Your A-to-Z guide to SEO jargon
About Mark Harrison
Struggling with the ins and outs of search engine optimisation? At Web.com, we know that not everyone understands the difference between organic and referral traffic. While running a small business, you probably haven’t had time to check your site’s SEO is on point.
But seeing as how we like you, we’ve put together this alphabetical guide to some of the most common jargon in this super-important field. From A to Z, here’s your essential starter kit for understanding the world of SEO…
A is for Above the Fold
This one has its origins in newspaper publishing, referring to the top half of the front page, which usually displays the paper’s logo and the day’s top headline. In web design, “above the fold” applies to content that is visible when the page first loads, without users having to scroll – this is where you should put important, eye-catching info!
B is for Bounce Rate
How well is your site converting unique impressions to sales? Your bounce rate is the percentage of total visits that didn’t result in someone performing another action, whether it’s clicking on a second page or buying a product. A high bounce rate isn’t usually a good thing and optimising user experience can help keep visitors on your site for longer.
C is for Crawlers
We call search engine robots “crawlers” because they crawl through data on your site and index what the website is, how it is structured, and what content is available. Crawlers only allocate a certain amount of time to browsing and indexing your site, so you need a fully optimised search-friendly structure in place for the best results.
D is for Domain Authority
Developed by Moz, domain authority is a comparative metric of how well your site is likely to perform in search engines, scored from 0 – 100. Factors that contribute to strong domain authority range from unique site impressions to inbound links and backlinks from other locations.
E is for Evergreen Content
It’s sometimes difficult to constantly create fresh and relevant content, which is why evergreen content is a desirable asset for your website. This refers to content, usually blog posts, that your customers will always want, and can easily be updated and repromoted over time.
F is for Featured Snippet
You may have seen featured snippets at the top of search-engine results pages (SERPs) – these special blocks feature an extract of a webpage that succinctly answers the query. This is usually designed to provide answers without users having to leave the SERP, and there’s a knack to writing high-value snippets that will get featured organically.
G is for Google My Business (GMB)
Introduced by Google, a GMB profile is a great way for businesses to increase the visibility and consistency of their information online. Claiming your GMB profile enables you to add contact details, opening times, reviews, and photos, among other things that your potential customers will see when they look you up.
H is for Headings
As well as separating your content into readable sections, headings make sites easier to read by giving hierarchical context to different elements and keywords on a page. On HTML pages, readings are ranked from H1 to H6, which makes it easier for crawlers to index what your page contains.
I is for Image Alt Tags
Adding alt tags to any images on your website is not only a great way of improving your site’s accessibility and user experience but also a big benefit for search results. Alt tags simply describe what’s in an image as you would to someone who couldn’t see it, and this information can also be read by search crawlers.
K is for Keywords
Essentially, keywords are especially relevant words or phrases that are seeded throughout your content. You should undertake keyword research to find the right words and phrases that appear in your customers’ search queries and take care to use them as naturally as possible within your content rather than dropping them in anywhere.
L is for Link Building
As mentioned, inbound links from other sources are crucial to your site authority. Links from other sources will verify and vouch for how useful your site is, so a greater quantity and quality of links often leads to improved rankings. Whether you’re collaborating with others in your industry or getting noticed organically, a strong link profile works wonders.
M is for Metadata
Readable by search engines and human users alike, metadata is the info you include in the header of a HTML doc, including your page title and description. All metadata should be accurate, descriptive, and keyword-friendly to achieve the best visibility on SERPs and attract users to your site.
N is for Navigation
How do you get around your website? Is it easy to find your way to the page you’re looking for using a navigation bar? Whether it’s a header, a footer, or a sidebar, you ought to think about how your users will know where to go next. Internal links in content are another great way of pointing visitors where they need to go.
O is for Organic Traffic
In the end, the basic goal of all SEO is to maximise performance in organic channels. If you don’t have a marketing budget for paid channels, you’ll want to rank highly in the non-paid sections of search engine results, so that your potential customers can find you. This is the ranking that you earn rather than pay for.
P is for Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
On the other hand, PPC is an online advertising model that relies on paid channels, including paid search ads that feature above organic results. This can be a strong complement to your organic SEO strategy if you can afford to pay advertisers but ranking of paid ads is still based on the quality and relevance of results rather than the size of their budget.
Q is for Queries
Simply, a query is the combination of words that users enter into search engines to find their desired result. Where they would traditionally type this query in, technology now allows users to search by voice (we’ll come back to that!) and even using images, which is why it’s more important than ever to integrate keywords and search terms where possible.
R is for Referral Traffic
This metric shows the number of visits your site is getting from specific external sources. These sources can range from those all-important backlinks from other sites to your own email and social media marketing campaigns. High referral traffic numbers usually indicate strong visibility and domain authority.
S is for Schema Mark-up
Where crawlers can read what your website says, they cannot always understand what it means. Created by a collaboration between Google, Bing, and Yahoo, this structured mark-up lends context to unstructured content – labelling a product name as a product name, a price as a price, and an event date as an event date, and so on – which helps with indexing!
T is for Thin Content
Your content marketing goal should always be to offer visitors something – thin content is a term for content that offers little or no value to your readers and simply exists as something to put on your site. Content audits and analytics will help you to pinpoint areas that are a bit thin – don’t think of it as a candidate for deletion so much as an opportunity to try again…
U is for User Experience (UX)
Speaking of content value, you should always be considering how a page’s content contributes to your site’s overall user experience. There’s always room for improvement, but the better your UX is, the greater engagement you will receive from visitors, whether it’s due to ease of navigation or the amount of information provided.
V is for Voice Search Optimisation (VSO)
Did you know that more than half of all searches are voice searches? Harnessing the capabilities of speech-to-text technology, personal assistants are more popular than ever, and we must adapt our SEO practices. The most common types of voice searches are local searches and information searches, so tailor your content accordingly to attract those users.
W is for White Hat
Remember how in old western films, the villains wear black hats, and the good guys usually wear white ones? That’s where we get this term for sites with SEO that follows best practice, focusing on human users and providing genuine value. Don’t be one of those no-good yellow-bellied varmints that lassos users off the web with misleading metadata or keyword stuffing, cos everyone knows the good guys are gonna win in the end anyway…
X is for XML
Adding to your structured content, the XML format is a type of sitemap that enables you to include extra information about each page, including how recently and frequently the page is updated. Like Schema mark-up, crawlers will read this information as well as your plain text and factor it into site rankings.
Y is for Yoast
If you’ve ever used WordPress, you should know Yoast, the number 1 SEO plug-in. Covering various aspects of technical SEO, Yoast helps with everything from structured data mark-up to readability checks. You can even select focus keywords to see how you can improve your page’s SERP performance. This easy-to-use plugin is available in Free and Premium versions.
Z is for Zero Excuses
Now that you’ve got a grasp of what these terms mean, it’s time to start putting your knowledge into action and making your SEO as good as it possibly can be… on your marks, get set, go!