SEO Glossary of Terms
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a general term used to describe the science of improving your website’s position in online search results. When your potential customers execute a Google, Bing or Yahoo search, effective SEO will ensure that they see — and click on — your listing first.
The SEO process involves a multifaceted approach using a variety of tools and Internet marketing strategies, including content marketing, social media and website optimization.
If you’ve read much about SEO and online marketing, you may conclude that our industry uses a language all its own, full of obscure acronyms and jargon. To help you better understand some of our more commonly used terms, we have created a brief list of definitions and explanations.
If you have questions about any of these concepts or suggestions for other terms you would like to see added to our glossary, please contact us today!
This term describes the Google AdWords app, which is essentially an advertising platform designed to match advertisers’ products to users’ online search terms. AdWords, which uses a pay-per-click (PPC) pricing model, matches keywords or phrases relevant to your products with your prospects’ online search behaviors.
AdWords is a powerful and cost-effective tool for attracting new customers and growing your business, provided you understand how it works. You can learn more about Google AdWords and PPC advertising on our website.
This term describes any electronic text that serves as a link to another page. By embedding an HTML hyperlink in a relevant word or phrase, anchor text helps users navigate your website. This is also a powerful strategy for helping the search engines index all of your site’s pages.
Be careful, however, because Google will penalize you for irresponsible or overuse of anchor text, or for using it in random locations that don’t make sense in context.
This is a broad term for the data and statistics used to measure the success of your online marketing efforts. Analytics may refer to those stats you track yourself, or to the Google Analytics tool, a powerful app for tracking your site visits, click-through rates and other relevant data. It also may refer to social media analytics, which can leverage social platforms to help drive traffic to your website or landing pages.
Authoritative Websites or Sources
Google rates websites and online sources based on content quality, authoritative backlinks and referrals, and an ever-changing mélange of factors all used to determine trustworthiness.
For example, the New York Times and CNN are authorities on the news, while ESPN is the premier authority on sports topics. You can establish your site as an authoritative source — which improves your SEO by leaps and bounds — by implementing a comprehensive content strategy and by ensuring that your online content is factual, up to date and relevant to your prospects and customers.
The more authoritative Google deems you to be, the higher your site will rank in the search results.
Call to Action
A call to action, or CTA, tells your audience what to do next. This may be as simple as a contextual phrase (“Contact us today!”) or a graphic site element (a button, for example, labeled, “Click Here to Order”).
Using CTAs of any type will improve your conversion rate; however, the most effective calls to action use specific, actionable, clear, simple language. Check out our blog about creating effective CTAs.
Today, content is king in the Internet marketing world. This term refers to the use of fresh, engaging and professionally written text on your website, in your blog, on social media platforms and landing pages.
The goal of effective content marketing is to engage your prospects with beneficial and relevant information, but also to help increase your search engine rankings. Truly effective content makes it easy for your prospects to find you and builds loyalty for your brand.
This refers to converting a site visitor into a prospect (lead) or a prospect into a customer (sale). Every element of your website design, content strategy and online marketing should contribute to increasing your conversion rate in some way.
Conversion occurs most often when you engage your site visitors and keep them with you for as long as possible. The rate at which your online campaigns convert is the best way to judge the success of your marketing efforts.
Adding your company to every online business directory you could find was once the way of the world. Today, this approach can actually harm you. Google approves of well-curated online directories that have selective inclusion policies, but will penalize you in the search rankings for adding your site to multiple free-for-all directories that allow anyone to post.
Using a well-thought-out and responsible directory listing strategy, especially if you utilize local SEO, will improve your marketing efforts in a variety of ways.
A poor approach to directory listings, however, can — and will — hurt you in Google’s eyes.
Geographical targeting, or geo-targeting, is a strategy for optimizing content to appeal to your customers’ specific location. Google tries hard to match potential customers’ demographic information to businesses in their area, especially those with brick-and-mortar locations. With the rapid growth of mobile searches, appealing to your most proximate prospects is even more important today.
Using geographical targeting and local SEO also will help extend your marketing budget by ensuring that your information is seen by local prospects.
An inbound link (also known as a backlink) is a hyperlink to your website or a specific page on another website unrelated to yours. Inbound links also may be contained in directories, social media posts, blogs or online content such as press releases.
At one time, businesses were advised to beg, borrow or steal backlinks anywhere they could get them. Today, that strategy will hurt you. Google likes authoritative websites and sources and uses its Penguin 3.0 algorithm to measure the relevance of your inbound links.
Keywords and Key Phrases
Keywords and phrases are the heart of SEO and search engine marketing (SEM). Essentially, keywords are those terms that best describe your product or service offerings AND the ones that prospects are most likely to enter into search engines.
In the past, you may have been advised to cram as many keyword phrases into your content as possible (a despicable technique known as keyword-stuffing). Today, Google demands that we use these tools only in natural ways that make sense in context. Learn more about how to select the right keywords and phrases — and use them correctly — on our blog.
