Glossary of Web and SEO Terms

Search engine optimization (SEO) has its own terminology, jargon, and abbreviations. In an effort to speak clearly, and help teach learning SEO practitioners, we’ve assembled a list of definitions and terms you should know.

This SEO glossary contains a sizeable number of expressions and definitions that an internet marketer should know. Learning these terms and definitions will help you navigate your SEO career.

Quick Links (Alphabetical)

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301 Redirect

A 301 Redirect takes a browser or user agent from one URL to another. A 301 Redirect signals to search crawlers that the URL change should be considered permanent. SEO technicians use 301 Redirects when a URL changes, in order to avoid broken links (link rot and 404 Errors), to redirect the link equity to the new URL, and to make user experience seamless.

302 Redirect

A 302 Redirect is similar to a 301 Redirect, except this type of redirect signals to the search crawlers that the change is intended to be temporary. When you move a page or resource to another URL for a temporary amount of time, that is when you should use a 302 Redirect.

304 Not Modified

The 304 Not Modified status code tells your browser that the page or resource has not changed since the last time you accessed it. 304 Not Modified means there is no need to retransmit the page since the client (web browser) still has a cached copy of that resource.

404 Page Not Found

A browser shows the 404 Not Found HTTP status code when the server cannot find a web page or resource (like a PDF). 404 Errors can occur when there are broken links to a page or document, if a linked URL changes and no 301 Redirects are in place, or if a linked page or website is deleted.

410 Gone

The 410 Gone HTTP status code appears when the requested page or resource is no longer available on the server and that this condition is likely to be permanent.


Above the Fold

The visible area on a website a viewer sees before scrolling down. A preview of the web page content. This term comes from newspapers, which were displayed folded in half, with the top half of the page being visible. Content that appears “above the fold” may vary, depending on the device and screen size. Google rolled out the Page Layout Update in 2012 to demote web pages with too may ads displayed above the fold.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

An open-source framework designed by Google to speed up load times for mobile browsers. AMP enables publishers to generate web pages and serve content optimized for fast delivery across all devices.

AI (Artificial Intelligence)

The scientific field develops complex computer programs to perform tasks that normally use human intelligence. Instead of awaiting human input, the AI program learns and adapts accordingly. Basically, AI is a digital neural net. See also, Machine Learning.


Asynchronous JavaScript and XML is a type of program that allows a webpage to send and receive information from servers to update the page without the need to reload.


Think of an algorithm as a complex mathematical formula. Search engines use algorithms to input a bunch of factors and output a list of results. Social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn use algorithms to determine what you see in your feed or to suggest people for you to connect with.

What you need to know about algorithms is they are complex, proprietary math equations that companies like Google use to figure out rankings.

Algorithm Change

Are you aware of recent Google algorithm changes? When search engines update, refresh or introduce a new algorithm update that affects how search queries are displayed to users, that epitomizes an algorithm change. The impact of major algorithm changes takes time though some can be observed within a short time.

ALT attribute (aka ALT Text)

The img element in HTML, which renders images, has an attribute, alt. This attribute is meant to contain a description of the image that is read by screen reader browsers. Visually-impaired people use screen readers to read the page aloud, so they can browse websites. Including ALT attribute text on all images is considered a best practice for SEO, and is also a requirement for passing WCAG accessibility standards.


The deliberate action of collection, analysis, and interpretation of data to make future determinations based on efficiency and utility.

Anchor Text

The visible text displayed on a website as a link to a specific web page. By default, anchor text is underlined and colored blue in most browsers. However, if you’ve visited the webpage before, the anchor text is a purple color. Essentially, anchor text helps search engines evaluate the relevance of the destination page.

Article Spinning

In simple terms, this refers to recreating the same content using many words without infusing any new ideas/topics. Also known as content spinning. Can be done manually or by using automated software.

Article Syndication

The republishing of an exact copy of content by one or more third parties.


The cumulative signals search engine use to evaluate websites for ranking purposes. This can be roughly evaluated in terms of incoming backlinks, or through topical relevance and ability to meet searchers’ intent.

Author Authority

Refers to the reputation and credentials of a content creator in a specific niche. Google’s attempts to implement this as a ranking factor are unproven. Therefore, it’s not a ranking factor.

However, Google currently advocates for the E-A-T model for building a brand’s credibility though whether this is a ranking factor is debatable.

Auto Generated Content

Content generated from a code or a program.



An abbreviation for business-to-business. Characterized by a longer buying cycle, expensive services, and products, and targets professional audiences.


A shortened version of business-to-consumer. Depending on the industry, it’s characterized by a shorter buying cycle, cheap products and services, and targets relevant consumers.


Links from external domains pointing to pages on your domain. Also known as inbound links. Earning backlinks from trusted sites is an important part of SEO.


