SEO Definitions – Your Guide to Common SEO Terms
The world of SEO can be daunting and overwhelming. There are many acronyms, abbreviations, and technical terms that often make no sense whatsoever to most people. This blog post was created to help you navigate the most common SEO terminology so you can understand what it means for your business or website.
Read on for an overview of some common terms in the world of SEO.
SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the process of making improvements to your website so that it ranks higher and appears more often in the search results. This makes your website more visible to users of search engines such as Google. The more visible your website is, the more visitors your website will receive. And when you improve your website using SEO, you will receive visitors who are interested in the specific products or services that your business offers, which makes them more likely to become paying customers for your business.
On-page SEO refers to the improvements that are made to the web pages that make up your website. These changes can include things such as adding keywords to your text, including descriptive headings, adding links to other pages on your website, adding more text to your web page, and much more.
Off-page SEO refers to the SEO activities that do not take place on your website. They can include things such as link building or brand mentions of your business.
Technical SEO refers to the SEO improvements that are made to the structure of your website. This can include making your site load faster, making it secure, making sure that search engines can easily crawl it, and much more.
A keyword is a word or phrase that you type into a search engine when you are looking for information on that topic. A keyword can be a single word (e.g. wedding), several words (e.g. wedding venue in Italy), or it can even be in the form of a question (e.g. where is the best place in Italy for a destination wedding?).
Head keywords are only a few words long, typically just one or two words. They represent very broad topics (e.g. wedding or Bali wedding) and for this reason, they typically have a very high search volume. While a high search volume is good, because this means a lot of people are searching for these keywords, it can be very difficult to know what type of information they are looking for – do they want to plan their wedding in Bali, or maybe they are just guests who have been invited to a Bali wedding? With head keywords, it can be difficult to know what information the searcher is really looking for, and difficult to know if they could be a potential customer for your business.
Long Tail Keyword
Long tail keywords are longer than head keywords, typically at least three to four words, and sometimes much longer. They are far more specific (e.g. what is the best time of year to get married in Iceland? or best wedding photographer in France) and for this reason, the search volume is lower than that of head keywords. Even though fewer people search for long tail keywords, it is far easier to understand what they are looking for. For example, we can be pretty confident that someone who Googles, “can I get legally married in Greece?” is interested in getting married in Greece. If you are a wedding planner in Greece, it makes sense to use this long tail keyword on your website. When someone searches for this keyword, and clicks through to a website that offers the specific product or service that they are seeking (such as a wedding planner who can plan a legal wedding in Greece) they are more likely to become a paying customer of that business.
Keyword research is the process of understanding what information your audience (or, potential clients) is looking for, and which terms (or, keywords) they use when they seek that information via a search engine. It often involves the use of ‘keyword research tools’ or other software, that can provide more information about a particular keyword, such as its search volume, level of competition, or search intent.
Competitor research is the process of researching competing websites in your industry or niche to uncover how they generate traffic to their websites, and which keywords and content are performing best for them. The process often involves the use of SEO software to uncover data about competitor websites, and the aim is to ‘reverse engineer’ what is working well for them so that you can replicate these successful strategies on your own website. It also involves looking for ‘gaps’ in their strategy, so that you can target keywords or content that they are missing.
Search volume refers to the number of searches that are performed each month for a given keyword. For example, the keyword destination wedding has a search volume of 40,500.
A search engine is an online tool that searches for information on the internet, based on the keyword or keywords that the user enters. It searches its index (a type of database) and presents the results in order, with the most relevant results first. Google is the most well-known search engine, but others include Bing, Yahoo, Baidu (most dominant in China) and Yandex (most dominant in Russia).
SERPs is short for Search Engine Results Pages. These are the pages that appear in your web browser when you type a keyword into a search engine. The SERPs contain search results, ordered from the most relevant first, to the next most relevant, and so on.
Content simply refers to the text, images, video, etc. that appears on the web pages that make up your website. For example, a blog post on your website contains content such as words and headings (text), pictures and infographics (images) and video.
