The Ultimate Beginners SEO Jargon Buster
By Phil Gregory. Director, Peak District SEO
So you have a website, and you’ve heard that you need SEO, But what even is SEO?
Phil Gregory of Peak District SEO has swooped in to explain all that tricky SEO terminology that you have been struggling to get your head around. Let’s start with some basic terms.
SEO stands for search engine optimisation. That’s the process of improving a website so that it shows up higher in the search results. For example, if a person searches on Google or Bing, a well-optimised page will appear closer to the top of the listings.
Serps, this stands for Search Engine Results Page. So if you hear web professionals referring to your position in the SERP, they are talking about where your website appears in the rankings.
The term ranking essentially means where a website appears in the SERP. A website that appears at the top of the list of results is considered to have the #1 Organic ranking.
(see image) is when your SEO agency works on your site with the goal of improving your rankings without using paid search methods
Paid search, is when you pay a fee to advertise your business. the most common types of paid search are Google Adwords, Bing Ads, or Facebook Ads. There are other types of online advertising.
Pay Per Click. A term applied to online advertising such as Google Adwords where you only pay when someone clicks your ad.
Local SEO is the process of ensuring that your site ranks well in your local area. The first step to doing this is to use Google My Business (GMB). This is free to set up. You can also add your listing to regional directories of which there are literally hundreds. Take advice before starting this though, if done incorrectly, it can cause issues with local SEO.
Web traffic is the flow of visitors that come to your website. It consists of two parts, Sessions and Visitors. Sessions are the number of individual visits, Visitors are people or bots who visit your site.
Direct traffic is officially described as visits that come directly to your site. For example, a user knows your brand and types your URL into the browser. Or they have your address bookmarked (in favourites) and they click a link from there.
* However, recent evidence suggests that traffic that cannot be exactly identified is attributed to being direct traffic by search engines.
Referral traffic comes to your site from other websites. For example Facebook, Twitter or any sites that link to yours.
A site audit is essentially a health check carried out by SEO professionals. There are many types of Audit, some better than others. You can pay for an audit, or there are free ones. Paid audits are usually necessary for websites experiencing major issues. Free audits are given as an overview of existing problems, they are usually simple and non-exhaustive.
Website Architecture Jargon
(HyperText Markup Language) this is simply the code that powers your website. When browsing a webpage, right click and choose “view source”. You will see the HTML which is a set of directives that tell your browser how to display the content on the page.
URL stands for (uniform resource locator). None the wiser? No, didn’t think so. Its a posh name for website address. Daniel Miessler has a more detailed explanation.
CSS or Stylesheets
Your style sheet is a text document that contains a set of instructions for web browsers on how to display the contents of a web page. CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) files are often standalone, but CSS commands can also be embedded inside any individual page.
A separate code language that enables extra capabilities on your website. Often used to power slideshows, or process forms and menu systems.
The body is the main part of your HTML code and always appears below the HEAD section. It contains all the information on your page, such as text, images, links, etc.
“Copy” is just a fancy way of saying text. If you are told your site needs more copy, you need to write more words on your web pages.
Terms Your SEO Team Will Mention
Now that we’ve covered the broad terms, let’s take a look at a longer list of words that your SEO company are likely to use when discussing issues they find on your website.
Authority is an indication defined by the search engines that your site is or isn’t trusted. The key types of SEO related Authority in 2018 are DA (Domain authority), TF – (Trust Flow) and CF (Citation Flow).
Page Rank is a metric used by Google to determine the authority of a website based on the number and quality of backlinks pointing at a website. Google used to have a browser toolbar which displayed your page rank score, but page rank is no longer a public metric. Google stopped updating it in 2013.
DA is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages.
TF is a score created by MAJESTIC predicting how trustworthy a page is based on how trustworthy sites tend to link to other trustworthy sites.
is also a score created by Majestic, to predict how influential a URL might be based on how many sites link to it.
Duplicate content is when you have very similar content on more than one page. Try not to be tempted to copy content from other websites, unless you have permission even then you should cite the source.
