An SEO Glossary: Typical SEO Terms Defined

SEO consultants speak in their own language, virtually incomprehensible to the layperson. This post will remedy that situation, explaining SEO phrases in plain English.

Search Engine Optimization has become an essential weapon in online business. However, it’s also somewhat of an enigma for most business owners. This is partly because it’s such a rapidly changing field and because search engine optimisation practitioners tend to speak in a virtually impenetrable language to the layperson without translation. This glossary seeks to remedy the situation, explaining SEO terms in plain English…


Search enginesuse complex mathematical formulas to assess the relevance and quality of websites and rank them accordingly. These algorithms are kept secret as they are vital to the objectivity of search engines.


A text link pointing to your website from another site.


The words used on your website.


A professional writer specializing in advertising copywriting.


Google finds pages on the web and records them in its index by sending ‘spiders’ or ‘robots’ out to crawl. The spiders make their way around by following links. To a spider, a link is like a door.


The virtual address of your site. This is what people type when they want to visit a site. You will also use it as the linked-to address in any link back to your site.


An electronic magazine. Most ezine owners are desperate for content and will publish well-written, helpful articles and give you full credit as the author, including a backlink to your website.


HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is coding used to create information on the web. Web browsers read HTML code and display the page that the code describes.


A word users search for, and you use frequently on your site to be relevant to searches. This is known as targeting a keyword. Most sites target ‘keyword phrases’ because single keywords are too generic, and it is challenging to rank for them.

Keyword density

Density measures the frequency of a keyword in relation to the total words on the page. So, if your page has 500 words and your keyword phrase appears ten times, its density is 5%.

Keyword phrase

A phrase that your customers search for and frequently use on your site to be relevant to searches.


Text or an image on a site that readers can click to visit another page. There are usually visual cues to show the word or image is a link.

Link path

Search engine spiders use links to go from page to page to gather information, so it’s best to let them to cross your entire site via text links. Using text links to join a series of pages (i.e., page A connects to page B, page B connects to page C, page D connects to page C, and so on).

Link popularity

The quantity of links to a website. Web admins use methods to increase their site’s link popularity, including articles, link exchange, link buying, guest posts, and directories.

Link text

The part of a text link visible to visitors. When generating links to your site, they are more effective if they include a keyword.

Meta tags

A short note within the HTML of a web page which describes that page. Search engines read metas and use them to help evaluate the relevance of a page for a particular search.

Organic search results

The ‘real’ search results, or the results that most people are looking for, take up most of the screen. For most searches, the search engine shows a long list of links to sites with content related to the word. These results are ranked on how relevant they are.

Reciprocal link

An agreement between two web admins to swap links. Most search engines are sophisticated enough to detect reciprocal linking, and they don’t regard it well because it is a faked method of generating links. Websites with reciprocal links risk a penalty.

Robots.txt file

A file used to inform the search engine of pages on a site that should not be indexed. This file sits in a site’s root directory on a server.


The art of making a site relevant so that it ranks higher in the search results for a particular keyword.

SEO copywriter

A writer who is adept at web copy and experienced in writing copy optimised for search engines.

Site map

A page that contains a list of text links to every page on the site. Think of a site map as being at the centre of a spider web.


The search engines are clever and have very efficient ways to detect spammy websites and penalise them. Generally, refers to unwanted and unrequested emails sent en-masse to private email addresses and is also used to refer to websites that appear high in search results without having any valuable content.


Google finds pages and records their details by sending out ‘spiders,’ The spiders pass from page to page and site to site following text links.

Sponsored Links

Paid advertising displays next to the search results. Customers can click on an ad to visit the advertiser’s site. This is how search engines earn money. Advertisers set up ads to display whenever someone searches for a word related to their service. These ads look like the organic search results but usually are labelled “Sponsored Links”, and typically take up a smaller portion of the window. These ads work on a Pay-Per-Click basis.


A person responsible for the management of a particular website.


The number of words on a page.

By Brian Cruz
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