The world of SEO is filled with confusing jargon: crawlers, keyword cannibalization, EAT factors…it sounds more like a horror movie than a digital marketing niche. Fortunately, finding out what they all mean and how they fit into your marketing strategy doesn’t have to be as scary as these terms appear. The Granwehr SEO Glossary contains more than 120 of the most commonly confusing terms in SEO. Use it to guide you on your SEO journey.


Advanced search operators

Advanced search operators are special characters that users can add to search queries to search for more specific results. They can be helpful for doing domain research and finding broken links, among other uses.


An algorithm is a set of instructions that a computer uses to complete a task. A search algorithm refers to the set of parameters that search engines use to analyze web pages and retrieve the most high-quality, relevant content for users.

Alt text

An alternative text description is an HTML element attached image that appears when that image cannot load in a browser. Screen readers use it to explain images to visually impaired users.

Anchor text

Anchor text refers to hyperlinked text that drives a user from one webpage to another when they click it.



A backlink refers to an incoming link to a website from an external source.


Bing is Microsoft’s search engine which launched in 2009. It powers Yahoo! Search and has a 2.6% worldwide market share as of September 2021.

Black hat

“Black hat” optimization techniques are ones that violate search engine guidelines in order to secure higher rankings. They can result in short-term gains but often end in penalties from search engines.

Bounce rate

Bounce rate refers to the percentage of users who visit just one page on a website before leaving.


Breadcrumbs are a path of links that help users understand where they are in a website. They are typically found at the top of a web page.


A browser refers to software that allows people to access the World Wide Web and consume digital content. Chrome and Safari are both browsers.



A cache is a storage location where data is temporarily kept so that website content takes less time to load for users. It speeds up the process by reducing the amount of data that needs to be retrieved for the first time.

Canonical tag

A canonical tag is an HTML tag that tells search engine crawlers where to find the primary version of a piece of content. This keeps crawlers from indexing duplicate content.

Click-through rate (CTR)

“Click-through rate” refers to the ratio of how many users click through to a web page compared to the total number of users who are exposed to the link. For example, if 10 users are exposed to a search listing on Google and 4 of them click it, the click-through rate for that listing is 40%.

Content delivery network (CDN)

A content delivery network (CDN) refers to a network of servers in a geographic location. With a CDN, servers that are closer to users can deliver content faster because of their proximity to the user.

Content marketing

Content marketing refers to a type of marketing that involves creating and promoting online content – ads, articles, ebooks, landing pages, blog posts, etc. – to generate traffic, leads, and sales.


A conversion refers to a goal action that a user completes on a website. For example, a nameless prospect browsing your website decides to input their name and email address to receive a free ebook. They have now converted from traffic to a lead. When that lead finally purchases your product, they have converted from a lead to a sale.

Conversion rate

Conversion rate refers to the percentage of website visitors who complete a call-to-action compared to the number who have been exposed to it. For example, if 100 users visit your landing page designed to get them to purchase your product, and 11 purchase the product, then the conversion rate of that page is 11%.


“Crawler” is the name given to a component of search engine software that finds, analyzes, and indexes new web pages so that search engines can display them to users. They find this content through links from page to page.

Crawl budget

Crawl budget refers to the number of URLs crawled by a search engine during one session on your website.



“Domain” refers to the digital location of a website. To users, it is displayed as a domain name, which is the name of the website which comes between “www” and “.com,” “org,” etc. In the address, the domain name is “Google.”

Domain authority (DA)

Domain authority refers to an SEO metric that predicts how likely a website is to rank in search results. It was developed by Moz as a way for site owners to quantify the relevance and potential of their content.

Duplicate content

Duplicate content is content that is very similar or identical to other content elsewhere on the web.

Dwell time

Dwell time refers to the total amount of time that a user spends on a web page before returning to the search engine results page they started on.


E-A-T factors

E-A-T factors are Google quality rating guidelines that stand for “expertise, authority, trustworthiness.” They are three characteristics that Google looks for to determine the quality of a piece of content.

Enterprise SEO

Enterprise SEO is a digital marketing strategy for large-scale businesses that have significantly higher traffic volumes and more authority than small businesses within their niche.

External link

An external link is a link that directs the user from the origin website to a different domain.


