SEO Acronym Guide: 15 Key Terms to Boost Your Knowledge

SEO Acronym Guide: 15 Key Terms to Boost Your Digital Marketing Knowledge

Marketers, myself included, tend to overuse buzzwords and acronyms. While they are convenient and standard for people in the know, they can be confusing for newbies. Others might use these SEO acronyms without fully understanding the complete context of their meaning. So, whether you’re just getting acquainted with search engine optimization and similar marketing tactics or you just want a refresher, I recommend you read this guide until the end.

In this post, I will go through complex SEO acronyms, explaining each one of them and why they’re important for your business. By the time you finish this post, you should have a much better understanding of the basic concepts that SEO experts use on a day-to-day basis. 

1. SEO: Search Engine Optimization

SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is one of the most common marketing tactics, during which you do various activities in order for you to improve the search engine rankings for your website in Google and other search engines. The main goal of SEO is to gain more clicks for lucrative search queries that would lead to direct sales. 

There are three subcategories of search optimization that are often mentioned together with SEO: technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO. 

Technical SEO is all about resolving various technical aspects to help increase your website’s speed, improve indexing and site architecture, improve mobile-friendliness, etc. in order to improve your rankings. On-page SEO mainly refers to the creation of online content and the optimization of it for various keywords, while off-page SEO is generally used to describe link-building processes. 

Search engine optimization can provide a large influx of organic visits to your site. Its main goal is not only to generate sales but also to build brand awareness. As such, you should always use this tactic in conjunction with other digital marketing activities, such as social media marketing and online advertising campaigns. 

2. SERP: Search Engine Results Page

SERP: Search Engine Results Page

SERP, or search engine results page, is a page that opens when you input any type of search query in Google or another search engine. This page consists of numerous organic results, snippets, and paid ads. Each SERP consists of different entries, prioritizing pages that were best optimized for a particular keyword according to the search engine’s unique algorithmic scoring. This is what search engine algorithms are optimized for: To be able to serve you up the content you are looking for based on your query.

The largest portion of a SERP is reserved for organic rankings. However, paid ads and snippets often take precedence, appearing above organic results. Paid advertisements give business owners a chance to circumvent the arduous SEO process and grab top spots on the page. Snippets, on the other hand, are generated by Google and provide the most relevant information. More recently Google has introduced generative AI search results which now appear above everything else for certain search queries.

Pages that rank on top of SERPs gain the majority of traffic. According to some studies, the first-placed article might gain up to 40% of total traffic for that particular keyword. Because of that, getting your website content to appear in the top of SERPs is vital for your digital marketing efforts. 

3. CTR: Click-Through Rate

The click-through rate, from an SEO perspective, shows us how many people clicked on our link after seeing it in search engines. To calculate CTR, you have to measure the total clicks and divide them by total impressions, which is easily done for you by viewing your reports inside Google Search Console. CTR is one of the vital ranking factors and is vital for reeling in more potential customers. 

To maximize your CTR, you have to improve your page titles. Enticing, descriptive titles make all the difference in the world, encouraging people to click on your link instead of your competitors.

Another way to increase your CTR is improving your meta description, the longer text description that appears below your page title in search results. Make sure to introduce the main keyword to boost SEO efforts, and keep the description to its optimal length while enticing viewers to click through.

4. CPC: Cost Per Click

CPC: Cost Per Click
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CPC is the most important metric for online advertising campaigns. It shows how much you have to pay for each click on your Google ad or any paid advertising site. 

Cost-per-click takes into account each visitor that clicks on your link. Basically, it shows how much it costs you to potentially gain a new lead by sending traffic to your website. The associated advertising term CPM, on the other hand, is calculated based on the number of people who see your ad, and it uses 1,000 impressions as a benchmark.

Google takes into account your Ad Rank, which shows the quality and relevance of your website and ad. Besides this metric, Google considers how much you’re willing to spend for each ad. Companies with higher Ad Rank and a higher bid will generally be placed in higher positions for that particular search term. That being said, the more effective your ad is and thus the higher its Ad Rank, the greater possibility you have to get more impressions with a lower CPC.

5. ROI: Return on Investment

Return on investment shows how your investment has affected your net income. In SEO, this means how much you’ve spent optimizing your site compared to how much you’ve earned from organic visits.

How much ROI you accrue from a campaign usually depends on your team’s or agency’s proficiency. You have to focus on lucrative keywords and create a fantastic customer journey to convert as many prospects as possible. Customer retention efforts, upselling, and cross-selling are also vital for boosting your returns on investment.

