As I first explored the world of SEO as a small business owner I quickly found myself lost in an ocean of SEO jargon and technical terms that became increasingly overwhelming. I was so eager to learn every aspect of SEO I would spend hours reading giant lists of SEO terms to help me identify the areas of my website I needed to focus on, as well as terms that would help me understand the bigger picture of SEO and why it’s so valuable.
While you can read through an extensive glossary of SEO terms, there are a handful every small business owner should know that can help establish that benchmark of knowledge, and spark your SEO engagement. Here is a list of 30 in alphabetical order for your convenience:
Alt Text is an attribute assigned to an image that provides alternative information of an image in the event an image does not load due to a slow connection, errors in the source attribute, or if the user uses a screen reader.
The alt text also serves a valuable purpose in SEO as it provides a semantic description of an image to search engines. Optimizing image alt text can also increase the likelihood of traffic from image searches.
<img src="http://www.example.com/image.jpg alt="Alt text goes here" />
Also referred to as: alt tag, alt attribute
Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink. Example: This is the Anchor Text. Anchor text is also used by search engines to understand the topic of a web page being linked to whether internally or externally.
<a href="http://www.example.com">This is the Anchor Text</a>
A backlink refers to hyperlink pointing to a page on your website from an external website.
The quality and quantity of backlinks you have pointing to your website helps Google determine Pagerank. Backlinks act as the endorsements of your website and the quality of those endorsement plays a big role in the value a backlink can bring to your website
Also referred to as: inbound link
Branded keywords are referred to search words or phrases that include a company or product’s brand name or variation of a brand name.
The canonical URL refers to the preferred URL of a page with content that may be accessed from multiple URLs.
Setting the canonical URL allows you to resolve duplicate content issues either self-generated, or by your CMS. The canonical URL is attributed by an HTML link element typically found in the <head> section of a web page.
For a more in depth explanation on canonicalization click here.
<head> <link rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com" /> </head>
A clean URL is a URL that is easy to read and does not contain query strings or special URL parameters. Clean URLs are not only user friendly, but also help search engines better understand the topic of a web page through the use of keywords in the URL, as well as the structure of a website through the use of sub-folders.
In general, it is best practice to use hyphens (-) to separate words as opposed to underscores (_).
Clean URL: http://www.example.com/services/seo-services
Non-Clean URL: http://www.example.com/?p=371
Also referred to as: reading URL, SEO friendly URL
Content marketing is the strategy and technique of creating and distributing useful and valuable content across a multitude of channels in efforts to gain brand awareness, build trust and authority within a specific niche, and attract new customers.
Content marketing takes many forms such as the creation of video, infographics and eBooks, but creating valuable content that engages your audience is only first step.
In relationship to SEO, content marketing is quintessential to earning valuable links. An increased online presence from the syndication and promotion of your content through channels such as social media and blogs effectively create opportunities for backlinks to the original source of your content – your website.
Interested to learn how content marketing can help boost your brand?
Duplicate content is a term used to describe exact or similar content that appears within pages on the same domain or across multiple domains. Search engines find it difficult to rank web pages within the same domain that contain duplicate content as they cannot effectively attribute value from one page over another for a specific set of search queries.
Excessive duplicate content can also decrease the overall quality of a website. A few popular examples of duplicate content include the use of manufacturer product descriptions, heavy blocks of text that are static across multiple pages, and web pages that can be accessed across multiple URLs.
Types of Duplicate Content:
- Cross-domain duplication – content copied directly from another source or syndicated
- Exact duplicate pages – www.example.com is the same as www.example.com/index.php
- Near duplicates pages – Pages with a high ratio of duplicate to unique content
Google Authorship is a solution for authors in which they can associate content they publish on a website(s) with their Google+ Profile. One of the most important benefits of Google Authorship is the ability for an author to build rank and trust (commonly referred to as “Author Rank”) that can influence the quality of their content and how it is ranked by the popularity and engagement it receives.
Before recent changes to Google’s search listings, implementing proper authorship markup on a post could award rich snippets that included the authors profile picture, by-line and circle count – which studies have proven to increase click-through rates.
However, Google recently announced they have updated their search listings to exclude author photos and circle counts, but author by-lines will still remain. Nonetheless search results with rich snippet data have proven to increase click-through rates in the search engine result pages.