Faceted navigation

Faceted navigation is a feature that allows users to filter and sort content for the most relevant results. It is very popular on ecommerce websites, where shoppers use it to narrow down items in the right size, color, brand, style, etc.

Featured snippet

A featured snippet is a special kind of search listing that gives the user valuable, high-quality information pulled from a top-ranking page. It can appear in the Knowledge Graph, “People also ask” section, or as a standalone detail on SERPs.



Google is the world’s most-used search engine, commanding more than 92% of all global search traffic as of September 2021.

Google My Business

Google My Business is a program that small businesses can enroll in. It allows them to claim a profile on search engine results pages specifically for their business. When someone searches the business name, the brand’s GMB page will appear with their hours, reviews, photos, and more.

Google Snack Pack

The Google Snack Pack refers to a module on Google SERPs that shows the top three results for a particular local search. These placements are above all normal search results, which makes the snack pack a coveted spot in local results.

Gray hat

Gray hat optimization techniques are SEO tactics that do not directly violate search engine guidelines but do not follow prescribed practices. They are somewhere between black-hat SEO (nefarious practices that are directly in violation of search engine guidelines) and white-hat SEO (tactics that have been approved and suggested by Google). Using gray-hat SEO may result in a Google penalty.

Guest posting

Guest posting is the practice of writing and publishing a blog post for another website. This can offer access to a new audience, and is commonly used for link-building since the guest website sometimes allows the writer to include a backlink in the post to his or her site.


H1 tag

An H1 tag is an HTML attribute that tells the search engine what the headline for a piece of content is. H1 tags are the only mandatory type of header tag for web pages.


Headings are section titles within a piece of content used for organization. These help users navigate a web page easier. Headers 1-6 are included based on their relevance to the parent header. For example, each page has a mandatory H1. That page may have several H2s that are subcategories of the H1. Those H2s may each have one or two H3s within them which are subcategories of the H2, and the same with H3s, H4s, etc.

Hreflang tag

An hreflang tag is an HTML tag that tells crawlers what language a page is written in. It is necessary for making sure that international content is displayed for the right users.


HTTPS stands for “hypertext transfer protocol secure.” It is a form of data encryption that keeps users’ information safe as it passes from one server to another. HTTPs is a Google ranking factor because it demonstrates a site’s dedication to protecting user data.



In SEO, an index refers to the server where Google stores all the pages that it analyzes. It serves these pages to users on search engine results pages when enter a search query.

Internal link

An internal link is a link from one page on a website to another page on the same website. Internal links make it possible for crawlers and users to find new web pages.

International SEO

International SEO is a strategy for expanding your search engine optimization practices to audiences in regions outside of your immediate geographical location. It is essential for ranking in other countries and regions where users have different interests, languages, search patterns, etc.


Jump link

A jump link is a link located at the top of a webpage that takes you to a specific part of that webpage, like a header, instead of requiring users to scroll down manually.



A keyword is a term that users search in search engines like Google and Bing. These terms, when used in content, make it more likely that search engines will serve that content to users who are searching the keyword.

Keyword cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization is when two or more pieces of content from a single website compete for the same keywords. This often prevents pages from earning high rankings, impacting the content’s overall SEO performance.

Keyword difficulty

Keyword difficulty is a measure of how hard it is to earn high rankings for a particular search term. It is determined by several factors, including how many sites are targeting the keyword, how authoritative those sites are, how valuable the keyword is, among others.

Keyword research

Keyword research is the process of finding worthwhile search terms to target. The goal of this process is to find terms related to your business’s products and services that are a good balance between search volume (amount of searches for the keyword) and competition (will you be able to rank for the keyword?).

Keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing is a practice against Google’s guidelines that involves “stuffing” a high volume of keywords in unnatural places on a webpage to trick Google’s crawlers into ranking the page higher.

Knowledge graph

The knowledge graph is an informational box that appears on the right side of select search engine results pages. It can show up for different types of search queries, including those regarding businesses, organizations, people, and places. Its purpose is to give users a general overview of a topic straight away.


Landing page

A landing page is a web page that users land on after clicking a link in an email, ad, social media post, etc.

