Higher Education SEO Marketing Glossary

seo glossary

Google page 1 is destiny. 90% of searchers never go beyond page 1 of Google results. Organic rankings (i.e. the 10 natural search results) are trusted more, clicked more and convert three-folds better than paid ads. This is precisely why smart colleges and universities take the long view. They develop a plan that goes after the lowest hanging fruit first (local rankings), then harder-to-achieve rankings (regional), and finally the hardest-to-achieve national, international and reputation rankings. They follow the age-old wisdom: slow and steady wins the race.

Before we share the glossary, let us share a very brief history of search engines and search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO is the process of improving your website to increase its visibility on Google, Microsoft Bing, and other search engines. The earliest search engines that emerged in the mid-nineties trusted marketer’s claims being made on their websites. Marketers naturally began to game website content by jamming boatloads of content on their websites. In 1998, Google came into the picture and changed the game: instead of ranking websites based on marketers claims, it started ranking them based on relevant conversations and inbound links to the marketer’s website from other websites. In response, marketers started buying inbound links from content farms that were created to game Google’s algorithm. Google got smarter yet again. It started penalizing websites for content stuffing and buying links from content farms. It diversified its ranking factors to include legitimate brand discussions on quality websites and social media. Thus began the era of Inbound marketing. It involves marketers creating a continuous stream of high quality, trusted and relevant content (such as articles, blog posts, videos, infographics, white papers, thought leadership articles, social posts, quizzes, games, etc.) and igniting it via promotion and conversation-starters to encourage peer-to-peer sharing. Thus the label SEO was transformed into SEO/Inbound marketing, even SEO/Inbound/Content marketing.

We hope you find our SEO glossary beneficial.

higher education seo glossary seo terms

SEO Glossary for Higher Education Marketers

301 Redirect – A permanent link from one URL to another sending visitors and web crawlers to a different web page than originally requested. Used to transfer “link juice” to new website pages during a website redesign They are also used to avoid duplicate content penalty and broken links, and maintain authority when renaming a page or domain.

3xx Errors – Web links-level HTTP error code family (e.g. 301 is moved permanently and 302 is moved temporarily).

4xx Errors – Website-level HTTP error code family (e.g. 404 is page not found and 410 is page gone)

5xx Errors – Server-level HTTP error code family. (e.g. 500 is internal service error and 503 is service unavailable)

Above the Fold – The area of a web page which is visible to a visitor before scrolling — dependent upon device, screen size, and orientation. 

Affiliate – A website which promotes the products of another company and receives a commission for each referral or sale resulting from its promotion. 

Alexa Rank – A global ranking system that utilizes web traffic data to compile a list of the most popular websites.

Algorithm (Search Engine Algorithm) – The algorithm is a complex set of rules and heuristics used by the search engine to determine the relevance and ranking of web pages in search results. These algorithms are constantly evolving and being updated to provide users with the most relevant and highest quality search results.

Alt Tag (aka Alt Text) – A word or phrase that can be inserted as an attribute in an HTML document to tell website viewers the nature or contents of an image. 

AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) – Web pages coded in simplified versions of HTML and JavaScript. AMP pages are cached and delivered directly by Google and load significantly faster than normal mobile-friendly web pages.

Anchor Text – The visible, clickable text in a hyperlink.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the development and implementation of computer systems that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. AI aims to replicate and simulate intelligent behavior, allowing computers to perceive, reason, learn, and make decisions in a manner similar to humans. Machine learning is an AI technique that is widely used in programming search engines.

Autosuggest (aka Autocomplete) – The search terms that are displayed/auto-populated by search engines in real-time as the user begins typing in the address bar. 

Author Authority – Authority is a concept of using the reputation, credentials and credibility of a person who writes content online as a ranking factor.

Back Link – See inbound link.

Baidu The most popular search engine in China.

Bing The second most popular search engine in the US. Created by Microsoft, it now powers Yahoo Search also.