The most popular search engine in China, with 75% market share in China. The fourth largest search engine in the world after Google, Microsoft Bing, and Yahoo!. Founded by Eric Xu and Robin Li in 2000.

Barnacle SEO (aka Parasite SEO)

Refers to the practice of ranking your brand on secondary sites, like a specialized directory, or an industry-specific site (Houzz for contractors, Avvo for lawyers, Zillow for real estate, etc). Yelp, Facebook,, LinkedIn and other profiles are all examples of Barnacle SEO. The idea is to increase your chances of being seen in search results, leveraging other sites in addition to your own website. May also be referred to as Parasite SEO.


Microsoft’s search engine, which launched in 2009, replacing Microsoft Live Search/MSN Live Search. Bing is the second most popular search engine in the United States and worldwide. Yahoo! Search results are powered by Bing, and have been since 2009.


The search crawler bot which crawls and indexes web pages for the Bing search engine.

Black Box

An intricate often mysterious computer program without an objective understanding. While the inputs and outputs are observable, one cannot interpret the process due to the confidential nature of the program. For instance, Google’s ranking algorithm remains vague.

Black Hat (aka Black Hat SEO)

Techniques, strategies, and tactics that violate search engine guidelines. A shortcut to manipulate and exploit any weaknesses in search engine algorithms to gain unfair rankings. Generally, black-hat techniques are looked down upon by the professional SEO community. For mainstream businesses, reliance on black-hat SEO tactics is incredibly risky, as loopholes in the Google algorithm tend to be short-lived.


An ongoing digital collection of articles published by a website. Often appears with the most recent or most relevant content appearing at the top. Websites with blogs tend to post articles in reverse chronological order. A blog seeks to meet the interests of the individual, corporate, or party generating it. Blogs were originally called “weblogs” in the early days of the web. This was eventually shortened to “blog”. Authors of articles are known as bloggers.


A software application programmed to execute a specific set of tasks. In SEO, this usually refers to search crawlers like Googlebot and Bingbot.

Bounce Rate

The percentage of site visitors who exit a webpage without clicking through to another webpage. The number of one-page sessions divided by all sessions. Bounce rate occurs when site visitors leave after visiting the initial page they entered upon. Many SEOs believe a high bounce rate is a negative ranking factor, although several Google representatives have said bounce rate is a noisy and spammable signal for ranking purposes.

Branded Keyword

Keywords and search phrases associated with a specific brand, product, or service. For instance, Lockedown SEO is a branded keyword for our company.


Internal navigational links that help website visitors understand their location within a website architecture. Breadcrumb navigation links are usually smaller than the main navigation, and are often placed near the top of the main content of a page. A characteristic of breadcrumb navigation is to show links to pages that are above the current page in the URL hierarchy, with the home page being the topmost page in the breadcrumb navigation.

Bridge Page

A page specifically developed to direct users elsewhere. Often, it’s used in affiliate marketing to generate traffic to affiliate sites.

Broken Link

Any link that results in a 404 error when clicked. A link to a resource that does not exist at the linked URL. Broken links can be external or internal. The main causes for broken links are: removal of a web page or document without a URL redirect, a web page that is temporarily offline, or the destination URL is changed without a redirect being implemented.



A storage location for temporary data that helps apps, websites, and web pages load faster in browsers. Usually a directory on a web hosting server.

Cached Page

The snapshot of a page as seen when it was last crawled by search engines.

Canonical Tag

A canonical tag (rel = “canonical”) refers to a snippet of HTML code in a web page that defines the main, or canonical, version of a URL. Canonical tags are used for pages that are duplicates, near-duplicates, or homogeneous versions of existing pages. Using canonical tags to define canonical pages is useful for telling Google and other search engines which version of a page is the preferred one to index.

Canonical URL

When there are multiple URLs with similar content, an HTML code element specifies the most preferred website URL. This HTML code element is known as a Canonical URL.


Abbreviation for country-code top-level domain. Used to define the domain for a specific country. (Examples: for United Kingdom, .au for Australia, .fr for France, .za for South Africa, .ke for Kenya, .br for Brazil.


The online mention of a brand name, address, phone, and website (NAPW citations). Citations are found in online directories, local listings, lead generation sites, social networks, niche community profiles, etc. NAPW citations are thought to have influence in local SEO by most SEO experts. In the past, these citations were believed to have major influence on rankings in Google Maps, though this has believed to have diminished slightly in recent years.

Click Bait

Manipulative content designed to entice users to click, by overpromising, or using misleading headlines. In most cases, clickbait aims to generate advertising revenue.

Click Depth

Click depth is the distance (in clicks) it take to get from a home page or landing page to a destination page on a website. Pages nearer to the home page in the hierarchy were traditionally thought to have higher priority in crawling, indexing, and ranking by many SEO consultants.

