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The Definitive Collection of SEO Terms and Definitions


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If you're new to the realm of Internet marketing and search engine optimization (SEO), the jargon used within the industry can be a little hard to follow. This reference allows you to learn key words and phrases used within the industry.

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The Definitive Collection of SEO Terms and Definitions

  1. 1. Introduction One of the pillars of learning is first understanding the language, and search engine optimization is no different. Because there are so many terms and phrases associated with the optimization process, we have compiled this collection of common terms and definitions so you can better understand what goes into optimizing your website.
  2. 2. A Affiliate Marketing – Affiliate marketing is used to generate money from a website or blog. An affiliate marketer suggests related links to their visitors which lead to online stores, such as Amazon. If the visitor then purchases something from the store, the affiliate marketer gets a percentage of the sale. Many black hat search engine optimizers use affiliate marketing schemes to generate personal revenue. Alt Tag (also called Alt Attribute) – When search spiders crawl your website to index your content and rank you accordingly, they cannot see images or videos. The alt tag is meant to be the “alternative” description for content in cases where such content cannot be displayed. Alt tags describe the element textually, so search engines can take the images, video, etc. into account when determining your page’s ranking. Additionally, alt tags allow those listening to the content of the page (i.e. visually impaired users) to
  3. 3. interact with and understand the visual elements. Be as descriptive as possible so search engines and visually impaired patients can clearly visualize what the image, video, etc. is depicting. Analytics – Analytics software allows you to track how Internet users interact with your website. It also allows you The alt text for this image might be: “Doctor Smith rests her hand on her patient’s shoulder and smiles as the patient sits in the dental exam chair, awaiting her teeth cleaning.” to evaluate the effectiveness of your website with data indicating total website traffic, how and where each visitor found your site, and how long they stayed on your website. Many webmasters prefer to use Google Analytics, because it’s free and easy to integrate into any website.
  4. 4. B Backlink (also called Incoming Link or Inbound Link) – Backlinks are links to your website from other websites, directories, forums, or blogs. These links help search engines determine the credibility and authority of your website in relation to other websites that share similar information. Essentially, backlinks serve as a vote of confidence that tells search engines your website is so useful that other webmasters want to share your site with their visitors. Black Hat – Black hat refers to the practice of using disreputable optimization techniques to improve a website’s ranking in search engine results. Using black hat methods of SEO can results in a website getting banned from search engine results pages. Some of these unethical techniques include: affiliate marketing, keyword stuffing, cloaking, doorway pages, and purchasing backlinks.
  5. 5. Bounce Rate – Your website’s bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who land on your website and leave without visiting any other pages within your site. Two different examples of bouncing: • Visitor 1 finds your website in their search results and clicks to view your page. After less than a second, Visitor 1 hits the “Back” button in their browser, determining your website wasn’t what they were looking for. This is a bounce. • Visitor 2 finds your website in their search results and clicks to view your page. After 15 minutes, they’ve found the information they needed and hit the “Back” button in their browser. This is also a bounce. It is hypothesized that only the fast bounce performed by Visitor 1 has negative search ranking implications, while Visitor 2’s bounce may help your search ranking.
  6. 6. C Click Through Rate (CTR) – Click through rate is one method of determining the success of your online advertising (i.e. Google AdWords or mobile ads) or email campaigns. CTR measures the proportion of visitors who perform an action because of your advertisement. An action could be clicking the link provided or subscribing to your email newsletter; actions are any sort of engagement with the ad. Click through rate can be calculated by dividing the number of times an ad is clicked by the total number of impressions the ad had multiplied by 100. Cloaking – When search spiders index your site, they look at all of the content you supply them with to determine your ranking. Cloaking is the black hat method of supplying search engines with webpages that are optimized for specific popular search terms, while supplying actual web visitors different webpages entirely. Essentially, cloaking is a bait and switch technique that deceives spiders into thinking your webpage is an authority on a topic that it has nothing to do with.
