SEO Glossary, Marketing & Web Design Terms

SEO Resources, Definitions & Best Practices (Updating for 2017)

Digital marketing is a constantly evolving organism. This ever-changing landscape continues to grow — shifting and adapting as we do.

Times have changed.

SEO is part of our language now.

There are countless SEO resources out there – – articles, ebooks, presentations, slideshares – – some more extensive than others.

The purpose of this glossary is not just to list out technical terms & definitions.

It highlights industry-tested strategies, provides relevant examples and authoritative resources so you can optimize your website or digital marketing strategy to get the most return on your effort (ROE).

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Tarun Gehani, SEO Consultant, Digital Marketing Strategy & Growth

With over 200 ranking factors and algorithm updates multiple times a year...

I keep this page as accurate and up-to-date as possible.

If you have suggestions or new resources to cite, please reach out to me here or message me on LinkedIn.



301 Redirect

A 301 Redirect tells search engines that a webpage no longer exists and has been moved permanently to a new location.

This is the preferred method of redirecting links if you are updating your website, restructuring the URLs, or adding a Content Management System for example.

If you are planning on redesigning an existing website, make sure to take an “inventory” of the current site’s URL structure. Then use 301 Redirects to tell the search engines the page has moved, rather than it being brand new, so you don’t lose out on old rankings.

Many business owners think that just by redesigning their website, they’ll increase traffic and sales. But if they don’t implement 301 redirects, the exact opposite will happen. Traffic and rankings will plummet.

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302 Temporary Redirect

The file has been found, but is temporarily located at another URI.

This is a common way of performing a redirection, but as it relates to SEO, it is typically best to avoid using 302 redirects (or use them temporarily).

Some search engines struggle with redirect handling and due to poor processing of these 302 redirects, some search engines have allowed competing businesses to hijack the listings of competitors.

404 File Not Found Error

The server was unable to locate the URL. Sometimes this can be caused by a typo in the link or address bar, but sometimes content management systems send 404 status codes when documents actually do exist, so make sure you set up Google Webmaster Tools to see what crawl errors you do have, if any.

You may also want to create a custom 404 error page to make it easy for your visitors to search what they were looking for, or report the error to you so you can fix it.



A/B Testing

A method in marketing research, mainly applied to website design nowadays, aimed at increasing your conversion rate.

You have a variable (such as the color of a Buy Now button), and everything else on the webpage remains the same. You show half your visitors Version A, and the other half Version B.

Let it run for a month (or some predetermined time), and take a look at the results afterwards.

Whichever version got the best results, i.e. higher clicks, conversions, etc. is the winner. You can also test things like button placement, button text, image alignment, image size, headline copy, etc.

This is a great way to quickly improve the effectiveness of each web page. You learn what works with your visitors, and therefore continually provide a good user experience, which in turn increases your conversions and sales.

Above the fold

Newspapers usually are displayed folded in half.

The stories that appear above that fold are ones the editors believe will entice people to pick up and purchase the paper. (To put it plainly).

They have well-written, attention-grabbing headlines.

Similarly, on your website, it’s ideal to have your most important content displayed above the fold. Better yet, make sure to have your call-to-action visible “above-the-fold”.

In terms of websites, the area of content initially viewable to the user without having to scroll down, is known as “above-the-fold”.

Nowadays, with people on desktops, laptops, mobile phones, etc., the varying screen sizes are almost as unique as the individuals using them.

Therefore, not only should we take into account what content is displayed above the fold, but also what device our visitors are using.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a way to make money by promoting other people’s products. Affiliates will usually write an in-depth review of the product on their blog, for example, and use a unique URL to track the amount of click-throughs. They get paid a percentage of the purchase price when a visitor completes a transaction that initiated through that unique URL.

Some examples of popular affiliate networks:

Aged Domain

Some search engines may take the age of the domain into account when determining how much to trust that website. Therefore it may affect search engine rankings. Some even consider when a domain is set to expire, or related historical data, when making these determinations. A domain that has been registered a while in the past (and isn’t expiring soon) will usually be considered as more reputable (think seniority). Similarly, a domain that’s newly registered (or set to expire soon) will need to “prove” itself to the search engines that it’s not just a “fly-by-night” project.

See also:

Alexa Rank

Alexa Rank is the traffic rank of a website compared with all other websites. The lower the number, the more “popular” your website it.

