Glossary of Key SEO Terms, 30+ Terms to Boost your SEO Knowledge in 2022.

Glossary of Key SEO Terms, 30+ Terms to Boost your SEO Knowledge in 2022.

Ever feel lost when trying to navigate the SEO and SEM landscape?

Worry no more, here’s our glossary of Key SEO Terms.

Advertisers (Display Advertising)

What are Display Advertising Advertisers?

Within the Display Advertising ecosystem, Advertisers are the businesses and individuals which use the Google Display Network (Google AdSense), to distribute and display their adverts across a network of 3rd party websites. Advertisers pay Google (or other Display Advertising Networks), to place their adverts in front of potential customers at various locations across the web.

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Authority Score

What is Authority Score?

Authority Score is a proprietary SEO metric of the Semrush platform. The Authority Score is used to benchmark and rate how authoritative a website is. This is comprised of a few factors, including how much Google (and other Search Engines) trust the website, and how strong the backlink profile it to the website. Other SEO analytics tools have similar proprietary metrics, which may be called things like “Domain Authority” (DA), or “Domain Score”.

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What are Website Backlinks?

Backlinks are links from one website, pointing to another. They can also be called Inbound Links, or External Links, depending on the context.

To Search Engines (such as Bing or Google), Backlinks are a sign of trust and indicators of quality content, since one website is effectively ‘recommending’ your content if they provide a Backlink back to you.

Websites and individual pages which have more Backlinks (and a valuable Backlink Profile), can rank higher in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

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Backlink Anchor Text

What is Backlink Anchor Text?

Backlinks typically come in 4 formats – text, images, form, and frame links, however the Text link type is by far the most common.

When it comes to text based backlinks, the actual clickable text which is shown to the user is of value to your SEO efforts. The text chosen is called the Anchor Text.

Historically, simple text based links might have had Anchor Text such as “Click Here” or “Read More”, but it’s actually more valuable (to both the user and to Search Engines) if the Anchor Text is relevant and gives an indication as to the destination content and what can be expected.

You can optimize your Anchor Text, and have it include relevant keywords or terms, but you need to also be careful not to over-optimize. Keyword stuffing of Anchor Text is something which is well monitored by Google and other Search Engines.

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Crawler Bot

What is a Crawler Bot?

A Crawler Bot is an automated programme which traverses the world wide web to discover new pages and parse (analyse) the page content. The data which is collected by a Crawler Bot is then fed back into Search Engine algorithms, which ultimately determines if and where your content should rank and show up in SERP pages for given keywords.

The metaphor of a spider crawling across the page is used to describe the activity of the automated programme, and it get’s the ‘Bot’ part of the name, because it is automated (i.e. it is a Robot for all intents and purposes).

Each Search Engine has it’s own Crawler Bot (or suite of Crawler Bots), and for Google, you’ll often hear about ‘GoogleBot’ which is Google’s own Crawler Bot.

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Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

What is Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)?

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is one of the 3 Google Core Web Vitals.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures the visual stability of your webpages. It is basically a measure of how much the content and layout of your page jumps and moves around, as the page loads. If you’ve ever opened up a new webpage and seen blocks of text jump down the page to make way for whitespace and then images or video which loads and takes up space later on – this is layout shift.

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Display Advertising

What is Display Advertising?

Display Advertising is a well established form of paid online advertising, which typically uses a display advertising network such as Google AdSense, to place adverts on various websites across the web. Display Adverts typically comprise text and images, and / or video.

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Domain Name

What is a Website Domain Name?

Your Domain Name is your website name (also sometimes referred to as your URL). This is the root address of your website, and what visitors see in the search or address bar of their browser window. For example, “” is our Domain Name.

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Follow Vs. Nofollow Backlinks

What are Follow Vs. Nofollow Backlinks?

Backlinks can contain a number of different HTML attributes, including the ‘follow’ or ‘no-follow’ tags.

A plain, unmodified backlink will likely just be a ‘follow’ link, and wont have any additional HTML attribute attached.

A ‘Nofollow’ backlink has the rel=”nofollow” attribute embedded within it’s HTML code, and this is used to tell Search Engines not to pass trust (aka “PageRank” or “Link Juice”) to the destination webpage.

When first introduced, the nofollow attribute was meant as a way to stop Search Engines from counting certain links as positive signals for ranking, however this effect has diminished over time. So although a nofollow backlink technically isn’t as valuable as a follow backlink, it does still offer some value and potentially a signal of trust to Search Engines.