You need to be meticulous in your keyword research and focus on phrases that would generate profits. You need to create digital content that will help build external links and awareness for your site. I also suggest you try to get as many clients as possible through local search engine optimization and Google Maps.

As you can imagine, out of all of the acronyms on this list, ROI might be the most complex to master because of all of the factors that go into its success or failure.

6. SEM: Search Engine Marketing

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As mentioned earlier, SEO focuses on tactics meant to boost your organic traffic. On the other hand, SEM increases paid traffic from popular search engines while also implementing the best website optimization practices (but not as much as SEO). There is often a lot of confusion around these two acronyms, so make sure you read my blog post SEO vs. SEM: What’s the Difference and Which to Use? for clarification.

You can use all sorts of advertisements for your SEM campaigns. The most popular ones are search ads, which are shown on Google and other engines. Display ads are presented as banners on various sites, while shopping ads are vital for online stores. You can also employ local ads in Google Maps as well as YouTube video ads. 

To get the most out of search marketing, you need to focus on your ideal demographics. Utilize keywords that would lead to direct sales, and only pursue queries that are relevant to your business. Also, make sure to introduce the best conversion rate optimization practices. 

Further Reading: SEO vs. SEM: What’s the Difference and Which to Use?

7. PPC: Pay-Per-Click

Pay-per-click advertising, also referred to as PPC, is a model in which a company pays money for each click on its ad. In most cases, we use this term to explain advertising on Google, other search engines, and social media platforms. 

Unlike organic search, where you slowly create relevant content and promote it via different channels, PPC has an immediate effect. You can set up and execute a campaign rather quickly, thus obtaining instant search visibility. Furthermore, with PPC, you’re not at the whims of search engine algorithms. 

To get the most out of your PPC campaign, you have to choose the right format and select relevant keywords. My suggestion is to perform thorough A/B testing to determine how your copies perform before posting them. You should also rely on artificial intelligence to predict the campaign results. 

Not to confuse you, but PPC is a major aspect of SEM, and you measure the expense of PPC through CPC. Got it?

8. KPI: Key Performance Indicator

Key performance indicators, which are often called metrics (although there is a subtle difference), are the measuring stick for your SEO campaigns and everything else in marketing and business for that matter. We use them to determine how far we’ve progressed in our marketing efforts and whether its’ even worth it to continue spending money or somehow change our tactics to improve them.

The two basic SEO KPIs are amount of organic traffic and search engine rankings. You also have to analyze conversion rates across the board. They show us how people progress through the marketing and sales funnel, and whether there are some roadblocks on that journey.

Other website KPIs include bounce rates, pages per session, and repeat visits, which usually indicate the quality of content and website offer. To properly track and analyze SEO KPIs, you have to use Google Search Console and Google Analytics. I would also recommend you invest in an SEO tool to make the compilation and reporting of this data easier. I currently use UberSuggest for this purpose.

Further Reading: SEO Performance: The 15 SEO KPIs You Need to Measure Success

9. UX: User Experience

UX: User Experience
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User experience, or UX, refers to visitors’ positive or negative experiences while browsing a website. In other words, it shows whether your site has a fast load time and a simple user interface, doesn’t have broken links, has proper meta tags, uses the same image format and quality images, has engaging content, etc. 

While UX has always been an important SEO factor, it has become much more relevant in the last decade. Basically, Google doesn’t want to showcase sites and content that provide poor experience to its users and rewards sites that offer good experiences.

If you wish to improve your UX, you need to simplify each element of the site. Use minimalistic sitemaps and design, and remove anything that would interfere with browsing. This will make it easier for users and search engine crawlers to find information. Use testing tools to check the website’s speed and mobile-friendliness against what’s normal. Check out my post on Google SEO tools for information on the free tools that Google provides to help you here.

10. CMS: Content Management System

Content management systems are the vital platforms that allow you to post and edit content on your site. The most popular CMS is WordPress, and other solutions include Magento, Joomla, and Drupal. Shopify is the most popular CMS for ecommerce.

Your CMS will affect the website structure and how content is shown to end-users. With a CMS, Google, Yahoo!, and other search engines will have an easier time crawling through your pages and indexing them. Furthermore, these programs allow for various on-page improvements, such as adding metadata and internal links. 

You need to choose a solid, SEO-friendly CMS. Most importantly, focus on platforms that allow multiple integrations and have advanced features. Configure the platform so it follows search engine guidelines and other best practices. For example, you should set up robots.txt, enable SSL and HTTP, introduce XML sitemaps, etc.

