If I had to guess, you’ve heard of SEO and know that it’s important but it seems like some “super-exclusive operation” and you can’t crack the code. Well, you’re in luck because I’m here to crack that code for you!
Today, I’m going back to the basics for SEO 101. I’ve put together a comprehensive list of the SEO terminology you’ll probably hear tossed around when referring to SEO. Understanding the basics and foundations is key, and knowing these SEO terms for beginners will help set you up for success.
So without further ado, let’s dive into it!
Alt text refers to the name of an image file. Images with alt text that describes what the image/content of the page is about help to improve SEO, whereas using IMG286739 gives users and Google no context as to what the image is. A person is not going to search for “.IMG286739” but they will search for “SEO terminology for beginners.”
AMP, or accelerated mobile pages is a “diet” version of your website. Unnecessary elements are trimmed down to improve site loading speed on mobile and rankings in mobile search results. AMP is only visible in mobile search results on Google.
Anchor text refers to the text in a sentence that is hyperlinked. It is the visible text that has a clickable link and is typically underlined. An example of anchor text would be this link to a blog post where you can learn the basics of SEO.
A backlink, also known as an inbound link, is a link on another site that directs a user to your site.
This once used now very spammy method of SEO involves using techniques to improve search results rankings through tactics that violate search engines’ terms of service. TL;DR – avoid black hat SEO at all costs.
A bounce rate is the number of website sessions that result in viewing only one page of a site. If a user lands on your website home page and does not make any secondary action, like visiting your blog or about page, that would count towards your bounce rate.
Sometimes duplicates happen. A canonical URL, or rel=canonical, lets search engines know which page is the original (aka the one with domain authority) and which is/are the duplicates.
CTR, also known as click-through rate, is the ratio of impressions to the number of clicks on your links and URLs.
Conversion rate refers to the ratio of the number of visits vs conversions. Conversions include things like completing a form, making a purchase, etc.
No, your website isn’t a baby learning to crawl. Crawling refers to the process by which search engines like Google discover and learn about your website. They look at all of the content and the code on the page and analyze it.
Domain rank or domain authority refers to a page’s ability to rank in search results.
Experienced, expert, authoritative, and trustworthy—4 essentials to be seen as having high-quality content that serves and helps the user’s intent.
Google Analytics is a free tool that allows you to see how people engage with your website.
Google Search Console is another free tool that allows you to see not only how your website and pages are ranking in Google search results, but also what queries or search terms people are using to find you.
This is a more advanced, yet free, service from Google that allows you to implement and manage multiple sets of tracking codes on your website.
Headings are an HTML element that allows search engines to understand the structure and flow of the content on your website. Heading tags range from H1 to H6, with H1 being the most important of them (ie: lower number = higher importance).
An easy way to increase the speed of your website is by compressing images into a small file size, while still maintaining their high quality.
Indexing, essentially the next step after crawling, refers to the process by which your website and/or web pages appear in search results.
A jump link is a link on a page that links to another section of the page. Anchor links are great for pages on your site that are very long scrolling and help the user “jump” to the specific section they are interested in.
Keywords are the ingredients to success with SEO. Without keywords, you don’t have an SEO strategy.
Keyword stuffing is a spammy method of trying to trick search engine algorithms in hopes of ranking higher in search results. Think black hat SEO…don’t do it!
Link building refers to the process of earning links to your website to help increase your website’s authority in search results.
Long-tail keywords are mini-phrases that a user types into a search engine to populate results. An example relating to this blog post would be “SEO terms to know.”
A meta description is a brief description, typically 1-2 sentences, that describes what your website or a specific page on your website is about. It is the brief blurb that shows up below the page title in search results.
Organic refers to any search results rankings that are earned and not paid advertisements.
Outbound links are exactly as they sound – links on your website that link out to other sites.
Similar to domain rank/authority, page rank/authority determines a page’s ability to rank in search results.
Page speed refers to how fast a page on your website loads. A faster page speed is best for user experience and for higher SEO.
The difference between HTTP and HTTPS is that HTTPS uses secure socket layers (SSL) to provide a secure site experience. HTTP is not secure while HTTPS is.
Ranking refers to the process by which search engines display results in relation to the search query.
Referral traffic refers to traffic sent to your site from another site. In Google Analytics, there is a dedicated section to view all of your referral traffic.
Responsive design refers to having your website mobile responsive aka it functions on desktop, tablet, and mobile.
Robots.txt files refer to the pages of your website that you do and do not want search engines to crawl.
SERP, also known as search engine results pages, is the page that appears after you conduct a search.
Search volume refers to the number of times a keyword was searched, typically in a month timeframe.
Scroll depth refers to how far down a page a user scrolls.
A sitemap is a file that provides information to search engines about the pages, files, images, etc on your website and the relationship between them. Search engines like Google can also see things like the last time a page was updated or how often a page is changed through a sitemap.
SSL, also known as secure sockets layer, is used to encrypt data between the user and your website. It provides a secure experience. ICYMI, all Squarespace websites come with an SSL certificate.
Time on page is as simple as that – the amount of time a user spends on a page on your website. If a user bounces after landing on your website, Google Analytics will track time as zero (0).
Title tags describe the topic or title of a web page. In search results, title tags are the larger blue font that is clickable that takes up one line of text. Title tags also show up in browser tabs and when links to your site are shared on social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn.
UTM, also known as urchin tracking modules, is a way to add a custom tag to the end of a URL. These custom tags allow you to specifically identify the source, medium, and campaign to gauge its success.
When a URL moves from one page to another, a 301 redirect is the method by which the website tells search engines about this change. It helps to pass on page rank/authority and build it for the new page.
Wow, that was a lot! If you are an SEO beginner, knowing and understanding key SEO terminology does take time…just like SEO does! Having a solid foundation of the basics of SEO will truly help immensely when you begin implementing your SEO strategy. Save this post to keep this list of SEO terminology handy!
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