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Definitive Guide To SEO Terms

Hey! I’m Marissa, a freelance web designer and digital marketer. I love working with clients to take the overwhelm out of getting their business online. Thanks for stopping by and taking a look at my blog!

Definitive Guide To SEO Terms


Search engine optimization is a beast! It’s integral to your website’s visibility, but it  isn’t just the monumental importance of SEO that makes it so monstrous. The various processes and practices, the software, the algorithms! It’s a lot to think about. With so many moving parts, it’s understandable that SEO can seem intimidating at first. 

So where do you begin? Well, a good place to start learning the language. Understanding the language of SEO is the first step in discerning the purpose behind the myriad of different processes and practices that encompass SEO.

Here is a fun, comprehensive list of common SEO terminology to help you go from confused to crushing the SEO game!


In it’s simplest form, alt-text is a descriptive text associated with an image. It is one of two attributes of an image included in an IMG Tag. Alt-text has several purposes. It communicates what the image contains to search engines, it gives search engines context about your website using keyword (boosting SEO!) and can act as a stand-in for an image when it cannot display. 

Anchor Text

Anchor text includes any words highlighted within a sentence to feature a link. For example, did you know there is a hyperlink in this sentence? The anchor text is the line “there is a hyperlink”. 

Anchor text is one part of a hyperlink. The other part is the destination anchor.


A backlink is any link on another website that link’s back to your website. They are important for high-SEO rankings as credible backlinks boost your visibility. That means the anchor text should read as relevant to the content it links (ie. your homepage, blog, article, etc.)

For example, if I write “Check out Jenna Kutcher’s blog and podcast for a detailed look at SEO”, it creates a backlink to that blog, boosting its SEO ranking. (Bonus points if you thought to yourself, “oh hey, the words “Jenna Kutcher’s blog and podcast” are the anchor text.)

Destination Anchor

Where you arrive on after clicking a hyperlink. All links lead somewhere, whether to another page, another section of a page, or another website altogether.

A destination anchor is one part of a hyperlink. The other part is the anchor text.

DoFollow Link

A link that signals to web crawlers to follow it. When a web crawler follows a DoFollow Link back to your website, they track the link as a vote of quality (also known as Link Juice!). All links are Do-Follow by default unless they are given a NoFollow attribute. 

Domain Name

A name unique to each website. For example, my domain is

Duplicate Content

The inclusion of two different pages on your website containing similar content. This can affect SEO ranking negatively, as web crawlers may penalize your website for repeating content. 


How visitors interact with your website. High user-engagement, for example, can be considered when visitors actively engage with your website, doing things like exploring your website, clicking on links, reading content, and following calls-to-action. 


Keywords are the main descriptive words and phrases related to your website and its content. So, for example, if you created a comprehensive list of important SEO terms, your main keyword might be “SEO terms” or “SEO terminology”.

Key Performance Indicator (KPI) 

A quantitative measurement that expresses how a website is performing. KPIs provide data that serves to ameliorate your website. A common KPI is web traffic, ie. the number of unique visits to your site. Other examples include conversion rate, number of return visitors, number of call-to-action click-throughs, length of time spent on site, etc.


Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)

A process used to define secondary keywords relevant to your content. These are words that occur naturally and often in relation to your main keywords. For example, if your keyword is coffee, LSI terms might include ”bean”, ”mug”, ”latte”, as they are words related to the topic.

Link Building 

Link building is the process through which your website gets backlinks. It can occur naturally/organically, when another website intentionally backlinks to yours, or actively, through deliberate efforts, like publishing content on other sites. 

Meta Description

A short description of a given page, as shown in search engine results. The meta description text should include keywords and be relevant to the page and its content but does not have to be included on the pages itself. If no meta description is specified, the search engine may display a section of content pulled directly from the website instead.

Meta Keyword

A list of your main keywords and key phrases. 

Meta Tags

Meta tags express the purpose of a website to a given search engine. Some examples of meta tags include title, keywords, meta description, etc.

Natural Links/Organic Links

All backlinks your page acquires naturally/organically. When another website links back to your website by their own volition, that backlink is a natural link. 

NoFollow Link

The opposite of a DoFollow Link, a NoFollow Link signals to web crawlers to ignore certain links. This prevents the link from being counted as a vote of quality.

Off-page SEO

Actions taken to improve SEO that are external to your website. Example: link building.

On-page SEO

Actions taken to improve SEO that are internal to your website. Example: keyword quality and density, relevant titles, relevant tags.

Organic Search/Organic Search Results

An organic search is the action of putting a search query into a search engine. Organic Search Results are the first results (excluding ads) that appear. 

Note: ads may appear above Organic Search Results but are not included.


A Google algorithm that estimates the value of a given website based on website importance, credibility, and quality.

Sandbox Index/Supplemental Index

A secondary index of websites that are not shown in the main search results. New websites and low ranking websites are placed “in the sandbox” until their SEO rankings are considered worthy of appearing on the main results page.

Search Engine

Software that locates information on the internet through the input of search queries and keywords. Google, for example, is the most popular search engine.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The process through which to improve a website’s search ranking. SEO encompasses a vast array of different parts (hopefully made clear by this list) that work to increase ranking. From the use of keywords, to variable tags, to backlinks, and more, SEO is invaluable to increasing the visibility and credibility of your website.


A slug is a section of the URL of a given page, containing keywords specific to that page. It should be short, sweet, and related to the content. It is used for easy navigation, to categorize the page, and to differentiate it from the original homepage URL.

Title Tag

A tag that expresses a page’s purpose to a given search engine. Simply put, it’s the title presented to a search engine.


Traffic is the number of visitors landing on your website. A high-traffic website has a lot of visitors, and while you want your site to have a lot of traffic, other important factors weigh into SEO rankings, such as bounce rate (whether or not a visitor stays or bounces from your site) and engagement.


Also known as a bot, crawler, or spider, a web-crawler is a piece of software that reviews web content for a search engine, in order to give the website a search ranking. It explores website’s, reviewing all content, including audio, visual, and text content, keywords, tags, and the various web pages and links related to a website

Web Host

The digital space in which your website is stored. All websites have to be located somewhere (not just inside the computer, Hansel!)

Definitive guide to SEO terms

And there you have it! SEO can seem daunting, but once you’re comfortable with the terminology, you can start moving forward to make your website the best that it can be.   

If you really want to up your SEO game, take a peek at my free SEO for blogging guide here to help get you started!

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