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SEO Jargon Busting: Part 1


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SEO Jargon Busting: Part 1

Helen Say

seo jargon word cloud

Can’t tell your SERPS from your Keywords, your Alt Tags from your  Metatags, or your Black Hats from your White Hats?

You are not alone!

If you’re having problems talking to your technical team about optimising your website, or are just scratching your head about what optimising means for you and your business, help is at hand. I’ve created a handy SEO jargon-buster of 10 of the most-used technical SEO terms you might come across and maybe have been too shy to ask about.

This is just Part 1 of many such lists (and I haven’t worked out exactly how many lists I need to write yet – such is the ever-changing world of SEO) so if you do stumble over other TLA’s or SEO techno-babble not listed here, keep checking back. Chances are I may cover it in future posts. Or you can always ask me.

1. Alt tag / alt text /alt attribute

These terms all essentially refer to the same thing. These are texts boxes that you add to an image on your website with a brief description of what’s in the image. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that search engines can’t read images so any pictures you load onto your website should have Alt Text added to it. This is also a requirement for anyone who uses a screen reader since it keeps your site compliant under the UK Equality Act.

2. Black Hat (see also White Hat)

Black Hat SEO vs White Hat SEO

Black Hat tactics are where website owners use unethical techniques to try to influence where they appear in search results. Examples of ‘unethical’ techniques are spamming or link farms. Search engines will define what is ‘unethical’ and will penalise offenders in page rankings. But what might have been acceptable to a search engine previously may become unethical in the next upgrade, which is why it’s important to keep up with SEO changes.

3. Bounce Rate

Not everyone who lands on your website will stick around and click through to any of your other pages. If they leave without clicking on anything this is classed as ‘bouncing’. So the Bounce Rate is the number of visitors to your site who leave without clicking on anything as a percentage of the total number of visitors.


Short for HyperText Markup Language and is the code that controls where things appear on a web page. It takes plain text and adds markers or directives to that text to create the required internet format. It’s this code that search engines read – the ‘mother tongue’ if you will - so it needs to be kept as clean and accurate as possible.

5. Keywords

Keywords and SEO = Vital

Keywords are the words or phrases that someone types into the search bar of a search engine. Keywords are a vital part of your SEO strategy because if you want to be found on search engines then the relevant keywords need to be on your website. For more about keywords read this post.

6. Link text / Anchor text

Link text is what you see when you hover your mouse over a link on a web page before you click on it.

Anchor text is a word or phrase on a web page that indicates that there is a link present. Anchor text is usually highlighted in some way (e.g. underlined or in bold) so your reader knows that there is a link. When you hover your mouse over anchor text the link text should become visible.

7. Metatags

This is the description of your website that's written into the HTML code (usually in the Header).  Although not visible to site visitors, metatags are visible to search engines, so having the right metatags is important for SEO. Metatagging is a huge subject and this is a very simplistic explanation, so if you want to dig deeper into metatags this is a useful resource.

8. PPC (Pay-Per-Click)

Example of PPC Google Adwords

Some website owners want to guarantee that they get on page one of search engine results, especially if they are in a competitive market or have a promotion running. To do this they will pay search engines to put them there using a Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign. You can usually recognise these as ‘sponsored results’ in a search. Google Adwords is an example of PPC. Each time a person clicks on their website because of seeing them in 'sponsored' search results, the website owner pays the search engine company.


Search Engine Results Page, or what you see when you type something into a search bar of a search engine.

10. White Hat (see also Black Hat)

Most search engines have best practice guidelines and website owners and advertisers who scrupulously follow these guidelines would refer to themselves as ‘White Hat’, i.e. the opposite of ‘Black Hat’ since they don’t consciously try to cheat the system. But, as previously mentioned, what may have been acceptable yesterday may not be acceptable tomorrow, so you need to keep up with developments in the SEO world.

So that’s the first list of key SEO terms and the ones you're most likely to come across in day to day conversations with website designers. There’s lots more to explore so look out for further posts. In the meantime, if you need more help understanding SEO just contact me for a no-obligation chat.