An SEO expert has many facets. To make Google (and your readers) love your website, you must first understand what it is and the essential tactics.
You might find it overwhelming if you’re new to SEO since there are so many terms to learn.
It is good news that you don’t have to know everything to start climbing to the first page of Google. To create quality, optimized content, you need to know the basics.
SEO Terms you Should Know
To help you become a master at optimizing your content, there are a few top SEO terms you should know about. Read on to discover what each one means and how they can play a role in boosting your ranking in the search results.
Alt text (alternative text) is also known as “alt attributes” or “alt descriptions.” Essentially, it describes the appearance and function of an image featured on a webpage.
You see anchor text all the time when browsing the web, but you likely didn’t know there was an official term for it. Anchor text is any text you see on a web page with a hyperlink. When readers click on the anchor text, they’ll be redirected to the page you’ve linked to. Simple!
Have you ever left a comment on someone’s blog post and included a link back to your website? Well, that’s called backdoor linking. Another way to backdoor linking is to get your site listed on some online directory. The great thing about this practice is that it can be an easy way to generate more traffic for your website. However, when doing this, make sure you’re actually providing value and not just adding a link because you can.
As you begin diving into the world of SEO, you’ll likely come across someone referring to “black hat SEO.” This term refers to tactics people will use to increase the ranking of their website or a specific webpage while also violating the terms of service set by a search engine. Examples of black hat SEO tactics include keyword stuffing, hidden text, doorway pages, cloaking, paid links, and misleading redirects.
Using these tactics yourself could get your site banned from all search engines, blocking you from receiving organic traffic. This is something you should avoid doing as a creator and marketer.
As your website grows and becomes filled with more content, sometimes pages can become duplicates or near-duplicates of each other. And as Google reminds us, we want to avoid creating duplicate content. When you have two very similar pages, search engines don’t know which one to rank. In this situation, you would choose a preferred URL to send traffic to, which is the canonical URL.
“Domain authority” is one of the top SEO terms these days. Since its creation, several other SEO tools have created their authority metric. For example, it’s something that SEMrush features as well. This term essentially refers to the quantity and quality of links a website receives and then creates a score accordingly.
A website or a webpage created to rank for specific, similar search queries is considered a doorway link or a doorway page. When someone searches for this query, they may wind up discovering multiple similar pages in their search results. This is ultimately unhelpful since this person winds up getting directed to the same destination multiple times, making it difficult for them to find the quality content they’re looking for.
Headings (or headers) make your content more accessible for people to digest. They break blog content into sections and offer a navigational cue to what’s coming up next. However, did you know that headings do more than improve the overall experience for those reading your content? They play a role in your SEO ranking, especially since Google’s Hummingbird algorithm in 2013.
Inbound links are those links coming from another website back to your website. You’ll be able to find those links by diving into your analytics and discovering your top traffic referrals. If your site receives a lot of inbound links from reputable sites, it can potentially give you a boost in search engine rankings. Plus, all of that extra referral traffic doesn’t hurt either!
An internal link sends someone from one page to another on the same website. Its primary purpose is to keep visitors on your site for as long as possible, as it encourages them to explore more of your content. Links featured in a navigation bar are considered internal links since they promote other pages of your site. You can also add internal links to your blog posts to direct readers to more related content for further reading.
This may be the essential SEO term for beginners because keywords play a significant role in your content creation. Doing keyword research comes before writing a blog post or web page’s content.
Building off that last term, we have something known as keyword density. This refers to the number of times your focus keyword appears in your copy compared to the number of total words that page contains. Many experts suggest aiming for a keyword density of around 1–2%. This means you would incorporate your focus keyword one or two times per 100 words.
A long-tail keyword is a longer, more specific phrase that people search to help them find the content they’re looking for. Typically, a long-tail keyword features three or four words. By using a more specific phrase, you’ll likely encounter less competition, thus giving you a better chance to rank at the top of the search results.
To put it simply, a meta description summarizes the contents of your page. It tells both readers and search engines what they can expect to find when viewing your content. This information will appear beneath your blog post or webpage title in search results. It’s wise to communicate the benefits your content offers the reader while also compelling them to click to read more.
You’re probably used to hearing the word “organic” being paired with things like fresh produce. However, it’s commonly used in the SEO world as well. Whenever you read about someone discussing their organic ranking in the search results or organic traffic, they’re talking about results that were earned. These results were not influenced by paid advertising.
An inbound link sends traffic to your website, while an outbound link sends traffic from your site to another. While outbound links aren’t necessarily going to do much for your site’s SEO, they’re still great to include. They allow you to link to sources to back up your claims while also providing more content for your readers to consume.
Similar to domain authority, page authority is also one of the top SEO terms developed by Moz. While domain authority references how an entire domain will rank in search results, page authority focuses on a particular page within an environment. Again, this isn’t a factor that Google considers when choosing which pages to rank in their search results. Instead, it provides information that you can use as a marketer. The higher the page authority score, the greater your ability to rank.
Next on our list of SEO terms for beginners is an acronym that you probably see a lot but may not know the meaning of. SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page. This refers to the page with results whenever you Google something. Creators are constantly working on getting their content to the very top of the SERPs to generate more traffic for their website.
A sitemap is helpful for a website because it improves how search engines crawl your site and its data. Essentially, a sitemap lists the pages, videos, and any other files that are included on your website. It can also provide valuable information to Google about your content, such as when a page was last updated.
Sometimes referred to as “page titles,” the title tag is an HTML indicator allowing you to provide a title for your website. This will appear in the browser tab alongside the name of your website, and it will be visible on the search engine results page. It plays an essential role in organically ranking your website since it gives you the opportunity to tell visitors and the search engine what your site is all about.