Search Engine Optimization Glossary

A quick, linkable reference of the most common terms used in Search Engine Optimization.

Domain Authority (DA):

The level of legitimacy for a given website in the eyes of a search engine. Based on the quantity, quality, and diversity of inbound links. More info on Domain Authority

Domain Trust:

The measurement of a website’s trustworthiness in the eyes of a search engine. Derived from where your links are from, who your links are to and your domain registration details among other factors. Based on the concept that if you link to spammers, you’re most likely a spammer yourself. More info on Domain Trust

Inbound links to your website from a website with strong Domain Authority. More info on Authoritative Links

Search Engine Marketing (SEM):

The process of marketing a site with the goal of improving its position in the search engine results. SEM includes SEO and search advertising.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

The process of making a site and its content highly relevant for both search engines and searchers, with the goal of gaining top positioning in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant words or phrases.

Also called paid search. Advertisers bid for the chance to have their ad display when a user searches for a given keyword on a search engine. Paid search ads are displayed above and to the right of the organic search results as “Sponsored Links”. Ads are generally sold by the pay-per-click (PPC) model, where the advertiser pays only when the user clicks on the ad.

Pay Per Click (PPC):

Also called cost per click (CPC). A performance-based advertising model where the advertiser pays a fee for every click on an ad.

Click Through Rate (CTR):

The rate (expressed in a percentage) at which users click on an ad. CTR is calculated by dividing the total number of clicks by the total number of ad impressions (or views). CTR is also used as an important metric in email marketing to measure the performance of links sent within an email. More info on how to improve your CTR

Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs):

The web page searchers see after they’ve entered their query into the search box. SERPs generally consist of organic and paid search results.

Organic Search Results:

Results returned for a search query, sorted by relevance. A web page’s relevance to a search query is determined by the search engine’s ranking algorithms. These algorithms are closely guarded trade secrets,  made up of hundreds of different factors.


The Pay Per Click (PPC) advertisers that are returned for a search query. The Sponsored Search Results typically appear above and to the right of the Organic results.



A word or phrase entered into a search engine as a query to get matching or relevant web page results.

Keyword Statement:

A specific series of words or phrase entered into a search engine as a query to get matching or relevant web page results.

Meta tag:

An HTML tag placed in the HTML header of a web page, providing information that is not visible to browsers, but used in varying degrees by search engines to index a page. Common meta tags used in SEO are the title, description, and keyword meta tags.

Title Tag:

An HTML meta tag with text describing a specific web page. A web page’s title tag should contain strategic keywords for the page. Including keywords in the title tag is the most important optimization factor for a web page. The title tag should also make sense to humans, as a web page’s title tag is used for the text link to a web page in the SERPs.



Description Meta Tag:

An HTML tag with text describing a specific web page. While no longer an important SEO factor, the meta description is often used for the description of a web page in the SERPs.

Keywords Meta Tag:

An HTML tag with keywords describing a specific web page. While no longer an important SEO factor due to over abuse, the meta keywords may still be given some marginal value by Yahoo and smaller search engines. The Meta Keyword Tag is officially dead

A hyperlink to a particular web page from an outside site, bringing traffic to that web page. Backlinks are an important element that most search engine algorithms use to measure the popularity of a web page. Use a tool like Yahoo Site Explorer to determine who’s linking to you

Anchor Text:

The clickable text of a link. The anchor text defines what the link is about to the search engine, so using keywords in anchor text can help improve your ranking for those keywords to some degree.

Example: In this sentence, this blue part is the anchor text.

A measure of the quantity and quality of backlinks to a given web page. Also applied to a website overall, based on backlinks to all of a website’s pages.

PageRank (PR):

A Google patented method for measuring a web page’s link popularity, measured on a scale of 0 to 10. Google’s description of PageRank:

“PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves ‘important’ weigh more heavily and help to make other pages ‘important’.”

Check your PageRank here

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