SEO Terminology

SEO Terminology – What Are They Talking About?

Getting into SEO can be a pretty daunting task for people just starting out, especially when they get a look at all the new “language” they have to learn. Terms like SERPs, SEM, keywords, anchor text, backlinks, etc can all look like Martian to people just getting started. And while you’ll be able to search Google for any of the more obscure SEO terms you’ll find out there, here are a couple of terms and explanations to get you on your way.


First and foremost, SEO stands for search engine optimization. SEO is an umbrella term for all of the tactics, strategies, and tools you use to help increase your ranking of a website or webpage. SEO is most often used to get more visitors (also called traffic) to your site so that you have a better opportunity to make more sales. Studies have shown that only 3-8% of people go to even just the second page of results, so you can understand why it would be important for you to claim a top spot.


SERPS, or search engine results pages, is used to describe the pages that you get after you type your search query into a search engine. For instance if you go to and type in “dog house”, the page you are directed to is a SERP.

SEO’s whole reason for existence is to get your page ranked higher on the SERPs.


Search Engine Marketing, or SEM, is very similar to SEO, but is most often used to describe paid methods to rank rather than free or organic ways. Great examples of SEM are using Pay Per Click (PPC) or Google Adwords to place your ads on SERPs. An effective method to get more traffic to your site, but it requires a different skill set than straight SEO.


Keywords are the phrases that you wish to rank for in the SERPs. For instance, if you’re a business selling dog houses, you may want to rank for the keywords “dog house”, “dog houses for sale”, “great dog house reviews”, etc.

Keywords should be sprinkled throughout your website, and as a general rule you shouldn’t try to rank more than one keyword per page. Keywords also make great title tags, but you should definitely do your keyword research to make sure that it’s reasonable to expect to rank for each.


Backlinks are most commonly defined as any link from an external page that points to yours. Backlinks, anchor text, and keywords go hand in hand, as you most often will want to use a keyword for your anchor text in the backlink. If you’ve ever been reading an article and seen text that’s blue and underlined, or something like this, you’ve encountered a backlink. Backlinks count as “votes” from other pages for your page, and search engine spiders use this system of votes to determine how valuable your content is.

While this is certainly not an exhaustive list of SEO terms to know, it should help you on your way to get started. As I mentioned above, Google is your best friend when it comes to learning new SEO terminology.

Written by Sharon Freeman.

Sharon Freeman writes about SEO and other online marketing techniques for theAustralianWebMarketers blog

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