Do you speak SEO?
When it’s time to hire a professional, whether they be a plumber, baker, mechanic, realtor or an SEO, it’s pretty important that you be able to speak at least a little of their language. Without being able to explain your thoughts and desires, it will be very difficult for any professional to understand exactly what it is you want them to do. Unless of course, you are in the market for a mind reader.
Since I suspect more of you need to hire SEO’s than need to hire mind readers, I present for your reading pleasure a brief glossary of SEO terms.
adwords Google Pay Per Click (PPC) advertisement program, very common way of basic website advertisement. This method is great for new sites and those in very competitive markets.
affiliate An affiliate site markets products or services that are actually sold by another website or business in exchange for fees or commissions.
algorithm (algo) A program used by search engines to determine what pages to suggest for a given search query.
alt text A description of a graphic, which usually isn’t displayed to the end user, unless the graphic is undeliverable, or a browser is used that doesn’t display graphics. Alt text is important because search engines can’t tell one picture from another. Special web browsers for visually challenged people rely on the alt text to make the content of graphics accessible to the users.
analytics A program which assists in gathering and analyzing data about website usage. Google analytics is a feature rich, popular, free analytics program.
anchor text The user visible text of a link. Search engines use anchor text to indicate the relevancy of the referring site and of the link to the content on the landing page. Ideally all three will share some keywords in common.
back link (in link, incoming link) Any link into a page or site from any other page or site.
black hat Search engine optimization tactics that are counter to best practices such as the Google Webmaster Guidelines.
bot (robot, spider, crawler) A program which performs a task more or less autonomously. Search engines use bots to find and add web pages to their search indexes. Spammers often use bots to “scrape” content for the purpose of plagiarizing it for exploitation by the Spammer.
conversion (goal) Achievement of a quantifiable goal on a website. Add clicks, sign ups, and sales are examples of conversions.
conversion rate Percentage of users who convert.
crawler (bot, spider) A program which moves through the worldwide web or a website by way of the link structure to gather data.
directory A site devoted to directory pages. The Yahoo directory is an example.
directory page A page of links to related WebPages.
duplicate content Content which is similar or identical to that found on another website or page. A site may not be penalized for serving duplicate content but it will receive little if any Trust from the search engines compared to the content that the SE considers being the original.
Google juice (trust, authority, pagerank) trust / authority from Google, which flows through outgoing links to other pages.
Googlebot Google’s spider program
keyword (key phrase) The word or phrase that a user enters into a search engine.
keyword cannibalization The excessive reuse of the same keyword on too many web pages within the same site. This practice makes it difficult for the users and the search engines to determine which page is most relevant for the keyword.
keyword density The percentage of words on a web page which are a particular keyword. If this value is unnaturally high the page may be penalized.
keyword research The hard work of determining which keywords are appropriate for targeting.
keyword spam (keyword stuffing) Inappropriately high keyword density.
landing page the page that a user lands on when they click on a link in a SERP
link farm a group of sites which all link to each other
long tail longer more specific search queries that are often less targeted than shorter broad queries. For example a search for “widgets” might be very broad while “red widgets with reverse threads” would be a long tail search. A large percentage of all searches are long tail searches
META tags Statements within the HEAD section of an HTML page which furnishes information about the page. META information may be in the SERPs but is not visible on the page. It is very important to have unique and accurate META title and description tags, because they may be the information that the search engines rely upon the most to determine what the page is about. Also, they are the first impression that users get about your page within the SERPs.
metric A standard of measurement used by analytics programs.
non reciprocal link if site A links to site B, but site B does not link back to site A, then the link is considered non reciprocal. Search engines tend to give more value to non-reciprocal links than to reciprocal ones because they are less likely to be the result of collusion between sites.
organic link organic links are those that are published only because the webmaster considers them to add value for users.
pagerank (PR) a value between 0 and 1 assigned by the Google algorithm, which quantifies link popularity and trust among other (proprietary) factors. Often confused with Toolbar Pagerank.
reciprocal link (link exchange, link partner) Two sites which link to each other. Search engines usually don’t see these as high value links, because of the reciprocal and potentially incestuous nature.
redirect Any of several methods used to change the address of a landing page such as when a site is moved to a new domain. Two most common methods are;
- 301 A permanent server redirect – a change of address for a web page, useful when changing domains or file names. This tells the search-bots to not comeback, and they should only go to the new address.
- 302 A temporary server redirect. This tells the search bots that the content is moved for a little while, and to please check here again for it to come back.
robots.txt a file in the root directory of a website used to restrict and control the behavior of search engine spiders. These must be used with caution, make in incorrect entry in this file and you could inadvertently prevent the bots from crawling your site completely.
SEM Short for Search Engine Marketing, SEM is often used to describe acts associated with researching, submitting and positioning a Web site within search engines to achieve maximum exposure of your Web site. SEM includes things such as search engine optimization, paid listings and other search-engine related services and functions that will increase exposure and traffic to your Web site.
SEO Short for Search Engine Optimization, the process of increasing the number of visitors to a Web site by achieving high rank in the search results of a search engine. The higher a Web site ranks in the results of a search, the greater the chance that users will visit the site. It is common practice for Internet users to not click past the first few pages of search results, therefore high rank in SERPs is essential for obtaining traffic for a site. SEO helps to ensure that a site is accessible to a search engine and improves the chances that the site will be indexed and favorably ranked by the search engine.
SERP Search Engine Results Page
site map A page or structured group of pages which link to every user accessible page on a website, and hopefully improves site usability by clarifying the data structure of the site for the users. An XML sitemap is often kept in the root directory of a site just to help search engine spiders to find all of the site pages.
stickiness Website content that entices users to stay on the site longer, and view more pages.
toolbar pagerank (PR) a value between 0 and 10 assigned by the Google algorithm, which quantifies page importance and is not the same as pagerank. Toolbar Pagerank is only updated a few times a year, and is not a reliable indicator of current status. Often confused with Pagerank.
trust rank a method of differentiating between valuable pages and spam by quantifying link relationships from trusted human evaluated seed pages.
white hat SEO techniques, which conform to best practice guidelines, and do not attempt to unscrupulously “game” or manipulate SERPs.
There you have it, a starter course in SEO vocabulary. Now when you are ready to hire an SEO you’ll be better prepared to work with them to explain and achieve the results you desire.
Did I miss some words or phrases you been dying to know what they mean? Let me know and I’ll post followups in the comments.