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Google Analytics

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free online software tool which helps businesses and individuals to track and monitor the traffic and visits which their website is receiving.

Typically Google will provide the webmaster (the owner) of a website with a snippet of Javascript code which the webmaster then adds to the HTML Headers of their website. When users then visit the website, the Javascript tracking code is triggered, and in turn it sends useful data back to Google Analytics.

This data is presented back to the webmaster within Google Analytics, and gives insight into user behaviours, website traffic volumes, and various other key metrics such as Bounce Rate, Conversion Rate and Click Thru Rate (CTR).

Many website owners rely on Google Analytics as the first port of call for measuring and quantifying the traffic which their website receives.

Google Analytics is just one of many tools though, and typically a website owner, SEO consultant, or digital agency might also use Google Search Console, Semrush, Ahrefs, and a number of other tools alongside it.

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Google Core Web Vitals

What is Google Core Web Vitals?

Core Web Vitals is an initiative and accompanying set of tools from Google, which aims to better benchmark website performance. The Core Web Vitals are a reflection of 3 signals which Google considers to be key factors to a high performing and successful website.

By testing your website against the Google Core Web Vitals, you can benchmark your current website performance against an industry standard to see just how favourably (or unfavourably) a Search Engine crawler such as GoogleBot will view your website.

Google Core Web Vitals are focussed around 3 key metrics, all of which combine to give an impression of user experience on your website.

For Google’s own latest guidance on Core Web Vitals, click here.

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Google Search Console

What is Google Search Console (GSC)?

Google Search Console is another of Google’s flagship free resources for webmasters (alongside Google Analytics). The primary difference is that Google Analytics is measuring what actually happens on a website (i.e. the traffic and visitors which arrive and interact with a website), whereas Google Search Console is concerned with how a website performs in Search Engine rankings.

Google Search Console will analyse a given website for it’s SEO performance, and quantify things like how well it ranks for certain keywords, or how much organic search traffic it acquired in the last month.

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What are Search Engine Keywords?

Keywords are words, phrases and text strings which capture the essence and context of a piece of content.

In SEO terms, Keywords are the search terms which users input into Google (or similar Search Engine) to try and find information and content which they are interested in.

Keywords are tied to and directly associated with specific content, context, industries, market niches etc., which makes them very powerful as tools to use within Search Engines and SEO.

Typically, if your website contains a lot of content on a specific subject matter or topic (let’s say cooking), then a Search Engine will expect to find a lot of cooking related Keywords within your content. If your content is good, and well liked (linked to from other websites and sources of subject knowledge), then it will rank for the related keywords, and in turn benefit from the Organic Search Traffic associated with those keyword searches.

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Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

What is Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)?

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is one of the 3 Google Core Web Vitals.

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures the loading performance of your webpages. It is basically a measure of how long a page takes to render (all key text, images, and video).

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Organic Keywords

What are Organic Keywords?

Organic Keywords are keywords which your content already ranks naturally for, without need for intervention or paid sponsorship.

For example, if you have a blog on home-made stationary and have a great blog post on making handmade Christmas cards, then you might find that your relevant webpage(s) already rank well for keywords such as “handmade Christmas card”. That’s great, that means you’ll ‘organically’ surface in SERP pages for those relevant keywords, and can win free traffic by doing so.

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Organic Search

What is Organic Search?

Organic Search is the practice of acquiring website traffic and visitors, from search results pages on Search Engines. If a user searches for a keyword or search term which your website ranks organically for, then they will be presented with links to your content and may then click through to visit your website.

These search results and the traffic arising from them, are Organic, because they occur by nature of Search Engines crawling the web and finding SEO optimized content. They are not paid for or promoted into position artificially.

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What are Paid Keywords?

Paid Keywords are keywords which are valuable to your business goals – they are being used by your target audience or customer base, but maybe your content doesn’t yet rank highly for these organically, so you will pay for your content to show up in SERP results for them.

It can take time and a lot of effort to rank organically for certain keywords. At the same time, if you know that your customer base is already using a specific keyword or search term which your content, product or service could directly serve, then you may want to deploy paid search ads to get yourself onto the SERP pages for these.

Paid Keywords are those for which you appear high up on SERP pages, but only because you are paying to be there, and not as a by-product of your organic rankings.

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What is Paid Search?

Paid Search is the practice of paying Search Engines (such as Google), to promote and place your adverts on certain results pages.

Paid Search or Sponsored Ads often appear at the top of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), and will be highlighted in a different colour, or will have a note alongside them to mark them as paid.