Lazy loading

Lazy loading is a web design feature that renders only the data and content that users can see on the web page. The content loads as users scroll up and down the page. This improves page speed and user experience as a result.

Lead generation

Lead generation is the process of promoting your business online to compile a list of potential future clients.

Link building

Link-building is the process of getting links to your content from other websites. It includes outreach strategies like guest posting and broken link building.

Link equity

Link equity refers to the authority a page can pass on through a link to another page. It’s based on the idea that backlinks are a major ranking factor in Google. So, the more high-quality backlinks a page has, the more like equity it has, and the more it can pass on to other pages that it links to.

Link profile

Link profile refers to the makeup of the backlinks to your website: the types of links they are, how they were acquired, their anchor text, among other characteristics. Google looks at these things more than just the quantity of backlinks to make sure a site is as white-hat as possible.

Local SEO

Local SEO refers to the optimization of website content for businesses who want to connect with users in a nearby geographical location. This is most-commonly used by businesses with brick-and-mortar locations. It is designed to help sites rank higher for local search terms and build an audience in their immediate area.

Long-tail keywords

Queries that have lower search volumes and less competition on SERPs. While these keywords attract less users, they often have higher conversion rates than more popular, short-tail keywords.


Meta description

An HTML tag that explains a web page for users and crawlers. It appears in search results underneath the title tag and provides extra information and context.


Meta tag

A meta tag is a basic term to describe an HTML element within a site’s source code, which gives crawlers more context to index a page.


Minification refers to the process of eliminating excesses in website data and files. It speeds up both page loading and indexing.

Mobile-first indexing

Mobile-first indexing refers to the process by which search engines index mobile content instead of the desktop versions of web pages.


NAP citation

An NAP citation refers to a business’s name, address, and phone number information in online directories like Yelp and Yellow Pages. In local SEO, NAP citations are important for reinforcing your identity online.


Nofollow tag

A nofollow tag tells Google that a backlink should not be factored into a page’s ranking. If you send a page a nofollow link, that page will not get link equity from your webpage.


Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO refers to a category of optimization techniques that take place outside of the website itself. Their goal is to earn backlinks and increase both brand awareness and authority.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO refers to a category optimization tactics executed on the content of a website. These include tactics like keyword optimization, subheading use, title tag optimization, among others. Its goal is to increase search engine rankings by producing exceptional content.

Organic search

Organic search refers to a category of search engine results that does not include paid search ads.


Page speed

Page speed refers to the total amount of time that it takes for a web page to load for users. Page speed is an official Google ranking factor.



Pagerank is an algorithm created by Google to determine the value of a webpage to searchers.


Pagination is the process of breaking up web content into multiple pages. It is often used for long-form articles and product category pages which have lots of content.

Paid search

Paid search is a type of search engine marketing that involves paying for ad placements on search engine results pages. It’s the counterpart of SEO, which involves organic (unpaid) methods of boosting search engine rankings.

Pay-per-click (PPC)

Pay-per-click advertising is a model of advertising that requires an advertiser to pay an ad publisher every time their ad is clicked. Pay-per-click is commonly used to refer to advertising on search engine results pages specifically.

Pillar page

A pillar page is a comprehensive piece of content on a subject that is central to the website. If you have an SEO website, for example, a piece of pillar content may be titled “What is SEO?” Another may be “The Complete Guide on the Google Search Algorithm.” PIllar pages connect users to other website pages related to the pillar topic using internal links.


Qualified lead

A qualified lead is a user that has been vetted by marketing and/or sales and been determined likely to become a customer in the future.


A query refers to words or phrases typed into a search engine.



RankBrain is a component of Google’s ranking algorithm that was developed to better understand user search intent.


A ranking is the position a piece of content has achieved on a search engine results page. These rankings are numerical based on their location on the page respective to other search listings. There are many factors that Google and Bing use to determine which content users should see for each keyword or phrase.

Ranking factor

A ranking factor is a criterion used by search engines to organize content for users by value. Ranking factors include page speed, keyword optimization, and more.

Referring domain

A referring domain is any external website that links to your website.

Responsive design

Responsive design is a type of web design focused on optimizing web content for use across different devices, like desktops, phones, and tablets. This allows webmasters to create the most user-friendly content possible, no matter where their traffic is coming from.

