Starting a Career in SEO: The Lingo

[Free Consultation] Are you spending money on advertising but not getting the results you want? Are you looking for more sales and leads but have no idea where or how to start? Get help from our world-class marketing experts in a free consultation call.
Click Here To Schedule Your Free Consultation Now

If you are new to the world of internet marketing, you might feel like you are surrounded by people speaking a different language. Is your SEO and SERP placement improved more by deep linking or by keyword stuffing? No wonder you're confused! Well, if you want to keep up, or brush up, check out this vocabulary list:

301 (redirect) : A code that tells search engines and browsers that the page they are looking for has been moved, and directs them to the new page. Use this whenever you change the URL of a page.

404 : A code that tells search engines and browsers that the page they are looking for is missing. Companies can (and should!) customize their 404 page so that users know that the page is missing, and gives them the opportunity to search your site for a similar page.

Affiliate marketing : A marketing technique that allows third-party representatives to market a company's products in exchange for a percentage of any resulting sales.

Anchor Text : The words that you link to. For example, if I linked to the SingleGrain blog by writing my favorite search and social blog, then the words “my favorite search and social blog” are that link's anchor text.

API : Application Program Interface. A set of rules that allow programs or websites to communicate with each other. For example, Facebook can recognize Flickr photos because of a specific API.

Bot : A nickname for the programs which are used by search engines to “read” the content of websites.

Browser : The program you use to access the internet. Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera are all popular browsers (and there are many more). Some websites work best in certain browsers, but your site shouldn't be biased against any user (or their browser). Some browsers have extensions or plugins.

Cache : The copy of a website stored by a search engine.

Cloaking : The act of displaying different content to search engines and to users. Though extreme examples of this can get a site banned from search engines, small differences are fine (for example, displaying region-specific information to different users).

CMS : Content Management System. A tool used to make creating and updating content easier, usually through an online interface.

Co-citation : In many search engine algorithms, words or links placed near each other on a page are assumed to be related to each other.

Cookie : A small data file that is created when you visit some pages, usually in order to customize your experience later. Your browser will let you delete cookies.

CSS : Cascading Style Sheets. A type of code used in making websites. CSS primarily influences how the site looks, and well-implemented CSS makes it easy to change how the whole site looks by only changing the code a little.

CTR : Click Through Rate. The percentage of people who click on a given ad. Higher is better for advertisers.

Deep linking : linking to a page that is not a site's homepage. Getting links to different parts of a website is a good thing. This is another reason blogging is powerful: very targeted blog posts can link to and be linked to by other articles or posts on the same subject.

Domain Name : The name in the site's URL. “Example” is the domain name for or You can buy domain names for as low as $5 or $10, and they are seen as being more authoritative than sites hosted at third-party services, like

Extension : (see Plugin)

External link : A link to a page on a different domain. Also known as an outbound link.

Favicon : The small (16×16 pixel) icon displayed next to the URL or page title in a browser. Another little touch that makes your site look more professional and branded.

Firewall : A tool that keeps unwanted access (including things like viruses) out of your computer.

Google bombing : Artificially inflating a page's ranking on Google by using specific keywords in the anchor text of hundreds or thousands of (usually low-quality) links.

Google dance : In the past, Google would update its caches every month or so in a “Google dance.” However, since then, Google has moved to a constant update pattern (everflux), so there are no more “Google dances.”

Google site links : When Google groups multiple results from one website into one entry on the results page.

HTML : Hyper Text Markup Language. A type of code used in making website. HTML is the most basic type of code, and is used to divide texts into paragraphs, designate titles, and make links. Some websites are created only in HTML, and other sites can be created and edited without using HTML at all, using programs like Dreamweaver or CMSs like WordPress.

HTML5 : The most modern version of HTML, which has added some new code functionality, and made other code obsolete. This code is still a work in progress, and is an update from HTML4, which was finalized in 1997.

HTTP : Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. The communications protocol which allows information to be transferred over the internet.

Hyperlink : Anything on a website that you click to go to a different page. Text hyperlinks are often blue and underlined.

