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A Comprehensive Guide To Understanding Common SEO Terms

A comprehensive guide to common SEO terminologies

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a constantly evolving field. As such, it can be difficult to keep up with all of the latest jargon and abbreviations. However, understanding common SEO terms is essential to your success in this field.

To help you navigate the landscape, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to understanding common SEO terms.

Throughout this guide, you'll learn about popular SEO acronyms and tips for optimizing the search engine ranking of your website.

So whether you’re just starting or you’re looking to brush up on your knowledge, this guide is for you.

Introduction

As the internet and technology become more advanced, brand-new terminology and acronyms will inevitably crop up. Many SEO terms are completely made up.

However, they have a purpose in helping describe a particular action to be taken or what it is you happen to be looking at.

Here is an alphabetical rundown of some of the most common SEO terminology:

301|302 |A |B |C |D |E |F |G |H |I |K |L |M |O |P |Q |R |S |T |U |V |W |X

301 Redirects 

A method for telling search engines that a certain URL has been permanently moved to another location. 

302 Redirects

A

A process for telling search engines that a certain URL has been temporarily moved to another location.

A/B tests

A/B testing compares two versions of a web page to determine which version performs better. A/B testing can be used to test everything from the design of a web page to the call-to-action (CTA) text. 

Algorithm

An algorithm is a set of instructions used to accomplish a task. In the context of SEO, algorithms are used by search engines to determine which websites should rank for a particular search query. 

Google's ranking algorithm is constantly evolving, but among the most important factors it takes into account are the quality and relevance of a website's content. 

It also includes the number and quality of backlinks to a website and the speed at which the website loads. 

Alt attribute (Alt text)

The Alt tag is the text alternative to an image, used by screen readers and other text-based browsers when an image cannot be displayed for some reason.

Analytics

Analytics ​refers to the process of analyzing data to make better decisions. In the framework of SEO, analytics can be used to track traffic to a website.

This allows you to understand which SEO activities result in the most leads or sales, and determine which areas need improvement. 

There are several different analytics tools, but Google Analytics is by far the most popular. It's free and relatively easy to set up, making it a viable option for businesses of all sizes. 

Anchor text

Anchor text is the clickable text used in a hyperlink. When creating backlinks, it is imperative to use relevant anchor text that accurately reflects the content of the linked page. 

For example, if you have a blog post about "SEO basics" and want to link to it from another website, you should use anchor text like "SEO basics" or "learn more about SEO". 

Tip: Using generic anchor texts like "click here" or "read more" is not as effective because they do not give users an accurate impression of what they will find on your website. 

Authority

Authority is a measure of how trustworthy and credible a website is. In the context of SEO, authority is determined by factors such as the age of the domain, the number of high-quality backlinks pointing to the site, and whether the site is regularly updated with new content. 

Tip: The authority of a website can be improved by publishing high-quality content, getting links from credible websites, and making sure that your website is well-designed and easy to navigate. 

B

Backlinks

Backlinks are links from other websites to your website. They are an invaluable ranking factor for search engine visibility, as they show search engines that your website is trustworthy and popular. 

Tip: To get backlinks, you can promote your website through guest blogs, directory submissions, social media activity, and other online marketing activities. It is also critical that your website contains quality content that can be linked to it. 

Black hat SEO

Black Hat SEO refers to practices of intentionally manipulating search engine rankings. These activities violate Google's webmaster guidelines and can result in harsh penalties from the search engine giant. 

Even if these practices bring more visitors or better rankings in the short term, they will hurt your website more than they help in the long run. 

Bot

A bot (short for "web robot") is an automated program that performs tasks on the Internet. In the case of SEO, bots are used by search engines to crawl websites and index their content. 

Bounce rate

Bounce rate is a metric that measures how often visitors leave (i.e. bounce) your website after viewing only one page. 

A high bounce rate indicates that visitors aren't finding what they're looking for on your website. They may leave your site because your content isn't relevant to their needs or because your site isn't user-friendly. 