Black Hat (SEO) – These are practices that are deployed to unethically or deceptively improve organic search results. Cloaking is often used to gain rankings in the search engines by providing false sites to the engines. Humans see the real site, but the search engines see an entirely different version of the website. All search engines oppose the use of black hat techniques.

Blog – A blog is a website where an individual or a group of contributors share their thoughts, ideas, opinions, and information on various topics. Blogs can convey a personal or a corporate point of view. Because the content on blogs changes frequently, search engine bots index these more frequently. Blogging is important for colleges because blog posts tend to surface as coveted featured snippets. Colleges and universities should establish both career advice blogs and thought leadership blogs. 

Bot (aka Robot, Spider, Crawler) – A software application used by search engines to crawl websites to collect data and information about those sites and pages. 

Bounce Rate – The percentage of website visitors who leave without visiting another page on that website. Bounce rates range widely across industries and niches.

Branded Keywords – When a user’s query includes an exact match, or variation, of a specific company or brand name, it’s called a branded keyword. Branded keywords are naturally ranked higher on search results for branded searches.

Broken Link – A link that leads to a 404 not found page. Links can break when a web page is removed without a redirect, 

Breadcrumbs – An element on a website page or SERP which shows the location of a web page in the website’s hierarchy. It can be purely informational or can allow users to click on the hierarchical elements as a navigational tool. 

Cached Pages and Links – Practically every search result includes a Cached link that directs clicks to a saved web page version instead of the current/live web page version. This process reduces internet congestion and compensates for slow or down websites, and decreases site load times and the time it takes to retune search results. 

Canonical Tag – A link element is an HTML element that helps webmasters prevent duplicate content issues in search engine optimization by specifying the “canonical” or “preferred” version of a web page.

Canonical URL – A link element that identifies a preferred version of a web page to display in search engines. This helps ensure inbound links get attributed to a single page and don’t get diluted to multiple versions of the same page.

Carousel (SERP feature) – A sliding row of images, each with an image and caption text, which typically appear at the top of Google’s SERP. 

ccTLD (Country Code Top Level Domains) – Two letter internet domain abbreviations reserved for each country and are managed by organizations appointed by the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority). 

Citations – An online reference to a business’ name, address, and phone number on a directory or 3rd party website typically increasing the authority of a local business. 

Click-Through Rate (CTR) – SEO click-through rate (CTR) refers to the percentage of users who click on a specific search result or website link after seeing it in the search engine results pages (SERPs). It is a metric used to measure the effectiveness and attractiveness of a particular search result in generating user clicks. More compelling meta data and copy yields stronger click through rates.

Cloaking – A deceptive and disallowed practice where a website presents one version of a web page to users and a different version to search engine crawlers ostensibly to “work around” SEO algorithms. This is considered a black hat SEO technique.

Comment Spam – Content posted in the comment section on blogs, forums, and via other online forms by bots or Blackhat advertisers. Content is created randomly or repeated with the intent to propagate SEO links, advertising, or buzz. 

Container – Self-contained or plug-in software encompassing everything needed to run in any environment like a website, CMS, data package minimizing the potential for disrupting normal function.

Content Audit – The process of reviewing a website to assess the integrity and effectiveness of its content and assets.

Content Gap Analysis – The process of evaluating existing website content on a topic and discovering “gaps” in that content to improve upon. 

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) – process of improving the percentage of website visitors who take a desired action or “convert” into customers, subscribers, or engaged users. The goal of CRO is to increase the conversion rate, which is the ratio of conversions to the total number of website visitors. Some popular CRO tactics include testing changes to website design, copy, images, price, call-to-action, and messaging. 

Cookies – Arbitrary pieces of data stored on a web visitor’s computer by a web browser used to identify users, understand behavior, predict intent, and prepare customized web pages, offers, content, or to save visitor site login information.

