SEO Glossary: All the Definitions You Need

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If you’ve been working on brushing up your SEO skills then you might have come across a few SEO terms and jargon that you don’t quite understand.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is the process of optimizing all aspects of your website in order to boost your chances of appearing in search results for specific, target search terms.

While most website builders come with SEO tools built-in to help you optimize your site, it’s no use if you don’t know what any of those tools are for. If you’re trying to get your head around SEO and improve your SEO strategy then you need to be sure that you understand exactly what everything means. 

To help you get to grips with the jargon and technical terms, our experts have compiled this SEO glossary, full of all the SEO definitions you need to know.

Basic SEO Terminology

First of all, let’s take a look at the SEO basics you need to know – here’s some basic SEO terminology to get started.

1. Search engine

A computer program that allows users to input a query or question in order to retrieve information from the program’s index, usually made up of web pages and websites. Google, Bing, and Yahoo are all search engines.

Google search homepage
Google is the most famous and most-used search engine online.

2. Search engine results page (SERP)

The page of results that a search engine presents to users once they have made their initial query. A SERP is usually made up of around 10 different web pages and online resources.

3. Keyword

The words that users input into a search engine and therefore the words that website owners target on their website, aiming to drive the users who have searched that word or phrase to their website.

4. On-page optimization 

The process of optimizing features of a website that are within your control and on your website, such as on-page content and image alt tags, in order to appear in search results.

5. Off-page optimization 

The process of optimizing features of a website that are outside of your control and away from your website, such as backlinks and directory listings, in order to appear in search results.

6. Backlink

Backlinks are inbound links from other websites that point to your website.

7. Anchor text 

The clickable text that you use to send users to another webpage. For example, if we included a link to our SEO anchor text article, SEO anchor text is the anchor text for this link!

The different types of basic SEO
The different types of basic SEO

Technical SEO Terminology

These technical SEO terms will all come in useful as you get to grips with your SEO strategy.

1. Robots.txt 

This is a text file that will tell search engines which areas of your website to crawl and rank and which areas to ignore (e.g. there’s no point in a search engine ranking your shopping cart page in search listings so you can tell it to ignore this page when crawling your website).

2. Sitemap

A sitemap lists every single webpage on your website that you want Google (or any other search engine) to index and rank. It is literally what the name suggests, a map for your website.

3. Canonical URL

A canonical URL is the best address for a webpage. Sometimes you may have a piece of content that can be accessed in more than one way, the canonical URL tells the search engine which address it should use.

4. 301 redirect 

This is the process of permanently redirecting a web page URL to another URL.

5. 404 error

A 404 error indicates that a website’s server was unable to find and display the webpage that a user was trying to locate (either by clicking a hyperlink or typing in a URL).

Google 404 error page
Google will usually display this page when a 404 error occurs and a user tries to access a URL that doesn’t exist.

6. Crawl budget

The average number of pages a search engine bot will crawl from your website, and how quickly it will do so.

7. Page speed 

Page speed is simply how long it takes for a web page to fully load. The faster your page speeds, the better – free online tools like PageSpeed Insights can help you measure your own web page performance, and to find improvement suggestions!

Content Marketing Terminology

A key part of improving your SEO is implementing a content marketing strategy so let’s take a look at some SEO terms that relate to content marketing.

1. Content marketing 

A form of marketing based around the creation and sharing of engaging content such as articles and blog posts, videos, and podcasts. The aim of content marketing is to grow brand awareness and stimulate interest in your products and services, as opposed to solely promoting your brand.

2. Content calendar

A schedule of when and where you will publish content for your audience covering platforms such as social media, your website, and YouTube.

3. Content optimization 

The process of ensuring content is produced in a way that ensures it will reach the widest audience possible. Steps include frequent mention of your target keywords/search terms and detailed meta and title tags.

4. Evergreen content

Content that doesn’t go out of date and that can be re-shared time and time again in the future.

5. User-generated content (UGC)

User-generated content is original content themed around your brand that is created by your audience or other users and shared online, usually on social media.

6. Content curation 

Finding the best content about a given topic and sharing it with your audience in one place.

Local SEO Terminology

Next up in our SEO glossary, let’s take a look at local SEO terminology.

1. Google My Business

A free listing allowing local businesses to list their business on Google, showcasing key information such as contact details, reviews, and opening hours.

2. Local citations 

Mention of your business name, website, address, or contact information on another website online.

3. NAP consistency 

This refers to the accuracy of your name, address, and phone number when mentioned online. Every citation or mention should state all three in the same way.

4. Geo-targeting 

The process of delivering different content or advertisements to users based on their geographical location.

5. Local keyword research 

Uncovering the key search terms your local target audience are inputting into search engines. The outcome of this research will allow you to create a list of keywords to target.

Advanced SEO Terminology

And finally, let’s explore more advanced SEO terminology and what they all mean.

1. Schema markup 

Custom code that allows search engines to better understand the content of your website in order to display it correctly in search results.

2. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

An HTML framework created by Google that makes simpler and fast-loading versions of your web pages that are optimized for mobile users.

3. Rich snippets

A snippet is the title and brief description that the search engine displays in its results. A rich snippet is a more enhanced version of this that displays even more data such as a review rating.

4. Domain authority 

Domain authority (DA) is a metric used to give a domain a score based on the likelihood that it will rank well in search results.

5. Google algorithm 

The complex system, made up of various ranking factors, including quality, user experience, and relevance, that Google uses to crawl, index, and rank web pages.

6. SERP features 

SERP features are elements that appear in search results listings in addition to the traditional website results list such as featured snippets, Google My Business listings, or image and video carousels.

Google search results page for the term "what is SEO" showing a linked wbpage, FAQs, and definition
The SERP for the search term “what is seo” includes website listings, FAQs, and an information box.

SEO Glossary: Summary

SEO is a constantly-evolving process. Search engines such as Google are always introducing new priorities and new elements to their algorithms that impact what you need to be focusing on as part of your SEO strategy.

The key to SEO success, therefore, is to keep learning and to always stay on top of new algorithm and industry updates. 

Now that you’ve understood the meaning of these key SEO terms via our SEO glossary, we can bet you’re ready to take your SEO to the next stage.

Be sure to bookmark this page so you can refer back to the SEO glossary if you come across a term you’re unsure of and why not check out our guide to the five most SEO-friendly website builders next?!


SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is the process of optimizing every aspect of your website, the front-end, the back-end, and off-page, in order to rank for your target search queries. Check out our guide on How Does SEO Work for a more in-depth run down!
No! Your SEO strategy will help you to rank in all the major search engines such as Bing and Yahoo too. Google is the biggest and most-used search engine therefore most people tend to focus their SEO efforts on ranking in its results. Most search engines use a similar algorithm to Google, therefore by meeting Google’s requirements you’ll stand a good chance of ranking for others too.
There’s no set time frame for how long it will take your website to rank. Search rankings and SEO success don’t happen overnight and one of the most important aspects of SEO is consistency over time.
Written by:
Black and white headshot of Lucy Nixon smiling at the camera
I’ve been a content writer for Website Builder Expert since 2021. Through almost a decade in the digital marketing industry, I’ve built up knowledge on everything from growing ecommerce businesses to building websites. I love breaking down tricky topics into digestible and engaging content for readers. Breaking down the jargon and uncovering the best platforms, tools, and strategies, I’m a meticulous researcher who’s committed to providing our readers with tips and advice that’s tried and tested.

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