The study of optimizing for search has become vital in today’s markets. How can you design your web properties to show up more prominently than your competitors? So much has gone into experimenting, testing, measuring, and learning how search engines display results. In the process, marketers developed a unique set of vocabulary that can sound woefully esoteric to people unfamiliar with SEO.
What is SEO anyway? Or a crawler? In this post, we’ll explain some of the top buzzwords you need to understand from the experts.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO refers to any practice related to improving performance and visibility on a search engine’s results page.
Stands for Search Engine Results Page. This is the page that you see whenever you type in a search query into Google or another search engine and see a list of results.
A domain is a technical term used to identify one or multiple IP addresses. For example, arcalea.com is a domain. Domains typically end with a common address suffix, such as .com, .org, .gov, .edu, and more. Certain domains, such as a .edu, have more juice than others. A URL is the name of a page on a domain, such as http://www.arcalea.com/blog/.
An algorithm is a process or set of rules that a machine follows in problem-solving or calculation. In the context of search engines, an algorithm is a unique formula used by Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and other search engines to determine the relevancy of a page to a search query. It then determines how high that web page should rank compared to similar pages on the results page.
Content/ Content Marketing
In traditional marketing, customers use common advertising venues such as direct mail, newspapers and magazines, billboards and flyers, or TV and radio commercials.
With content marketing, the main difference is the means of distribution. Instead of telling customers where to go, the promotion provides some form of valuable content. Channels for content marketing include social media, blog posts, newsletters, website articles, or infographics.
Content is the most important ranking factor for websites and web pages today. Make sure your website has strong content that attracts readers through its value and relevancy.
Link Building/ Link Juice
The internet is a large network of interlinked pages, like a web. The more connections a page has, the stronger it is. This is link building. The goal is to amass numerous relevant, valuable backlinks that all lead back to your website, thus making it stronger.
But it’s not enough to go for quantity, the quality of the link is just as important. Websites have to be reputable (trustworthy in their expertise) and relevant (connected to the topics you discuss on your own site). When a page has both of these and links back to a website, it is passing “Link Juice,” a ranking boost to a specific landing page. This is based on Google’s best practices and quality guidelines. Make sure you only use high-quality links relevant to your industry.
Keyword density is the number of times you used a target keyword in the copy of your page or article. The more times your keyword is used, the more likely your page will rank highly for that term. Keep in mind, it’s not always as straightforward as it sounds- stuffing your page with a keyword when it’s not natural or relevant will lead search engines to believe you are using black hat SEO tactics.
Long Tail Keywords
Instead of trying to competitively rank for a certain keyword, long-tail keywords are a combination of three or more keywords that give more specific intent. For example, anyone can rank for the term “headphones,” but ranking for “noise-canceling headphones” or “which headphones are the best” can provide more relevant value to your readers. As we increasingly rely on personal voice assistants such as Siri, Cortana, and Google, our searches will adjust to become more conversation-focused, instead of keyword-focused.
Traffic is a measure of how many people visited your site. There are different kinds of traffic:
- Direct Traffic is a straight click onto your website (such as from a bookmark) or typing in the URL into the search bar.
- Organic traffic is traffic purely from search engines and other SEO related practices.
- Paid traffic comes from online advertising, such as Adwords.
- Referral traffic is a visit from another web page.
In analytics, a bounce is when someone visits your web page and leaves without triggering any other action of “request” to the server. A bounce rate is the single-page sessions divided by all sessions on your site. It is a percentage of how many sessions on your site involved users viewing one page and then exiting.
A high bounce rate should generally be avoided, as it is usually an indicator that the page is not serving users the content they are looking for. However, there are instances where having a high bounce rate may be acceptable, such as most one-page websites like blogs or promotional sites.
A meta description is simply the description of a particular page or website. It does not show up on the webpage, but in the search engine result, along with the page title and URL. The meta description is a great opportunity to use target keywords to improve the page’s visibility.
Search engines are getting better at “understanding” the content in an image, but it still sometimes needs to read contextual elements to come to a conclusion. Alt Text is the text that accompanies an image, which is usually a brief, one-line description about what the image is showing. This gives search engines a better idea of what the image is and therefore assists in the ranking of the content. The Alt Text may appear when the image does not load properly.
Citations are instances of your business’s name, address, and phone number, or NAP on another website. Citations are one of the biggest ranking factors, as it confirms your business’s identity to search engines. A good example would be a directory, such as Yellow Pages, that lists your NAP but not your website. This is especially useful for niche websites like HVAC or plumbing companies who typically do not have a website. Make sure you create as many correct citations as you can for your business on hundreds of data aggregators.
Spiders/ Bots/ Crawlers
These three are all different ways of describing the program that parses the internet for relevant pages, analyzes the page content, and determines whether to include it in a SERP.
White Hat SEO/ Black Hat SEO
White hat SEO refers to practices that improve the domain’s visibility, search performance, and within established search engine guidelines. This means creating valuable content geared towards human readers, not search engine crawlers.
Black hat SEO refers to the same practice of increasing a page or website’s ranking, but through dubious and banned practices. These include the use of PBNs, or Private Blogging Networks, that are an assortment of fake pages set up for one website. Other tactics include Keyword Stuffing, Link Manipulation/ Link Schemes, Cloaking, and malicious behavior like trojans, viruses, or malware. Any one of these tactics could lead to a blacklist, a permanent ban on Google’s results pages.
Hopefully, these definitions will help you get started in understanding the world of digital marketing, particularly search. While there are countless other terms marketers use today, these are among the most frequently discussed, and the most commonly confused. Make sure you understand how each of these applies to your website, so you may better compete against the competition online.
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