Cookies (Third Party) – Cookies that are set by a website other than the one a visitor is currently on. An example would be an advertising service (ex: AdSense) which also creates a third-party cookie to monitor which websites were visited by each user and then attribute various characteristics to those visitors.

Crawl Budget – The number of URLs or pages a search engine’s bot will crawl during one session. SEO tactics can influence the crawl budget for a particular site leading to more frequent indexing of new content as it’s posted. 

Crawl Depth – How far into a web site’s page hierarchy a search engine bot crawls. The more directly linked a site page is to the home page (# of clicks needed to navigate between the two), the more it helps in the overall site ranking. 

Crawl Errors – Unsuccessful attempts by search engine bot to crawl a website often due to site errors and URL errors. 

Crawl Frequency – Frequency of a search engine crawl of a website’s pages to update its index with new and revised pages and content.

Crawl Rate – Requests per second Googlebot makes to a website when crawling. 

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) – Instructions to web browsers which determine characteristics of web page elements such as text size, position of elements on the page, etc. placed in the header of an HTML page or in a separate CSS file. 

CTR (Click Through Rate) – Metric that measures the percentage of people who viewed an ad or a link on a website and clicked on that ad/link.

Customer Journey – All of the potential touchpoints at which a prospect is exposed to or engages with a brand. All of these exposures and interactions are designed to influence, attract, persuade, and convert that prospect to become a customer, client, or subscriber. A typical customer journey is made up of four main phases: awareness, consideration, decision and retention. Different keywords are used at different stages of the customer journey. E.g. reputation keywords like “best colleges for…” and “top colleges for…” are used in the early college search process, while category keywords like “graduate programs in…” and “masters programs in…” are used in early stages of college search. Branded keywords are used at the final decision-making stage of a college decision.

Deep Links – A type of link that sends users directly to an app or in-app locations instead of a website or page.

Direct Answer (SERP feature, aka Quick Answer, Answer Box) – Google SERP feature that appears in response to implied or explicit queries which can be answered briefly with publicly available information. Categories include: Weather, Dictionary, Calculations, Unit Conversions, Sports, and Quick Facts.

Disavow Tools – Part of Google Search Console that allows websites to discount the value of an inbound link, helping reduce or eliminate link-based penalties. 

Disavowing Backlinks – A process of alerting search engines that very low-quality links pointing to a website are not to be considered for search crawls avoiding ranking penalties.

DNS (Domain Name System) – A human-friendly hierarchical and decentralized naming system for computers, services, or other resources connected to the Internet or a private network. 

DNS server (Domain Name System Server) – Servers that maintain a directory of human-friendly domain names and translate them to Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.

Do-follow – A link that doesn’t use the “nofollow” attribute. In other words, a link.

Domain Authority – A score (between 0 and 100) given to a website that quantifies its relevance for a specific subject area or industry that directly impacts the site’s search engine ranking(s).

Domain Name – The human-friendly name of a website, or what comes after “@” in an email address, or after “www.” in a web address. 

Doorway Page (aka Gateway, Jump, and Bridge Pages) – A highly-optimized web page for a keyword or keyword set with the aim of redirecting users to a different website. Considered a misleading and prohibited practice by search engines and results in heavy penalties or removal from indexing.

DuckDuckGo – A search engine that is often praised for its focus on user privacy and a lack of filter bubbles (search personalization).

Duplicate Content – Almost identical web content which appears on more than one page on a website or on several websites. If detected, search engines can apply a duplicate content penalty to the web page or to the website.

Dwell Time – The amount of time that elapses between when a user clicks on a search result and then returns to the SERP from a website. Short dwell time (e.g., less than 5 seconds) can be an indicator of low-quality content to search engines.

.edu Links – Educational institutions have a top-level domain (TLD) of .edu. For example, mit.edu. A link from such a site is known as a .edu link. Links from .edu sites are considered ‘hard to get’ and thought to have more value for link building. As a result, link builders target .edu websites. Colleges benefit by cross-linking with their collaborating partner institutions and non-competing peers.

