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Link Building Terms You Should Know: The Ultimate Glossary

Do you ever hear link building terms casually thrown around and wonder what they actually mean? If so, this guide is for you.

Link Building Terms You Should Know - The Ultimate Glossary

Do you ever hear link building terms casually thrown around and wonder what they actually mean?

If so, this post is for you.

Here’s an alphabetical list of link building terms you should know.


Anchor Text

This is the text inside of the anchor element and the keyword(s) that you click on in order to go to a target page.

Algorithm Updates

We are almost always referring to Google when we speak of algorithm updates. For a list of major updates see History of Google Algorithm Updates.

Basically, this just means that something has changed in the way Google looks at sites.

Alt Tags/Attributes

Alt is an attribute (described below) that should be used to describe an image. Screen readers use alt attributes to describe an image to a visually-impaired user.


To summarize, attributes describe more about a particular HTML element. As mentioned just above, alt is an attribute for an image link. For a full explanation see this guide.



This term refers to the links that are pointing to your site from another site. People also call them simply “links”, referring links, inbound links, and incoming links.


Also called robots/crawlers/spiders, bots retrieve information from websites.

Brand Mentions

If your brand is mentioned within content without a link, whether it’s on a website or in social media, this is a brand mention.

Broken Links

A broken link is one that points to a nonexistent resource.



A canonical element tells a search engine which page is the desired one to use as the original source in order to prevent duplicate content.

Citation Flow

This is a trademark Majestic metric that measures the link equity of a website.


These are mentions of your business’s info like name and phone number. They are not usually linked and can help search engines to better trust a business.

Class C

People call this a C class network or block also and it refers to IP addresses. Click here if you need a more technical definition.


This refers to cleaning up potentially bad/spammy links usually, but it can refer to tidying up any other issues related to a site.

Click-through Rates

CTR is the measure of how many people actually click on a link to your site vs how many times your site appears somewhere.


This is a semantic measurement of the relationship between multiple items.

Competitive Analysis

This refers to looking at one site in relation to its competitors. Link builders sometimes use competitive analysis in order to identify links that other sites have but their site does not, giving them a list of links to pursue.


Content is anything consumable including text, videos, infographics, etc.

Content Marketing

Often viewed as a nicer way of saying that you’re building links, content marketing is the practice of creating content that can naturally attract links after it’s been shared.

Conversion Rates

This is the percentage of users/visitors who complete a specific goal. That goal can be submitting a contact us form, downloading an ebook, buying a product, etc.


This refers to how well search engine spiders can get through and follow links on your website.


Deep Links

Deep links refer to links that go to pages other than the homepage.


This refers to a site being kicked out of a search engine’s index for various reasons, usually a violation of guidelines.


Directories are sites that list other sites in various categories. Some can still be valuable, especially locally, but some are simply spammy lists of sites with no real value.


When you disavow a link, you’re telling Google that you don’t want the link credited to your site. You can send disavow lists straight to Google.


A disclaimer can be used for various purposes but in link building terms it is a notice saying that links on a page have been purchased or that the article is sponsored.

Dofollowed Links

Links are automatically followed unless a nofollow attribute is added (and possibly unless your WordPress plugins override everything to be nofollowed) and there is technically no such thing as a dofollowed link. There is no dofollow tag but people use this term a lot to simply mean a followed link.

Domain Authority

Domain Authority is a metric created by Moz to predict how well a site will rank.

Domain Rating

This is an Ahrefs metric designed to indicate the strength of a site’s link profile.

Duplicate Content

Duplicate content can occur due to many reasons but it’s thought to be a poor signal to Google so it’s undesirable. Canonical tags are used to help a search engine bot to understand where the original page is.


Editorial Links

If someone gives you a link without you requesting it in some way, that’s an editorial link.

Evergreen Content

Content that doesn’t become outdated easily is considered to be evergreen content.


Followed Links

Links are naturally followed unless they have a rel=“nofollow” attribute on them in the code. The term “followed” is used to tell search engines to “credit” the links towards the sites they point to so they will help the sites rank higher.

Footer Links

These are the links in a site’s footer. They used to be heavily spammed but that is not seen as often these days.


The 404 HTTP response code signals a page that is not found.


Google Analytics

A free website analytics program that gives you all sorts of information about your site.

Google Search Console

Another free program from Google, formerly called Webmaster Tools. Search Console also gives you information about your site and can be connected to Analytics. There are various reports that can be run to help you get more information about how your site is performing in the SERPs.

Google Webmaster Guidelines

Found here, Google Webmaster Guidelines are subject to alteration. Your site can be penalized or deindexed for violations of their guidelines.

Guest Posts

These are articles written by someone who does not typically write for the websites they’re placed on. Large scale guest posts with keyword-rich anchors are listed as a violation of Google’s guidelines for links.


Hidden Links

Hidden links are links that are coded so that they do not appear as links.


This is an attribute of the anchor tag for links. It contains the URL.


Image Links

This is an image that links to another page, either internally or externally. Not all images contain a link.

Inbound Links

Links pointing to your site from another site are called inbound links.


