Glossary of Essential SEO Terms You Should Know

June 8, 2017 - 11 minutes read - SEO

If you want to grow your business through digital marketing, your customers need to be able to find you online. A strong social media presence and SEO-friendly website will help you move to the front pages of Google and draw your potential customers to you.

But before you can begin making your site SEO-friendly, you need to know the important terms you’ll hear marketers use when talking about SEO.

Below we’ve compiled a list of the 31 most important SEO terms you need to know to succeed.

Crawl Test

Google has over a billion websites in its search engine. To manage the massive amount of data, they use robots to crawl through your pages to gather important information. A crawl test checks your site for errors that might affect search engines’ ability to read your website easily.

Indexed Pages

Search engines use indexes to receive information quickly. An index is basically a database that collects and stores data about your site. If your page is not indexed, it can’t be found by search engines.


A sitemap makes it easy for search engines to find your pages (and subpages) by outlining the website structure. These can be done as either XML or HTML sitemaps (both below) and improve usability and SEO.

XML Sitemap

An XML sitemap makes the sitemap machine readable. It’s an .xml file providing information about the pages, images, and videos within the site, as well as other pertinent information, such as when the site was last updated.

HTML Sitemap

An HTML sitemap is designed for humans to make the visitor experience easier. With rollover navigation, this type of sitemap is now somewhat redundant, but it can be extremely useful if your current navigation menu limits the number of links you can include. It also boosts internal linking.

Mirror Site

A mirror site looks the exact same as another site, but uses a different URL. Malicious mirror sites are created by hackers to attempt to obtain sensitive information or distribute malware.

robots.txt File

A robots.txt file (capitalization matters here!) is a file that restricts the behavior of search engines, telling them to exclude certain pages from search results and not to visit certain subpages.

Mod Pro Tip: Don’t use robots.txt files to hide any private information! These files are publically available – just add /robots.txt to the end of any root domain.

A screenshot of

The robots.txt file for Image Source.


Adding a noindex code to the section of your page tells robots not to index that particular page, meaning it won’t be added to its search engine. People often include these on thank you pages and members’ only pages.


When you include an external link on your site, you’re giving the recipient an SEO boost. With a nofollow code, search engines know not to pass link equity to your external link.

Mod Pro Tip: Nofollow is especially helpful in blog comments, where readers may post links promoting themselves or your competitor.


When your site moves to a new domain or you change the URL of a particular page, a redirect makes sure no one is lost in transition. You probably still have plenty of old business cards, social media posts, and emails that list the old link. With a redirect, people will automatically go to the new domain or URL when typing in the old one.

301 Redirects

A 301 redirect tells search engines that a site has been moved permanently. It passes most ranking power to the new domain and provides faster service than a regular redirect.

302 Redirects

A 302 redirect is for temporary domain name moves. Under HTTP 1.1, this is called “found.” Under HTTP 1.0, this was called “moved temporarily.”

Query Parameters

Query parameters allow you to sort through a web page and show up as additional text at the end of a URL. You’ll often see this on sites with a large selection of products, as it allows you endless views under just one page. (For example, sorting products by color and then by price.)

ALT Text

ALT text is important for users and search engines. It’s a written description of the images on your site, appearing to visitors if the graphic is undeliverable, if they use a server that hides graphics, or if they are visually challenged. It also helps search engines read your images.

404 Pages

A 404 page – often called an error page – appears when the actual page cannot be found at the current URL.

Lego's 404 error page

An example of a unique 404 page by Lego


Breadcrumbs help users understand where they are within the site. They are often displayed as a horizontal bar above the rest of the page’s content, such as: Home >> About >> About the Founder.

Internal Linking

Internal links encourage your audience to stay on your site longer by linking them to another page or resource within the same site.

Examples of internal links on a webpage

Examples of internal links in blue on Mod Girl’s website


A microsite is a smaller site often accessed from a larger site. It can have its own domain or exist as a subdomain, and allows marketers to highlight specific campaigns or target different buyer personas.

Microsite example for Domino's DXP car

Page Titles

Page titles are like the headline of your page. They show up in search results and help search engines understand what’s on the page. You should include keywords in every page title.

Meta Description

Meta descriptions do not appear on your site – instead, they’re used in search results. They briefly explain the page’s content (preferably using keywords).

The meta description for

An example of a meta description for


A domain, or URL, is a unique, human-readable Internet address. It consists of three parts: the subdomain (such as www), the domain name (ex: modgirlmarketing in, and top-level domain (such as .com).

Mod Pro Tip: There are over 1,000 possible top-level domains (TLDs). Experiment with unique ones for different CTAs and marketing campaigns. For example, we use modgirl social to promote our Facebook group.

See also  How To Use Alternative Domains For Branding


A sub-domain is added to the front of a URL. The most common one is www, but it can vary, such as blog in


Headings, such as H1, H2, and H3, highlight important parts of your site to search engines. They make it easy for readers to skim your content and should contain keywords.

Canonical Tag

Similar to a 301 redirect, a canonical tag tells search engines that this is your preferred version of the site to prevent duplicate content. It does not actually redirect to a new URL, but simply tells search engines to treat multiple pages as one.


Some software offers you the ability to scrape a site, or copy its content to a database. This process requires automated bots and is often used for price comparisons, tracking your online mentions, monitoring real estate listings, and more.


Keywords are the search terms users type in a search engine to find content. You should include keywords and phrases throughout your site in order to show up in their results.

Mod Pro Tip: Use to find the most popular content out there for your keywords.

A search results page for “inbound marketing” on


People rarely spend time clicking through to the second or third page in search results. Your ranking is important because it’s how high you show up in their results based on the keywords and phrases you used.


A conversion is the completion of a desired action, such as a newsletter sign-up, sale, or completed form. Conversions mean you’ve achieved a specific, quantifiable goal set for your business.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a popular and free analysis tool that tracks website traffic.

Mod Pro Tip: Not sure where to start with Google Analytics? Get started with their free online courses in Google’s Analytics Academy.


PPC, or pay per click, is a way of paying for ads. With this model, you pay whenever a user clicks on the ad.

Site Search

A site search is a search engine added to your site to allow users to easily search for a specific page or resource.

Discover the 13 Easy On-Page SEO Tips to Help You Boost Your Google Rankings

Creating an SEO-optimized website is essential if you want your customers to find you online.

Get started with our free On-Page SEO Checklist now!

on-page seo checklist

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