Example of a rich snippet populated by Google Authorship:
Simply put, heading tags are used as indicators of important sections and sub-sections of content within a web page. While Heading tags can contribute a style element to your content, they serve important SEO factors as they provide search engines information about the hierarchy of the content and targeted keywords.
Heading tags range from H1 through H6. The Heading 1 tag, or H1 tag, is the most important heading on your page and should contain your targeted keywords. Sub-headings such as H2-H6 should contain similar or additional keywords you wish to include throughout your content.
Heading tags are based on a hierarchical structure. Meaning your H2 tag is a sub-heading of your H1 tag and your H3 tag is a sub-heading of your H2 tag – and so on.
Utilizing heading tags within your content also provides a better user experience by making large blocks of text easier to digest. In today’s world typically users rapidly scan over content and absorb bits and pieces that spark their interest. If a user lands on a page and sees a large block of text they may become discouraged and quickly bounce off the page.
The H1 tag is the top-level heading of the page and should include your most important keywords or keyword phrases. Search engines pay close attention to the relevancy of the content associated with the H1 tag to determine how to rank for targeted keywords. The H1 tag should also be closely related to the page’s title tag.
Indexed pages refers to URLs on a website that have been crawled by search engine spiders and added to their index of web pages that can be populated in the search results.
You can view the amount of pages Google has indexed from a domain quickly by using the “site:” search operator in front of your domain name. You can also view the number of indexed pages from reports within Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools.
Internal links are hyperlinks that point to internal pages within the same domain. Internal links not only help users navigate a website, but also help search engines establish the hierarchy of information within a site’s architecture. Internal linking helps spread the ranking power from “link juice” throughout a website.
Keywords are words or phrases that users search to find web pages with content related to the searched terms. Researching and Identifying keywords & keyword phrases users search to find information related to the content on your website is a crucial process in search engine optimization, as well as search engine marketing (Pay-per-click advertising).
Long-tail keywords are identified as longer and more specific search queries. For example: a search query such as “golf clubs” would be considered a broad term, or also known as a “head” term. While a long-tail keyword such as “golf clubs for kids” is longer and highly specific.
Long-tail keywords are also less competitive, thus making them easier target and rank for. Long-tail keywords generally have a lower search volume than broad terms, but are more targeted and have higher conversion rates.
Local SEO is referred to the process of optimizing a website to achieve higher rankings from local business results as well as geo-targeted search queries.
Building local citations from reputable business listing sites, review sites and social media channels that include consistent name, address and phone number (NAP) are important local search ranking factors. Most importantly having a verified Google+ Local Business page with complete information and activity is key to ranking in local search.
A Meta Description is an HTML attribute that provides a brief summary about the content of a web page. Meta descriptions are often used by search engines to populate a snippet preview in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
In general a meta description should be between 150-160 characters with 155 characters being the optimal length due to the pixel width Google allows in the SERPs. The Meta Description should contain compelling copy to entice a user to want to click on your link. It is also important to include your targeted keywords intelligently and avoid keyword stuffing.
<head> <meta name ="description" content="Here is the meta description search engines may use in the results pages"> </head>
Example of Meta Description populated in the SERPs:
Meta keywords are a meta tag that includes a comma separated list of keywords or keyword phrases that a user might search to find your website. In terms of SEO today, meta keywords are no longer used by search engines as ranking factor due to the excessive spam and misuse of non-related terms in attempt to achieve higher rankings.
However if you do decide to use the meta keywords tag you should limit the amount of keywords to your most targeted terms. Meta keywords can be useful to an internal team to inform them on what terms are being targeted throughout the content for optimization purposes.
<head> <meta name="keywords" content="keyword, keyword, keyword phrase"> </head>
A no-follow link is a hyperlink with specific attribute that tells search engines spiders to not crawl or follow a specific link. A nofollow link uses the “rel” attribute with the value of “nofollow”.
<a href="http://www.example.com" rel="nofollow">Anchor Text</a>
Using the nofollow link attribute is applicable when you do not want a search engine to crawl internal pages on your site such as login or administration pages, or external websites you do not want to pass PageRank to.
To find more information about nofollow links click here.