If you have a product that has variations, for example, Men’s, Star Wars T-shirt. And that T-shirt is available in several sizes such as small, medium, large and extra large. It is a mistake to create a different product for each variation. It isn’t 4 different products, its one product with 4 variations.
SSL Certificates are files that digitally bind an encrypted code to an organization’s details. When installed on a web server, it activates the padlock icon in your browser’s’ address bar and creates an https version of your website’s pages.This allows secure connections from a web server to a browser.
Alt attributes are often (incorrectly) called alt tags. Whenever you have an image on your page, you have the option of adding alt attributes to it. Alts are basically just an opportunity to describe the image It’s the best practice to add these for accessibility. It’s also a great way to add relevant keywords.
This term refers to how your website looks and works on a mobile phone or tablet device. If your site works well and looks good on these devices the chances are your site is mobile friendly.
If it doesn’t scale down and work well, you need to get your website redesigned.
301 / 302 Redirects
Redirects are directives given to the browser to send users who request an old web address to new web address without them realising. To ensure that users don’t land on a page that no longer exists, you need to add a 301 redirect.
For example, a user requests:
but you have moved the page to
The redirect catches the request and sends your visitor to the new page without issuing a 404 not found page.
A 404 is an error message displayed by a browser when a web address cannot be found. A few 404s don’t harm your site but too many can annoy your visitors and cost you leads and sales.
Analytics is a broad term for software that tracks visits to your website. You Must have some form of analytics installed to effectively monitor your site’s performance. The most popular web analytics is Google Analytics.
Search Console / Webmaster Tools
If you want to promote your website you should use a set of free Webmaster tools.
Google’s version is called Search Console and Bing’s is called Bing Webmaster tools.
These tools can gather information about queries to your site. Request that the site is crawled and indexed, highlight SEO shortcomings and more.
Google Tag Manager (GTM)
Tag manager is Google’s latest way to simplify the addition of tracking of code to websites.
Instead of adding lots of disparate pieces of code such as analytics, search console meta tag, bing webmaster tools meta tag, facebook pixel, twitter pixel, Pinterest meta tag. You can now just add the Google Tag manager container code to your site. GTM does the rest.
A Crawl is when SEO companies use software to check the content and performance level of your website. The software is called a ‘spider’ or bot.
Spiders / Bots
A bot is a computer program that visits websites and gathers the code behind them, to help other companies create a database of information eg: Google, Bing or SEO Software companies.
This is nothing to do with money. Search engine bots have to crawl the entire web, it’s a massive job. In simple terms, Crawl budget is how many of your pages a bot will /can crawl.
Ideally, the simpler, and most logical sites are the best crawled. Sites with thousands of pages, duplications, faceted navigation may see that not all their pages are being crawled and indexed.
For more details on this see Google Webmasters Explanation on Crawl Budget.
An index is a database of Web pages and their content.
If your SEO team say they will Index the page/site they mean they will crawl the site/page in order to add it to a search engine index. Indexed Pages are simply pages on a site which have been indexed.
There are two kinds of sitemaps.
This is just a normal webpage on your site that contains a link to all the pages included on your site. It is easy to read for both human visitors and bots.
Your XML Sitemap is built for web crawlers, or search engine bots. It provides an up to date list of all the pages on your site so that the crawlers can visit every link (or as many as they can) and add them to the search engine listings.
Robots.txt. Robots File
The robots file is a text file that lives on your server, it tells bots which pages to index and which pages to ignore.
A Blog is a piece of software that can stand alone or as a wider part of a website that serves a set of news articles. Alternatively, it can work as a knowledge base about your specific products or service.
Individual articles that reside within the structure of the blog.
Small pieces of software that are added to your existing blog to enhance or extend its capabilities
That’s quite enough jargon for one read, but there’s more, lot’s more. If you found this article useful, please don’t forget to share on Social Media.
About The Author:
Phil Gregory is the Director of ‘Peak District SEO’. A local SEO company, based in Matlock Derbyshire.
With over 19 years of SEO experience, Phil is ideally placed to provide SEO and PPC services to businesses across the UK.
Follow Phil on Twitter: @peakdistrictseo