SEO Glossary
Terms & Definitions

Learn More about SEO.
Handy definitions and Instructions.

Search Engine Optimization

SEO Glossary

SEO can often seem like another language with its technical verbiage. At PaperStreet, however, we like our clients to have an understanding of what we do for your site to improve its performance. Below are the terms and instructions for how to view your custom dashboard, and what are the “must know” terms. Under that is an SEO glossary containing some of the important terms to understand to gauge the performance of your law firm’s website fully.  

A

  • Ads (Google Ads)

    Google’s online advertising program. Used to create online ads that reach Google users whenever they search for a query that triggers a keyword or other parameter defined by the advertiser.
  • Algorithms

    Sets of mathematical systems of calculations and formulas designed to create a result. Algorithms are used by search engines to help determine which websites are the most relevant to a search query, based on weighted elements defined by the search engine.
  • Alt Text/Alt Tag

    This is a brief description of an image that appears on your site. Though the tag can assist with SEO, the primary function of the text is describe the image to disabled site visitors who are employing screen readers.
  • Analytics

    Software that is used in conjunction with a website to record data related to visitor activity and traffic. Typically, this information can be accessed through a dashboard where all of the data and metrics are categorized.
  • Anchor Text

    Anchor text is the text that appears within your hyperlinks. Ideally, these should be descriptive and not simply “click here.”
  • AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)

    These are stripped down versions of your normal web pages that are optimized to be very lightweight and load extremely fast.
  • Async

    Short for asynchronous. The ability to transfer data to the website page after it is loaded, which allows the page to not be reloaded for every single interaction.
  • Authority

    A website’s authority is determined by a multitude of factors, but mainly from the amount and quality of backlinks and content.  
  • A/B Testing

    Using multiple versions of a webpage, ad or another testable element to determine which performs best

    also referred to as split or bucket testing.

B

  • Backlink

    A link obtained from another website. Backlinks help search engines understand what the website is about and are an important determining factor in ranking in Google.
  • Black Hat

    These are practices used to increase rankings that are considered spammy or against best practice guidelines. These practices are meant to “game the system” and could essentially end up harming the website. Examples include keyword stuffing, low-quality directories and link networks.
  • Bounce Rate

    The percentage of visitors who exit a particular web page before clicking on any other hyperlinks and visiting additional web pages.

C

  • Caching

    This happens when your browser shows a previously saved version of a website you have visited before. Changes may have been done, but instead of showing a refreshed version, an older version is displayed.
  • Canonical Tag

    This is a type of meta tag that helps primarily with duplicate content issues. This tag informs search engines to classify an alternative page as the preferred version of a webpage.
  • Click-Through Rate

    The percentage of your search impressions vs. the number of clicks your listing receives. This metric is applied to both organic and paid search results.
  • Content Marketing

    Content marketing refers to designing the content of your site in a way that attracts and promotes clients to do more than browse your site. Content marketing can include social media, videos, images, etc.
  • Conversion

    A conversion refers to the achievement of a goal in terms of internet marketing. Examples of conversions include: completion of contact forms, downloading of materials or using a click-to-call link.
  • CSS

    Cascading Style Sheets. A style sheet’s language allows web designers to attach style elements (i.e., spacing, color, font) to HTML documents.

D

  • Do-Follow Link

    This is when a backlink is coded to be followed by search engines. By default, all links are followed links unless coded to “no follow.” Followed links help with rankings and to increase your domain authority.
  • Domain Authority

    This is the number from 1-100 given to a website to determine how authoritative it is, with 100 being the best. It was coined by Moz, but other websites use similar scores such as Ahrefs that uses Domain Rating. Backlinks and content both help determine this rating.
  • Duplicate Content

    Duplicate content refers to publishing the same content in multiple pages of your website. This will hurt your site’s ranking and should be avoided.
  • DNS

    The records that maintain the internet. A DNS query is called each time a website loads or an email is sent. Typically you store these records at your domain registrar or website host. They can include HOST A, CNAME, MX and TXT records. Each record is a pointer to where to route traffic.

E

  • Engagement

    Website engagement is measured using a variety of factors, including the number of unique website visitors, frequency of visits, core user actions, pages viewed per session, average session duration, bounce rate and visitor recency.
  • External Link

    An external link refers to a hyperlink within your site that directs to another website. These can increase your search performance, provided that you link to quality, authoritative websites. In law firm SEO, this can be a link to Justia or a statute.

F

  • Featured Snippets

    Google now loves to showcase small informational bits for specific terms. They are pulled from live websites, but showcase at the top of search results. Sometimes they are helpful, sometimes not. But the trend is that most definition queries have featured snippets at the top of the search results.  

