Go-To Glossary for SEO

SEO search graphic

The SEO world is full of phrases and terms that can be difficult to understand as a beginner. The below glossary is a brief source for those looking to begin a smooth transition into improving SEO for their small businesses. The terms on our list will help you to navigate our blog more easily, as well as others.

  • 301 redirect: When a URL is no longer in use by a website or a web page is deleted, a 404 error usually pops up (“page not found”). A 301 redirect will navigate users away from the abandoned or deleted page to a new page that the web manager specifies. Having a 301 redirect could lower bounce and increase page views on content to which users are redirected.    
  • Alt text: a piece of text that may appear to some users in place of an image. Some users are online via text-only browser, so this text will help those visitors to better understand the content of your page.  
  • Anchor text: the text that holds a hyperlink to another source. Anchor text should not be vague, such as “this article” or “click here.” Anchor text needs to describe what users will find when they click on the link. Keep the linked text between one and five words.    
  • Authority: The trustworthiness, knowledge, reliability, and respect of your website. Authority is one of the key attributes of a website that Google uses to rank a site, and many metrics contribute to authority, such as external links, age of site, and popularity among searchers.   
  • Black Hat SEO: The opposite of white hat SEO, a type of SEO strategy that does not abide by best practices of guidelines established by Google and other search engine leaders. Tactics are usually unethical and can result in a website being penalized by search engines that will give the site implementing black hat SEO a poor ranking.
    Mac n' Cheese recipes on AllRecipes.com
    [Source: AllRecipes.com]
  • The Fold: The spot where a web page becomes cut off by the bottom of a screen or computer monitor. The most eye-catching, user-oriented content on a website’s homepage should be above this point to avoid a high bounce rate due to difficult navigability. On the right, you will see the fold for this All Recipes page is just below the header images. 


  • Information architecture:The organization and structure of digital content. the architecture of a website’s information strives to be findable by spiders, but also usable for users of the content which we are organizing. Bad information architecture can include unclear page titles, meta descriptions that don’t utilize keywords, and websites with poorly designed navigation.
  • Keyword:A term or phrase that is used in a web page’s title, content, meta-description, and tags that can lead to the page having a higher ranking for such a term/phrase in search. Strategically choosing keywords that are searched often or sought out by your audience is key.
  • Link building: An effort by a website manager to attract external links to one or more pages of their website. Building links is desirable because inbound links to a website can boost its page rank on Google. Link building is carried out through traditional public relations techniques and mutual linking to relevant websites. Link building helps to increase a website’s authority.    
    Meta description screen grab
    [Source: Google screen grab for search “Chicago mac n’ cheese”]
  • Meta description: The text that appears below the title and URL of a web page in a search engine. Meta descriptions usually include keywords and the terms that are being searched. Creating your own meta description to highlight key phrases is essential for building SEO. Below, you can see that the meta description for the page is “Mac and cheese is one of nearly everyone’s favorite comfort foods and here is the recognition it…”


  • Page rank: A system that determines a website’s ranking for certain keywords or phrases. Google’s PageRank algorithm scores site’s based on external links to site, relevance of content, and site authority. If your website has made it onto the first Google SERP for a certain keyword, then you’ve made it, but there is always room for improvement.
    [Source: Google screen grab for search “Chicago mac n’ cheese”]
  • Search Engine Results Page (SERP): The list of search engine results that appear when searching a specific keyword or phrase. The order of results of a Google SERP are determined based on Google PageRank (discussed above). Many times, the first one or two results is an advertisement result by AdWords, which does not necessarily appear based on PageRank. 




  • Web 2.0: Contemporary computer technologies that are Web-based (run by the internet and not PC software) and that allow users to interact with content more freely and with more ease. An example of this this is the shift from using Microsoft Excel to Google Sheets, which allows multiple people to edit and control a document remotely.  
  • White Hat SEO: In contrast to black hat SEO, a strategy for SEO that follows the ethical guidelines and best practices put forth by search engines. Playing by the rules through white hat SEO is more likely to improve your PageRank on Google.  

While this list is by no means an all-inclusive dictionary for your SEO adventures, it is a good start for a beginner. If you don’t understand some SEO jargon next time you are watching a tutorial or reading one of our blog posts, your first step should be to look it up. No SEO stone should go unturned!


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