Engagement Metrics – Methods to measure how users interact with web pages and content. Examples of engagement metrics include, click-through rate, conversion rate, bounce rate, time on page/site, new vs. returning visitors, frequency and recency, and dwell time.

Featured Snippet (SERP Feature) – For certain queries, usually questions (i.e., who, what, why, where, when and how), Google sometimes shows condensed and automatically-generated answers that appear above the organic search results on Google’s search engine result page. Featured snippets, often referred to as position zero, dramatically increase the click through rate and traffic to the featured website.

Fetch as Google – Google Search Console feature that simulates how a published web page looks to Google — also used to manually submit pages to Googlebot to flag changes to a site.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) – A standard network protocol used for the server-to-server transfer of computer files.

Google Analytics – A free web analytics program that is popularly used to track website visitor behavior, sources, geographies, content performance, and much more.

Google Analytics Tracking Code – A snippet of JavaScript that sends traffic- and behavior-related data on website visitor sessions to Google services such as Ads, Shopping, Optimize, and Analytics. 

Google My Business (GMB) Directory – Google tool where businesses create and claim ownership of their GMB listing and populate it with vital information such as hours, location, website linking, and photos. 

Google Helpful Content – Google algorithm update (2022) meant to score content value based on the human measure of how well any given content answers relevant web users questions and devalues sites and pages with more generic or keyword overloaded content.

Google MUM (Multi-task Union Model) – Google algorithm update (2021) that reads and collates content in 75 languages, audio, and video to deliver more robust answers to complex and longer tail search queries.

Google Privacy Sandbox – Google tool that provides more aggregated conversion tracking, but individual consumer-level tracking will cease as a result. While Google intends to provide conversion tracking, it will no longer provide this for consumer sessions- thereby killing the ability to link ads, impressions and conversions for individual consumers as marketing tech providers (outside of Google) will lose all of their access as of 2022 to any data gathered from third-party cookies.

Google Sandbox – Refers to a commonly held belief that Google has a filter that places all new web sites under restrictions for a certain amount of time (1-6 months) to prevent them from ranking in searches, effectively penalizing new web sites after launch. 

Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) – A Google web service which allows webmasters to monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot a website’s presence and indexing in search results. 

Google Trends – Google tool that analyzes the popularity of top search queries in Google Search across various regions and languages.

Google Webmaster Guidelines – An online Google document that outlines specific website practices considered illicit, the severity of various violations, and possible penalties associated with each. 

Googlebot – Google app responsible for fetching web pages on the internet to review each and update the search engine index.

.gov Links – Government institutions have a top-level domain (TLD) of .gov. For example, pa.gov. A link from such a site is known as a .gov link. Links from .gov sites are considered ‘hard to get’ and thought to have more value for link building. As a result, link builders target .gov websites. Colleges seek benefit by linking reciprocally with their funding government agencies.

gTLDs (Generic Top-Level Domains) – Top-level domains (the far right segment of a web address) e.g. .com, .org, .edu, .gov and, .int.

Guest Blogging – Guest blogging is a practice where a writer or content creator contributes an article or blog post to another person’s or organization’s blog or website. The guest blogger is typically an expert or knowledgeable individual in a particular field or industry, and they offer their content as a contribution to the host blog’s audience. Reciprocal links benefit both parties. 

Head Tag (in HTML) – A container for metadata placed between the <html> tag and the <body> tag that typically defines the document title, character set, styles, scripts, and other meta information. 

Headings (aka HTML Headings) – Website titles and subtitles ranking in importance from <h1> to <h6>. They signal and create content hierarchy.

Heat Map – A visual representation of data that uses a system of color-coding to represent different website behavior metrics (e.g. visitor navigation, scrolling, clicks, time on element, interaction, etc.)

