SEO Glossary


SEO Glossary, Online Marketing Terms and Meanings

Online marketing is a quickly changing industry with an ever-expanding list of acronyms and buzz words linked to it.

To help you understand we’ve assembled this basic glossary of the most common words and acronyms used.



The word or phrase typed into a search engine to find websites relating to a certain topic.


Search Engine Results Pages – the list of websites and webpages presented to you by the search engine after you input the word or phrase you are searching for.

Organic Search

Organic search results are listings on search engine results pages that appear because of their relevance to the search terms, as opposed to being paid advertisements. Also referred to as ‘unpaid’ or ‘natural’ search.

Paid Search

Paid Search results are the listings that appear on search engine results pages because they have been paid for to be included (usually paid per click, hence the term PPC advertising is often used). They are usually located either at the top of the results list in the area with a lightly coloured background and Ads label or located at the right-hand side of the results page.


Search Engine Marketing – a form of internet marketing that seeks to promote websites by increasing their visibility in search engine result pages. This includes both Paid Search and SEO, although some confuse it for the former only.


Search Engine Optimisation – the act of optimising a website and website content for effective search via search engines like Google using many different keyword phrases consumers would use to find your company or products, so that search engines will rank your relevant pages higher up the list of organic search results.


Links to your website included on other websites. Backlinks work to some extent as a voting system ñ the more quality links you have directing to your website the more ‘credible’ you appear to search engines. The secret is in the quality aspect.

On-Page Optimisation

Optimisation of a webpage done by making changes and edits to the content and source code (title, meta description and meta keywords) of that page.

Off-Page Optimisation

Optimisation of a webpage by carrying out procedures external to the webpage but which influence the page’s rankings – such as site analysis, external link building (backlinks) etc.

Anchor Text

The clickable text on a webpage that includes a hyperlink. The words or phrase in the anchor text can determine the ranking that the linked-to page will receive by search engines. Anchor text is also known as the ‘link label’ or ‘link text’.

Source Code

The source code for a webpage is normally in HTML, but can also be written in another computer ‘language’. To find the source code of a webpage, right-click on the page and select ‘view source’ or ‘view page source’.

Meta Description Tag

A meta description tag is a piece of code included in the source code that contains a brief description of the content included on a webpage. It usually appears in the SERP as a 1-2 line description below the page link.

Meta Keywords Tag

A meta keywords tag is a piece of code included in the source code that documents which keywords may be useful to find a page, visible to engines crawlers but no longer used by Google to rank pages in search result pages.

Title Tag

A title tag is a piece of code included in the source code that tells the search engine the title of the page and tells the web browser what text should be shown at the top of the browser window. This text is considered to be very important in on-page SEO.


Content Management System. A software tool used to manage websites and their content, making it easy to add, edit and delete content or pages.


The formula or calculations used by search engines (such as Google or Bing) to decide what pages are most relevant to display when a user types in a search query or keyword, and in what order the results should be displayed. Search engines are constantly working to improve this calculation to provide the best and most relevant results. Sometimes the changes, known as algorithm updates, are small and rolled-out over time, while other times they are substantial and even given a name to denote a big shift in search results (such as Penguin and Panda).

Google Panda Update

A substantial Google algorithm update that was announced in February 2011. The update penalised ‘thin’ websites with little useful content and poor user experience, ranking them lower in SERPs than websites with useful, well-written and substantial content.

Google Penguin Update

A substantial Google algorithm update that was announced in April 2012. The update penalised websites that were breaking Google’s guidelines for Webmasters and using manipulative techniques to achieve high rankings, such as spammy or low-quality backlinks.

Google Hummingbird

Google Hummingbird was a significant change made by Google in September 2013. More than an algorithm update, Hummingbird was identified by Google as a new algorithm. Comparing the search engine to a car, Google said an algorithm update is like a new part, but Hummingbird is more like a whole new engine. It improved the way the search engine can understand text, websites and search queries. Rather than relying on keywords in search queries and how they match keywords on websites, Google can now better understand themes and questions and how they relate to broader or related themes. For example, depending on the context of a sentence, it is better able to tell the difference between a Jaguar car and a Jaguar animal. The change to hummingbird put a greater emphasis on websites having more useful content that is related to their wider industry, not just keyword or service focused.