150+ Must-Know SEO Terms for WordPress Users
Have you ever had the feeling that professionals such as lawyers and stock traders hide a lot of mundane activity behind their argot, as if they’re using special language? That is at least partly true, but don’t be fooled: some of the fancy language is conducive to fast communication between clued-in professionals.
Similarly, SEO is its own profession, and, as many of the technical professions, comes with its own lingo. If you are an SEO professional, you will likely have no interest in this article. If you are a WordPress user working with SEO professionals or if you would simply like to learn more about search engine optimization, you are in the right place. We give you our glossary of 150+ must-know SEO terms for WordPress users.
Note well that some of the terms we will be discussing may have different meanings in different registers. We will be giving you definitions and explanations specific to SEO. We have also alphabetized all the entries of our handy glossary, so you can jump to any section you need using the table of contents below.
1XX status code: a class of status codes indicating a request for a page has been received by the server.
2XX status code: a class of status codes indicating a request for a page has been received and accepted.
301 redirect: a method for redirecting traffic to another page without causing broken links.
3XX status code: a class of status codes indicating a request requires further action to be taken.
4XX status code: a class of status codes indicating a request for a page has resulted in an error.
5XX status code: a class of status codes indicating a server’s failure to fulfill a request.
Algorithm: any process whereby a search engine returns results after a query.
Alt text: text describing images on web pages. Often used by automated readers.
Anchor: an element, such as text, image, or button, which carries a link to a page.
Authority: signals used by search engines to assess and rank web pages.
Backlink: a link from another website which leads to a website. Also known as inbound links. May be the result of a link building campaign.
Blog: website content published with some regularity.
Bounce rate: the relation between total visits which didn’t result in any action on a website and total visits overall. A ranking factor; a low bounce rate is better.
Broken link: a link which results in a 404 status code (page cannot be found). This may indicate that a website no longer exists or that a page’s URL or content had been removed without a redirect being implemented.
Browser: any software, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge, which allows users to access the internet.
Cache: temporary storage of web content that helps reduce loading times.
Cached page: a saved version of a web page at the time of latest crawl.
Canonical URL: a preferred website URL specified using a code element.
Click-through rate: relation between organic clicks and total impressions of any link.
Conversion: the act of a user performing a desired action on a website, such as making a purchase or subscribing to a newsletter.
Conversion rate: the relation between the number of users that have completed a desired action and the number of total users.
Crawler: see Bot.
Crawler directives: instructions from an admin to a crawler on which pages to crawl.
Crawling: a crawler’s process of operation.
CSS: Cascading Style Sheets; website code which governs the look of certain website elements.
Deindexing (sometimes de-indexing): removal from a search engine’s index. There may be a variety of reasons for deindexing.
DNS: domain name server. Used to translate domain names into IP addresses.
Domain: a website’s main address.
Domain name registrar: any legal entity which manages domain name registration.
Duplicate content: content which appears multiple times on multiple pages within the same domain.
Dwell time: the amount of time between a click on a search result and the return of a user to the results page. Short dwell times are an indicator of poor content quality and may affect a page’s rating.
E-commerce: retail and wholesale conducted online.
Engagement metrics: methods of quantifying user interaction with websites. They include the bounce rate, click-through rate, conversion rate, dwell time, time on page, and others.
Faceted navigation: user-directed sorting and filtering of URLs on a website.
Featured snippet: selected search results with content other than the link which appear at the top of a search results page and are generally aimed at answering a user’s query without their navigating away from the search results page.
Fold: the cutoff point of a page below which the content is not immediately visible, but can be scrolled to. Many ads above the fold may be detrimental to a page’s ranking.
Follow: the default state of a link. See also: nofollow.
Geographic modifiers: search terms defining a physical location, such as names of countries, cities, or streets.
Google: the most popular search engine worldwide. Often used as a verb to indicate looking up online content. Also offers a host of services dedicated to managing and analyzing online content, most notably, Google Analytics.
Google Quality Guidelines: guidelines published by Google detailing black hat practices.
Guest blogging: publication of original content on third-party platforms, usually with the quid pro quo of the platform providing a link to the guest’s other content. Also known as guest posting.
Head term: a popular keyword with a large volume of searches, difficult to rank for.
Heading: website text placed inside headings tags. Typically appears larger and bolder than normal text. A good heading structure is important for human legibility, but also SEO and website accessibility.
Hidden text: text which cannot be seen by a user being the same colour as the background, too small to be visible, or off screen. Use of hidden text is typically a black hat practice.
Homepage: typically the first, or default, page of a website.
Hreflang: geographical meta tags, HTML tags which relate to the language and geographical location of a page. May also include geographic limitations.
HTML: hypertext markup language; the programming language used to create web pages. Also refers to the main portion of the website code typically crawled by search engines, and thus important for SEO.
HTTPS: hypertext transfer protocol secure; a more secure protocol governing data transfer between a host server and a browser and a ranking factor for some search engines.