For indexing purposes, click depth is important, as the less number of clicks a crawler needs to travel to find a page, the more likely it will be crawled and indexed. Click depth can also play a role in link equity in regards to internal links.


A decpetive practice where different inforamtion or URLs are shown to people and search engines. Cloaking is a violation of Google Webmaster guidelines.

Cloud, aka The Cloud

Like the hard drive on your computer, but millions of times bigger. We like to talk about “the cloud” like it’s a singular thing, but really, there are several clouds. Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Dropbox, and dozens of other players each have their own cloud.

“The Cloud” is essentially someone else’s really big hard drive.


The frequency at which two websites or webpages are mentioned by third-party websites even when the two don’t share links or reference each other. Helps search engines establish subject homogeneity.

Code-to-Text Ratio

The amount of text visible on a page compared to the quantity of code used to build the page. While a higher code-to-text ratio is perceived as a better user experience, it’s not a ranking factor.

Comment Spam

Comments left on websites for the sole purpose of obtaining a low-value link. These are often promotional, poorly written, off-topic, or links to questionable topics. Can be written by spambots or humans.


Competitors for either sales, SEO rankings, or both. Direct competitors sell the same products or services that you sell. SEO competitors attempt to rank for the same keywords you are targeting, and may or may not sell similar products to your company.

Computer Generated Content (CGC)

Content generated from software, purportedly at par with human capacity.

Content (aka Web Content)

Text, images, video, audio, or any other information that can be consumed and interpreted. The content of books are words and illustrations. The content of YouTube is videos and comments. The content of a podcast is the audio and show notes. Most websites contain a content mix of text and images, some also have video and audio.

Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A global server network that eases access to any website.

Content Hub

Correlated collection of content about a certain topic.

Content is King

A phrase made popular by SEO practitioners. It underlines the value of content to acquire success in digital marketing, SEO, or online business. The oft-repeated phrase dates back to a Bill Gates essay, “Content is King“, published January 3, 1996.

Content Management System (CMS)

A web-based application that enables people to create, upload and monitor digital assets. Examples: WordPress, Drupal, Kentico, Microsoft SharePoint, Sitecore, Shopify, Joomla.


It’s when a user completes the desired action on a website. For example, on an e-commerce site, when a site visitor makes a purchase, or on a marketing site when a user fills out a form.

Conversion Rate

The percentage rate at which website visitors complete the desired action. It’s calculated by dividing total conversions by traffic; multiplied by 100.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

The art and science of enhancing the overall number, percentage and quality of conversions taking place on a website. Some common CRO activities include improving copywriting, messaging, calls-to-action, A/B testing, and website design.


When a set of keywords show up together on high-ranking pages on a certain topic.

Core Web Vitals

A subset of Web Vitals, which Google uses in part to evaluate user experience for websites and web pages. The notable measurements which you can see recent data for on Google’s Page Speed Insights tool are: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS).

Core Update

Occurs when Google makes far-reaching updates to its ranking algorithm. While Google provides heads-up for its algorithm changes, Core Updates usually happen about three or four times a year. Many SEO consultants believe these Core Updates combine several smaller updates into the main ranking algorithm after a period of experimentation and data analysis.

Cornerstone Content

A select collection of articles that you most wish to rank for in search engines.


The extent of the relationship between two or more events in SEO. For example: high-ranking sites have more inbound links than low-ranking sites. In SEO, correlation trends closely with causation, but it does not mean that correlation of a common event causes high or low ranking.


The ability of a search engine crawler to access the content of a web page.

Crawl Budget

The quantity of page URLs search engines, such as Googlebot, allocate to crawl on a website over a given time period.

Crawl Error

When a search crawler cannot crawl a web page. The two main types: URLs that crawler bots cannot crawl, URLs that result in a status code error.

Crawler (aka Search Crawler)

An program that systematically browses the internet to collect data, which goes into an index. Crawlers discover and process pages for indexing, thereby helping search engines show current pages on search results. Googlebot and Bingbot are examples of crawlers.


The process of crawlers gathering information from all public webpages for updating, addition, and organization into a search engine’s index.

CSS (aka Cascading Style Sheets)

CSS provides the styling (visual presentation rules) for web pages and apps. Along with HTML, one of the foundational components of web development.

CTR (Click-Through Rate)

Click-Through Rate is how often people click on a given search result or ad versus how many impressions that search result or ad receive. If a search results has a 100% CTR, that means every time someone saw that search result, they clicked on it. If half the people who see the search result clicked on it, that is a 50% CTR.

Customer Journey

The potential touch points a prospect is exposed to while engaging with a brand. The overall goal of these touch points is get customer conversions.



