Beginner’s SEO Terms Glossary: A-Z (But not actually alphabetical, sorry)

seo definition

When you start with SEO, you can quickly become overwhelmed by the the industrial jargon being thrown around. 

It’s intimidating and can be enough to put you off trying to grow your organic traffic.

But, I’ll let you in on a secret.

Why Are SEO Terms So Complicated? 

Often industries like finance or SEO like to use technical speak to make their practice sound more complicated than it actually is because this means they can charge more for it!

Once you take away the technical term and just use plain english to describe an SEO action or tactic, it all becomes a lot easier to understand and A LOT LESS UNDERWHELMING! 

That’s what this glossary is, a guide to beginner’s SEO terms. Explained in easy-to-understand ways that EVERYONE can understand.

If listening is more your thing, then be sure to listen to the podcast episode below, or listen on Spotify or Itunes.

Beginner’s SEO Terms

Let’s start with an easy one!

1. SEO

Search Engine Optimisation is the definition of the acronym, SEO. 

All SEO means is the process of improving your website so that it can be found easily by search engines and search engine users.

I.e. You want to optimise your website so that people using Google are more likely to be shown it. 

2. Crawling

Crawling is a verb, it’s what search engine software (or bots) do.

They ‘crawl’ every single page on the internet and place them in a massive library or ‘index. 

3. Indexing

As search engine spiders or bots crawl the web, they place each internet page in a specific place in a massive index.

4. Noindex

A ‘noindex’ tag is placed on a webpage’s code (or you can click a button to tell your website to noindex the page), and it tells search engines not to include that specific page in search results. 

5. Ranking

Rankings in SEO refer to two things. 

Once a search engine has crawled and then indexed a web page, it then decides where to RANK that page. 

It also refers to your website’s position in the search engine results page for a specific keyword typed in. 

6. Algorithm 

Each search engine (like Google) has a system and set of rules which decide, once bots have crawled and indexed pages, where to place a web page in order of rank when a certain search term is typed in.

7. Keyword

SEO keywords (or queries or search terms) are the words used by search engines to help understand what every single web page is about. You use keywords on your web pages to help determine your ranking position. 

Learn how to do keyword research with my Step-By-Step SEO Course for beginners.

8. Search Intent 

Search Intent (also known as “User Intent”) refers to what a search engine user wants to achieve when they type in a keyword into Google.

Different types of Search Intent include informational, commercial, navigational and transactional.

9. Sitemap

A sitemap is like a geographical map for search engines, which tells them all the different pages on a website and how they connect with each other. Sitemaps make it easier for search engine bots to crawl your website. 

A sitemap should be on every single website. 

And if you have a WordPress, Wix, Shopify site, it is probably crearted automatically for you.

10. Robots.txt 

Robots.txt file, is a little bit like a sitemap, in that it helps search engine bots. But a robots.txt has rules telling bots what they can and cannot access on your website. 

Interestingly big websites now are opting out of AI tools scraping their websites by blocking AI bots in the robots.txt

A robots.txt file is on your website, type in to see your own personal robots.txt file. 

11. Domain 

A domain name is your website’s address. They were made to make the old, string, number-code style IP addresses easier for humans to understand! 

12. Hosting

Hosting is like a home for your website, it provides space on the internet for your website to exist. Your domain name LIVES on your hosting space. 

You can either buy your own shared hosting, via something like Bluehost or Siteground or it comes included when you buy a plan on Shopify. So if you don’t know your hosting company, it’s likely yours was included.

13. Server

Servers and hosting often get confused, while hosting is virtual, a server is a piece of hardware that stores websites. 

Think of it like a filing cabinet that stores your website, it’s a lot more secure than web hosting. 

Most small businesses won’t be using a server though as it’s a lot more complicated to set up than buying your internet real estate via a hosting company.

14. Links

There are a few different types of links when it comes to SEO and websites. But a link is any clickable piece of text that takes you to a different webpage, either on your website or another website. 

15. HyperLink

A hyperlink is essentially a longer name for a ‘link, it takes you from one location to another by clicking on it, it could be an image button or text. 

16. Internal Link

An internal link is a hyperlink that takes you from one page of your website to another page within your website.

