SEO Terminology Defined: An SEO Study Guide

Illustration of a man pointing to an open book

Though search optimization tools seemingly make SEO easy for everyone, true SEO mastery only comes with experience and a bit of study. One of the most important aspects to learn is the key terminology. This post provides an SEO cheat sheet of the most commonly used terms that can be confusing to SEO novices.

1. Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is a term ‘bounced’ around when you are viewing page analytics. The term refers to when a site visitor only views one page of your website and then leaves.

A high bounce rate isn’t necessarily a bad thing if a viewer peruses your blog and then exits. The goal of your evergreen content, however, is to entice your viewers to either purchase a product or request your services. If a landing page has a high bounce rate, it may be time to edit the content or conduct on-page optimization.

2. Alt Text

Alt text, often referred to (incorrectly) as alt tags, was originally created for accessibility purposes. The text describes the images on your site and is read aloud to visually impaired site visitors using specialized software.

Alt text also acts as a signal for search engines. Search engine bots are getting better at understanding the images on your site, but the alt text aids in image identification. Additionally, alt text displays when an image won’t load.

3. Keyword Cannibalization

Basic SEO guides remind website owners not to “keyword stuff” as the practice violates Bing and Google’s webmaster guidelines. In other words, don’t fill a page with the same term over and over again in hopes it will improve your appearance in search queries. It’s a black-hat SEO practice that is frowned upon in the digital marketing world, and can negatively impact rankings.

The more advanced problem is keyword cannibalization. This term refers to when a certain keyword is overused throughout an entire website. Not only will this practice create low quality content, but search engines won’t know which page to display in the rankings. Thus, Google will guess which page best matches the search, and the displayed page may not be the most relevant to the search.

4. Anchor Text

Anchor text refers to the words contained in a hyperlink. Too many website managers simply use “click here” or “read more” as anchor text, which is neither user-friendly nor helpful for SEO purposes. Anchor text is used by search engines as a ranking signal, so anchor text should include keywords relevant to topics covered on the link’s target page.

5. HTTP Status Codes

HTTP status codes are response messages sent from a server in response to a site visitor’s actions. There are dozens of these codes, but there are 2 very important numbered SEO terms that website owners need to recognize. A 404 error refers to a broken link. Thus, if an internet user goes to a page that no longer exists or was moved, they will see a 404 error.

In order to prevent 404 error screens from appearing, redirects are needed. A 301 redirect is a permanent change that sends users and search engines to a different webpage than the one that was broken or removed

6. Link Bait

While the term may sound a bit like spam, link bait is a good way to receive links—if the material is done well. Link bait is essentially high quality, highly viral content that will garner links from other, valuable sites. In truth, this is done by applying strong content marketing skills. The goal is to create text, an image, a video, etc. that is either highly entertaining or particularly informative.

7. Meta Tags

“Meta tags” is the name for a group of the terms many web managers recognize; namely the title tag and meta description. The tags appear in the HTML source code and help describe the content to the search engines. Meta descriptions no longer contribute to rankings, but their information can help persuade a searcher to click on your site if the information is descriptive enough.

8. Backlinks

Backlinks are inbound links from other websites, which may improve your search rankings. Guest blogging, blogger outreach and paid advertisements are common backlink options, but there are dozens of possibilities depending on your industry. A link from a link farm or other poor-quality site may have little or no value for SEO and could potentially harm your site’s performance in search.

9. Conversion

A conversion, for SEO purposes, refers to the measurable completion of a marketing goal, usually on your website. For ecommerce businesses, conversions typically refer to product sales. For professionals like lawyers and doctors, a conversion goal might be a contact form submission or the scheduling of an appointment. Conversions can also be small goals such as the number of content shares or the percent increase of followers or email contacts.

10. SEM

While SEO and SEM are very much intertwined, SEM refers to “search engine marketing.” Thus, SEM encompasses SEO as well as PPC (pay-per-click) and other digital marketing techniques.

Focusing on one aspect of SEM, such as SEO, will certainly improve your website’s performance, but a comprehensive digital marketing campaign will yield the highest return on investment. This kind of campaign takes time to develop and apply and often requires the assistance of digital marketing experts.

Paramaya Web Consulting has a team of digital marketing professionals ready to apply high-quality SEM techniques to your website. When you reach out to us, we’ll conduct a quick SEO checkup to identify the key areas where your website can be improved.

You have nothing to lose and only site traffic and profits to gain! Call 678-824-5560 now or complete our contact form and put your website on the road to success.

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Nancy Rapp

Nancy Rapp has a law degree and works as a professor of legal studies in addition to being an SEO content specialist. Her unique background allows her to view the world of law firm SEO from the eyes of both an attorney and a digital marketing professional.See more at LinkedIn.

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