While it may not be a particularly reliable metric (due to the fact that it’s based solely upon users with the Alexa toolbar installed), it can be useful for identifying and analyzing traffic trends.

Alexa is owned by Amazon.

See also

Alt Attribute

Blind persons and most major search engines are not able to easily distinguish what is contained in an image. Using the image alt attribute allows you to help screen readers and search engines understand the function of an image by providing a text equivalent for the object.

HTML example: <img alt=”” src=”” width=”120″ height=”140″ alt=”Downtown Ann Arbor Street Festival Holiday Lights” />

See also


Web analytics software allows you to track your page views, user paths, and conversion statistics based upon interpreting your log files or through including a JavaScript tracking code on your site.

Tracking and monitoring this type of data is very important in determining what’s working (and not working) in your online marketing efforts.

See also:


An application programming interface (API) specifies how some software components should interact with each other. APIs grant access to certain software functions, databases or computer hardware. Most major search products have an API program.

Anchor Text

The words or text that a user would click on to follow a link. If the link is an image, then the image alt attribute may act in the place of anchor text.

Search engines assume that your page is authoritative for the words that people include in links pointing at your site. When links occur naturally they typically have a wide array of anchor text combinations. Too much similar anchor text may be a considered a sign of manipulation, and thus discounted or filtered. Make sure when you are building links that you control that you try to mix up your anchor text.

HTML example of anchor text:

<a href=””>SEO Consultant Tarun Gehani</a>

Outside of your core brand terms if you are targeting Google you probably do not want any more than 10% to 20% of your anchor text to be the same. You can use a free tool below to compare the anchor text profile of other top ranked competing sites.

See also these tools:

Author Rank

Author Rank (or Google Authorship) enables people to link the content they write on their site (or other sites) to their Google Plus account via rich snippets.

Google is able to credit the author with her content, and she as an individual publisher, can be seen as an authority on a particular subject based on what she writes about (and who links to her, and other ranking factors).

People who have set up rel=author will get a small profile image next to their article in the search results, which can make it more enticing for searchers to click.

See also:

Authority Pages

An authority page is a web page that has many high quality domains linking to it, that are specifically related to the same subject matter. The higher the Page Authority, the more likely it is to rank well in search engines.

Some factors that are associated with site and page authority are site age, site history, link equity, and unique and quality content. Authority pages are well trusted and well cited by experts within their topical community.

See also:


An autoresponder is a sequence of emails that are automatically sent to your subscribers in a set order and frequency.

Autoresponders can be a great email marketing tool if set up properly. Your very first subscriber and your 1,000th subscriber will get the same exact sequence of emails, so you want to make sure you provide exceptionally valuable content. It’s also a good idea to review your autoresponders every once in a while (maybe once per quarter, or at least once per year) to make sure that the information and resources you provide within the emails are up-to-date and accurate.

Examples of email marketing software with autoresponder ability:


A backlink is an incoming link from a web page to another website. Search engines rank their results based on the number and quality of backlinks pointing to a site (among many other factors).

It is not enough to build a ton of links to your website, they must be from relevant and authoritative sources if you expect to rank near the top for competitive keywords.

Backlinks are important, so it is crucial you select someone or some company who has your best interests in mind for the longterm. Nowadays, spammy backlinks to your site can get your penalized or banned by Google.

To see a sampling of links pointing to a web page, search using “” – obviously replace “” with your website or homepage.

There, of course, will probably be other backlinks pointing to most sites besides the ones that show up when you do a “link:” search on Google (they can’t give away all their data so openly (for free)).

Banner Blindness

As people get more and more web-savvy, many banner advertisements are not as effective as they once were.

During the dot-com era, many online businesses were based on eyeballs rather than building up real value.

As a result, banner ads were mostly irrelevant to what the web user was reading, and people learned to ignore these types of ads.

Black Hat SEO

Aaron Wall of SEOBook states it quite well:

Search engines set up guidelines that help them extract billions of dollars of ad revenue from the work of publishers and the attention of searchers. Within that highly profitable framework search engines consider certain marketing techniques deceptive in nature, and label them as black hat SEO. Those which are considered within their guidelines are called white hat SEO techniques. The search guidelines are not a static set of rules, and things that may be considered legitimate one day may be considered deceptive the next.Search engines are not without flaws in their business models, but there is nothing immoral or illegal about testing search algorithms to understand how search engines work.People who have extensively tested search algorithms are probably more competent and more knowledgeable search marketers than those who give themselves the arbitrary label of white hat SEOs while calling others black hat SEOs.

