SEO Glossary, Beginners Guides and Twitter Follows

Article by: Matt Polsky

At this point, there isn't a test, certification or degree/major for SEO professionals, even though you may find that happening in the near future - especially with amazing programs like Distilled U. But, no matter how you fell into SEO, one thing is always true, which is the fact that there is massive amounts of information on the Internet pertaining to SEO and not all of it is correct.

To alleviate this, I've put together this list below containing a handy glossary, industry blogs, great articles (that will be updated frequently) and, most importantly, people you should be following on Twitter to keep up with the changing SEO landscape.

I've found that following great minds like those below is one of the best ways to sharpen your skill set, and you can learn quite a lot from these great men and women.


1xx http status codes indicate a provisional response.

  • 100 – The server has received request headers and that the client server should proceed to send the request body
  • 101 – The requester has asked a server to switch protocols
  • 102 – This is processing code that shows a request has been received but no response is available

2xx status codes indicated an action requested by a user has been received and processed successfully.

3xx status codes indicate a redirect.

  • 301 – The response to a permanent redirect and the most trusted redirect, indicating a change of address for a web page found in the htaccess file on apache servers. Also useful for dealing with canonical issues
  • 302 – A temporary redirect, meaning it does not pass link equity and can be seen as less trustworthy

4xx status codes refer cases where the client has erred.

  • 400 – Indicates that a request cannot be fulfilled due to bad syntax
  • 403 – A valid request has been made, but the requester does not have the credentials to view the page
  • 404 – Not found error that indicates a resource could not be found, such as a broken link

5xx errors are in response to the server not fulfilling the request

Adwords is a Google Pay Per Click contextual advertisement program that offers content, display and advertisement extensions – the most common form of online advertising.

Affiliate sites market products or services that are actually sold by another website or business in exchange for fees or commissions on sales or leads. Some types of affiliates are MFA or Made for Google in the sense that the site is designed from the beginning as a venue for advertising through AdWords.

Algorithms are complex programs used by search engines to determine what pages should be displayed for a given search query.

Alt text is a description of a graphic – usually unseen by the end user unless the graphic is unsupported by the browser or operating system. Alt text is important to SEO because search engine spiders can’t necessarily “see” images and accurate descriptions associate the picture with the correct query.

Analytics are programs that assist webmasters when gathering and analyzing data about a website. Google analytics is a free, feature rich and popular analytics program that also has a paid version that displays 100 percent of data instead of a sample.

Anchor text is the visible text of a link. Search engines use anchor text to indicate the relevancy of the referring site and of the link to the content on the landing page. Ideally all three will share some commonality.

Authority is the amount of trust that a site is credited with for a particular search query. Authority/trust is derived from external links pointing to a site, social presence and quality of content a website provides.

B2B refers to Business to Business marketing.

B2C is similar to B2B, but stands for Business to Consumer.

Backlink (link, inlink, or incoming link) is a link into a page or site from any other page or site.

Black hat refers to the dark side of SEO. These type of SEOs use tactics that are counter to best practices in Google Webmaster Guidelines.

Blogs are content distribution platform that allow businesses to target long-tail phrases, while providing information to the end user.  Most blogs use a Content Management System (CMS) – like WordPress – rather than individual webpages. Because of this, the Blogger can chose to concentrate on content creation instead of coding a page.

Bot (robot, spider, crawler, GoogleBot) is a program which performs a task more or less autonomously. Search engines use bots to find and add web pages to their search indexes. Spammers often use bots to “scrape” content for the purpose of plagiarizing it for exploitation by the Spammer.

Bounce rate is the percentage of users who enter a site and then leave it without viewing any other pages or clicking.

Bread crumbs are part of a site’s navigation in a horizontal bar above the main content which helps the user to understand where they are and how to get back to previously viewed pages.

Canonicalization refers to a tag that tells a search bot what the correct version of a page is. Without the rel=”canonical” tag, duplicate content can foster itself through multiple versions of the same page.

Cloaking is the practice of delivering different content to the search engine spider than that seen by the human users. This is a  BlackHat tactic and is frowned upon by the search engines and, if caught, caries a virtual death penalty of the site/domain being banned from the search engine results.

CMS Content Management System – programs such as Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla – which separate most of the mundane Webmaster tasks from content creation so that a publisher can be effective without acquiring or even understanding sophisticated coding skills.

Comment spam involves posting blog comments for the purpose of generating a link to another site. Could be seen as an unsavory or blackhat tactic.