Internal link : A link to a page on the same domain. Opposite of an External or Outbound Link.

IP Address : Every machine connected to the internet is assigned a specific number. You could type that number into your browser instead of the domain name and still get to the website successfully. These are usually displayed as strings of numbers separated by periods or colons (123.45.678.9 or 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334). IP addresses are usually associated roughly with a physical region, which is how local search is enabled.

JavaScript : A type of code used in making websites. Usually, JavaScript is used to make sites that have “moving parts,” like dropdown menus or buttons that press. Most JavaScript information is not indexed by search engines.

Keyword : A word or phrase which describes the contents of a webpage. The words someone might use in a search engine are the keywords for the pages found in the results (or pages aspiring to be in the results).

Keyword stuffing : An SEO tactic that is generally frowned upon, keyword stuffing involves adding a lot of extra words to your site to make them rank well in search engines. Try to avoid content that is so full of keywords that it is difficult or boring to read.

Link : (see Hyperlink)

Link bait : Something created to attract people's attention and encourage them to show their friends, creating more links back to the original content. Link bait often takes the form of blog posts, videos, and infographics.

Link farm : A site whose sole purpose is to be the home of links to other websites. Often, websites pay to be listed on a link farm site in hopes of improving their search engine ranking.

Meta Tag : A specific HTML tag that is not visible to users visiting a page, but helps search engines know what the page is about. Sometimes meta tags are used for the page description on SERPs, so they should include a few full sentences about the content of that particular page. Using keywords is encouraged, but keyword stuffing is not.

Nofollow : A descriptor that can be added to a link to prevent bots from following it and giving the page authority. Generally used in advertisements and blog comments.

Outbound link : (see External link)

PHP : PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor (recursive acronym). A type of code used in making websites. This is used to make more dynamic, interactive webpages, and can generate HTML to be read by a browser.

Ping : Sending a signal to a website and measuring how long it takes for the signal to bounce back. Generally this is done by webmasters to check if a website is still active or if it has gone offline for some reason.

Plugin : A small application that can “attach” to a browser or other program in order to provide more functionality.

POP : Post Office Protocol. A way to get email messages from one program to another. For example, POP allows users with a Gmail account to check their email using Microsoft Outlook.

PPC : Pay Per Click. This is a type of advertising online in which the advertisers pay a certain rate each time someone clicks on their ad. Though the most prominent example is Google's AdWords, PPC ads can be either text-based ads or images, like banners.

Quality Score : A variable used by major search engines to calculate the cost of PPC ads. Calculating the Quality Score of an ad includes variables like the CTR and the ad and landing page relevance. Geographical and other considerations are also included.

RSS : Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication. This is a way to publish new updates to a site (especially a blog or podcast), notify people of the new updates, and allow people to read the updates on a feed reader.

SEM : Search Engine Marketing. This is the marketing practice of reaching consumers through search engines, both using SEO techniques and PPC advertising.

SEO : Search Engine Optimization. This is the practice of making your website more available to search engine bots,

SERP : Search Engine Results Page. The pages that appear after you type your search into a search engine. The aim of most websites is to reach the top of the SERPs.

Spider : (see bot)

SSL : Secure Socket Layer. A method of encrypting the information sent over the internet to keep it private. Sites using “https” instead of “http” in the URL are using SSL.

Tag : Generally, a specific unit of code, like a “meta tag” or a “paragraph tag” (both pieces of HTML code). Social bookmarking is also occasionally called tagging.

Web Bot : (see bot)

Widget : A small, simple, and easy-to-use application or program.

Wiki : A type of website which can be read and edited by users. Wikipedia is the largest example, but wikis can also be created for private groups or on intranets.

XML : Extensible Markup Language. A text format especially good at formatting information for RSS.

Have more words you want to define? Leave a note in the comments, or check the SEO Glossary from SEOBook.

Write for us

Think you’ve got a fresh perspective that will challenge our readers to become better marketers? We’re always looking for authors who can deliver quality articles and blog posts. Thousands of your peers will read your work, and you will level up in the process.

Contribute to our blog