SEO Glossary: 215+ Must-Know SEO Terms in 2023

If you’re new to the world of search engine optimization, and online marketing in general, all the acronyms and unfamiliar phrases you’re seeing on websites, blogs, and in guides are enough to make your head spin. SEO. CRO. PPC. CMS. What does it all mean?! Don’t worry, this SEO glossary is here to help.

What is B2B SEO?


What is B2B SEO? Your Key to Driving Clients and Revenue Did you know that over 70% of people research companies on the web before deciding to buy or visit? To discover your business-to-business (B2B) company, you need to have […]

View Full Story ~ 7 minutes read

What is Organic SEO?


Home What Is Organic SEO? And Why It’s a Game-Changer for Your Business If you own a business, you know how important it is for users to visit your website. After all, that’s where they can learn more about your […]

View Full Story ~ 11 minutes read

What is Thin Content?


Home What Is Thin Content? Thin content is a problem on the Internet. It’s any blog post, article page, graphic, video, or other form of content that offers a poor explanation of an idea and doesn’t attempt to offer any […]

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What is an SEO-Friendly URL?


Home How to Create SEO-Friendly URLs If you’ve taken the time to do search engine optimization, or SEO, on your site, you’ve probably already taken keywords, content, and images into consideration. You’ve likely added the right words and phrases to […]

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Chick-fil-A on Twitter

What Is Semantic Search?

Home What Is Semantic Search? The majority of Internet users consult search engines like Google on a daily basis. In fact, most of us immediately grab our laptops or mobile devices whenever we have a question, whether that question relates […]

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What is Organic Search?


Home Let's Talk About Organic Search As you begin to venture into the world of digital marketing, it’s important to understand the terms and phrases that advertising platforms and marketers use to describe your options. Digital channels come with many […]

View Full Story ~ 20 minutes read

What is On-Page SEO?


Home What Is On-Page SEO? (And How to Do It) If you have a website for your business online, you likely know and understand the basics of SEO, or search engine optimization. You might even have an SEO campaign in […]

View Full Story ~ 15 minutes read

What is Off-Page SEO?


Home What Is Off-Page SEO? Search engine optimization (SEO) famously consists of multiple qualities, and one of the most important is off-page factors. Off-page SEO includes essential SEO factors to ranking well in search engines, like backlinks, and they’re huge […]

View Full Story ~ 12 minutes read

What is Negative SEO?


Home Negative SEO: How to Identify and Recover From Intentional Bad Links and Spam Have you heard stories about negative SEO? Perhaps you’ve actually heard that negative SEO is a myth and can’t actually be done? Or do you suspect […]

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Keyword stuffing is the practice of saturating a page with keywords to try to increase that page's ranking in search results. The reality is- keyword stuffing does more harm than not when it comes to ranking.

What Is Keyword Stuffing?

Home What Is Keyword Stuffing? Keyword stuffing is an outdated, but still practiced search engine optimization (SEO) tactic. What is keyword stuffing? Keyword stuffing is the practice of overloading a page with keywords, like “dog pet supplies,” to manipulate that […]

Read Blog Post ~ 6 minutes read

To help you decipher these online marketing buzzwords and better understand the terminology you’re bound to encounter as you continue your journey into the world of Internet marketing, we created this compilation of SEO terms! It’s designed for anyone who needs help figuring out what a particular acronym or marketing phrase means, in clear, comprehensible English. There is an emphasis on SEO terminology, although the glossary does touch on all branches of Internet marketing technical terms!

How to use this SEO glossary

The SEO terminology on this page is sorted in alphabetical order. Click one of the letters below to jump to that section, or scroll down the page until you find the SEO technical term you’re looking for. It’s that simple!

With that introduction out of the way, here’s our list of common SEO terms and definitions for you to peruse and study. We hope you enjoy learning more about these SEO terminology, and find this glossary helpful in some way!




Website configuration file that can be used to establish redirects and password protect files.

200 status code:

Status OK. The page or image was found and successfully loaded.

301 redirect:

The server code for a permanent redirect. A file or site has been permanently moved to a new location. SEO best-practice.

302 redirect:

The server code for a temporary redirect.

404 status code:

“Not Found” server code. Custom 404 pages can improve usability.





A/B testing:

Testing two different versions of a website, advertisement, or other campaign against one another to determine which performs better. Also known as split testing.

