SEO The A – Z of related terms

S

Introducing our A-Z of terms associated with SEO, search engine marketing in Google and other search engines.  Have I missed anything obvious ? Do you have a better entry for any of these ? If so, please let me know.

A – Analytics

Google analytics is a free service which provides you with detailed information on visitors to your site. Tracking site usage helps you understand how customers are finding and engaging with your site. Measuring the impact of marketing and/or paid advertising is crucial for your return on investment calculations.

B – Backlinks

Backlinks are links to your site/sites which link to yours. They can also be described as inbound links, or just ’links’. You can find a good sample of representative backlinks in Webmaster Tools. Links are important as Google sees them as like a ‘vote’ for your site, but not all links are created equally. For example : some links might be harmful to your site if they violate the Webmaster Guidelines, some links might not even carry any weight because the page which is publishing the link has no value itself or is not trusted by Google, and some links might have a ‘nofollow’ tag on which tells Google not to pass page rank value.

C – Canonical

Canonical, canonical tags and canonicalization.  Words normally heard  when talking about the authoritative version of a webpage or website. Dealing with canonicalization can help Google crawl your site more efficiently and uniting urls which are essentially the same page can help with uniting any page value to the authoritative version too.

D – Duplicate

Duplicate content is unavoidable on many website types and Google knows that. There is no Google penalty for naturally occurring duplicate website content which you commonly find. However, you can get a Google penalty for duplicate content which is not benign in nature ; for example – duplicated or scraped websites or pages which add no value to the internet and aim to ‘manipulate search results’.

E – Excessive

Excessive is a word which is used often by Google (excessively?). Excessive ads on a page, excessive link exchanges, excessive keywords. Defining the actual value of excessive is not black and white, it depends on the page or the site. What is excessive to some pages might be perfectly okay to others and so it is hard to say excessive = >5, or = >10. A rule of thumb maybe is that if you think it could be excessive, then it probably is.

F – Feeds

Feeds can refer to RSS feeds which contain web content which you can view in a  feed reader. This make keeping up with any number of sites very easy as you don’t have to visit every single once each day to check if they have published new content.

I also refer to feeds in the context of exporting and uploading product data to third party sites, like Google merchants.

G – Guidelines

Webmaster Guidelines are produced by Google (and bing). They are valuable to read so you can keep in mind what Google are looking for in a website. Though, that is not to say you should make a site to ‘please Google’. Instead the hopeful aim would be to make a site which would please your visitors whilst not using tactics that fall foul of the Webmaster Guidelines.

H – HTTP Headers

Along with the page content that you see when browsing a web page., http headers are sent which can give technical details about the page. Search Google for a [http header check]  and you will find websites where you can put your page url and see what other information is being sent. Live pages should return a status of 200 and dead pages should be 404. You can configure http headers to send lots of useful information, like noindex tags or canonical tags. (see X – X Robots Tag)

I  – Index

Index, indexed and indexing are all related to having your pages in the search results. You can see an overview of  your indexed pages by doing a site search in Google. [site:domainname] Pages can be crawled by Google and not indexed for various reasons, such as a noindex tag, canonical tag, or if they are very similar to other pages on your site. So crawling does not always equal indexing. On the other hand, pages can be indexed even if they have never been crawled by Google. Most likely this would be because the page is blocked from crawling by a robots.txt file but Google has still found reference to it elsewhere.

J – Juice

I struggled for a J and decided on a Juice as being a well recognised slang term for pagerank. Pagerank is one of the factors that Google uses when ranking websites. The more quality links which you have pointing to your site, then the more page rank you may have. Links which have no value themselves cannot pass pagerank.

K – Keywords

Keywords can be important words on a page which describe your content. They can be found anywhere, within the title, description or alt tags. Some use a meta-keyword tag to put keywords in, but Google does not use this tag. Not all at. You can test this by making a meta-keyword tag and putting in some whacky random words and phrases and searching for your page after it has been crawled. You will see that it is 100% ignored by Google.