G

  • Google My Business

    The platform Google offers to list your local business on their map. It helps with rankings and can be featured in relevant search results. It includes the main information of your business such as name, address, phone number and website along with other features like photos and social posts.
  • Google Search Console

    A tool created by Google that allows a webmaster to inform Google about changes to their website and receive notifications about any issues that may be wrong with the website from Google’s perspective.
  • Googlebot

    A fun name for Google’s search indexing program that scours the web for new websites to devour into its index.

H

  • HTML

    Hypertext Markup Language, the authoring language used for tagging files to achieve the font, color, graphic and hyperlink effects that makeup webpages.
  • .htaccess File

    The file that tells the web server how to process certain other files on the website. The most common way is to use the file to write redirects

    meaning take this old website traffic to a page that does not exist and push it to a new page.

I

  • Index

    The overall search knowledge of Google, or Bing, or DuckDuckGo. The index is a store of all the websites they have indexed and stored information in their database.
  • Image Carousels

    This does not involve horses and 5-year olds. Rather, this is a way of showcasing images typically at the top of the page that slides in/out every few seconds. These were very popular until studies started to show that no one viewed the second, third or fourth image. So it is better to have one image at the top of the page.
  • Image Compression

    Speed. Images can be HUGE in file size. You can reduce them using popular image compression tools to make them easier to download.
  • Infographic

    An infographic is a stylized graphic that is customized to match the content of your website. A mix of text and images, an infographic is informative to your site visitors and also helps your site rank.
  • Internal Links

    Internal links are hyperlinks with the text of your website that link to other pages on the site. This is an SEO technique that will assist in rankings.
  • IP Address

    Where your website actually lives. Every computer on the web has a specific IP address. It is unique to that computer or server. Domain names just make a fancy name like paperstreet.com point to a specific set of numbers such as 159.135.6.157.

J

  • JavaScript (js)

    Programming language commonly used in web development to create interactive effects within web browsers.

K

  • Keywords

    Search queries that a user enters into a search engine to find relevant information they are looking for.
  • Keyword Density

    Keyword density refers to how often your keyword appears within the content on a webpage.
  • Keyword Research

    When you start an SEO campaign, you first need to figure out what phrases should you target. Do you target “Estate Plans for Floridians”?  Or do you focus on “Estate Planning Florida”? Actually, keyword data is better and allows you to target the right terms.
  • Keyword Stuffing

    Keyword stuffing is the overuse of your keyword to try and increase rankings. This creates non-quality content and is highly discouraged.
  • KPI  (Key Performance Indicator)

    Values used to measure the performance of marketing efforts to understand the effectiveness of campaigns better and make more informed decisions for future actions.

L

  • Latent Semantic Indexing (LSIs)

    A fancy name for related keyword phrases. Documents are scanned for the relationship of words in the documents.  For SEO purposes, it usually means adding in relevant topics, ideas or keyword phrases to the page.
  • Lazy Loading

    Deferred loading of certain images and/or files to help improve overall website load speed. Typically the functionality doesn’t deploy until visitor interaction or scrolling occurs over a particular area.
  • Local Map Pack

    See Map Pack
  • Link Building

    This is the process of creating items and engaging in activities to purposefully gain more backlinks to a website. This can include signing up for directories, sharing new content with other website owners, publishing content on other platforms and more.
  • Link Bait

    In the simplest of terms, link bait is highly engageable and quality content that is shareable and/or encourages links back to your site.
  • Long Tail Keywords

    Long tail keywords refers to the terms that potential clients search for that is more descriptive than a simple short phrase. For example: “What is the statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit”? Proper SEO content writing will try to include these phrases as well as the short phrases such as “personal injury lawyer Florida.”

M

  • Map Pack

    Google now showcases at least three listings above search results, or within them, of businesses related to your search. They sometimes showcase a fourth advertiser. The map pack is based on the business area, distance to the city center and several other local ranking factors.
  • Meta Description

    A meta description is the text that appears under the title of your webpage on the search engine results page. It describes your business and is approximately 166 characters.
  • Meta Tags

    Meta tags refer to the title tag and meta description and occasionally, other metadata. These help to identify and describe your site to both the search engine and your potential site visitors.
  • Meta Keywords

    Though this practice has largely grown out of favor, meta keywords a form of meta tag where keywords were inserted into the HTML code of a site.
  • Meta Robots

    An overall tag to tell Google, and other search engines, on whether to index your website. Don’t want your site indexed? Use  <meta name="robots" content="noindex" />. There are a variety of tags you can use.  See Google guidelines.

N

  • Noindex

    A meta tag that can be deployed on a webpage to inform a search engine to not index on that particular web page.
  • Nofollow

    A meta tag that can be deployed on a webpage to inform a search engine not to crawl or follow the links on that particular web page.