Empirical numbers on user behavior that is used for interpretations and insights. Data is often used to determine a SEO course of action.


Think of a database like a gigantic spreadsheet (like Excel). Except that in a database, specific values can be related to other values in more complex ways.

PHP based sites, including WordPress sites, rely on a database to store and retrieve information from.

Dead-End Page

A web page that has no outgoing links to other web pages. When a human user or crawler bot arrives on the page, there’s nowhere else to go.

Deep Link

A link pointing to a page other than the homepage on a website, or a link to content within a mobile app.

Deep Link Ratio

The ratio of deep links compared to home page links. The more deep links a website has, the higher the content quality and quantity the site is likely to have.

De-Index, aka De-Listing

Happens when Google temporarily or permanently removes a website or webpage from the search index. This can happen due to thin content or very poor content quality, or as a result of an algorithmic or manual Google penalty.

Direct Traffic

Users that manually type a website URL on browsers to land on a website or through bookmark clicking. Google classifies unknown sources as direct traffic.


A record of websites, listed in familiar/related categories usually updated through human input. The inclusion of your website in a directory depends on whether it’s a subscription or a free service. From an SEO perspective, directory listing was highly relevant in the past but was degraded due to abuse and manipulation for link building.


Sometimes you find low-quality links, spammy and unwanted inbound links that you have no control over, and you cannot legitimately remove. Google’s Disavow tool enables you to instruct the search engine to ignore such links. The Disavow Tool is also there if a site has engaged in black hat link building tactics in the past.

(Note: Many people have also gone overboard in disavowing links, because SEO tools flag certain links as “toxic” or “spammy”. Google reps in recent years have advised that Google’s ranking algorithm naturally ignores the vast majority of low-quality links, so there is no need to disavow. Also, our advice is to not disavow any links unless you have tried everything else when it comes to boosting your rankings. Use the Disavow Tool only as a path of last resort. – J. Locke)

DMOZ, aka Open Directory Project

The Open Directory Project was a human curated directory which ran from June 5, 1998 to March 17, 2017. The project was an open-source initiative with oversight by Mozilla, until it was sold to AOL in 2017. DMOZ was launched when the human-curated Yahoo Directory was popular, and volunteers (with editor oversight) would admit or reject websites which applied to be listed in certain categories. Editors could also add websites on their own to categories which they managed.

DMOZ was seen for many years as a desirable link to get, because not every site that was submitted would be listed. There is currently an archive of the DMOZ directory at

Dofollow Link, aka Follow Link

A hyperlink that passes link equity, aka Follow Links. All hyperlinks are follow links by default. Links that are follow links are written in one of these two formats.

  1. <a href="" rel="follow">
  2. <a href="">

Both the above links are followed links that pass link equity. Changing the rel attribute to rel="nofollow" prevents the link from passing link equity.

Domain, aka Domain Name

A domain name is a human-readable web address, mapped to a specific site on the internet.

Domain Age

The registration date of a domain to the current moment. For example, the domain name, was first registered on July 31st, 2012.

At one time, domain age was thought to be a SEO ranking factor, and “aged domains” that were more than a year old were thought to have more trust than newly registered domains.

Since at least 2017, Google representatives have said the age of the domain is not a ranking factor.

Domain Authority

In simple terms, domain authority infers to the strength and influence of a website which accumulates over time. Factors such as links, content, and other SEO parameters contribute to the domain authority.

[Note: Some SEO tools use proprietary ratings to approximate the strength of a domain, such as Ahrefs with “Domain Rating (DR)” and Moz with “Domain Authority (DA)”. Most SEO specialists use the generic term “domain authority” to refer to the perceived strength of a domain, even though Google does not use a single internal metric to measure this domain strength. – J. Locke]

Domain History

The cumulative activities previously associated with and built into a domain. SEO practioners should check a domain to see if it has received any manual penalties, or if the domain engaged in questionable link building practices before buying a domain for use. Domain history can also refer to what type of content was on the website in the past.

DNS (aka Domain Name System)

The Domain Name System deals with pointing domain names towards IP addresses, or specific server installations.

Much like a street address is easier to remember than the latitude and longitude of your house, domain names allow websites to use a human-readable system to get to websites.

DNS Zone

A space where domain records are managed by an administrator account. Every site has a DNS zone that handles information such as what servers a domain name should point to, the email records associated with that domain, and other info.

Doorway Pages

Websites or web pages created to rank for specific, similar search queries. Doorway pages are considered bad for users because they lead to many similar pages in search results, where each destination page is essentially the same. These can also be pages that act as intermediary pages that are designed to lead users to the same page. Examples of doorway pages:

  • City or region landing pages that lack differentiation.
  • Multiple domain names or landing pages that funnel users to a single page.
  • Pages that are extremely similar that lack searchable hierarchy in your website.


