You know you need your SEO consultant since 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results and you have no idea how to get there.
Trouble is, you have no idea what they’re saying 75% of the time.
We can help with that. Here are a few (decoded) SEO terms that your consultant has been throwing at you, and what to do with them.
Also known as search engine results pages.
Open up Google, type in a search, and hit Enter. The page that appeared is a SERP.
These are generated every time you type a query into Google or other search engines using the search engine algorithm and your specific keywords.
Every SERP is unique–even the same search completed two hours apart. This is because search engine algorithms customise the search experience for their users based on a wide range of factors beyond just the search term itself.
Some examples include previous search history, geographical location, and social settings.
They also fluctuate constantly due to constant modifications to search algorithms and ever-evolving SEO technologies.
In short? It’s a lot more complicated than keywords.
Sitemaps, Indexing, and Web Crawling
Basically, these are the tools that search engines use to find your site and rank it.
It all begins with a sitemap, which is a file you use to tell search engines about the organisation of your website. This is important because it tells web crawlers how to crawl your site.
Web crawlers are exactly what the name implies: an Internet bot that crawls web pages to collect data so that the pages and the site can be indexed.
The Google Search index is a lot like the index at the back of a textbook if your textbook was billions of web pages long. Here’s how it works (dramatically simplified).
A crawler crawls through each page of your site individually based on a list of web addresses garnered from previous crawls, as well as the sitemap you provide.
Once a crawler has collected all the relevant information from a web page, it will add the page to the Search index for all of the relevant entries–for example, all the keywords you optimise for.
What is anchor text?
Let’s say you have a link. Like the one above, for example.
Because this is a functioning link, clicking on it will take you to another web page, sort of like following the chain of an anchor back up to the boat attached to it.
Anchor text is simply the text that link is applied to–in this example, the phrase, “What is anchor text?” Search engines use it to determine the relevancy of the page being linked to.
It’s a big scary word your SEO consultant has tossed around several times. Think of it this way.
A search engine is reading your page in order to decide how to display it in search results. Part of how it does this is by reading the URL.
If you have multiple URLs going back to a single page of content, the search engine will get confused.
Canonicalization is simply the process of telling a search engine which URL to choose when something like this happens.
In other words, the thing that makes the search engine tick.
In maths and computer programming, an algorithm is a set of rules to be followed for the best results. Search engine algorithms are similar–it’s what search engines use to rank a website as number one, two, etc – but not quite.
Despite what you might think, a good search engine doesn’t give you results by finding the best match to your query. Instead, it gives you the best answer to your underlying question.
Teaching an algorithm how to do that is complicated, which is why Google’s algorithm is approximately 20 miles of nightmare-inducing code.
It’s also semi-secret, and it’s constantly being updated–Google makes thousands of algorithm updates every single year.
This is why you pay your SEO consultant good money to help you make sense of it all.
Organic Ranking vs Paid Search
SEO specialists like their ranking the same way you like your bananas: organic.
To put it simply, an organic ranking is what you’re paying your SEO consultant for. It’s ranking that occurs “naturally”, in that search engines find you of their own accord and rank you well, though in reality there’s not much that’s natural about it, considering how much time and effort you invest in SEO strategy to get there.
Paid search is when you pay to have your website ranked in the top few positions above the organic rankings. You’ve seen them because they have a little ad sticker next to the title, and you’ve probably scrolled past them a million or so times.
SEO specialists tend to emphasise organic ranking for exactly this reason–most people scroll right past paid search results.
Finally, link building, which is an integral part of your SEO strategy.
To make a long story short, link building is an SEO strategy designed to use internal and external links to acquire backlinks, which are basically SEO gold.
Let’s say you’re doing an article with a list of recipes. This list includes links to recipes by various cooking blogs.
For those cooking blogs, the links you put in your article are backlinks.
Or, for you, a backlink is when another site links to a piece of your content.
Backlinks are SEO gold because they provide authority, which Google loves to see. But here’s the catch: you can’t wave a magic wand and get backlinks. You have to put in the time to make quality content so that other people pick it up.
Alright, you can cheat and buy backlinks, but Google’s Webmaster policy expressly forbids it, and if Google finds out you bought backlinks, they can blackball your site (hint: Google’s getting smarter at spotting them every day).
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