A low bounce rate, on the other hand, indicates that visitors are engaging with your site and finding what they need. 

Branded Keyword

A branded keyword is a key phrase that contains your brand name (e.g. "Tabala Digital Solutions"). These keywords are often used by people who're already familiar with your brand and are specifically searching for your website. 

Although brand keywords don't necessarily convert into sales or leads, they can be used to measure brand awareness and in determining how often your brand name is searched for online. 

Breadcrumb

A breadcrumb is a navigational element that allows users to see their location within a website (i.e., their "breadcrumb trail"). They typically appear as a series of links at the top or bottom of a page, indicating each level of the hierarchy (e.g.: Home > Services > SEO). 

Breadcrumb improve usability by helping users find their way around large websites - especially if they get lost! 

They can also be beneficial for SEO purposes, as they provide search engines with more information about your site's structure. 

C

Cache

Cache refers to a temporary memory where data can be stored for quick retrieval later. In terms of search engine optimization, a cache can be used by browsers to store previously accessed web pages so that they load faster when you visit them again (search engine bots also cache pages so that they don't have to re-crawl them on each visit). 

Canonical URL

A canonical URL is an absolute URL that points to a specific page on a website (as opposed to a relative URL, which points only to a single file). It's often used when there are multiple versions of a single page (for example, www and non-www versions, or HTTP and HTTPS versions). 

Tip: By specifying a single canonical URL, you can tell search engines which version of the page to index to avoid duplicate content conundrum. 

Click-through rate (CTR)

The CTR measures how often people who see your listing in search results click on your site (i.e., what percentage of searchers click on your listing?)

A high CTR indicates that your listing is considered relevant and trustworthy; a low CTR indicates just the opposite! 

Hint: CTR can be influenced by factors such as title and meta description tags, position in the SERP, and clickbait tactics such as the use of excessive exclamation marks. 

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Cloaking

Cloaking is the presentation of different content or URLs to human users and search engines. This is often used in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or avoid detection by search engine bots.

Conversion

A conversion is a goal that a website visitor achieves, such as a purchase, registration, or download. Tracking conversions is imperative because they show the success of your website in achieving its goals.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

CRO is the process of improving a website's conversion rate. This can be done through split testing, where different versions of a website are tested to determine which performs better.

Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals are a set of metrics that measure the performance of a website. These include factors such as load time, interactivity, and visual stability.

Crawl

Crawling is the process by which search engines discover new websites and update their indexes. This is done by bots/spiders that visit websites and follow links to find updated pages.

Crawl error

A crawl error is an error that occurs when a search engine bot attempts to crawl a website. Crawl errors can be caused by problems with the website's server or by faulty code on the page.

Crawler

A crawler is a program that visits websites and follows links to find updated pages. Crawlers are used by search engines to discover and index the latest web content.

D

De-index

De-indexing is the process of removing a page from a search engine's index. This can be done manually by the webmaster or automatically by the search engine if the page violates its guidelines.

Disavow

Disavowal is the process of instructing a search engine to disregard certain links when crawling and indexing a website.

Domain

A domain is an address that identifies a website on the Internet. Domain names are typically used in URLs to identify specific pages on a website. For example, www.tabaladigital.co.ke.

Domain Authority (DA)

 Domain Authority is a metric that measures the strength of a domain name. It's used by search engine optimizers (SEOs) to predict how well a website will rank in search engines. 

Doorway pages

Doorway pages are low-quality websites designed to appear high on search engine results pages (SERPs). Doorway pages are often full of keywords and duplicate content, and they offer no value to users. 

Do-follow

Do-follow links are links that pass "link juice" from one page to another. These links are followed by search engine bots and can help improve the ranking of the linked page. 

Duplicate content

Duplicate content is content that appears on more than one page of a website. This can occur when multiple pages have similar or identical content, or when the same content is accessible through multiple URLs.

Dwell time

Dwell time is the amount of time that elapses between clicking on a result in a SERP and returning to the SERP after viewing the corresponding page.

