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Episode 212: The Ultimate Glossary of SEO Terms Explained

Digital marketing is a huge field, encompassing several fields of study and changing all the time. And like with any technically-heavy field, digital marketing comes with its own lingo that’s used among industry members. Here we’ll start delving into those terms and what they mean to digital marketing professionals. That way, when someone starts spitting out SEO slang, you’ll know what they’re talking about.

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Here’s the terms covered in the A-D Videos Above

Above the Fold

 On a website, anything above the fold is sitting high enough on a page that you don’t need to scroll down to see it. This is what your site’s visitors are going to see first, so anything that’s important to that page’s purpose (making a sale, getting a visitor’s contact information, etc.) should be above the fold.

The term is derived from newspapers (remember those?), because when a newspaper is folded in half, you can only see the most important headlines and content up top.

The Google algorithm 

Every algorithm is a set of mathematical rules that a computer must follow to solve a particular problem. For digital marketing experts, there is only one algorithm that matters – Google’s search algorithm.

Its search algorithm is what Google uses to determine where to rank a particular page or site. It includes hundreds of factors, all weighted differently to prioritize important site elements. For example, quality backlinks and quality content are major factors in Google’s search algorithm, so they are weighed heavily relative to less important factors.

AMP pages

An Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) is a page served up to mobile devices, and specific AMPs can be built for a variety of mobile devices. The idea behind AMPs is that they’re better optimized for mobile devices and so they load faster. However, it’s important to serve the same content for your desktop users and AMPs, to avoid issues with multiple page versions.

AMPs are not the same thing as pages that use responsive design. Such pages alter their layout as the size of the browser window changes, while AMPs do not.

Analytics

When seo experts talk analytics, they’re usually referring to Google Analytics, though there are other analytics-based plugins that can serve the same purpose.

With analytics, site owners can monitor the amount of traffic their site is seeing and where that traffic is going. This information can be used to improve underperforming parts of the site. 

Author authority

 Authority is a big deal to Google, and you can think of it as an analogue to trust in the digital marketing world. Anything with authority, whether it’s your domain, your brand or the author who puts your content together, will gets a ranking boost from Google. That’s because Google considers expert voices to be more relevant to users searching for answers allied to that expert’s field.

 Producing expert content under a particular author’s name is one way to build that author’s authority and give them a ranking advantage when they produce additional content.

Anchor text

 Anchor text are the words used in a clickable link on one of your pages. On a page about winter clothing, for example, there may be a link to page that has winter hats for sale. The text used in this link could be “winter hats” for example, and that would be anchor text for that link.

Anchor text is most relevant for internal linking purposes, and it can be used to establish relevant connections between pages on your site. Ideally, your anchor text will be short and highly relevant to the target page without overdoing it with keywords loading.

Backlinks

Backlinks are a vital element of SEO and one of the most heavily weighed factors in Google’s search algorithm.

Backlinks are links from other websites that point to your site. You can think of them as endorsements for your own site, so every backlink boosts a site’s authority and establishes relevance in its industry. Backlinks vary greatly in their influence. Backlinks from established authorities (chambers of commerce, media agencies, major brands in your industry, etc.) have more positive influence on your site’s SEO.

Black hat SEO

 Black hat SEO is the term given to SEO tactics designed to exploit aspects of Google’s search algorithm. Leveraging private blog networks for linking purposes is one example. Buying links is another. Keyword stuffing is yet another. Cloaking (serving one version of a page to a human user and another to a crawlbot) is another black hat strategy.

These tactics occasionally win immediate results for a website, but they eventually cause more harm than good. It’s possible to get a site blacklisted for good with extensie black hat SEO usage.

Bounce rate

A page’s bounce rate refers to the proportion of site visitors that immediately leave a page upon loading and return to Google. A high bounce rate is a sign that there’s something wrong with a page. It could be a loading speed issue, a navigation issue or a content quality issue – but if a high number of visitors are bouncing off a page, Google assumes something’s wrong.

Breadcrumb trail

If breadcrumbs are enabled, every page will have a small navigation aid that helps users know where they are relative to the rest of the site. As users navigate deeper into the site, breadcrumbs show them where they’ve been and allow them to easily jump to a higher domain level.

Crawlers (also terms crawl bots, spiders or Google bots)

 

Google uses a crawlers to discover, explore and analyze new web pages as they are published online. During a crawl, the spider scans any page it can and follows any links on that page. This process allows Google to understand the site’s navigation, structure and content.

It’s extremely important that Google be able to efficiently crawl your website, as this is the only way to get indexed and be considered for ranking purposes.

