SEO Glossary of Terms

When anyone starts to talk about Search Engine Optimisation there’s the very real risk that they’ll start using acronyms and tech speak. Sometimes it’s unintentional and occasionally it’s because they want to deliberately cause confusion and convince you of their expertise because that can speak the “lingo”.

I prefer not to do that, to use simple English and “translate” any and all of the acronyms in to easily understood English and the purpose of this page is to demystify the often secretive world of the SEO.

Algorithm (aka Algo)

The software tool developed by each search engine to calculate which page goes at Number 1 in the results, which one at the end and the order of all of the other pages in between.

Google uses more than 200 different points of reference, or Signals, in its algorithm when deciding where sites feature in the results and their Algo is constantly being amended which goes someway towards explaining why your site may move up and down the results page over time – also known as the “Google Dance”

Alt Text

When a search engine visits your website it can read the words but can’t interpret any images – and neither can a visitor with a vision impairment who is using software to convert the text to speech.

You can help them by adding Alt Text to your pictures – this is the text that sometimes pops up when you hover your mouse over an image on a website.Alt Text should be unique for every image, should briefly describe the image & include a couple of the keywords that you are optimising the page for.

Anchor Text

When you include a link in the content of your pages, the link that people click on is called the “Anchor Text”.

It used to be common for people to use “Click Here” so that it was obvious where a visitor should click. However, this does not help the search engines understand where the link will take them and so it’s far more effective to use something more descriptive.

“Visit our SEO pages to learn more about SEO” for example. Because the clickable text is in blue and underlined (the “standard colouring for hyperlinks) visitors will know where to click and the search engines will reward you with “SEO brownie points” because they’ll know what the destination page is about.

This is the Anchor Text to my page about Search Engine Optimisation, for example

Back Links

When a third party website publishes a link from their website to yours.

This can be a good thing, Google likes back-links that come from quality websites and those that are relevant to your business – a back-link is a bit like a vote and the more votes you have, the more popular your website is and the higher it’s placed in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Header Tags

Header Tags help you format page and paragraph titles by automatically applying formatting to areas of text – typically increasing font size, line spacing and adding bold text.

You might see the code represented as

which would be the Tag used for a title on a page whilst H2-H6 would be used for paragraph headings.

Proper use of H tags can help with SEO. The tag places a greater emphasis on the content of the tag and when this includes keywords there is a positive impale on SEO for that page. Note: There should only be one H1 tag but you can have numerous H2 tags

Image and File Names

At the moment, search engines aren't very good at interpreting images, it simply knows that an image is on a page by the file extension, .jpg, .gif, .png for example.

A lot of people building websites tend to name the images for convenience, home1.jpghome2.jpg for a series of images used on a home page, for example.

However, if you take the time to properly name the images it’ll help the search engines to understand the image – which could see the picture come up in the image search options and it also contributes towards your overall SEO.
keyword1-keyword2.jpg for example, noting the use of the hyphen/dash (-) to separate words.

Any other separation, a space, an underscore (_) or simply running the words together just presents the search engines with a difficult to understand alphabet soup.

If you have PDF downloads, or other files that people can access, then you should follow a similar naming convention

Key Words & Key Phrases

Key words, and Key Phrases are simply the words and phrases that people type in to the search box when they are looking for something on the internet.

Your job, or that of your SEO, is to identify these key words and phrases and ensure that they are embedded in your website in the places the search engines examine.

This is known as On-Page SEO

Keyword density

The percentage of Keywords to other words on a page.

“Experts” say that the ideal Keyword Density is around 5%, so there should be 5 key words for every 100 words on a page.

However, the danger is that content is written to achieve this and content that is written with keyword density in mind frequently reads terribly and puts off visitors to the page.

You should ignore keyword density and just write the best copy that you can that’s relevant, interesting and valuable to visitors to your site.

Meta Tags

Meta Tags, data about your website (see Meta Title, Meta Description and Meta Keyword) are sets of information that describe a website which can be read by the search engines but which never appear on a web page.

Meta Description Tags

A short precis (160 characters) that describes the page that it features on.

Each page on your website should have a unique Meta Title.

When correctly created, the search engines will feature the Meta Titles in your search results. The Meta Description is the text in black and helps “sell” the page to searchers.

Meta Keyword Tags

The Keyword Metatag is now pretty much ignored by all major search engines and this is because it was severely mis-used in the past.

However, I don’t think it should ever be left empty – just add the top 4 or 5 keywords that you have optimised each page for and leave it at that.

Meta Title

A short (60 characters) description of a web page that should feature the top 3-4 most descriptive words and which can be seen in the browser tab and which make up the top line of a website description when featured in the SERPs

Every page should have a unique Meta Title.

Page Rank

Page Rank (PR) is a system that was designed by one of Google’s founders, Sergei Page, and is named after him.

It is a score that is given to websites by Google based on the number of back-links and the importance that a site has, relative to every other site that Google is aware of. PR runs form 0 to 10, is logarithmic in nature and a small business is doing exceptionally well to get a PR of 4.

However, Google’s Page Rank is no longer available which is why a lot of people now reference the SEO MOZ Domain Authority score.

Ranking Factors

When Google examines a website it looks at around 200 “signs” or Ranking Factors and uses a complex mathematical formula, algorithm, which decides where a site is featured in the SERPs.


Search engines use software called robots to automatically hunt out web pages and links.

Robots are always hungry for more data so they endlessly trawl through the billions of interconnected web pages, videos, images and other files using links in an attempt to map and index them all.


Search Engine Optimisation – that “thing” that you do to, and with, a website to move it higher in the search results.

Technical SEO encompasses the way your website is constructed, hosting, site navigation, and site speed.

On-page SEO refers to the editing you carry our to your web pages to make them as attractive as possible to the search engines.

Off-page SEO covers everything else, back-links and social media activity being the top 2.


Search Engine Results Pages – the pages that you see after you have clicked the “Search” button on your favourite search engine


Some people call the Robot a Spider because it “Spiders” the internet, making it’s journey look like a spider’s web


AKA Uniform Resource Locator – your web address, which has a small impact on your SEO.

If you have a domain name with keywords separated by hyphens then you’re on your way.

However, don’t worry if you haven’t and don’t rush off and register a new name because that will mean starting from ground zero because Google rewards longevity.

What you can, and should do, though, is make sure that the URL of your web pages do include keywords separated by hyphens. A lot of Content Management Systems create page names that look like because they build pages from a database of content.

Most CMS systems also allow you to change these to more user, and SEO, friendly domains such as

These both go to the same page but one is far more user friendly than the other.

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