SEO terms - glossary of common seo and web terminology that marketers need to know

SEO Terms and the language used to describe web and online marketing can sometime be confusing. For example do you know the difference between CTR or CTC or conversions and goals? In this SEO Glossary we explain some of the common SEO Terms that you need to know to better understand search engine marketing.

With the complexity and variety of web technologies and SEO techniques expanding all the time, we will look to expand this SEO Glossary to include new terms to make it a valuable resource for understanding the basics of SEO.


Adwords – starts our SEO Glossary. Google Adwords is the biggest online advertising platform in the world. Users essentially create adverts and select and bid on keywords, paying each time someone clicks on your advertisement. Adverts can be listed on the Google Search results page, Google’s display network, Google Shopping or on search partner websites.

Algorithm – A formula used by computers  to manipulate and display information. Search engines use Algorithms to construct the search engine results. The recent Google Hummingbird search engine algorithm update has impacted on how search engine results are served.

Alt Tag – A text description of an image displayed by a web browser when hovering over an image. The Alt Tag is a bit of HTML code that allows search engines and the visually impaired to better understand images. All images on your website should have meaningful and keyword optimised ALT tags.

Anchor Text – Is text that is used to link to a web page. Anchor text links are usually highlighted to stand out on the page and the choice of anchor text on other websites that link to your site is important. Search engines use anchor text to understand what web pages are about. Over optimisation of anchor text can result in a Google penalty.


Blogs – A blog is web content publishing platform that allow the user to post content which may include commentaries, news or views. Blogging platforms include Blogger and WordPress and blogs are indexed promptly by search engines. Blogs are an essential requirement for anyone looking to build presence in the search engines.

Bounce Rate – The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors on your site who leave after only viewing one page. A high bounce rate is an indication that your site that does not match the visitors search queries or it contains poor content or weak calls to action.

Breadcrumbs  – Is the name given to a line of links that shows where you are on a website. Known as a breadcrumb trail, breadcrumbs display the path that shows you where you are in the site structure. An example of a breadcrumb trail is – Home / SEO Services / SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). This is the breadcrumb trail that would be shown on the SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) page of the site which is in the SEO Services section of the site.


Content Management System (CMS) – A content management system is a software program that allows you to publish, edit and modify website content. Most modern websites have a content management system which allows users to make changes to different elements of their website.

Content Marketing – The buzzword phrase in online marketing circles over the last 18 months is  content marketing as the graph below illustrates. Content marketing is the process of creating and sharing content in order to acquire customers.

The volume of new about content marketing has taken off in 2013
Graph showing Google Trends data for link building and content marketing searches

Conversions – A conversion is the measurement and recording of a specific activity on your website. In Google Analytics conversions are called Goals and can be setup to measure enquiries, visitor duration, visits to particular pages, sales or other metrics. In Google Adwords conversion codes can be created which when added to your website, allow you to attribute the role advertising played in generating enquiries and sales.

Conversion Rate – A conversion rate is the percentage of visitors completing a particular task or conversion on your site. Understand your conversion rate will allow you to forecast  the number of sales and leads your site could generate.

Conversion Rate Optimisation – Conversion rate optimisation can help you to improve the percentage of conversions on your site and ultimately boost sales.

CPC – Stands for cost per click and relates to Pay Per Click advertising traffic where bid prices are set for each keyword.

CTR – CTR is an abbreviation of click through rate which is the percentage of people who have viewed your site in the search engine results and have then clicked through to your site. If 200 visitors see your site in Google and 20 people click through to your site the click through rate is 10% (200 impressions divided by 20 clicks).


External Links – Are links from other websites to your own website. Building quality external links to your website is an essential part of SEO. It is important to focus on quality rather than quantity.


Goals – A goal in Google Analytics is the measurement of a specific interaction with your website, whether it is a inquiry, purchase or visit to particular pages on your site.

Google Analytics – is the industry leading website statistics package for understanding all elements of your website’s performance. Google Analytics can help you interpret what is happening on your website, from the most visited pages to measuring the impact of advertising and email marketing on the volume of traffic, inquiries and sales generated by your site.

Google+ – is Google’s own social network and is arguably an increasingly important part of any search engine optimisation strategy. A bit like Facebook, on Google+ users can post and share content. The big difference is that Google takes into account the number and authority and location of the people sharing you content to directly impact on search engine results. Google+ helps with SEO!


Hashtag – Is a single word or phrase preceded by the # symbol to define messages relating to a paricular topic. Hashtags are most commonly used on Twitter.

Headings – A standard of html code that applies to the formatting of text. Each heading style that can be  applied to text on a website to make it bolder and bigger than other text on the page. The most common heading codes are H1, H2, H3 going up to H6. Placement of keywords within headings is a ranking factor.

