At Applied Interactive, search engine optimization (SEO) is our primary focus. We work hard every day to help our clients generate quality traffic and actionable leads. Like many internet marketing specialties, SEO has its own unique language. Understanding these phrases and terms can help business leaders evaluate SEO agencies and campaigns more effectively.

Below, we’ve provided a compilation of frequently used and influential SEO terms with which, we believe, everyone should become familiar:

301 Redirect: refers to Google’s preferred method of automatically bringing visitors from an old URL or, infrequently, a URL with duplicate content, to the correct or current page.


ALT Tag: is a short HTML code that displays a textual description of an image that fails to display on screen. Google bots will read ALT tags and give your images better organic visibility when optimized.


Anchor Text: refers to the text that you would click on for a hyperlink. Google will look for natural link text, i.e. text that does not repeat keywords, the URL, the company name, or “click here”.


Authority: refers to how highly Google regards your website (domain authority) or a web page (page authority). A website that follows White Hat SEO practices will have a higher domain or page authority.


Black Hat SEO: refers to aggressive SEO practices which are designed to manipulate the organic rankings for short term benefits. Using Black Hat can incur severe penalties from Google.


Canonical URL: is the main content page for websites with duplicate content pages, or multiple URLs for the same page. A Canonical URL will ensure that Google points users to the correct version of the webpage.


Content Marketing: internet marketing technique where web page content is used to drive leads and improve company branding. Creating high quality content on-site and offsite produces significant natural inbound links and improves domain/page authority.


Conversion: clicks on organic links provided by a search engine or customer calls to the company from information provided from an organic link. Conversions provide a way to evaluate SEO performance, although most conversions are not sales lead and should not be measured as such.


Directory: a website which displays a list of websites that have been recommended or endorsed, usually within a particular niche topic. Depending on the reputation of the directory, having a link in a directory listing can be positive or negative for SEO.


Google Analytics: a free service provided by Google to help track statistics about website performance. Information provided by Google Analytics is essential for SEO as it reveal sources of referred traffic, and user behavior on individual pages.


Google Webmaster Tools: a free service allowing site owners to troubleshoot issues that may be negatively affecting SEO.


Internal Link: refers to hyperlinks that link to other pages within a website. When done correctly, a website’s internal linking system helps google determine the importance of pages and improves search visibility.


Keyword Research: the process of reviewing search terms commonly used for organic searches and determining their potential effectiveness for SEO ad campaigns. A detailed keyword search is vital to making an effective campaign.


Keywords: refers to the words or phrases users type into the search engine bar on Google, Bing, etc. Keywords with the most strategic value are the ones that user would use if they needed a product or service but were not sure which company to look for.


Landing Page: refers to a web page that users visit after clicking an organic link. Adding landing pages with persuasive, informative content for strategically valuable keywords increases lead generation.


Link Acquisition (AKA link building or link development): refers to the process of gathering high authority, relevant backlinks to client websites.


Link Profile: the quality of inbound links to a website. With a strong link profile that is diverse and driven by other websites which refer to the page for the usefulness and quality of it’s content, has a hugely positive impact on SEO.


Link Reclamation: process of identifying poor quality inbound links to a website and eliminating or improving them. Over time a website can build up links from websites that are inactive, low authority, or otherwise undesirable. Removing them will improve a website’s performance and link profile.


Long-Tail Keywords: keywords or phrases that are especially detailed, usually having low search volumes but a much higher likelihood of generating sales leads. Companies should include general, high-volume keywords as well as more specific long-tail keywords to maximize opportunities for sales leads.


Meta Description: an HTML string which displays text associated with a web page under a link in an organic search. A persuasive meta description can encourage a user to click on a link, thereby improving conversions.


Meta Title: refers to HTML code that describes the content of a particular page. Webmasters should aim for meta title’s that are interesting, accurate and include keywords. Meta titles convey to Google what a page is about, making them one of the most important pieces of SEO to get right.


Off-Site Optimization: refers to any SEO work undertaken away from the website to increase organic search visibility, such as directory listing and off-site content marketing.


On-Site Optimization: refers to any SEO work undertaken within the website to improve organic search visibility, such as reviewing Google Webmaster Tools and link reclamation.


Ranking Factor: part of the Google algorithm for ranking website content, such as meta titles. Certain factors such as mentions via social media are not considered definitive ranking factors but instead correlate to high organic search visibility. A competent SEO campaign takes all ranking factors into careful consideration.


Robots.txt: an embedded file on a website that instructs Google “robots” / “bots” / “crawlers” about how to read and interpret a website. Used properly, the file can be used to optimize Google’s understanding of a page and raise visibility.


Search Algorithm: a complex mathematical equation used for determining the organic search engine relevance of web pages relative to which keywords users are inputting when conducting a search. Google’s Algorithm generally takes priority as they are still the largest search engine. Keeping up with changing algorithm standards will keep a webpage up to date and avoid outdated techniques that may bring down visibility.


Search engine results page (SERP): the page of links provided in response to a user’s search. The SERPs of today are highly customized with factors such as universal search, and personalized search resulting in SERPs with various types of results and obscuring the idea of rankings. Therefore, focusing on overall visibility is often more beneficial than pursuing rankings.


Sitemap: a list or index of web pages within a site. Specific sitemaps help Google to better understand and rank a page. A well done sitemap can be very important to improving visibility, especially for large site with many pages.


Spider: a search engine robot that visits and analyzes a website, then transmits the information back to Google or Bing etc. An optimized website will enable a spider to interpret a page more accurately thereby improving visibility.


White Hat SEO: refers to a code of practice which follows Google SEO guidelines and other established best practices. Using White Hat SEO will obtain the best results and avoid incurring penalties from Google.


SEO forms the foundation for any successful internet marketing campaign. The more business owners understand these terms and processes, the better equipped they will be to continue to bring their companies forward into the future.