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Basic SEO TERMS You Should Know Before you kickstart your SEO Journey

7 Mins read

SEO can be very hard and technical because it is filled with tons of jargon. It can easily get overwhelming for a newbie to just wrap their head around all the terms.

So before you get into executing SEO, knowing what SEO means and its terms will do you a lot of good and also enhance your assimilation while reading articles or blog posts on SEO.

In this article, I won’t bombard you with boring definitions. Rather I’ll take the simpler route I will explain as I will do to a 5-year-old. Think of this post as an interesting glossary that you can keep referencing when you’re in doubt. Save it in your bookmark.

Read also: All The SEO Tools You Need To Run A Successful Blog

Let’s get started!

First, let’s begin with terms related to your website as a whole.

1. Domain Authority

This is the amount your website weighs or ranks on Google and other search engines.

Now, Google doesn’t reveal how they weigh websites or the metrics they use to measure each website that lead to this number. But, independent analytic websites like Ahrefs & Moz came up with their own metrics trying to copy this number.

Ahrefs calls it Domain Rating (DR) and uses only the number of external links you get from other websites to measure your website. While Moz calls it Domain Authority (DA) and uses the external links & traffic you get to measure your website. Both the numbers are a score from 0 to 100.

Of course, for a new website, you start with 0 and as you get links from other websites, your DR moves up.

A DR of 20-30 is considered average, and a DR in the range of 50-60 is good. DR is measured on a logarithmic scale, which basically means that it’s easier to grow from 0 to 10 vs. growing from say, 20 to 30.

Read Also: Internal Links and why they are important for SEO?

2. URL Authority

URL authority is the rank of an individual page or URL, unlike domain authority which is the rank of your entire website. Each page on a website has a different number of backlinks (links from other websites), so their URL rating is different.

Again, Google doesn’t directly reveal the authority for any page, all you see is their rank in SERP (Search engine result page) when keywords related to them are being sought out, meanwhile, tools like Ahrefs & Moz have their own metrics for this.

Ahrefs, this is called URL Rating or UR for short.

How can I increase the URL authority of my pages?

The best way to increase the authority of a page is to get links from other websites.

How can you do that? The best way is to write very good content optimized with SEO, just be good at what you do the links will come.

Read also: Topical Authority For SEO

3. Backlinks

Backlinks are links from other websites to your website or webpage.

When a website or multiple websites adds multiple links to your website, each such link is called a backlink.

For instance, a blogger might read a post on your website and decide to also share it with his readers, so he did a content curation and post it on his website. It is his obligation to link back to the main source of the content. If he does then the link is backlink. For instance, this SEO post was pulled from an SEO course I had on Buildd which I decided will be relevant to Techpadi readers.

Let’s also see it from this perspective, there are times you have a project or assignment to solve then you surf the web looking for answers, in the process you saw a post that suits your predilection and answers your questions to taste. What do you do? You write it down right? And at times reference the source. During project research and writing you are always mandated to reference the source. You referencing the site or blog page here mean you’re linking the post to them and thanking them for hosting it.

It is very important to know that Google PageRank websites according to the (Quality) backlink they get.

See here to read about How to rank high on Google above your competitors

4. Referring domains

This is the list of all websites that have linked to you at least once.

Please note that domain in this context means website. So a website can link back to you 100s of times but they will still be regarded as 1 domain.

For example links to Techpadi once on its blog post.

Kleptar links to Techpadi 10× in its blog post.

1app links to Techpadi 50× in its blog post.

Backlinks = 61

Referring domains = 3

Now, if you have high DR Websites link to you, their vote will have a higher weight. So you’d ideally want more of such high DR Websites link to you.

Therefore it’s not the number of backlinks you get, it is the number of domains (quality domains) that reach out to you.

5. Subdomain

A subdomain is a sub-part of your domain or website and is a prefix for your domain name. Let me explain with an example.

For Techpadi, “” is the domain and “” or “” would be a subdomain.

Now, it is good you know Google treats subdomains almost as separate websites. So for SEO purposes, you shouldn’t have content sitting on your subdomain. That’s if you want them to enjoy the SEO juice (Domain Authority) your main domain enjoys.

Why you ask?

Well, you put in all the effort to build your website’s domain authority and hope that the goodness gets passed on to all the pages on your domain or website. But with a subdomain, you’ll not get this benefit since Google will perceive your subdomain as a separate website.

6. Subfolder

Again, a subfolder is also a part of your website, but it’s the suffix that gets added to your domain name.

