If you’ve ever dipped your toe into the SEO pond, you’ll know that there can be a lot of jargon to wade through to get to the other side.
XML, HTTP, SERP, URL (and these are just the acronyms!)… It’s no wonder so many small businesses are intimidated by SEO. It can sound like a totally different language if you’re not an expert who does this for a living.
But learning your alt text from your anchor text isn’t as tricky as you might think, and it definitely shouldn’t stop you from getting your business found on Google.
That’s why I’ve created this handy SEO glossary. To help demystify all those confusing SEO terms so you can learn how to SEO like a pro.
You know the text on your website that’s usually underlined, and used to link through to another web page? That’s called anchor text, and it’s used by Google to understand what the destination page (page being linked to) is about and which keywords it should rank for.
A backlink is when another website mentions your business or content and provides a link to one of your web pages from their site. Each one of these backlinks acts as a type of vote from the other website, telling Google that your content is valuable, credible and useful (which helps your content rank better).
A citation is any mention of your business information (company name, address and phone number) online. Your Google Business Profile is a type of citation, but these listings can also appear on business directories like Yellow Pages, review sites like Yelp and social media platforms like Facebook.
Your click-through-rate tells you what percentage of people clicked through to your web page from Google search results. You can find this info in your Google Search Console.
Duplicate content can happen when your web pages have large chunks of identical text, for example if you have two product pages that share the same product description but have a different image. In some cases it can also happen when content is copied from one website and added to another.
Error page (404)
A 404 error (aka a Page Not Found error) is what happens when Google or a user tries to visit a page on your website that no longer exists. These errors usually happen when you remove a web page or change a URL without adding a redirect.
A featured snippet is when Google grabs a bit of text from a web page and shows it at the top of the search engine results page. These snippets help users find quick answers without clicking through to a website.
Google Business Profile
Google Business Profile (previously known as Google My Business) is a free tool that helps you manage and optimise how your business information like your address and phone number appears in Google search and maps. It’s also the hub for managing all your Google reviews.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free tool that connects to your website so you can keep track of how your website is performing in search results. It shows you things like which keywords people use to find your website, which pages are ranking well in search results and which of your pages are being indexed.
Header tags are labels added to the backend code of your web pages to highlight which words on the page are headings and sub-headings. They are used by web designers to set the font style and size of certain text on the page, but they are also used by Google to understand what your content is about.
HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, which is a set of rules for transferring files over the internet – essentially it’s what loads a web page in your internet browser when you visit a site. The S” in HTTPS stands for “Secure”, and having this extra letter at the front of your website URL tells Google that your site is safe and secure for users.
Image alt text
Image alt text (sometimes called an image alt tag) is a short description of an image on your website. This text helps visually impaired users understand images through the use of screen-reading tools, but it’s also important for SEO. Google can’t view images like a human can, so the search engine will scan your image alt text to look for keywords and understand what the image is about.
Google’s index is the database that holds all the content it has discovered across the internet. Google bots are continually scanning the internet to discover new content which is then categorised and added to the database. If a web page isn’t in Google’s index, then it will be hidden from search results.
An internal link is a link from one web page to another page on the same website. These links are used by users and Google to navigate your website and find related content.
A keyword is a word or group of words that you want your website to rank for in Google. A keyword isn’t always a single word – even phrases with 5 or 6 words in them are considered keywords if they are being used in Google search.
A long-tail keyword is a keyword or phrase that’s longer (usually 3 or more words) and more specific than a generic keyword. For example, “weight loss” is a generic keyword, while “weight loss diet plan for women” is a long-tail keyword.
A meta description (sometimes called an SEO description) is the snippet of text below the page title when your page appears in Google search results. They don’t directly impact your SEO rankings, but a well-written SEO description can help increase traffic to your website by encouraging people to click on your content over others in Google.
Mobile friendliness is a measure of how easily your website visitors can easily access and read your content on a mobile device. Google looks at elements like font size and page design to determine whether your web pages are mobile-friendly, and if they are then your SEO will get a boost.
No index is when you tell Google not to include a particular web page in the index, meaning it can’t show up in the search results.
On-page SEO refers to any improvements made to the content on your web pages to improve your SEO visibility. This includes optimising your web copy, header tags, URLs and images.
Off-site SEO refers to any activities that happen off your website that can help improve your SEO visibility. This includes building backlinks to your site and managing your local citations.
Page load speed
Page load speed measures how long it takes for your content to load when someone lands on your web page. Google websites perform faster because they create a better experience for users, and will give your site an SEO boost if it loads quickly.
A page title is a headline that appears when your page shows up in Google search results. People will click on these headlines to visit your website, but they’re also used by Google to understand what each of your web pages is about.
A query is an exact keyword or phrase that someone types into the Google search bar.
Google reviews appear next to your business listing in Google Search and Maps. They help your business stand out in Google search results and can have a big impact on your SEO visibility. The more positive reviews your business has, the more likely you’ll rank at the top of search results for local and ‘near me’ searches.
A redirect is when you point one URL to another to send users to the new page. They are also used to tell Google that the original page has been moved.
Readability is a measure of how easy your website content is to read and understand. It’s determined by things like content structure, sentence length and the language you use.
The Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is the page that appears after someone types a keyword into Google. This page includes a combination of paid Google Ad results, Google Maps listings, Featured Snippets and SEO results.
Thin content is when a page has very little text, text that adds little or no value for users. Google is all about serving helpful content to people in search results, and if your page doesn’t provide value, it won’t rank well in search results.
Your URL appears at the top of each of your web pages and above your page title in Google search results. Google uses your URL to understand what your page is about, and whether it’s relevant for a certain keyword.
In the SEO world, visibility is used to describe how prominent a website is within Google search results. The higher your website appears on Google, the better your SEO visibility.
Your website menu is usually found at the top of your homepage, depending on your website design, and provides a list of web pages for users to visit. It helps users navigate your website, but it also tells Google which of your web pages are the most important.
An XML sitemap is a list of the most important pages on your website, and where to find them. This file lives on your website and Google uses it to discover your website content.
Yoast is a popular WordPress plugin that can help you optimise your web pages for your important keywords.