SEO Terms: Words You Should Know

Seo terms

Alt Tag – text that describes images to search engines. WordPress used to add it automatically, now I recommend the Automatic Image Alt Attributes plugin which uses the image file name.

Anchor Text – text used in a hyperlink which should be descriptive of the page you link to (not ‘click here’). It should be short and descriptive (like Wikipedia does) but not keyword-heavy.

Autocomplete – I always start keyword research by looking at search engine’s autocomplete results which can be done in Google, YouTube, even Amazon. Most search engines have this.

Backlinks – links to your site from another site – most SEOs say it’s the largest ranking factor.

Bounce Rates – % of people who go to your site and exit after only viewing 1 page (found in Google Analytics). This and average time on page are 2 metrics for finding low quality content.

Breadcrumbs – permalink text in search engines (a common example is showing your category instead of the post title).

Categories – a way to categorize blog posts. There is no perfect number, but you should have enough content under each category (at least a few posts) so your category pages are helpful.

CDN (Content Delivery Network) – hosts your website files on multiple servers around the country/world, reducing the geographical distance between your server and visitor (this can reduce load times). Cloudflare, StackPath, and KeyCDN are three of the most popular CDNs.

Citations – online profiles/directories like Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, YellowPages. These are key in local SEO (especially in Google Maps) and can use Moz Local to improve these by listing your correct NAP, categories, 400+ word description, add photos, get reviews, etc.

Cloaking – most commonly used in affiliate links to make them look prettier ( instead of

Content Comprehensiveness – idea that content should answer all aspects of the user’s query. This is why thorough content, graphics, videos, and “length is strength” is so important in SEO (hint: use Answer The Public to see what questions people are asking about a keyword).

Content Optimization – optimizing content for keyword(s). See Backlinko’s Anatomy Of A Perfectly Optimized Page and Moz’s Visual Guide to Keyword Targeting and On-Page SEO.

Cornerstone Content – most valuable valuable content on your site. Since I write about WordPress SEO, an example is my tutorial on Yoast and WordPress speed optimization. These usually attract the most views/links/shares and often naturally rank high in search engines.

Crawl Errors – feature in Google Search Console which identifies broken pages on your site.

CTR (Click-Through Rates) – % of people who actually click on your link in search results. Improve these by writing better SEO titles (title tags), meta descriptions, and rich snippets.

Domain Authority – 0-100 scale that predicts how well a site will rank in search engines (higher is better). Use MozBar to Google any keyword and check DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority) of your competitor’s search results and try compete within your range. It was developed by Moz and is increased by improving quantity/quality of links to your site.

Duplicate Content – not good for rankings (70% unique content is good, 100% unique is best).

EIG – a company who owns about 65 different hosting companies like Bluehost, HostGator, and iPage. They’re known for acquiring hosting companies and cutting costs by downgrading hardware and streamlining support at the expense of customers. Stay away from EIG brands.

EXIF Data – info about images (shutter speed, exposure, date and time photo was taken, ISO, if a flash was used, etc) which should usually be stripped from images to make them load faster. Most image optimization plugins have the options to remove this, which you definitely should.

External Links – links to external websites other than your own. By linking to informative, trustworthy content, Google will see your content as trustworthy which improves rankings.

Featured Snippets – a quick answer to a query shown on the top of Google’s search results in the form of a paragraph, list, or table. Google will pull these from any 1st page result and decides who gets them, but answering a question in a short, precise way can improve chances.

Focus Keyword – should generally be a specific 3+ word phrase you chose in Google Autocomplete (or another keyword research tool) and Google’s search results should be analyzed to make sure you’re not competing with very strong (authority) content/websites.

Google Algorithm Change History – kept up-to-date by Moz.

Google Penalty – significant drop in rankings usually due to unnatural links, low value content, or hacked website. View Manual Actions in Google Search Console to see if you have one.

Green Lights – Yoast provides content optimization suggestions, and when you complete them, the lights in Yoast turn green. But since Yoast only detects exact keyword matches, you may find yourself writing content that looks spammy, and so these shouldn’t be taken literally.

HTML Table Of Contents – I strongly recommend adding a TOC to the beginning of lengthy articles. It helps users navigate to specific sections, encourages the ‘length is strength’ SEO strategy, and increases the chance of Google awarding you jump-to links in search results.

Indexing – whether something is indexed in search engines (control this in Yoast’s settings).

Internal Links – links to your content from another piece of content. They’re a natural way to build links to your site and improve on-page SEO, while providing helpful resources to readers.

Keyword Competition – how likely you are to rank for a keyword (usually by analyzing search results and using Mozbar). Avoid keywords where authority websites/content rank in the top results. Broad keywords are usually much more competitive than specific, long-tail keywords.

Keyword Density – how many times a keyword is used in the content. Has little effect on SEO, but I would use it once in the first few sentences, and a couple times sprinkled throughout your content. Should sound natural and try to use variations of your keyword (LSI keywords).

Keyword Research – the process of learning keywords people are searching using tools like Google and YouTube Autocomplete, Moz Keyword Explorer, and Semify Web Grader.

Keyword Penalty – a Google penalty you can get from stuffing keywords in content.

Knowledge Graph – Google’s way of displaying specific information in search results like quick answers (featured snippets), image sliders, or the block of information on the right of Google.

