If you plan on operating a website and using SEO to increase traffic, please familiarize yourself with these 50 SEO terms and definitions.

This is an on-going document which will be updated frequently.


301 Redirect – A method used to cause a website to redirect to another website when visited. Whenever your webpage is address has been change, apply a 301 redirect to your old address to allow it to redirect users to a new page. Redirecting a page ensures that users who have linked to, or bookmarked the previous address will be redirected directly to the new one. Moreover, search engines will instantly be able to update their indexes.

404 error – The error code returned when you enter a URL into a web browser for a page that does not exist. It is a client side error code that is returned when the page is not found on the server. It is a good idea to have a custom 404 error page that is served on your website when a client types in an incorrect URL, or goes to a broken link.


Ahrefs – A software company that sells marketing and analytic subscriptions. They are considered to be one of the industry leaders with their massive link database.

ALT Text – A string of alternate text for an image file which describes the image. The purpose of this is for people with vision disabilities so their screen readers can describe the context of the image. This is essential for good SEO.

Anchor Text – This is the text found within links. Links generally appear on a webpage as dark blue and underlined, or a different colour if you have visited it in the past. It is a good idea to put a keyword in the anchor text because search engines read them to determine relevancy and value of the assigned link.


Backlink – Refers to links that are pointing externally from another website, back to yours. Having valuable backlinks is the basis of SEO, alongside having strong content.

Black Hat SEO – A type of SEO that is done in an “illegal” way to get quicker results in the search engine results page. Examples of this are spamming lots of low value links, keyword stuffing content, and link farming.

Blog – A region of a website where content is regularly published and updated, usually in a chronological fashion. Each entry in a blog is generally called a post, and is usually written in an informal style or prose. Due to the nature of blogs, every post or entry is seen by search engines as a new page; this increases the chances of the website being seen.

Bookmark – Is a saved address to a website in the web browser being used. Bookmarks can also be stored on the computer outside of the web browser. There are many Social Bookmarking websites, also known as aggregate websites, such as Reddit.com or Delicious.com as two popular examples. Websites which have Social Bookmarking websites linking back to them, make it appear to the search engines that the website is content is interesting to people. 


Canonical URL – You might have a multiple pages with the same content (duplicates). If you specify the canonical URL of one of these duplicate pages, it will tell Google or any other search engine that this is the best page of the duplicates.

Conversion Form – A type of form used by a website to collect basic information about it is visitors. Conversion forms essentially transform traffic stats into leads. Common questions asked in the form are usually, but not limited to, contact and demographic information about the users. This will allow the owner of the website to followup on the aforementioned leads.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) – Refer to a section of code in a website, that primarily defines how the presentation and style will appear. Some examples of elements that can be controlled are header styles, font sizes, links, borders, and text.


Directory – A website directory is similar to a phone directory, or phone book. It is a massive website where people can submit their websites in the form of a link. Yahoo! Directory and Dmoz are popular directory sites.

Domain – The specific address of a website. It is beneficial to maintain ownership of a domain for as long as possible. Search engines generally will use the length of registration as one of their factors when ranking.


The Fold – The fold is the first section of a website that loads into your browser on your desktop, phone, or tablet. If you scroll down on that page to view additional content, you are going below the fold. Since this is the first place a visitor would see, Google has placed slight importance on this area of your page.


Headings – Headings are tags that you wrap around sentences or keywords to make them standout. There are a number of different headers such as H1, H2, H3,… etc. It is very important for any page to have at least 1 H1 tag. H2 and H3 are nice to have as well.

HTML – Hyper Text Markup Language. This is the code that search engines analyze to access your site. Having clean markup is extremely important because it makes it easier for the search engine spiders read.

HTML5 – Same as above, but modernized. The biggest differences when it comes to SEO are for the new elements, like <section> and <footer>.


Inbound Link (also known as a backlink) – An incoming link; or traffic, which originates from another webpage. The more numerous the links, the more successful the Search Engine Optimization will be. A higher significance is placed on incoming links if they happen to be originating from high ranking pages.

Internal Link – A link directing to traffic to another location or webpage, which is located on the same domain.

Index Page – A stored record of the pages contained in a website that is stored by a search engine.