  7. 7. Black hat SEOs will use cloaking to get websites to rank well for extremely popular search terms that they are unrelated to. Conversion Rate – A conversion is getting an Internet user to interact with your practice beyond simply viewing your webpages, such as calling your practice or scheduling an appointment. Your site’s conversion rate is the percentage of total website visitors that perform a conversion. The ultimate goal of your website should be to increase conversions – turning website visitors into new patients. Crawling – This term is often used in the context of a search engine “crawling your site.” This is essentially the process whereby a search engine spider scans your webpages, indexing links, sitemaps, and content. Every time you add new content to your website, it will trigger search engines to re-crawl your website.
  8. 8. D Doorway Pages (also called Bridge Pages, Portal Pages, or Jump Pages) – Doorway pages are another black hat optimization technique that tricks Internet searchers into visiting your website. This tactic was established primarily so affiliate marketers could make money off of unsuspecting users who landed on their page. The problem with doorway pages is that most visitors bounce when they land on a doorway page, never clicking over the optimized website. Disreputable SEO firms, however, will still report a visit to a doorway page as a website visit, misleading their clients to believe their website receives more traffic than it actually does.
  9. 9. Example:
  10. 10. G Google Dance – When first showing up on Google’s search results, pages change rank frequently, until the site’s authority is reconfigured. Once Google develops a solid understanding on the page’s relevancy, where the page appears in search results will fluctuate. This shifting up and down in rank is known as the “Google Dance”. Typically only new websites dance, but all webpages are capable of dancing when Google releases a large-scale algorithm update, such as with Panda and Penguin.
  11. 11. H Headings – When search spiders crawl your site, they determine which elements are most important on each page. One of the elements that they look at is headings. Headings are attributes that give visitors an idea of what the page is about. Headings are numbered in size from 1 to 6, with an h1 being the largest and an h6 being the smallest. Headings should be in order of importance and size with h1s describing the overarching subject of the page and getting more specific as the headings get smaller. An example of headings for your page might be: <h1> Family Dental Practice – Los Angeles, CA </h1> <h2> Adult and Teen Cleanings and Exams </h2> <h2> Pediatric Dentistry </h2> <h3> Eruption of Baby Teeth </h3> <h4> When Should My Child Have Their 1st Dental Exam? </h4>
  12. 12. Hummingbird – The Hummingbird Algorithm is Google’s latest release and has affected 90% of search results worldwide. Hummingbird places greater importance on high-quality, relevant content and promises to provide a better search experience for the Internet user. Hummingbird also places less emphasis on the keywords used in the search query and more emphasis on the meaning of the query as a whole.
  13. 13. I Impression – An impression is the number of times any link to your website (whether it be an advertisement or search results) is displayed on a webpage. An example would be: A practice in Los Angeles is running an AdWords campaign for the phrase “dentist Los Angeles”. Within one hour, the term “dentist Los Angeles” was searched 400 times. Of those 400 searches, the L.A. practice’s ad appeared 238 times. This means the practice had 238 impressions within the hour. Indexed Pages – Once a search engine spider analyzes the content on one of your pages, that page is indexed, or stored on their servers. Without being indexed, a webpage will not show up in search engine results, as the search engine does not yet know the page exists or what it contains.
  14. 14. K Keyword (or Keyword Phrase) – Keywords are the individual words that make up an Internet user’s search query. When the same keywords or keyword phrases are incorporated in the meta data and content of your website, search engine algorithms may potentially rank your site well for the given query. Website is optimized for “Los Angeles Family Dentist” User searches “Family Dentist in Los Angeles” Website shows up on Google for that query.
  15. 15. Keyword Density – When you optimize your website content for particular keywords or phrases, the number of times that word appears on the page when expressed in the form of a percent, is the keyword density for that word. For example: You’ve optimized your Cosmetic Dentistry page for the term “teeth whitening”. “Teeth whitening” appears within the content of that page 5 times. The total number of words on the page is 351. This means your keyword density for “teeth whitening” is 1.4%. Most SEOs believe the ideal keyword density is said to be between 1 and 3%. Keyword Stuffing – While a few of the same keywords can help your optimization, overusing a keyword in an attempt to rank better for that keyword is a black hat optimization technique known as keyword stuffing. In some cases, stuffed keywords appear everywhere on the page, not just within the content. Black hat optimizers will even go as far as coloring text the same color as the background so as to hide the keywords from a visitor’s view. Unfortunately, search engine bots are more clever than this and can detect (and penalize) keyword stuffed pages.
