SEO is complicated, isn’t it? Especially if you’re just starting out and aren’t familiar with all the technical lingo. It’s like learning another language!!! But it doesn’t have to feel so overwhelming. So I’ve compiled a list here of SEO Terms Explained! I’ll try to keep it simple.
These terms will help you use SEO for your small business! If you’re trying to make sales online, SEO is really the best way to do so. Plus, a lot of other small businesses don’t understand Search Engine Optimization, so you’ll have a leg up if you can optimize your website. Check out a few of my other posts and my SEO Playlist on YouTube to get started with some actionable tips after you read through this glossary of SEO terms.
Search Engine Optimization! You might know this one already, but this is the process of helping your website communicate with search engine algorithms so they know what questions your site answers for users.
Basically just a search term. Anything someone searches. It can be something simple like “Banana” or more complex like “What’s the right way to peel a banana”? (PS: that second one may surprise you!
Importance to SEO: search engines basically operate on keywords alone, so understanding them is pivotal to understanding SEO.
SEO ranking refers to where your content shows up on the search results page for a certain keyword. For instance, if you search the word “banana” the first organic (non-ad) result is Wikipedia’s page on Bananas. That means they rank #1 for that keyword. Google ranks web pages that they think are most likely to answer the searcher’s question higher, and those that are less likely, lower.
Importance to SEO: 28.5% of Google users click on the first organic (non-ad) search result! That’s pretty insane. So getting to that top spot for keywords that drive business for your company is valuable as heck.
The number of times a certain word or phrase is searched, usually in a month.
Importance to SEO: When it comes to keyword research, search volume is how you determine which words and phrases you want to rank for! Ideally, you’ll find a balance between something with a good amount of search volume but not much competition.
Search traffic that isn’t from paid Google Ads.
Importance to SEO: SEO is all about bringing FREE organic traffic to your business.
SEO Crawlers aren’t as creepy as they sound! A crawler is what a search engine sends out to scan your website, reading its metadata, content, image tags, URL structure, and a lot more.
Importance to SEO: Crawlers aren’t human! So you have to help them read your site in a way that makes sense to them, not just to you.
When Google sends out crawlers to scan your website, they put it into certain categories based on what they find. They say “Hey, her website is about wedding invitations and running art businesses”. Then they determine how you’re going to rank on those subjects based on how valuable your content is or how well it answers certain search queries.
Importance to SEO: If your site isn’t being indexed properly (or at all) you won’t show up correctly in search results.
What is a SERP? A SERP is a Search Engine Results Page. It’s what comes up on Google when I type something in!
Importance to SEO: You want to rank high on these! These are also useful tools to see what is currently ranking for keywords that you’re interested in targeting.
Backlinks are any links to your website or individual pages from other websites.
Importance to SEO: A backlink shows that your page is valuable enough to be shared or linked elsewhere, so it will help your ranking. Any connections you can make on the internet, especially to better-known sites, will help you.
A user can designate the links on their site to be “no-follow” which means that SEO Crawlers see a big stop sign and don’t go to see what’s beyond that link. An example would be a wedding blog that constantly links to vendor websites – they will designate those as no-follow links because there are so many on their site.
Importance to SEO: No-follow links don’t hold as much (if any) value to your SEO ranking. You may also utilize them if you’re linking to a page that you don’t really want to be associated with from an SEO standpoint.
Authority refers to how respected your website is by search engines. The scores are 1-100 so for example Google, Apple, and YouTube all have scores of 100 currently. Page authority is this score for an individual page, whereas domain authority is for your entire domain.
Importance for SEO: First, websites with better authority rank higher. So you want to increase yours by being reliable, answering questions people have, and not trying to trick search engines to rank you higher. Time, backlinks, shares, etc. also help. Secondly, if you get backlinks from a domain with higher authority than you, it can help your SEO. Paying attention to authority is a good strategy when looking out for partnerships!
First, it’s a big no-no. This is the practice of just shoving a bunch of keywords on a page. People used to do it in the background color so you couldn’t see it. Algorithms are smarter now than they were then.
Importance to SEO: Just don’t do it. Natural writing is better!
The word “Content” when you’re talking about SEO means a web page, blog post, video, etc.
Importance to SEO: Content typically refers to text, not images, and is something that can be crawled and indexed for your website’s ranking.
The number of times your page shows up on the SERPs for a certain query. However “shows up” could be on the 20th page.
Importance to SEO: Impressions improving is generally a good thing, as it means more people have a chance to see your work.
The number of times your page is clicked on from the SERP (pretty self-explanatory).
Importance to SEO: Whereas impressions show the quantity of search results you’re shown in, clicks show how relevant those impressions are. If you work on getting your impressions up only, then sure, you might be shown to a lot more people, but clicking is what you really want them to do. I’d trade 10 more impressions for 1 more click any day.
What does CTR mean for SEO?
Click-through rate. This is the percentage of clicks you get compared to impressions.
Importance to SEO: A high CTR shows your content is really enticing to search users. Your CTR will vary for different pages and keywords, and should be highest for your most relevant keywords.
The rate at which people leave your page without interacting with anything else on your site. If they don’t click a link, buy, sign up for an email, etc. before they leave then they’re considered to bounce!
