SEO Terms

SEO Terms That You Need To Know

SEO terms can be downright confusing. Here's a list I've put together of what you'll run across again and again. I'll add and subtract from this page as needed. These definitions aren't meant to be in depth; they're here to familiarize you with the term or word.

200 - OK; the request for the web page/post was successfully executed.

301 - URL has been permanently moved (redirected). Think of it like a change of address post card when you move from one location to another. This is best for passing any Google page rank from one URL to the next. Here are two examples of 301 redirects; click here to see a whole lot more that are really cool!

Redirect a single page:
Redirect 301 /pagename.php http://www.domain.com/pagename.html

Redirect an entire site:
Redirect 301 / http://www.domain.com/

302 - The URL has been temporarily moved. Typically used for A/B split testing, although I've seen it used as a permanent redirect. Google says it doesn't make any difference, but I'm old school, so I like to use these codes for their intended purpose as they were originally created.

Redirect /product.php http://www.example.com/promo.php

404 - The URL can't be found. It could be a lot of different reasons why. Sometimes they're temporary, but at other times they're an indicator of broken links or missing pages. Investigate and resolve.

410 - This is really useful! If you really want to permanently delete a page from your web hosting server, please use this code and command to let the search engine crawlers know they shouldn't waste anymore time looking for this URL, because it's looooong gone. A sample command is below; here's the reference I used.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^example-html-filename-1.html$ - [G,NC]

Algorithm - Basically, it's a formula written by computer scientists and programmers that contain ranking factors to determine how relevant and authoritative a page or post is for a keyword query. They're all more secret than where the U.S. government has stashed captured aliens (this is a joke; please don't take it seriously). They are not known, because if everything in the algorithm was known by only a few people, the rest of us poor slobs wouldn't ever stand a chance of ranking for anything.

Alt text tag - Used for images, it's essential for making your site accessible for persons who have vision difficulties. It's a tag for images on websites that allows you to enter a description of the image. Usually the keyword phrase you're using in the content that goes with the images is included.

Analytics - Measuring the performance of your online marketing efforts using data and metrics to see strengths and weaknesses in your programs. Usually viewed online in a dashboard environment. Google Analytics is the most popular platform to compile, review and analyze online marketing data. If you can't measure, you can't improve.

Anchor text - Text on a web site that is underlined that is linked to another web site or page. Underlined text online is usually a cue to web readers that if they hover their mouse over the text and click on it, they'll be taken to a new page or site. AKA as link text.

Backlink - A link from one domain (website) to another domain (website). AKA inbound backlink. Website A links to Website B. Backlinks from sites that are related to yours in topics are relevant and meaningful, and can help your site rank better in search results. Backlinks are useful for sending more targeted visitors to your website.

Black hat SEO - Practices applied to websites to make them rank better than they may deserve by using techniques and strategies that violate search engines webmaster guidelines and terms of service. Google penalizes sites that employ black hat SEO techniques.

Blog - Sort of an online diary that consists of one page that's updated regularly on topics that are part of the website's function, or a series of pages (AKA posts) published regularly on sub topics that relate to a website's services or products. Blog posts build thought leadership, answer product/service questions, provide updates or information on a regular basis.

Bot - Also called a robot, crawler, spider. These are automated programs sent out by search engines to discover new and updated content for indexing and ranking by search engines when a user types in a keyword or phrase that exactly matches or closely describes related content.

Bounce rate - A poorly understand and misused term to describe users who come to a website on one page, and depart that site from the same page without ever visiting any other pages. Google Analytics gives you the bounce rate by adding up all the visits made by a viewer looking at a single page, and divides this number by all visits. It is NOT a Google search engine ranking factor. Generally, a high bounce rate is viewed as a bad thing, but it depends upon the purpose of each page.

Canonical - A tag or command in a web page's source code that is used to prevent duplicate or identical content on more than one web page or blog post being crawled and indexed by search engines. Google will not feature the same content for multiple URLs in search results. The canonical tag tells search engine crawlers which is the preferred URL for indexing and ranking in search results. It looks like this:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://example.com/" />

Where you see "http://example.com/" substitute your own web site domain!

Cloaking - A black hat SEO practice used by spammers. Content or URLs that are displayed in search results which are different from what the users actually see. In other words, it provides different results from what they were promised when they conducted the search. This goes against Google's webmaster guidelines.

Crawler - AKA a spider or bot, an automated program sent forth by search engines to comb the internet for new or updated content. It collects information about the individual URL, and stores it in the search engine's index for ranking purposes when someone types in a keyword that either exactly describes or closely matches the content in the URL.

Description tag - This is a snippet that's limited to about 155 characters that you, the web publisher creates that is unique for each page/post you write and publish. This snippet is not a ranking factor in Google's search algorithm, but if you write good ones that describe the benefits and features of your products and services, as well as a good call to action, can boost the number of searchers who click through to the page. You can also write up geographical information like city, state, neighborhood, etc., for boosting your local SEO efforts.

