SEO Terms – What to Know
I’ve written from time to time about search engine optimization, or SEO, as it’s commonly known. SEO is about tweaking your site on a page by page basis to ensure that the search engines know exactly what each page or blog post is about. That’s great, but a lot of articles toss about SEO terms as though you should already know what they’re talking about. SEO terms aren’t that complicated, and there aren’t that many that are really important, so in this blog post I thought I’d discuss them.
It turns out that Google uses more than 200 factors to decide how to rank your site in their search engine rankings, or SERPS. That’s daunting, but a lot of those factors are pretty obscure and a few of them have to do with things you can’t easily control. In this post, I’ll cover the SEO terms that are of the most importance to the average or beginning Internet marketer. That way, you can become familiar with them and start to adjust them to get your site to rank a bit higher in the SERPS.
SEO Terms Explained
The most important SEO terms are the ones that concern “on page” ranking factors. These are the items that help Google and Bing decide what your page or post is about. The search engines can scan your site’s content, but they still aren’t to the point yet where they can really understand it. Instead, they look for some clues that might help them determine your page’s focus.
Of course, if you can help the search engines make their decision, then you’ll be better off. You don’t want them confused about the meaning of your site’s content, so it’s best if you take a few steps to make sure that they know exactly what your site is about.
Listed below are a few of the more common on page SEO terms that you should know about and be using on a regular basis in your blog posts:
ALT tag – When you post an image in your blog post, and alt tag is a place to insert text that identifies the image. If you have a photo of a dog on a leash for a dog training site but your photo is called 13435.jpg, the search engines can’t tell from the image title what the image is about and they certainly can’t look at the image and decide. The ALT tag spells it out explicitly:
<img src=”13435.jpg” alt=”dog training” >
In WordPress, you can see the ALT tag by clicking the text link in the upper right hand corner of your editing window. You should always be sure to include the ALT tag when uploading images. Ideally, you should also name your images more appropriately.
Backlink – Simply put, a backlink is a link to your site from another Website. The search engines pay attention to whose sites link to you and how many sites are linking to you. More is generally better, though it’s best to try to get people to link to you from sites that are within your niche. I’ve written about a good method for getting backlinks here.
Outbound link – While the search engines like to see links to your site, they also like to see links from your site. You’ll get the best results if you link to sites that are within your niche and are seen as authoritative; that is, sites that are more important than yours. It’s also best to keep the links contextual; that is, you want the links from keywords or phrases that are relevant to your page’s content. A good example of a site that usually works for just about anything is Wikipedia.
Nofollow link – When you link to another site, the search engines will “follow” that link to see where it goes. Part of Google’s ranking algorithm assigns a score to your site, and when you link to another site, a bit of your score goes to the site in the form of “link juice,” as it’s known. You don’t want too many outbound links on your page or site, as you’ll “lose juice.” It’s best to keep outbound links to a minimum, but if you want to link to a site without losing some of your site’s “juice,” then you can use a “nofollow” tag within the link like this:
<a href=”http://www.wikipedia.org” rel=”nofollow”>Read about dog training at Wikipedia</a>
Links are “do follow” by default, but if you use the “nofollow” tag, the search engines will generally disregard it. Don’t overuse this tag, or Google might think you’re trying to game the system.
Keyword density – Keyword density is about making sure that you use the primary keyword for your page or post often enough so that the search engines can figure out what your page is about. If the page is about dog training, then the phrase “dog training” should be used on your page roughly 2% of the time, or about 20 times per 1000 words. Don’t overdo it; that’s known as “keyword spamming” and it’s not seen as a good thing.
LSI keywords – LSI stands for “latent semantic indexing” and it’s a fancy way of saying “related keywords.” In addition to using “dog training,” for instance, you might also use phrases like “obedience training” or “dog behavior” or any one of a number of related terms that help reinforce the idea of what your page is about.
Keyword emphasis – In order to help drive the point home, it helps to emphasize your primary keyword or phrase as you use it throughout your page. You can do this by putting your keyword in bold one time, putting it in italics once, and using a single instance of the word being underlined. Once each is enough; again, you don’t want to overdo it. With once each in bold, italic and underlined, the search engines will figure it out.
Headline tags – In HTML, these are tags that look like this: <H1>. There are tags that go from <H1> to <H6>, though the last three don’t get used a lot. As with the emphasis above, it’s helpful to make sure that you put your page’s keyword or phrase in <H1>, <H2>, and <H3> tags once each on the page. By the time you’ve put the word or phrase in those tags and once in bold, italics and underlined, Google and Bing will have a pretty good idea as to what your page’s topic might be.
SEO Terms Summary
Obviously, there are more SEO terms than the few that I’ve listed here, but the ones listed here are fairly important and are easily put to use on a Website. Get in the habit of regularly using all of these things on your pages and you should find that your site begins to improve in the SERPS.