Hreflang Tag – A data element (tag) that specifies additional URLs with the same or similar content in other languages or designed for specific geographic regions. Hreflang attributes inform Google that translated pages are related and are not plagiarized or illicitly duplicated.

HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) – The standard mark-up language for documents designed to be displayed in a web browser.

HTTP – The underlying communication protocol which client web browsers and web servers use to transfer web pages and their associated files.

HTTP Headers – The initial requests and responses passed between a browser and a web server that include information such as the client browser, the requested page, the server type, redirects, and more. 

HTTPS – A secure and encrypted protocol for transmitting HTML pages. This is now considered a ranking factor.

Images Box – Carousel of relevant images that is served in response to search queries.

Inbound Link (aka Inlink, Incoming Link, Back Link) – Links from one web site to a page on another web site.Quality Inbound links are considered to be the backbone of Google’s ranking algorithm. 

Inbound Marketing – It involves marketers creating a continuous stream of high quality, trusted and relevant content (such as articles, blog posts, videos, infographics, white papers, thought leadership articles, social posts, quizzes, games, etc.) and igniting it via promotion and conversation-starters to encourage peer-to-peer sharing. Technical on-page SEO must be augmented with inbound marketing to secure search engine rankings. Career advice and research at colleges and universities are fertile ground for creating high-fidelity, democratized and optimized content.

Incognito Mode (aka Private Browsing) – A web browser feature which allows users to open a browser window without saving browsing history, cookies, or site data. 

Indexed Pages – Pages of a website that a search engine has visited, analyzed, and added to its database of reviewed web pages. 

Indexing – The process that search engines go through when they discover a new or updated web page on the internet. After crawling, data is sorted and stored to facilitate information retrieval. 

Information Architecture – How a website is organized (sitemap) and where various content and navigational elements are located on webpages (wireframe and page architecture).

Internal Link – A hyperlink from one page to another on the same website.

IP (Internet Protocol) Address – A unique series of 3-digit decimal numbers separated by periods which serves as a distinct address for a computer on the internet.

JavaScript – Programming language which is often used to create front-end interactive and dynamic elements on web pages. 

Keyword – A word or phrase that users search for on the web.

Keyword (Broad) – Short search queries that cover broad topics.

Keyword (Long Tail) – Search queries consisting of multiple terms and/or specific phrases. 

Keyword Cannibalization – A situation where multiple pages on a website target the same keyword(s) through usage of the keyword in the page’s title and content.

Keyword Density – The percentage of times a keyword or phrase appears on a web page compared to the total number of words on that web page. 

Keyword Lexicon – The Keyword Lexicon is composed of keywords and key phrases the college or a university should claim. Categories in the lexicon include academic program keywords, brand positioning keywords, reputation keywords, decisioning keywords, and location keywords.

Keyword Planner – A Google tool for search campaigns to estimate how a group or list of potential keywords might perform. 

Keyword Research – The investigation and discovery of keywords which have the greatest potential to drive traffic to a website. 

Keyword Stuffing – Illicit SEO technique in which keywords are loaded into a web page’s meta tags, visible content, or link anchor text in an attempt to gain an unfair ranking advantage. Search engines disregard it if it’s packed with too much, irrelevant or unrelated content.

Knowledge Graph – A Google knowledge database and the source for the information displayed in Google’s Knowledge Panel and other SERP features containing vast amounts of data about people, places, events and objects that attempt to understand real-world entities and their relationships to one another.

Knowledge Panel – Summarized information boxes that appear as part of Google’s SERP.

Link Bait – Content designed to attract attention and encourage the creation of hyperlinks to the site with the aim of improving organic search results.

Link Building – Efforts made to generate inbound links from other websites to one’s own website.

Link Equity (aka Link Juice) – A search engine ranking factor where links (internal and external) can pass value and authority from one web page or website to another. 

Link Exchange (aka Reciprocal Link) – SEO tactic when two or more websites agree to host links to each other in order to boost their page rank. (Black Hat)

Link Farm – A website or group of websites created for the sole purpose of boosting another web site’s page authority. (Black Hat)

Link Popularity – The combined quantity and quality of the links pointing to a website.

