30 Terms Everyone Hiring An SEO Consultant Should Know

As you sit down with your new SEO consultant it starts out well, but soon he says “We’ll need to implement a good 301 redirect plan so that you don’t lose organic rankings and traffic.” Then he says something about title tags, which you’ve heard of although you’re not quite sure exactly what they are or what they do, or why it’s important to update them as your consultant is recommending, although it all sounds good. Then he starts using other jargon like “indexing,” “link equity,” and “canonicalization,” and with every word you feel your grasp on reality slipping and the need to take a nap. It’s not that you’re clueless–you understand most of what your consultant is saying, but you’re not sure what the words mean in this context, or when he uses two words together in a way you’ve never heard. You would ask what all these words and phrases mean, but you don’t want to slow him down, and you don’t want to appear ignorant. So you nod your head thoughtfully and hope that when your consultant starts sending you reports they make more sense, enough so that you can justify the benefits of all this to your management team.


If you have ever felt this way you’re completely normal. When discussing digital marketing services like SEO, PPC management, content marketing, and conversion rate optimization, experts have to use technical terms and acronyms in order to communicate effectively. Sometimes they forget that not everyone they communicate with is familiar with these terms. Here is a list of 30 of the most commonly used terms in the SEO world. Learn these, and your communication with your SEO consultant will get much easier.