O

  • On-page SEO

    Any search engine optimization technique that is applied to the actual website. This can include tags, meta, snippets, content writing, content editing, title tags, internal linking and more.
  • Organic Search Results

    Search engine results page entries that match or are closely related to the search engine user’s search query. These entries are unpaid and typically appear in search engines below paid result.
  • Orphan Page

    A sad, lonely page that needs a friend; give it a link from another page.
  • Off Page SEO

    Any search engine optimization technique that is applied NOT to the website. This can include backlinks, directory listings, updating your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) and anything else you do that is offsite.

P

  • Page Speed

    A metric used to understand how fast a particular web page takes before it is fully loaded.
  • Penalty

    A penalty is when you run afoul of Google’s guidelines. A few years ago, many websites used nefarious backlink schemes to try to rank high and ran into A LOT of manual penalties that dropped their websites from the search results.
  • PHP

    The programming language that runs the web. Some people have speculated that over 80% of the internet runs on PHP.
  • Pogo Sticking

    When a visitor clicks on your listing, visiting your site for a few seconds, sees your site is subpar, then goes back to Google and clicks on your competitor’s site. They then spend minutes on that site and finalize their search.  This sends a signal to Google that your site is poor. Conclusion: get a better site.
  • PPC (Pay Per Click)

    A method of search engine marketing in which an advertiser creates an ad campaign with a search engine platform and bids on keywords to trigger ads when a search engine user enters a related search query. The advertiser is then charged if and when the search engine user clicks on the advertiser’s ad.

Q

  • Quality Content

    Quality content is a goal of both SEO and content marketing. Content on your website should be relevant to the information your site’s visitors are looking for and should be presented in a way that is informative and engaging.
  • Query

    Query is a synonym for a search phrase.

R

  • Rankings

    Rankings are a key goal of SEO. Specifically, rankings refers to where your site appears when Google or other search engine displays the results.
  • Reciprocal Links

    This is a link building tactic where you ask a website to link to yours if you link back to them. It can be seen as spammy most of the time unless there is a quality reason for both websites to link to each other.
  • Redirect

    This is when one website automatically takes you to another URL when visiting it. In other words, you are being forwarded to a new URL from the original one you clicked on or typed in.
  • Referrer

    Anyone that sends traffic to your website. If someone clicks on a link from another site and arrives at your site, that is a referrer. Track these, and you can detect trends

    maybe find a good source or traffic.
  • Relevance

    Generally speaking, relevance refers to how related a search is to the content that appears on your site. As an example, Google will consider if the content on a personal injury site is “relevant” to a search for a slip and fall attorney.  
  • Responsive

    The ability of your site to change its shape and size to “respond” to the viewing environment. All sites should be responsive these days and showcase nicely on mobile, tablet and desktop.
  • Rich Snippets

    All the extra information that Google shows to you when you run a search query. This can be dates, reviews, article info, authors, recipes, videos and more.
  • Robots.txt

    A file telling Google whether to index your website. Most of the time you want the entire site indexed, but sometimes you want to ask it to stay away because you have secrets that you don’t want indexed.
  • ROI

    This is your return on investment. This should be discussed with your marketing team. Do you want to make $2.00 for every $1.00 spent? $10? Something reasonable needs to be set and discussed.

S

  • Scraping

    When you write a computer script to visit a website and grab all the data or text from that page. Sometimes these can be an awesome and very powerful tool. Sometimes they can annoy the site owners because you slow down their site and steal their data.
  • SEO vs. SEM

    SEM is when advertisers pay to have their ads and listings displayed prominently on a user’s search. SEO is the process of helping to influence the visibility of a website in a search engine’s unpaid, or organic, results. Both are ways of driving more traffic to a website. SEO can take a while to start showing results, whereas SEM can provide immediate results. SEO has substantial long-term gains, but SEM also has long-term performance increase as well.
  • SERP

    SERP is an abbreviation for “search engine results page.” This is the page that appears when someone searches.
  • Sessions

    Sessions generally refers to the time spent on your website before the visitor leaves.
  • Sitelinks

    Links to website subpages that appear under some search engine results. They provide additional relevant pages a user can click on aside from the one that appears in the results page. May appear on either paid or unpaid search results.
  • Sitemap

    All the pages on your site in a nice order.
  • Status Codes (2xx, 3xx, 4xx, 5xx)

    Each particular status code defines how a particular web page loaded. Whether it loaded successfully, redirected to another page, was not found or there was a code or server error.
  • SSL

    Standard security technology that can be applied to a website that is designed to encrypt the information that may be sent from the web server and a browser.
  • Spider (crawler, bot, robot)

    What search engines use to crawl and index the entire web. Spiders follow links to discover new web pages and index them.
  • Structured Data

    Additional code that can be added to your website that helps search engines better categorize and understand the information and content.
  • Spam

    When someone intentionally violates online rules or best practices to either rank better or receive some type of personal gain.
  • Subdomain

    Most people have a domain such as paperstreet.com. You can also have a subdomain such as www.paperstreet.com (the www is the subdomain). You can also have subdomains such as intranet.paperstreet.com, fun.paperstreet.com, sdfsjkdfhsfdhskdfjsfd.paperstreet.com or anything you want.
  • Stop Word

    Words to ignore, just like this definition. These can include the, a, an, in, etc.

