SEO: A Glossary of Key Terms

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With SEO an acronym in itself, it's no surprise that our industry is full of jargon. And not even Google can cut through some of it. We've pulled together a glossary of SEO terms, whether they're buzzwords, abbreviations or terms borrowed, bought and stolen, to make things a little less cryptic. 

Algorithm

A programme used by search engines to determine which pages are most relevant to a certain search term. Google has a complicated algorithm that’s constantly evolving. We can’t be sure what Google prioritises when it comes to ranking web pages but producing quality content is consistently good practice in SEO.

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Alt Tag

An alt tag is the HTML text that appears while an image is loading or when a cursor is positioned over an image. Alt text is useful because it can include keywords that a search engine looks for in response to a query.

Authority

Authority can be broken down into Page Authority and Domain Authority:

Page Authority is a score (out of 100) that predicts how well a specific page will rank on search engines.

Domain Authority is a score (out of 100) that predicts how well a website will rank on search engines. Domain Authority is useful when comparing one site to another or tracking the authority of your website over time.

Backlinks

Also known as inbound links, backlinks are all of the links on other websites that point to your website.

Black Hat SEO

An unethical or deceptive SEO practice which violates search engine rules. Examples of Black Hat techniques include keyword stuffing and spam.

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Blogger Outreach

The process of building relationships with influential bloggers, asking them to write about a particular product, service or experience, providing an incentive for them and their readers with the goal of receiving brand recognition (or some call to action or link) within their blog post.

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Click Bait

Sensational or provocative content that exists on the internet to attract attention and draw visitors to a particular web page.

Crawlers

Googlebots (termed Crawlers or Spiders) crawl new and updated webpages to ascertain where they should appear in search results. Crawling is an automated process but you can ask Google to crawl a URL is you need a page to be indexed sooner.

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Google Adwords

Google’s very own advertising engine that offers PPC, CPM, banner, text and rich media ads. By using Adwords, you’ll be able to show your business adverts in Google’s Search Network (featuring the standard Google search, Shopping and Maps) as well as the Google Display Network (featuring partner websites like YouTube and Gmail).

Impression

Also known as a page view, an impression is a single instance of an online advertisement being displayed.

Inbound links

Also known as backlinks, inbound links are all of the links on other websites that point to your website.

Index

An Index is a search engine’s database. It contains all of the information crawlers have identified. When a user searches for a term, the search engine uses its index and algorithm to provide a list of the most relevant web pages.

Keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing refers to overloading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site's ranking in Google search results. Often these keywords appear in a list or group, or seem unnatural in spoken prose.

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Link Farm

A webpage or group of webpages that exist solely to manufacture backlinks that increase page rank and popularity. However, link farms are considered a form of spam and sites that rely on them are penalised by search engines.

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Link Baiting

Link baiting is content that’s created to incite users to link to your page from another website and can include articles, resources and sometimes sensationalistic content. Link baiting is a White Hat technique.

Link Building

The process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own in order to rank higher in search engines. Google treats a link from another website to your own as a vote of confidence and will rank your website higher based on that vase. One link from a high authority site is much better than a lot of link from poor authority sites.

Long-tail Keywords

Long tail keywords are those three and four keyword phrases which are extremely specific to whatever you are selling. Whenever a customer uses a highly specific search phrase, they tend to be looking for exactly what they are actually going to buy.

Meta Description

A short HTML paragraph that provides search engines with a description of a page's content for search engine Index purposes. The meta description tag is not displayed on the website itself, and may or may not be displayed in the search engine's listing for that site. Search engines are now giving less importance to meta description tags in lieu of actual page content.

Natural Search

Also known as organic and unpaid search, natural search is one where results are returned based on the natural indexing of the Website, as opposed to those that are returned based on paid advertising and editorial changes made by the search engine itself. In most search engines, natural search results are the "main" results.

Nofollow

This is a command that you can manually add to a link on your website within the HTML that will instruct a Googlebot not to pay attention to that link. It’s considered best practice if a link points towards untrusted content.

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Off-page SEO

Methods that you can use to raise the ranking of a website through off-site promotion, such as link building or via social media.

On-page SEO

These are all the elements on your web page that you can control in order to make it visible to search engines. For instance: the use of a search engine friendly URL with relevancy to the content, good internal linking, fast loading pages, logical and clear navigation and the use of Sitemaps.

Outbound Links

Outbound links are all links from a particular webpage that lead to other pages, including pages in the same domain. An excessive number of outbound links can damage a site's Search Engine Positioning because a Spider may perceive it as a Link Farm.

Paid Search

A type of contextual advertising where Web site owners pay an advertising fee, usually based on click-throughs or ad views to have their website rank at the top on search engine result pages.

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Rank

Also known as position, rank is the place a website is listed relative to the first listing on a search engine results page in response to a Keyword query. 

Relevancy

Search engines serve their results based upon a combination of content that is relevant to a searcher’s query and how useful it is.  Google will always favour websites that offer the most relevant information and are the most authoritative.

Robots.txt

Robots.txt is a text file stored in a site's root directory that tells a search engine Crawler which pages and sub-folders should not be indexed.

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SERP

A search engine results page is the collection of ranked Listings displayed in response to a search engine Query. 

Spider

Googlebots (termed Crawlers or Spiders) crawl new and updated webpages to ascertain where they should appear in search results. Crawling is an automated process but you can ask Google to crawl a URL is you need a page to be indexed sooner.

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Title Tags

Accompanying meta descriptions, title tags are a sentence of text describing the contents of its webpage. Title tags are a very important part of SEO because they are frequently used as the text links that lead to sites from a search engine's Results Page. The best title tags contain strategic keywords that will help a site be indexed properly and appeal to human search engine users.

White Hat SEO

White hat SEO is about best practice. It’s about making your website more visible and accessible for the user, in a fair and transparent way. Most importantly ‘white hat’ is about optimising your website for a human audience, not to manipulate search results for ill-gotten gains.

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XML Sitemap

This is a document hosted on your website’s server that lists every page on your website. It’s a way for you to inform search engines when new pages have been added or updated. If you have a WordPress site, you don’t need to do a thing as a Sitemap is automatically generated and regularly submitted to search engines for you.

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Now you've traipsed through terminology terrain, why not apply your learnings to your own campaign? We're on hand to talk through all aspects of SEO, big and small, and tailor a campaign to your brand. Give us a call.