Starting to dive into the world of Search Engine Optimization can seem daunting at first. Getting your head around a few common SEO terms first will help simplify the journey.


What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?


Search engine optimization also known as “SEO” is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. All major search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo have primary search results, where web pages and other content such as videos or local listings are shown and ranked based on what the search engine considers most relevant to users. SEO has many common terms that you’ll need to know.


Common SEO terms:


Search engine: An information retrieval program that searches for items in a database that match the request query by the user. Examples: Google, Bing, and Yahoo..


SERP: Stands for “search engine results page” — the page of results you see after conducting a search.



Organic Search Results: Earned placement in search results, as opposed to paid advertisements. Earned placements come from optimizing your website for search engines.

Traffic: Visits to a website.


URL: Uniform Resource Locators are the locations or addresses for individual pieces of content on the web. Your website has a URL (


Backlinks: A link placed on someone else’s website that points back to your site. Backlinks are one of the most important factors for SEO. Getting a lot of backlinks with relevant anchor texts is the shortest way of improving your search engine rankings.


Black hat: Search engine optimization practices that violate Google’s quality guidelines and can result in a site being banned from the search engine and affiliate sites. 


Crawling: The process by which search engines discover your web pages looking for specific content based on the search request.


De-indexed: Refers to a page or group of pages being temporarily or permanently removed from Google’s index and search results. This can happen if the content is not lawful or if the sites don’t meet Google’s guidelines.


Google My Business listing: A free listing available to local businesses to help manage your online presence.


Image carousels: Image results in some SERPs that are scrollable from left to right.


Indexing: The storing and organizing of content found during crawling.


Intent: In the context of SEO, intent refers to what users really want from the words they typed into the search bar.


Keywords: Keywords are single words or whole phrases of a particular SEO importance for a given page or website.


KPI: A “key performance indicator” is a measurable value that indicates how well an activity is achieving a goal, such as organic rank, search traffic and links.


Local pack: A pack of typically three local business listings that appear for local-intent searches such as “oil change near me.”


Query: Words typed into the search bar.


Transactional searches: Searches performed by people looking to purchase a product or service.


Ranking: Ordering search results by relevance to the query. Google provides the pieces of content that will best answer a searcher’s query. High ranks are obtained with the help of keywords and transactional searches. Companies on the first page of results become the most likely candidates to obtain business from online users who are looking for said product/service. In order to get new traffic and business on one’s website, companies must rank for transactional searches. An easier way to see it is ranking is the order in which you appear on Google when someone makes a search.


Webmaster guidelines: Guidelines published by search engines like Google and Bing for the purpose of helping site owners create content that will be found, indexed, and perform well in search results.


White hat: Search engine optimization practices that comply with Google’s quality guidelines.


Although this is a start to understanding SEO, there’s a great deal more in knowing how to make it work for your business. To learn more or to get started on a strategic SEO plan, click here.