SEO jargon-buster
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Aaron O'Dowling-Keane
18th May 2015
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At eSeller we’ve often heard of SEO being referred to as a dark art. It’s not hard to understand why. It is such an essential element to every website’s success and yet to the uninitiated it seems full of mystery, trickery and completely unfathomable terms.

Well consider them unfathomable no longer. Here is your essential guide to SEO jargon:

301 Redirect – If the URL of a page changes, you must perform a 301 redirect to ensure that any links to the old page are redirected to the new one. It helps search engines to find the correct destination in the event of a change of domain or URL.

404 Error – This is a ‘Not Found’ error message. This can happen if someone types a URL wrongly or if the page someone is looking for has been removed for some reason.

Alt text – Alternative text used to describe an image which shows up when a picture can’t be viewed and is also used by search engines.

Anchor text – This is the clickable text in a hyperlink.

Backlink – This is  link coming from an external website back to your website.

Black Hat – This the collective name for SEO techniques which are seen to be unethical or outside the realms of best practice.

Bounce rate – This is the percentage of people who are leaving a page on your site without looking at any other pages.

Canonical URL – Canon in this sense means correct therefore the canonical URL is the correct URL for a page when multiple URLs might be available.

Cloaking – the technique of showing one page to the search engine (usually filled with SEO friendly keywords) and another to the user – a black hat technique (see below).

CPC – Cost-Per-Click refers to the cost to an advertiser each time someone clicks on one of their adverts.

Crawler – This is a programme which moves through the web via links generally for the purpose of indexing (also known as spiders or bots).

Deeplinking – This is building links to pages ‘deeper’ than your homepage and gives internal pages more visibility.

Grey Hat – This is a mere bending of SEO rules and regulations rather than a complete break.

Impression – This is the number of times an ad or page has been viewed whether it was clicked on or not.

Indexed pages – The pages of your site that have been found by spiders and have been stored by the search engine

Keyword density – The number of times a keyword appears on a web page compared to the total number of words on the page. Too high a density could result in a penalty.

Link bait – Content or a feature on a site which is specifically designed to encourage people to link to it.

Link juice – This refers to search engine trust and positive SEO garnered from trustworthy links.

Long-tail key phrases – These are search phrases which are a few words long, because they are more specific they are easier to achieve a higher ranking with.

Meta description – This is the phrase that shows up in search results, it tells search engines what the page is about and it also needs to entice people to click

On-page – These are changes that you make to your site to improve your SEO – optimising your actual site.

Off-page – These are actions that you take away from your site to try and improve your SEO. (External link building etc.)

PageRank – This is a link analysis algorithm (named after Larry Page) which shows how relevant the Google search engine thinks a page is in relation to a search term.

Panda – a change to Google’s search results ranking algorithm which was released in February 2011 lowering the rank of ‘low quality’ sites.

Penguin – Algorithm update from April 2012 which decreased search engine rankings of sites seeming to be using black hat techniques.

PPC – Pay-Per-Click refers to a type of advertising where the ad agency pays the search engine when a user clicks on their ad.

Reciprocal link – Where two sites link to one another – seen as not as valuable to Google.

SERP – Search Engine Results Page – the listing of web pages returned to a user based on a search term

White Hat – Techniques which stick to SEO best practice rules

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Author: Aaron O'Dowling-Keane
Aaron O’Dowling-Keane is the Managing Producer of where she combines her powers of publishing and ecommerce to drive a programme that supports online sellers.

One comment

  1. Thanks for sharing this post. I got more valuable definitions for more important terms of SEO here.


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