Hub page: a constantly updated page dedicated to a certain topic, containing links to other pages
Image compression: one of the methods for image optimization based on reducing loading times by making the image content of a page smaller.
Image sitemap: a sitemap containing all image URLs of a website.
Inbound link: see Backlink.
Index: a database of all the content bots collect and present as results to searches.
Indexability: the ability of a bot to parse and add a web page to an index.
Indexed pages: web pages crawled by a bot and added to an index.
Indexing: cataloguing and organization of content found through the action of bots.
Intent: the real reason for user queries, as opposed to the results they get.
Internal link: a link which points to another page on the same website.
IP address: a string of numbers unique to a website.
KPI: key performance indicator; any measure of performance.
Keyword: a word or combination of words used to help search engines rank a certain page in terms of relevance.
Keyword cannibalization: a situation whereby multiple pages from the same domain match the same search query. Keyword cannibalization may result in poor rankings for one, several, or all of the pages cannibalizing each other.
Keyword research: a process of anticipating and analyzing search engine user behaviour over various subjects and search terms in order to inform SEO. Keyword research may also constitute an important part of content planning.
Keyword stuffing: overuse of important keywords. Typically a black hat practice.
Landing page: a web page designed to convert visitors and generate leads.
Lead: a person willing to share their personal data, such as a valid email address, in exchange for something of value from a website.
Link: a connection between two websites. The number of links to a website is a factor in search rankings.
Link bait: deliberately provocative content designed to attract links from other websites.
Link building: any process whereby a website “earns” links to it from other websites, building up its authority.
Link equity: the value of inbound links to a web page.
Link exchange: an agreement between website operators to link to each others’ websites. Excessive reciprocal linking may constitute a black hat practice.
Link farming: the practice of two or more websites excesively linking to each other, sometimes automatically generating links, in order to increase page rankings. A black hat practice.
Link profile: all inbound links to a web page.
Local pack: part of local SEO practices, it represents a pack of local business listings usually appearing for searches using geographic modifiers or the “near me” parameter.
Local query: searches containing a geographic modifier or a “near me” parameter.
Long-tail keywords: longer search queries, typically containing more than three words. More specific than short-tail queries, and therefore less difficult to rank for.
Log file: a file which records user information.
Meta description: a brief description of a page’s contents in form of HTML, added manually or with a plugin, and typically displayed under the page link in the search results.
Meta tags: HTML data in a web page’s source code used to describe a web page’s content to search engines.
Metadata: data consisting of meta tags.
Metric: any measure of performance.
Mobile-first indexing: preference given to mobile pages by bots.
Natural link: see Editorial link.
Navigation: the act of a visitor moving between pages of a website. Good site navigation is essential both for the UX and for the SEO.
Navigational query: a query in which the submitter is looking for directions.
Negative SEO: any malicious practice aiming to harm a competitor’s ranking.
Niche: a specific area of interest.
Noarchive: a meta tag which instructs a search engine not to store a cached version of a page.
Nofollow: a link setting which instructs a search engine not to use it for page ranking. Nofollow links do not contribute to the target website’s ranking.
Noindex: a meta tag which instructs a search engine not to include a page in its index.
Nosnippet: a meta tag which instructs a search engine not to show a description with the link in search results.
Off-page SEO: activities undertaken outside of a website, such as social media marketing, email marketing, influencer marketing, and offline marketing, aiming to improve the website’s ranking.
On-page SEO: any kind of activity designed to draw search engine users to a website, such as content creation, HTML optimization, website navigation and URL structuring.
Organic: earned ranking or traffic, as opposed to paid advertising.
Orphan page: a page not linked to by any other page on a website.
Outbound link: see External link.
Pages per session (PPS): a metric quantifying the average number of pages viewed per user per visit of a website.
Page speed: the amount of time it takes for a page to fully load. A ranking factor.
Page view: any one time a page is loaded in a browser.
Pagination: tags which indicate that a block of content had been split into multiple pages, leading to the first page only being present in search results.
Paid search: paid advertisements on search results pages, as opposed to organic results.
Pay per click (PPC): a mode of advertising in which an advertiser is charged a certain amount each time a user clicks on an advertisement.
People Also Ask: a box featuring related searches, a feature of some search engines.
Personalization: modifications made to search results pages based on query submitter‘s characteristics, such as location, language preference, and personal search history.
PHP: hypertext preprocessor, a programming language used to create dynamic content on web pages.
Pruning: removal of poorly performing pages in order to increase website performance overall.
Purchased link: a link obtained for money or other item of value.
QDF: query deserves freshness. The action of a search engine to prefer newer pages for trending topics.
Qualified lead: a lead likely to become a paying customer.
Qualified traffic: traffic relevant to the topic of the page.
Quality link: an inbound link from a reputable source. A ranking factor.
Rank: a page‘s place in the search results.
Ranking: sorting of search results by relevance to a query.
Ranking factor: any individual factor which contributes to a page‘s rank in organic search results.
Reciprocal linking: two websites linking to each other as a result of an agreement between operators.
