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Glossary of Terms: SEO Definitions

The SEO Glossary is a growing list that entails an index of words and phrases related to the search engine optimization industry. Each term is strictly defined as it applies to SEO purposes and not necessarily from a technical perspective. This glossary is a great resource for webmasters, content writers, marketers and anyone looking to expand their knowledge in the field of web development.


Alt Attribute
Text provided with an image to be used as an alternative when a browser can not display the image or when a text-reader is used to explore a webpage.
Anchor Text
The visible text that makes up a clickable link to another webpage or section of a webpage.
Author Rank
Google's experimental algorithm for assigning a value to a page based on the author. The use of an Author Rank algorithm has not been verified by Google, but is likely to play a large role in future search results. If nothing else, an author tag can be displayed in a page's snippet on a results page and may improve click through rates and user engagement.
The idea of someone having authored or written a document or body of work. In SEO terms, authorship is a concept used to relate documents by means of a common author. A certain level of "value" and/or trust can be ascertained based on authorship. Google is currently fiddling with the concept of Author Rank as ranking factor, however there are other platforms that link articles together via author.


Black Hat SEO
Strategies and techniques that lead to an artificial increase in rankings through a means that is discouraged by search engines. This can include any means of 'tricking' search engines to think that a particular webpage is better or more relevant to a keyword than it actually is. Generally, it is becoming more and more difficult to fool the search engine algorithms with an increasing risk of penalization. Finding ways to successfully trick a search engine is becoming more time consuming and less rewarding than implementing White Hat SEO tactics.


Call to Action
A term used to describe a marketing technique that entices or encourages a user to perform a desired action such as clicking on a link, signing up for a newsletter, registering a membership, or making a purchase.
Canonical URL
The preferred web address (URL) when more than one URL exists for a page that contains the same content. This can occur due to poorly configured content management systems and can cause duplicate content issues. By defining the "Canonical URL" you are telling the search engine to ignore the other versions of the same page.
A large structured set of texts. Often referred to as a text corpus in the context of SEO and linguistic analysis. Google's Corpus is the largest in the world.


Duplicate Content
A large segment of text or an entire webpage that is already available on the web. Even text that is very similar, but not exactly copied, can be detected as duplicate content. This is not to be confused with quotations and citations when used appropriately. Duplicate content is always viewed as a negative implementation and can sometimes occur by mistake through improper URL generation. (See Canonical URL)


External Link
A hyperlink or reference to a webpage that is not part of the linking (referring) page's website. This is in contrast to an internal link.


The image displayed next to the title of a site in the browser tab. It is also used as the image when a user saves a webpage to their "Favorites List" hence the name Favicon. (derivation: Favorite's Icon).
Fragment Identifier
A section of a document that is often used to indicate the position of the scroll bar. The identifier is often displayed on a webpage's url with hashtag symbol (#) and sometimes #! (hashbang) depending on the purpose. Hashbangs are used for AJAX purposes to indicate to search engines that the content on the page should be viewed as separate from content prior to the hashbang.


A search engine and one of the largest companies in the world.


Hashbang (#!)
This symbol is used as an identifier that can be used to display certain content on a webpage (usually via AJAX commands) and also indicates to search engines that the content is uniquely separate from other content on the same page and should be indexed separately.
HyperText Markup Language is the language in which websites are written.


Internal Link
A clickable text or image on a webpage that redirects the user to another webpage within the same site.


A client-side scripting language that can be embedded into HTML for the purpose of creating interactive components on a webpage.


From a searcher's perspective, a keyword is a word or phrase that one might use to search for a document that will provide them with information they are seeking. From a writer's perspective, a keyword is a word or phrase usually used within their written work that may be closely related to a query a searcher might use to locate specific information that the document can provide. Keywords is sort of a misnomer as it does not limit itself to being a single word. A keyword can be multiple words, a phrase, abbreviations, questions and even complete sentences, as well as a single word.


A citation or reference from one document to another, usually in the form of a clickable text or image that will redirect a user to the referenced page.
Long-Tail Keyword
A phrase or grouping of several keywords (usually considered 3 or more words) that are collectively more specific than a single keyword. Long-tailed keywords tend to convert better and are easier to compete for in the ranking algorithm.


Meta Description
Additional information about a page that search engines use to display in the results page. It should describe the content of the page in a sentence or two, but it is also a call to action and should entice the user to continue reading by clicking on the listing.
The term is described as "Data about data" and is essentially a synopsis, summary, or brief description of a document. In HTML, meta tags/elements are used to denote specific values or meanings of certain aspects of a webpage such as the title, author, or keywords.


SEO Points
A unit of measure used here at SEOwrit to assign a grade or value to a webpage which determines its potential rank.
(se)OCD - "search engine optimization/obsessive compulsive disorder" is the over-concern of minute details which may affect rankings in search engines. An example may be when one decides to change all instances of ["..."] to ['...'] in the hopes of slightly improving page speed because it "technically" reduces the loading time of the file since fewer bytes are processed.


Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency (tf-idf)
A numerical method for assessing a term or phrase' relevance to a document based on its relative frequency or rate of occurrence relative to a corpus of text. This technique considers how common or rare certain words are throughout normal usage. It is a great method for devaluing 'stop words' and weighting uncommon words more heavily.