SEO glossary for business owners: The only 12 terms that matter

The important ones in plain language.

SEO glossary for business owners: The only 12 terms that matter

For non-marketers, the language of search engine optimization (SEO) can appear overwhelming. And although there is a lot to learn to become an effective SEO — you only need to understand a small fraction of that information to know whether or not the strategy is moving your business forward.

To help bridge that gap, I compiled a list of 12 words that contain everything a business owner, founder, or person with a marketing budget would need to know in order to evaluate their organic growth.


This acronym is short for search engine results page.

When you type in a question to Google, this term represents what you see next. Usually, you'll land on a page filled with links to individual websites. However, this page can also include images, maps, and additional questions to refine your search.  

Whether or not you appear on this page — and in what position are what SEOs call ranking.  


Most search technology is based on language, so search engines rely on keywords to help them judge the relevance of results (also called search intent). Keywords are words and phrases that signal what a page, website, or resource is about.

For instance, if you create a blog post about chicken burritos, the page would likely contain the words "chicken" and "burrito" many times throughout.

Your page should also contain words that have semantic relationships, which is a fancy way of saying the words go together, such as how "cooking," "kitchen," and "stove" are all related to bringing a burrito to life.


Pageviews, organic traffic, and visitors are all relatively interchangeable terms that mean one thing: real people are coming to your business website.

Put simply, this is the goal of SEO — to increase the number of people who view your business.

One level deeper. When your business website or blog post shows up in the SERPs, that is called an impression because people are aware of your business but may not actually visit your website.

A pageview only occurs once a person clicks the link to visit your website. The percentage of people who do this is called your click-through rate (CTR).

Meta Tags

When creating a web page, there is information a human can see and information only a computer can see. Some of this computer-only info helps bots further understand and organize the web page.

A few examples of meta tags include titles (what is your page called), headers (how is it organized), descriptions (a quick summary of the page), along with a couple more technical ones.

A good SEO will know how to work these so that they communicate exactly what the robots need to see to improve your performance!

When we talked about keywords, we mentioned that search engines look for relationships between words to understand a page. Another element of this relationship-building process is backlinking.

A backlink is when you hyperlink to another page on your website like this: 7 Undervalued ways a business can use a blog. By linking to this article, I'm showing that there's an association between the two pages — the article you're reading is aimed at business owners and so is the one linked.

Using backlinks to logically guide your visitors through your website is the ultimate goal.

One level deeper. Links come in a variety of types and aim to fulfill a mixture of purposes. Internal links are when you link from one page on your website to another on the same website (like the above example). External links are when a different website links to yours. Outgoing links are when you link to a different website. 

Site Speed

As the internet continues to evolve, people's expectations around content will continue to change as well. Right now, one of the most important factors for giving visitors a positive experience is the speed at which your website loads and delivers the content they're looking for.

A slow site will deliver a poor experience, causing visitors to leave quickly. As a result, search engines will recommend your site less often (i.e., lower your rankings), leading to less traffic and fewer customers.

On the flip side, a fast site will keep visitors viewing more of your content for longer, ultimately leading to business growth.


There is a considerable number of SEO tools available for the average person to purchase, but when it comes to measuring what matters, a few free ones are all you need.

SEO Types

Finally, it's important to be aware that SEO comes in different flavors. The three categories insiders generally use are:

  • White Hat: Tried and true methods of growing a digital presence. Follows all the guidelines and stays on top of industry changes.
  • Black Hat: Methods that attempt to exploit loopholes in the algorithm. A game of high risk, high reward. Serious, even legal, consequences can occur, which is why it's nearly universally discouraged by experts.
  • Grey Hat: Like it sounds, this is the middle ground between accepted practices and those that color outside the lines. Advantages gained from these strategies can be significant, albeit short-lived.  

SEO is a powerful, affordable growth avenue for many businesses, and narrowing the knowledge gap can help owners feel more confident pursuing this strategy.

If there's a word you'd like me to clarify in plain English or you'd like to learn more about how a content strategy might work for your business, visit Content Class to reach out!