When the user of a Search Engine types in a search term or keyword which you are targeting and paying for, your chosen content will be presented.

Paid Search is typically charged on a basis of Impressions (how many times was your Advert shown to potential customers), or on a Click-thru basis, which is called PPC (Pay-Per-Click). In the case of PPC Paid Search, if a Search Engine user sees your advert and then clicks on it, you will be charged for that traffic acquisition.

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Publishers (Display Advertising)

What are Display Advertising Publishers?

Within the Display Advertising ecosystem, Publishers are websites which use the Google Display Network (Google AdSense), to display paid adverts on their websites. In return for this, they get paid a portion of the revenue generated by Google for the paid display adverts.

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Referring Domains

What are Referring Domains?

Referring Domains are websites which include backlinks pointing back to your own website. They ‘refer’ back to you.

Referring Domains are a key part of any website’s Backlink Profile. Not all Referring Domains are equal though, and some carry more weight and value than others, depending on their level of established trust and authority on a subject matter.

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Rich Snippets

What are Rich Snippets?

Rich Snippets are SERP Features, and the terminology may be used interchangeably between the two.

In both cases, we’re referring to the additional results and meta data which is served up on SERP pages, outside just the traditional Organic Search Results, and Paid Search Results.

A Rich Snippet or SERP Feature is any additional element on a SERP page, which adds something new, beyond the traditional text descriptions and clickable blue links.

The current list of SERP Features and Rich Snippets includes: Article, Book, Breadcrumb, Carousel, Course, Dataset, EmployerAggregateRating, Event, Fact Check, FAQ, Home Activities, How-to, Image Licence, JobPosting, Job Training (beta), Local Business (Google My Business / Google Business Profiles), Logo, Math solvers, Movie, Estimated salary, Podcast, Practice problems, Product, Q&A, Recipe, Review Snippet, Sitelinks Search box, Software App (beta), Speakable, Subscription and paywalled content, and Video.

More information on SERP Features and Rich Snippets can be found in Google’s official documentation here.

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Robots.txt File

What is a Robots.txt Text File?

The Robots.txt file is a simple text file which sits under the directory of your website (i.e. on your hosted files), and which is used by Crawler Bots to locate your Sitemap and understand which pages to potentially ignore, and which backlinks to disavow (disregard).

It’s entirely plausible for most websites to contain pages which aren’t intended to be accessible to the general public (such as a login page). So the Robots.txt file offers the chance to specify these pages as not for indexing by the crawler bots.

Similarly, you may have identified a number of inbound backlinks to your website, which are actually Toxic Backlinks, and detrimental to your Backlink Profile and SERP rankings. By adding these links and / or referring domains to the ‘dissavow’ section of your Robots.txt file, you can tell Search Engines not to count them, and to ignore them altogether.

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Search Engine (SE)

What is a Search Engine?

A Search Engine is a technology platform which maintains an online directory of data and links to other websites around the web. The Search Engine acts as an online index or directory of website addresses and related metadata, which can all be queried using a search term or keyword.

The term ‘Search Engine’ can refer to either the parent company, or the actual technology and processes which comprise the product / service being used online.

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Search Term

What is a Search Term?

A Search Term is any text string or keyword, which is entered into a Search Engine, to help a user find what they are looking for. Search Terms can be questions (such as “What is the temperature in London today?”), or can be individual keywords or groups of keywords (for example “Pizza delivery, LA”).

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What is SEM?

SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing, and is the discipline of online marketing practices which focus on acquiring organic traffic from Search Engines.

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What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and is the practice of optimising a website or webpage, so that it will be crawled, indexed and ranked favourably, by Search Engines such as Google.

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SEO Audit Report

What is an SEO Audit Report?

An SEO Audit Report, such as the ones which we provide, are an audit of your website and it’s current level of SEO implementation (Search Engine Optimization). Our SEO Audit Reports include analysis on key SEO metrics such as Domain Authority, Authority Score, Backlinks, Organic Search Traffic, Keywords, Keyword Rankings, On-Page and Technical SEO.

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What is a SERP, or what are SERP pages?

SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page, and these are the pages which Google (or any other Search Engine) presents to you, in response to you submitting a search query. The SERP pages are numbered (1-100 or more), and typically the top ranked content sits at the top, often with any paid or sponsored results just ahead of it.

It is the goal of all SEO consultants, marketers, and website owners, to get their website content to appear on the first SERP pages through good SEO practices. The preference is to be ranked in positions 1-3 on page 1 of the SERPs, but the first few SERP pages are still an early goal for those starting out.