For Techpadi, “” “” would be a subfolder.

Now, here’s where things get interesting. If we are to put your blog on “Techpadi.Africa/startup” instead of “Startup.Techpadi.Africa”, we’d end up getting all the goodness from the authority we’ve built for

Next, let’s look at SEO terms related to keywords.

1. Keywords

Everyone in the SEO community is obsessed with “keywords”. But what exactly is a keyword?

Well, a keyword is a group of words that conveys the key idea or topic of an article.

A keyword is also what a user types on the Google search bar. So, our goal is simple, whenever a user types these keywords, our website should show up as a result.

Typically, each article you write should target one main keyword. It signals to Google what the key idea of your article is. Along with this, you can also put in other keywords that align with your article’s key idea but are also independent topics of their own.

Read more: Keywords: Types, Examples, How it works, and How to Use it Effectively

2. Keyword difficulty

Keyword difficulty is a score (typically out of 100) that tells you how easy or tough it is to rank for a keyword.

Again, Google doesn’t share the difficulty score for keywords but gives a broad range in terms of low, medium & high difficulty, which isn’t helpful. However, Ahrefs & other tools share their own version of this difficulty score though.

In Ahrefs, the difficulty specifically tells you how easy or tough it is to rank in the top 10 for a particular keyword.

Effectively, when you’re just starting out, it’s best to target low difficulty & medium to high volume keywords. This process of finding the right set of keywords to write on is called keyword research.

How do you do keyword research?

We have a post dedicated to that which you can read here, however, in this context, we are emphasizing low-difficulty keywords to help you rank high on Google since you’re just starting up.

The best way to know a low-difficulty keyword is to search on SEO tools like Ahrefs. Ahrefs will rate the difficulty in a number of 1 – 100 and give you the exact number of how difficult it is to rank in the top 10 of SERP for that keyword.

  1. A KD of 10 – 30 is considered Low and very easy for starters to rank in the top 10 of SERP when they compete for that keyword,
  2. A KD of 30 – 60 is considered medium and not a pushover for starters you’ve to optimize your content with SEO, while
  3. A KD of 60 – 100 is very difficult, these Keywords are run by the big boys, they didn’t get there by chance, and they got there by building their brand over the years. For example, you will barely see another website beat Investopedia to the 1st spot of SERP when it comes to finance-related keywords, except if you run search Ads. The same goes for other sites that have built their authority in a niche, by consistently posting good and relevant content whilst optimizing it all with SEO.

3. Search volume

Search volume is the number of times a user searches for your keyword on Google. It is typically shown as an absolute number per month.

So when someone says that the keyword “freelance writer” has a search volume of 40,000, they mean that there are 40,000 searches for that keyword happening on Google every month.

Again, Google does not share the search volume for keywords directly. So how do I know this? Well, Tools like Ahrefs predict the search volume by going through millions of websites and observing years of search data.

Of course, you’d want to optimize your content for a keyword that has high search volume to rank high on Google and end up getting lots of traffic. But so does every other person. So remember high competition brings huge difficulty.

4. Search Intent

When you type something on Google, you already have a specific objective in mind. This is called search or searcher’s intent.

There are mainly 4 types of search intent:

  1. Informational: user wants to get more information about something (eg: How to get into NFT)
  2. Navigational: user wants to navigate to a particular website (eg: 1app)
  3. Transactional: a user with the intent to buy (eg: hire a freelancer on flexiple)
  4. Commercial: the user is comparing assets to eventually purchase (eg: Peelar and Remitly to send or receive from oversea)

Now, it is important to know that even though two people type the same thing on Google, they could want very different things.

Writers that want to know more about customer/consumer search intent should read our post on customer search intent. It’s worth your time.

For instance, if a user types in “international money transfer companies”, it could mean that they want to send money to their loved ones abroad OR they are conducting research to compare rates and charges.

Google, however, attaches a specific intent to every keyword or search phrase based on years of observation of how people have behaved on Google.

So how do you figure out the search intent for any keyword or search phrase?

Simple, type those words in Google and see what results show up. Most results shown on the first page will have a similar intent. That’s the search intent behind the keyword

SEO Simplifies course by Buildd

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There's this unexplainable joy I get whenever I write, knowing fully well that my copy will transform people's life and destiny. This rare feeling elates me and encourages me to write more value-packed pieces. I think a divine being has possessed me to write, that is why I write, Therefore, I will advise every of my piece should be regarded as a divine message.
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