Link Pruning – The method of analyzing and removing unhelpful inbound links to a website with the goal of reducing search algorithm penalties. 

Local Pack – A group of three local business listings which appears in response to search queries for products or services provided by local businesses.

Local SEO – Optimizing website ranking for local geographic audiences and searches. 

Machine Learning – An application of artificial intelligence that provides systems the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed to do so.

Manual Action Penalty – Google penalties having a negative impact on a website’s search rankings based on search algorithms updates or manual review.

Metadata – A descriptive, structural, or administrative definition of underlying layers of data. 

Meta Description – A data element (tag) that summarizes a web page’s content that greatly affects what pages are shown in search results, how those pages are prioritized, and the abbreviated description shown in search results.

Meta Keywords – A data element (tag) used to highlight keywords that are most relevant to the content of a given web page.

Meta Tags – Structured, standardized data elements appearing in the header section of web pages that define specific attributes relating to the page. 

Meta Title (aka Page Title, Title Tag) – An HTML tag that shows the name of a web page. 

Metadata (Administrative) – Data element (tag) providing information to help manage a web page such as when and how a page was created, the file type and other technical information, and who can access it.

Metadata (Descriptive) – Data element (tag) describing a resource for purposes such as discovery and identification. It can include elements such as title, abstract, author, and keywords. 

Metadata (Structural) – Data element (tag) indicating how compound objects are connected or organized, for example, how webpages are ordered to form a website.

Mobile friendly – Website design where the site functions the exact same way regardless of the device. 

Mobile SEO – Search engine optimization of websites for speed and viewing on smartphones and tablets.

Mobile-First Indexing – Google policy of using the mobile, instead of the desktop, version of web pages to index and rank URLs. 

Multi-Touch Attribution (MTA) – The identification of a set of user actions that contribute in some manner to a desired behavior or outcome, and then assigns a value or weight to each of these events.

Natural Language Processing – Area of computer science/AI working to enable computers to process and analyze human language — in SEO terms, to apply that to speech recognition (voice searches) and natural language understanding search intent.

Nofollow – Website and web page links tagged so that they are ignored (not indexed) by search engines. 

Noindex – A meta tag value added to the HTML source code of a webpage to direct search engines to not include that webpage in its list of search results. 

OG Tags (or Open Graph Tags). Open Graph is a protocol developed by Facebook that allows website developers to control how their web pages are presented when shared on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others.

Organic Links – 1) Completely unsolicited inbound links and/or 2) Natural and uncompensated inbound links that a website receives from other sites.

Organic Search Results – Natural, or unpaid, search results displayed based on their relevance to the search query as determined by the search engine’s algorithm. They are considered more trusted and command the lionshare of clicks on a search results page.

Organic Traffic – Website visits that originate from users clicking on unpaid search results. 

Orphan Page – Any webpage that is not linked to by any other pages on that website.

Outbound Link – A link that directs visitors to a page on a different website than the one they are currently on.

Page Authority – A metric that quantifies the domain authority and relevance of a website for a specific subject area or industry.

Page Rank (PR) – According to Google, “PageRank is the measure of the importance of a page based on the incoming links from other pages. In simple terms, each link to a page on your site from another site adds to your site’s PageRank. Not all links are equal.” The algorithm was named after Google co-founder Larry Page.

Page Speed – A measurement of how fast the content of a website loads.

Page Speed Tools – Google web tool designed to quantify and improve a website’s performance and optimizations. 

Pageviews (aka Impressions) – An instance of an internet user visiting a particular page on a website.

People Also Ask (SERP feature) – A Google SERP feature which consists of a group of four search queries or questions which are similar to or directly related to the original search query. 