On-site SEO are the methods and tactics of optimization related to the content and files directly on your website.
Some examples of on-site optimization include editing page titles, heading tags and content to effectively target keywords, as well as optimizing internal link structure, editing meta data, implementing structured data markup, optimizing image alt text, making use of clean URLs and the list goes on..
While having good on-site SEO will make search engines favor your website, providing the best user experience should be top priority.
Off-site SEO refers to the tactics of search engine optimization that do not directly involve making changes to your website.
In general off-site SEO involves strategy to earn links that build trust and authority for your brand which play a huge role in how Google ranks your website as a whole. Social media and content marketing play a huge role in SEO today’s as it continues to be the most influential way to effectively earn the backlinks that act as the endorsements of your brand and website.
An outbound link is a hyperlink that points to a web page that is not on your same domain.
PageRank is an algorithmic measurement invented and named after Google’s Co-founder Larry Page that takes into consideration the quantity and quality of links pointing to a page on a website. PageRank, abbreviated PR, is valued at on scale from 0 – 10. 0 being the lowest with very few linking pages to 10 being extremely visible and heavily linked to such as Twitter and Wikipedia. PageRank is a metric used to define the value, authority and trust of a website.
For more in-depth information on PageRank view this article on Wikipedia.
A re-direct is an instance when a URL is being forwarded to another URL.
There are numerous types of re-direct codes used for various reasons. The 301 (Moved Permanently) re-direct code is the most commonly used. A 301 re-direct states that a URL has been permanently moved to a new URL. The 301 re-direct will also pass PageRank onto the forwarded URL.
A robots.txt file is a text file that lives in the root folder of your website and contains code that instructs search engine robots to not access or crawl specific pages on your website.
Robots.txt files can prevent search engines from accessing pages within an entire /subfolder/ or a specific URI. If not properly implemented by an experienced SEO you could potentially block search engines from crawling and indexing important pages, or even your entire site.
Visit www.robotstxt.org to find more technical information.
Example WordPress robots.txt file:
User-agent: * Disallow: /wp-admin/ Disallow: /wp-includes/
SERPs is an acronym for Search Engine Result Pages
Sitemaps are a hierarchical list of URLs within a website that can be used in both HTML and XML formats.
HTML sitemaps are generally used to help users easily find specific pages on your site, whereas XML sitemaps are a way for webmasters to notify search engines of pages to crawl that include specific data such as last modification, change frequency and crawl prioritization.
XML sitemaps can also be created and segmented for specific items like images, videos, and products.
XML Sitemap example:
The Title Tag – is an HTML element that exists in the <head> section of a web page that serves as the page’s name.
Having properly optimized Title Tags are crucial to SEO and on-page optimization as they provide search engines valuable information on the topic and keywords associated with the page. Title tags are also used to populate the snippet previews in SERPs and should contain your targeted keyword(s) and brand name.
Optimal Title Tag length should be around 55 characters and not exceed 70 characters to accommodate Google’s 512-pixel width display.
In terms of formatting, best practice for your home page is as follows:
Your Brand Name | Your Hero Keyword(s)
Best practice for subsequent pages are as follows:
Your Keyword(s) | Your Brand Name
Webmaster Tools is a free dashboard provided by Google and Bing for webmasters to learn valuable information regarding a websites overall health.
Webmaster tools allows a site owner to monitor and maintain things like indexed pages, 404 errors, internal and external linking pages, crawl rate, XML sitemaps, robots.txt validation, and structured data. Webmaster tools is a valuable tool for SEO’s and site owners to preform essential tasks and extract key data.
See also: sitemaps
And there you have it.. While this list of SEO terms is only scratching the surface, I believe this is enough information for a small business owner to feel empowered and get serious on engaging a SEO campaign. IMI Vegas has helped small business owners in numerous verticals take charge of their digital marketing efforts to grow their brand throughout the Las Vegas Valley and nationwide.
If you’re struggling to grow your online presence contact us for a free consultation where our team of seasoned marketers can help you get started on expanding your business online.
About the Author:
Steffan Hernandez is a Technical SEO Strategist at Internet Marketing, Inc. based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He has over 4 years of SEO experience and has helped grow the organic search presence for businesses in the hospitality, education, health & fitness, and eCommerce space.