The Ultimate SEO Glossary (brought to you by Web Solutions of America) was created to help answer some of the basic questions concerning the internet and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Originally created in 2013, and updated in March of 2015, this list continues to change, reflecting the always-evolving world of SEO.
(Last Updated 3/31/2015)
A Permanent File Redirect (301 Redirect) is used to permanently designate that a file has moved to a new location. Most search engines prefer this method over other redirection types. If you plan on moving part of a site, or an entire site to a new location, a 301 redirect should be used. In most cases your previous rankings and inbound links will be kept intact. Apache servers use the htaccess file to designate a 301 redirect.
A Temporary File Redirect (302 Redirect) is used for sites that are temporarily moved. In the past, search engines would struggle with 302 redirect handling. Temporary 302 redirects tell search engines to read and use the content on the new page, but to keep checking the original URL because it is a temporary change and the original URL will ultimately be reestablished. It is often a good idea to avoid using temporary redirects because it may cause ranking issues and possible SE penalties.
404 Status Error
A 404 error (Not Found Error) is an HTTP status code that indicates that the web page you were trying to reach couldn’t be found.
500 Internal Server Error
A 500 error code indicates that the web site’s server encountered an unexpected problem. It’s a generic error for when the server isn’t sure exactly what’s wrong. It is an internal server side error, meaning it’s not your computer, internet connection, or browser.
A/B testing (aka split testing) is a process of testing that compares two versions of one thing (e.g., an ad or landing page) simultaneously. This allows the creator to gather relevant statistics about how different variables affect the outcome rather than assuming based on theories or generic advice. A/B testing should be an unquestioned part of the development of websites, advertisement, etc.
Above the Fold
The area of web content visible prior to scrolling is considered “above the fold.” The term originates with newspapers. If something was above the fold, it meant it was high enough on the page that you didn’t have to unfold the newspaper to see it. Web and email marketers use the term in almost the same fashion.
An absolute link displays a full URL in the anchor tag of a linking web page. It is completely unique. A relative link only has to be unique within the domain or directory so it can be simpler.
Example of an absolute link:
<a href=“http://www.wsoaonline.com/SEO_results.aspx”>SEO Results</a>
Example relative link:
<a href=“../SEO_results.aspx”>SEO Results</a>
Affiliate marketing is a performance based program where a business rewards their affiliates (i.e., the one doing the recruiting) for each new customer they bring to the business. When a potential customer visits the affiliate’s website that’s advertising the business, a cookie is deposited on their computer. When they follow the affiliate’s link to the business’ website and perform an action (e.g., fill out a form, buy something, etc.), the business checks their computer for affiliate cookies.
Most search engines index images based upon Alt tags. Using alt tags gives web publishers the ability to help search engines understand what is being displayed by providing a text equivalent. Alt tags are also given some SEO weight when ranking a particular web page. Alt tags give visually impaired individuals the ability to distinguish an image through text.
Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink. Search engines use anchor text to determine how a particular page ranks for a particular keyword phrase. Too much similar anchor text may be a considered a sign of manipulation which search engines can penalize.
Astroturfing is a term used to describe when the message from a sponsor is masked as though it is an organic thing supported by grassroots participants, even though it is actually an advertisement. In the online world, astroturfing is accomplished using counterfeit profiles on social media sites and forums.
Behavioral Marketing (Behavioral Targeting)
Behavioral marketing is a technique that targets advertisements to a user based on their browsing behavior (e.g., what sites they visit and what searches they conduct). Displaying advertisements that are more relevant and match the interests of a user will typically lead to higher conversion rates.
Black Hat SEO
Black Hat SEO is defined as the practice of using unethical or deceptive techniques in order to increase the rankings and/or exposure for a particular website, brand, or product. Examples of black hat search engine optimization often include:
- Invisible Text
- Scrapping Content
- Forum & Blog Spam
- Website Cloaking
- Keyword Stuffing
- Social Media Spam
- Invisible Text
- Doorway Pages
- Link Farms
- Hacking a Website
- Duplicate Sites
Black hat SEO is technically not illegal but it often violates search engine guidelines (Terms of Service) which could lead to a penalty or outright ban. Some webmasters may not even realize that they are doing it. Whether a webmaster is aware or not, utilizing any of the deceptive practices that go against a search engines terms of service, in the long run, will wind up hurting the integrity of their online presence.