Further Reading: The 15 Best SEO Plugins for WordPress That You Should Know

11. URL: Uniform Resource Locator

URL is the address of a specific resource (page) on the web. Each URL consists of four elements: protocol (HTTP or HTTPS), domain (name of your website/brand), path (specific location on the site), and query. 

The common practice is keeping your ULR as minimalistic as possible. First, you need to have a simple website architecture to keep the ULR short. In other words, you won’t have to go through the “blog” than the “subblog” category. 

You also have to use simple slugs. This is the last portion of the URL, which describes the content on the page. So, if you wrote an article with a list of SEO acronyms, a good ULR would be “seo-acronyms.” Lastly, make sure to use HTTPS protocol, a global Internet standard these days, for extra security. 

12. SSL: Secure Sockets Layer

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With an SSL, or secure sockets layer, search engines authenticate your website. This certificate is vital for encrypting data and providing a secure connection. Among others, SSL protects credit card information, logins, and other critical data. 

Nowadays, a website needs to use SSL and HTTPS to rank at the top of search engines. The technology protects information as it travels across the internet, ensuring users aren’t jeopardized by hackers. Keep in mind SSL won’t necessarily give you a boost in search engine rankings, as most companies already use this certificate. 

Just seeing that your site is HTTPS-protected instills confidence in users. It shows their information won’t be compromised when they’re using cookies, logging in, or leaving other personal data. 

13. CTA: Call to Action

CTA stands for call-to-action. The term refers to any line of text that forces users into action. By adding CTA to your website and various marketing materials, you increase the number of visits and conversions. Basically, it is a type of reminder for users that they can gain more value by interacting with a platform or a brand. 

The most traditional CTA is just a line of text urging people to take a specific action. If you want to take things up a notch, you would also add a link to that sentence, taking visitors directly to the landing page. 

Using buttons is another great strategy, as they’re more noticeable than simple text or links. The last method is using forms. With them, users can leave their personal data immediately without having to go to another page. 

From an SEO perspective, your paid advertising efforts will often include language to persuade people to click through, whether it is a banner ad or PPC. This persuasive language can also be considered a type of CTA.

14. AMP: Accelerated Mobile Pages

AMP is an open-source framework meant to help you build user-friendly platforms that render quickly on mobile devices. AMP pages load quickly on just about any device. Another great thing about these components is that they’re already optimized for optimal experiences. 

AMP has a major positive impact on your website traffic and performance. Through enhanced user experience, it reduces bounce rate and generates more recurring visitors. All of this would lead to improved brand awareness, authority, and retention. 

As for the drawbacks, you’ll have to tackle common tracking problems. Business owners might also struggle with the inherent limitations of JavaScript and CSS. For some people, implementing AMP might be confusing and arduous. 

I currently have not implemented AMP on my website, and while it was a popular topic of debate several years ago, the power and speed of mobile devices, Internet, and efforts by web hosts and webmasters to improve website speed have meant that it is not as popular of a solution as it was several years ago when things were slower in the Internet ecosystem in general.

Further Reading: Technical SEO: The 15 Technical Aspects of Search Engine Optimization That You Need to Know

15. LSI: Latent Semantic Indexing

LSI: Latent Semantic Indexing
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Google uses the LSI concept to better understand the intent behind a text. Instead of focusing on particular keywords, the search engine’s algorithms try to assess related keywords. For example, if an article uses phrases such as “organic traffic,” “link-building,” and “technical optimization,” Google understands that the author is covering an SEO-related topic. 

LSIs are relevant for both search engines and marketers. By using many synonyms and related phrases, content creators rest assured that their articles will be properly indexed for the target keyword. So, instead of keyword stuffing, your task is to cover a topic to the best of your ability. 

You can find LSI with certain content tools. However, it would be even better to rely on Google’s search engine. The autocomplete function shows you phases related to your main keyword, and you should also check the People Also Search For section at the bottom for additional ideas.

LSI is a hot topic of debate for SEOers as to whether or not it is used by Google as a search engine ranking factor. However, it is still a best practice to be aware of LSI when creating content.

Further Reading: The Top 15 Keyword Rank Checkers to Monitor Your SEO Performance

Next Steps

As most of you know, I cover SEO topics all the time. While this article is fantastic for beginners, shedding light on popular phrases and concepts, you should continue learning by reading my in-depth guides. These advanced articles are excellent for newbie marketers and business owners who want to optimize their sites. You can find all of my SEO-related articles here.

Are there any acronyms that I didn’t cover but you would like to know more about? Feel free to drop them in the comments below!

Hero Photo by Edho Pratama on Unsplash

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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.

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