Search engine optimisation or SEO is the way in which people optimise their websites so that search engines will rank them highly in search results. This is important because the lower down in search results a website appears the less overall traffic they will receive.

This is why SEO is one of the most important elements of digital marketing and has developed a rich industry around it that uses several terms to identify popular tactics. The following will list some of the most frequently used terms in SEO and what they mean.


A keyword is the identifying word or phrase the helps search engines filter through content. Keywords are used because people searching the internet type keywords when they look for something.

For example, if someone does an internet search for “the best types of cat food” the keyword would be “cat food”. This is because “cat” could mean anything to do with cats and “food” could mean anything to do with food.

The keyword serves to denote the specific topic that a webpage covers and is one of the most basic ways a search engine filters websites.


A backlink, also known as an outbound link, is a link to a website that is present on another website. It’s simple to understand but a major part of search engine optimisation created by SEO companies.

For a search engine, a backlink suggests that a website is of a high enough quality that other websites have provided links to it for their users. A search engine takes this information and rewards the site that is backlinked with a higher ranking in search results.

Internal link

An internal link is a link on a website that sends users to another part of the same website. It is normally used to help users easily navigate to other pages within the website.

Internal links are useful in digital marketing because they help build a more robust site profile that is recognised by search engines as being of value to users.


On-page refers to elements of a website that appear to both users and search engines. On-page optimisation means the tailoring of those elements so that the website performs better in search rankings.

On-page elements can include copy, images, videos, graphics as well as behind-the-scenes factors that go into what makes a website.


Off-page means all of the things that contribute to a website’s SEO that aren’t present on the website itself. This most commonly refers to backlinks and a website’s social media presence that help to generate traffic.

Meta tags

Meta tags are bits of descriptive information found in the HTML code of a website that is not normally visible to users. Search engines crawl meta tags to they can use the information to display elements of the website, such as images and summaries, in search results.

White/black hat

White hat and black hat both refer to different methods of search engine optimisation. White hat methods are those considered ethical in helping a website achiever a higher ranking in search engines.

Black hat methods are those that are unethical in improving search engine results and are often reliant on spam and shady marketing practises.

Bounce rate

The bounce rate is an analytical metric used by marketers to determine the time spent by users on a website before they leave it. The higher the bounce rate, the less time people are spending on the website.

This is important because a high bounce rate will imply to search engines that the website in question is of low quality or not interesting to users.

Successful digital marketing will require a level of familiarity with these terms so as the implement the SEO strategies related to them.