Above the fold:

Historically used to describe the content printed above the centerfold of a newspaper. Online, it refers to all content that is viewable without having to scroll down.

Absolute link:

A link that uses the entire URL of a page instead of using a relative link path. Absolute URLs are preferred, as relative link paths can result in problems with canonicalization and hijacking.

Absolute link example:

Relative link example: ../folder/http://file.html


Contextual display advertising platform through Google. An automated process, opting into AdSense allows Google to place relevant ads on a website. Webmasters utilizing AdSense on their sites get a portion of ad click profits from Google. Contextual ads can be formatted as text links, graphics, animated graphics, and videos.

Advertising network:

The middleman between advertisers and websites. These networks consolidate advertising space and match it with paying advertisers. The most prominent example is the Google Search Network, in which advertisers are connected to available ad space through the AdWords platform.


Google’s paid, self-serve advertising network platform. Determines ad placement through a “quality score,” which evaluates advertisers users based on click-through rates, bounce rates, and other factors. AdWords is the largest online advertising network in the world. Update: Google now officially refers to this product as “Google Ads.”


Affiliate marketing:

Affiliate marketing programs allow independent marketers (affiliates) to get paid on a cost per action (CPA) model. Affiliates earn more money based on how successful they are in attracting visitors to their sites.

Example: Business A might offer an affiliate program to sign users up for service B. Affiliate marketers drive traffic to service B, and get paid a commission for every successful user sign-up.


Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX):

Web development techniques that allow users to request data without loading a new page.


Online service that ranks websites based on traffic estimates. Provides many insights, from user engagement to user geography. Owned by Amazon.


An automated procedure designed to solve problems very quickly. Google’s algorithms determine which websites show up in search results for any given keyword or phrase, and where in the results they appear.

Alt attribute:

HTML code that serves as a text-based alternative to an image or video. Alt attributes are used by screen-readers and search engines because they provide context for the image/video and are used for web accessibility


Information discerned through the analysis of data and statistics. Metrics like page views, user behavior, and load time, and dimensions like demographics and user locations.

Anchor text:

The visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. Anchor text is important in SEO because Google judges how relevant the text is to the content of the link. However, as of Google’s Penguin update, exact match anchor text (or using anchor text identical to a page’s name) is not recommended.


Application program interface (API):

A set of routines, protocols, and tools for creating software applications. Many search products and other information-based products have API programs, allowing for the simplified integration and use of third party software in custom applications.


The exploitation of price differences between markets, better known as “flipping.” A real-world is buying something on sale in a brick-and-mortar retail location, and reselling on Amazon for profit. In digital marketing, an example is sending paid clicks to a site built solely to show ads. The goal is to ensure one pays less for the clicks than he/she makes from sending this traffic to other advertisers. Google began cracking down on this practice in 2007.


The process of hiding the real sponsors of a message or the organization behind a grassroots campaign. For example, a website might pay for artificial Yelp reviews from “authentic” accounts, bolstering their online reputation.


Typically relates to “site authority,” which is essentially the perceived quality, usefulness, and relevance of a website. Websites with a high level of site authority rank better in search engines.




B2B SEO involves enhancing and optimizing your website to target other businesses instead of individual consumers. B2B SEO strategy refers to on-page, off-page, and technical optimizations.


Backlinks are incoming hyperlinks from one web page to another website. These links are crucial for users, search engines, and advertisers alike. Backlinks allow users and search engines to explore new content on the web and advertisers to boost their search engine optimization (SEO).

Backlink analysis

A backlink analysis is a way to help you understand what kind of websites link to your website or your competitors’ websites and identify bad links that you want to disavow.

Bait and switch:

Building a website to do one thing, and then switching to another after gaining site authority. For example, making a website that appears to be purely informational and helpful, and later  overloading the site with ads to make money.


Another name for picture advertisements, specifically referring to a size of 468×60 pixels. Banners can be static, interactive, or animated, and can appear just about anywhere on a web page. Banner space is usually purchased using a CPM model, or for a flat rate per defined period of time.

Banner blindness:

The idea that users have been so inundated with advertisements they now ignore ads in traditional positions (banners along the top or down the side). This is a big reason for text and other contextual advertising achieving greater success.

