Search Engine Optimization 101: A Glossary - V3 Media

If you’re brand new to website design and development, it can feel like Google doesn’t really understand your new-ness – i.e. it can sometimes read more for people who have a better understanding than others. While Wikipedia does tend to dominate the front page, usually those who write for Wikipedia are more technically advanced than the average user like you or me who is either learning or just looking for a refresher on website terminology.

Search engine optimization is the backbone of your website, but if you don’t understand anything about it, how can you possibly use it to its fullest extent and to your business’s benefit? Worry no more. We’ve come up with a small cheat sheet of SEO glossary and common terms you’re likely to see online; check it out if you need help!

Commonly Used Terms:

SEO – short for search engine optimization. It is the means of getting users to your website via high rankings in the search engine results (i.e. the first page of results on Google). If the website ranks high, then there’s more likelihood of people clicking on the link to view your site. Actions taken, such as white hat SEO (see below) enhance this likelihood for the site to be found by Google, Firefox, etc.

Title tag – the page linking to your site. A title tag consists of text containing the focus keyword you want to use so people can find your website. It’s also commonly used by search engines as the title for the listed search result.

Description tag – this is a small description below the website page posted on Google, usually consisting of 150 characters (that includes punctuation!). These are meant to be inviting to the user, prompting them to click on the web page it’s describing.

Keyword – the word or phrase people look up online, usually when trying to find information, a product, or services.

Long-tail keyword – a keyword usually 4-5 words long or longer, specific rather than generic.

Short-tail keyword – a keyword that is short and widely searched for by everyone, generic rather than specific.

Optimization – short for SEO, this is the technique used to help increase website traffic. Optimizing a web page helps both search engines and potential customers notice your website on the Internet.

SERP – short for search engine results page. These are the web pages generated by Google or the search engine you are currently using when you enter a keyword in its browser. Most SERPs contain organic listings (i.e. results that are indexed by the search engine itself) as well as paid listings (i.e. ads bought by companies, usually displayed on the first page).

Black hat SEO – SEO practices used to target and please search engines rather than human users. These techniques will more often than not result in negative ranking and penalties from search engines. Examples include keyword stuffing, blog comment spamming, plagiarism, etc.

White hat SEO – SEO practices that result in positive ranking and an overall positive online reputation from search engines and humans alike. Examples include good balance between keyword density and written content, no broken links, relevant inbound links, insightful blog and social media comments, etc.

These are just a handful of terms used when it comes to SEO and website design.