A section of your website dedicated to producing regular, original content. The topic of the blog can vary from your business, to local news, to pretty much any relevant information or commentary you want to share that will attract new site visitors.
Broad Match Modifier
The term “broad match modifier” is used within Google Adwords. It is a keyword bidding method that gives users a bit more control over the keywords that can be used to display their Google ads by adding a a plus symbol (+) before keywords. Using the default “broad match” gave Adwords users the ability to bid on dozens of keywords; however, it would often display ads for irrelevant keywords. Using the “phrase match” gave users more control but fell short because it didn’t give enough overall range. The broad match modifier gives Adwords users the best of both worlds by giving them more control over “broad match” keywords but not so much to limit additional opportunities.
Canonical tags are one-line elements in the <head> of a web page. They tell a search engine how a site should be indexed to prevent duplicate content by specifying the preferred version of a page. See the examples below.
<link rel=“canonical” href=“http://www.wsoaonline.com/canonical-tags/” />
<link rel=“canonical” href=“http://wsoaonline.com/canonical-tags/” />
The examples above are considered different links by search engines, though they take users to the same page. Specifying which one is the canonical version will help search engines know they should not both be listed in search results.
CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization)
Conversions are every marketer’s end game and one of the most important parts of any paid or organic SEO campaign. A conversion is any action taken by the user (e.g., filling out a form or buying a product). CRO is the method of creating landing pages specifically designed to increase user conversions.
Cookies (Browser Cookies)
Cookies are small bits of data that are deposited into your browser when you visit a particular site. The next time you visit that site, your browser will check if a cookie exists and send the information in the cookie back to the site. They are typically used to track web activity and give users the ability to maintain many of the preferences that were used in previous browser sessions.
CPA (Cost Per Action)
CPA or “Cost per Action” is another online marketing model that pays publishers based on users completing a certain action. The action could be a sale, a lead, or other information the advertiser finds valuable. See also, Pay-per-click (PPC)
CPL is another term used in marketing and online advertising. It represents the amount paid for information that may “lead” to a sale. A lead is the contact details of a potential client. A lead generator will only get paid when a qualified lead is delivered. This model takes the risk away from investment that you see with PPC (pay-per-click) and CPM (cost-per-mille) pricing, but offers no guarantee of true conversion as users are not actually committing to being customers.
CPM is a term that is used to describe the cost for 1,000 ad impressions. If you want your ad to be seen by 1,000,000 people, your CPM might be $10. That’s $10 per 1,000 impressions, so the total price of 1,000,000 impressions would be $10,000.
CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)
CSS is used to style web pages by giving webmasters the ability to separate content from design and layout. Style sheets can be updated to quickly change certain parts of a site without changing any of the underlying code.
CTR (Click-Through Rate)
CTR is a term usually found and used in PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns. It is calculated by dividing the impressions on your ad by the number of clicks your ad has received.
Cybersquatting is the practice of buying and holding a domain name with the intent to profit from it by holding the URL hostage from the official trademark holders and selling it for an inflated price. It is illegal in the US.
Dayparting is an option within Google Adwords that allows users to specify the times of day their ads display. Since certain times of day are better for conversion for different types of ad campaigns, it makes sense to research this and plan the time your ads will run carefully.
Dedicated Hosting Servive (Dedicated Server)
A dedicated hosting service is a computer that is reserved to host a site for one particular client or account and is typically accessed remotely. The customer that utilizes a dedicated server has exclusive rights to files, bandwidth, memory, and storage on the hard drive. Unlike shared hosting accounts, the performance of your system is not affected by traffic from other customers sharing the server (computer). They are useful for websites that experience very-high traffic levels and bandwidth.
Deep linking is an SEO term that means using a link that takes users to a specific piece of content on a website, rather than the home page. For example, http://www.wsoaonline.com/insights is a deep link while http://www.wsoaonline.com is not.