T

  • Title Tag

    Title tag refers to the name or description of your business that appears on the SERP. This is typically under 65 characters and plays a part in your rankings.
  • Traffic

    Any visit to your website page.
  • Time on Page

    How long a user spends on your particular webpage before exiting the website or visiting a different page.

U

  • URL

    This is the address of a specific page of a website. It stands for uniform resource locator. An example of a URL is paperstreet.com/blog
  • Unique Text

    To write content in your own words and not duplicate it from anywhere else on the web (even your own website). Having unique text is important for ranking well and not spamming.
  • Unnatural Links

    This is an example of a black hat tactic and occurs when someone tries to get a link that would not make sense to a user. An example is paying for links in bulk on low-quality directories.
  • UTM Code

    Urchin Tracking Module code. A snippet of text/code that, when added or attached to a URL string, creates a custom URL that enables advertisers to track various elements of visits to that webpage using a tool such as Google Analytics. Elements that can be tracked include the source of the traffic and the keyword used in the search query.
  • User Agent

    The browser type that is visiting your site. Most analytics programs can track what type of website browser you are using.
  • Usability and UX

    The overall function of your website. When people talk about UX they are talking about making your site better, easier to navigate, easier to read and overall just better.

 

V

  • Volume, Search

    The overall number of queries on a monthly basis that a keyword phrase has. Is it searched 10 times? 100? 1,000? 10,000?

W

  • White Hat

    The opposite of black hat, white hat tactics follow search engine rules and have the user in mind when implementing SEO strategies.
  • WordPress

    WordPress is a content management system that many businesses choose to use to organize and publish content and blogs on their website. Depending on whether you want to pay a fee or not, WordPress offers customized layouts and other client-friendly features.

X

  • XML Sitemap

    Markup language that is used to inform search engines about all of the URLs that exist on your website to help with discovery and indexing of these web pages.

Y

Z

#

  • 301 Redirect

    This status code appears when a particular URL has been established to redirect the visitor to a different web page when visiting the original.
  • 404 Error

    This status code appears when a visitor tries to access a URL that no longer exists.
  • 500 Error

    This status code appears when a visitor tries to access a URL that has code or server errors and will not properly load.

How to View the Custom Dashboard in Real-Time

  1. Login to your Google Analytics Account

  2. Click on the appropriate website

  3. Click on "Dashboards" in the top left corner

  4. Click on "Private"

  5. Then select "PaperStreet Custom Dashboard"

Custom Dashboard Module Explained

  • Overall Website Visits

    The total number of [unique] visitors who have visited your site.
  • Avg. Time on Website

    The average length of time a visitor will spend on your site.
  • Most Viewed Pages

    This section highlights the most popular content on your site. Under Page, you will find the webpage address, the total number of visits to the page is under Sessions and the average length of time the user spent on the page is also featured.
  • Entrance Pages

    The entrance page highlights the most popular pages on your website, and is the first page that a user lands on when they enter your site.
  • Page Views Per Visit:

    The number of different pages that visitors view on your site during each visit.
  • Website Traffic Timeline

    The graph shows how many visitors come to your website each day.
  • Bounce Rate Timeline

    The graph features the overall bounce rate for your website. A bounce is defined as when a visitor views one webpage on the site and leaves the site without viewing any other pages.
  • Website Traffic Sources

    The graph outlines how visitors find your website. Organic traffic is defined as when a user visits your website from a search engine. Direct traffic is when the user types your website directly into the URL of a web browser. Referral traffic is when a user clicks a link to your website on an external website. Paid traffic is when a user clicks on a paid search advertisement.
  • Traffic by City

    This graph highlights the visitors’ cities, how many visits per city and the amount of time spent on your site.
  • Mobile vs. Desktop Traffic

    This graph highlights the number of desktop and tablet visitors vs. visitors those using mobile devices.
  • Website Conversions

    The number of goal conversions that are completed. This is typically set up to track contact form completions.
  • Traffic from Social Networks

    The total number of visitors coming to your website from social media networks, i.e., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. This tool shows what social networks are driving the most traffic to your site.