Rich snippet

A rich snippet is a type of search engine listing that include additional information beyond the URL, title, and meta description. They can include information like images, prices, starred ratings, reviews, and more.



A robots.txt file is a data file that gives crawlers specific directions on how to crawl a web page, including which website pages to index and which to ignore.


Schema markup

Schema markup is a labeling language that better describes pieces of content to crawlers. When crawlers can better understand content, Google can better serve it to users. This also increases the likelihood you earn rich snippets for your pages.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a digital marketing strategy that involves improving the visibility of web pages in search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. The more visible a page is, the more traffic it is likely to generate. And traffic is the first step to more leads, sales, and ultimately, growth.

Search engine marketing (SEM)

Search engine marketing is an umbrella category that includes both organic (SEO) and paid methods (PPC) of improving visibility in search engines.

Search engine results page (SERP)

A search engine results page (SERP) is the web page that appears when users search a query in a search engine like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. It compiles web pages from its index organized from most to least relevant.

Search volume

Search volume refers to the average number of times that users look up a search term in a given month.

Semantic search

Semantic search is any type of data query with a deeper, contextual meaning behind it. Rather than just searching for a specific keyword, the user is looking for a certain type of information related to that keyword.

Short-tail keywords

Short-tail keywords are queries that are shorter (typically 1-2 words) and have high search volume and high level of competition among websites.

Structured data

Structured data is a type of data that is organized better for search engines. When data is structured, crawlers can more efficiently serve it to users on search engine results pages.


Technical SEO

Technical SEO refers to the optimization of website infrastructure. This is not content users can see, but instead elements that are “under the hood,” which affect performance like page speed, crawlability, accessibility, responsiveness, and more.

Time on page

Time on page is a metric that measures the amount of time that a user spends on a given web page.

Title tag

A title tag is an HTML element that describes the webpage. It is also headline of text in a search listing that users click on to visit a web page.


Topic cluster

A topic cluster is a group of web pages that are related to a main topic. Each web page is connected by internal links and centered around a pillar page.

Top-level domain (TLD)

A top-level domain refers to the last portion of a domain name which has a dot (.) symbol in front of it. There are three main types of TLDs:


  • Generic (gTLD) – Most common type (EX: .com)
  • Country-code (ccTLD) – Used for websites in specific countries (EX: .uk)
  • Sponsored (sTLD) – Least common type used by organizations or businesses (EX. .gov)


Traffic is an SEO metric that measures visits to a website.



URL is an acronym that stands for “uniform resource locator,” and it is the web address of a domain.



Usability refers to the ease-of-use of a webpage. This includes factors like how quickly pages load, whether the interactive components work, and whether the site is well-organized. The better usability is, the more likely a user is going to complete the goal action you have set for the page.

User experience (UX)

UX refers to a user’s experience o

User intent

The underlying motivator for a user’s search query. There are four main types of intent, including: transactional, commercial investigation, navigational, and informational.



Voice search

Voice search refers to voice-activated technology that allows users to make queries without typing information into a search engine. Popular technologies include Amazon Alexa and Apple’s Siri.



A webmaster refers to someone who oversees the maintenance of a website.

White hat

In SEO, a white hat optimization technique or strategy is one that complies with search engine guidelines.

White label

White label refers to any service that is performed by one company, then rebranded and sold by another company.


WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system which powers more than 450 million websites.


XML sitemap

An XML sitemap is a file that serves as a blueprint of the web pages within a site. This makes it easier for crawlers to find and index all of a site’s content.


Your Money, Your Life (YMYL)

Your Money, Your Life refers to a category of content that impacts users’ financial, physical, and emotional wellbeing. In the Google algorithm, these pages are held to a higher standard because their accuracy can dramatically affect users’ lives.



301 redirect

A 301 redirect is an HTTP status code that lets browsers know when a page has been moved from URL to another. It passes all link equity to the new URL and ensures that users don’t see an error when they click on a link.

404 error

A 404 error is an HTTP status code that tells the browser that a page cannot be retrieved from the index. This usually happens because a page has been moved or deleted. It can also happen when the URL is incorrectly typed into the browser, the domain has been deleted altogether, or the server connection isn’t working.

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