The domain is the main address of your website. For example, http://www.wsoaonline.com.
Duplicate content is a term used to describe content (text, articles, etc.) that has been published in more than one domain or URL. Whether done accidentally or on purpose, publishing duplicate content is highly frowned upon and can result in penalties from search engines that will negatively impact your search rankings.
Exact Match Domain (EMD)
An exact match domain is a URL that contains a specific keyword or key phrase in the domain itself. Examples include sites like Diapers.com and BoneLoss.com. The use of exact match domains and how they rank is often a topic of hot debate. Some find them hugely useful while other tend to lean more heavily on ensuring the content is relevant. In most cases, having solid content is more beneficial than an EMD.
A favicon is a 16 pixel by 16 pixel image icon that appears next to the URL address bar in supporting browsers. Favicons are a branding tool that often mimics the logo of the website itself.
Adsense is Google’s publishing network that pays web owners for displaying relevant ads for Google Adwords. Any web publisher that agrees to their publishing terms will automatically be given the opportunity to earn revenue based upon their content. When someone clicks or views these ads, the publisher and Google will share the profits.
Google Adwords is a service that places ads above, below, and beside results of searches that are relevant to the ad. Adwords gives advertisers the ability to display text links, image, and video ads to an extremely large audience.
Heading Tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.)
Heading tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) are important SEO attributes that are used to establish and label the principal sections of a web page. The H1 tag should generally be utilized one time per page, to designate the main theme. The H2 tag can be used several times as needed and the H3s should be used to indicate significant parts within each section. Each header tag is important and will make it easy for search engine spiders to determine what each page of a site is about. Google Adsense, for instance, uses heading tags to determine the overall theme of a page and subsequently the types of ads to display.
HTML is a coding language used for coding websites. Search engines read the code to figure out what your site is about and how to rank it.
A hyperlink is the clickable text (see also, Anchor Text) that directs visitors to another page of a website or to an entirely new web property. Hyperlinks are very important to search engines and are often given the highest priority in their algorithms. They are also used for discovery. Most search engines will send out spiders that use hyperlinks to find and index new sites and changes to existing sites.
An impression is a view. Getting 12,000 impressions on your ad means it was viewed/loaded 12,000 times. Impressions do not take clicks into account.
An inbound link is a link from one website leading to yours.
An internal link is a link from one page within your site to another page within your site.
A keyword is a word or phrase that a user enters into a search engine.
A meta description describes your page. It doesn’t affect search engine rankings, but it does show up as part of search results, meaning it can increase click-through by giving users a quick look at what your page is about.
Site creators use nofollow when they link to a site they do not want to endorse with in terms of SEO. Don’t use nofollow with internal links.
A series of updates to Google’s ranking algorithms that work to discourage sites from producing a large amount of mediocre content.
PPC is an online advertising model that charges the advertiser a specific price for every click that is delivered to their website. This pricing model is the most popular online advertising delivery method because the advertiser is only charged if their ad is delivered and clicked upon.
Search Engine Algorithm
A search engine algorithm is a mathematical formula that is specifically written to determine the order of results that are presented to users for specific queries on a search engine. Most search engines have a proprietary algorithm with unique attributes that are defined by what they’ve determined to be most important to searchers. SEs will update this formula often to deter abuse.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
SEO is the process of improving the visibility of a website on search engines.
SERP (Search Engine Results Page)
SERP is the page on which results for a search query are displayed.
A document that maps out every page contained within a website to help search engines index the site.
The title tag is a descriptive element that gives webmasters the ability to describe what a particular web page is about. It is used by search engines to organize web pages based on theme and topic. It is also one of the most important SEO (Search Engine Optimization) on-page elements. The title tag is typically displayed at the top of most browser windows as well as the linked text on all search result pages (SERPs).
UGC (User-Generated Content)
User generated content is content that was not supplied by the owner of a website but rather the website’s visitors. UGC can be in the form of blog posts, comments, forum posts, tweets, or any other interaction that allows a site user to post content.