An SEO jargon dictionary: common terms you need to know.

Search engine optimization – or SEO – can seem like an alien concept to those unfamiliar with all the intricate ins and outs. But learning the essential terms is a good first step to mastering this important tool. Because like any specialized industry, the terminology is a unique language all on its own that comes with its own dictionary. So, whether you’re explaining the concept of SEO to a client or to your family at the dinner table, you need to talk the talk to walk the walk.

But have no fear! The following are the most commonly used SEO terms that’ll have you speaking fluent SEO in no time.

Anchor text.

Clickable words of a link or hyperlink. The anchor text helps Google and other search engines understand what’s on the other end of a link.


Basically, the measurement of how trustworthy a source is. Having good authority increases the overall visibility and ranking of a website or web page in a search engine. To determine what’s trustworthy, search engines use hundreds of factors, such as content and links. Your website must have fresh, relevant content and links pointing back to your site. Just think of links as citations in an essay – the more high-quality documents you cite in your paper, the better. Having another website link to your website acts as an endorsement in Google and other search engines’ eyes. (More on these backlinks in the next entry.)


Also known as inbound links. A backlink is a link from one web page that points to yours. These are important in determining a website’s authority, and they help the user find information on the same or related topics.


When a search engine scours the internet for content. To do this, search engines send bots to discover publicly available web pages, which then scan for newly updated content.

Heading tags.

These show text structure and guide readers through an article. They are typically labeled H1 through H6, with H1 being the most important. It’s good practice to make sure your headings are informative to the user and make the text easier to read and understand.


The practice of storing and organizing content into a database found during the crawling process. If sites aren’t indexed, they can’t be found when searching for something.

Keyword research.

Used for uncovering any relevant topics, subjects, and terms people enter in search engines, as well as the volume and competition level of those terms. This helps gain insight into what people are searching for, how many are searching for it, and how they want the information presented. There is a variety of free and paid tools you can use.

Long-tail keywords.

The formal way of referring to a phrase made up of keywords you want to rank for. They generally consist of three or more words specific to a product or page and are determined by doing keyword research to see which phrases rank and lead to higher conversions

Meta description.

Describes and summarizes what your page is about. The meta description should naturally incorporate your target keywords where relevant. This is the snippet displayed on a search engine results page (see SERP) and can increase organic click-through rate, if written properly.

Off-page SEO.

Brand awareness that takes place off your website. This can be done by designing a killer logo, regularly posting on social media, using email marketing, and even implementing traditional advertising such as TV, radio, and print.

On-page SEO.

All the elements on the website. This can be done by publishing high-quality content and optimizing HTML code, URL structure, and website navigation.

Organic search results.

What appears when you type in your search term on Google and other search engines because of relevancy to someone’s search terms. These are different from the results that appear above the organic results, which are paid for and contain the word “ad” next to them.


Stands for “search engine results page,” referring to the page you see after searching for something on Google and other search engines.

While that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to SEO terms, these will give you a strong foundation on some of the fundamentals of SEO. You’ll be impressing your coworkers and friends in no time!

Still have some burning questions? Feel free to drop us a line.