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SERP Features

What are SERP Features?

SERP Features are featured sections of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). As Search Engines continue to mature and evolve, the addition of things like Local Pack, Google My Business, and Reviews, has become more and more prevalent. All of these are examples of SERP features.

When you browse a SERP page for a given keyword, you will now likely see SERP Features, sat alongside the more traditional sections containing Organic Search Results and Paid Search Results.

The term “SERP Features” is an unofficial label for a range of features, including People also ask, Videos, Sitelinks, and the Knowledge Panel. Press releases from Google may also interchangeably refer to these items as “search result features”, “rich results”, or “rich snippets”.

The current list of SERP Features and Rich Snippets includes: Article, Book, Breadcrumb, Carousel, Course, Dataset, EmployerAggregateRating, Event, Fact Check, FAQ, Home Activities, How-to, Image Licence, JobPosting, Job Training (beta), Local Business (Google My Business / Google Business Profiles), Logo, Math solvers, Movie, Estimated salary, Podcast, Practice problems, Product, Q&A, Recipe, Review Snippet, Sitelinks Search box, Software App (beta), Speakable, Subscription and paywalled content, and Video.

More information on SERP Features and Rich Snippets can be found in Google’s official documentation here.

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What is a Sitemap?

A Sitemap is an XML webpage which acts as a directory of all of your websites pages.

Search Engine Crawler Bots and other online applications make use of Sitemaps to guide them around your website. Your Sitemap is a means for you to clearly signpost all of the content on your site, and specify the site hierarchy and sections so that nothing gets missed.

The sitemap.xml file is usually auto-generated if you have used a website builder to create your website (such as WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, or Shopify).

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Total Blocking Time (TBT)

What is Total Blocking Time (TBT)?

Total Blocking Time (TBT) is one of the 3 Google Core Web Vitals.

Total Blocking Time (TBT) is a measure of how long it takes for your webpage to become interactive, i.e. how long before a user can take action and either click a button, or enter their input.

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Toxic Backlinks

What are Toxic Backlinks?

Not all backlinks are friendly and helpful towards your SEO goals. The wrong type of backlinks, and from the wrong referring domains, can actually be harmful to your Backlink Profile, and can have a detrimental impact on your Search Engine rankings.

These kinds of backlinks are typically called Toxic Backlinks, or unnatural backlinks.

Toxic Backlinks are those which offer very little trust signals to a Search Engine crawler bot. Often they might not seem remotely relevant to your content, or perhaps they are links which originate from low-quality, “spammy” or even malicious website domains which are on a blacklist.

Any backlinks which have been cultivated in a way as to try artificially boost Search Engine rankings (i.e. through sheer volume of backlinks, or an unnatural number of backlinks all using the same Anchor Text), will likely be picked up on and regarded as Toxic Backlinks.

Our SEO Audit Reports will identify any Toxic Backlinks as part of the backlink audit, and this is a great first step towards rectifying any issues with Toxic Backlinks.

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What is a Website URL?

A website URL is a “Uniform Resource Locator”, which is a complicated way of saying an address. The URL is the full website address of the webpage you are currently viewing, and will be shown in the search / address bar of your web browser.

Your Domain Name is a URL, however your website likely has tens or hundreds of URL’s, one for each individual web page or resource. For example, “” is one URL (it is also our Domain Name), but “” is another URL.

Website URL’s can point to both webpages, and digital resources. For example, if you click a link to download a PDF file from a website, then you might see a URL such as “”. Likewise, if you right-click on an image and open the image on a new tab, you will see the root URL for that specific image, which might be something like “”.

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Website Traffic

What is Website Traffic?

In the context of websites and SEO, your “Traffic” is the volume of inbound visits which your website is receiving for a given period. The Traffic metaphor is similar to road vehicle traffic, or high street ‘footfall’. If there is a steady and continuous stream of new visitors arriving on your site, then you are busy and have a lot of ‘Traffic’, which is generally a good thing.

For example, if your website received 2,000 visits in the last month, then your Traffic volume was 2,000. The metric can be developed and further split down into “Organic Traffic”, “Paid Traffic”, “Social Traffic” etc.

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Add more to our Glossary of Key SEO Terms

Have we missed something from our list of Key SEO Terms? Maybe you’s spotted some other SEO Terms and want to know what they mean?

Be sure to get in touch and Contact Us if you have any suggestions for additions to our Glossary of Key SEO Terms.