A recent search engine launched in 2008. It’s famed for its insistence on user privacy and anonymity for user search. DuckDuckGo is not owned by Google or Bing. The serach engine uses its own crawler, DuckDuckBot, and partner sources, such as Bing and Yandex, to generate search results. As of August 2022, DuckDuckGo is about 2.5% of the US search engine market share.

Duplicate Content

Content available on the web in multiple places. Duplicate content is close-to-the-same content found on the same website, or other websites on the web.

Dwell Time

Time spent on a website after clicking one of the search results, before heading back to the search results. Longer dwell time is believed to have a high correlation with higher rankings by many SEO experts. Low dwell time (a few seconds) from real human traffic is believed to indicate low-quality content.

Dynamic URL

A web page bearing content that depends on the variable parameters fed into the server that executes it. The parameters can either be input or present within the URL itself.



Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. This is a concept found in the Google Quality Rater Guidelines. These human search evaluators follow guidelines to evaluate results, and this feedback is given to Google engineers who continually improve the ranking algorithm. The goal is to give positive signals to websites and pages that exhibit these qualities.

E-A-T is not a singular signal — Google representatives have been very clear on this. It is a consolidation of signals used by Google in determining the quality of the content. It aligns with Google’s efforts to curb the spread of misinformation and the promotion of low low-quality content. Search engines attempt to find authoritative content to promote in search rankings.


Online buying and selling of goods. An e-Commerce website facilitates the selling of goods and products.


Ecosia is a search engine founded on December 7, 2009. Since 2017, search results for Ecosia have been provided by Microsoft Bing. Ecosia donates 100% of their profits to reforestation, as the company is positioned as a C02 neutral. In 2018, Ecosia committed to becoming a privacy-friendly search engine. As of August 2022, Ecosia is about 0.1% of the US search engine market share, and is currently based in Berlin, Germany.

Editorial Link, aka Natural Link

A link provided to an external website without the recipient asking for or paying for link placement.

.edu Link

Most educational institutions have a top-level domain ending with .edu, and any links from such an institution are known as a .edu link. Since educational institutions have great authority for search ranking purposes, these links have traditionally been highly sought by link builders. Many tactics, such as the “scholarship link” became abused by many SEO agencies, and many of these links have subsequently become devalued.

Email Marketing, aka Email Outreach

The ongoing process of promoting your products and services to potential customers who opt-in to emails from your organization. These emails are often personalized using the name with which a user signed up. Some email marketing campaigns segment users into different sub-lists, based on their behavior, and they may see different emails based on actions they have taken in the past.

Engagement Metrics

Evaluation methods to get insights into how users interact with website pages and content. Such methods include click-through rate (CTR), bounce rate, etc.


Entities can be people, places, organizations, websites, events, groups, creative works, historical events, facts, or any other notwworthy other things. Search engines track information on entities in their respective Knowledge Graphs (Google and Bing each have Knowledge Graphs.)

Entry Page

The first page a user views when they come to your website.

Evergreen Content

Content that constantly remains relevant by offering value to the target audience.

External Link

Hyperlink from your website to a page on another website (not your own). Also known as an Outbound Link.


Faceted Navigation

A type of navigation that allows for filtering by different parameters. Often appears on e-commerce sites and other sites with multiple listings. Faceted navigation is a UX pattern that aims to help website users quickly find what they are looking for. For instance, Airbnb utilizes faceted navigation on its platform to filter houses by destination, check-in dates, and location. E-commerce sites using faceted navigation might allow filtering by price, size, color, or other options.

Featured Snippets

Featured Snippets are highlighted text, video, or text and image content at the top of the page in selected search results in Google. About 19% of search queries produce a Featured Snippet.


The ease through which website content is discoverable by users (internally) and by search engines (externally).

First Link Priority

Controversy exists on the validity of this concept. However, it implies Google and other search engines attach more prominence and importance to the first link on a web page whenever there are multiple links to the same page. Some SEOs believe the anchor text from the first link on the page is weighted more heavily than subsequent links. There is no emprical evidence to confirm this theory. However, it’s imperative to always consider relevance and user experience when undertaking internal and external linking.

Footer Link

Any link appearing at the bottom section of a website.


Refers to the age of published content on websites in certain categories.

A wide consensus exists that Google gives preference to the freshest content on some topics such as health and breaking news. The Query Deserves Freshness (QDF) is part of Google’s algorithms and determines when up-to-date information should be made more prominent in search results.

FTP (aka File Transfer Protocol)

FTP is a technology that allows someone to connect to a specific server or folder on a server, and upload, download, or edit files there. Most FTP accounts require at least three components to connect: the host (IP address or URL), user (username or email address), and address.


