Gareth Goddard

SEO Glossary

If you are new to SEO and Search Marketing you might be overwhelmed or confused by certain terms you see floating around. Here is our Glossary for terms you’ll see mentioned on our site and other sites you may come across to do with search engine optimisation and social media.

Search Engine Optimisation
Search engine optimisation is the art of making sure a website is found in search engines for relevant search terms.

On Site Optimisation
On site optimisation covers dealing with code issues, page speeds, user experience on the site as well as copy and text on the website, the meta tags, redirections and so on.

Off site optimisation
Off site optimisation covers anything done away from the site, this includes linkbuilding, social media, guest articles and posts on other sites and so on.

These include the title tags, descriptions, canonical tags and so on. Some of these tags are not specifically for users but are used to guide search engines on how to deal with the page or which data to use when creating listings in search engines.

Anchor Text
Anchor text is the clickable link text of a link. Usually you want to make this a keyword you are targeting or your brand name rather than “click here” or “more information”.

A backlink is a link from another website to your own website.

Reciprocal Link
A recipricol link is where you link to a website that is linking to you. These are fine in moderation.

Site wide link
A side wide link is a link that appears on every page of a site. These are fine in moderation but contextual editorial links are better.

the nofollow tag is something you can add to a link to show search engines you don’t want to pass your authority on to, this might be because you don’t trust that link or website. This can be used when linking to bad website you want to point out, or for comment links where you don’t automatically trust every external link. If you are accepting payment for a post, according to Google’s guidelines you should use the nofollow tag.

Google Dance
When new sites launch, their position can jump around between pages for a few months while Google decides where they should rank and while your site finds its way in to all the various data centers. This is sometimes refered to as the Google dance.

A conversion is when a visitor completes an action on your website. This can vary depending on what action you want your user to take. For some sites this will be a sale, for others it will be a phonecall or enquiry.

CRO/Conversion rate optimisation
Conversion rate optimisation is a focus on optimising each visitor for a conversion. This can be done in various ways depending on the type of site. It might include split testing different copy on a sale page, moving contact forms or changing website layout, changing your product range and so on with the aim of getting a higher rate of visitors to your site to “convert” or take a certain action.

Google Panda Updates
The Google panda updates are manual algortym changes that are rolled out every month or so with the aim being to knock out link farms and other spammy or low quality sites.

Matt Cutts
You may see Matt Cutts  referred to on various sites. He is the head of Googles web spam team and is a public contact point for many SEO issues. Often he will do videos or blog posts answering SEO questions or giving Google’s official position on certain techniques.
His blog can be found at http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/

Page Rank/PR
Page rank is Google’s scale of page popularity. In its simplest form it represents the amount of sites linking to a domain or page. The amount of authority given to pages is based in part, on the quality of the sites that link to that page. Higher page rank sites generally have more trust and authority and will pass more authority on to pages being linked to. Page rank should not be the only factor when deciding if you want a link from a site, it is also worth considering relevancy, the quality of the site itself and so on. Page rank has NO effect on where you rank for search terms. Page rank 0 sites can rank for their search terms. The page rank you see in a toolbar is a snapshot of the time it was last released to the public, these are generally released every 3 months.

Social Media Marketing (SMM)
Social media marketing covers marketing carried out though social media and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Keywords and keyphrases refer to what your user types into a search engine to find your site. for example “widgets” “red widgets”. You will want your pages and site to be optimised around these keywords and phrases (without overdoing it) to make sure search engines rank you for relevant terms, and so potential customers can find you for those terms.

Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is when you put keywords and phrases into your site or page repeatedly in an unnatural way and for the sake of search engines. While its true that having terms on your site can help you to be found for them, overdoing it or doing it for the sake of search engines ranking you higher will end up getting penalised.

Search engine marketing. This covers the marketing of a site through search engines. This can include SEO, Pay per click averts, contextual advertising, or paid inclusion.

Search engine results page. These are the pages returned when you perform a search. You will see people refering to where they rank in the serps.

A citation is a mention of your business details. This can be with or without a link to your website. These usually apply to local listings sites or Google Places. Google will look at the data as a whole, eg: business name + address + phone number to count it as a citation for your business.

Personalised Results/Google search plus your world
Personalised results are when Google changes the results for you as a user, this could be based on sites you’ve clicked on before, sites you’re friends have shared, sites you’ve plus oned etc. At the bottom of the page it will tell you if your search has been personlised or changed. You can click on this and view the results without these customisations. In the case of google search plus your world there is a button at the top to view them without the “plus your world” part.

(not provided)
In your analytics reports you may see “(not provided)”. Google recently changed the way they pass on data to websites. If a user is logged in their search term will now not be passed on to you meaning you can’t see what they used to find your website. You will see (not provided) in your keywords report.

Query deserves freshness. This is Googles way of identifying if a search term would be better suited to displaying newer or “fresher” content from the web. For example with a breaking news story users would get a better experience being shown the lastest content being added to the web. The length of freshness can vary depending on the search term.

Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is where you create a blog post or article for a website and in exchange they give you a link back to your own website. See our full post on guest blogging here.


Black hat search engine optimisation covers anything that falls outside of Google’s search guidelines, including cloaking, sneaky redirects, keyword spamming, paid links, hijacking links and so on. Blackhat work can result in sites being banned or penalised.


Whitehat search engine optimisation covers any search marketing that falls within the search guidelines set out by Google.

Alt text

This refers to a tag you can add to images to give a description of what the image is of. It is useful for search engines as they are not perfect at reading images, as well as for visually impared users or people browsing by text only.


This refers to the way a search engine processes all the data and factors it deems important to decide where a site should rank.


A 301 redirect tells search engines a page has permanently moved. This can be useful when redoing a site or moving content around. You can also use it to point to a new domain. It allows you to keep your current authority.

Bounce rate

The bounce rate is the percentage of users who leave a site without visiting more than one page.

Keyword density

This refers to the percentage of times a keyword or phrase is mentioned on a page. Opinions vary on what the best percentage is or if it is as important as it once was. However overdoing it on a page will result in a site being penalised.

Landing page

This is the page a user arrives at when they click on a link, advert or serp.

Web 2.0

Web 2.0 sites are sites where their main content comes from or is generated by the users on the site.