404 pages and 301 redirects

A 404 error is the universal error for a page that can’t be found. You’ll usually see this in the form of an error message, though some sites have their own custom 404 pages for a better user experience.

Ideally, your site will be free of 404 errors. Using simple 301 redirects can prevent users from seeing 404 errors and bouncing off your site as a result.

Caching

Caching is an older online concept, though it’s still relevant to an extent. When a user arrives at a website, some of that site’s data is stored on the user’s end. When that user returns to the site, the site loads much faster as the browser can pull from the cached data instead of making a ton of content requests to the server.

Caching can als be handled through content delivery networks (CDNs). CDNs are geographically networked servers that contain cached data for a website. When a user visits the site, cached data from the nearest CDN is pulled, optimizing loading speed and responsiveness.

Citations

 

Citations are references to your company’s name, address and phone number. Citations are found in a variety of locations online, such as industry directories and chamber of commerce sites. It is critical that your company’s citations are accurate, as Google uses them to verify the business’s information. If there are discrepancies, Google may report inaccurate information or ding your site’s ranking.

Content management system (CMS)

A CMS allows for easy creation and modification of content on a website. WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS, but there are others like Joomla and Hubspot.

With a CMS, it’s far easier for site owners to build pages, link them and add content to them without delving into the site’s code.

Content comment spam

Comment spam refers to comments placed on blogs, forums and other pages to direct traffic back to the spammer’s website. Comment spam frequently includes backlinks to help with this process, and it’s considered a black hat SEO approach to develop a site’s ranking profile. It’s also potentially harmful for site that’s being spammed, as these low quality backlinks reflect poorly on its link profile.

There are spambot filters, many available for WordPress, designed to block spammers from posting. Site owners can also sandbox their pages to intercept spam before it’s published.

Conversions

Every page has a conversion purpose. A product page attempts to convert visitors into buyers. An informational page may convert visitors by getting them to submit their e-mail address.

Generating conversions are the point of a business website, and how well you site converts (it’s conversion rate) depends on a lot of factors. The quality of the site’s navigation and content, for example, will influence a visitor’s behavior. If your site is designed and written well, it will convert better.

Core Vitals

Google’s Core Vitals are key performance metrics that Google uses as a significant ranking signal. The Core Vitals were established in Summer 2021 and include a page’s loading speed, responsiveness and visual stability.

Optimizing a site’s Core Vitals will improve its position on search engine results pages (SERPs) and the user experience (UX). As Google considers UX to be of utmost importance, it is critical for site owners to consider their Core Vitals.

Crawl budget

A website’s crawl budget determines how many and what pages a Google spider will crawl when it arrives at a website. Site owners can define their crawl budget to an extent, but other factors also play in. Those factors include a site’s loading speed and update frequency

Crawl errors

 When one of Google’s crawl bots run into problems while scanning a site, they will throw a crawl error. This error can affect a particular page or an entire website, and they’re usually the result of server communication problems or 404 errors. Crawl errors should be fixed as soon as possible, as Google will not index a site that’s producing them.

Direct traffic

Direct traffic refers to any traffic that arrives to a site without going through Google first. If someone arrives at site by punching in that site’s URL into the browser’s address bar, that’s direct traffic. If someone arrives at a site via a link (like in an e-mail), that’s also direct traffic.

If a website receives a lot of direct traffic, Google will boost that site’s authority. Google assumes that significant direct traffic means a site is popular.

Domain names

A website’s domain name is like its online address. Search engine users type a site’s domain name in to locate a site, so it should be easy to remember. Most websites include plenty of subdomains under the top level domain, and these subdomains are like branches off of a tree (the tree itself would be the top level domain).

Domain extensions (.com, .net, .org) are placed at the end of a domain name and were once intended to categorize websites by type. There are hundreds of domain extensions available, including extensions with country codes that allow site owners to target visitors in other countries. 

Domain authority

Domain Authority (DA) is a single, all-encompassing metric that measures how likely a website will rank well on Google’s SERPs. It’s represented using a number from 0 to 100, and though it’s not an official Google metric or ranking signal, it is inspired by Google’s PageRank algorithm.

DA can be monitored using an online DA checker through Moz, SEMRush and other digital marketing authorities. The most effective way to boost DA is to secure high quality backlinks, but DA is not equally important for every type of website. A local doctor or CPA, for example, can rank with a lower DA because their market may be less competitive. A digital marketing firm, though, will need a higher DA to rank because the field is highly competitive online.

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