Decoding Commonly Used SEO Jargon

If you employ the services of a digital marketing agency, you have probably felt like they’re talking another language at times. The world of search engine optimisation is filled with plenty of jargon and acronyms, and is enough to confuse even the most seasoned marketers.

What makes matters worse is that SEO is constantly changing and fluctuating. This means that new terms are cropping up all the time, and it is becoming increasingly more difficult do decode all this SEO jargon.  But we’re going to try!

Here, we’re going to decode some of the most common SEO terms and help you understand the secret language of the online marketing department:

301 redirect – Also known as a permanent redirect, a 301 is the most search-engine friendly way to re-direct website traffic when the URL of a website changes. 301 redirects will automatically send all direct and search engine traffic to the new destination.

404 error – A 404 error notifies a website browser that the URL they have entered is either typed incorrectly or been removed. This can happen if website pages are deleted and a 301 is not put in place. Too many 404 errors on your website can have a negative effect on your SEO.

Algorithm – Algorithms refer to the formula used by search engines to determine where a web page should be ranked. Google’s use of algorithms is perhaps the most famous, as they have been the talking point for many online marketers.

ALT text – An essential part of your on-page SEO, ALT text is the description you add to an image. Search engines can’t determine the meaning of your images, so ALT text is the best way to tell the spiders what the content is. ALT text is also important for usability as visually impaired users also rely on this to work out what the graphics are.

Anchor text – This is the visible text of a clickable hyperlink. Search engines use this to indicate the content of the landing page, the relevancy of the referring site, and the text used in the link. Recent updates to Google algorithms have meant that online marketers need to diversify this anchor text to avoid an over optimisation penalty.

Backlink – Sometimes referred to as an inbound link, a backlink refers to any link that is pointing back to your website. Online marketers look to build quality backlinks to their website to help increase their search engine visibility. Poor quality backlinks can lead to a Google penalty.

Bounce rate – The bounce rate of your website is the percentage of visitors who enter your site and exit on the same page, without navigating around or clicking any links. Online marketers spend a great deal of time working on lowering bounce rates, and encouraging website navigation.

Canonical URL – As an SEO, your job is to point search engine spiders in the direction of your most authoritative content. But there are some occasions where pages are duplicated, whether through including the same product in different categories or as a result of tags in blogs Canonical tags tell Google which of these duplicate pages you would like it to treat as the “original”. Find out more on the Google Webmaster Tools blog.

Click-through-rate – Often abbreviated as CTR, this refers to the percentage of website visitors who click on a particular link. Put simply; this is the number of people who have clicked through to your website or content out of the number of people who were exposed to the link.

Conversion – A conversion refers to any action you want your customers to complete. This will range from making a purchase or enquiring, to signing up to your mailing list or downloading your latest whitepaper.

Deep linking – This is the process of linking to pages deeper within your site, as opposed to just sending traffic to your home page. This increases both their search engine authority, and visibility.

Googlebot – Sometimes known as a Google spider or crawler, this term refers to the way Google’s spider programme. The search engine will scour your website, and take in all the relevant information, before deciding what your site should be ranked for.

Impressions – This refers to the number of times your advert or page has been seen by internet users. It doesn’t refer to the number of clicks, so will always be higher than your visits. This does give you an indication of your potential audience reach, though.

Inbound marketing – Inbound – or pull – marketing refers to methods that pull customers to your products and website. These methods are interactive, and based around providing answers of value for your customers.

Indexed pages – Indexed pages are pages that the search engines recognise as being live on the net. These pages will then naturally appear in the search results for both your target keywords, as well as organic rankings. To see which pages from your website have been indexed, search “”.

Keyword – Keywords or key phrases are the terms you’re optimising the individual pages of your website for. These can be split into long-tail and short-tail, based on the length of the phrase and number of potential visitors. Keywords should be words that internet users actually search for. SEO will help your website rank for these terms.

Landing page – A landing page is the page an internet user is directed to when they click a link, either in the search engine results or in an article. Your landing pages should be user-friendly and designed for conversions.

Meta descriptions – Meta descriptions are the phrases that appear under your URL in the search results. This should sum up your page, and what users will gain from clicking the link. Characters are limited though, so you need to keep it concise and snappy.

Nofollow – This command instructs search engine bots not to follow the links or pass on PageRank  on an individual link.

Noindex – Similarly, this is another command that informs Google not to index a page or link. Pages you would mark with a noindex command include pages with duplicated content and other information you don’t want to be readily available such as private documents.

Organic link – Organic links are those built to add value to a website, rather than for SEO purposes.

SERP – This is an acronym for search engine results pages. These are the organic results that are pulled up when uses search for a particular key-phrase as well as the paid adverts. SEOs spend their time trying to make web-pages appear higher up in the SERPs.

And there you have it, a quick overview of some of the most common SEO terms. Hopefully this will have decoded some of the jargon, and help you speak the same language as your online marketing agency.


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