A shorter dwell time may indicate that the linked page wasn't relevant to the user's search query. However, a longer dwell time may indicate that the user found what they were looking for on the linked page. 

E

Eclipse

A term used to describe what happens when a website is no longer visible in search results. This can happen for a variety of reasons but is most often the result of a Google penalty.

Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T).

Google's quality rating factors. They're used to measure how well a website meets the needs of its users.

External link

A link from one website to another. Inbound links (or backlinks) are especially significant for SEO.

F

Featured Snippet

A summary of a search result is usually displayed above the organic results. They're designed to give users quick answers to their questions.

G

Google

The largest and most popular search engine in the world. Processes over 8.5 billion search queries per day.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free tool that allows you to track various statistics about your website, such as your traffic sources, bounce rate, and conversion rate. Google Analytics also provides valuable insights into how users interact with your website. 

Google Bombing

Google Bombing refers to black-hat SEO practices that aim to increase a website's rank for a particular Google search by exploiting the algorithm.

Google Bombing usually involves artificially inflating the number of pages linking to a website and the words used in the anchor text of the link.

It is an intentional manipulation of search results for comedic or political purposes. It became eminent after an incident in which former U.S. President George Bush ranked first on both Google and Yahoo for the search terms "miserable," "failure," and "miserable failure."

GoogleBot

See crawler.

Google Business Profile (GBP)

Google Business Profile is a free tool that allows businesses to manage their presence on Google Maps and Search. With GBP, you can easily add and update your business information, such as your business hours, website URL address, and more.

Google Penalty

A penalty imposed by Google against a website that's violated its Webmaster Guidelines. Penalties can result in a website being removed from the index or removed from search results altogether.

Google Search Console

Free Google webmaster tools that allow you to monitor and troubleshoot how your website appears in Google search results.

It also provides valuable insights into how Google crawls and indexes your website. 

Gray hat SEO

A type of SEO that falls between white hat and black hat tactics. Gray hat tactics are usually not explicitly prohibited by search engines, but can still be considered manipulative.

H

Hreflang 

Hreflang is an HTML attribute used to indicate the language and geographic orientation of a web page. If you have multiple versions of the same page in different languages, you can use the hreflang tag to inform search engines like Google about these variations.

HTML

This stands for Hypertext Markup Language. HTML tags are specific code elements that define the structure of web pages

HTTP

Hypertext Transfer Protocol is the method by which data is transferred from a computer server to a web browser.

HTTPS

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure uses a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to encrypt data transferred between a website and a web browser.

I

Impression

A measure of how many times a particular listing appears in search results, whether it is clicked on or not. Used to measure visibility and reach.

Indexability

The ability of a website or web page to be included in the search engine index. Indexed pages can be found by searching the relevant search engine.

Indexed page

A page that has been included in the search engine index and can be found via search in the corresponding search engine.

Inorganic traffic

Traffic that comes to a website from sources other than organic search results (e.g. direct referral, paid, or PPC traffic). 

Internal link

A link from a page on a website to another page on the same website. Used to help visitors navigate between pages and to help search engines understand the structure of a website. 

K

Keyword

A word or phrase that users type into a search engine when looking for something specific. Websites optimize their content for keywords to rank higher in search results and bring more visitors to their site.

Keyword Cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization is when you compete with yourself for placement in search engine result pages (SERPs). This happens when you use the same keyword or phrase on multiple pages of your website. 

Keyword cannibalization can negatively impact your search engine optimization by confusing search engines and making it difficult to determine which page is most relevant for a given search query. It can also cause a split in your link equity, which is the value that links pass from one page to another. 

Tip: To avoid keyword cannibalization, you should conduct keyword research and select distinct keyword phrases for each page on your site. You can use a tool like Google Keyword Planner to find popular keywords and phrases related to your topic.

Keyword Density

Keyword density is the percentage of times a keyword or phrase appears on a web page, compared to the total number of words on the page. 

For instance, let’s say a web page has 1000 words, and the keyword “SEO” appears 5 times. The keyword density would be 0.5% (5/1000). 

Tip: It’s advisable to keep your keyword density below 2%. If it’s too high, it will look like you’re trying to stuff your keywords into your content, which is a red flag for search engines.

They may penalize your website if they think you’re engaging in “keyword stuffing,” which we’ll talk about next. 

Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is a black-hat SEO tactic where you stuff keywords into your content in an attempt to rank higher in SERPs. It’s considered an unethical way to game the system because it offers users a poor experience. 

Search engines are getting better at detecting keyword stuffing, so it’s not as effective as it once was. If you’re caught doing it, your website could be penalized with a lower ranking in SERPs. 

L

Link Building

Link building is the process of acquiring links (backlinks) from other websites to yours. Links are one of the most critical ranking factors for SEO — the more links you have pointing to your website, the higher your website will rank in SERPs. 

Link Farm

A link farm is a group of websites that all link to each other. They were once used as a way to artificially boost link counts and increase rankings in SERPs. But since Google launched its Penguin algorithm update in 2012, they no longer work and can hurt your SEO. 

Link Juice

Link juice is an informal term used in SEO to refer refers to the power or authority that passes from one webpage to another when they are linked together.

Links, NoFollow

A link is a line of code that allows one website to link to another. By default, all links are “followed” by search engine crawlers—which means they can pass along link equity (ranking power) from one website to another. 

But sometimes you might want to prevent search engine crawlers from following a particular link—for example, if you were linking to an untrustworthy website or if you didn’t want the link to pass along any equity. In those cases, you would use a “nofollow” tag on the link. 

Long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are broader and more specific keyword phrases that are less common—and usually have less competition in SERPs than short-tail keywords. 

An example of a short-tail keyword would be “SEO services.” An example of a long-tail keyword would be “SEO services for small businesses.” It gets more specific as you go down.

These keywords are often more valuable because they tend to convert better than short-tail keywords (since they target people further down the buyer’s journey who are more likely to be ready to buy). 

However, they can be more difficult to rank for because there’s less Search traffic overall for long-tail keywords compared to short-tail keywords—and more competition from other websites trying to rank for those same terms

M

Meta Description

A meta description is a brief description that appears under each listing in SERPs—it helps people understand what each result is about before they click through.

Meta descriptions don’t directly affect your ranking in SERPs—but they can influence whether or not people click through from SERPs to your website (which can indirectly impact your ranking)

Meta Keywords

Meta keywords are words or phrases that help describe the content of a web page.

O

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO is the process of optimizing your website for external factors that can affect your ranking in the SERPs. This includes link building, social media engagement, and other actions that improve the authority and relevance of your website. 

The goal of off-page SEO is to improve your website's visibility and organic traffic so you can get more visitors from Google and other search engines. 

Tip: To achieve this, you need to get other websites to link to your website. You can do this through guest blogs, directory submissions, social media engagement, and other off-page SEO efforts.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO is the process of optimizing the content and structure of your website for search engines. This includes optimizing the title tags, meta tags, header tags, images, and other elements of your website. 

The goal of on-page SEO is to help search engines understand the content of your website and help you rank better in SERPs. 

Tip: To do this, you need to choose the right keywords and use them in the right places on your website. You also need to make sure that the structure of your website is easy for search engines to crawl. 

P

PageRank

PageRank is the measure of the importance of a page, based on the incoming links from other pages. Simply put, each link that leads from another site to a page on your site increases your site's PageRank.

Q

Query

The words or phrases a user enters into a search engine.

R

Responsive Website

A responsive website is one that automatically adjusts its layout and content to fit any screen size. Whether it is that of a smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer, responsive design ensures that users always have a positive and easy experience.

Rich Snippet

A rich snippet is a short piece of code that can be added to a web page to give search engines additional information about the page’s content. Rich snippets are often used to display review ratings, prices, or other information that can help a searcher decide on whether to click on a result.