Gated Content

Content that users can access only after providing their contact information.


The most dominant and popular search engine founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Google marked the departure from human-edited directories and revolutionized the use of web crawlers and indexing, using hyperlink patterns, content analysis, and other complex algorithms to determine search rankings. Today, Google is the most popular serach engine in the world, and the top search engine in most countries.

Google Algorithm

A systematic and rational set of rules used by Google to rank search results for different search queries. The Google ranking algorithm is continuously updated to improve results.


The web crawler Google uses to crawl and index content for their search engine.

Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business, Google Places)

Google Business Profiles are listings on Google Maps, either with a physical location, or a service area without a physical location. These GBP listings can be claimed by the business owner, usually via a postcard with a unique code. You can add or edit information about your business on your Google Business Profile, including services offered, hours of operation, phone number, website link, business name, logo, and photos. Users can also leave reviews for your business on GBP/Google Maps and upload photos. The Google Business Profile also pulls in information from third-party sites like Yelp or the Better Business Bureau, and sometimes can automatically detect your brand social media accounts (you cannot set social accounts in GBP). This profile is also part of Google’s Knowledge Graph about your company, and the GBP is the “entity” that other third-party profiles are compared against. A Google Business Profile is a foundational part of a local SEO strategy.

Google Penalty

A fine imposed algorithmically (algorithmic peanlty) by a human reviewer (manual penalty) for a violation of the Google Search Essentials (Google Webmaster) Guidelines. It’s imperative to avoid Google penalties since they negatively affect ranking.

Google Pigeon

Arounf July 204, Google released an update to local search, later dubbed “Pigeon” by SEO publications. Pigeon updated hundreds of ranking signals in organic search and Google Maps to improve local search results. The update rewarded sites with strong organic signals, improved location searches, and downgraded attempts at keyword stuffing in business names in Google Maps. It is belived by many SEOs that smaller updates to Pigeon happen on a consistent basis to continuously improve local search results.

Google RankBrain

In 2015, Google announced RankBrain was the third most important ranking factor, behind content and links. RankBrain is a machine learning component of its ranking algorithm, and affects almost all search queries. In 2016, Google announced that RankBrain is involved search queries.

Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools)

A free tool used to monitor website performance and highlight potential issues affecting the ranking metrics.

Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

These are the appropriate, recommended best practices by Google for finding, indexing, and eventually ranking websites.

Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines

A document, updated periodically, from Google showing internal guidelines on how to manually review websites by the internal quality raters. While these guidelines aren’t a direct ranking signal, the feedback that the search quality raters give the Google engineers via search results evaluations is used to improve the ranking algorithm. The Quality Rater Guidelines mentions the concept of E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness) several times.

Google Top Heavy Update

A 2012 update released to downgrade web pages containing too many ads on top.

Google Trends

A website containing all the most recent and relevant search trends, topics, and stories. One can explore the information through data visualization.

.gov Links

Governments have Top Level Domains (TLDs), and these websites are a highly-trusted source of relevant information to the public. US government organizations have the .gov links while other countries have customized country-specific domains. Links from these sites are highly desireable for linkbuilding.

Gray Hat SEO

SEO strategies and tactics that walk an alledged “thin line” between black hat and white hat SEO practices. These tactics bend the rules on Google Sarch Essentials Guidelines.


Content or information prepared by one person but published on a different website.

GUI (aka Graphical User Interface)

A GUI is a user-friendly way to interact with software without having to use the black terminal screen. A good example of this is Windows, which is a GUI for MS-DOS, which runs PC style computers. Most every type of software has a GUI of some sort. People pronounce this acronym as “gooey” — like chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven. Mmmm…cookies.


HTML (aka HyperText Markup Language)

A markup language that is the foundation of web development. If your website were a building, then HTML would be the steel girders and frame holding it all together.



An impression is the point where a page visitor sees a search result or ad, or if an ad is loaded and displayed on a web page. In Google Search Console, an impression is counted when any URL from your site appears in search results that are viewed by a user. (This impression count does not count AdWords ads or other paid ads).

Index (aka Google Index)

The Google index is the collection of all web pages and web documents which can appear in search results. Indexed pages are first crawled (discovered) by Googlebot, which captures the page for processing. Pages are algorithmically evaluated to see if they follow Google’s webmaster guidelines. These pages can then appear in search results in response to search queries (keyword searches). Google may also index pages without access to their content (for example, if a page is blocked by a robots.txt directive), meaning a page may be indexed even if Google cannot read the information.

IP address (aka Internet Protocol address)

If your domain name is a human-readable web address, then your IP address is the hard-to-remember version of that web address.