17. Outbound Link

Outbound links are links on your website that, when clicked, take you to a DIFFERENT website.

18. Backlink

Backlinks are a big part of SEO, they are when a website has an outbound link to another website.

Backlinks are important for helping websites grow their SEO because Google and other search engines use backlinks as part of their algorithm. 

They see backlinks as votes of popularity for websites, and a website with lots of relevant, quality backlinks is likely to rank higher on Google than a website with zero backlinks.

19. Referring Domain

A referring domain is a type of backlink. It’s talking about the backlink from that whole domain though. 

E.g. You can have five backlinks from, but you can only have one referring domain from Because all five backlinks come from

20. Do-Follow Link

A do-follow link is the standard tag for links (both internal and outbound links), and it is an instruction on the webpage code for search engines telling them to ‘follow’ the connection between one link to another website or webpage. 

It’s essentially saying to search engines, that the two websites can be associated with each other.

This is the kind of backlink you want, a do-follow link.

21. No-Follow Link

A no-follow link is when someone has purposely changed the link from do-follow to no-follow because they DON’T want to be associated with the other website. 

They don’t want to pass on their site authority to the webpage they are linking to.

22. Link Building 

Link building is a common strategy in SEO (that has been overrun by spammy tactics) when people try and get more and more backlinks to a website. 

23. Anchor Text

Anchor text is the clickable text that is used to cover up the URL of your link.

Anchor text is important in SEO because anchor text is used by search engines to understand more about the page that the link is linking towards.

24. Redirect 301 

A 301 redirect is used when you want to send people that were landing on and you want to send them to instead. 

It tells search engines there is a permanent change in where you want people to go if they accidentally click on an old URL, and the redirect will automatically send them to the new URL address, 

You can easily set these up and you should use these when you delete old pages, or change URLS on your website.

25. On-page SEO 

On-page SEO is everything to do with SEO that affects your visible website. E.g. changing the content and images on your website, your web design, your keywords etc.

26. Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO is everything that helps (or doesn’t help) your SEO but isn’t done on your website. 

The largest part of off-page SEO is link building, but it’s also social media posts and PR mentions. 

27. Local SEO

Local SEO is only for websites that are linked to a business which either has a physical location OR the business goes to visit clients in a defined geographical location.

E.g. Local SEO is for plumbers but it’s not for ecommerce stores. 

28. Meta Title, Title Tag, SEO Title

A metatitle has lots of names, but they are all the same thing. When you type in a search term or keyword into Google and you get shown search results, the titles to those search results is the META TITLE.

It’s very important for SEO, and you should optimise your metatitles with keywords as search engines use metatitles to understand what a webpage is about. 

Google has stated that meta titles are used as a ranking factor in their algorithm.

29. Meta Description 

Meta description isn’t as important as metatitles but they are also used by search engines to help understand what a webpage is about. 

When you are editing your website, they are often found near your metatitle.

30. Headers & Heading Tags

Heading tags (from H1 to H6) are headers, they are like titles and subtitles if you were writing an essay.

It’s important to use Heading Tags as search engines use them to understand what’s important on a webpage and the general structure of content.

31. Alt Text (Alternative Text)

Alternative text or alt text is added to your images and helps to describe an image in case it fails to load on a webpage. Search engines use alt text to help understand a webpage better, so alt text is useful in helping SEO.

32. Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is when you have two web pages which are VERY similar to one another, either on the same website or two different websites.

You don’t want to have duplicate content on your website as Google believes this is a sign of a low-quality website so it can be harmful to your website.

32. White Hat And Black Hat SEO

White hat and black hat SEO are the two methods of SEO. 

White hat SEO is when you follow Google Webmaster Guidelines and follow SEO best practices. 

Black hat SEO is when you purposely try and trick Google or another search engine with spammy, deceitful tactics which can end up penalising your website. 

34. Domain Authority (DA Score)

Domain Authority is a term in SEO that is 100% not a ranking factor for Google’s algorithms. Instead, it was made up by Moz, an SEO software company, as a way to score websites. 

You don’t need to focus or worry about your DA score as it isn’t related to improving your SEO. r

Final Words

So there you go, all your beginner SEO terms in one place!

Bookmark this post so that next time you’re studying your SEO and you come across a term you don’t know, you can come back to this!