Personalized Results – When search engines use search history, web browsing history, location, and relationships to create a set of search results tailored to a specific user. Unless a user uses a browser in incognito mode, the search results are always personalized.

PPC (Pay Per Click) – A type of advertising where advertisers are charged a certain amount (usually determined by bid, relevance, account history, and competition) every time a user clicks on the ad. Combining PPC and SEO can result in more SERP real estate, clicks, and conversions. Also, PPC data can inform your SEO strategy, and the reverse is also true.

Rank (or Position) – Where a webpage appears within the organic search results for a specific query.

RankBrain – Google algorithm iteration applying machine-learning to interpret search queries in order to understand user intent and then provide the appropriate search results. 

Ranking Signal (aka Ranking Factor) – Any characteristic of a website that search engine algorithms might consider to calculate rankings, popularity, or relevance. Although there are hundreds of ranking factors, the key factors are the domain, URL, meta-data, page content, quality and quantity of inbound links, social media signals, and location signals.

Reciprocal Links – When two websites agree to exchange links to one another.

Redirects (aka URL redirection, URL forwarding) – Temporary or permanent way to send users and search engines to a different URL from the one originally requested. 

Related Search – Autocomplete feature in the Google Search bar designed to predict, suggest, and/or complete relevant searches while users are typing.

Reputation Management – The practice of crafting a positive online perception of a brand or person – including in search results and on social media – by minimizing the visibility of negative mentions.

Responsive Web Design – An approach to web design that allows web pages to automatically resize to render well based on device, orientation, and screen size. Responsiveness is a search engine ranking factor.

Reviews (SERP feature, aka Stars) – SERP feature that displays the total number of reviews and average rating for pages which allow visitors to rate products or services. 

Rich Cards – Mobile search result format which presents a carousel of search results in rotating slides.

Rich Snippet – Structured data can be added to the HTML of a website to provide contextual information to the search engines during crawling. This information can then be displayed in the SERPs, resulting in an enhanced listing, known as a rich snippet.

Robots.txt – Text file that gives search engines instructions about what pages to crawl and what pages to ignore. Prevents indexing of sensitive, duplicate and archived pages. 

RSS Feed (aka Rich Site Summary, Really Simple Syndication) – Web feed process that streamlines access to multiple websites using a standardized (XML) file format that automatically updates information and renders that information in a common, standardized view. 

Schema Markup (aka Structured Data, Structured Markup, Schema Tagging) – Tags or code snippets added to HTML to improve the way search engines read and represent web pages by providing context about the meaning of a website’s data or content beyond the words that make up a site. 

Search Box (SERP feature) – Google SERP feature that allows users to initiate a search on a target website directly from a search result by using a search box that appears below the result’s description. 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – SEO or “search engine optimization” is the process of improving your website to increase its visibility on Google, Microsoft Bing, and other search engines. In the early days, the first search engines trusted marketer’s claims and the quantity of claims. Marketers naturally began to game website content by jamming boatloads of content on their websites. Google came into the picture and changed the game: instead of ranking websites based on marketers claims, it started ranking them based on conversations and inbound links to the marketer’s website from other websites. In turn, marketers started buying inbound links from content farms that were created to game Google’s algorithm. Google got smarter yet again. It started penalizing websites for content stuffing and buying links from content farms. It diversified its ranking factors to include legitimate brand discussions on quality websites and social media. Thus began the era of Inbound marketing. It involves marketers creating a continuous stream of high quality, trusted and relevant content (such as articles, blog posts, videos, infographics, white papers, thought leadership articles, social posts, quizzes, games, etc.) and igniting it via promotion and conversation-starters to encourage peer-to-peer sharing. Thus the label SEO was transformed into SEO/Inbound marketing, even SEO/Inbound/Content marketing.

SERP (Search Engine Results Page) – The page of search results for a particular keyword or search phrase displayed by a search engine. Elements of SERPs include ads, (above and below the organic search results), featured snippets (a.k.a., position zero), images, knowledge panels, local Pack (with map), news, related questions, related searches, shopping results, sitelinks, tweets and videos.

