SEO Terms Explained

Atlanta Search Engine OptimizationThere are a lot of SEO terms thrown around in the world of search engine optimization. Because we SEOs use these terms every day, we can lose site that they can be quite a confusing mess of jargon to the average user. So we’ve compiled a list of commonly used SEO terms and explained them below for laymen and search engine optimization novices.

301 Redirect

A 301 redirect is a technique used by webmasters and SEOs to let browsers and search engines know that a page has moved permanently. This is often used when an old web page has been replaced with newer content. This is considered to be “SEO friendly” and is recommended to avoid serving up 404 error pages. Which brings us to…

404 Error

This is an HTTP response code indicating that the client was able to connect to the server, but the server could not find the content being requested.

Alt Tag

The alt tag is an attribute used in HTML and XHTML that specifies text to display in place of an element that cannot be rendered. For example, if a user has images turned off in his or her browser, the text entered in the image alt tag would display.

Anchor Text

There are two elements to every hyperlink: the URL to which the link points and the text that displays in the browser. Anchor text refers to the latter. This is worthy of attention in SEO because anchor text can be a great way to pass on relevancy and help the search engines understand your page’s content.


Backlinks are incoming links to a web page from other pages on the internet. Backlinks are relevant to SEO because they indicate to the search engines that other websites view your site as a valuable resource.

Black Hat SEO

Black hate search engine optimization is SEO by way of techniques that are, in the search engines’ eyes, unethical or unfriendly to the end user. Because the search engines try to reward quality content that is created for the end user, black hat techniques generally center around things that create a poor user experience. Things like cloaking would be an excellent example. At Cluster One Media, we employ strictly white hat SEO, or SEO that adheres to all the rules and regulations set forth by the search engines to provide quality results to the end user.


“Blog” is short for Web Log. It’s generally an online journal, of sorts, and is often informal and article based.


A bot is a program designed to scour the web for various reasons. These reasons can range from indexing web pages to spamming. Also referred to as spiders.


Cloaking is a black hat search engine optimization technique in which different content is presented to the users browser and the search engine spiders.


Conversion refers to a web visitor who fulfills some kind of predefined goal on a website. For example, on an ecommerce website, a conversion would be when a visitor purchases an item.

CPC or Cost Per Click

Cost per click refers to a rate of measuring the cost of acquiring web traffic.


CSS stands for “cascading style sheet.” It is a language used to designate how a web site or web page will look when viewed in a web browser. CSS is used to control things like layout, font styles, colors etc.


CTR stands for “click through rate” and is a metric used in online advertising. CTR is calculated by dividing the number of times and ad was clicked by the number of times the ad was displayed.

Dynamic Content

Dynamic content is content that is shown based upon requests/data submitted by users. For example, think of the content that comes up when performing a search.

Google PageRank

Google PageRank (often simply referred to as PageRank) is a numeric value assigned by Google that represents how important a page is on the web. It is represented to we end users by a number, 1-10, but in reality it starts very small and ends very large with innumerable levels in between.


In internet marketing terms, impressions refers to the number of times an ad was displayed.


Keywords (also keyphrases) are words or phrases that are used by searchers to find a given topic, and used by search engines to determine the topic of a given web page.

Keyword Density

Keyword density refers to how often a keyword or keyphrase is used on a given web page in relation to the rest of the content on that page.

Landing Page

A landing page is a content-rich web page centered around a specific topic. Landing pages are typically main navigational pages.

Latent Semantic Indexing

Latent semantic indexing (often abbreviated as “LSI”) is an algorithm used by Google (and likely other search engines) that aims to determine word or phrase meaning. In SEO terms, this means that related terms can help a page rank well on the SERPs. For example, if you have two pages about SEO and site 1 has content only about SEO but site 2 has content about SEO, search engine optimization, search engine marketing, internet marketing etc., all other things being equal site 2 will outrank site 1.

Link Building

Link building refers to the act of gaining backlinks (external links) to a website for the purpose of increasing a website’s rank and authority in the search engines.

Meta Data

Meta data is found in the head of an HTML page and includes information on the document’s title, keywords, author and a brief description of the page.

Meta Tags

Meta tags are the individual elements of meta data, explained above. They are used in SEO to help the search engines best understand the content, topic and purpose of a given web page. The meta tags used in search engine optimization include:

  • Title Tag: The title tag is the title of a webpage. This is what is displayed in the browser’s title bar. In SEO the title tag is very important because the information entered here is what is displayed as the title link on the SERPs.
  • Description Tag: Information entered in the description tag is displayed on the SERPs as the short description that displays underneath the link.
  • Keyword Tag: The keyword tag gives search engines a summary of the keywords used on a given page. Google no longer uses the keyword tag but other search engines do.

Organic Search

Organic search refers to search engine results that are not paid advertisements. These are the results that come up naturally and are shown to be more valuable than pay-per-click results. While the exact numbers vary from study to study, it’s shown that roughly 7 out of every 10 users ignore paid results and instead turn directly to organic search results.

Paid Link Building

Paid link building refers to websites who charge a fee to link back to another website to help boost the website’s rank and authority to the search engines.

Pay Per Click

Pay per click advertising (often abbreviated as “PPC”) is an advertising method whereby a website/advertiser pays to be included in the paid listings on a given website or search engine. The number of times an ad is displayed is known as “impressions” and the advertiser is charged a fee for every time their ad is clicked. Studies have shown that less than 40% of people find the information they look for using paid search listings.

Reciprocal Link

Reciprocal linking is the practice of “trading” links with another website.

Search Engine

A search engine is a website whose function is to find web pages for users based upon the user’s search query. Examples are Google, Yahoo!, Bing, AOL, Ask and many others.


SEM, which stands for “search engine marketing,” is the practice of marketing a websites via search engines. It generally refers to using a combination of search engine optimization and pay per click advertising. – Also known as “Search Engine Marketing” is the act of marketing a website via search engines and using a combination of SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC(pay per click) practices.


SEO, which stands for “search engine optimization,” is the practice of editing a web page so that search engines are better able to understand its topic/relevance so that it ranks better on the SERPs. SEO spans a wide area of practices including on page optimizations as well as off page practices like link building.


SERP stands for “search engine results page” and refers to the pages of results that come up when a users enters a query into a search engine.


A spider is a program that automatically scours the web for various reasons, from indexing web pages to spamming. These are also known as robots, web crawlers and bots. Search engines use spiders to index webpages.

Static Website

A static website is a website whose content is fixed, meaning the content has to be manually changed rather than being served up dynamically based upon user input.


TLD stands for “top level domain” and refers to a domains at the highest hierarchical DNS level. Common TLDs include .com, .net, .org and others.


URL stands for “uniform resource locator” and refers to a web address.


W3C refers to the World Wide Web Consortium, which is the main international standards organization for the World Wide Web.

White Hat SEO

White hat SEO refers to the use of SEO practices accepted by the search engines as proper ways to help a website or webpage rank well on the SERPs. At Cluster One Media we have a strict “white hat only” policy.