Learn more about SEO with our complete glossary of terms

Have you ever sat in a meeting and heard all these crazy terms being thrown around and wondered what language have these people just invented? SEO or Search Engine Optimization can become rather complicated with the shortened versions and jargon that is often thrown around.

This is why we have started a list or glossary of SEO terms that can help you better understand what they all mean. In some of these explanations, we have given examples to help you understand them better.

The Elemental SEO Glossary



An Algorithm is a process or set of rules that perform certain actions. In the case of SEO, algorithms or Google’s set of rules as to how they crawl, index and rank websites. If you adhere to their guidelines, they typically reward you. If you don’t, you would typically get penalised.

Alt Tag

An alt tag is a bit of text that is added to a image to help search engines understand what the image is about. We use this because they are unable to crawl or see what an image is.


Analytics is a set of tools, which can be Google Analytics or Search Console, that collects data in manner that informs us as to how people get to a site. It provides us with information that we can use to measure, optimize and create our marketing efforts on. We mention of some of the tools below under “tracking code”.



A blog is used to create content which may include commentaries, news or educate readers. Blogs can be used for business use, to give a more personalised front for potential clients and to maintain an online presence that can be used for search engine optimization.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is a percentage of visitors that view a website and who leave after viewing one page. A high bounce rate is an indication of a number of things wrong with the site, whether it has poor content, weak calls for action or unfriendly navigation.


Breadcrumbs are the set of links that you may see at the top of a content page. It is basically a highlighter telling you what section of the site you are on. This typically looks like this: Home > Product Category > Product. In terms of this post, it would be Home > Marketing > SEO > SEO Glossary. These items are clickable links that you can use to navigate back.

Think of breadcrumbs as that sign that says you are here.

Broken Link

A Broken link is a link that used to be a page that has either been removed, deleted or the URL has changed. If the link that has been sent to you is broken, you generally would see a page like:

broken link 404 error


Canonical Rel Tag

A rel=canoncal tag is a tag that was created to tell Google and other search engines to index when there is possible duplication of one page. For example, if you have two pages that have the same content on a site. The rel=canonical tag will point to page A. This tells google that Page B is not the page to index or get value from but rather page a.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Click-Through Rate or CTR is the number of times people saw your websites URL and clicked. Essentially if 5 out of 100 people clicked to your website it means that the CTR would be 5%.


I am sure you have heard that Content is king. Well, it is. Content can be broken down into articles, news posts, videos, images etc. It is bits of information that we consume. In terms of marketing or SEO, content is the driving force that helps us get more traffic and hopefully better conversions.

Conversion Rate

Conversions rate is a calculation that is based on the number of conversions (see below) divided by the number of visitors to your site. We use this to determine if the traffic or visitors that are visiting your site are the types of visitors you want.


Conversions are similar to that of business goals. These usually are recorded when a purchase is made on a site, a contact form has been submitted. Essentially these are the actions or purpose behind the marketing of a website.

In some cases, a conversion can be a lot simpler depending on what the objectives of the business are.


Duplicate Content

Duplicate content, as mentioned in the canonical tag section, is where two pages with different URLs have the same or very similar content. We typically don’t suggest this as it can be a negative for the site but there are cases where it is required and there are ways to manage a duplicate content concern.


External Links

External links are links that you would put in an article that points to another site. It essentially takes users to another site. This link right here would be an example of an external link. We will explain an internal link further down.



This will display results of searches based on where your physical location is.


Goals are often referred to as conversions. Goals are a category or blanket term when it comes to setting up conversions. Under goals, we get the following data:

  • Goal Starts
  • Goal Abandons
  • Goal Completions
  • Goal Exits
  • Goal funnels

In short, it is a category in Google analytics that provides data to tell a story on your conversions and where we need to pay attention to improve them.


Headings (H1, H2, etc.)

These are tags that show the importance of the section. These heading tags are used to break content up in sub talking points in articles to introduce a new element. It is great for user experience.



Impressions are the number of time your website was seen in the search results page but not clicked on. We typically see higher impressions than clicks. The tool we look to monitor this is Google Search console.


Indexed basically means that your website or page is in the search engine index. In other words, Google or Bing can access the page and include in their index. If it is not indexed you would get a notification regarding this in Google Search Console.


Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

A KPI or Key Performance Indicator is what we use to measure the effectiveness of a campaign or general SEO. This is decided upon during the initial signup meeting and should be used to determine whether or not the work being done is meeting expectations. An example of a KPI would be seeing a % of site traffic growth year on year.


A keyword in SEO is a word that is used as the focus term for what your business or website wants to be found for online. Essentially, your target keyword would or should be aligned for what people are searching for. If it isn’t then it’s pointless.

Keyword Density

Keyword density is a calculation to measure how many time your target keyword is mentioned in the body of text. If the density is too high then the content will be unnatural to the reader. In other words over-optimized.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is one of the basic fundamental when it comes to SEO. It is the process of find the terms and search queries that we would use to optimize your site, generate content around and focus on to improve the visibility and traffic of your site.

Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is when you overuse a keyword in a piece of content. To measure this we look at keyword density to make sure that we don’t overuse a specific word too many times. The reason being is that the content doesn’t solve a purpose and even worse it is unnatural.

