SEO terms you should know

20 SEO terms everyone should know

If you’re beginning to research Engine Optimization (SEO), or just need a refresher on your terminology, here are twenty SEO terms that everyone should know:


301 redirect – A redirect status code that tells a search engine that a page is permanently moved from one URL to another, and it is not coming back to the old URL. That’s the recommended way to work with redirects. (Yoast)

404 page not found – A redirect status code that tells the search engine that a page cannot be found. However, the code does not contain more information about why the page is gone. As a result, the search engine may keep the page indexed and keep coming back to crawl it. People will still be able to land on it and see the code, which is bad for user experience and bad for SEO. (Yoast)

Algorithm – A formula that calculates the rank of search engine results. These algorithms evolve with the goal of providing a searcher with the most relevant content based on their specific search. (Pathfinder SEO)

Alt Text/Tag – An SEO element for describing images to search engines. Because search engine bots cannot see images, the ALT tag helps with a string of words about the picture, often including an important keyword. (Outerbox)

Backlinks – Links that point from other websites to yours. These links are valuable because of their ability to pass authority (ranking power) from one website to another. In the simplest terms, links act as votes of confidence between websites. The higher the authority of the website giving the link, the more authority that link will pass to the website to which it’s pointing. (Pathfinder SEO)

Black hat – Search engine optimization practices that violate Google’s quality guidelines. (Moz)

Bots – Another name for search engine spiders or web crawlers. (Pathfinder SEO)

Breadcrumb – A navigation element that shows your current location in relation to the structure of the website. (Pathfinder SEO)

De-indexed – Refers to a page or group of pages being removed from Google’s index. (Moz)

Duplicate Content – An SEO term for a block of content that is present on more than one page or website on the internet. It is considered a bad signal for SEO and can result in a search engine penalty. For duplicate content within the same domain, see canonical tags for a solution. (Outerbox)

Dynamic Tags – Various SEO page elements that are automatically generated using placeholder tokens to put passable meta tags on all pages of a site quickly. These are used to give pages on a site different titles, meta descriptions, and other SEO elements that are unique for search engines. (Outerbox)

Featured Snippets – Answer blocks that appear at the top of a search engine results page, featuring content pulled from another web page and displayed on Google.com. (Pathfinder SEO)

Focus keyphrase – The phrase you’d like your post to rank for. In the past, we used to call it the focus keyword. But, since the internet grew bigger, and more and more content is out there, it’s getting harder to rank on just one word. You should aim to rank for the long tail keyphrases, meaning you should try to rank for a keyphrase consisting of multiple words, especially when you’re just starting with your website. For the SEO analysis in Yoast SEO to work, you need to set a focus keyphrase. (Yoast)

Header Tags – An HTML element that’s used to designate a heading. Header tags like H1s may contain a company name, but a very effective way to use an H1 is via a sought-after keyword, like “Best Financial Planner | San Jose, CA” (BoomCycle)

Indexing – The storing and organizing of content found during crawling. (Moz)

Internal Link – A link on a page on a website that points to another page on the same site. Internal links, largely ignored for many years, have emerged as an important method to help search engines understand and relate the content on a website. (BoomCycle)

Keyword Research – During an SEO campaign, research on competitors and a site’s current rankings helps develop a list of keywords to target for on-page optimization, content development, and link building. (Outerbox)

Meta description – The short text (up to 155 characters) that you use to describe the content of your page. It appears in the search results as part of the snippet preview, so you should make sure it is inviting for people to click on. You can edit your meta description in the Google preview tab of Yoast SEO. The plugin gives you feedback on the length of your meta description, and it checks if you used your keyphrase in it. (Yoast)

SERP – Stands for “search engine results page” — the page you see after conducting a search. (Moz)

White hat – Search engine optimization practices that comply with Google’s quality guidelines. (Moz)

Mike Nicholson

I've spent my career working in a variety of Strategic Communications, Public Relations, Public Affairs, Information Operations, and Executive Outreach positions. With a history of planning, preparing, executing, and assessing communication strategies in the U.S. and abroad, I use this site to write, think and share lessons learned on organizational communications.

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap