SEO Glossary

200 OK: A server response that indicates the requested resource is available and loaded correctly.

301 Redirect:  A 301 redirect is a server response that is returned if the URL that was requested has been permanently moved to a new location. A 301 redirect instructs the party requesting the URL to update their records and request the content in the new location from now on. A 301 redirect is useful if your site is changing naming structures of pages and would like Google to update their listings with you new URLs. 301 redirects do not happen automatically and must be configured by your SEO.

302 Redirect: A 302 redirect is a server response that is returned when the URL that was requested has been temporarily moved to a new location.

4XX errors: Server responses that begin with a “4” and indicate that an error has occurred with the requested URL. The most common 4XX errors are 404 which means “page not found” and 403 which means “forbidden”. 404 errors do not suggest a replacement for the broken content. If a significant portion of the URLs a search engine requests for a site return 404s, or the search engine receives 404s frequently, the search engine will determine that the site is unreliable and will reduce ranking in the SERPs.

5XX errors: When a server responds with a 500 series error it is because of a misconfiguration or error on the server itself. If you try editing the htaccess file through your WordPress admin area and mess it up, you’ll get a “500 Internal Server Error” and not be able to access the editor again to fix it. Other coding problems or plugin-update issues can cause the server to spit out 5XX errors.

Above the Fold: This term comes from print advertising and refers to the content which a user can see on their screen without scrolling down. In the print world it meant content a user would see without unfolding a newspaper to see the bottom half of the page.

AdRank: The formula Google uses to determine how your ad will rank in the CPC listings of Google AdWords. AdRank uses Quality Score as a bid multiplier which causes bid prices to be the inverse of what you might expect; the #1 ranked ad pays the lowest price for a click. Poor AdRank is the #1 reason low-performing advertisers say that “PPC is just a waste of money and is too expensive”.

AdvertiserMax BidQuality ScoreAdRankActual CPCPosition in Results
Home Depot$2.00102016/10+1¢=$1.611

Anchor Text: The actual text of a link on a page that you see on the page and click to reach the intended destination. This text tells users and search engines that the linked page is relevant to the displayed text and builds reputation for a site for that text. Instead of “click here”, it’d be better to link to our site with “Kansas City SEO” because that describes us better than “click here”.

Broad Match: Broad match is the default match type Google uses for all keywords in a Ad campaign. Using this match type means your ads may show on searches that include misspellings, synonyms, related searches, and other relevant variations. So if your keyword is “shoes,” someone searching for “buy shoes online” might see your ad. This match type is very wasteful because your broad match keyword of “shoes” could also show your ad to someone searching “buy brake shoes online”.

Browser Testing: A process of ensuring that a website or webpage works consistently in popular browsers. Web browsers interpret code differently which can make a site work well in one browser, and poorly in another.

Canonical: The canonical version of a URL is the most authoritative version of that URL. Many CMSs allow for a single page of content to be returned with several different URLs. On our site, our “about” page is available at: as well as on this URL: The second URL is how the CMS tracks the page in the database. As CMSs grew in popularity, this problem grew which forced the introduction of the canonical tag which allows a webmaster to specify the preferred URL to search engines.

CMS: Content Management System. CMSs provide an easy way to create content for a website without knowing any code. Popular systems include WordPress and Joomla. Each system has its advantages and disadvantages, and it’s incredibly important to consult an SEO when choosing.

Content Optimization: The process of improving content to better express expertise to search engine robots. Content optimization includes efforts to ensure correct spelling and proper grammar. Content optimization helps ensure single-concept expertise while maintaining an overall subject-matter expertise.

Conversion: A conversion is any time a user completes a desired goal. This could be submitting a form, making a purchase, viewing particular content, sharing content, etc.

CPA: No, not an accountant. CPA in the marketing world stands for Cost Per Action and is the measurement of how much an advertiser had to pay for a particular conversion.

CPC: Cost Per Click. This is how much a PPC advertiser pays for each click on a particular platform.

Crawling and Spidering a Site: These terms overlap, so I’ve condensed them into one. When a robot is crawling and spidering a website it means that a program is accessing your website, reading the code and content, and following links. This describes how a computer program accesses your site.

CSS: Cascading Style Sheet. CSS controls the stylizing of your website, including colors, font faces, etc. The name includes “cascading” because each style can impact the following one. For example, if a CSS file has a rule that all text in a paragraph will be a font called Calibri, and a different rule follows that says all links will be blue, a link within a paragraph will follow both rules and text will be the Calibri font face in blue.

CTR: Click Through Rate. CTR is the percentage of people who click on an ad after seeing it. This is a very important metric in PPC advertising. Better performing ads have higher CTR.

Dedicated IP: In the context of internet marketing, a dedicated IP address is one that is only assigned to your website. It is important to have a dedicated IP address because search engines allocate spidering time per IP.

Dedicated Server: A dedicated server is one that has one job; host your website. A dedicated server allows for extensive customization to accommodate very complicated front and back-end applications.

Description Tag: The description tag on a website suggests to search engines what text to display in the SERPs when a site is displayed. A description tag that is properly formatted is a great way to introduce your site to your potential users. Strong description tags lead to good organic CTRs which will lead to an increase in ranking.

Disavow File: A file submitted to Google containing a list of links that the webmaster would like Google to ignore. This file is supposed to shake off link spam penalties but all it does is admit to Google that a site participated in link spam activities and gets the site on a “watch list”. SEOMike does not recommend the use of disavow files, except in extreme cases.

DNS: Domain Name Service. A DNS Server is essentially a traffic director. Your computer sends it a request for a website and the DNS server says “Oh, you want Well, it lives over here on this server. Go get it!” and points your browser to our site.

DNS Prefetch: DNS prefetching is a method of speeding webpages by loading any required DNS queries as soon as possible. For example, if your page has an image loaded from a third-party site on the bottom of your page (like our Google Partner Logo), your page has to fetch that from the third party. This creates a DNS lookup (your computer asks DNS where the site lives), then the DNS request is routed and an SSL Handshake occurs to establish a secure connection. If you leave this until the last thing on your page your users have to wait around until all of this is done until the page is fully loaded. Using DNS Prefetching means that you do this process at the very top of the code so the connection is made and ready to go when needed later.

Exact Match: Ads may show on searches that match the exact term or are close variations of that exact term. Close variations here may also include a reordering of words if it doesn’t change the meaning, and the addition or removal of words that don’t impact the overall intent of the search.

FTP: File Transfer Protocol. This is a method used to transfer files to and from a server and requires a special program, such as FileZilla.

Goal: In the context of internet marketing, a goal refers to an action you want a user to take, such as completing a purchase or submitting a form. The goal could be multi-step process (add to cart, view cart, pay, etc.). Each step in the process is important and must be followed to achieve the end goal – a purchase.

Google Ads: Google’s Pay Per Click advertising platform that allows websites to pay for traffic from Google’s search results by displaying ads to users. Google has gone to great lengths to blur the lines between ads and organic results, and to provide their ads with the most prominent placement.

Google Algorithm: The computer program that Google uses to determine where to rank websites. There are hundreds of factors that determine where each website ranks in the listings. Ranking is calculated on the fly when a user types in a query. It’s incredible that Google can calculate the ranking of potentially billions of sites for a set of results in under a second.

Google Analytics: A system that records user behavior on a website and offers it in a fairly easy to use interface. Google Analytics tells you how many people visited your site, where they came from, how long they stayed, what pages they visited, etc.

Google Penalty: A reduction in ranking that is imposed as a punishment for attempts to manipulate Google’s SERPs. These penalties can include Google capping how high a site is allowed to go in the SERPs, or an outright ban. Google is smug in their ability to impose penalties and it’s usually better to ditch the penalized site and start over rather than spend multiple years (and a ton of money) groveling to Google for forgiveness.

Google Search Console: Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, and sometimes referred to as GSC. This is a system provided by Google to provide webmasters with information about how Google indexes their sites.

Heading Tags H1, H2, H3: Heading tags are important for content organization and formatting. Content in an H1 tag is generally formatted as larger, bold text and is usually the page’s main tagline. Subsequent tags, such as H2 and H3 are generally used for paragraph headings, etc., where the font is a little smaller and less bold. Google and other search engines usually pay attention to these tags because they indicate important content.

htaccess: An .htaccess file is employed on an Apache server and is where 301 and 302 redirects are specified, among other things. An .htaccess file is parsed line-by-line every time a page is requested before a page is served to a user. The file is parsed to see if any of the rules in it match the requested page. Developers will often say that you need to keep your htaccess file to a minimum because it creates a lot of server overhead. Our tests show that there is little impact until you get to silly numbers of redirects.

