SEO Terms & Definitions You Need To Know

Taking the guesswork out of SEO.

By Arielle Mullen, Digital Strategist


Where your website ranks on search engines plays a huge part in how easily your audience can find you, and how successfully your website drives conversions. Today we take you through the most important terms and definitions when it comes to SEO.

Above the fold: The visible website content that appears before scrolling down.

Algorithm: Programs used by search engines to retrieve data & deliver results.

Alt Text (also known as “Alt Tags”): Description used by search engines & screen readers to help understand the contents of an image.

Bounce Rate: The percentage of users who land on a web page, then leave without visiting any other pages on that website.

Breadcrumbs: Elements in the navigation that help people figure out where they are within a website.

Conversion: When someone completes an action on your website. (Examples: purchase, add to cart, subscribe, download content, view video, etc).

Heading Tags: Headlines used to divide content into sections based on importance. With heading tags, H1 is the largest and most important, H6 is smallest and least important.

HTML Tags: (Hypertext Markup Language) code elements used to improve SEO.

Inbound Link: Link on a website coming from an external website.

Indexed Page: Webpage that has been reviewed, cataloged, added to a search engine index, and can now appear in search results.

Keyword: Words & phrases used in order to match & rank for the terms used in search queries.

Keyword Stuffing: Including irrelevant keywords and/or repeating keywords to an unnatural degree, in order to increase ranking. (Using this tactic will kill your ranking — Don’t do it!)

Meta Description: Short description (160 characters) of a webpage’s content & usually displayed in search results.

Meta Keywords: Keywords/phrases added to help provide context for search engine algorithms.

Meta Tags: Appears in HTML source code of a webpage & used to describe content to search engines.

Page Load Speed: How long it takes for a webpage to fully load all elements. (On average, every 1 second delay = 11% decrease in site traffic).

Responsive Website: Website that automatically resizes based on the user’s device & screen size.

SEO (search engine optimization): the process of improving the quality & quantity of site traffic by making small changes in order to increase visibility of a website to search engines & their users.

Sitemap: List of all pages contained on a website. Types of sitemaps:

  • HTML Sitemap: Usually organized by topics. Aimed at helping users navigate a website with ease.
  • XML Sitemap: Used by crawlers to help obtain a list of all pages on a particular website.

Taxonomy: Organizing a website’s content into categories.

Title Tag: This HTML meta tag is the title of an individual webpage. Usually appears in search results & should be 65 characters or less.

BONUS: Google Algorithm Updates

Google Panda Algorithm: (2011) Aimed at reducing visibility of low-value content.

Google Penguin Algorithm: (2012) Aimed at reducing visibility of overly-optimized sites, particularly those using tactics like keyword stuffing.

Google Hummingbird: (2013) Aimed at better understanding the full context of queries.

Google Pigeon Update: (2014) Aimed at improving accuracy & relevance of local searches.

Google RankBrain: (2015) Added machine learning to the core algorithm.

We hope this glossary helped you feel more confident to take on SEO for your website. Now go forth and optimize!