<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=763991110377089&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

When asked what I do, I often will respond “I work in SEO,” or “I’m an Account Executive for an SEO agency”. Other times, I find myself having to go into a longer, more detailed explanation, explaining “it means Search Engine Optimization. We get websites ranked higher in Google…” Or if there’s a very large generation gap I’ll keep it super brief and say “I do stuff with search engines.” When I first decided to dive headfirst into the SEO world it didn’t take me long to realize if I wanted to hang, I absolutely needed to learn the lingo. SEO has a language of its own, and if you want to stay afloat in this industry, but more importantly in the search engines, you better know your stuff!

With that said, I’ve created 5 common terms and 5 recent (and increasingly common) terms I regularly discuss in my interactions both internally and with clients. This is the list I feel you better speak, understand, and implement in the SEO world today in order to thrive.

5 Common Terms Everyone Should Know:

1. SEO & SEM: Search engine marketing (SEM) is the overall practice of marketing your products or services through search engines whether through paid search or organic search. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of optimizing websites in order to rank organically in search engines.

2. SERP: A Search Engine Results Page (pretty self explanatory) is the page on which search engines show results for search queries.

3. Backlinks: Also known as inbound links or incoming links, these are hyperlinks pointing to your website. In SEO it is common to hear the term “backlink portfoilio”, meaning the overall portfolio of types of links you have acquired coming back to your website. It’s important your backlink portfolio is natural and diverse in order to achieve rankings.

4. XML Sitemap: An XML sitemap is a file on a website that is accessible to both users and crawlers. This tells search engine bots where and what pages can be found on a website. It is important that your sitemap is accurate and updated so you can tell search engines to read and crawl all the pages you want them to see on your website.

5. Canonicalization: According to the head of Google’s webspam team, Matt Cutts, canonicalization is “The process of picking the best URL when there are several choices”. Implementing canonical tags will help avoid you being penalized for duplicate content issue

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s move on to 5 terms we’ve heard used more and more as of late, if you want to be up to speed in Google’s world you’ll want to pay attention:

6. Penguin: The Penguin update is the most recent update made by Google, arguably the biggest update ever, and targets “over optimization.”In particular it targets sites that are playing the “SEO game” by keyword stuffing, linking schemes, or other forms of irrelevant and unnatural link building. The goal of this controversial update was to enhance the overall user experience by producing more relevant search results.

7. “The Fold”: The fold refers to the section of a website that is available on the screen without scrolling. Earlier this year, Cutts announced they had multiple user complaints about having to scroll down to find actual content. He warned that sites that don’t have content “above the fold” may be penalized. If your site is one that has recently been penalized, having no content above the fold could very well be a reason why.

8. Author Authority: Also referred to author rank, this is the process of influencing rankings by indicating the writer. Google’s official statement explains this further.

The name of the writer can be used to influence the rankings of web results by indicating the writer responsible for a particular content piece. Assuming that a given writer has a high reputational score, representing an established reputation for authoring valuable content, then additional content authored and signed by that writer will be promoted relative to unsigned content or content from less reputable writers in search results”.

In a nutshell, by using the rel=author tag you can gain authority, get links, and social shares to your content.

9. Infographic: An infographic is a visual representation of information, data, or knowledge. Implementing infographics into your SEO campaign can be very beneficial. Infographics can be submitted to infographic aggregators, and the chance of achieving a good amount of backlinks through these aggregators and those sharing your infographic can be very high. Creating an interesting, unique, funny, or extremely informative infographic is a good idea because it can help drive both links and traffic to your site.

10. Blog: By definition, a blog is an online web journal. Why is this on the list of “recent terms”, you ask? It is true internal blogs have been around for ages. It is no secret that having an internal blog on your website is always going to provide value. But now, more than ever, frequently updating your website with fresh, unique content, keeping posts relevant, interesting, and timely will increase the chances of your content being shared and websites ranking you. If you have an internal blog, having social buttons to persuade users to share content will influence your social signals and possibly your author authority (as discussed above).


Overall, having a good understanding of some of the common as well as increasingly common phrases is only going to benefit you as a website owner. The beauty of SEO is that is the industry is constantly changing. Understanding and staying up to date on important terms is the first step in having a successful website that will not only perform, but thrive in the search engines.