Hits – Refers to the number of files loaded during a visit to a web page. When you take into account that web pages include many different elements such as images, stylesheets and scripts it is easy to understand why hits are considered a meaningless metric. If a visitor visits a large number of pages on your site then the volume of hits will be high. Unique visitors and conversions are more important benchmarks for measuring site performance.

HTML – Is the language of the web and forms the building blocks on which all web pages are founded. It is important to write clean HTML code so that the pages load quickly, are compatible with all browsers and most importantly can be understood by Google.


Inbound Link – Is a term used to describe a link to your website from an external website. Inbound links are also referred to as a backlinks or external links.

Impressions – are the number of times your site appears in the search engine results either for organic or paid search positions.

Indexed – Is what your site is when it appears in the search engine results. Submitting a sitemap to Google using Google Webmaster tools helps Google to index your website more effectively. To check how many pages of your site are in the search Google search for


Keyword Density – The percentage ratio of the number of times a keyword appears on a web page. A high keyword density indicates that a page is about a particular topic and keywords should be placed in important elements of the page such as the title tag, alt tags and H1 heading text.

Keyword Stuffing – is the over optimisation of a web page for a particular search term. It can also refer to the placement of multiple keyword phrases on the page, usually in the page footer that are included primarily to attract search traffic. Excessive keyword stuffing techniques include hiding white text on a white background and are a sure way to receiving a penalty from Google


Landing Page – A landing page is the page that a visitor arrives on following a click on organic or paid search engine results. Do you landing pages have a high bounce rate or are they generating leads? These are questions you need to be able to answer about your own site.

Link Building – Is the active pursuit of growing the number, quality and relevance of links to a website. Link building techniques have changed dramatically over the last 12 months following continual updates to the Google ranking algorithm designed to remove sites with low quality links from the search engine results page.

Long Tail Keyword – Long Tail keywords are longer keyword phrases that are used by searches to more specifically define their search intent. Long tail keywords have a lower search volume but are likely to deliver a higher return from visitors if your content satisfies their query.


Meta Description – The Meta Description Tag is a html element devised to provide a summary of the content of a web page. It presently has no bearing on where your site appears in the Google search engine results, but it is important that you pay close attention to them as the descriptions you write will appear below the Meta Title Tag in the search engine results and can be used to help increase the click through rate to your website.

Meta Title Tag  – Each web page should have a Meta Title tag to describe in a headline summary the content of your web page. Your title tags should consider the keywords you are optimising the page of your site for and also include a compelling message to encourage searchers to click on your site in the search results. Title tags should be no more than 70 characters in length.


Nofollow – A line of code found in the head section of a web page or within the link html code. It instructs the search engines to not follow all links on a page or specific links. When link building, nofollow links are less attractive as they have no impact on ranking in the search engines.


Organic Traffic – Search engines display paid and non paid results. Organic traffic is the term used to describe non paid visitors to your website who have found you using search queries on the search engines.


PPC (Pay Per Click) – is the name given to methods of online advertising that charge when a user clicks on a text, picture or other medium advert. PPC advertising providers include LinkedIn, Facebook, Google and Bing.


Sitemap – For optimum performance every website should have at least two sitemaps; A HTML Sitemap (for human users) and an XML Sitemap (to enable Google to crawl your site easily).  Sitemaps are index documents that describe the pages on your site with reference to URLs. Ideally your website should have a dynamic sitemap which updates itself when new content is added to your site to ensure that all of your pages are easily processed by search engines like Google.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – Is the process of  influencing the position of a website or web page in the search engine results.

Social Media – Social media sites are online communities that allow for the creation, sharing and exchange of information. Social Media is an SEO ranking factor.

Spider – The name given to computer programs created by search engines to crawl web pages for the purpose of indexing the content, also referred to as bots.


Title Tag – See Meta Title  Tag


Unique Visitors – The number of unique people who have visited your website on a given date. The difference between visitors and unique visitors is that visitors include individuals who have made multiple visits to the same site on the same day.


Visits – A visit is a sequence of interactions that take place on your website within a specific time period. A visit can include multiple pageviews, events, social interactions, custom variables, and e-commerce transactions.


301 Redirect – Is a web server function where an old web page address or URL is redirected to a new one. A bit like redirecting mail when you move house but on a permanent basis. A 301 Redirect is a “permanent” redirection status indicating that the page has moved. If you are building a new site or changing any page names on your site it is essential that you 301 redirect old pages to the new ones to retain any value built up in the search engines and prevent page loading errors on your site.

404 Page – A 404 page is a page that displays when a user tries to access a page that no longer exists or types in a URL incorrectly. It is important for you to create a custom 404 page on your site as these are important for usability. Experiencing a 404 page can leave a user frustrated and if they cannot find what they want the competition is only a click away.


Are there any other SEO terms or web terms that you would like to know the meaning of?

Why not leave your suggestions below and we will add your suggestions to our SEO glossary?

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