Below is an example of keyword stuffing:

Keyword Stuffing


Link Building

Link building is a tactic or effort to get more websites to link to your website or piece of content. The reason this is done is to build authority around your site. Think of links as votes to search engines that your site is an authority in a particular topic. Again, we need to remember to not overdo this as it can have a negative impact on your efforts.

Link Equity

Link Equity is measuring the value that a link to your site provides. In simpler terms, if a website has a domain authority of a 100 and links to your site, the equity or value will be a lot higher than a site that has a domain authority of 20 for example. Another term for link equity amongst the SEO community is Link Juice.

Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are keywords that people would use when their intent is set on performing an action. For example, buy a car. The intent here is researching. If a person searches for buy a blue ford fiesta in cape town the intent is on buying that specific car. They know what they are looking for. Long-tail terms are generally better converting terms.


Manual Penalty

A Manual Penalty is a penalty that has been put on your site from a search engine employee. This is done when a person has looked at your site and found that it goes against Google’s or Bing’s quality guidelines. These are generally easier to recover from than an algorithm update penalty as they tell you what the cause of the manual penalty is.

Meta Description

A Meta Description is two sentences underneath a title on search results. These are used to give a searcher a brief indication into what they can expect to find on this page. A well-crafted description is about 150 characters or two brief sentences that would act a call to action to get a person to click on your result snippet over another.



The NoFollow tag is a tag that tells search engines to not follow a particular link. This is different from NoIndex. NoFollow would be used on links that we don’t want to give or get value from but still use to provide people with more information on their search. It is more commonly used by development companies you use their brand name on the bottom of a website that they built.


Unlike, NoFollow, NoIndex is an instruction to search engines that a page or piece of content should not be indexed. It used for various purposes but essentially you are telling Google that the page is not going to solve a search query therefore it should not be included in the index.


Organic Traffic

Organic Traffic is traffic that a website gets that isn’t paid for. More commonly referred to traffic that comes from a search engine results page but isn’t a Google/Bing Ad.



Rank or rankings is where your site is positioned on a search results page. Typically, each result page has 10 organic listings per page. The goal of SEO is to increase your rank or visibility in the effort of getting you on the first page.


A redirect is put in place when you a page has been deleted which results in a 404 mentioned above which will then be diverted to a similar page. It is also used if a page URL has been changed and you need to direct users to the new page. Essentially it is a detour or rerouting of traffic.


A Robots.txt file is a simple text file that is uploaded to the base of a website that acts as an instruction manual for search engines what they can or can’t crawl. They use this to understand what should and shouldn’t be in the index.


ROI or Return on Investment is the measurement of how much make on your marketing spend. If you spending R100 per month but you are making R150 then your ROI would be R50 which would make sense to continue because the investment is worth it. If the return is less than the cost of SEO then it isn’t worth it.


Search Engine

A Search Engine is where we go to find information this is most commonly referred to as Google followed by Bing etc. But if a site has a search facility, there would be an engine that would return results. Ultimately a search engine is an index of information that is categorised by topics or tags.


You have two types of sitemaps. One being an HTML sitemap and the other is an XML sitemap. Both of these serve the purpose of telling people and search engines how your site is laid out. Think of it as a guide or map as to how to navigate the site.


Title Tag

A title tag is a title you see in search results and is used to tell both search engines and users what the page is covering. In terms of SEO, we craft a title tag using a primary and secondary keyword followed by the brand name.

Tracking Code

Tracking codes are what we put on a site in order to track performance. The most common types of trackings that are placed on a site would be:

  1. Google Analytics
  2. Google Tag Manager
  3. Google AdWords Pixel
  4. Facebook Pixel

To simplify this, we mostly use tag manager as allows us to implement various tracking setups to effectively track how people get to and interact with your site. These codes allow us to collect data to enhance or guide our SEO as well as report back to you.


Unique Visitors

The measurement of individuals who visit a website for the first time.


A quality attribute that assesses how easy it is to use and navigate a website.

User-Generated Content

User-Generated Content is content that would be created from a person who has either visited your site or had dealing with your brand. This would be in the form of a testimonial, review, photos and case studies. It can go further depending on the channel but for the sake of this Glossary, we’ll keep it simple.



A web crawler, more commonly referred to as a bot or spider, is a tool that crawls the web to index content. Most commonly used by search engines to view and understand the content on a site. Some Crawlers are also used to pull content from a site and are referred to as scrapers.

White Hat SEO

White Hat SEO is an ethical form of SEO where we follow best practice guidelines instead of using tactics that are bad in the long run. The focus of a White Hat SEO is to help people find the answer as well as assisting search engine better index the most relevant content according to a search.


301 Redirect

A 301 redirect, is a permanent redirect from an old page to a new page. This is often used when a site has changed URL, pages have been removed/deleted or a product no longer exists. The purpose of this redirect is to ensure that people have a positive experience and not find a 404 error page or information that they cannot use.

302 Redirect

A 302 redirect is a temporary redirect that is in place for a limited time. This is typically not used anymore and should be used in terms of SEO. The value that the page has gotten can be lost.

404 Page

A 404 page is a page that displays when a user tries to access a page that no longer exists or types in a URL incorrectly. If the page is no longer in use a redirect should be implemented.

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Having been established in 2005, in Cape Town, South Africa, Elemental is primarily focused on providing web development services and digital marketing campaigns.