Content (text, copy) is the part of a web page that is intended to have value for and be of interest to the user. Content should be considered the meat of the page, surrounded by the navigation, sidebar, footer and advertisements.

Contextual advertising is an advertisement that is related to the content.

Conversion is the achievement of a quantifiable goal on a website. Add clicks, sign ups, leads and sales are examples of conversions.

Conversion rate Percentage of users who convert - see conversion.

CPC Cost Per Click - the rate that is paid per click for a Pay Per Click Advertiser

CPM (Cost Per Thousand impressions) A statistical metric used to quantify the average value / cost of Pay Per Click advertisements. M - from the Roman numeral for one thousand.

Crawler (bot, spider) programs move through the web or a website by way of the link structure to gather data.

Directory is a site devoted to directory pages. The DMOZ directory is an example. Pages within directories usually point to specific topics. Directories have lost popularity over recent years due to link penalties stemming from low-quality directories.

Duplicate Content is content that is too similar or identical to that found on another website or page. A site may not be penalized for serving duplicate content but it will receive little if any Trust from the search engines compared to the content that the SE considers being the original.

Feeds display content that is delivered to the user via special websites or programs such as news aggregators (i.e. Google Reader).

Frames are a web page design where two or more documents appear on the same screen, each within its own frame. Frames are bad for SEO because they are difficult or impossible for spiders to correctly navigate them.

Google bomb refers to the effort of one or multiple webmasters to change the Google search results usually for humorous effect.

Google dance is the change in SERPs caused by an algorithm update and sometimes the cause of great anxiety and worry for webmasters who slip in the SERPs.

Googlebot is Google’s spider.

HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) directives or “markup” which are used to add formatting and web functionality to plain text for use on the internet.

Impressions refer to the event where a user views a webpage or result one time.

index Noun - a database of WebPages and their content used by the search engines.

index Verb - to add a web page to a search engine index.

indexed Pages The pages on a site which have been indexed.

keyword cannibalization The excessive reuse of the same keyword on too many web pages within the same site. This practice makes it difficult for the users and the search engines to determine which page is most relevant for the keyword.

keyword density The percentage of words on a web page which are a particular keyword. If this value is unnaturally high the page may be penalized.

keyword research The hard work of determining which keywords are appropriate for targeting.

keyword spam (keyword stuffing) Inappropriately high keyword density.

keyword stuffing (keyword spam) Inappropriately high keyword density.

landing page the page that a user lands on when they click on a link in a SERP

link An element on a web page that can be clicked on to cause the browser to jump to another page or another part of the current page.

link bait A webpage with the designed purpose of attracting incoming links, often mostly via social media.

link building actively cultivating incoming links to a site.

link exchange a reciprocal linking scheme often facilitated by a site devoted to directory pages. Link exchanges usually allow links to sites of low or no quality, and add no value themselves. Quality directories are usually human edited for quality assurance.

link farm a group of sites which all link to each other.

link juice (trust, authority, pagerank)

link partner (link exchange, reciprocal linking) Two sites which link to each other. Search engines usually don’t see these as high value links, because of the reciprocal nature.

long tail longer more specific search queries that are often less targeted than shorter broad queries. For example a search for “widgets” might be very broad while “red widgets with reverse threads” would be a long tail search. A large percentage of all searches are long tail searches/

META tags Statements within the HEAD section of an HTML page which furnishes information about the page. META information may be in the SERPs but is not visible on the page. It is very important to have unique and accurate META title and description tags, because they may be the information that the search engines rely upon the most to determine what the page is about. Also, they are the first impression that users get about your page within the SERPs.

Negative SEO is maliciously using SEO tactics to lower a sites rank by sending it links from the untrusted sources.

Nofollow A command found in either the HEAD section of a web page or within individual link code, which instructs robots to not follow either any links on the page or the specific link.

Noindex is a command found in either the HEAD section of a web page or within individual link code, which instructs robots to not index the page or the specific link.

Organic Links are links that result from quality content, news mentions and editorials.

Outlink or outgoing link from a site.

PageRank (PR) a value between 0 and 10 assigned by the Google algorithm, which quantifies page importance. This is the former basis of Google’s algorithm, but is not as important in today’s algorithmic climate.

Pay for Inclusion PFI is the practice of charging a fee to include a website in a search engine or directory.

PPC (Pay Per Click) is contextual advertisement type, where advertisers pay add agencies (such as Google) whenever a user clicks on their add (i.e. AdWords).

Reciprocal Linking is the exchange of links between two sites. These are not valuable links and can potentially harm a site.

Redirect is a method used to change the address of a landing page such as when a site is moved to a new domain or to remove expired/useless pages.