  16. 16. L Landing Page – A landing page is any page on your website that an Internet user found via search engine, email message, social media post, link, or advertisement. When accessing your website, whichever of your webpages a user ended up on is a landing page. Depending on how your website is optimized, every page may be considered a landing page. Link Bait – When you have content that encourages other blogs and websites to give you an inbound link, that content is called link bait, as it lures a backlink. Blogs are an excellent form of link bait, and as you post interesting articles, others are more inclined to share the information on their social profiles, websites, and blogs.
  17. 17. Long Tail Keyword – When an Internet user searches a large query, this query is known as a long tail keyword. Often, searchers use long tail keywords in an attempt to narrow their search results to more specific options. Example: A prospective patient wants to find a dentist in Los Angeles that will see both children and adults. In their initial search, they input: “family dentist Los Angeles” With over 16 million search results returned, the prospective patient became too overwhelmed, so they adjusted their query to a long tail entry: “family dentist Los Angeles general pediatric sees kids and adults” With just 3 million search results, the prospective patient has cut their options by nearly 20%, allowing them to find a provider that will better meet their needs.
  18. 18. M Meta Description – When search engines display their results, they provide a brief snippet below the link to each result. This short description is the site’s meta description, a summary of what the website is about or offers. This is your site’s meta description. Meta Keywords – Meta keywords are a brief bank of words, integrated into the meta data of your website, that help search engines define what your website pertains to. While keywords used to have a huge influence on search engine rankings, there are now many other factors that determine rank, so keywords have less influence than they once did. Meta keywords cannot be seen on the webpage itself or in search results. They reside within the coding of the website and are relevant to search spiders.
  19. 19. Meta Tags (also called Descriptive Meta Data) – Meta tags are the “hidden” elements that help describe the content of your website to search engines. Meta tags include your meta keywords, meta title, and meta description. A note regarding meta tags: Your webpages can each have their own meta tags, which will cause your site to render differently in search results. For example, these results are for two different webpages within the same website. One is a dental implants page; the other is a contact page. Each page has a different title and different meta description that relates to the topic of the individual page. Meta Title – When a search engine displays results, the clickable link that leads to a webpage is the meta title. This is your site’s meta title.
  20. 20. O Organic Link – An organic link is a backlink that you did not solicit or request. These links are from other webmasters who find your website relative to their audience and wanted to share your site with their visitors.
  21. 21. P PageRank – PageRank is the name given to Google’s algorithm that analyzes links. It values and weighs links going to and coming away from your website to determine how important your information is to others. PageRank is believed to work off a probability distribution that determines the likelihood of a visitor randomly clicking on links to arrive at any particular page. Since the implementation of PageRank, Google has added Panda, Penguin, and Penguin 2.0, new algorithms that augment PageRank. Panda – Panda is a Google algorithm implemented in February of 2011. It complemented PageRank by focusing on ranking sites with fresh, relevant content higher than “thin” sites comprised primarily of advertisements. Panda caused one or two poorly constructed pages to deplete the ranking of entire sites, emphasizing the fact that quality sites which continue to update pages will outrank those that sit stagnant.
  22. 22. Penguin – Penguin was another algorithm update implemented to compliment PageRank and Panda in April of 2012. Penguin was intended to penalize sites that violated Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, namely those that implemented black hat SEO techniques. Penguin 2.0 – Penguin 2.0 updated the initial Penguin algorithm in June 2013. With this update, many websites drastically dropped in ranking, as websites involved in black hat link building were targeted. Link farms and paid link services disappeared from SERPs almost entirely.
  23. 23. Q Query – The words or phrases that an Internet user puts into a search engine is a query. Often, websites are optimized with specific and highly searched queries, in an effort to gain more traffic to the website.
