SEO is full of buzzwords and jargon. SEO itself is an acronym for Search Engine Optimisation (or Optimization). And, if you know me, you’ll know I love buzzwords… I even wrote a book about them.
With all of these acronyms, abbreviations and tech speak it can be hard to know what they all mean. That’s why we’ve put together this list of some of the most common SEO questions we get asked.
Admitedly this is not a complete list of every SEO term, but we will add to it.
If there is a specific question you want to know the answer two, click on the question, and you will be taken straight to the answer. If you can’t find what you are looking for, drop us a message and we will add it in.
- What is a SERP (Search Engine Results Page)?
- What are internal links?
- What are Landing Pages?
- What is anchor text?
- What are UTM codes?
- What is schema markup?
- What is semantic text?
- What is Alt Text?
- What is Link Building?
- What are Canonical Tags?
- What are branded keywords?
- What is on-page SEO?
- What is off-page SEO?
- What is guest posting?
- What is local SEO?
- What is a backlink?
- What is a 301 redirect?
- What are optimised images?
- What is the .htaccess file?
- What is Meta Data?
- What is website caching?
- What is LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords?
- What is a long-tail keyword?
- What is a short-tail keyword?
- What are website impressions?
- What does fresh content mean?
- What is a search engine?
- What is structured text?
SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page. It is the page displayed by search engines such as google after a user has entered a search term. The search engine will attempt to match the users search query with the most relevant content.
These SERPs can contain a range of features from organic text and images to videos and adverts.
Internal links are hyperlinks that take users from one webpage to another, but within the same website/domain.
The purpose of an internal link is to send people from one part of a website to another in order to get them to take an action. These actions could be; read more specific content, contact the company, or show them something they might have missed.
Landing pages are specific page on web website that are designed and built as page to which specific traffic will be directed. The purpose of them is to speak directly to the users for which it is intended, and help convince them to take action after.
Examples include; Industry specific (Online Training for London Banks), Location specific (Plumbers in central Manchester), or Activity Specific (Luxury Handbag Special Offers).
Anchor text is the text that is displayed on a web page, or online document which connects to a hyperlink. This text is used to tell users what the link underneath the text is about, and why they should click on it.
An example of this is: Read this detailed guide on UTM codes.
UTM Codes are small snippets of text and numerals which follow a URL. These are used to help businesses to effectively track their online marketing activities within Google Analytics.
These code snippets are highly customisable and can be used to measure the performance of online campaigns by helping marketers see which links have been used, where they have gone, and what activities have been taken as a result.
Schema markup is a form of microdata. Once added to a webpage, schema markup creates an enhanced description (aka, a rich snippet), which appears in search results. Schema Markup gives search engines more data and context about a page, and gives it the best opportunity to appear for relevant search queries.
Schema markup is especially important in the age of Hummingbird and RankBrain (two of Google’s algorithms). How a search engine interprets the context of a query will determine the quality of a search result.
Semantic text is the language around a core word or phrase that adds to its meaning. Google and other search engines monitor semantic text as part of their Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithms.
The purpose of it is to match users search intent with a search result by mapping what the true meaning of the search query is. This moves the search emphasis away from single keywords, and onto more conversational, topical searches.
Alt Text is the description of an image on a website. It is primarily there to help visually impaired users to understand what the image is about. It is also used by Google to help decide what terms a picture should be displayed for within their image search queries.
Alt Text is hidden from view unless an image fails to appear on a web page. Images can be displayed on your website without Alt Text. However, without it users will not be able to see what an image was supposed to be if it fails to load.
Link building is the process by which businesses and marketers attempt to improve both the quality and quantity of backlinks to their website. Backlinks are a strong ranking signal to search engines, therefore play a key role in SEO.
The purpose of link building is to tell Google that your site is authoritive, and that other websites use it as a citation source for their own content.
A canonical tag (aka “rel canonical”) is a way of telling search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page. Using the canonical tag prevents problems caused by identical or “duplicate” content appearing on multiple URLs.
These code tags help tell search engines which are the most important pages to rank for keywords. If you have pages with similar content, or duplicate content you should use canonical tags to focus the SEO benefits.
Branded keywords are specific search queries which use the brand name as part of the search. A simple example is: “Heinz Tomato Ketchup”, as opposed to “Tomato Ketchup”.
Branded keywords identify how many people are searching specifically about your business, or making searches directly involving your business. These keywords are generally much easier to rank for within SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), as your brand is the only one of that name in your industry.
On-page SEO refers to optimisations that are visible on a given webpage or website with the aim of helping it to rank higher.
Most commonly on-page SEO is keyword-based. However, it also includes anchor text, semantic text, URL strings and structured data. All of these elements help tell search engines what the webpage is about and what search queries are most relevant to the content.
Off-page SEO refers to optimisations outside of your own website, which impact upon your own website’s potential rankings.