An IP address is a series of numbers, connected by periods (IPv4) or colons (IPv6), that point towards a specific device, computer, or server in a network. Every device on Earth has an IP address, though with the number of devices connected to the web, many of these are now dynamic (temporarily assigned). Hosting servers generally use static (unchanging) IP addresses.



A nearly universal scripting language that provides behavior rules for web pages. If HTML is the structure of a website, and CSS is the visual component, JavaScript provides many of the behavior rules.

In recent years, scores of JavaScript “libraries” have begun to emerge, making web development increasingly difficult to keep up with.


Knowledge Graph

When you see company profiles on the right hand side of the search results, that is the Knowledge Graph. Google is trying to organize information about different companies, people, organizations, creative works, or entities, and the Knowledge Graph is how the search engine understands them to fit together. When you search your own company on Google, you may see certain things in your Knowledge Graph, like hours of operation, social media profiles, photos of your business from Google Maps, a location map, your logo, Google reviews, or other information that Google has found from other websites about your business.

KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)

Key Performance Indicators are the critical, or key, metrics that indicate progress towards in intended goal. KPIs provide a focus for strategic decisions, daily operations, and analytical evaluation. Management uses KPIs to set performance targets for an organization or department, showing what metrics the team should focus on attaining. Leading indicators often predict lagging success. In other words, leading indicators precede an intended result which follows afterwards. Lagging indicators shows how successful a team was at achieving results in the past.


Lorem Ipsum

Placeholder text used for graphic and web design. The classic lorum ipsum comes from a 1st Century speech by the Roman orator, Cicero, entitled De Finibus Bonorum Et Malorum. Lorem ipsum takes its name from the first words from this excerpt. In recent years, several online lorum ipsum generators have sprung up, each having a particular theme.



Essentially, data about data. Formats like, RFDa, Web Ontology Language (OWL) and Microformats are used by search engines. Dublin Core is another type of metadata used on the web. Metadata helps search engines figure out what certain things are easier.

MySQL (aka Structured Query Language)

A database language. Specifically, a relational database management system. WordPress and many other database systems use MySQL to store and retrieve values to create web pages.



The specific servers where a site and its files are stored. A domain name points at specific nameservers.



PAA (aka People Also Ask)

The People Also Ask feature is something that appears on a Google search results page for certain search queries. This does not trigger on all search queries, but tends to appear when the query is an informational question. When People Also Ask appears, it initially shows as three to four “accordion” style questions. When you click a question, a short excerpt is revealed with a link to the source page. Another thing that happen when you click to reveal an answer is more questions are loaded dynamically.

People Also Ask

PHP (aka Hypertext PreProcessor)

Yes, that abbreviation still doesn’t make sense.

PHP is a popular scripting language. But while a language like JavaScript does it’s work in the web browser (front-end scripting), PHP is a server-side (back-end) scripting language, meaning it performs it’s logic on the web server, and then gives that information to the web browser.

PHP is used by frameworks like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, as well as by large sites like Facebook.

Plugin (in general web development)

A plugin can be a file, or set of files, that are added to a website to provide specific functionality. This may refer to a JavaScript plugin, or plugins built for specific frameworks (like WordPress, ExpressionEngine, or Drupal).

Plugin (in WordPress development)

WordPress plugins generally consist of a set of files containing PHP, JavaScript, and CSS. These provide added functionality to a website. They save information to a WordPress database, and operate independently from WordPress themes (which is good) — unless they are bundled in a theme (which is bad). Many commercial themes, especially those found on theme marketplaces, bundle plugins into their themes to make them sell. Most custom built themes add plugins independently of the theme, which is a best practice for both security and adaptability.



See “Search Query“.



Request For Quote. Often used by manufacturers or industrial equipment suppliers to mean a cotact form where the customer asks for a specialized quote on a service or set of equipment.


Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). A metric that measures the effectiveness of a paid marketing campaign. ROAS is usually measured with a multiplier of revenue per dollar spent. For example: a Google AdWords campaign that earns $20,000 where the ad spend was $2,000 would have a ROAS or 10x. A formula for ROAS is (Revenue Dollars from Paid Ad Campaign / Ad Spend) = ROAS.


Return on Investment. A way of measuring how much return (or revenue) you get back from investment in a service, piece of equipment, employee, or business strategy.


SEO (aka Search Engine Optimization)

SEO is the art and science of getting a specific website or URL to rank higher in search engines when users type in a specific search. (For example, ranking high in Google, Yahoo, Bing, YouTube, Yelp, etc.)

Search Query

When you type words into a search engine to perform a search, that phrase is the search query. This may also be known as the keyword phrase, search phrase, or keyword search.