Behavioral targeting:

Directing ads to people who are more likely to engage with them based on past behaviors like recent purchases, website visits, and searches. Much of this is possible through cookies.


Microsoft’s search engine, created in 2009. Bing now also powers Yahoo! Search.

Bing Ads:

Microsoft’s paid, self-serve advertising network platform, a parallel to Google’s AdWords. Like AdWords, Bing Ads determines how frequently it displays an ad based on a combination of one’s maximum bid and the click-through rate of the ad, among other qualities.

Black hat SEO:

SEO techniques that do not fall within a search engine’s defined guidelines. These techniques are usually deemed deceptive in nature, but could also exploit part of a search algorithm in order to achieve high ranking results in a short frame of time.

A large purpose of Google’s Everflux status is to ensure their algorithm is always equipped to deal with the newest “black hat” techniques.



Comes from “weblog” or “web log.” A continually updated “journal” that is usually run by an individual or small group. Blogs are typically informal in nature. Most blogs are part of a larger community and have commenting capabilities.

Within the context of Internet marketing, many blogs are good examples of content marketing.

Boolean search:

Mathematical operators that users can add to searches in order to further specify intent or unique parameters.


“AND”—Automatically applied to most searches. Searching for “Sunday football” is actually parsed as “Sunday ‘AND’ football.”

“”—Surround a search with quotations tells the search engine to look for exact matches of those words.

“NOT”—Searching for “rock and roll -led zeppelin” will find results containing “rock and roll” but NOT “led zeppelin”

Bounce rate:

As seen in Google Analytics, bounce rate refers to the percentage of website visitors who leave a particular page of a website without visiting any other pages. You can learn more about bounce rate on this page.


A company or organization that is associated with a specific product or service. For example, “Levi’s” is a brand of jeans.

Brand stacking:

Branded search queries will display multiple page one results from the same domain. This was an intended change to Google’s algorithm.

Branded keywords:

Keywords associated with a brand. Usually high-value, high-converting keywords. Searches for these keywords may be taken into account by search algorithms as signals of relevance.

Breadcrumb navigation:

A navigation practice that helps explain the relationship between pages, to both search engines and visitors. Breadcrumb navigation typically takes this format: “Home > SubCategory1 > Content” and represents of the website’s architecture.


Broken link:

Any hyperlink which is not working as intended. This can happen because of websites going offline, content moving to a different location, or other reasons. The occasional broken link will have no impact on SEO, but a lot of broken links can act as a negative signal to most search engine algorithms.





The version of a webpage that is stored and indexed by a search engine. It’s possible to look at the cached version of a webpage, which might differ from the live page.

Canonical URL

A single page or piece of content can be accessed through various different URLs. Marking a URL as canonical indicates its authority as the “correct” or preferred version to search engines. Designating a certain URL as canonical can help address inconsistent or messy internal link structures.


Cart abandon rate:

On ecommerce websites, the percentage of visitors who added a product to their cart and left the website before completing a purchase.

Country code top level domain (ccTLD):

ccTLDs typically refer to a specific country. For example, .uk is the ccTLD for the United Kingdom.

Click-through rate (CTR):

The percentage of visitors who click to a page via a specified link.



The practice of showing different content to search engines and searchers than is on a website’s page. It can also be employed illegitimately, such as showing a “quality” site to Google but only serving affiliate advertisements to users.

Conceptual searching:

A technique employed by most search engines, conceptual search is when a search engine interprets a query on a semantic or contextual level rather than just matching words. Conceptual searching results in more relevant search results.

Content management system (CMS):

A content management system, or CMS, is any “back end” website software used to control the text, graphics, and/or code that appears on a website. If you use WordPress, Magento, Joomla!, Drupal, Sitecore, or something similar, you are using a CMS.


Content marketing:

Content marketing refers to the practice by which companies reach potential leads through the use of blogs, articles, videos, graphics, and other site elements that they create. Content marketing is a specific practice that is considered part of inbound marketing.


Contextual advertising:

A form of advertising in which relevant ads are served based on the content they accompany. See Google AdSense.


A conversion is any desired action taken on a website like a purchase, the completion of a contact form, and so on. Unique conversions can be set up and tracked in Google Analytics for a website so one can see how many times these actions have been taken.

