SEO Basics: Basic SEO Terms Definitions

SEO Basics is the eCreative IM blog column written for SEO beginners just learning the basics of search engine optimization. You can find all our SEO Basics articles by browsing the SEO Basics Archive or find the specific tips you’re looking for in our SEO Tips & Guides page.

In the world of SEO we use a heck of a lot of industry-specific terms and acronyms, because it’s just easier to say SEO than it is to say Search Engine Optimization. The unfortunate side-effect is that when we start talking about internet marketing without providing definitions for these SEO terms our meaning can quickly get obfuscated by all the acronyms.

Fear not! Ecreative IM is here to help with definitions of basic SEO terms and terminology. We’ll tell you what the acronym stands for, and what the term in general means. If there are any specific SEO terms that you’d like to know the definition for that aren’t included on this list, please drop a comment and we’ll get it updated.

SEO Basic Terms & Terminology Definitions

  • Above the Fold: Refers to an organic search engine result that is high enough that a user can see it without having to scroll down. Which ranks appear above the fold depends on user hardware, and what kinds of search results are being listed under that search phrase. See full details on our Above the Fold definition article.
  • Analytics: Typically referring to Google Analytics specifically, though there are several different analytics softwares. Analytics refers to tracking software that provides statistics on your website’s usage, including how much traffic the site is getting, where the traffic is coming from, what keywords users are entering to reach your site, and much more.
  • B2B: Business to Business. B2B refers specifically to businesses that provide products or services to other businesses, as opposed to providing products or services to consumers. A company that manufactures forklifts to sell to other companies would be a B2B business.
  • B2C:Business to Consumer. B2C refers specifically to businesses that provide products or services to end users, or consumers, as opposed to providing them to other businesses. A company that manufactures toys told to consumers would be a B2C business.
  • Backlink: Backlinks refers to links from other websites that link to your website. Backlinks specifically exclude links from your own site that point to other places on your site. In general, the more backlinks you have, the more authority search engines will assume your site has. It is worth noting, however, that not all backlinks are equal and backlinks from generic directories that are not industry-specific can give no benefit at all.
  • Black Hat SEO: Black Hat SEO refers to SEO practices that are in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Black Hat SEO attempts to manipulate their search engine rankings through means specifically and implicitly forbidden by Google. This can result in the sites being banned by Google, and no longer showing up in the search results of Google or its partners. Black Hat SEO marketers take this risk in hopes of getting fast results, typically on sites where it doesn’t matter if they get banned a month or two later. Sometimes also referred to as “algorithm chasers.” See our full Black Hat SEO article for details.
  • Bounce Rate: Bounce rate is an analytics term that refers to someone who visits just one page of a website, and then leaves. Bounce rate does not pay attention to how long they were on that page — it could be seconds or hours — but if they only looked at one page before leaving, it’s considered a bounce. While low bounce rates are desirable, a bounce is not necessarily a bad thing; it’s entirely possible the user found the information he or she was looking for on that page. See our SEO Basics article explaining bounce rates, including what is a good bounce rate and what you can learn from bounce rates.
  • Conversions: The term Conversions can have a couple of different meanings in the internet marketing world. Typically conversions refers to “converting” someone to goes to your website into a customer — meaning they actually made a purchase. Thus if 3,000 people visited your website, and 30 of them purchased anything, you’d have had 30 conversions. Conversions are not necessarily purchases though — often in the B2B world and the B2C services sector, there aren’t strictly defined products that customers can purchase from a shopping cart. In these cases conversions are often tracked as the number of people who filled out a request for quote or contact form.
  • CPA: Cost per Acquisition. A paid search engine advertising term meaning the total amount you’d have to pay to acquire a customer. Thus if you were paying $1 per click, and on average one out of 10 clickthroughs purchased from you, your CPA would be $10.  CPA is calculated as: CPC ÷ Conversion Rate.
  • CPC: Cost per Click. A paid search engine advertising term meaning the amount you have to pay each time a user clicks on one of your ad links. This is usually determined by bidding in an open market.
  • CPM: Cost per Thousand Impressions. A paid search engine advertising term meaning how much you would pay for 1,000 impressions of an ad. Once a common way of purchasing advertising online, now most online advertising is paid by clicks, rather than by impressions.