Importance to SEO: In general, you want a low one. How to lower yours? Provide a clear call to action on every page so users know to click, sign up, buy…just do SOMETHING before they leave. Also, bounce rate is indicative of if the person’s search query was answered by your page. If you are ranked high for a popular query, but your page doesn’t actually help those users, the search engines will see that when they bounce and bump you down.
The page that a user first comes to your website on is referred to as their “landing page”. Some people also use the term to describe a page that’s main purpose is to attract users to your site.
Importance to SEO: This is the page that they first interact with your site. If you see lots of people landing on a certain page, make sure you have clear calls to action or incentives to keep them on your domain!
The last page a user is on before leaving your website.
Importance to SEO: Everyone has to leave sometime, so don’t get too down. Some pages are meant to be exit pages (order confirmation pages, for instance). But if users are consistently leaving from a page, maybe ask yourself why? What on that page is encouraging them to leave? What can be done to get them to stay on your site?
A link to another page on your domain.
Importance to SEO: Keeps users on your website longer!
A link to a page on a different domain.
Importance to SEO: Helps build credibility and authority, as well as connections between your site and other sites on the internet.
The amount of time a user spends on your web page before leaving.
Importance to SEO: In theory, you’d want this to grow over time, or be high from the beginning. It shows search engines that users are finding the answers they’re looking for and are interested in that page. However, some pages aren’t meant for this so think critically about the purpose of your pages.
How well a user can interact with your website.
Importance to SEO: You must have a good user experience to keep people on your site after they click. If it’s easy for viewers to find what they’re looking for, then that will give crawlers a positive sign for SEO. If it’s confusing for viewers – they’ll bounce and your rankings will eventually go down.
Three measurements about the user experience on your website, specifically: how quickly your page loads, how quickly your page can respond to user input, and how stable the content is as it loads in the browser.
Importance to SEO: In June of 2021, these vitals started to be counted for SEO. They’re all about how your users are going to experience using your website, so we want to make that as great of an experience as possible!
Data about data. In the context of SEO, metadata tells crawlers what your site or page is about. You can often change this on a page level on your website’s back end.
Importance to SEO: If you don’t put in the metadata, Google will choose it for you. This can make preview text and page titles that aren’t enticing to users, or aren’t accurate to your site. Use the metadata to convince users to click on your page!
A brief description of your page that shows up under the title on a SERP. The black sentence text in the photo below. You can generally change this on individual pages from your website’s back end.
Importance to SEO: Helps search engines (and users) see what your page is about.
The title of your page as it shows on a SERP. The blue/purple text in the photo above. You can generally change this on your website’s back end.
Importance to SEO: Very important for that page’s SEO. It should include your main keyword or keyphrase for that page.
URL STRUCTURE – What is URL Structure?
Did you know that your URL has a role in SEO as well? URL structure refers to the literal structure of the URL.
Importance to SEO: If your pages are named yourwebsite.com/329929finaldraft_website2 then crawlers will have a hard time figuring out what the page is about. Something like yourwebsite.com/about-the-author is easier for them to understand.
Basically, metadata for images that tells search engines what the image is about. An “alternate” description for the image, if you will. You can edit this when you upload the images, for most popular website platforms.
Importance to SEO: Crawlers can’t read images. So you need to tell them what’s in the image in order for them to appropriately index it.
A heading is at the beginning of a paragraph, and tells you what that section of your content will be about. Headings show a hierarchy in your content, and can be accessed by using “H1, H2, H3…” text formatting on your website.
Importance to SEO: Headings give your content hierarchy and show what each section is about. The help crawlers quickly scan your page for the most important takeaways. They also help accessibility readers scan your page.
The general text on your page that’s not heading text. This sentence is paragraph text.
Importance to SEO: Paragraphs are the main body of your text. They aren’t especially important, but you’ll want around 250+ words per page minimum to give the crawlers enough context to index your page.
A free tool that you can use to measure your search results, provided by Google. It will show you all the different queries you’re ranking for.
Importance to SEO: Well, you have to keep track of your results, or else this is pointless! Using Search Console will help you get better at SEO.
Another free tool Google provides. This one provides a lot more data but not about search specifically. You’ll be able to see bounce rate, landing and exit page statistics, and learn about how people are using your website.
Importance to SEO: This is more important for overall user experience than SEO directly, but you’ll need this data to see what you’re doing well, and what you need to improve, to get users to buy from you.
I have an intro course on how to use both of these tools to increase your sales if you want to check it out!
I hope explaining these SEO terms helped you understand the world of SEO better. They can feel pretty technical, but the basic idea of SEO is that you want to help Google understand what your product or service does for people. That way, when someone searches for that need, Google knows to show your site as a possible solution!
After you understand some of these terms, read this blog post for How SEO Works for Business! It’ll give you some strategies to start ranking higher on your ideal keywords. Also check out the video below for some really simple, low-hanging fruit when it comes to SEO for your website.
Read more of our blogs and watch our SEO playlist on YouTube to learn more about getting more clients and leads through SEO.
Hi, I'm Laney!
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I make wedding invitations and I teach artists how to work smarter, make money, and run a business that works for you.