SEO Glossary

Here's our list of definitions of terms and jargon we use to talk about SEO.

Black-hat SEO

SEO techniques which go against the recommendations set out by the search engines themselves. Essentials techniques which approach ranking in search engines as the end goal rather than providing the user with what they are actually searching for.

Good SEO companies avoid all black hat SEO techniques and follow the good practice guidelines set out by the search engines themselves.

Bounce rate

A “bounce” occurs when a user visits the website and only views one page before leaving. A low bounce rate indicates that users are engaged with the website. A high bounce rate shows they are not engaging.


The rate at which users click an ad or a link in Search Engine Results. It's calculated by dividing impressions by clicks. A higher Click-Through-Rate suggests the ad or link is well-written or relevant to the user’s search.


A conversion event occurs when a user carries out a specified action on the website apart from the usual browsing. Conversions are defined by the business rules of the business but would typically include a user filling in a contact form, making a purchase, downloading a file or some other typical “goal” event.

Direct traffic

Traffic to a website is considered "direct" if the user comes to the site directly, e.g., from a bookmark or by typing in the site's domain name. This contrasts with indirect means of reaching a website, such as through a search engine, by referral from another website, from a social network or from paid advertising.

Email traffic

Traffic originating from emails received. Occurs when a user receives an email with a link to the website in it and clicks the link. Links in emails must be specially tagged for Google Analytics to recognise email traffic as a source, otherwise it will be counted as direct traffic.

Follow hyperlink

A standard hyperlink which links a piece of text or image to another web page. Used by search engines to determine a site's popularity - more follow links mean greater popularity. Compare "nofollow" hyperlink.


When a user is shown something on their screen this is called an impression. They do not necessarily have to click it. For example, if a user searches on for a keyphrase and they are shown an ad in response, this is counted as an ad impression. The ad does not have to be clicked on for this to count.

Impressions, combined with clicks, are used to calculate the Click-Through-Rate – an important measure of engagement with a website or ad.

Keyword stuffing

The excessive repetition of keywords in website copy. This out-of-date technique dates back to the times when search engines were not intelligent enough to understand the semantic meaning of the text. They would merely count the number of occurrences of a keyword in the text and rank accordingly.

Today search engines have a semantic approach to reading text, and can therefore easily detect keyword stuffing. For this reason, it is considered a "black hat" SEO technique.

Meta title

The meta title of a web page is a concise title of the page. It is not necessarily displayed on the page itself, but is used by search engines to display in their results pages (SERPs). It is also commonly used when sharing web pages by social media and it is displayed in the title bar of the web browser when viewing the page. The image below shows the meta title of the BBC's home page both in the SERPs and in the browser title bar.

Meta titles in SERPS and in browser address bar

Nofollow hyperlink

A hyperlink which also carries an instruction to search engines to discount the link for search ranking purposes. Used to create hyperlinks for humans to use which do not carry any risk of a search engine penalty for link manipulation.

Organic search traffic

Traffic originating from search engines such as, Yahoo! and Bing. Literally, a user visiting a search engine and typing in a keyword and then visiting the website from one of the search results.

Search engine optimisation is the process of increasing organic traffic.

Paid search traffic

Traffic originating from paid sources such as Google AdWords. Includes users visiting search engines, typing in a relevant keyword, a paid ad appearing and the user clicking on the ad to visit the site.


AdWords optimisation is the process of getting better value for money from Google AdWords and other paid traffic sources.

When a user requests a web page, this is counted as a pageview. Not to be confused with a “hit” which is a general term with little meaning.

Qualified traffic

Qualified traffic is traffic to the website from visitors who are in the target market and willing and able to buy. Unqualified traffic includes irrelevant visitors who have little or no interest in the website, and spam.

Referral traffic

Traffic which originates by being referred from other websites. Occurs when a user sees a link to the website on another website and clicks it.


Search Engine Results Pages. The pages produced by a search engine when the user carries out a search. The most important page is page one. Usually, SEOs only concern themselves with the first ten pages of SERPS, as beyond this users very rarely venture.


Traffic to the website is generally measured in sessions. A session occurs when a user visits the website using a particular device. The Analytics software can track this device across page views. A session ends when the user has not accessed the site for 30 minutes. If they then return with the same device, a new session is started.

Social traffic

Traffic originating from social networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook. Occurs when a user sees a link on one of these social networks and follows it.


Visits to the website. Generally, higher traffic levels are a good sign, but quality is more important than quantity.

Traffic sources

Traffic sources tell us where traffic is originating from. Typically this includes Organic Search, Direct, Referral traffic, Social traffic, Email traffic and Paid Search traffic.


A user is defined as a person browsing the website.


Visibility in SEO is about how visible a website is in search over all its tracked keywords.

For example, say for the website we were tracking 50 keywords. If all of those keywords were at number one in Google then we would have a visibility of 100%. Conversely, if we did not rank at all within the top 100 positions in the SERPS, then our visibility would be 0%.

Visibility is useful to track how visible our website is compared to its competitors.

There is no "good" visibility score that can be applied uniformly across all websites, as visibility depends entirely on what keywords are being tracked, which will differ for each website. One website might be tracking "difficult" keywords, and another website might be tracking easier ones. For any one website, the higher the visibility score, the better.

Increase in search rankings A sharp increase in search positions[/caption]

The main aim of SEO is to increase visibility over time for the target website, especially in comparison to its competitors.