SEO Training Glossary

Get a deeper understanding of SEO friendliness and other SEO-related terms in Website Magazine's newly updated SEO Glossary.


301 Redirect - Use of this command in a link will ensure that a visitor is redirected to another page without the original page losing the search engine ranking. The index in the search engine is updated. 


ALT Text - The written description attached to the image in the webpage HTML. Search engines cannot read the contents of an image, so ALT text can provide an alternative. Another name for ALT TEXT is ALT Attribute.


Anchor Text (Link Text) - Text description of the link that is visible to the visitor on a webpage. Search engines use the anchor text to determine page contents.


Author Rank - A "probability" distribution used to determine the quality of an article on the basis of the reputation of its associated author.


Bounce Rate - The percentage of website visitors that leave the website after viewing a particular webpage. The metric is a reliable measure of the quality and relevancy of content on a page.


Canonical URL - The authoritative URL that is correct for the resource (page). Multiple URLs (,, associated with the same landing page should point to the canonical URL. 


Directory - A listing of websites gathered from various sources. Directories display lists of webpages based on categories (and subcategories), and have been used in the past as a way to increase the number of inbound links pointing to a website.


Duplicate Content - Content that completely matches or is nearly identical to another block of content. Duplicate content is often unintentional (see Canonical URL) but there are times when sites recycle content in an effort to artificially generate more traffic. Search engines employ various tactics to limit duplicate content from appearing in search results including discarding duplicate pages.


Everflux - Refers to the frequent, almost daily updating of search results at Google. Everflux occurs between major updates when individual pages are updated, added or removed from the index.


Headings - Text that is placed within heading tags, such as H1, H2, H3 or H4. The size and bold type provide greater readability for website visitors. A search engine will use the text within these tags for categorizing the page.


HTML - HyperText Markup Language - A standardized markup language for managing and presenting content on a webpage. Functionality within the HTML code places of elements including videos, images and text.


Impressions - Number of times a website, or ad for a website, is displayed in a search engine for a particular keyword. The general number of impressions are available in the Webmaster Tools features of popular search engines.


Inbound Link - or Backlink - A hypertext citation (link) received from other websites on the Internet. The quality and quantity of inbound links influence a site's search engine results ranking.


Internal Link - A hypertext citation (link) on a webpage that sends the user to another page within the same website. Internal links help search engines crawl and understand the high-value areas of individual websites.


Indexed Pages - or Indexed Content - The quantity of webpages (or content) that has been stored by a search engine. A website without any indexed pages will not appear in the search results pages of popular search engines.


Keyword -  A word or phrase leveraged by Web users to locate relevant content on search engines.


Keyword Density - A dated practice of increasing relevancy in the search engines by adding to the frequency of keywords appearing on a page. Keyword density is presented as a percentage. For example, if a page contains 100 words and 10 of those are keywords, then the page is considered to have 10 percent keyword density.


Link Bait - Content created on a website with the primary intention of encouraging other websites to link to the content.


Link Building - Activity associated with creating more inbound links for a website. Search engine rankings tend to improve as more inbound links are created.


Link Bursts and Link Churn - A rapid increase (burst) or decrease (churn) in the quantity of links pointing to a website. While unsubstantiated link bursts can raise a red flag at search engines, there are methods in place which qualify the value of new incoming links, such as the quantity of traffic passed from the link source.


Metadata - Internal words that are stored in the html of webpages and are not visible to users, but are noticed in by search engine crawlers.


Meta Description - Brief, written description of fewer than 160 characters that summarizes a webpage. Intended for both users and search engines, as it is visible in a SERP, and can include keywords that affect search engine rankings.


NoFollow - NoFollow is a link attribute proposed by Google to instruct search engines not to follow a particular link. The result of which for some has resulted in a lower volume of link spam on blogs, but others argue that the practice diminishes the conversation taking place between websites.


Organic Search Results - The non-sponsored area of a SERP. The results appear in order or relevancy for a user's query. There are typically 10 results displayed.


Page Title - The HTML within a webpage that describes the contents of that page and that which is seen by the user on the search result pages.


Ranking Factor - The elements used by search engines to determine the list of results provided to the user. Examples could include the number of inbound links, title tags, metadata and content.


Referral Traffic - Website visits that result from users clicking links on other websites.


Robots.txt - A text file located within a website's root directory that provides instructions to search engines on which files to crawl and which to omit.


Search Engine - Software code designed to search for information on the Web and display it according to relevancy of a search query. Popular search engines today include Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and Baidu.


Search Engine Friendliness - The degree to which a webpage is accessible by the search engines, considering the cleanliness of the code and adherence to search engines quality guidelines related to design.


Search Engine Results Page - SERP - A webpage presented to the user by the search engine with the results matching the keyword or key phrase query.


SEM - Search Engine Marketing - A form of Internet marketing that promotes websites by increasing their visibility in search engines. Encompasses both SEO and PPC marketing.


SEO - Search Engine Optimization - The process of positively affecting the way a website appears organically in search engine results, with the intent of drawing more website visitors for a particular set of keywords.


Spider (Web Crawler, Bot) - A software program that gathers information from various websites across the Web.


Unique Visitors - Total number of unique users that have visited a webpage in a given period.


Universal Search - The practice of mashing up results from different databases to provide users with a more diverse selection of search listings (video, news, etc.).


Update: A noticeable change to the ways in which search engines behave (either how they crawl, index, evaluate or return data). Recent Google updates include Penguin and Panda. 


URL (Uniform Resource Locator) - The address system used by the Internet to locate resources such as websites. A URL includes the type of resource being accessed, the address of the server, and the location of the file.


XML Sitemap - A file that can be submitted to search engines and other crawlers to notify them of URLs to crawl on the domain.