When making large investments in processes that are not entirely clear trust is important. Rather than looking for reasons to not work with an SEO it is best to look for signs of trust in a person you would like to work with.


A blog, formerly known as a “web log”, is a periodically updated journal that you publish on a website. It can be for personal, for business, or even for pure entertainment.

Many blogs not only archive and categorize information, but also provide a feed to which you can subscribe, and allows for simple user interaction like leaving comments on the posts.

Blogs can grow to be quite authoritative in nature, with heavy link equity, because they give people a reason to frequently come back to their site, read their content, and link to whatever they think is interesting.

The most popular blogging platforms are WordPress and Blogger.

Some examples of “micro-blogging” include Tumblr and Twitter, and some even refer to Instagram and Pinterest as “photo-blogs.”


A blogger is the person who writes and/or updates article posts on a blog.

Blogger also refers to Google free blogging platform. It allows you to create a site on a subdomain of, or to FTP content to your own domain.

If you are serious about building a brand or making money online you should publish your content to your own domain. It can be difficult to reclaim a website’s link equity and age-related-trust if you have built years of link equity into a subdomain on someone else’s website. Blogger is probably the easiest blogging software tool to use, but it lacks many some features present in other blog platforms.

WordPress is a great alternative if you visit (not .com). This way you can download it and use it on your own servers (instead of which is similar in nature to, as outlined above).

Boolean Search

Many search engines allow you to perform searches that contain mathematical formulas such as AND, OR, or NOT. By default most search engines include AND with your query, requiring results to be relevant for all the words in your query.


See also:

Bot, Spider, Web Crawler

Search engine crawlers which search or “spider” the web for pages to include in the index.

Spiders should obey the robots.txt protocol.

Bounce Rate

1.) In web analytics, the percentage of visitors who leave after viewing a single page.
2.) In email marketing, the percentage of emails in a campaign that are undeliverable.


Some say: Marketing is what you do, branding is what you are.

Branding is the emotion response associated with your company and/or its products. It’s what people remain about you, what sets you apart, what makes you unique.

A brand is built through consistency, setting expectations for your customers and the social interactions between customers. Building a brand is what allows you to move away from commodity based pricing and move toward higher margin value based pricing.

Branded Keywords

Keywords or keyword phrases associated with a brand. Typically branded keywords occur late in the buying cycle (when people already know about you and your services offerings), and are some of the highest converting keywords.


A Breadcrumb is a navigational technique used to help search engines and website users understand the relationship between pages.

Example breadcrumb navigation: You are here: Home > SEO Glossary > Breadcrumb

Whatever page the user is on is unlinked, but the pages above it within the site structure are linked to, and organized starting with the home page, right on down through the site structure.

Broken Link

A broken link is a hyperlink which is not functioning. A link which does not lead to the desired location. Links may broken for a number of reason, but four of the most common reasons are

  • a website going offline
  • linking to content which is temporary in nature
  • moving a page’s location
  • changing a domain’s content management system

Most large websites have some broken links, but if too many of a site’s links are broken it may be an indication of outdated content, and it may provide website users with a poor user experience. Both of which may cause search engines to rank a page as being less relevant.

Buying Cycle

Before making large purchases consumers typically research what brands and products fit their needs and wants. Keyword-based search marketing allows you to reach consumers at any point in the buying cycle.

The buying cycle may consist of the following stages

  • Problem Discovery: prospect discovers a need or want.
  • Search: after discovering a problem look for ways to solve the need or want. These searches may contain words which revolve around the core problem the prospect is trying to solve or words associated with their identity.
  • Evaluate: may do comparison searches to compare different models, and also search for negative information like product sucks, etc.
  • Decide: look for information which reinforces your view of product or service you decided upon.
  • Purchase: may search for shipping related information or other price related searches. Purchases may also occur offline.
  • Reevaluate: some people leave feedback on their purchases. If a person is enthusiastic about your brand they may cut your marketing costs by providing free highly trusted word of mouth marketing.


Copy of a web page stored by a search engine. When you search the web you are not actively searching the whole web, but are searching files in the search engine index. Some search engines provide links to cached versions of pages in their search results.

