Ikon’s top 17 SEO terms you need to know

Have you been wondering about cloaking, canonicals and crawlers? Ikon Communications’ SEO Manager Matt Smiles breaks it down.

Ever sat through a meeting with your SEO team and understood less than half of what they are saying? Like any other channel, there can be a huge amount of jargon. Knowing the most commonly used SEO terms is a big part of SEO success. With these ones you'll be looking like an SEO expert in no-time.   

Anchor Text – Anchor text is the text that sits on top of an HTML link, and this can point to another page on the site you’re already on, or to an external site. It also helps users understand the page they will be clicking through to.

Alt Text aloha-shirt-bebop

Alt Text -At the moment, search engines are unable to read images which includes the text contained in them. In order to help search engines understand the contents of the image, we can use something called “alt text”.

Put simply, this is a small piece of HTML that sits behind the image to describe it. For example, the image on the right would have the alt text, “Matt’s Friday shirt”.

Backlink – Backlinks are links pointing from one website to another. They usually come in the form of text or images.

Whether we like it or not, backlinks are still one of the most important factors when it comes to ranking in search engines. At the same time, they are often very difficult to obtain.

The easiest way to earn backlinks is by producing a great piece of content (such as a research paper or news article) which other webmasters use as a reference point for their own articles.


Breadcrumbs – Breadcrumbs (no, not what you are thinking) are navigational aides which help users understand the section of the site they have landed on. They are most commonly found on e-commerce sites. Breadcrumbs also help search engines “move” around the site, helping it understand the site structure.


Canonical – Similar to alt text, the “canonical” tag is a piece of code which sits behind the scenes, reducing duplicate content by telling search engines where the original version of particular content is located.

In this instance you would put a canonical tag on all 3 URLs referencing https://www.example.com/product. This tells search engines that you are aware that there is duplicate content and are actively looking to reduce it.

Domain Authority – Domain Authority is a metric developed by Moz which predicts the chances of a particular website ranking in search engine’s search results. It is a score between 0-100 and is calculated based on the number, and quality of websites with backlinks into the website being scored.

It works on a logarithmic scale, so it is much easier to grow your Domain Authority from 10-20, than it is from 60-70.

Duplicate Content – Duplicate content is what it sounds like, content which is a copy of content found on another page or website.vWebsites won’t be penalised for having duplicate content on their website, but by doing so you are potentially damaging your chances at ranking.

Duplicate content issues are very common on e-commerce sites. You may be able to find the same product page by navigating through different category-level pages, like the following.


Duplicate content issues usually arise from:

  • Product pages being found through multiple category pages (mentioned above)
  • Paginated content
  • www. vs non-www.
  • http:// vs https://
  • Copying content from other websites

There are multiple different ways to handle duplicate content, but we won’t go into them here!

H1 / H2 / H3 – H1, H2 and H3 are HTML heading tags. The one you’ll hear the most from your SEO team will be the H1 as this is the primary heading of the page, and search engines considers the text contained in this H1 tag as part of its ranking algorithm.

H2 and H3 tags are not ranking factors, but are used to define the different sections of pages. Your users will thank you for splitting your text up into sections, rather than a massive wall of text.

Index / Indexed – An index is a search engine’s database of websites, and the pages contained inside them.

If you want to check if a particular page is being indexed by Google, type in “site:” followed by the URL you want to check (site:www.example.com).

The two key things to check if you find a page is not being indexed is:

  • Is it being linked to from another page of your site, your social media profiles or from other websites?
  • Was there a “noindex” tag accidentally left on it?

I/A –I/A stands for Information Architecture. This is just a fancy way of saying the physical structure of your website. You always want the more important pages sitting higher up in your site’s I/A, as these are generally the pages which will get the most traffic for your site.

Keyword Cannibalisation – No, your pages are not actually eating one another. Keyword cannibalisation occurs when you have multiple pages on a site which are targeting the same, or very similar keywords.


For example you may have the following pages for the following:

  • "jeans”
  • “mens jeans”
  • “mens skinny leg jeans”
  • “discount mens jeans”

Reducing the effects of keyword cannibalisation is relatively simple, but requires a bit of foresight when planning out the I/A of your site. You will most likely find that a little overlap is unavoidable in some situations.

Keyword Density / Keyword Stuffing – Keyword density and keyword stuffing are two related terms which are of a thing of the past.

Keyword density is a calculation of how many times a particular keyword was used in a piece of content. You can always tell when a piece of content has been “stuffed” with keywords as it does not read naturally, and you’ll find the same string of words mentioned throughout the page.

Metadata – When metadata is mentioned, this usually involves the title and description defined for each URL.

The title is considered one of, if not the most important on-page ranking factor. This title should always target a primary and secondary keyword and stick to a limit of 55 characters. Any longer than this and you risk the title being truncated.

The meta description, while not a ranking factor in search engine algorithms, still plays an important part in “selling the click” to the user. You have 160 characters to capture the user’s attention whether this be with an offer, emotive language, or your businesses’ unique selling point.

Noindex – Put simply, the noindex tag tells search engines to not include a URL with that code in its index. This is the code: <meta name="robots" content="noindex">.

Most of the time noindex tags are not recommended, as they can cause havoc with a site’s traffic if accidentally placed on a page.

To check for a noindex tag, follow these easy steps:

  • Right-click on a page, click “View Source”
  • Press Ctrl + F
  • Type “noindex” into the search box

If you do find a noindex tag on a page, you should have a chat with your SEO team or developers

Orphan Pages – Orphan pages are those which are posted to the site, but are not linked to by other URLs. Pages which are not linked to run the risk of not being indexed, or not being ranked well by search engines.

There are a few instances where orphan pages are common including:

  • Campaign pages
  • Thank you pages
  • Pages behind forms, containing PDFs or other downloadable resourcesright away.

Panda / Penguin – Whenever “Panda” or “Penguin” is mentioned during a meeting, I always get an odd look. You wouldn’t expect it, but Panda and Penguin are some of the larger updates made to Google’s algorithm over the past few years. These changes are to help counteract those SEOs who try to outsmart the algorithm, which more often than not, will get you hit with a manual penalty (hint: you’ll wake up with no organic traffic to your site).

Panda (released 2011) took aim at websites creating “thin content”, or websites which house a large amount of content, but don’t actually provide any benefit to users.

Penguin (released 2012) penalised websites with unnatural backlink profiles. Sites usually targeted were receiving a large amount of links from completely unrelated websites.

Websites hit with either of these penalties would see their traffic from search engines drop off completely overnight.

Redirect – Redirects involve getting users from an old/deleted URL to a different one. SEOs push for redirects as they also pass link value from an old URL to a new one. A URL which is not redirected will lose link value.

Redirects are needed for a number of reasons including:

  • Entire site is moving to a new platform / domain
  • An old page was updated and new information is available at a new location
  • Redirect users from non-www. to www. URLs or http:// to https:// URLs

Still with me? Excellent.

You now have a better understanding of 17 SEO terms! Now, there’s much more detail to go into in most of these topics, but at least now you can tell your friends the difference the Panda and Penguin updates. Trust me, it’ll be a huge hit on your next Saturday night out.

If you’re interested in reading more, here’s some great resources: