Now this isn’t really a blog per se, it is more of a list of every key SEO term that you should know. It doesn’t matter if you are going to do search engine optimisation yourself, or hire a professional; it is still in your best interest to at least have a basic understanding of key SEO terms.
If you are an SEO novice, this is an excellent place to start, after reading this article you will have dipped your toe into the world of SEO. We will not go into detail about any one topic in particular (we have a lot of other blogs for that!).
We have designed this piece to give you a general overview of what SEO is and the main components, so when someone says, “paid link farms” you know that’s a bad thing! We are not expecting you to become an expert, but it is still important to understand these terms (especially if you are planning to do SEO yourself).
SEO covers a wide range of topics and we aim to list the most important ones. Even if you do decide to hire a professional SEO firm, it is still vital you understand the general overall concept of SEO so you can better comprehend whether or not the professionals are actually doing a good job.
So let’s get cracking! Have a read below at some of the most important SEO terms that you should definitely need to know:
Let us begin with the most obvious of them all: keywords. The very term itself might sound self-explanatory, but in the world of SEO it pertains to a specific purpose.
These terms are the tools that enable search engines to navigate their way through the World Wide Web to find your domain. Keywords will be central to any online campaign, whether that just involves building a digital presence or aiming to drive towards a grander audience.
Keywords have to strike a unique balance for sites that want to improve SEO performance. They have to fit within the parameters of a certain niche to bring in clicks from a targeted demographic, but they have to be unique enough to stand out from the crowd.
That is no easy task, especially given how keywords play the most decisive role throughout any SEO strategy. Google’s Keyword Planner is the ideal outlet that will inform the user about keyword viability and strategy.
A headline or a keyword is one way to navigate across the web, but the user and search engine requires more detail than that. This is where the meta description comes into play.
These paragraphs help to boost click-through rates by giving a more thorough outline as to the page they are linking to. There is only a limited amount of space and characters to utilise in this field before a meta description becomes too long, diminishing the impact it could have.
Take The Sydney Morning Herald as a case in point. Their meta description for their main hub smh.com.au features this blurb as a well-crafted and confined meta description:
“Breaking news from Sydney, Australia and the world. Features the latest business, sport, entertainment, travel, lifestyle, and technology news.”
One of their greatest online news competitors in the domestic marketplace is The Guardian. Their meta description is more convoluted and less defined, incorporating a mixture of tags and current headlines:
“Latest news, sport, comment, analysis and reviews from Guardian Australia. … Opinion The desperate inequality behind global tax dodging.”
Meta descriptions should encapsulate the essence of the brand and deliver a call to action to score a healthy amount of traffic.
Headline tags or H tags as they are known are critical points of correlation for search engines like Google. Should they have no parallel to the actual written content in the copy of a blog, press release or newsletter, then the page is scored down.
However, should the headline tag have a relationship with the copy and the headline is classified in an H1 tag, then the score is duly upgraded.
There is a hierarchy for headline tags in the SEO world where H1 is given top preference, followed naturally by H2, H3 and so on.
Alt-tags will only emerge to the user should there be an issue loading an image properly. Essentially this is a piece of data that should not flash across your screen. So why does it matter?
To the uninitiated this might appear like a secondary thought, but alt-tags are one of the small details that actually matter in the overall scheme. When an image does not display correctly, the alt-tag will offer a phrase or a handful of keywords that relate to the image and the content in question.
Those words actually contribute to the word count, an important facet when analysing SEO performance. All roads also lead to keyword relevance, so the more variety in locations they can be found, the better the end result.
This is an abbreviation for search engine results page (SERP). Put simply, any name or enquiry typed into a search engine will provide a list of SERPs. It will be a combination of organic links as well as paid advertisements that are relevant to the niche in question.
For priority in the domain of SEO, there are few terms and concepts more central than backlinks. These little nuggets of gold indicate the authority of a website to a search engine to drive organic traffic. Put simply, any link from another website that sends clicks through to your location is a backlink.
What matters in this field is a combination of quantity and quality. How many backlinks are out there will have a correlation to your SEO score, yet they must come from trusted and recognised sources. The text in the link must also have some relevance to the keywords you are driving.
It sounds ridiculous, but there are some online marketers out there attempting to hoodwink the system and bypass Google’s rules and regulations. Needless to say that even in their fleeting success, they are caught out and punished accordingly.
The practices these individuals use are what is known as black-hat SEO techniques. Any method that creates an artificial inflation of organic growth figures fits under this category. They are designed to fool search engines by showcasing backlinks, traffic numbers, social media clicks and ratings indicators that are just not valid.
In the short-term, some of these tricks actually work, however you could be penalised by Google. As well as this, should you be after any measure of medium to long-term viability though, you will avoid the black-hat game by whatever means possible.
When you go to type in a term for a search engine, you will be provided with a series of links that include a description accompanied by the URL. Yet rich snippets allow the user to see more meat on the bone, including any ratings, images, reviews, contact details and geographical location information.
Rich snippets give a more rounded reference for those searching for a product, service or organisation and helps to boost the overall SEO score. Any sites that enable rich snippets will usually receive higher click-through rates than their counterparts who overlook this domain.
Google’s Data Highlighter is a brilliant software application that can transform a general listing to a rich snippet chock-full of information.
There is a ton of detail that can go into a single website. All of the relevant tabs will point to different points of contact and deciphering that information can make it tricky for search engines to navigate.
To help smooth over that process, a sitemap can be created to map out where everything fits. XML-Sitemaps have an online software developer ready for those who want to engage in a sitemap of their own.
The sitemap will work as a file that will categorise all of the pages on the site listed in order of relevance, popularity and importance. It is recommended that enterprises starting out their domain creation include a sitemap from the early development stage.
There are two central practices to accelerate the listing of an online enterprise. One route is the long-term viability of search engine optimisation. Here an organisation invests in organic growth and marketplace visibility through a series of intricate but well known practices.
The alternative lies with something known as pay-per click campaigns or PPC for short. These sponsored links act as advertisements where brand awareness is boosted artificially through a direct transfer of funds.
Sites like Google will make a clear distinction between what is a PPC listing and what is an organic search. While there is an obvious difference that can be noted from the user, PPCs get results. They are seen not so much as a better alternative to SEO, but a complimentary tactic to enhance a listing that might be struggling for exposure.
The common jargon that is thrown around in the SEO field can take some time to adjust to. Yet these 10 terms will give a basic grounding to any marketer out there wanting to acquire an immediate grasp of the practice:
- Meta Description
- H Tags
- Black-Hat SEO
- Rich Snippets
Understanding these terms and their relevance to the field will give business owners like yourself a platform to gauging the finer details. Then you will have the opportunity to educate yourself on terms that delve deep into the detail like Robots file, redirects, micro data, link bait, hidden content and spider (not the insect kind).
What do you think about this list of key SEO terms? Is there anything else you think should be added to the list? Let us know in the comment section below, we would love to hear from you!
Lucas is the Managing Director and the Head of SEO Strategy at SEO Shark. He has over 15 years of experience in achieving SEO results for small and medium businesses as well as multinational and ASX-listed brands. He is also an author of multiple publications about digital marketing.