180+ Terms and Definitions You Should Know

You’ve probably noticed that there’s a lot of jargon and abbreviations in SEO. So we curated and categorized all the important SEO terms and their definitions below.

Click to find a particular term you’re interested in, or keep reading for all definitions.

# | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Contents

#

10x content

Content that is at least ten times better than the current top-ranking result for the target keyword.

301 redirect

Redirect that takes users to a new URL and tells search engines that the page has moved permanently.

302 redirect

Redirect that takes users to a new URL and tells search engines that the page has moved temporarily.

404 error

HTTP status code indicating that the server couldn’t find the desired page or resource.

A

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Open-source HTML framework for creating stripped-down versions of web pages that load faster on mobile.

Ahrefsbot

Web crawler that powers Ahrefs’ backlink index and SEO tools.

Alt text

Descriptive text that appears in place of an image if it fails to load.

Anchor text

Clickable word or phrase that links one webpage to another.

Article spinning

Spammy “writing” technique that turns one article into many “new” articles.

Article syndication

When websites republish content that originally appeared on another website.

Auto-generated content

Content that’s automatically generated using a program or code.

B

Backlinks

Links from pages on another website.

Bing Webmaster Tools

Free service from Microsoft that helps you monitor and troubleshoot your website’s appearance in Bing’s search results.

Bingbot

Web crawler that powers Bing’s search engine.

Black-hat SEO

The use of SEO strategies and tactics that violate search engine guidelines.

Bounce rate

The percentage of visitors that take no further action after landing on a website.

Branded keywords

Words and phrases associated with your brand, products, or services.

Breadcrumb navigation

Internal links that give users (and search engines) a clear trail to follow around your site.

Bridge page

Page designed to rank for a keyword and redirect users elsewhere.

Broken link

Link on your site that points to a non-existent resource. They can be internal or external links.

C

Cached page

What a web page looked like the last time Google visited it.

Canonical tag

HTML code that tells Google what you consider to be the “master” version of a page.

Canonical URL

URL that Google sees as the “master” version of a page or set of pages.

Co-citation

When a website is mentioned by two other websites.

Content hub

Interlinked collections of content about a similar topic.

Core Web Vitals

Metrics that are part of Google’s Page Experience signals used to measure user experience.

Cornerstone content

The most important pages or posts on your site.

Crawl budget

How fast and how many pages a search engine wants to crawl on your site.

Crawlability

A search engine’s ability to access content on a page.

Crawler

The computer bot search engines use to discover pages on the web.

D

Dofollow link

Link that transfers PageRank. AKA a “followed” link.

Domain Rating (DR)

The relative strength of a website’s authority based on its backlink profile.

Doorway page

Pages designed to rank for similar search queries.

Duplicate content

Content that appears on the web in more than one place.

Dwell time

How much time passes between you clicking a search result and clicking back to the SERPs.

Dynamic URL

URL with content that depends on variable parameters.

E

Editorial link

Link that points to your site (that you didn’t ask or pay for.)

Email outreach

The process of putting your product or content in front of relevant people by sending them personalized emails.

Entry page

The first page a searcher views on your site.

External link

Link from your site to another site.

F

Faceted navigation

Type of navigation found on category/archive pages of sites that deal with many listings.

G

Gated content

Content that visitors can only access after providing their contact information.

Gateway page

Pages created to rank for specific, similar search queries. Also known as doorway pages.

Google Alerts

Free service from Google that monitors the web for content changes matching a specific search query.

Google algorithm

Set of rules used by Google to rank matching results when a user performs a search.

Google Analytics

Free service from Google for tracking and monitoring website traffic.

Google autocomplete

Search suggestions given by Google when entering a search.

Google bombing

Where you get a website to rank higher in Google for irrelevant or unrelated search queries using black-hat SEO tactics.

Google Business Profile

Free business listing from Google that shows up in maps and web search results.

Google Caffeine

Search index introduced by Google in 2010 that allowed them to index more content and provide fresher search results.

Google dance

Slang term describing the volatility a new website or page experiences when Google is trying to determine where it should rank.

Google Hummingbird

Algorithm update released by Google in 2013 to return better search results. It emphasized the meaning of search queries over individual keywords.

Google Knowledge Graph

Knowledge base of entities and the relationships between them.

Google Knowledge Panel

SERP feature that provides information about the main subject of the query.

Google My Business

Free service from Google that allows business owners to create, manage, and optimize their Google Business Profile.

Google Panda

Algorithm update released in 2011 by Google that rewarded higher-quality sites and downgraded the presence of lower-quality sites in their search results.

Google penalty

Penalty issued by Google to demote a page or site in its search results. Can be algorithmic or manual.