Link Juice – the SEO value a link has to a particular page. Not all links are equal – the more relevant/authoritative the page with a link is, the more juice is passed to the page it links to.

Local Search Ranking Factors – ranking factors correlated with Google Maps (called the local pack/finder results) and “regular” local results which Moz does a study of every 2 years.

Long-Tail Keywords – specific keywords (phrases) usually 3-7 words long. These are much less competitive and bring a very targeted visitor to your site. I always target long-tail keywords.

LSI Keywords – usually synonyms of your primary keyword which can be targeted on the same page as your primary keyword. You usually want to target 1 keyword per page unless there are LSI keywords you can also target). An example is “SEO Friendly WordPress Themes” and “SEO Optimized WordPress Themes.” LSI stands for “latent semantic indexing.” Check out LSIGraph.

Meta Description – description used in search engines (under the SEO title) primary used to describe the content. Can be customized in Yoast, and you should include your keyword here.

Meta Keywords – option in Yoast settings which has no effect on SEO and you should turn off.

NAP – business name/address/phone. Keep these consistent in citations and on your website.

Nofollow – links you request search engines not to follow or pass link juice (eg. affiliate links).

On-Page SEO – all SEO aspects of website optimization.

Off-Page SEO – all SEO aspects outside of website optimization (eg. backlinks/citations).

Open Graph – makes content (image/title/description) format properly on Facebook/Twitter. Control these in Yoast (look for the “share” link in the Yoast section when editing a page/post).

Preferred Domain – sets www or non-www in Google Search Console (should be consistent with version in WordPress under Settings > General > WordPress Address + Site Address.

Publish Dates – date an article was published. You can add these to snippets and republish old content to refresh the date, which can increase click-through rates as people like new content.

Rank Math – promising SEO plugin by MyThemeShop with a ton of built-in features like rich snippets, Google Search Console integration, multiple keywords optimization, keyword rank tracking, LSI keyword tool, local SEO options, internal link suggestions, and much more.

Redirect – forwarding a URL to a different URL. Changing URLs is not recommended since you can lose all traffic/links/shares to that page, but if you do, setup a redirect to all pages that were affected (use the “crawl errors” feature in Google Search Console to find broken pages).

Rich Snippets – adds extra information to snippets and makes them more enticing to click on. You can do this with reviews, recipes, event details, and other data types. They’re usually added using a plugin (try All In One or WP Rich Snippets), or Google Tag Manager.

Search Intent – the action intended when doing a search (transaction, navigational, informational) which can be used to determine whether 2 keywords should be targeted on the same page. If a user intends to find the same information when they Google both keywords, and search results are nearly identical, target both on the same page. If no, use separate pages.

Search Ranking Factors – ranking factors correlated with Google’s search results which Moz does a study of every 2 years. The core ranking factors generally stay the same over time and I find Moz’s post on Weighting The Clusters Of Google’s Algorithm as more visually appealing.

SEO Titles (Title Tags) – blue link in search results used to describe a page’s content. It’s best to find a balance between writing a nice title people will click, while including your keyword.

Snippet – how a piece of content appears in search engines which usually consists of your SEO title, meta description, and permalink, but can also include rich snippets, publish date, etc.

Stickiness – the art of keeping people on your site (hint: reference useful tutorials as internal links, put most useful tutorials in sidebar, add videos, and create an awesome ‘about me’ page.

Stop Words – words like (the, and, am, to, of) and other short words which are “skipped” by search engines. Yoast has an option to remove these from URLs (slugs) but I don’t recommend this since it can make them ready unnaturally, and changing a page’s URL can hurt it’s ranking.

Structured Data – enhances your site in Google – check out their Search Gallery to get ideas.

Tags – a way to organize posts which are more specific than categories (use conservatively).

Time On Page – average time a user spends on your site (metric found in Google Analytics).

Whitespark’s List Of Citations – fantastic list of top citations by city, country, and category.

WordPress Hosting Facebook Group – find unbiased reviews on hosting (10,000+ members).

WordPress Speed Up Facebook Group – group dedicated to speeding up WordPress sites which includes a great list of speed up tools and high CPU plugins to avoid (10,000+ members).

XML Sitemap – list of your site’s content which helps search engines navigate your site. Yoast generates an XML sitemap for you which should be submitted to Google + Bing + Yandex.


  1. Im Just beginning after loosing thousands trying trading and the HSE after putting a “Court Order on my Savings”so I Have thousands in savings but cant even take a Euro out as it Locked :-((((.
    So Im going to see if I can Make some extra cash this way??.

  2. Hi Tom, great article but a lot of it is beyond my comprehension…I just don’t think I’m programmed for this SEO stuff as my brain is at capacity with just running my business. Do you do site audits? We’ve experienced a drop in rankings from #2 on page 1 two years ago, to page 6 or 7 today. We switched URLs back then but can’t seem to claw our way anywhere near where we used to be despite having more content, better backlinks and seem to be doing everything else ‘right’.

    Hope you can shed some light for us…Cheers.

    • I have a hard time keeping up with this blog that I really can’t handle SEO audits. Changing URLs always imposes an unknown risk. Sometimes you bounce right back, sometimes you don’t in my experience. If the on-page SEO and redirects are setup correctly, the content is beefed up (eg. 2,000 words), and snippets will attract a good CTR, those are the main things. Send me the landing page/keyword and I can have a look.


Leave a Comment