SERP (aka Search Engine Results Page)

The Search Engine Results Pages are what appear when you type a search query into Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, or another search engine. Being at the top of the first SERP (Page One of Google) is generally considered desirable. There are usually different elements on the Search Engine Results Page, especially the first page. This first results page may include several paid ads, a map of local businesses fitting the query, suggestions of what “People Also Ask”, videos, breaking news results, and company or organization profiles on the right hand side of the page (aka the Knowledge Graph).

Server (or Web Server)

In very simplified terms, a huge hard drive where your site files are stored. When someone visits your site, the server gives it the files it needs to construct a webpage. Servers usually run specific programs (like Apache, PHP, and others) in order to run your website files. Without a server on a hosting platform, people cannot visit your website.


A list of pages or files on a website. HTML sitemaps usually public-facing — built for human users to find information, and for search engines to crawl. XML sitemaps are generally not public-facing, and built primarily for the benefit of search engines.


Template (in WordPress development)

The word “template” means different things, depending on what language or framework you’re talking about. In WordPress, a template file generally means a PHP file that makes up part of a WordPress theme.

Template files in WordPress can be assigned to a specific page or set of pages. There are also rules for which template file controls the layout and information on a page, if no specific template file is specified.

Think of template files of individual pieces of logic that the page grabs in a certain order and
assembles to make each specific page.

Theme (in WordPress development)

A theme is a collection of files in a WordPress site that provides specific functionality and visual appearance. Themes can range from very basic to enterprise level complexity. Some themes are sold commercially, and have been installed millions of times. Other themes are custom, built for a specific business or use case.

TLD (aka Top Level Domain)

A Top Level Domain just means .com, .net, or country specific domains like .us,, .fr and so on. There are new Top Level Domain extensions added every so often by ICANN, the non-profit organization which is responsible for the Domain Name System.


UGC (aka User Generated Content)

Content that is created by the guests or users of the sites, not the site owners. Examples of User Generated Content are blog comments, reviews, Pinterest Pins, Tweets, Facebook Posts, Quora questions and answers, Reddit threads, Stack Overflow questions and answers, and forum threads.

URL (aka Uniform Resource Locator)

A web address for a specific web page or file. What you type into the browser to go to a specific page on the web.


Vertical Search

A specialized search engine focused primarily on a single topic or media. For instance, Amazon is a vertical search platform for online shopping; YouTube is a vertical search engine for videos; is a vertical search engine for hotel, flight, and car rental reservations.

Voice Search

A voice-enabled technology application that allows users to use search engines by using voice, usually by a microphone on a smartphone or other smart device.


The measure of prominence and ranking metrics of a website within the organic search engine results.

Virtual Assistant

Either a 1) human remote office assistant, or 2) a bot that can perform to perform tasks such as web searches by integrating natural language. This second type of virtual assistant includes Apple’s Siri and Cortana from Microsoft.


Web page

A collection of files and data that make up a specific viewable “page” on the web.


All the web pages, files, and data organized under a specific domain name.

White Hat SEO

SEO practices that follow Google’s quality guidelines.


A web framework which began in the early 1990s as blogging software, but has since expanded in complexity and popularity to power over 28% of all websites on the internet.


XML (aka Extensible Markup Language)

A markup language that is both human-readable and machine-readable. Sitemaps, various web applications and websites use XML.

XML Sitemap

A list of pages written in XML that is parsed for crawling and indexing by search crawlers like Googlebot and Bingbot.


A HTTP header which that controls indexing of a web page, and how specific aspects of the page may be indexed by search engines.



Yahoo was founded in April 1994 in Sunnyvale, California, and is the fourth biggest search engine worldwide. In the 1990s, was the leading search engine in the United States before the ascent of Google. Yahoo search was mostly human-powered early on, eventually, they licensed other search engines for results. From the early 2000s to 2004, Google provided Yahoo’s search results. From 2004 to 2009, Yahoo provided their own independent search results. Yahoo Search results have been powered by Microsoft Bing from 2009 to present day.


The most popular search engine in Russia, Yandex was launched September 23, 1997 at the Softool exhibition in Moscow. The name stands for “Yet Another iNDEXer”. Incorporated in 2000 as a standalone company by Arkady Volozh. Reincorporated in 2007 in the Netherlands. In 2007, Yandex introduced a customized search engine for Ukrainian users. Today, Yandex is the largest technology company in Russia, and has the largest share of search for any search engine based in Europe. Yandex is the fifth largest search engine worldwide, after Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and Baidu.

YMYL Pages

Abbreviation for “Your Money or Your Life” pages. These pages are about topics that can impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety. YMYL pages are graded more stringently and judiciously than normal web pages, as they have a more substantial and long-lasting aefect on people acting on the information contained therein.



The z-index property in CSS specifies the stack order of an element. The higher z-index value a HTML element has, the higher the layer will appear in a rendered web page.