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The Layman’s Glossary of SEO Terms

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can easily become a proverbial ‘rabbit hole’ that you can get lost in, trying to understand it. There are hundreds of variables that play a part in optimizing a website’s search visibility.

And if you are not performing SEO services as a full-time job, it is absolutely not worth your while to learn all of the intricacies of the SEO process.

But, every business person today seems to have some involvement in website optimization. If you are a small-business owner, sales professional or a marketing department leader, you will hear some of the following SEO terms in the course of your day. And it might help to have a basic understanding of the term and how it impacts your website’s search optimization.

We have put together the following list of the common SEO terms to help you out.

seo terms

SEO Terms

Canonical URL

An HTML code element that specifies a preferred website URL, when multiple URLs have the same or similar content, to reduce duplicate content.


Heading tags (H1-H6) separate content into sections, based on importance, with H1 being the most important and H6 being the least important. Headline tags should be used naturally and should incorporate your target keywords where relevant, as doing so may provide a small SEO benefit.

Head Term

A popular keyword with high search volume that is usually difficult to rank for. Also known as: Head Keyword, Short-Tail

JavaScript (JS)

A programming language that makes it possible to dynamically insert content, links, meta data, or other elements, on websites. JavaScript can potentially make it difficult for search engine bots to crawl and index webpages and increase the time it takes for webpage to load for users.


The word, words, or phrase that an SEO professional or marketer targets for the purpose of matching and ranking for what users are searching for. The words used on webpages can help search engines determine which pages are the most relevant to show in organic results when a searcher enters a query. Keywords usually represent topics, ideas, or questions. Also known as: Keyphrase ]

Keyword Density

How often a word or phrase appears within the content of a webpage. At best, this unproven concept is outdated, if ever really mattered to search engines. There is no ideal percentage that will help a webpage rank better.

Keyword Research

The process of discovering any relevant topics, subjects, and terms searchers enter into search engines, as well as the volume and competition level of those terms. This practice is made possible by a variety of free and paid tools.

Keyword Stuffing

Adding irrelevant keywords, or repeating keywords beyond what is natural, to a webpage in the hopes of increasing search rankings. This spam tactic is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can result in a manual action.

Long tail Keyword

A long tail keyword is an SEO term that is more specific to a product or service that you want to be found for. For instance, you may have trouble competing for a page 1 position using a search term like ‘plumber’ which gets lot of search traffic BUT is a highly competitive term. You may be able though to get onto page 1 with a longtail keyword phrase like ‘plumber services in Duluth’ or ’emergency plumbing services’. Even though these terms don’t get as many searches as ‘plumber’, these terms get you found by a portion of your audience.

Meta Description

A tag that can be added to the “head section of an HTML document. It acts as a description of a webpage’s content. This content isn’t used in ranking algorithms, but is often displayed as the “snippet that appears in the search results. Accurate and engaging descriptions can increase organic click-through rate.

Meta Keywords

A tag that can be added to the “head” section of an HTML document. Adding a bunch of keywords here won’t help you rank – search engine algorithms have ignored this tag for ranking purposes for years due to abuse (in the form of keyword stuffing).

Meta Tags

Information that appears in the HTML source code of a webpage to describe its contents to search engines. The title tag and meta description are the most commonly used types of meta tags in SEO.


Minification is the process of minimizing code and markup in your web pages and script files. It’s one of the main methods used to reduce load times and bandwidth usage on websites

Off-Page SEO

Demand generation and brand awareness activities that take place outside of a website. In addition to link building, promotion tactics can include social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, influencer marketing, and even offline marketing channels (e.g., TV, radio, billboards).

On-Page SEO

These activities all take place within a website. In addition to publishing relevant, high-quality content, on-page SEO includes optimizing HTML code (e.g., title tags, meta tags), information architecture, website navigation, and URL structure.

Organic Search

The natural, or unpaid, listings that appear on a SERP. Organic search results, which are analyzed and ranked by algorithms, are designed to give users the most relevant result based on their query.

Orphan Page

Any webpage that is not linked to by any other pages on that website.

Outbound Link

A link that directs visitors to a page on a different website than the one they are currently on. PageRank According to Google: “PageRank is the measure of the importance of a page based on the incoming links from other pages. In simple terms, each link to a page on your site from another site adds to your site’s PageRank. Not all links are equal.” The algorithm was named after Google co-founder Larry Page.

Page Speed

The amount of time it takes for a webpage to completely load. Page speed is ranking factor.


A webpage is loaded in a browser. Paid Search Pay-per-click advertisements that appear above (and often below) the organic results on search engines


The Robots Exclusion Protocol (or Standard) is a text file, accessible at the root of a website, that tells search engine crawlers which areas of a website should be ignored. Sitemap A list of pages on a website. There are two types of sitemaps: HTML: This type of sitemap, typically organized by topics, helps site users navigate a website. XML: This type of sitemap provides crawlers with a list of webpages on a website.

If you are ready to learn more SEO terms, visit for a more comprehensive list of terms.

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