Disavow file - a plain text file you create with the domains that are linking to you, that you don't want counted as part of your linking profile. You submit this file to Google Search Console to get those links discounted.

Dofollow - these are links on your site, or other sites, that allow that site's link juice to pass through the link to the end target.

Doorway pages - According to Google, these are pages or sites that are designed specifically for ranking well in search results. They are often poor quality content pages that give no value to the searcher. Doorway pages are against Google's Webmaster guidelines and are considered "black hat SEO" tactics.

Duplicate content - Sites or pages that feature identical content. While not a ranking penalty, Google will demote or ignore this for search results. Duplicate content is a poor user experience and does not increase thought leadership or authority for a topic or industry.

Hacker - These are people who use computers and technology to illegally get access to web sites and applications that don't belong to them. They often "hack" sites to insert viruses, malicious code, or to steal consumer information like credit card information, passwords, Social Security numbers, etc., for resale on the information black market.

Impression - For search purposes, this refers to web content showing up in search results in any position.

Index - Actions done by search engine crawlers to collect information about your web site's pages and posts to store in search engine databases for retrieval later when a keyword or phrase related to your site's content that has been indexed to be featured in search results.

Information Architecture - A discipline that is an orderly process to organize large amounts of information on a website. This involves how your content is organized in menus, how internal links are strategically placed to guide readers to more pages and how effective your internal site search function is in showing relevant search results. A good IA supports your SEO efforts.

Keyword - A highly targeted, unique word or phrase that's matched to each page/post on a website that sets the subject or topic for the content. For example, a site that blogs about sailboats could use "catamaran sailboats" or "macgregor sailboat" to highlight two different boat types.

Keyword Cannibalization - Using one keyword or phrase on multiple pages. This negatively impacts SEO, because search engine crawlers can't figure out which page is more authoritative than others. Page authority, links and anchor text can all be negatively affected, and the domain could end up not ranking at all for the keyword or phrase on any pages.

Keyword Density - This is an old, outdated tactic that Google no longer recognizes. Keyword density refers to the number of times a chosen keyword phrase that content is optimized for is used in the body text. There is no keyword density requirement for SEO.

Keyword Research - The processes and analysis used to determine what keyword phrases offer good opportunities for content to rank better in a shorter amount of time vs. using other keyword phrases. There are paid and free keyword research tools and services to use. Typical metrics to determine what phrases to use include monthly average volume, how competitive a phrase is and historic click through rate.

Keyword Prominence - This refers to using your chosen keyword phrase at or near the beginning of your important web page elements like title/meta description/H1/H2 tags.

Keyword Proximity - This is referring to any distance between the individual words in a keyword phrase you use to optimize a piece of content. For example, if your keyword phrase is "cessna flight training," you want to use it consistently throughout all of your web page elements.  An example of keyword proximity being met vs. not being met is: "cessna flight training" vs. "Cessna 150, 172 and 182 flight training."

Keyword Stuffing - An old-school, black-hat SEO tactic of using a keyword phrase multiple times out of context on a web page or blog post. It can also be done in title/meta description tags. Here's a page title example: Galletta Countertops | Custom Countertops

Landing Page - In the strictest definition, it's a page that's built for one purpose - to convert a visitor to do some action - this can include signing up for an online event, downloading some marketing collateral, watching a video or listening to a podcast. Landing pages are typically part of a specific marketing campaign, and the data from that page is measured to determine how effective the campaign performed. Good landing pages are uncluttered, don't link to the rest of the domain and have a finite time to perform on the domain.

Link - An image, a sentence or a button that contains a URL, that, when clicked on, takes the web visitor to a different page on the same domain, or a page on a different domain. Links from one site to another are how web pages are evaluated for ranking purposes. Only links that are relevant to your domain's content count as good links in your site's favor by the search engines.

Link Farm - A domain that contains nothing but hundreds (or thousands!) of text links to many domains. Link farms are built strictly to rank for dozens of keyword phrases without content. The search engines do not reward high rankings for link farms once they discover them. Links from these farms to your domains are not good links that help your page rankings. Here's a good example.

Local SEO - Optimization techniques you use for on-page SEO that includes geographical references for your business such as city, state, street, zip code, etc. It also includes getting listed and claiming legitimate business directories like Google My Business, Super Pages, Manta and Yelp!, to name just a few. Local SEO is critical if your business is limited to a specific geographical area to get customers.

Log File - A data file created by your web hosting server that records every hit to each page. Log files are extremely valuable to determine if your site's crawl budget is being used efficiently. Log files can uncover duplicate content issues, extraneous URL parameters and more.

Long Tail Keyword Phrase - A keyword phrase that is usually three or more words as part of a total search query. These phrases can be questions (informational keyword phrases) or specific products (transactional keyword phrases). Here are some examples:

  • Where do fruit flies come from
  • Nike running shoes for men
  • How is blood pressure measured
  • Womens neoprene life jackets

By no means is this the complete list. I have several dozen more to go through. I'll add a few every week.

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