Robots.txt

Robots.txt is a text file that tells web crawlers which pages on a website should be indexed and which should be ignored. The file is generally used to prevent crawlers from indexing pages that are not meant to be seen by visitors. This includes admin pages or duplicates of other pages on the site.

S

SEO

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of improving the visibility and ranking of a website or web page in search engine results pages (SERPs). SEO can be achieved through on-page optimization, off-page optimization, and technical SEO.

SERP

SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page. This is the page that is displayed when a user performs a search query in a search engine. The SERP usually contains 10 results, although this can vary depending on the search engine and the search query.

Sitelinks

Sitelinks are links to other pages on a website that are displayed below the main result for the website on a SERP. Sitelinks are generally used to help users navigate to the most relevant page on a website based on their search query.

SSL Certificate

An SSL certificate is a digital certificate used to encrypt communications between a website and a web browser. SSL certificates are customarily installed on websites that require users to enter sensitive data, such as credit card numbers or personal information.

Status codes

Status codes are numbers that indicate the status of a website or server. Status codes are divided into five categories: 

  1. The request was received continuing the process. - 1xx informational response 

  2. The request was successfully received, understood, and accepted. - 2xx successful 

  3. Further action needs to be taken to complete the request. - 3xx redirection

  4. The request contains invalid syntax or cannot be fulfilled. - 4xx client error 

  5. The server failed to fulfill a valid request. - 5xx server error

 

Structured data

Structured data is code that can be added to your website to help search engines understand the content on your pages. Structured data can be used for things like music, recipes, articles, and reviews. 

T

Title Tags

Title tags are the title of a website that appears in search results. Title tags should be descriptive and accurately reflect the content of your page.

Top Level Domain (TLD)

 A top-level domain is the last part of a domain name, such as .com or .org. There are over 1,000 TLDs in existence, but some are more common than others (.com is the most popular TLD, followed by .org and .net).

Traffic

Traffic refers to the number of visitors that come to a website. Website traffic can be measured in various ways, such as unique visitors, page views, and bounce rate.

U

URL

A URL is a uniform resource locator that points to the address of a web page. Each web page has a unique URL that can be used to access it directly. URLs typically contain the domain name of the website followed by the path to the page (e.g., www.tabaladigital.co.ke/blog).

URL parameter

A URL parameter is a piece of information that is passed from one web page to another. URL parameters are often used to track things like campaign tracking or session IDs. 

User Agent

A user agent is a software program that requests information from a server on behalf of a user. User agents include web browsers, search engine crawlers, and mobile applications. 

User Experience (UX)

User experience refers to the overall experience someone has when interacting with your website or app, from the first visit to conversion (or lack thereof).

Good design ( UX ) aims to create an intuitive, user-friendly experience for users that meets their needs and gets them to perform their desired actions on your website or app. 

V

Voice Search

Voice search is a type of speech recognition technology that allows users to perform searches by speaking into a microphone instead of typing keywords into a search box. Voice search is becoming more popular as more people use smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home.

W

Webmaster

A webmaster is someone responsible for maintaining a website. This includes tasks like adding and updating content, enforcing security measures and making sure the site is accessible to users.

Website page

A web page is a single document that is part of a larger website.

 White hat SEO

White hat SEO refers to optimization strategies that focus on providing users with a pleasant experience while meeting all the required ranking factors set by search engines. 

X

XML sitemaps

An XML sitemap is a file that contains a list of all the pages on your website. XML sitemaps are used to help search engines crawl and index your website more efficiently. 

XML sitemaps are especially useful if your site is very large or contains many pages that are not linked together.

Final thoughts

This concludes our comprehensive guide to understanding standard SEO terms. We hope this article has helped demystify some of the technical terms associated with SEO.

If you need help with your SEO efforts, do not hesitate to contact us. We are the leading SEO agency in Kenya and can help you grow your business online.

Tabala Digital team
Date: Sep 02 2022

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