Javascript – A scripting language or code which, allows administrators or web developers to modify or change content on a webpage based on the users actions. Analyzing data contained inside of a javascript applet is not the simplest action for Search Engines to accomplish; that said, search engines are improving gradually over time.


Keyword – A word or set of words that a user enters in search. Each web page should be optimized with the goal of drawing in visitors who have searched specific keywords. Some keywords are very popular, while others can be more obscure.


Link Building – This is an SEO technique to build links either internally with your own web pages, or from an external web page which points back to your page.

Link Farming – A type of website that is built to host and harvest inbound links to other websites. Usually the links are low quality, but in large quantity. Link farming is considered to be black hat SEO.

Long Tail Keyword – A longer string of keywords less commonly typed into search. An example of this would be a question you might ask, such as “Where can I order flowers for Mother’s day?”


MetadataInformation that a web crawler, or spider, collects about your website. This information is relayed back to the search engines and used to evaluate and display your site in the search engine results page.

Meta Description – A string of 160 character text that appears under the site name on the search engine results page. It is often used to describe the website in a couple sentences to tell you what the website is about. Well done Meta Descriptions can have an impact on click-through-rates.

Meta Keywords – Back in the 90s and 00s, meta keywords were used by search engines to determine what the site was about. Meta keywords no longer have any impact on SEO as search engines do not factor in this data anymore.

MOZ – A very popular software company that sells marketing and analytics subscriptions. They are considered to be one of the industry authorities when it comes to SEO.

Mozrank – An algorithm developed by MOZ which associates a score from 1-10 on a website. It is based off of quality of inbound links.


Nofollow – A type of link that does not give link building (SEO) credit. It is not a good idea to have nofollow links on any of your internal pages. Use a nofollow link if you do not want to give credit to an external website.


On-page SEO – Refers to the type of SEO done to your webpage content. On page optimization such as having correct headers, lots of text with keywords, and proper links help with SEO.

Off-page SEO – Refers to the type of SEO where link building is emphasized from external websites. Having valuable links pointing towards your website is a good example of off-page SEO.


Page Title – A string of descriptive text that is displayed in your web browsers tab. View it by highlighting your mouse over it. Your page title should be shorter than 60 characters to display properly in all search engines.

PageRank – A ranking on a scale of 1-10 determined by Google for your website. PageRank (PR) is no longer used in the industry as it is no longer being updated.

Panda – A large series of patches released by Google in February 2011. It’s goal was to clean up the search engine results page by penalizing mediocre websites that used poorly written, or spammy content which provided little value.

PPC (Pay Per Click) – also known as Cost Per Click, is a form of digital marketing where an advertiser pays a publisher when their ad is clicked. The publisher is usually a website owner, a network of websites, or a search engine such as Google. They will display the ad on behalf of the advertiser.


Ranking Factor – A number of factors such as inbound links, the quality of those links, and on-page content determine a ranking for your web page.

Referring String – A piece of information that web masters use to track where a person came from prior to their page. The piece of information is stored in the user’s web browser when they navigate to different pages.

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) – A subscription based system for receiving updates on new content posted from a web source. It is a great way for followers of your website to stay up to date when new content is released.


SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – An organic approach to affecting the visibility of websites in the search engine results page.

SERP (Search Engine Results Page)– This is the page that is displayed after a user types a keyword into search. It will consist of a query of results based on the keyword.

Sitemap – A special page created by the webmaster that contains links to all pages and posts on their website. It is a map that makes it easier for search engines to index all the pages on the site.

Social Media – Online networking sites that share content between users and groups. It is a form of popular media in which sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin operate. It is important to have links to your site within social media posts, because they appear in search and have value for your website.

Spider – A computer program created by search engines to crawl the internet and collect information about the pages it visits.


Traffic – The visitors that come to your website.

Traffic Rank – A ranking of how much traffic your website generates. It compares it with other sites on the internet. Go to Alexa.com to check your traffic rank.

Title – The title of a page on your website. It is wrapped with <title> tags within your HTML markup. It appears in search engines, and in the top of the browser when a user is on your page.


URL (Uniform Resource Locator) – This is the address of a web page. Every single page on the internet has a unique URL. It is how you locate other pages on the internet.


White Hat SEO – The proper approach and opposite of Black Hat SEO. It involves creating quality original content and having it shared through valuable external links and social media. It is considered to be the best practice methods by Google and should always be followed when ranking a page.