Redirection: the action of redirecting a user to content which had been moved.
Referral: traffic sent from one website to another.
Reinclusion: reversal of deindexing.
Rel=canonical: a tag which marks a page as original, so as to avoid keyword cannibalization.
Relevance: a quantification of connections between a query and a page‘s content.
Rendering: the process of the browser‘s parsing a website‘s code and loading a page.
Resources page: a page containing links to other websites which may be helpful to a user. Often used for link building.
Responsive design: design of a website which conforms to various screen formats and display sizes.
Rich snippet: an enhanced preview of a search result, containing more data relevant to the query than a title and description of a page.
Robots.txt: text files in the root WordPress directory which contain instructions for search engine bots.
ROI: return on investment; a measurement of SEO performance.
Schema: data used to create a rich snippet. Adding schema markup to a page will render rich results by most popular search engines.
Scraping: copying of website content in order to generate a search result. Content scraping may also constitute a black hat practice.
Scraped content: content from other websites appearing on a website, often as part of a SERP.
Scroll depth: a quantification of user‘s scrolling.
Search: see Query.
Search engine: a program used to search for information online using user-submitted queries. The functioning of search engines varies, as algorithms are proprietary.
Search engine marketing (SEM): actions aimed at increasing a website’s visibility in SERPs. Both SEO and pay per click are search engine marketing activities.
Search engine optimization: the process of optimizing a website‘s content and architecture to improve its ranking.
Search form: a field for a query and other functionalities, such as filters, used by a search engine user to submit a query.
Search history: earlier searches by a user. A factor in personalization.
Search operators: special commands by which a user refines a search. They are specific to the search engine: Google’s search operators are different from Yandex’s or Bing’s, for example.
Search traffic: visits originating from SERPs.
Search volume: the number of times a keyword is used in a search in a unit of time.
Seed keywords: primary words describing a product or service.
SERP: search engine ranking page; a page generated after a query, typically containing 10 blue links. It may also contain ads, images, videos, a local pack, maps, news, and more.
SERP features: any features of a SERP which are not page titles and descriptions.
Sitemap: a document containing a “map” of all the pages of a website which facilitates indexing.
Sitelinks: links to pages of the same website which appear below the website‘s listing of a search result.
Social media: online media in which content is created and shared by users. As it can be used to communicate links, social media promotion can be considered a part of SEO.
Spam: any method of manipulating a search engine‘s algorithm to create misleading results, or any method of user deception used to generate traffic. A black hat tactic.
Spider: see Bot.
Split testing: a side-by-side comparison of pages for performance after one or more variables are changed.
SSL: Secure Sockets Layer; a standard in information encryption.
SSL certificate: a security certificate confirming a website uses secure sockets layer technology to encrypt user data.
Status code: a response by a server to attempts at accessing website content. See section 0-9 for details.
Structured data: organized data. For example, a schema is structured data aimed at giving a search engine more information on a page.
Subdomain: a section within a domain.
Taxonomy: a system for organizing the content of a website. Taxonomies can affect navigation and SEO.
Thin content: content of little value to the visitor.
Thumbnail: a smaller version of an image.
Title: see page title.
Title tag: an HTML element which specifies the title of a page.
Time on page: the average time spent viewing a page. A ranking factor.
TLD: top-level domain; the extension of a web address such as .com, .org, .net, or others.
Traffic: visits to a website.
Traffic rank: the amount of traffic to a website in relation to other websites.
Universal search: a SERP generated from content belonging to multiple databases.
Unnatural link: a link identified by a search engine as suspicious.
URL: uniform resource locator; the address of a web page.
URL folder: a section of a URL after the TLD, separated by a slash.
URL parameter: strings added to an URL in order to track where the traffic comes from.
Usability: ease of use of a website.
User-generated content: any content created by a website‘s user.
User journey: intended or expected behaviour of a user on a website.
UTM: Urchin Tracking Module; a type of URL parameter used in digital marketing to determine the effects of a campaign.
UX: user experience; the overall satisfaction of a user with regards to a website.
Vertical search: a search focusing on a single topic, format of content, or medium.
Visibility: a website‘s rank within organic search results.
Voice search: a search using a human voice to submit a query.
Web page: a document which can be accessed using a browser.
Website: a collection of related web pages hosted together.
Webmaster guidelines: guidelines published by search engine operators for use by website creators with the aim of creating websites which perform well in searches.
Word count: total number of words appearing as part of a web page. A low word count is indicative of thin content. A ranking factor.
WordPress: the world‘s most popular content management system.
Human languages evolve, generating more and more words in an attempt to make sense of concepts emerging from new technologies. As technologies develop, our language will likely do the same, so chances are this primer of SEO terms is destined for obsolescence. That a day in real life is like a year online is an exaggeration of the internet‘s power to speed up exchange of information, though. We are confident this little glossary of must-know SEO terms will clear up a lot of confusion in the minds of users without a strong technical background and make communication with SEO professionals easy in the years to come.