300 words or less. The meta description isn't a factor in ranking but appears as a snippet your audience can use to gauge whether you have the content they seek.


VERTICAL SEARCH – This is a specific type of search that involves focusing on a given topic, media or content. For instance, YouTube only provides videos, while Yelp focuses on business reviews. Other examples are Amazon (shopping) and Kayak (travel).


STATUS CODES – These are responses sent by a server when users click on a link or webpage, request a file, or submit a form. Standard codes include 404 Not Found, 200 OK, 410 Gone, 500 Internal Service Error and 503 Service Unavailable.


LOGFILE ANALYSIS – The log file contains various metrics, including user IP address, browser and ISP, date/time stamps, number of clicks and more. Logfile analysis is the process of examining the information in your log files to identify audience behavior trends and other conclusions you draw from the data.


NEGATIVE SEO – This refers to a rare malicious practice that involves using web spam techniques to hurt the SEO of another business, usually a competitor. You should protect your business against the common negative SEO practices.


PPC – The pay-per-click model is used by marketers to advertise businesses online. Essentially, marketers receive a commission when users complete specific actions, such as clicking on a link, subscribing to a mail list or making a purchase. The commission is given based on the number of clicks generated.


ORGANIC SEARCH – These are searches completed through search engines, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Amazon and more. When a visitor clicks on your site from a search engine results page, they count as organic traffic, unlike visits from social media and backlinks from other online sources.


SERP – A search engine results page is the page displayed when users search for things online. Google can have hundreds of thousands of result pages for a single search, although users rarely go beyond page one. Most businesses want to rank on page one of SERPs for their unique keywords.


SEM – Search engine marketing is an umbrella term that houses all activities marketers use to increase the visibility of a website in search engine result pages. It comprises both organic SEO and paid activities to improve the appearance of a website in search results.


SSL CERTIFICATES – Secure Socket Layer certificates are digital certificates that encrypt communication between business servers and user devices. Sites protected by SSL certificates are seen as safe and trustworthy, identified by a padlock icon next to the URL.


USER GENERATED CONTENT – Refers to all comments, reviews, blog posts, videos and other forms of content created by users and customers. User-generated content is crucial in brand building and reputation management.


QDF – Search engines may decide to display newer web pages instead of old sites, especially when a particular search word is trending. QDF stands for Query Deserves Freshness, a new perspective Google uses when there's a surge in specific searches.


There are several other important SEO glossary terms you should learn to understand the complex world of online marketing. Contact Agency Jet today to find out more about SEO and other marketing services we offer in Minneapolis.


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