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The Ultimate SEO Glossary: Busting SEO Jargon

When it comes to search engine optimisation (SEO), there are a lot of phrases, acronyms and numbers flying around and it can be tricky to understand what the heck people are talking about. 

It can all feel a little overwhelming learning SEO terminology, but don’t panic; we’ve put together the ultimate SEO glossary to help bust the jargon and get you up to speed.


Contents (A-Z)


The SEO Jargon Busters You Need to Know


  • 3XX Codesall 300 status codes indicate a redirect – a redirect takes you to a new page if the original URL no longer exists – and there’s a couple included in this. A 301 is a permanent redirect, while a 302 is a temporary redirect, usually used during web development and then removed afterwards. Redirects help search engines find the correct location of the content.


  • 4XX Codes400 status codes indicate an issue with your website. The most common are 403, indicating a forbidden page, and 404 which is a not found page. Sometimes a website will have a dedicated 404 page to help navigate you elsewhere, but often you’ll see the default 404 page.


  • Above the foldthis is used regularly to discuss where content sits on a page. Simply put, it means content that appears as soon as you land on a page, without the user having to scroll, so we recommend making this your priority content.


  • Alt text a super important part of SEO to ensure your website is accessible to all users, alt text is the alternative text used to describe an image. It can also be used by search engines, so it’s useful to optimise this but remember to write for humans first!


  • Anchor textthis is copy that sits within a clickable hyperlink which links to content either on your own site, or another website that is relevant.  Using keywords in your anchor text helps tell search engines what the linked content is about.



  • Black Hat SEOa term you often want to avoid, black hat SEO tactics are considered unethical and go against recommendations for search engines. These can provide short term growth, but will receive penalisations and can result in websites being banned.


  • Bounce ratebounce rate is a metric found in Google Analytics that refers to users landing on your site and immediately leaving after visiting one page.



  • Canonicala canonical url is used to let search engines know which version of a page is preferred and should appear in search results. It helps to reduce duplicate content. A canonical tag is added in the HTML code to point to the page which is preferred, e.g. <link rel=”canonical” href=””/>.


  • Content SEOcontent search engine optimization (SEO), is the process of creating, editing and optimising copy for your website to help it potentially rank higher in the search engines. This is on-site content, which involves the use of keywords and content that is written for humans.


  • Conversion ratewhen a user lands on your site, conversion rate is used to determine the rate visitors convert on your site. Conversions can be anything from completing a lead generation form to making a purchase.

    Conversion Rate = total number of conversions / total number of sessions * 100


  • Core Web Vitals (CWV)core web vitals are speed metrics that signal to search engines how friendly your site is in terms of user experience. They are made up of 3 pillars; Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), which measures visual load and the time it takes to render; Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), which measures the visual stability such as images shifting position when your site loads; and First Input Delay (FID), which reports the time between a user’s interaction with your site and the point in which your site responds.


  • Crawler a crawler, also known as a spider or bot, scans through the content on your website to index it for search engines.


  • Disavowwhen reviewing backlinks you might want to disassociate any toxic links with your site. Google allows you to disavow these, showing that you would like these harmful links removed.


  • Digital PRa complete SEO strategy includes content, technical SEO and digital PR. Digital PR is a tactic used to improve online performance, increase brand awareness and build highly authoritative backlinks to ramp up your SEO efforts and climb up the SERP.


  • Domain Authority (DA)Moz, an SEO software, created a metric to determine how likely a website will perform in SERPs (see definition below). A higher DA means it is more trustworthy; this is calculated via various metrics such as inbound links, number of linking domains and more.


  • E.A.Tthis stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. This Google ranking factor  is used to determine the quality and credibility of your content, and is super important for websites publishing any Your Money or Your Life Content, such as current events or financial advice. After the recent Google Helpful Content Update, it’s more important than ever to write for humans and include expert commentary where needed.


Featured Snippet - Lifesearch



  • Header tagsa header, or heading tag, are used to separate headings and subheadings within your copy. These should rank in level of importance, from H1 to H6, and there should only ever be one H1 tag at the very beginning of a webpage, which is usually the page title. Header tags are used for readability and are a key part to web page optimisation.


  • Hreflang Hreflang is a HTML attribute that tells search engines which country and language your content is in. This is particularly helpful if you have the same content but in different languages, then search engines can serve the correct version based on the user’s geographical location.


  • HTTP status codesthese are response codes indicating what the issue might be getting to your site, such as a 404 code.


  • Impressionsin search terms, this a metric found in Google Analytics that refers to the number of times a page or an ad has been shown in the SERPs.


  • Indexthis is the database which search engines operate on, so if your webpage isn’t indexed it can’t appear in search engines. Crawlers can index pages, but it can also be done manually. You can also add a noindex code to request that a link shouldn’t be indexed in search results.


  • Keyworda keyword is a word or phrase used to associate the content on your website. It relates to search queries, so it’s important to include relevant keywords when creating content to help it rank highly.


  • Keyword cannibalisationkeyword cannibalisation is a result of having too many similar keywords spread throughout the content on your website. This then makes it difficult for search engines to distinguish which content should rank, and in doing so means it’s likely the pages you want to rank won’t.


  • Keyword density/ stuffing it’s important to not overuse keywords, remember you’re writing for humans not machines. The density refers to the amount of times a keyword appears, and overuse can result in a penalty.



  • Load speedthis is the time it takes for a website, and all of its contents, to load. A slow load speed can negatively affect the user experience of your site, and ultimately your rankings.You could implement lazy loading, which allows certain parts of the website to wait and only load when needed, such as images.


  • Metadatathe HTML information found on your site that provides descriptions of the content. The meta title is what pulls through to search results, with meta descriptions sitting underneath and providing further information about the page.


  • Nofollowa nofollow link is the opposite to dofollow, and so tells webmasters to not follow the link to your site. This simply means it will not affect the domain authority the website it is pointing to, however it is healthy to have nofollows in your backlink profile as they can still provide SEO benefits.


  • Off-site/ On-site SEOthese two strategies refer to the SEO tactics that are either used on another website to point towards your own, or the practices you take on your own website to optimise it for search engines.


  • Orphan pagesa sorry term, that simply means a webpage that is not linked to, or from, anywhere on your website. An orphan page means users cannot access the page without knowing the direct URL. These pages often struggle to rank in the SERP, so use them wisely.


  • Page Rankanother metric that determines how relevant search engines think a page is. Page rank considers various factors such as the quality of inbound and outbound links, however it’s no longer a widely used factor.


  • Robots.txta file you can upload to your website which tells robots, like crawlers, the parts of your website to access. It’s not used for completely hiding web pages, but more to manage crawling traffic.


  • ROI (return on investment)this is a key performance indicator that determines the net profit return on your SEO investment.


  • Search Volumewhen looking up keywords you may want to know how many people are actually searching for it, this is what is referred to as search volume. The search volume will show how many queries there are for a specific term within a certain timeframe.


  • SERP search engine ranking page, commonly known as SERP, is the web listing that appears from your search query. These are dynamic listings now with ads, featured snippets, location data and more.


  • Sitemap a sitemap is a document that shows the hierarchy of your website and the pages available to crawlers. There are both XML sitemaps, used for search engines, and HTML sitemaps that help a user navigate through your site.


  • White Hat SEO – as the name suggests, this is the opposite to black hat SEO, and instead means that the SEO tactics are approved by search engines and focus on humans rather than machines.


There can be loads to learn when it comes to mastering SEO jargon, and if you’re looking to learn more, why not check out our complete guide to digital PR, or get in touch with us today.