Last week I wrote an SEO series entitled Business Blogging: 8 Steps to SEO Success. It was fun to write and it refreshed my memory of all the different steps that are needed for an effective SEO strategy to get your sites found in a search. As I was writing, however, I realized that for the small business owner, who isn't as familiar with the SEO terminology as some, it can seem like reading an instruction manual in Chinese. So I've come up with a few favorite SEO terms to define and clarify in order to help those wanting to start the road to SEO success.
- Search Engine Optimization: Simply put, search engine optimization is the process of improving the quality and volume of web traffic to a website by employing a series of proven SEO techniques that help a website achieve a higher ranking with the major search engines when certain keywords and phrases are put in the search field.
- Black Hat SEO: Using unethical techniques to gain ranking in search engines. The search engines filter for such techniques and you may get banned from displaying in search engine results. This may include using keyword stuffing, using invisible text and doorway pages.
- White Hat SEO: The use of accepted SEO practices in order to get higher rankings, more traffic, etc. This includes writing quality content, using titles and meta tags and doing keyword research.
- Search Algorithm: Google's search algorithm is used to find the most relevant web pages for any search query. According to Google, the algorithm considers over 200 factors, including the PageRank value, the meta and title tags, the content, age of the domain, etc.
- Doorway Pages: This is basically a fake page that the user will never see. It is purely for search engine spiders, and attempts to trick them into indexing the site higher.
- Keyword Stuffing: Since keyword density was an important factor on the early search algorithms, webmasters started to game the system by artificially inflating the keyword density inside their websites. This is called keyword stuffing. These days this practice won't help you, and it can also get you penalized.
- Anchor Text - An HTML tag or text that allows you to create a link to another document or web page or to a bookmark within the current web page.
- Nofollow Link: A link used to instruct search engines that a link should not influence ranking. They are used when you want to cut down on irrelevant content to improve the quality of search engine results. Don't use nofollow when linking to internal pages in your website. Use it when linking to external pages that you don't want to endorse. Dofollow links do not have the nofollow attribute and do pass on link juice to the sites they link to.
- PageRank: The algorithm that Google uses to estimate the relative important of pages around the web. The basic idea behind the algorithm is the fact that a link from page A to page B can be seen as a vote of trust from page A to page B. The higher the number of links (weighted to their value) to a page, therefore, the higher the probability that such page is important.
- Alt Text: This is basically alternative text placed for images, so that when you hover over an image a text box displays describing what the image is.
- Spider (bot, crawler, robots): Programs written to scour the web automatically for various reasons, like indexing pages, for spamming purposes.
- Cloaking - Showing a different web page to a search engine spider than what is normally seen. The purpose is to get the page ranked for specific keywords, and then use the incoming traffic to promote unrelated products or services. This practice is considering spamming and can get you penalized (if not banned) on most search engines.
- Link farm. A link farm is a group of websites where every website links to every other website, with the purpose of artificially increasing the PageRank of all the sites in the farm. This practice was often used in the early days of search engines, but today these sites are seeing as a spamming technique (and thus can get you penalized).
These are just a few of the many, many SEO terms used to help marketers and small business understand how to optimize their website. I'm curious to know the terms you find confusing. Do we need to create another list?