Google Penguin

Algorithm update released in 2012 by Google to downgrade sites that engaged in manipulative link schemes and keyword stuffing.

Google Pigeon

Algorithm update released in 2013 by Google to improve search results for local search queries.

Google sandbox

Alleged filter by Google that prevents new websites from ranking in Google’s top results.

Google Search Console

Free service from Google that helps you monitor and troubleshoot your website’s appearance in their search results.

Google Webmaster Guidelines

Best practices from Google to help them find, index, and rank your site.

Google Webmaster Tools

Old name of Google Search Console.

Googlebot

Web crawler that powers Google’s search engine.

Grey-hat SEO

The use of SEO strategies and tactics that blur the line between white-hat and black-hat.

Guest blogging

When you create content for another website.

Guestographic

Infographic created by you but published on other websites.

H

H1 tag

HTML heading that’s most commonly used to mark up a web page title.

Header tags

HTML elements used to define headings and subheadings on a page.

Hilltop algorithm

Algorithm adopted by Google in 2003 to identify authoritative web pages to rank.

Holistic SEO

The practice of improving all aspects of a website to rank higher in search engines.

Hreflang

HTML attribute used to tell Google about alternate versions of a web page for different languages and regions.

HTTPS

Encrypted version of HTTP that protects the communications between your browser and server from being intercepted and tampered with by attackers.

I

Inbound link

Link from another site to your website.

Indexability

A search engine’s ability to analyze and store a web page in its database.

Informational query

Query where someone wants to find information, not products.

Internal link

Link from another page on the same website.

Interstitial ad

Full-screen interactive ads that cover the interface of the website or app.

K

Keyword cannibalization

When a single website unintentionally targets the same keyword across multiple posts or pages.

Keyword density

Percentage of total words on a page that are a specific keyword or phrase.

Keyword Difficulty

Metric used by SEO tool providers to estimate a keyword’s ranking difficulty.

Keyword ranking

Your position in organic search for a particular keyword.

Keyword stemming

Process of reducing a word to its ‘stem’ or ‘root’ (e.g., flowers, flowery -> flower).

Keyword stuffing

Repeating the same keywords (or similar phrases) in your content to try to manipulate rankings.

Keywords

Words and phrases that people type into search engines to find what they’re looking for.

L

Link bait

Content specifically formulated to attract links.

Link building

The process of getting other websites to link to pages on your website.

Link equity

Authority’ that is passed when one page links to another.

Link exchange

Agreement between two websites to link to each other.

Link farm

Group of websites created to link to each other to improve search engine rankings.

Link popularity

The number of backlinks that point to a website.

Link profile

Assessment of all the backlinks (quantity, quality, diversity, etc.) a website has.

Link reclamation

The process of trying to get back lost links.

Link rot

Natural tendency for links to become broken on the web over time.

Link scheme

Links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results.

Link spam

Irrelevant links placed on pages to try and improve search engine rankings.

Link velocity

The rate at which a website’s backlink profile is growing.

Local business schema

Type of structured data markup to help local businesses optimize for local SEO.

Local citation

Any mention of your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) online.

Local pack

SERP feature that appears for local queries and displays local Google business listings.

Local search marketing

The process of improving your presence in local search using SEO or paid ads.

Local SEO

The process of ‘optimizing’ your online presence to show up and rank higher in relevant local searches.

Log file analysis

Where you analyze the crawl behaviour of search engine bots in server logs to discover opportunities to improve SEO.

Long-tail keyword

A low-volume search query.

LSI keywords

Misnomer for semantically-related words and phrases. (LSI keywords don’t exist.)

M

Manual action

Demotion or removal of websites/webpages issued by Google to sites that do not comply with their webmaster guidelines.

Meta description

HTML attribute used to describe what a page is about.

Meta keywords

Meta tags that give some search engines (not Google) more information about a page’s content.

Meta redirect

Code that tells the web browser to redirect the user to a different URL after a set amount of time.

Meta robots tag

HTML snippet that tells search engines how to crawl or index a page.

Meta tags

Snippets of code that tell search engines important information about your web page.

Mirror site

A copy of a website hosted on another server.

Mobile-first indexing

Google’s shift to using the mobile version of content for indexing and ranking.

N

Natural link

A link that occurs organically.

Navigational query

Query where someone is looking for a specific website.

Negative SEO

When a competitor uses black-hat tactics to attempt to sabotage the rankings of a competing website or web page.

Nofollow

Tag that tells Google not to take a link into account for ranking purposes.

Noindex tag

Tag that instructs search engines not to index a page.

Noreferrer

HTML attribute that prevents referrer information passing through a link.

Not provided

Keyword data that Google omits from sharing with you in Google Analytics.