L – Linkbuilding

Link Building is the work of getting links pointed to your site. Though caution is needed as it is not the quantity of links which will count, but the overall quality. The best links to ‘build’ are not ones solely for the search engines to find, but ones which aim for site visitors and traffic. In that sense, linkbuilding is better thought of as ‘marketing’

M – Marketing

Marketing is something that you do generally need to think of when launching a website. Try and forget the idea that traffic will just come to your site and convert to sales or leads . Yes, some sites do have the exact right content or product on which means that after launch, the site will  ‘market itself’ but many sites do not. How are you going to get visitors, where are they going to come from, what search terms will they use to look for your type of content, who are your competitors, what do you have that sets you apart from the rest ? These are just some of the sort of questions you need to be asking yourself whilst deciding your marketing strategy.

N – Noindex, Nofollow

Noindex and Nofollow are tags which you can put in the head area of your page to instruct friendly search engines to either not index the page, or not to follow the links on the page. You might have noindex on pages which are of no value in search results and you might place nofollow on pages which have any amount of untrusted links. With nofollow, you can place this on a per link basis. The default for any web page is index and follow. This means you don’t have to specify the defaults like ‘index, follow’ as the ‘index’ & ‘follow’ elements are already assumed.

O – Optimisation

Optimisation, as in search engine optimisation has many different definitions depending on what angle you approach it from. You can get a good overview by reading Google’s SEO starter guide. Good on-page optimisation would include writing your content in a way that your target users can easily understand and include the words within the text which users would input when looking for your type of content.

P – Penalty (Google)

In the current climate of Panda and Penguin I would argue that actual penalties imposed are preferable to algorithmic adjustments, which Panda and Penguin are. This is because a penalty imposed by the web spam team is a manual action, (Indeed, they prefer to call penalties ‘manual actions’ instead of penalties) and you can fix the problem and appeal the penalty and have it lifted. With penguin and especially panda, things aren’t so clear.  Finding and solving the problem can take so months leading into years with no guaranteed success at the end. In many cases, it is easier to get a new domain name and start again.

Q – Query

Queries, search queries can be found in webmaster tools and some can also be found in google analytics. Historically, the search terms used to find and click on your site would have been recorded in full in analytics, but Google now blocks most of them (referrers) and instead shows them as ‘not provided’  Still, using both webmaster tools and analytics, you can get a good idea of how people are finding your site.

R – robots.txt

A robots txt file is used to block Google from crawling your pages, as above under I – Index, blocking Google from crawling your site does not mean that it won’t be indexed. You can also enter the location of your sitemap in the robots.txt file and Google will act on that. A good use of a robots.txt would be to stop google from crawling infinite pages, like calendar or search pages.

S – Sitemaps

Sitemaps, not every site needs a sitemap. But as they are so easily made, it is something well worth doing. Not only does it let Google know what urls are on your domain, but also you can see in Webmaster Tools how many are indexed. It can also be helpful to split up your sitemap according to your website (eg by category/date/topic) and that way webmaster tools would tell you how many urls are indexed in each section.

T – Title

Title, the page title was once arguably the most important on page SEO element. The title text shows in the browser bar, in search results and also can show when other sites or applications link to the page. Ideally the title should be relevant to the overall page content, about 70 characters overall and contain words relevant to the search you hope the page would return for, whilst not being spammy.

U – URL

URL – uniform resource locator, in layman’s terms means a link. For example, the url of firepages would be www.firepages.co.uk If someone asks you for the URL of the page you are looking it, then you can see it in the address bar of the browser.

V – Verification

You can verify a website in Webmaster Tools and see indexing data there. Verification will prove that you own the domain and so have the authority to see the data.

W – Webmaster

A webmaster is simply someone in charge of a website! There is no popular female version like ‘Webmistress’. A webmaster’s duties can be very varied, from publishing the actual content on the site, to ensuring the site is compliant with Google’s best practises and promoting the site. Depending on the website, this work can take an hour or so a week to a full time job for more than one person.

X –  X-Robots Tag

An X-Robots tag can be sent with a website’s http headers. This can be very powerful. It can direct robots not to index certain files or certain types of files and as well as noindex, you can also specify other tags like nofollow, nosnippet, canonical and so on.

 Z

Z –  I couldn’t’ think of anything relating to seo which began with a Z. I thought of z-index, but that is more to do with coding. Can you think of anything seo related which begins with a Z ? if so, I would love to know.

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