Conversion rate:

The percentage at which visitors to a website convert, or go through with a conversion. For example, if one in every 100 visitors makes a purchase, the conversion rate is 1%.

Conversion rate optimization (CRO):

The practice of actively testing a website to determine how it can be improved, with the end goal of increasing one’s conversion rate.


A unique identification data file saved to users’ web browsers for tracking purposes. Cookies can be used to personalize user experiences, track conversions, and remarketing to past site visitors.

Cost per action (CPA):

A method of measuring the effectiveness of online advertising. A monetary value is assigned to a specific action, which can be anything from a click to a user submitting their personal information. This structure is often utilized by affiliate marketing programs. For example, an affiliate marketer will get paid a certain amount of money every time a user clicks a certain ad.

Cost per click (CPC):

A method of measuring the effectiveness of pay-per-click advertising (PPC). Cost per click refers to the amount a company must pay every time someone clicks their ad. Marketers strive for the lowest CPC possible to maximize ROI.


Cost per thousand (CPM):

A measurement of how expensive it is to serve one thousand advertisement impressions. Reflects the profitability of a website.


A search engine’s crawlers are responsible for discovering new webpages and indexing them accordingly. Ensuring one’s content is visible to search engine crawlers is critical for SEO.

Cascading style sheet (CSS):

A style sheet language that describes the presentation of a separate document written in code, like HTML. A CSS file is linked from each HTML page to control how the elements on each page appear, and this keeps the amount of coding to determine appearance within the HTML page to a minimum.


Registering popular domain names solely to profit from selling them to businesses wishing to establish an actual website. These domain names are often related to specific brands and sold at unreasonably high prices.




Dark search:

In 2012, Google stopped allowing Google Analytics data to report on queries users typed into search engines to arrive at a specific website. Many Internet marketers now refer to these unknown queries as “dark search.”


Modifying an ad campaign in accordance with the time periods one’s target audience is most active and least active. Dayparting can be done through completely shutting off a campaign at certain times, adjusting bids at certain times, or changing budget parameters.

Dead link:

See broken link.


When a web page or pages are removed from a search engine directory. This can be temporary or permanent, and can happen for any number of reasons including a penalty from the search engine, a change in search engine crawl priorities, or a change in location of the page in question.


Subsets of a population, such as gender, age, location, and so on. Many advertising platforms allow the specific targeting of certain demographics.


A categorical collection of websites. High-quality directories are manually curated by experts in that specific industry.


The disavow tool allows one to remove an inbound link from a disreputable source. This indicates to Google that a webmaster does not approve of the link’s source, and combats negative SEO or SEO penalties that may have otherwise been incurred.

Display advertising:

Online advertising that includes banner ads, images, or videos. Webmasters can opt into display networks to monetize their sites with ads.



The Open Directory Project. Owned by AOL, the project is the biggest manually edited website directory.

Domain name:

The customizable or branded part of a website’s name. For example, in the URL:, “example” is the domain name.

Domain name server(DNS):

A naming format that pairs a domain name or host with a certain TCP/IP address.

Doorway page:

A webpage created specifically to rank well for very particular search terms, but cover different topics. Doorway pages often redirect to other pages that serve advertisements relevant to the targeted search term.

Duplicate content:

Content that is extremely similar or copied verbatim. Duplicate content is heavily penalized by search engines.

Dwell time:

The length of time a searcher spends on a given website before returning to the search results.


Dynamic content:

Content that is programmed to change over time. Search engines can have difficulty indexing dynamic content.



Earn media:

Earn media is attention or content created by third parties referring back to your business. This type of content isn’t paid for – it’s earned – sometimes organically or through promotional efforts. A few examples include social media posts, articles, and reviews written by outside sources about your business.

Earnings per click:

A data point used to measure potential earnings based on how much a publisher earns for each click on an ad.


A type of website that sells products online. Short for “electronic commerce.”

Ecommerce SEO:

Ecommerce search engine optimization is a set of optimization techniques that enables your ecommerce website to rank higher in search results. SEO for ecommerce allows you to appear in more relevant search results, which enables you to drive more traffic, and sales to grow your store online.

Editorial link:

An inbound link that was not paid for or requested. Editorial links are achieved as a result of great content and marketing techniques.

Engagement metrics:

Data points used to measure how engaged users are on a website. Some examples of engagement metrics are click-through rate, repeat visits, and time on page.


