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For the uninitiated, Search Engine Optimisation can be daunting to understand. It’s a marketing discipline, job title and entire world of its own.

We wouldn’t blame you for being confused.

SEO experts may often use acronyms, terms and initialisms that sound like they’ve been ripped from the script of the Matrix, but with a little help, you can understand what they’re saying. Many terms sound more complicated than they actually are.

We Influence has produced this SEO jargon buster to help you understand the world of Search Engine Optimisation – and impress lesser marketers.

SEO – the initialism or shorthand for Search Engine Optimisation. It can also be used as a job title. Yet to find a SEP, Search Engine Pessimist.

SERP – an initialism (SEO is full of them) or acronym, depending on how you say it, that stands for Search Engine Results Page – the page you see after you’ve conducted a search. You want to be on page one.

KPI – an initialism for a Key Performance Indicator. This is a value that can be measured which indicates how well or badly an activity is at achieving a specified goal.

Traffic – can also be called web traffic, this is the visits a website receives.

Query – the words or topics that people search for in a search like Google or Bing. For example, ‘what does SEO mean?’ is a query.

Crawling – this is how a search engine finds web pages.

URL – another initialism, this is for Uniform Resource Locators, the technical name for a web address.

Ranking – the order of search results by relevance to a user’s search query.

PAA – initialism for People Also Ask, these are the boxes in some SERPs that include a list of questions related to that search query as well as the answers.

Black Hat – SEO techniques that break Google’s quality guidelines and are considered unethical and subject to penalties. Spam.

White Hat – the opposite to black hat, SEO practices that follow Google’s quality guidelines by being ethical and focusing on human users.

Intent – why someone has searched a word or topic and what they actually want from their search. Let’s be honest, motive makes it sound much more interesting.

Evergreen – this is a term for content that will always be relevant. For example, an SEO jargon buster will be relevant year-after-year.

DA – an initialism for Domain Authority, which predicts a website’s ranking ability in a search engine and is used by SEOs and other digital marketers.

PA – an initialism for Page Authority, is like DA but predicts the ranking ability of an individual webpage.

Meta Data – information that’s included in a description or header of an HTML page to briefly say what’s in the page’s content. Meta data can also include meta titles, keyword tags or code. It’s another umbrella term in SEO, which is already an umbrella term.

Cache – when a search engine saves a snapshot of a webpage and stores it. These snapshots are then used for search results next time, making searching quicker.

CMS – an initialism for Content Management System, this is software that manages the creation and modification of online content, such as blogs. WordPress, HubSpot and Drupal are the most popular

CRO – another initialism for Conversion Rate Optimisation, this maximises the conversions – the number of web visitors that become a buyer or customer. CRO can be achieved by redesigning a page, rewriting copy or using calls to action.

CTR – an initialism for Click Through Rate, shows the number of people who click on a specific link compared to the number of views the webpage that link was on. It’s used to show how effective a blog or email is and for writing meta descriptions.

Algorithms – the rules or formula used by search engines, like Google, to decide how rankings are ordered. You can see a schedule of algorithm changes here, and the strange names.

Paid Search – where a business or agency pays to get more exposure on its pages in a search engine.

Organic Search – non-paid sections and results in a search engine, improving organic search rankings is the goal in SEO.

A/B Testing – when you test multiple versions of the same page to improve response and conversion rates.

Bots – these can be called robots, spiders or crawlers, and this software basically searches the internet to find relevant content on websites, explores its structure and then builds information in a search engine index.

Canonical Tag – this tells a search engine the preferred version of a web page and helps to reduce duplicate content.

HTTP – an initialism for Hypertext Transfer Protocol and, essentially, is how data is transferred across the internet.

HTTPS – like the above but more secure. This makes it crucial for websites dealing with secure information, such as payment details. Search engines, like Google, will warn users if a site isn’t secure, and it won’t be subtle about it.

NoIndex – this tag can be added to a page to ensure that Google doesn’t index it, which means it can’t be shown in search results. Covert.

HTTP Response Code – can be called a status code, they are issued by a server in response to a request made to the server. They’re split into five classes, you only have to worry about two – five classes.

200 Response Code – huzzah, this code means that the request for a page has worked. It’s been received, understood and accepted. Engage.

301 Response Code – this isn’t the page you’re looking for; a permanent redirect from the page you originally searched and clicked on. You may notice a different URL to the one you were expecting.

302 Response Code – thanks for visiting, come back soon; this is a temporary redirect from a webpage and is often used when developing a website or webpage and removed afterwards.

403 Response Code – this means that you don’t have permission to access this webpage, it’s forbidden. Computer says no.

404 Response Code – you’ll be met with something like ‘not found’ when trying to find this webpage. It means the page can’t be found, it’s lost. Everything happens for a reason.

500 Response Code – no can do, the server has found an unexpected issue that prevents from performing a request. This can happen because a server is permanently or temporarily knackered.

Short-Tail Keywords – short search queries, less than three words in most cases, that are the foundation of keyword research.

Long-Tail Keywords – longer search queries, usually three words or more, that are more specific than short-tail.

Link Building – the name for earning links to your website to build its authority in search engines. This can be done by blogs, content campaigns and may involve PR.

Backlinks – a hyperlink from an external website to another, such as an editorial page to one of your blogs.

Engagement – nothing to do with a ring, this is data that shows how users interact with your website from their search engine results.

Keyword Difficulty – an estimate, based on a score, of how difficult it can be for a website to outrank competitors or rank for a specific query.

NoFollow – a type of hyperlink that is often used by one website when it wants to conserve authority and not pass it along while preventing bots from moving through to pages you don’t want crawling.

Follow – the opposite of NoFollow, authority is passed the linking page to the original page. When it comes to outreach, you want these links.

Core Keyphrase – a one or two-word phrase and search query that is often very difficult to rank for.

Search Volume – this is the number of times a keyword has been searched.

HTML – an initialism for Hypertext Markup Language, is one of the languages used to make web pages and blogs. Popular among SEOs because Google can easily understand it, unlike other marketers. Yes, the specialist language of SEO has its own specialist language.

Alt Text – alternative text is the copy used in a HTML code to describe an image.

Anchor Text – text used in a HTML tag, this the content that links to pages.

Interlinking – no, not something Blade Runner, this is when you link your content together with keyword-rich phrases.

Title Tag – part of HTML text that specifies the title of a web page.

Header Tag – the exact same as a title tag but for headings and sub-headings.

Keyword Stuffing – a keyword and SEO version of spam where a webpage overuses keywords in content and meta descriptions. An outdated tactic, but when done purposefully, search rankings suffer.


If your business is ready for the next level of its growth and you’d like to speak to one of our SEO experts for a no-obligation chat, then get in touch today.

For more SEO and marketing advice, read the We Influence blog.

admin 2020-02-14T09:16:16+00:00 February 14th, 2020|