HTML: Did you ever wonder what it stood for? Wonder no more: Hyper Text Markup Language. This is the programming language of the web.

HTTP: Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. This is the protocol that describes how a web page’s code is transmitted from a server to a computer.

HTTP Responses: AKA Server Headers. The response from a server when a resource is requested. The response can contain a variety of things but it usually contains a status code (see 200 OK, 301, 302, or 4XX for more information), the server type, and the time the request was fulfilled.

HTTPS: Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure. HTTPS is a secured method of HTTP where information from the server is encrypted for transmission and then decrypted by the receiving computer. The encryption and subsequent decryption of information slows page load times, but not by too much.

Image Alt Tag: An image alt tag specifies alternate content for an image when it can’t be displayed. This is what is presented to search engines because they can’t “see” images. This is also what is presented to visually impaired users who browse the internet with screen readers. An image alt tag is supposed to describe the image in text. Our studies show that image alt tags can, and do impact search engine ranking.

Indexing a Website: As a search engine spider crawls your website, they keep copies of the pages they encounter for later analysis and historical reference.

IP Address: Internet Protocol address. Every device that accesses the internet must have an address to maintain two-way communication. The current standard is called IP4. IPv4 is a 32bit address grouped into four octets. For example: The world is running out of IPv4 addresses, so a new format has been introduced and is now in use on many local networks. The new format is called IPv6 and consists of 128bits of information encoded in hexadecimal format. That’s a lot and should last us a long time.

Keyword Research: The process of identifying keywords with potential to drive traffic to your website.

Keywords: Words or phrases that people may use to describe your products or services.

Link Building: The process of increasing the number of links pointing to a website by establishing relationships with the webmasters of other sites. Link building is NOT link buying.

Link Depreciation: If Google thinks a site has participated in link spam, they will depreciate the “value” received from the links they determine are spam, effectively nullifying their impact. Link depreciation takes away the increase in ranking in the SERPs that the link spam provided, and often makes webmasters panic and increase link spamming efforts in an effort to regain lost ranking. Unfortunately, this will eventually lead to a Google Penalty.

Link Spam: Buying links from link sellers with the specific purpose of manipulating a website’s ranking. Link spam is easy to spot because of keyword-heavy anchor text on low-quality sites. Links used to be very effective in manipulating the SERPs. To combat manipulation, Google has put in place a strict set of rules about links and penalties / depreciations for spammers.

Mobile First: Google recognized that mobile devices have become the most popular method for accessing the webs. Google began evaluating the virtues of a website based on how well it looks and performs on mobile devices.

Negative Match Keyword: A negative match keyword is one that will exclude your ad from showing when that keyword is part of a searcher’s query. An example of a good negative match keyword would be adding “murdered” to your negative match list so your ad for children’s shoes doesn’t display on a news article about a kid murdered for his fancy shoes.

Over-Optimization Penalty: Believe it or not, Google penalizes a site when it’s “too good”. In 2012 Google implemented a penalty for sites that over-optimize, which means that every single “I” is dotted and every single “T” is crossed on the site, and they think it is “unnatural”.

Page Load Time: The amount of time it takes for a page to load all resources. In 2010 Google announced that it prefers faster websites because they deliver content to users more quickly and that slower sites would no longer rank as well in the search results. Page load time is particularly important in the mobile listings.

Phrase Match: Ads may show on searches that match a phrase, or are close variations of that phrase, with additional words before or after. Ads won’t show, however, if a word is added to the middle of the phrase, or if words in the phrase are reordered in any way.

PPC: Pay Per Click listings. Google and others provide auction-style bidding for higher placement in the SERPs. In Google AdWords, bid prices are based on the amount of competition and Quality Score. In 2016 the most expensive keyword to bid on was “best mesothelioma lawyer” with a CPC of $935.71. PPC ads are how Google has made the lion’s share of its money.