Google’s name for the continuous changing of search engine algorithms and indexes.

Exit rate:

The percentage of visitors who look at a page and then leave the website entirely. Differs from bounce rate.

External link:

A link that points to a different website or domain name. Search engines consider the quality of external links in their algorithms.





The small picture that is displayed next to a URL in web browsers.


File transfer protocol (FTP):

A protocol for transferring files to and from a website’s server. Many websites are maintained through FTP usage.

Flat design:

A style of web design made popular in the late 2000s. Flat design uses no 3D effects or skeuomorphism. Examples of flat design in popular culture include the Windows Metro UI and Android OS theme.


An online message board driven by a community of users. Usually created around a common interest or other niche subject.

Fresh content:

New, dynamic content. Continuously creating  fresh content can result in more frequent search engine crawling and higher levels of engagement (depending on the quality of the content).





Targeting users with ads or content based on their geographical locations.

Google Algorithm:

Google’s algorithm is a very complex algorithm designed to help connect search queries with search results relevant to the query. The algorithm is constantly changing, so it is essential to stay up to date on the newest changes to optimize your website.

Google Keyword Tool:

Google’s free keyword research tool. The tool provides search volume estimates, competition, and related keyword recommendations for a specific keyword and others similar to it.

Google partner:

Google Partners is a Google program for advertising agencies and digital marketers. Joining Google Partners allows one access to special events and training, extensive industry research, and certification opportunities.

Google Penalties:

Google penalties are negative consequences for websites with broken rules – whether well-intended or not. A penalty can range from a drop in rankings to removal from the search engine page results altogether.

Google SEO:

Google SEO is the series of steps you take to optimize your website for higher rankings in Google search results. When someone searches a keyword or phrase on Google, they get a list of results that Google considers the best answer to their query.

Google Trends:

One of many SEO tools, a tool from Google that compares keyword search volumes over time.

Google webmaster guidelines:

A basic set of guidelines and best practices for ranking well in Google’s search results, as established by Google.

Google Webmaster Tools:

A suite of tools offered by Google that give increased user control over technical back-end SEO.



The name of Google’s crawler/search spider.





An HTML element meant to briefly describe the content on a page. Headings go from H1 to H6, and properly using them is an SEO best practice.

Hidden text:

Text meant for search engine crawlers, but not humans. Sites utilizing hidden text always get caught and penalized by Google.


Tricking a search engine into thinking a different website exists at a given URL.


The main page of a website through which users can navigate the rest of a site.

Hypertext markup language (HTML):

A basic coding language used to create websites. When someone refers to a website’s “code,” they are usually referring to its HTML.


A Google algorithm update. Hummingbird improved Google’s algorithm to understand semantics and synonyms in search.

Hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP):

The protocol used to communicate between servers and web browsers. Data is sent from a website’s server to a user’s browser.






The number of times an advertisement has been served. These are not necessarily unique, as the same ad could serve the same user 20 times.

Inbound link

A link pointing to one’s website, originating from a different website.

Inbound marketing

A form of marketing in which a company attracts potential customers to it instead of reaching out to them.


  1. A search engine’s collection of data used to generate search results.
  2. The root of a website.


Short for “information graphic,” an infographic is a visual representation of data. They are usually presented as long images filled with information on one specific topic.


Information architecture (IA)

Information architecture refers to the practice of organizing websites so that they are as usable for visitors as possible. Those who work in IA typically produce wireframes or rough layouts of websites with the content sorted into different areas, and may also perform user testing to ensure that visitors are happy with the intended layout or organization. See user experience for additional information.

Internal link

A link from one page to another page, both on the same website.


Internet service provider (ISP)

The companies that sell Internet access.

Invisible web

Parts of the Internet that have not been crawled by search engines. These sections do not appear in search results.

Internet protocol (IP) address

The specific identification number assigned to an individual device with Internet access. Every device connected to the Internet has an IP address, and it can be thought of as a recognizable “name.”





A programming and scripting language that is often embedded in HTML content to add non-static features.




Key performance indicator (KPI)

A specific metric that shows whether a marketing initiative succeeds. For example, one KPI may be bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who leave after looking at only one page), and one could track this to determine how much interest a website is generating for first-time visitors.


