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Apr 08, 2021

An A to Z Guide to Common SEO Terms in 2021


Search engine optimization (SEO) is a marketing method that drives free, organic traffic to your website by enhancing your visibility in search results. Some aspects of SEO can be technical, and there are many important terms and concepts to master. To make things easier to tackle, review this A-Z list of SEO best practices that will help you yield results.


Have you ever wondered how search engines decide which results to show? They use algorithms. When you issue a query, an algorithm -a piece of code that follows a set of rules in its calculations- will work through millions of relevant pages to decide on the best hierarchy for the results.


Getting your pages indexed in the repository that algorithms search through is crucial. Bots, also known as crawlers or spiders, are programs that visit webpages. They use metadata (see Meta-descriptions below) and other clues to determine the topic of a page and index it.


Creating quality content is one of the most important SEO best practices. Publishing new content regularly helps your rankings because it assures search engines they are not sending their users to a stale page. It also allows you to target new keywords. Always identify the right content format for your goals. While a Q&A or FAQ page is useful for simple queries, long-form content can be a powerful tool for targeting in-depth searches.

Domain authority

Domain authority and domain rank are third-party metrics used by different SEO tools. They mirror the PageRank metric that Google uses. These different metrics measure how authoritative or “expert” a page is based on its content, backlinks, and more.


Link equity is a measure of the value and authority of a link to your content. It’s an SEO ranking factor, and you can boost your position on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) by getting backlinks from domains that have been around for a while. This means you’ll have other sites link to your content. These domains should have a positive reputation and publish content that is related to the topics you discuss.

Featured snippets

Featured snippets are previews of a webpage or video that Google displays at the top of a SERP. It can be a paragraph, list, table or video segment. These featured snippets make your content highly visible and are particularly useful for mobile and voice searches where convenience and simplicity are key.


Google doesn’t need a formal introduction since it’s become a verb in our everyday vernacular, but do you know about the different Google engines? You can optimize your content to rank higher in search results on engines like Google Images, Google Maps, Google News, and Google Shopping.

Heading tags

Heading tags, also known as headlines on your website, have significant SEO value. Use H1-H6 heading tags to structure your content. These help with navigation and tell search engines about the different topics discussed on a page. They’re one of the SEO best practices that improve your site’s readability to the bots running algorithms.

Image alt attributes

Add image alt attributes to describe the content of your images to get them to rank in Google Images searches. Search engines can’t analyze the actual content of your images, so these tags help bots determine whether an image is relevant for a topic. These can also help with your page’s general SEO because it provides more content for the bots to find besides just your copy. And, it’s a plus for ADA compliance, as it provides text to be read by programs utilized by the visually impaired.


JavaScript is a programming language you can use to create web apps and interactive elements. It’s hard for bots to analyze JavaScript content, which is why you need to use metadata to tell search engines what this content is about.

Keyword density

One of the SEO best practices is to optimize your content with keywords and keyword variants, but you shouldn’t make your content hard to read by adding too many keywords (keyword stuffing). Good keyword density helps pages rank higher while preserving a flow to your copy that feels natural.

Long-tail keyword

You should use longer and more specific search phrases to optimize your content. You can target the 15% of unique searches issued on Google by finding keywords with less competition and ranking higher in voice searches with long-tail keywords.

Meta description

Your meta description tag is a short text that appears under the title of each page on the search engine result pages (SERPs). It describes your content and tells people why they should click on the result. If some words match the keywords issued by the user, they will appear in bold and increase the visibility of your content. You can set your preferred meta descriptions through SEO programming, but it’s always possible the search engine will select its own sample of copy to display.


You can add a rel="nofollow" tag to your links. This tag tells search engines to ignore a link. You should always use this tag for paid links as well as in comment sections to prevent people and bots from spamming with links.

Outbound link

An outbound or external link is a link that takes users to a different domain. You can use outbound links to reinforce what your page is about. These links add value for the readers and help you gain their trust. It’s usually a good idea to have outbound links open in a new tab, so readers don’t lose their place on your website by navigating away.

Page Speed

Page Speed is the amount of time that it takes for a web page to load. A page's loading speed is determined by several different factors, including a site's server, page file size, and image compression. It impacts the user experience and is one of the most important ranking factors. You can evaluate your page speed with Google's page speed test tool.

QDF (query deserves freshness)

QDF is an algorithm Google uses to identify queries that seek fresh up-and-coming content. It monitors searches and news sources to keep track of new topics. Keep an eye on trending ideas related to your industry to take advantage of the QDF algorithm and get your content to rank higher.

Ranking factors

Search engines use ranking factors to assess the quality and relevance of a page for a query. Some of these factors have been confirmed, but some remain in speculation. Ranking factors include domain age and history (which help your domain authority), keywords and keyword density, WhoIs information, page loading speed, freshness, mobile-friendly design, and more.

Search intent

Users issue queries to accomplish specific tasks, whether it is looking for information or performing an action. Always identify the user intent behind a keyword, and make sure your content addresses the main user intention when optimizing a page with a keyword.

Title tag

Title tags are one of the HTML elements you can use to describe the content of your pages. They are displayed on SERPs and should describe the topic of the page and include your brand name.

User experience (UX)

Don’t overlook UX when optimizing your content. Search engines use metrics that reflect user experience like bounce rate, repeat traffic, and time on page when determining rankings.

Voice search

More users are issuing queries via voice search. This trend will continue to become more commonplace thanks to the popularity of devices like smartphones, smart TVs, and smart speakers. You can target these searches by using keywords that are worded more closely to human speech patterns and creating content in a Q&A format.

Website navigation

Website navigation is one of the most important SEO best practices. You need a site hierarchy that makes sense, and you should use relevant anchor texts for your links. Consider the frequency of internal links, how noticeable these links are, and the most common paths users follow on your site. These factors can help search engines index additional pages that belong to your domain.

XML sitemap

Your XML sitemap helps search engines find all the quality pages associated with your domain. When you use this tool along with internal links, you improve your chances of having more of your pages indexed.


Is your SEO strategy Google-centric? Focusing on Google makes sense since this search engine currently holds 61.8% of market shares in the US. However, you shouldn’t neglect other platforms like Yahoo!, Bing, Baidu, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, and others. Your competitors might overlook these other search engines, allowing you to capture traffic with less competition.


What do pandas, penguins, and hummingbirds have in common? They’re all animals you might find in a zoo, but they’re also animals Google has named algorithms after. Google releases updates to its search algorithms on a regular basis, and it’s important to keep up with changes that affect ranking factors so you can update your SEO strategy. You can stay up to date by researching the latest Google Algorithm.

Adopt SEO best practices

These are just a few of the SEO concepts that will help you achieve better visibility and maximize success. GKA is a digital marketing agency that can help you adopt these methods as well as other SEO best practices and get more organic traffic. Whether your company needs a website or you want an analysis of your current website’s SEO, GKA has been able to help clients increase their organic traffic significantly year-over-year, improve domain authority in Google, and outpace their competitors in Google rankings.

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