  1. 301 Redirect: When moving a site or page from one location to another, a 301 redirect maintains traffic and established visibility despite a new URL. Search queries that once directed users to your old site will now focus on the new URL.
  2. Analytics: Website analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, are used to track various data about users on a website such as the number of visitors, where those visitors are coming from, and what they’re doing while on the site.
  3. Anchor Text: “This is such a simple concept but I find it hard to explain sometimes,” says Jordan Kasteler, Sr. SEO Manager at Red Door Interactive. “I think some clients get hung up on the term itself and miss the explanation.” In short, anchor text is the clickable text within a link. This text links to another document or location on the web, and search engines use the text to determine the relevancy and subject matter of the linked-to document.
  4. Indexing: Indexing refers to the processes that search engines employ to crawl your website, store a copy of the pages in its database, and serve it up to users. After examining the content and data of your site, the search engine collects, parses, and stores your page(s). Until a web page is indexed, Google effectively doesn’t know it exists.
  5. Canonicalization: Having several URLs for a single page of web content often creates discrepancies in search engines, as the engine isn’t sure of which URL to display. According to Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, “Canonicalization is the process of picking the best URL when there are several choices, and it usually refers to home pages.”
  6. CMS: Content management systems (CMS) provide the tools and applications necessary to create, edit, and publish web-based text and other multimedia options. Some popular management systems include WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.
  7. Link Equity: Link equity reflects the authority of both external and internal links forming a connection between your website and other places on the web, and spreading that authority effectively throughout the site. Some factors determining the equity of these links include page authority, domain authority, and page rank.
  8. Link Juice: Coined by Greg Boser, link juice refers to power passed to your site via external or internal links. Keep in mind that this power alludes to quality over quantity.
  9. Link Rot: When linked pages are removed or reorganized, their corresponding links may lead to “Error 404″ or “Not Found” pages. Also known as “link death,” link rot lessens your site’s stance through diminished link equity.
  10. Citation: In addition to links, your site’s visibility relies upon online references to your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP). For citations to be effective, you must be certain the NAP information on your website perfectly matches the format of the published NAP on external web pages.
  11. Session: In short, a session is defined as the interactions users make when visiting your website, typically within a given time frame. A session begins when a user arrives at your website, and the session ends at the default time limit or when the user leaves.
  12. H1 Tag: The H1 tags in your posts and pages are important indicators that communicate the content on a page to search engines. A H1 tag acts as the main headline for a page. The H1 tags also assures users they are on the appropriate page, and positive user experience stands as an essential factor of website visibility.
  13. Title Tag: Because title tags define the title of a document in an accurate and concise manner, search engines place high importance on this information when determining the content of your site and its search ranking. The title tag also appears as the text in browser tabs, headline for search engine result listings, and some social media websites.
  14. Meta Description Tag: Meta description tags include snippets of text that provide a concise explanation of a web page’s content. Search engines use meta descriptions on search engine result listings as the description for the page, and therefore, webmasters can use their meta tags as a way to advertise the content on a page and gain higher click-throughs.
  15. Long Tail: Long tail keywords are phrases consisting of three or more words targeted at searchers who are looking for something specific. For example, instead of searching for “furniture” someone might perform a long tail search like “Where to buy French provincial furniture in Brooklyn, New York.” While long tail searches are fewer in number, they are much easier to target and convert into leads or sales. Amazon.com is a master of optimizing for long tail searches.
  16. User Behavior: Phil Rozek of Local Visibility System reminds website owners to “assume Google knows everything about how searchers interact with businesses in the local search results and beyond.” By clicking on links or through user activity, users are providing information to search engines about what is trending, what products are popular, and what interests them.
  17. Heat Mapping: Heat mapping is an analysis technique that provides a visual indicator of where users click or mouseover on any given web page.
  18. A/B Testing: This term refers to the process of presenting some website visitors with one version of a page, an “A” version, and other visitors with a “B” version of the page, and then tracking behavior based on the version. With this information, webmasters can compare conversion rates, traffic, and active sessions on these two pages, and optimize pages based on test results.
  19. Traffic: Search engines measure the traffic to your site through the number of visits your site receives, how long users spend on your site, the average number of pageviews per visitor, and so forth. Direct traffic refers to users who type your URL directly into their browser, while referral traffic showcases how many users visited your website based on external links. Organic traffic relates to visitors who found your site via a search engine.
  20. Call to Action: A quality website prompts users to follow, sign up for a newsletter, or most importantly, make a purchase. Call-to-action (CTA) buttons or links drive visitors to perform a desired action.
  21. Usability: The most visited and effective websites provide users with a pleasant, easy-to-navigate, and informative experience. This experience-based impact has direct results on your search ranking, and your site’s usability translates into signals of quality content and prominent linking patterns. Simply put–websites that people like to use perform better in every relevant way.
  22. SERP: SERP is an acronym meaning Search Engine Result Page. It’s the page you see when you perform a search on a search engine. The success of your company’s SEO efforts conform to the positions your site holds in SERPs. SEO strategies aim at putting your website at the top of the first page of search engine results for any of your strategically selected keywords.
  23. Conversion: Conversion refers to the desired actions visitors make on your web pages, such as making purchases, clicking on advertisements, or subscribing to a weekly newsletter. SEO may drive the traffic to your site, but conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategies take that traffic and turn it into something useful.
  24. White Hat: Black hat SEO tactics attempt to “trick” search engines into producing results the search engine would prefer not to show. This can be risky, as JC Penney found out a few years ago. A white hat SEO strategy focuses on techniques the search engines approve of. According to Rand Fishkin, cofounder of Moz, “Usability and user experience are second order influences on search engine ranking success.” Also known as ethical SEO, white hat SEO focuses on human audiences in order to produce long-term results and conversion.
  25. Backlink: Also known as inbound or incoming links, backlinks are hyperlinks from an external website back to your site. Most search engine algorithms place significant importance on the quality, relevance, and number of websites linking to your own.
  26. Metric: A metric is any result SEO professionals consider when measuring the effectiveness of an SEO campaign. Rankings, traffic, backlinks, and conversions are all examples of SEO related metrics.
  27. Link Building: Link building is a SEO strategy to boost search rankings by acquiring backlinks. SEO experts utilize a variety of tactics, from creating links on websites to engaging in PR outreach with the goal of obtaining backlinks for their clients.
  28. Knowledge Graph: When you search for people, places, or things that Google recognizes, the SERP will display a special area, generally within a box, that includes relevant information about your search, such as images, important facts, and links to explore the subject further. The Google Knowledge Graph does not have a definitive impact on SEO, but they can increase traffic to a website and being able to manipulate the knowledge graph implies that your SEO firm is producing useful and compelling content as well as inbound links from high-quality, credible websites.
  29. Google Webmaster Tools:Google Webmaster Tools is free suite of tools from Google that allows you to check whether or not your website is showing up properly in the search engine, as well as get insights into other factors that impact your website’s performance.
  30. Content: Content on a web page includes text, images, videos, and anything else that visitors can consume. The content on a website is also the primary means by which a search engine can determine the subject matter of a website and its relevance to a particular keyword search, and this is why content is an important part of SEO.

Of course there is more to it than these terms, and if you want to learn more, check out these glossaries from SEOBook and Matthew Woodward.

Additional thanks to Geoff Kenyon, Kurtis Kildew, Jeremy Page, and Wil Reynolds for their assistance helping me identify which terms to include on this list.

What terms would you add to this list?

Joshua Steimle is the CEO of MWI, a digital marketing agency with offices in the U.S. and Hong Kong.

Article source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshsteimle/2015/04/03/30-seo-terms-everyone-hiring-an-seo-consultant-should-know/

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