  • CTR: Click Through Rate. A term usually used with paid search engine advertising, but that can also apply to organic search engine optimization. CTR is the percentage of users who actually click on your ad. So if your ad was displayed 100 times, and 10 people clicked on it, you’d have a 10% click through rate. CTR is calculated as: # of clicks ÷ # of ad impressions
  • eCPM: Effective Cost per Thousand Impressions. A paid search engine advertising term meaning how much an ad that your site is displaying earns you, on average, every 1,000 times it’s viewed. eCPM is calculated as:  earnings (in dollars) ÷ impressions * 1,000.
  • Hits: A measure of traffic on your website. Every time a page is viewed, that is considered a hit. If the same person loads a page 8 times, that would count as 8 hits. Also referred to as pageviews.
  • Impressions: Similar to hits or pageviews, impressions is most commonly used as a paid search engine advertising term meaning the number of times that an ad appeared in search engine results, or as affiliated website ads, but can also refer to the number of times a webpage was viewed, making it synonymous with pageviews or hits.
  • Indexed Pages: Also used as Indexed Content. This refers to the pages on a website that a search engine has explored and stored. If a page, or site, has not been indexed by a search engine, there is no chance that it can show up in search engine results.
  • Keywords: Used throughout SEO in both organic and PPC, keywords refers to the actual words or phrase a user enters into a search engine. Websites and PPC campaigns are optimized around specific keywords.
  • Longtail: Frequently used as “longtail searches,” longtail refers to search phrases entered into a search engine the include certain keywords as well as a number of additional keywords. So if your site is optimized for “Tasty Apples” you might also rank for a longtail search of “Tasty Apples to Bake in Pies.”
  • Meta Tags: Meta tags are website code that is invisible to users, and in SEO specifically refers to the Keywords and Description tags, which are designed to help search engines better understand and explain to users what a website is about. See the article What is a Meta Tag? for more.
  • Organic Search Results: The word “organic” refers to search traffic that is not paid for with an advertising campaign, but rather searches that come up normally as a result of the search engine’s algorithm. See the Ecreative IM article What are Organic Search Results? for more.
  • Pageviews: A measure of traffic on your website. Every time a page is viewed, that is considered a pageview. If the same person loads a page 8 times, that would count as 8 pageviews. Also referred to as hits.
  • PPC: Pay per Click. A term used in paid search engine advertising referring to purchasing ads for certain keywords. PPC campaigns pay every time an ad is clicked.
  • PR: Google Page Rank. Page Rank is Google’s way of assigning a number to the relative authority of a site. Sites are assigned a Page Rank of 0 – 10 by Google, and a high Page Rank implies that Google views that site as more authoritative. The primary variables in how Google assigns Page Rank are the number of relevant links pointing to a site, and the Page Rank of those sites that are linking in — though many other variables are also considered. Page Rank is not, in any way, an indication of the ability of a site to rank well in Google’s search engine results.
  • Reciprocal Link: Also known as a link exchange, a reciprocal link is a link that is posted to another website in exchange for that website posting a link to your site. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.
  • RFQ: Request for Quote. A common way of tracking conversions on a B2B website is the request for quote form. The assumption is that if a users interest has been piqued enough by the content of the website and the call for action succeeded in getting the user to contact the company for pricing. At this point the website has done it’s job, and it’s now up to the sales team.
  • Sandbox or Google Sandbox: reference to the period during which Google lowers the rankings of a brand new site. See full details in our Google Sandbox Effect article.
  • SEO: Search Engine Optimization: the ongoing process of changing the content and code of a website, as well as its interaction with other websites, to increase the likelihood that it will rank well in search engine results. See the SEO Basics article, What is SEO?
  • SEM: Search Engine Marketing. A broader term of gaining search engine traffic to a website combining both SEO and PPC techniques.
  • SERP: Search Engine Results Page. When a user searches for something in a search engine, the pages listing websites related to that search is the search engine results page.
  • Sitemap: A file on your website primarily intended for search engines, that informs the search engines where to find all the pages of your site that the search engine should be aware of, so that they can show up on the search engine results page. Sitemaps are usually a XML file.
  • Social Media: Social media refers to websites that create a community of users who can interact and share information with each other. The primary social media sites that impact SEO include Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Social media has grown exponentially in recent years.