This refers to how a search engine has crawled and cataloged a site.


Containing both images and text in one single format, infographics are a common form of content.

Internal Links

These are links to other pages on your site. Your internal links are critical for navigation and crawlability.

IP Addresses

An IP address is a series of numbers identifying a computer.



Many people highly dislike this term, but the phrase “link juice” is still used to indicate the value of a link.



These are the words and phrases that indicate the topic of a page, the content of an image, or the relevant terms for a link in the form of its anchor text.


Landing Pages

These are the pages that a user hits when they first visit your site from any avenue.

Link Exchange

Once a common form of link building, a link exchange is when site A links to site B in return for B linking back to A.

Linking Domains

This is the number of unique domains linking to a site. It is different from the gross number of links.

Link Reclamation

Link reclamation is a process of adding links to your site from broken links or unlinked mentions

Link Schemes

Google gives you a list of violations to its guidelines, including an array of practices that they consider to be link schemes.

Links Pages

These are pages listing multiple links, intended as a resource guide.


Manual Penalty

Google will notify you of a manual penalty through Search Console. A manual penalty (officially called a manual action by Google) is different from an algorithmic issue. (For more about the difference read The Complete List of Google Penalties & How to Recover.) With a manual penalty you have the chance to fix the issues and send in a reconsideration request to Google.

Mobile-First Indexing

This is the new way Google indexes a site. They crawl and index the mobile version first. If you only have a desktop version, that’s what will be indexed.


Nofollowed Links

Adding a rel=nofollow tag to a link tells a search engine not to count it towards the site it points to.

Noise Anchors

These are keywords such as “click here” “website” etc.


Off Page

Link building is an off page SEO practice as it does not require working directly with the website.

On Page

On page SEO is comprised of anything done on the site in order to improve its position in the SERPs.

Open Rates

This is the percentage of people who receive an email and open it.


Outreach is the practice of contacting sites that you’d like to link to your site, whether by email, the phone, or social media.


Page Authority

Page Authority is a metric created by Moz to predict how well a page will rank.

Page Not Found

Also called a 404 error, this is a page that no longer exists where it once did.


PageRank is Google’s way of measuring the importance of a website. This is no longer a publicly available metric. Toolbar PageRank was once available for anyone to see.

Paid Links

A violation of Google’s guidelines, a paid link is one that has gone live in exchange for money.

Position Tracking

The practice of tracking where you rank for various keywords across a period of time.


Private blog networks (PBNs) are networks of sites.



A query is a request made to a search engine in order to get information.



This refers to where you appear in the SERPs for each query.

Reciprocal Links

Otherwise referred to as a link exchange, reciprocal links are links where A links to B and B links back to A.

Reconsideration Request

If you have been hit by a manual action or affected by security issues, once you fix the problem you submit a reconsideration request to Google.


Redirects send a site or page elsewhere.

Referring Domains

In your link profile you may have 15000 links but only 5000 referring domains due to having multiple links coming from the same site.


Rel is an attribute that is only present in the code for a link.

Resource Pages

Pages that mostly list resources and links.


This is a text file used to give instructions to search engines. It’s commonly used to block crawlers from specific areas of the site.


Search Operators

Search operators are words and symbols used to help narrow down a search.

Second-tier Links

Links that point to sites that link to your site.


The SERPs are search engine results pages, which is the list of sites returned in a query.


A sitemap tells a search engine how to get to all of your pages that you want crawled.

Sitewide Links

These are links on every page of a site, such as in the footer or blogroll.

Source Code

The actual code of a page that can be viewed in a browser. Not all code is viewable in this way.


Jokingly referred to as “sites positioned above mine”, spam can refer to anything that is undesirable or unsolicited online.


Search engine crawlers.

Sponsored Posts

If money is exchanged in order to publish a post, it’s a sponsored post. Most sponsored posts contain disclaimers but not all do.



A target is the page you want a link to lead someone to.


Many link outreach specialists use templates (that can be modified) for outreach. A template is simply an outline for something that is often used.

Toxic Links

These are links that are thought to potentially harm your site.


The amount of visitors to a page or site.

Trust Flow

This is a trademark Majestic metric that measures the categorization of a website.


Unlinked Mentions

This is when your brand is mentioned in content with no link to your site.

Unnatural Links

Links that are paid, spammy, or part of a link scheme.


A URL is a web address.

URL Rating

Another Ahrefs metric, the URL rating measures the strength of a target’s backlink profile.



The speed of link growth.


Wayback Machine

Using the Wayback Machine you can view a site’s archived pages from various dates.


Widgets are bits of code embedded on a page, usually designed to provide links back to page.


XML sitemap

This is used to tell search engines about all of your pages and where they can be found. XML is a markup language.



Yandex is a Russian search engine.


I’ve seen everything from Zen to Zzzzz here – but as far as I know, there are no link building terms that begin with the letter Z.

Featured Image Credit: Paulo Bobita

Category Link Building
VIP CONTRIBUTOR Julie Joyce Owner at Link Fish Media

Julie Joyce owns the NC-based link building company Link Fish Media, is one of the founding members of the SEO ...

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