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SEO 101: Digital Marketing Terms & Acronyms

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SEO Terms & Acronyms Explained

Every industry has their own slang and jargon that, if heard by someone outside the industry, would make absolutely no sense. Well, SEO is no different. I mean SEO is an acronym. Whether you are new to the industry, looking to learn more about SEO, or you’ve recently started working with an SEO agency, here is a list of terms that you need to know.

SEO Glossary

301 Redirect

A 301 Redirect tells search engines that the page has permanently moved from one location (URL) to another.

Alt Tag (IMG Alt Text)

Alt Text is a word or a phrase that is inserted as an attribute in HTML to tell search engines and users what the image is.

Anchor text

Anchor text is the clickable text that appears to be highlighted in a hyperlink; the text that anchors the link to the rest of the page.


A backlink is a link from a page on website1 to a page on website2. Backlinks are known to be a ranking factor for search engines, but an important note to remember for backlinks is that the quality of backlinks is more important than the quantity of backlinks.

Black hat SEO

Black hat SEO is practicing SEO against search engine guidelines. Black hat SEO tactics typically don’t help searchers or search engines. These tactics also end up resulting in penalties from search engines like Google.

Canonical tag (rel canonical)

A canonical link element is an HTML element that tells search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page. Canonical tags can help prevent issues such as duplicate content.

Cloaking (page cloaking)

Cloaking is a black hat SEO technique that makes the content presented to the search engine different from that presented to the user.

CTR (click through rate)

CTR is the rate at which web users are clicking a URL from your website compared to how many times they are seeing a URL.

CTR Formula:

clicks ÷ impressions = CTR

Dofollow link

Dofollow is a descriptor of links describing that search engines crawl them. By default, all links are dofollow links unless they are modified to be nofollow links manually or are automatically changed by a website setting. Search engine’s crawlers follow dofollow links and use them as a score of quality.

Domain name

A domain name is your website’s “name.” A domain name is the address on the internet where users can access your content. When looking at https://www.seerinteractive.com, “seerinteractive.com” is the domain.

Duplicate content

Duplicate content is content that appears more than once. If the same content is appearing on two or more different URLs—that’s duplicate content.

Keyword density

Keyword density is the number of times a keyword appears on a given webpage. The number is given as a ratio or a percentage of the overall word count of the web page.

Keyword Density Formula:

([Number of times keyword is mentioned]/[total word count])x100

Keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing is not a delicious Thanksgiving side dish, rather, it is a black hat SEO technique. Keyword stuffing is when keywords are overloaded into the meta tags, content, backlink anchor text in an attempt to gain an unfair rank advantage in search engines.


Keywords are the words or phrases that searchers enter into search engines to find what they are looking for. SEO practitioners include keywords in their meta tags, page copy, and other SEO elements to signal to search engines that this content answers the search query.

Link building

Link building is the process of getting other websites to link to pages on your website. It is known that links are a ranking factor, but it is important to remember quality over quantity. Getting links from “spammy” sites is not going to help you in the long run.

Link farm

A link farm is a group of web pages that are created for one reason, to link to a target page in an attempt to improve that page’s rankings. This is another black hat SEO tactic.

Meta description

A meta description is an HTML element and a snippet of text shown in SERPs. Meta descriptions are typically around 155-160 characters, however, they can go up to about 320 characters.

Meta keywords

Meta keywords are another HTML element that explain to the search engine what the page is about. Meta keywords aren’t used very frequently anymore

Meta tags

Meta tags are HTML elements that describe a page’s content to search engines. The meta tags don’t actually appear on the page when it is loaded.

Natural links

Natural links are when another website naturally (organically, no tracking parameters, sponsorship or paid content) to content on your website. Natural links are good and can help new content.


Nofollow is a descriptor of links describing that search engines shouldn’t crawl them, or if they do crawl them, don’t associate them with my site. Search engine’s crawlers can still follow nofollow links, but they don’t use them as a score of quality.

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO is the actions taken outside of your own website in an effort to impact your rankings within SERPs. Links are an example of off-page SEO.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO is the actions taken on your own website in an effort to impact your rankings within SERPs. Meta tags and high quality, unique content are examples of on-page SEO.

Organic search

When a keyword or key phrase is entered into a search engine, organic search results appear in a list based on relevance to the query and various other factors and exclude advertisements.


[Oversimplification] PageRank is an algorithm used by Google to rank web pages in SERPs. PageRank works by counting the number of quality links to a page to determine how important, or authoritative, a page is.


A robots.txt file tells search engines crawlers which pages or files the crawler can or can not request from your website.

Search engine

A search engine is a program that is accessed on the internet that searches for and identifies items in a database (index) that correspond to the keyword or key phrase entered by the user based on various factors.


SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is internet marketing that involves promotion of websites/ web pages by increasing their visibility in search engine results through paid channels (Pay-Per-Click).


SEO (search engine optimization) is a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to improve a web page’s rankings in search engines to drive qualified traffic to the website. This is done through optimizing the website and content for various search engine ranking factors.


SERP is an acronym for Search Engines Results Page, which is the screen that appears after a user completes a search.

Search Engine Spider (Web Crawler)

A search engine spider is an internet bot that browses the internet by crawling through different URLs and storing the information for the search engine to index.

Title tag

A title tag is another HTML element. This element is used to specify the title of the web page. Title tags are displayed in SERPs.


A URL is a Uniform Resource Locator (a web address). It is a reference to a web resource’s specific location on a computer network.

White hat SEO

White hat SEO refers to SEO tactics and strategies that are compliant with search engine guidelines, terms and conditions.

XML sitemap

An XML sitemap is a file (in XML format) that lists the URLs for a website. This allows search engines to crawl and index a site’s content more easily without missing content.

Published: May 13, 2020

Source: Seer Interactive

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