Robots.txt is a file in the root directory of a website use to restrict and control the behavior of search engine spiders.

ROI (Return On Investment) One use of analytics software is to analyze and quantify return on investment, and thus cost / benefit of different schemes.

Scraping is copying content from a site, often facilitated by automated bots or plagiarizers.

SEM is short for search engine marketing. SEM is often used to describe acts associated with researching, submitting and positioning a Web site within search engines to achieve maximum exposure of your Web site. SEM includes things such as search engine optimization, paid listings and other search-engine related services and functions that will increase exposure and traffic to your Web site.

SEO is the acronym for Search Engine Optimization, the process of increasing the number of visitors to a site by achieving organic rankings in search engines.

SERP is an acronym for Search Engine Results Page.

Site Maps are a page or structured group of pages which link to every user accessible page on a website that is meant to improve a site’s usability by clarifying the data structure of the site for the users. An XML sitemap is often kept in the root directory of a site just to help search engine spiders to find all of the site pages.

Spider (bot, crawler) is a specialized bot used by search engines to find and add web pages to their indexes.

Splash Pages are pages without significant textual content, meant for specific URLs. Splash pages are generally one page sites, intended to be an alternate form of traffic to the main site.

Static Pages are web pages without dynamic content or variables such as session IDs in the URL.

Stickiness is the mitigation of bounce rate. Websites that entice users to stay on the site longer, and view more pages improve the site’s stickiness.

Time on Page (or on site) is the amount of time that a user spends on one page before clicking off. This is a strong indication of quality and relevance to a specific query.

Trust Rank is a method of differentiating between valuable pages and spam by quantifying link relationships from trusted human evaluated seed pages.

URL Uniform Resource Locator - AKA Web Address

User Generated Content (UGC) is content produced by someone other than the webmaster. Social Media, wikis and some blogs rely heavily on UGC.

Web 2.0 Is characterized by websites, which encourage user generated content.

White Hat SEO techniques conform to best practice guidelines, and do not attempt to manipulate SERPs.

Widgets are small applications used on web pages to provide specific functions such as a mortgage calculator.

Beginners Guides:

Google’s Official SEO Starter Guide

SEOmoz Beginners Guide to SEO

Periodic Table of SEO Elements

Link Building Strategies

Link Bait Guide

Link Building Must Reads

Google’s Advanced Search Operators

Building Ranking Authority

Building a Brand Through Blogging

Email Outreach Examples

Evaluating Sites for Outreach

News and Industry Updates:

Search Engine Land

SE Roundtable

Search Engine Journal

Search Engine Watch


Google Inside Search Blog

Mozscape Ranking Correlations

SEOs on Twitter (in no particular order):

Don Rhoades ‏ @TheGonzoSEO

Jim Boykin ‏ @jimboykin

Justin Briggs ‏ @justinrbriggs

Himanshu ‏ @seohimanshu

Napoleon Suarez ‏ @napoleonsuarez .

debra mastaler ‏ @debramastaler

Gab Goldenberg ‏ @GabGoldenberg

Cyrus Shepard ‏ @CyrusShepard

Rae Hoffman ‏ @sugarrae

Nate Dame ‏ @seonate

Ivan Dimitrijevic ‏ @IvanDSEO

Dixon ‏ @Dixon_Jones

Neil Patel ‏ @neilpatel

JulieJoyce ‏ @JulieJoyce

GarrettFrench ‏ @GarrettFrench

Tom Critchlow ‏ @tomcritchlow

Ben McKay ‏ @yetanotherben

Joanna Batten ‏ @JoannaBatten

MyCool King ‏ @iPullRank 

Wayne Barker ‏ @wayneb77

Dan Cristo ‏ @dancristo

Jason Acidre ‏ @jasonacidre

Darren Shaw ‏ @EdmontonSEO

Ross Hudgens ‏ @RossHudgens

Kristi Hines ‏ @kikolani

Matt Polsky @mattpolsky

wilreynolds ‏ @wilreynolds

Preston Van Dyke ‏ @PrestonVanDyke

rjonesx ‏ @rjonesx

Melanie Nathan ‏ @melanienathan

James Agate ‏ @jamesagate 

Rand Fishkin ‏ @randfish

Eric Ward ‏ @ericward

Linkbuildr Team ‏ @linkbuildr

Wiep ‏ @wiep

John Doherty ‏ @dohertyjf

Jon Cooper ‏ @PointBlankSEO

Hope you enjoyed this. If you have suggestions or like what you see, be sure to comment and share.

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