Debunk the mysteries of SEO with our jargon buster
Strategic SEO is an extremely important digital marketing tool that can provide effective visibility for a business, as well as bringing increased traffic and credibility. It also has a particularly high return on investment, because good SEO practices allow you to get your desired content in front of your target audience immediately. So if you’re sat there in a keyword conundrum or in a muddle over meta descriptions, we’ve got everything you need right here to start guiding you through the wealth of jargon associated with SEO.
Index/indexed/indexation – This is the process where a search engine analyses the content of a website and includes it within its index. Alternatively, if a website’s content has not been indexed, this means it will not appear in any search results. The indexing itself is done by specific Google software, sometimes referred to as ‘spiders’ or ‘bots’.
Alt Text – Alternative Text is added to an image on a web page to offer web visitors a textual alternative to the visual information provided by an image. These semantic descriptions of images can help improve your SEO performance as it can attract additional traffic to your website through Google Images. It also helps search engines index your website correctly, which can increase the visibility of your website. When it comes to writing your ALT Text, keep descriptions concise and relevant – the longer the text the more difficult it will be for search engines to read it.
Keywords – These are particular words or short phrases that act as a summary of a web page’s contents, which searches are then matched against. Put simply, they are the most common words the majority of people will type in a search engine when they begin looking for something specific online.
Keyword density – This refers to the number of times a key word or phrase appears on a webpage in comparison to the page’s total number of words. Older techniques used to include placing your keywords within your website as many times as possible to generate traffic. However, you want enough keywords to be seen as an authority in a particular topic, but without it looking like you’re trying to tip the scales in your favour, which subsequently encourages a much more natural writing style and stops you getting penalised by Google. It’s also advisable to not have more than three keyword duplications on a page.
Track target keywords – Keywords can become less popular over time, so it’s important to track how many current keywords are being used, whilst also looking for new up-and-coming keywords, to ensure that your website is always being seen by the right people. There are various tools available that can track the success of keywords, but perhaps the simplest is to pair your keyword research with Google Ad’s and PPC (pay per click) campaigns. If a PPC term – black leather jacket, for example – is a popular phrase for those who are searching for clothes at the moment, then that’s probably a good term to be using for your SEO efforts as well.
H1 tags – Heading tags serve to divide your web pages into sections and are defined by ‘H’ tags. These ‘H’ tags range from H1-6, but your H1 headline is the most important as it sits at the top of the page and is subsequently where website visitors look first to try and ascertain what a page is about. Search engines are always on the prowl for the most relevant content, so you want to use your H1 header to show them they’re in the right place and improve your search rankings for your chosen keywords.
Meta descriptions – These are the short snippets of text that appear below the links of a search result. Their purpose is to concisely describe the contents of a web page to the website visitor to ultimately convince them to click through to their website. Meta descriptions are something that many companies often neglect, however, they are very important in gaining user click throughs from search engine result pages (SERP’s), which can result in new leads and customers. To write an effective meta description you should try to implement some form of ‘call-to-action’ or alternatively tell the searcher what they can expect by clicking on your link. You should also make sure that the content is relevant to your target audience, and, ideally, no more than 155 characters long.
URL structure – This is the first thing search engines consider when they analyse a website. You want to make sure that your URL’s are relevant to their content and use hyphens to separate words. Ensuring your URL structure is logical and clear will prevent content being missed by search engines, which can happen if your URL structure is too complex. It also makes the site easier to navigate for human users, for example: If you are on a website and want to get to the staff page, but can’t locate the button or want to go there directly, you should be able to make an informed guess that the site will be located at something like www.website.com/staff rather than www.website.com/£%Staff102314.
Internal linking strategy – Is the process of linking to other pages within your site to increase usability. It also establishes a hierarchy of information and helps distribute the success of high-ranking pages across your entire site.
Content – Good content is the best SEO. Producing high quality, unique content such as informative text, engaging blog posts or light-hearted videos will attract people to your website much more effectively than uploading dull or irrelevant content with multiple keywords and links. If your content is good, it should naturally include at least some of your relevant keywords, and once people are on your site, they’ll stay and read it, rather than immediately ‘bouncing’ back to Google.
Sitemaps, both XML and user facing – Sitemaps improve navigation of your website for both users and search engine bots. Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a language that defines a set of rules for encoding documents in a format that is both human-readable and machine-readable. The easier a site is to navigate, the faster search engines can index it, so it can be found easily. If you’re including a lot of content, you want to make sure that you have a good sitemap so that content can be indexed and recognised as quickly as possible. XML sites can be manually updated every time you make a chance, but it’s often more effective in the long run to automate the process.
Usability and accessibility – When you’re designing your website, put user experience at the forefront of your mind. Google wants to promote websites that provide the answers to your searches quickly and clearly. Therefore a site that offers intuitive navigation – with clearly labeled buttons and a logical, well structured layout – will rank far better on search engines than a website that is overcomplicated and buries information within layers of complex – and sometimes hidden, pages.