O

Off-page SEO

Any efforts taken outside of a website to improve its search engine rankings.

On-page SEO

The practice of optimizing a web page’s visible content and source code to rank higher.

Organic search results

Non-paid search results from a search engine that can’t be bought or influenced by advertisers.

Organic traffic

Traffic from a search engine’s organic results.

Orphan page

Page with no internal links pointing to it.

Outbound link

Link that points to a page not on your website.

P

Page speed

The amount of time it takes for a web page to load.

PageRank

A formula that judges the value of a page by looking at the quantity and quality of other pages that link to it.

A backlink that you pay for.

People also ask

SERP feature that answers questions related to the user’s search query.

Pogo-sticking

Back-and-forth process between the SERPs and its results when a searcher is unable to find the content they want.

Private Blog Network (PBN)

A network of websites designed specifically for linking to and improving the rankings of other websites.

R

RankBrain

Component of Google’s algorithm that uses sophisticated machine learning algorithms to understand the meaning of unfamiliar words and phrases.

Reciprocal link

When two websites link to each other.

Reconsideration request

Request to have Google review your site after fixing problems identified in a manual action or security issues notification.

Related searches

Search suggestions related to your query that appear at the bottom of the SERPs.

Resource pages

Web pages that curate and link out to useful industry resources.

Rich snippet

Google search result with additional data shown alongside it, usually from structured data on the page.

Robots.txt

A file that tells search engines where they can and can’t go on your site.

S

Schema markup

Code that helps search engines to better understand and represent your content in the search results.

Search algorithm

List of rules used by search engines to rank matching results when a user performs a search.

Search engine poisoning

When malicious hackers create dummy websites that appear to be legitimate search engine results. Their goal is to steal personal information or install malware.

Search intent

The reason behind a search.

Search query

The words and phrases that people type into search engines to find what they’re looking for.

Search visibility

How visible your website and its related pages are in a search engine’s organic results.

Search volume

How many times per month, on average, people in a given country search for your target keyword.

Secondary keywords

Terms closely related to the keyword you want to target.

Seed keywords

Keywords that define your niche and help you identify your competitors.

SEO

The practice of optimizing a website or webpage to get more high-quality traffic from a search engine’s organic results.

SEO audit

The process of evaluating and assessing your website to see how well it’s performing in search engines.

SEO silo

The grouping together of topically-related web pages via internal links.

Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

Pages that search engines show in response to a user’s search query.

SERP features

Non-traditional search results that provide information directly within the SERP, so users do not have to click.

Share of voice

How visible your brand is in the market.

Short-tail keywords

Terms with high search volumes.

Sitelinks

Links to other pages or sections of a page that appear under some Google search results.

Sitemap

XML file listing all the important content on your website.

Sitewide link

Outbound link that appears on every page of a website.

Spamdexing

Deliberate manipulation of search engine results using techniques that are against their guidelines.

Srcset

HTML attribute that allows you to display different versions of an image for different screen sizes and resolutions.

SSL

Protocols for establishing authenticated and encrypted links between networked computers.

Structured data

A standardized way to provide information about a web page.

Subdomain

The part of a URL on the left of the root domain, e.g., help.ahrefs.com

T

Taxonomy SEO

Optimizing for search engines by organizing the structure of content.

Technical SEO

Making technical adjustments to help search engines find, crawl, understand, and index your pages.

TF-IDF

Statistical measure that aims to judge the relative importance of a word in a document.

Thin content

Content that has little or no value for the user.

Title tag

HTML element used to specify the title of a webpage.

Top level domain (TLD)

Last segment of a domain name, like .com or .org.

Transactional query

Query where someone is looking to purchase something but hasn’t yet decided where to buy it from.

TrustRank

Algorithm that analyzes links to separate useful web pages from spam.

U

Unnatural links

Links in a page’s content that are not editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner.

URL Rating (UR)

The strength of a target page’s backlink profile on a 0–100 scale, with 100 being the strongest.

URL slug

The end part of the URL that (typically) explains a page’s content.

v

Vertical search

Search engine dedicated to a specific area of focus.

Voice search

The use of voice to interact with a search engine (rather than searching by text).

W

Website structure

How a site is organized and its web pages interlinked.

Webspam

Web pages created to manipulate search engine rankings.

Website authority

A metric from SEO tool providers that measures the relative strength of a site. (Ours is Domain Rating.)

White-hat SEO

The use of Google-approved website SEO strategies, techniques, and tactics.

X

X‑robots-tag

HTTP header sent from a web server that controls indexing of a page.

Y

YMYL pages

Pages about topics that could impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.

Keep learning

If you’re just getting started with SEO and want to learn the basics, check out our beginner’s guide to SEO. It covers everything you need to know, including:

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