Content strategy is the process of creating a plan to attract the right type of traffic to your website. It involves keyword and competitor research, to uncover the keywords that searchers use to describe the products and services that you provide, and creating content (such as blog posts and other pages on your website) that contains those keywords. Furthermore, it involves using keywords that will attract your ideal clients. For example, if you plan luxury weddings, then your content strategy should include keywords related to luxury weddings (such as luxury wedding in Aspen, or five star wedding venues in Ravello) and avoid keywords that will attract the wrong client (such as how to plan a budget wedding, or cheap wedding photographer in New York). A strategy should also look at the search intent behind each keyword, and it should also ensure that you have content for the various stages of the customers’ journey, from newly engaged (10 reasons to plan a destination wedding), to evaluating options (best winter wedding destinations), to ready to book (wedding venues in Greenland).
Search intent refers to what the searcher expects to find when they search for a particular keyword, and making sure that you create content that matches the searcher’s expectation. For example, someone searching for lace wedding gown may be looking for pictures or examples of different types of lace wedding gowns, while someone searching for where to buy Vera Wang wedding gown is expecting to find wedding gown retailers.
Organic traffic refers to the visitors who land on your website after clicking on a link in the SERPs (search results). The benefits of organic traffic are that it’s free, and also that it brings you relevant traffic from visitors who are searching for the exact content that your website has. This means that these visitors are more likely to become paying customers. The main aim of SEO is to increase the amount of organic traffic that your website receives.
Direct traffic refers to the visitors who already know the address (also called a URL) of your website and type this directly into their browser, rather than clicking in the search results or on another web page.
Referral traffic is the traffic that is sent to your site from another web page, or from a link in an email message or newsletter. Some examples include; someone clicking on your listing in an online wedding directory, or when your work is featured on a wedding blog and someone clicks on a link to your website in the suppliers’ section. Traffic that comes from social media can also be considered a type of referral traffic. For example, someone clicks on a Facebook post or a Pinterest pin and it links to your website.
Paid traffic is any traffic that is the result of someone clicking on an advertisement or paid promotion that links to your website. Some examples include; Google AdWords advertisements, Facebook ads or promoted pins on Pinterest.
URL is short for Uniform Resource Locator, and it is the name of a website or individual web page on the World Wide Web, e.g. https://blissdigitalweb.com, or https://blissdigitalweb.com/contact.
Link building is a form of off-page SEO. It is the process of getting other websites to link to your website. This acts like a ‘vote’ for your website and shows Google that other sites on the web think that your website has quality content that is worth linking out to. The aim of link building is to acquire links from other websites that are authoritative (i.e. have a lot of other websites that rank to them) and relevant (i.e. they contain content that is similar or relevant to the content that your website contains). Links from authoritative and relevant websites help to increase the authority of your own website. Likewise, links from low quality, irrelevant or spammy websites can lower the authority of your site.
Authority / Domain Authority
A website’s authority is a measure of how likely that website (or web page) is to rank in the search results, and how high it is likely to rank. Most types of SEO software have their own unique way of measuring website authority, but one of the most common is Moz’s Domain Authority (DA, for short). DA is calculated by looking at a range of different factors, including how many other websites link to your website, and how authoritative those websites are. Your website is then given a DA ‘score’. This is a number between 1 and 100, and the higher the number, the more likely that your website will rank at the top of the search results. For example, very authoritative websites such as Google (100), Facebook (96), and Wikipedia (93) are considered as well known and authoritative websites by most people, and often rank at the very top of the search results. A brand new website that has yet to acquire any authority however, is very unlikely to rank at the top of the search results, if at all.
Anchor text refers to the text that is contained inside a link to another page or website. It is the underlined text that you click on when you want to open that link. For example, this is anchor text.
Would you like to know more?
We hope that this glossary of common SEO definitions was helpful. If there are any other SEO terms that you would like to see included, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and let us know. We’d be happy to add your suggestions to this page.