Keywords for SEO are words and phrases placed strategically into your website’s content to help searchers find your website through the search results. Keywords should be relevant to the content on the site and intended to help searchers find useful information and become a conversion for your business.

Keyword cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization refers to multiple pages from the same website targeting the same keywords. Although this is typically done unintentionally, Google will likely drop all of those pages’ rankings because it can’t understand which page fits the results the best.

Keyword density

The amount of times a specific keyword appears on a page. Monitoring keyword density is no longer considered important, but it is a good idea to make sure targeted keywords appear naturally on pages where one wants them to rank.


Keyword not provided

Google began stripping specific keyword information from organic referrals following their move to secured search.  This makes it much more difficult to discern high-conversion keywords.

Keyword research

The process of identifying desired relevant/profitable keywords to target with SEO, paid search and PPC campaigns.

Keyword stuffing

The practice of excessively using a specific keyword on a page. Keyword stuffing no longer works in SEO and negatively impacts a page’s ranking.

Knowledge Graph

Google scrapes information related to a search query and displays it at the top of the results page in an easy, accessible format. Users don’t have to leave the search page to access this information.




Landing page

The page a user is directed to upon clicking on a link or ad.


A path from one webpage to another webpage, or to a different place on the same webpage.

Link baiting

Creating content in such a way that other websites are more likely to link to it.

Link building

The practice of obtaining links to a page from other websites with the intent of raising a specific page or website’s rank in search engine results.

Link churn

The measurement of lost links within a specified time period.

Link equity

The measurement of a website’s quality, based on its inbound link profile and the potential ranking power they can give to another site by linking to it. Websites with high link equity usually rank better in search engine results, and help other sites rank better by linking to them.

Sites that spam links to other domains have very little link equity, and can hurt one’s website.

Link farm

Websites that only to link out to other sites.

Link hoarding

The practice of attempting to retain link popularity by refusing to link to other websites, or by doing so using methods that do not convey link equity.

Link popularity

A website’s link popularity is the number of inbound links it has. Google strongly values quality backlinks over quantity of backlinks.

Link reputation

A measurement of the overall quality and relevancy of a website’s link profile.

Link rot

The process in which links to other websites no longer work because those pages or sites are no longer unavailable.

Local search

A type of search that allows users to search in a specific geographic area against an established index of local business listings.

Long tail keywords

Specific keywords or phrases that reflect user intent. They are higher value and lower competition as a result.

LSI Keywords

LSI stands for latent semantic index, a computer program designed to learn synonyms based on context. LSI keywords may not precisely describe your product or service, but they are the terms that searchers will search for when looking for your product or service.



Manual penalty

A search engine penalty applied manually to a website by a search engine engineer.

Manual review

A website review done by a search engine engineer to determine whether a site is legitimate. Most search engines utilize a combination of manual and automated processes.

Meta description

A short description of a page’s content which appears below its name in search engine results.


Meta keywords

An HTML tag used to specify which keywords and phrases a page is trying to target. Modern day search engines don’t take them into any serious account.

Meta tags

An umbrella term referring to the meta description tag, meta keywords tag, and sometimes page title tag.


Blogging via short, frequent posts and updates. Done through platforms like Twitter.


The number of people who think of a specific brand when considering products in the same category.

Mirror site

A website that rehosts the content of another website. Also used in the context of downloads where three “mirror sites” would all offer different locations to download the same file.

Mobile marketing

Marketing on or with a mobile device, like a cell phone or tablet.

Multivariate testing

Testing multiple variables at the same time in order to find a winning combination.





Natural language processing

A type of algorithm which determines the purpose behind a search query instead of exact-matching results and keywords. See Google’s Hummingbird update.


The mechanism used to direct users around a website.

Negative SEO

Purposely trying to decrease another website’s search engine rankings, often through outdated and black hat SEO strategies such as spamming a website with poor quality inbound links.


A specific subset of a broader category. For example, if the broad category is “marketing,” a niche category would be “inbound marketing for mining companies.”


HTML attribute telling search engines not to pass link authority to a linked website.



Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO refers to SEO techniques that do not require changing your website. This strategy can involve attracting links from other websites and promoting your website on social media.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO refers to the optimization of pages on your website to improve searchability and traffic. This optimization can lead to increased value and usability for users while also providing more visibility for your site and its content.