The biggest external ranking factor to affect your website is backlinks. The more authoritative, relevant and numerous the links you get are, the better the impact on your SEO. You can also improve your off-page SEO through guest posting, influencer marketing and press mentions.
Guest posting is where an external source, posts an article on an external site, in the hope of reaching a wider audience by sharing valuable knowledge and insights.
You may likely write on another website that is seen as an authority within the industry, sharing your insight with readers. In return for your valuable content you will likely earn links back your site as well as increasing the size of your audience.
Local SEO refers to the process of ranking for specific location-based search queries. These can be large or small geographical areas. Depending on the nature of the business, you can target your SEO from specific countries, to counties, cities, and even areas within towns.
A plumber for example may operate in a number of areas of a city, but not the whole city. In order to get the best quality leads, they should target the keywords of the areas that they actually work in.
A backlink is a link back to your website from another. Often this is to cite your website as a source from which other content has been created, or to refer back to your website for users to get further information.
Links can be coded as ‘nofollow’. In this case they will not have an impact of your websites SEO. To have the biggest benefits to your SEO you need to earn follow backlinks from authoritive and relevant websites to your own.
A 301 redirect is a status code which shows a page has been permanently moved from one location to another. There are a number of reasons you may do this, such as; change of domain, change of URL string or the webpage no longer exists.
Using a 301 code helps improve the user experience by sending visitors to a correct/updated page instead of going through to an outdated, or broken 404 page.
Optimised images are pictures displayed on websites that have been put in the most efficient format to reduce page load speed.
Optimisations to images include; serving them in next gen formats (JPEG 2000, JPEG XR and WebP), lazy loading (loading images when appropriate not all at once), CDN serving (Content Delivery Networks to minimise page loading delays), image sizing (reducing the width and height of uploaded images) and image compression (ensuring that they take up the least space without reducing image quality).
Htaccess is short for hypertext access. It is a server-based file which allows you to set specific configurations for a specific directory within the web server.
You can edit this file to ensure that all of your URLs are properly directed or redirected, you can also resolve missing 404 pages and you can even tell Google which pages you do not want to be crawled as part of SEO.
Meta data on webpages helps explain what the webpage is about. Essentially it is data, providing information about other data. It can be automatically created, or manually created depending on what the holder of the data wishes.
Google displays meta data within the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). This data helps users to decide which website they want to visit from their search query. The more relevant the meta data, the more likely they are to visit your website.
Caching is the activity of temporarily storing data for reuse within a web server. A cache can store full webpages, images, documents or other multimedia formats. The purpose of caching is to speed up the website, and improve user experience.
A page is caching when a user visits it, then re-serves that loaded page to the next user to help speed up the site loading process.
LSI refers to related terms and phrases that search engines use to help them understand not only what the page actually says, but what the context of it is. This is a process known as Natural Language Processing (NLP).
As search engines have evolved they have begun to start analysing the intent of the user. i.e. are they looking to buy, or just for information? The purpose is for search engines to match the search query with the best possible SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
A long-tail keyword is a phrase made up of numerous words that acts as the focus for a specific webpage. Because of their length they are generally seen as specific, and often require specific answers or responses.
Some examples include; How do you effectively track my SEO work? Or, why is alt text important for google image searches?
These long-tail keywords are related to specific answers. In most cases their search volumes will be lower than short-tail keywords, however, the traffic is far more specific and much more likely to be interested in your specific content.
A short-tail keyword is a single word or two that act as the focus for a specific webpage. Because of their short length they are often generalist and not specific.
Some examples include; SEO, modern SEO, Image SEO
These short-tail keywords are unlikely to yield specific answers, however they generally have high volumes of traffic associated with them when compared to more specific long-tail keywords.
Website impressions are the number of views a website receives from a particular search or location. This metric is often used as a guide to understand how many impressions an online advert or specific page has received within a SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
Impressions is considered a high-level metric, and doesn’t necessarily help marketers to understand the deeper reasons around the action(s) taken as a result of the impression(s).
Fresh content refers to content that has been created or updated within the last 6 months. Part of search engine algorithms looks at how recent an article or webpage has been created. The more recent it is the higher chance there is of it being accurate at the time of writing.
That is not to say that older articles have no relevancy, but the more recent an article/webpage is the more likely it is that it will have the most recent information.
A search engine is a program that searches for and identifies items in a database that correspond to keywords or characters specified by the user and/or search query.
The most common example of a search engine is Google, which uses “spiders” to crawl web pages to index them, and algorithms to decide upon their ranking potential. However, search engines are increasingly found within apps, large websites and directories.
Structured text refers to the literal structure around which your content is displayed. This means that titles, headers and text are written in a clear way that makes the content easy to read for both users and search engines alike.
Ensure that your headers are structured with H1 as the most important, before H2 all the way to H6. Also consider which are the most important points that your readers/users should taker from the page, and make sure that those are both clear and concise.