“But there are only four types of SEO!” I hear you cry. Well, yes – the four broad categories of SEO (Local, Technical, On-Page, and Off-Page) still cover just about all SEO work that is true.
However, within those categories there are subcategories, SEO specialisms, SEO strategies, SEO tactics, and discrete blocks of work. You’ve probably heard of White Hat and Black Hat SEO, but what about Competitor SEO, or Semantic SEO?
Knowledge is power as they say, and jargon is disempowering. So here is a list that will hopefully make your future conversations about SEO a bit easier.
This list might also give you some ideas on what your SEO work is missing – it did for me anyway.
A Complete List of All The Types of SEO
AMP SEO – Using AMP to improve ranking in search results. Using AMP can make pages load faster as they are a stripped-down (lighter) version of web pages.
App Store SEO – Working to get more downloads for an App in App Stores.
Black Hat SEO – SEO techniques that are against the terms and conditions set by search engines. These include things like buying backlinks or setting up PBNs (a network of sites that you run in order to make your site look like your site is linked to by many sites). Black Hat techniques generally only result in short term results, and risk being caught by search engines (who will penalise or de-rank sites). They are not worth the effort in most cases.
Brand SEO – Any branding activities online. Being mentioned on other sites (with a link or not) can improve your ranking.
Competitor SEO – A focus on searches that include the word “vs” or “alternative” as they are so common.
Example: McDonalds might write an article titled “Big Mac vs Whopper” so that when people search for that term, their article is found. By doing this McDonalds can influence how people view the two products.
eCommerce SEO – SEO specifically used for increasing the likelihood of purchases online. This is different from regular SEO as there many unique factors on eCommerce sites (such as product descriptions and reviews).
Digital PR – Getting links in the press or on news sites, and reputation management via working to keep negative news out of search results.
Enterprise SEO – SEO for very large websites. Large sites have different problems and resources than smaller sites and so SEO work is very different than when working on smaller sites.
Grey Hat SEO – SEO techniques that are not against the rules but which are still obviously dodgy (and likely to be made against the rules in the future).
Internal SEO – Focussing on internal linking, site structure, and search results within a website.
International SEO – SEO for sites that operate in multiple countries. This can mean localisation of content, links etc, and creating multiple versions of a page in different languages.
Local SEO – SEO for a business that operates in a specific location (such as a shop, or local delivery service). This is different to other types of SEO in that it is about a business, rather than a webpage. Local SEO is about making sure all mapping sites know about the business (as well as any sites which talk about that location).
Mobile SEO – A focus on mobile related SEO issues (such as mobile usability).
National SEO – Optimising for searches within one country (or with the country of operation in mind). National SEO is similar to Local SEO but has a focus on branding.
Off-Page SEO – Any SEO activity you do without editing the page you are working on (such as link building).
On-Page SEO – Any SEO activity you do on a webpage (such as improving content structure).
Negative SEO – An attack by other sites in an attempt to decrease the ranking of your site in search. This generally involves using Black Hat techniques aimed at your site with the hope of being caught.
Non-Competitive SEO – Where your SEO efforts are focussed on helping your sector or an eco-system of businesses.
Example: You sell a product but don’t repair it. You create content to boost your business, but actively avoid any keywords related to repairing the product so that repair businesses can rank higher for them. Having a product that is easily repaired makes it easier to sell your product.
Semantic SEO – SEO for real-world things as opposed to SEO for webpages.
Example: A band may have music videos, a discography, events, a knowledge pannel, and social media feeds associated with it. They may also have a website – however, the band’s success on search is more about information around the band being prominent and correct than their webpages ranking highly.
SERP Feature SEO – The process of mining rich snippets and PAA (People Also Asked) for opportunities to enhance your current pages display on SERP results themselves (e.g. FAQ markup, product schema, etc).
Social SEO – Using Social Media to affect search rankings. While social signals may not affect search ranking directly, posts from some social networks do appear in search results, as do profiles. Social media can also be used to generate 2nd order links.
Technical SEO – SEO efforts that don’t revolve around content (such as improving page speed and information architecture).
Voice SEO – Optimising pages for voice search. Voice search is generally more question and answer based than text search and requires a specific technical markup.
White Hat SEO – SEO techniques that aim to follow terms and conditions set by search engines. Generally, the most practical way to build long term results.
And then there are platform-specific types of SEO, where you try to improve results on that platform. Some of the more common examples are:
Amazon SEO, eBay SEO, Etsy SEO, Pinterest SEO, Spotify SEO, YouTube SEO
It is also worth mentioning that the term SEO is often used by people who actually do nothing which will affect search results:
Fake Guru SEO – People who overrepresent their SEO knowledge and success in order to sell courses or other learning materials at a premium. The term Fake SEO Guru was coined by Tommy McDonald at SERP Logic.
If there is anything you would add/change on this list, please let me know (email@example.com). If you know who coined any of these phrases, I’d love to add some attribution too so get in touch with your etymology facts and I’ll add them in!
A special thanks to the following Reddit users for their contributions: u/brokeasfuck277, u/Marvel_plant, u/GodOfSEO, u/theonetechnologies1, u/Bitter_Masterpiece35, u/footinmymouth, u/EinMinuten, u/terriblehashtags, u/Dansyerman86, u/TheSkepticGuy