SEO Glossary 2021

SEO terminology can confuse even the most savvy of website users so to have a reference point we’ve pulled together a non-exhaustive list of the top terms you will come across in your SEO journey.

200 Status Codes: These codes indicate that the request has succeeded.

300 Status Codes: Require the server to examine additional responses to serving the page to the user. 301 = this page has moved permanently to another URL. 302 = Found the temporary redirect. 308 = Permanent redirect.

404 Error: A 404 is an error code that tells the user that a requested page cannot be found on the server. There are two types of 404 errors: 1. Hard 404’s where the requested page can’t be found and 2. soft 404 happens when a non-existent page on your site displays a “not found” message to users but a 200 OK status to search engines. There are many reasons for a 404 but mostly due to pages being deleted or being renamed without redirecting those URL’s, or something as simple as mistyping the URL.

500 Internal Server Error: the response code indicates that the server encountered an unexpected condition that prevented it from fulfilling the request. It is a generic ‘catch-all’ response.

ALT tag: ALT attributes are the text alternative to the image when a browser can show the image. They’re also used for web accessibility. Describe your image in plain language and don’t stuff your alt attributes with keywords.

BOTS: Short for Robots and also called internet bots are software programs that operate on the internet and perform repetitive tasks. Also known as spiders and crawlers.

Bounce rate: is when a visitor visits your site and then leaves without going anywhere else on your site. These sessions have a duration of 0- seconds since there are no other actions triggered. A high bounce rate indicates that people aren’t taking other action which can be either a good or bad thing depending on your site: if you have a large site and people aren’t visiting other pages than a high bounce rate can be regarded as a bad thing. If your site is a one-page site then a high bounce rate might not be considered bad.

ccTLD: Short for “country code top-level domain,” ccTLD refers to domains associated with countries. For example, .au is the recognized ccTLD for Australia.

Content Distribution Network (CDN): also called content delivery networks, are networks of servers that are used to distribute the load of delivering content. Essentially, copies of your site are stored at multiple, geographically diverse data centres so that users have faster and more reliable access to your site.

Click through rate (CTR): The ratio of the times your ad has been clicked on divided by the number of times your ad has been shown (the number of impressions). For example if you ad was clicked on 5 times and shown 100 times, then your CTR would be 5%.

Conversion: An action that is counted when someone interacts with your website. For example, makes a purchase or calls your business.

Conversion Rate: The average number of conversions per interaction shown as a percentage. For example is you had 50 conversions from 1000 interactions, your conversion rate would be 5%.

DA (Domain Authority): Is a score developed by Moz used to predict how likely a website is to rank in SERP’s. A DA score ranges from 1-100 with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank.

De-indexed: When a URL, section of URLs, or an entire domain has been removed from a search engine index. This can happen for a number of reasons, such as when a website receives a manual penalty for violating Google’s quality guidelines.

DNS: The Domain Name System (DNS) is the phonebook of the internet. Every time you visit a website, your computer performs a DNS lookup. It essentially translates domain name ( into IP addresses ( so that browsers can load the web pages.

Google My Business  (GMB) listing: A free listing available to local businesses. Let’s you easily connect with customers across Google Search and Maps.  A MUST HAVE for local businesses!

Google’s Search Console: A free service offered by Google that helps to monitor and maintain your website’s presence in SERPs.

Hreflang: An HTML attribute used to tell Google which language and geographical targeting of a web page. This helps Google serve the appropriate language version of your page to people searching in that language.

HTML: is the standard markup language for web pages.

Image Optimisation: is about reducing the file size of your images without sacrificing quality. There are two aspects of size to consider: the pixel size and the storage size. Optimisation also includes deciding on the right file type eg: jpeg or png? and ALT and Title tags.

IP address: An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a numerical label assigned to each device connected to a computer network.

Keyword stuffing: A spammy tactic involving the overuse of important keywords and their variants in your content and links.

Link Building: is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your website. Link building is extremely important for SEO because links are like positive votes which build credibility and trustworthiness for your website. However, not all links are good – some can even cause your site to decrease in visibility.

Meta Descriptions: Are an HTML attribute that provide the user with a brief overview of the web page content. The optimal length for a meta description (Google generally truncates to 155-160 characters) is between 50-160 characters.

Mobile-first indexing: means that Google uses the mobile version of a website for indexing and ranking. Mobile-first indexing commenced September 2020. You can check for mobile first indexing through your Search Console as well as in Google’s URL Inspection Tool.

Page Speed: can be described as the time it takes to fully display the content on a specific page or ‘time to first byte’ (it is different to site speed). You can check you page speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Google has indicated site speed and as a result, page speed is one of the signals used by its algorithm to rank pages.

Referral Traffic: A metric in Google Analytics that shows the traffic sent to your website from another website. For example, if your website is receiving visits from people clicking on your site from a link on Facebook, Google Analytics will attribute that traffic as “ / referral” in the Source/Medium report. Is a collection of vocabularies used to mark up a website that can be understood by search engines. It allows webmasters to provide additional information to search engines that simple HTML can’t convey so that search engines can display it in a useful and relevant way.

Search Intent: Describes the purpose of an online search.  There are 4 types of intent: 1. Informational intent: people have specific questions or want to know more about a specific topic. 2. Navigational intent: people want to visit a specific website, they know where they want to go. 3. Transactional intent: People are wanting to buy something. 4. Commercial investigation intent: The searcher is weighing up their options on what to buy and doing their research generally looking for reviews and comparisons.

SERP’s: Search Engine Results Page. The results shown after the search query is entered into a search engine.  There are a range of SERP features including, Google Ads, Featured Snippets, Image Pack, Local Pack, Knowledge Panel, Knowledge Graph, Related Questions, Shopping Results, and more.

SSL certificate: A “Secure Sockets Layer” is used to encrypt data passed between the web server and browser of the searcher to ensure the data being passed is private. It is displayed in the URL as https:// and you will also see a padlock icon in the URL bar.

Title Tag: An HTML element that specifies the title of a web page.

UTM (Urchin Tracking Module): a piece of code attached to a URL which tracks when someone clicks on the URL and provides additional information about the click such as source, medium and campaign name.

Website Crawling: Software that visits websites to discover web pages. The software pays special attention to new sites, changes to existing sites and dead links.

Website Indexing: Once a site has been crawled systems take note of key signals such as keywords and keep track of it in the Search Index.  The Google Search index contains hundreds of billions of webpages and is well over 100,000,000 gigabytes in size. It’s like the index in the back of a book.

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Jane Cluff

Senior digital strategist

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