  24. 24. R Reciprocal Link – When two webmasters have a mutual agreement to give each other a backlink, it is known as a reciprocal link. A single webmaster could also integrate reciprocal links between two of their own websites. To prevent reciprocal links from appearing as spam, it is important to keep them between related websites. For example, linking between your spouse’s legal services website and your dental website seems unrelated and may raise a red flag; however, linking between your dental website and your referring periodontist’s website appears more natural to search spiders. Referring Site (or Referrer) – When a user visits your website, whatever page they were previously on is a referring site. Being so, any webpage that includes a link to your website could be a referring site.
  25. 25. S Sandbox – When taking a website live for the first time, it could take a few days or a few months for Google spiders to start crawling the site. During this waiting period, it will not show up on search engine results pages, as Google can’t rank something it doesn’t yet understand. This is referred to as being “in the sandbox,” or “being sandboxed.” Sometimes, “being sandboxed” is also used to describe a website that has been dropped from the top results, which occurs because the site was aggressively optimized, suggesting black hat techniques were implemented. You will often hear a SEO refer to a new website as “sitting in the sandbox,” or a penalized site referred to as being “sandboxed”. Search Algorithm – Search algorithms are the mathematical formulas that analyze the qualities and properties of webpages, comparing them to other similar pages and determining an authority.
  26. 26. Each time a user enters a search query, algorithms scan a search engine’s entire index, comparing them side-by-side, and displaying results by rank, accordingly. Google’s most notable and talked about algorithms include PageRank, Panda, and Penguin. Search Bot (also called Spider or Web Crawler) – Search bots or spiders are computer software that follow links throughout the Internet, grabbing content, indexing it, and adding it to search engine databases. The most commonly referenced spider is Google’s which is referred to as “Googlebot”. Often “Googlebot” will be used in place of “search bot, spider, or web crawler”. When a search is conducted, the results are displayed based upon what search bots found and how the findings were valued within the engine’s algorithms. Search Engine Results Page (SERP) – After performing a search, you are taken to a page that lists all the results for your query. This page is the search engine results page or SERP.
  27. 27. SEM – SEM is the abbreviated form of Search Engine Marketing. Different from SEO, search engine marketing focuses on optimizing all online aspects that could influence a higher ranking, including social media, paid advertisements, and content marketing through blogging. Semantic Markup – By implementing additional code into your website’s structure, you can trigger search engines to display additional information about your practice within their search results. This additional information could be a photo of your practice, testimonials and reviews, or even coupons and offers. By adding a semantic markup to your website, some SEOs believe you can potentially draw more attention from searchers, as you provide them more information than your competitors. This result has a semantic markup within the coding of the site to make the doctor’s photo appear next to his search result.
  28. 28. SEO – SEO is the abbreviated form of Search Engine Optimization. SEO is one part of SEM and involves the process of using optimization techniques to get a website ranked higher in search engine results. SEO focuses entirely on marketing your website as an authority in your industry. Some common SEO strategies include competitive analysis, building credible backlinks, onsite optimization, and implementing meta tags. Sitemap – When search bots crawl your website, a sitemap provides the bot with a detailed outline of how to crawl your site. This roadmap enables bots to see exactly how many pages your website contains and allows them to thoroughly index every page on your site.
  29. 29. T Title Tag – Title tags are part of your website’s coding that informs visitors of your page’s content. This way, when a visitor has multiple tabs open in their browser, they can identify which website is yours. When you hover over the tab containing a page title, a pop-up box expands to display the full title, as well as the page’s URL. Page title Pop-up box that shares more information
  30. 30. Q Unique Visitor – Each time a user visits your website, your analytics software will track their IP address. Upon their first visit, they are counted as a unique visitor. Each time they visit your website with that same IP address thereafter, they are no longer counted as unique. If that same user visits your page from a different IP address or after an extended period of time, they can again be counted as a unique visitor.
  31. 31. W White Hat – The process of optimizing websites using search engine approved techniques and strategies.
  32. 32. Conclusion Now that you have a better understanding of the realm of search engine optimization, you can make more informed decisions when hiring an agency to perform your optimization for you. If you have any questions about our search engine optimization services, please contact one of our website consultants at (888) 932-3644.