Canonical URL

Many webmasters use inconsistent link structures throughout their site that cause the exact same content to get indexed under multiple URLs.

Examples of URLs which may contain the same information, in spite of being at different web addresses:


The canonical version of any URL is the single most authoritative version indexed by major search engines. Search engines typically use PageRank or a similar measure to determine which version of a URL is the canonical URL.

Webmasters should use consistent linking structures throughout their sites to ensure that they funnel the maximum amount of PageRank at the URLs they want indexed.


Content Management System. Tool used to help make it easy to update and add information to a website.

WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems currently used on the web.

With WordPress, you can easily add new pages and blog posts to your site even if you don’t know how to code. (To customize it to your liking and/or business needs, you might want to hire a professional).


A conversion is reached when a desired goal is completed.

Here are a few examples:

  • a product sale
  • completing a lead form
  • a phone call
  • capturing an email
  • filling out a survey
  • getting a person to pay attention to you
  • getting feedback
  • having a site visitor share your website on their social networks
  • having a site visitor link to your site

Many forms of online advertising are easy to track. Bid management, affiliate tracking, and web analytics programs make it easy to track conversion sources.

Most offline ads have generally been much harder to track than online ads. Some marketers use custom phone numbers or coupon codes to tie offline activity to online marketing.

See also:


Conversion Rate

Your conversion rate is the percentage of people (out of all visitors) who completed a conversion.

For example, if you spend $1000 on ads and you receive 1000 clicks, of which 10 people make a purchase, then your conversion rate would be 1%. (10 people / 1000 clicks).

Conversion Rate Optimization

Taking various measures to increase the percentage of visitors who take a desired action.


Cookies are small data files that are written to a user’s local machine, which track their activity on the website. Cookies are used to help websites customize your user experience, and also help affiliate program managers track conversions.

CPA – Cost Per Action

An action may be anything from an filling out a lead form to buying a product. The Cost Per Action is determined by taking the ad spend divided by the percentage of conversions.

For example, let’s say you purchased $1000 in ads and received 1000 clicks, of which 10 people turned into customers. The Cost Per Action would be $100. ($1000 total spend / 10 customers).

CPC – Cost Per Click

Many search ads are sold in auctions where the advertiser is charged a certain price per click.

You, as the advertiser, can bid your maximum cost-per-click (for example, $5 per click), and that number will determine where your ad is placed. (In theory, the higher CPC bid for a certain keyword, the higher your advertisement will be placed, but there are other variables as well).

See also:

CPM – Cost Per Thousand Impressions

Cost per thousand ad impressions.

See also:

Crawl Depth

The crawl depth is how deeply a website is crawled and indexed by the search engines. Search queries which are longer in length tend to be more targeted in nature, so it is important to try to get most or all of a site indexed such that the deeper pages have the ability to rank for relevant long tail keywords. A large site needs adequate link equity in order to get deeply indexed.

Crawl Frequency

How frequently a website is crawled. Sites which are well trusted or frequently updated may be crawled more frequently than sites with low trust scores and limited link authority.

CSS – Cascading Style Sheet

Using Cascading Style Sheets is a method for adding styles to web documents. By using external CSS files, it makes it easy to change the design of many pages at once by editing a single file.

See also:

CTA – Call to Action

A call-to-action, or CTA, is a line of text, a button or an image that prompts your visitors to perform a desired action.

The CTA is the part of a marketing message that attempts to persuade a person to take action, so it should directly relate to the information on the page and the problem or pain-points that the visitor has.

CTR – Click Through Rate

The percentage of people who click on an advertisement they viewed.

This is a strong indicator to measure how relevant a traffic source or keyword is. Search ads typically have a higher CTR than traditional banner ads due to being highly relevant to implied searcher intent.



Delisting is when a web page or website is removed from the search engine index, usually for violating the search engine terms of service. This can be a temporary delisting, or permanent, depending on the severity of the infraction.

Delisting may be due to any of the following:

  • Engaging in Black Hat SEO or spamming techniques
  • Duplicate content
  • Thin content, or sites with relatively low value-add
  • Pages which have changed location and are not properly redirected may be temporarily de-indexed
  • Pages which are down when a search engine attempts to crawl them may be temporarily de-indexed
  • Pages on brand new websites (or with low link authority) may be temporarily de-indexed until the search engine does a deep spidering and re-caching of the website

It’s also good to keep in mind:

  • During some algorithm updates search engines readjust their crawl priorities.
  • You need a significant number of high quality links to get a large website well indexed and keep it well indexed.
  • If a website is editorially removed by a human you may need to contact the search engine directly to request reinclusion.