Quality Score: In Google’s AdWords system, Quality Score is a major contributor to how much an advertiser pays for a click. Quality Score is used to determine an advertiser’s CPC and then used as a bid multiplier to determine AdRank. Quality Score is based on multiple factors, including: CTR, relevance of each keyword in an ad group to each other, the relevance of the ad’s text to the keyword, the quality and relevance of the ad’s landing page to the keyword and ad group, and the overall historical performance of an account.

Raw Log Files: AKA Server Access Logs. These text-based files contain all requests for resources from the server made by whomever / whatever requested them. You can follow a user or spider through a website using these logs. This is how SEOs tracked users and Google through websites in the early days before fancy services like Google Analytics existed.

Referrer Spam: Referrer spam means that someone forces their way into your analytics account by falsifying a visit from a site with a specific name. The intent is to advertise their product to a webmaster that is viewing their analytics account. It’s a very, very specifically targeted form of spam that messes with analytics data. A referral spammer could inject a lot of fake visits from CheapSEOservicesFromIndiaNow or something in your analytics data to try to get you to visit their site and see their service offering.

Robots.txt: This is the first file requested by a search engine robot when they visit the site because it sets rules for search engine robots which access a site. This tells them what directories they are not allowed to access to help prevent the “leak” of behind-the-scenes files into the SERPs.

ROI: Return On Investment. ROI is an important factor in determining the success of a particular campaign. ROI is calculated by the formula below. For marketing purposes the cost of the investment is whatever marketing initiative you conducted.

ROI = (Gains from the investment – Cost of investment)
The cost of the investment

Shared IP: A shared IP is when many websites share the same IP address. This is not ideal because Google allocates spidering time to individual IPs. If your site shares an IP with hundreds of others, your spidering time is split with all of them.

Schema Markup: Schema is a name for structured data. This is a set of very specific data that is easily understood by search engines. It is used to standardize communication of things like business name, business phone number, business address, etc.

Search Engine Robot: AKA Bots, Spiders, and Crawlers. These are programs that traverse the web by automatically scanning the content of websites and following links. The robot feeds a database with information which is then used by the search engine algorithms to determine ranking for keywords.

SEM: Search Engine Marketing. This form of internet marketing is focused on increasing a website’s visibility online, primarily through the use of paid advertisements.

SEO: Search Engine Optimization. This form of internet marketing is focused on increasing a website’s ranking in the SERPs by focusing on making a website as technically flawless as possible. SEO also focuses on increasing a website’s relevance to a topic by writing targeted content, titles tags, meta descriptions, image alt tags, link anchor text, etc.

SERPs: Search Engine Results Pages. The set of results returned by a search engine when a query is submitted.

Server Hardware: The hardware on a server. The most important things on a server are processor and RAM.

Server Software: The software that makes a computer a server. Popular software includes Apache and Microsoft’s IIS. Knowing which software a server is using helps us understand the sophistication of the website’s webmaster by what limitations of the software they are able to overcome.

Shared Hosting: When more than one website is served by the same server. In this case, the server’s hardware is shared by each website and capped to ensure a single site doesn’t sap the entire resources of the server. Shared environments are great for low-traffic simple websites.

Spam: A canned, salted pork product that is very popular in Hawaii. In the world of SEO it refers to manipulation techniques used to game the search engine algorithms and gain an unfair advantage in the SERPs. Spamming includes link spam, content spam, blog spam, etc. The effects of spam can be awesome and blast a site with traffic, but a site that achieved ranking via spam tactics has its days numbered and will ultimately be penalized and possibly banned from the SERPs.

SSL: Secure Socket Layer and is used in HTTPS communications. It is a standard for securing communication between a client computer and a server. SSL prevents interloping software from interfering with communications. Interference could be harvesting credit card information, acquiring passwords, or injecting things that the server didn’t send such as viruses.

Title Tag: The tag on a page that controls the words that displays in the browser’s title bar as well as the blue link in the search engines when your site shows up in the SERPs. The tag can have about 60 characters, including spaces. Title tags that are too long will either be truncated with an ellipses in the SERPs or not be displayed and the search engine will choose other text.

URL: Uniform Resource Locator. This is the domain name for your website.

XML Sitemap: XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language. XML sitemaps are used by search engine bots as a central point to discover pages on a website, especially pages they don’t find by crawling.