Server Log Files – A file automatically created and maintained by a server consisting of a list of activities it performed.

Sitelinks – Hyperlinks to website subpages – automatically and independently added by Google’s algorithm – that appear under certain Google listings.

Social Media – Platforms (websites and apps) where users can interact with each other, as well as create, share, and consume content. 

Social Signal – Any factor that demonstrates authority and influence on popular social networking websites. For example, the social authority of a user on Twitter.

Although many correlation studies have indicated that social signals impact rankings (e.g., number of likes/shares a piece of content receives), Google has publicly stated that social signals are not a direct ranking factor. Popular sites that have a lot of social media engagement tend to rank well for other reasons.

Soft 404 Error – A URL that returns a page with conflicting status information (page does not exist + a 200-level success code). 

Spider Trap – A set of web pages that may intentionally or unintentionally be used to cause a search bot to make an infinite number of requests or cause a poorly constructed crawler to crash. 

Structured Snippets – A version of ad extensions shown in paid Google search results.

Subdomain – A division or alias of a domain that is used to organize a website into distinct websites on a single URL. 

Tag (HTML Tag) – A snippet of code typically up to about 155 characters.

Title Tag – An HTML meta tag that acts as the title of a webpage. Typically, the title tag is the title search engines use when displaying search listings, so it should include strategic and relevant keywords for that specific page. The title tag should also be written so it makes sense to people and attracts the most clicks. Typically, title tags should be less than 65 characters.

Top Level Domain (TLD) – Top-level domains (the far right segment of a web address) e.g. .com, .org, .edu, .gov and, .int. 

Top Stories (SERP feature, aka News box) – SERP feature which displays news stories relating to a search query. 

Twitter feature (SERP feature – SERP feature which displays the most recent or trending tweets in relation to a user’s query.

Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs) – String of characters that unambiguously identifies a particular resource over a network using specific protocols.

Universal Search – When search engines pull data from multiple databases to display on the same SERP. Results can include images, videos, news, shopping, and other types of results. Universal Search is also known as Blended Search.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator) – A complete web address containing a domain name as well as other components and extensions needed to locate the specific page or piece of content.

URL Parameter – Suffix elements added to a base URL to identify a specific web page variation with customized content and/or to aid in detailed behavior or performance tracking. 

User Generated Content (UGC) – Content that has been created by visitors on a website or app.

User Experience (UX) – The overall feeling users are left with after interacting with a brand, its online presence, and its product/services. Google has always maintained that what’s best for the user is best for google bot.

Video Thumbnail (SERP feature) – Related and relevant video clips served in individual search results. 

Voice Search – A type of voice-activated search technology that allows users to speak into a device (on a smartphone or voice gadget like Alexa) to ask questions or conduct an online search. Natural Language Processing increasingly powers search engines. People are uttering sentences containing approximately 8-12 words to get answers to their questions. More than half of searches are now voice activated. Primarily because of voice search, colleges must create both formal and informal/colloquial optimized content.

XML Sitemap – A website file that provides information about the active pages, videos, and other assets on a site and how they are related or connected. Traditionally it’s named sitemap.xml

Website Audit – A full analysis of all the factors that affect website’s visibility in search engines. 

White Hat (SEO) – SEO tactics compliant with best practices that optimize a site in search results without incurring penalties. Contrast this with illegal Black Hat SEO.

Yandex – The most popular search engine in Russia.

If you are a college or university looking to increase the quantity and quality of new leads for your undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, certificate, or professional – executive programs, view our work with many higher ed clients and consider partnering with us.

About Elliance
Elliance, a Pittsburgh-based higher education marketing agency, has helped grow enrollment, endowment, and reputation for more than 100 colleges and universities including 20 professional schools, 12 faith-based universities, and 20 liberal arts colleges. Click to see all of our blog posts for higher education.