Open source

Software that comes packaged with its source code so programmers can modify and change it as needed.


Marketing initiatives in which a user chooses to participate. For example, an opt-in newsletter requires the user to input an email address in order to opt-in and receive the newsletter.


Marketing initiatives in which a user chooses not to participate.

Organic SEO

Organic SEO is a digital marketing strategy that helps pages from your website rank at the top of the organic or unpaid search engine results pages. Organic SEO focuses mainly on content, earned media, and technical strategies.

Organic search results

The unpaid, algorithm-driven listings of search engines. Increasing one’s rank in the organic search results is the end goal of SEO.

Outbound link

A link directing users from one website to another.

Outbound marketing

Also known as paid or interruptive marketing, this is the practice of reaching out to broad audiences in the hopes that one can turn them into customers. Typically consists of TV or radio advertisements, banner ads, and direct mail.





The first algorithm utilized by Google to order search engine results, based entirely on the number and quality of inbound links. Google now has other ranking algorithms in place to prevent exploitation.

Paid inclusion

Websites that meet a certain standard are able to buy ads from directories like the Yahoo! Directory or Thomasnet.


One of Google’s algorithms. Panda tries to sort websites according to perceived content quality, using a number of “signals” to make this judgment.

Pay-per-click (PPC)

Paid ads in the sidebar or top area of search engines. PPC ads only represent a cost to those who place them if they are clicked.


Usually prefaced by the word “Google” or one of their algorithm updates, a penalty is applied to any website that is either intentionally or unintentionally breaking the search engine’s terms of service. Common penalty triggers include spyware or spam, keyword stuffing, spamming links, and thin content.

Penalties can be applied and removed as websites change their behavior.


One of Google’s algorithms. The Penguin Algorithm penalizes sites that participate in link schemes that manipulate the number of links pointing to a page.

Permission marketing

A term coined by Seth Godin that is synonymous with inbound marketing.


An algorithm update from Google that strengthened the tie between local search and regular web search signals.

Piracy update

An update from Google that penalized websites which had DMCA takedown notices.

Pogo rate / Pogo sticking

The percentage of users who quickly clicked back to the search results and clicked another result right away. Higher POGO rates indicate poor relevancy and are a negative engagement metric.


Form of advertising that creates a separate browser window, but places it under the active one so as not to be disruptive.


An advertisement that is created on top of or within the active browser window.

Portable Document Format/PDF

An Adobe Systems file format. Files can be viewed and stored in a printer-friendly layout.




Quality content

An umbrella term used to describe content that warrants backlinks.

Quality link

A link that counts more than others in the context of SEO, usually from a universally trusted source or high authority domains.

Quality Score (QS)

A variable used by Google AdWords that influences both ad rank and CPC. The formula used to determine ad order is (bid x QS).



The search term or phrase a user enters into a search engine.





A page’s position on the search engine results page.

Reciprocal links

Also known as “link trading,” reciprocal links occur when two or more sites link among each other. Reciprocal links can occur naturally and without cause for worry. There are also gray/black-hat reciprocal link exchange strategies that can result in penalties.


Redirects indicate that a page or piece of content has changed location. There are permanent and temporary redirects (see 301 and 302 redirects).


The origin of traffic to a website.


A company responsible for the purchase/registration of domain names.


The process of a website being added back into the search index after correcting any cause for penalization.

Relative link

The opposite of an absolute link, a relative link utilizes a link path that refers to the URL of the current page instead of explicitly stating the full URL.

Absolute link example:

Relative link example: ../folder/file.html (the .. referring to


How similar a website is to the keyword(s) it ranks for.

Repeat visits

The same user returning to a website more than once.

Reputation management

Curating brand keywords such that search results only show positive news for the brand.

Responsive design

A style design that forces a website to conform to screens of all sizes. Responsive design ensures that the same website will display properly on a mobile phone, tablet, and desktop monitor without zooming or excessive scrolling.


Retargeting or remarketing

A marketing strategy that involves serving ads for previously viewed websites or products to a user. These are the ads that seem to “follow” users across the Internet, advertising something they may have looked at days ago.


Return on investment (ROI)

A measurement of the benefit or profit derived from an investment. The formula for ROI is (cost / revenue).


Reverse index

A list of keywords associated with the content in which they’re used.