See also:

Dedicated Server

A dedicated server is a single server which is devoted to serving one website (or a small collection of sites) owned by a single person. A dedicated server is usually needed for a website (or set of related company sites) that garner a significant amount of traffic (millions of visits per day). Dedicated servers tend to be more reliable than shared servers, though may be unnecessary for your common website.

Dedicated servers usually cost about $500 per month, whereas virtual servers typically run from about $5 – $50 per month.

See also:

Deep Linking

Deep linking refers to a link which points to an internal page of a website. Another way of saying it is any page on your site which is not the home page. Traditionally it is thought that the deeper link is more valuable, as long as the page it is linked from is similar in topic.

When you request links from other websites it makes sense to request a link from their most targeted relevant page to your most targeted relevant page. When links grow naturally typically most high quality websites have many links pointing at interior pages.


Directories are categorized catalogs of websites, typically manually organized by topical editorial experts. If a directory does not exercise editorial control over listings search engines will not be likely to trust their links at all.

Directories used to be a much more significant ranking factor than they are today. You’ll still get good link juice if you get listed in a long-established directory such as DMOZ, the Yahoo! Directory or Best of The Web but that can be hard for new websites these days.

Some directories cater to specific niche topics, while others are more comprehensive in nature. Smaller and less established general directories likely pull less weight.


The Open Directory Project is the largest human edited directory of websites. DMOZ is owned by AOL, and is primarily ran by volunteer editors.


Domain Name System is a hierarchical naming mechanism used to help resolve a domain name / host name to a specific TCP/IP Address.

It works transparently in the background, converting human-readable website names into computer-readable numerical IP addresses.

See also:

DoFollow Link

A DoFollow link is one which has the “rel=nofollow” attribute removed. This type of link will pass link juice/equity to another website or page on a website.

Conversely, a NoFollow link tells the search engines not to pass link equity from one web page to another, but still links these pages so that a human visitor can click through for related information.

See also:

Domain Authority

Domain Authority is determined in part by the number of root domains which link to different pages on your website (rather than getting all links pointing directly to your homepage).

See also:

Domain Name

A domain name (for example, “”) is used to identify one or more IP addresses. They are used in URLs to identify particular web pages.

Every domain name has a suffix that indicates which top level domain (TLD) it belongs to.

For example:
.gov – Government agencies
.edu – Educational institutions
.org – Organizations
.com – Commercial business

Because the Internet is based on IP addresses and not domain names, every web server requires a Domain Name System (DNS) server to translate domain names into IP addresses.

Duplicate Content

Content which is duplicate or near duplicate in nature. Search engines do not want to index multiple versions of the same content, so they may “hide” or push down in the results certain pages.

Though this is not technically a penalty, it still could negatively effect your website as searchers may not come across your site if they can’t find you in the search results. Always think about how you can add value for your visitors, instead of rehashing the same material as other websites.

Also keep in mind that certain CMS platforms will serve up the same content on multiple pages (for example, a blog post that is in two different categories — such as “Events” and “Updates” — may be accessible in three different ways: the original blog post permalink, the events category ( and the updates category).

Did you know that roughly 25% of the entire web’s content is duplicate?

See also:

Editorial Link

An editorial link is one that results form having good quality content. A website owner or a content writer will link to another site or web page as a resource for the article they are writing, therefore dubbed an editorial link. It is placed within the body of content and occurs naturally.

As search engines count links as “votes” of quality, they primarily want to count editorial links that were earned, versus links that were paid for or bartered for.

Email Client

An email client, email reader, or more formally mail user agent, is a computer program used to access and manage a user’s email.

In addition, a web application that provides message management, composition, and reception functions is sometimes also considered an email client, but more commonly referred to as webmail.

Popular locally installed email clients include Microsoft Outlook, IBM Lotus Notes, and Apple’s Mail.

Popular web-based email clients include: Gmail and Yahoo! Mail.

See also:

Email Marketing

Email marketing is the promotion of products or services via email, with the purpose of enhancing the relationship of a merchant with its current, past or potential customers. In its broadest sense, every email sent to a potential or curren