Local Search and Local Listings
These terms describe online searches and listings with geographical context or constraints. Users may enter a specific geographical target as a part of their search (for example, “plant nursery Salt Lake City”) or Google may infer a location from the user’s demographic data. Today, hyper-local SEO is an even more powerful approach to improving your search engine rankings.
This term refers to a way of designing your website so that it responds correctly to the type of device your customer uses to find you. The majority of Internet searches conducted today are done via mobile devices (typically a smartphone or tablet).
To ensure a great user experience, mobile optimization allows your site to be easily read and navigated by everyone. Today, unless you optimize your site for mobile users, Google will punish you in the mobile search rankings, so responsive website design is no longer an option if you have an online presence.
Organic Search Results
To improve your web page rankings in Google and other search engines, you can use AdWords or other pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, or you can rank high organically. This is achieved through implementing search engine optimization (SEO) techniques and a comprehensive content strategy based on strategic keywords and phrases. Organic search results turn up sites whose content best matches the user’s search terms, and not those that paid to be there.
PageRank or Page Ranking
PageRank refers to Google’s algorithm for evaluating your website, which determines where your site will fall on the search engine results page (SERP). Some of the factors Google considers when determining your page ranking include the number and quality of authoritative inbound links, the degree to which your site has been optimized for the search engine, and the quality, relevance and age of your site content.
Check out Be Locally’s SEO audit tool to determine how well your page ranks!
When used in the context of online marketing, a landing page is essentially a website that stands on its own, not directly connected to your main business website. While your website is designed to serve a variety of purposes, landing pages are created with a single objective in mind.
An effective landing page acts as a funnel of sorts, to help guide your prospects toward a desired action. Landing pages are designed for lead generation to offer your prospects something of value (for example, a free gift, coupon, e-book or complimentary consultation) in exchange for providing you with their contact information.
Another highly effective way to use landing pages is for improving conversions. If your prospect has the opportunity to learn and become excited about a specific product or service, they are more likely to make a purchasing decision as a result.
Pay-per-click (PPC) is a highly effective Internet advertising model designed to increase traffic to your website or landing page. Google AdWords is the most well-known — and one of the most of effective — PPC platforms.
When conducting a Google search, you may have noticed that the first few results are identified with a small, gold “Ad” symbol. These are the paid search results.
Advertisers identify specific keywords and phrases, and when someone searches for those terms, Google responds first with sponsored ads that best meet that criteria. If the searcher clicks on your ad, you (as the advertiser) pay a nominal fee to Google.
Designed and managed well, PPC is one of the fastest and most effective ways to build your business. Poorly designed and monitored PPC campaigns, however, can be a waste of your precious marketing dollars.
Online marketing experts spend years learning the secrets of effective PPC ad strategies, and many hours each day monitoring and modifying campaigns to achieve optimal results.
Search Engine Marketing
Search engine marketing (SEM) is an all-encompassing term used to describe the process of increasing the visibility, traffic and conversions of your company’s website.
Although the difference between SEM and SEO (search engine optimization) is subtle, it’s also profound. Effective search engine marketing strategies include SEO, but also pay-per-click advertising, content marketing, paid listings and a variety of other specialized techniques.
Whereas SEOs aim to increase your site’s visibility in online search engines, effective SEM will grow your business in a broad sense, and increase your bottom line.
You may also see the term search marketing (SM) from time to time. Search marketing typically refers to paid search engine advertising (such as pay-per-click programs). Other sources use the SEM with SM terms interchangeably.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) incorporates a variety of ever-changing strategies designed to get your website to the top of organic (non-paid) search engine results, increasing website traffic and improving conversions.
Google is arguably the best-known and most popular search engine; however, Bing, Yahoo and others also are important to consider.
Part art and part science, SEO strategies and techniques include keyword and key phrase research and identification; website optimization; local, global and e-commerce strategies; optimizing web copy, blogs and articles; social media, link-building and directory listings.
Search Engine Results Page
Online marketing specialists use SEO and SEM strategies to improve your website’s ranking on the search engine results page (SERP). Search engines like Google and Yahoo use sophisticated algorithms designed to provide searchers with the most relevant search results.
Google constantly scans the Internet, analyzing and evaluating all the websites it finds. Based on hundreds of factors (reputation, relevance, engagement, content freshness and more), some weighted more highly than others, Google’s analysis determines where your site will rank in response to a prospect’s search terms and location.
The higher your site’s SERP, the more likely your prospects are to click through to your site. Prospects are highly influenced by the first page of search results — few will go beyond the first page (or even the first few results) before making a choice.
Social Channels or Platforms
Social channels and platforms (often called social media) are networks that allow users to form virtual relationships. Businesses use social platforms to open meaningful dialogue and interaction with prospects and customers, and to create ongoing engagement with your brand.
Some of the most popular platforms include Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter and LinkedIn. Types of social channels include video (YouTube), still images (Instagram), customer reviews (Yelp, TripAdvisor), live streaming (Periscope), curating and bookmarking (Pinterest), microblogging (Twitter), personal networking (Facebook), professional networking (LinkedIn) and blogging.
Choosing the right platforms and channels for your business requires evaluating prospect profiles, competition and opportunity to determine the best values.