Rich media

Any ad that utilizes advances features like video, audio, or other non-text elements.


A file in the root directory of a website that controls what search engines should and should not crawl.

Rich site summary (RSS)

RSS involves sending content of various origins to one location (a feed reader) for centralized viewing.





A technique in which software extracts data from an online source.

Search engine

The basis of all SEO, a search engine is the tool used to look for information online.

Search engine marketing (SEM)

Refers to the application of PPC and SEO to increase visibility on search engines.

Search history

Stored data of a user’s past queries, often used for advertisement targeting purposes.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization (SEO) improves your site to increase the quality and quantity of its content, leading to better visibility and organic search rankings on search engines like Google.

Search engine results page (SERP)

A page of results after searching for something in a search engine. If someone refers to their website appearing on “page 3 of the SERPs,” they are talking about appearing on the third page of results for a specific keyword.

SEO copywriting

Writing copy in accordance with SEO best practices to rank well on search engines and provide a positive user experience.

SEO-friendly url

An SEO-friendly URL is a URL that describes a page’s content while remaining concise. An SEO-friendly URL shouldn’t include random letters and characters that don’t make sense. An example of an SEO-friendly URL is /digital-marketing/seo and not /?pid=12342&sid…

Semantic search

Semantic search is the process search engines use to understand the intent and contextual meaning of a search query. Semantic search helps search engines determine what people are looking for based on the phrasing of their searches.


The physical computer used to host a site’s online files.


Methods of poaching traffic from another website, often through spyware.


A page that shows search engines how to navigate a website.

Social media

A collection of websites that allow users to interact with one another by signing up and submitting personal information.


Broadly defined as unsolicited advertisements. Historically this would occur via email, but it now happens in various forms across the Internet.


See “Crawler.”

Splash page

An aesthetically-pleasing web page with little-to-no indexable content.


Software that spies on users, collecting information that can later be used for ad targeting, hacking, or identity theft.

Static content

Content that doesn’t change often or at all after it’s made.




Text link ads

Ads that are served as normal text links.

Thin content

Thin content is generally considered to be any website content that offers very little value or information to the user. Typically lacking depth or helpful content, thin content can negatively impact SEO.

Title tag

An HTML element that acts as the name of an entire page.

Time on page

See dwell time.

Top level domain (TLD)

The name of the root space in a URL. Ex: .com, .org, .gov, etc.

Tracking code

A piece of JavaScript that populates Google Analytics with detailed traffic data from a website.





Uniform resource locator (URL)

The unique address that points to any given web content.

Universal search

Google’s technique of blending search results from the different search verticals of images, news, videos, and so on.


A qualitative measurement of how easy it is to use a website.

Usage data

Metrics and dimensions such as number of repeat visits, time on site, CTR, age, location, and more that all indicate who’s visiting a website.

User experience (UX)

The overall measurement of how easy and satisfying it is to use a website. User experience is the highest priority of an information architect. Those who specialize in it carefully watch how people use a website to make the site more user-friendly. Generally, user experience is related to bounce rate, cart abandon rate, and many other metrics.





Vertical search

Searching specifically within a certain field or industry.

Viral marketing

Marketing techniques that are meant to be self-disseminating. Viral marketing usually occurs through email, blog posts, social media, etc. A high number of “shares” in any medium is the goal of viral marketing.

Virtual server

Splitting a physical server into multiple “virtual servers” allows companies to host multiple TLDs from a single machine.






An online seminar broadcast by an individual or company, typically with the intention of educating attendees on a specific topic. Webinars may consist of slides, video, audio, or all three.

White hat SEO

SEO practices that fall within the best-practice guidelines set forth by Google and other search engines.


The record of a domain that contains ownership data such as name, address, etc. Many registrars offer services to hide this Whois data.

WordPress is a free blogging solution. allows one to download the free, open source, fully customizable WordPress software.




Extensible HyperText Markup Language (XHTML)

XHTML extends HTML to include XML formatting.

Extensible Markup Language (XML)

Allows for the simple formatting and syndication of content through technology like RSS.




Yahoo! directory

A long-standing, authoritative web directory. Yahoo! Directory does offer paid inclusion to qualified websites.

Yahoo! search marketing

Yahoo’s keyword-based PPC Internet advertising service, similar to Google’s AdWords platform.



What’s the definition of…?

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