A Dozen Explanations of Search Engine Optimisation Terms
Here is a list of 12 SEO definitions which will hopefully explain what they mean and what they do. This will give you a basic understanding in the constant changing world of Search Engine Optimisation within which these terms remain fairly constant.
Algorithms – A search engine uses a very complicated mathematical formula to ‘rank’ websites for keyword searches. This is a very complex formula which is closely guarded by the search engines and is frequently updated and improved to make it virtually impossible to explain or decipher. Algorithms are probably the most secret of all features on the internet, should the algorithms be made public then it would be easy for webmasters to interpret the rules and thus manipulate the rankings and ruin the entire integrity of search engines like Google’s search results.
Bot or Bots – See also "crawlers"
Crawlers – These are complex robot file crawlers that periodically travel across the web like thousands of little intelligent bugs. They read websites identifying new pages and new sites to effectively identify what the pages are about and to index them in a huge database like a reference librarian. The Internet is like a gigantic reference library consisting of text pages, video, music, graphics all published on the internet and stored in servers all over the world. A Googlebot travels across these servers to index new pages, follow and count links and generally keep up to date with what has been published up on to the web as new pages and updates are being made constantly. When you go to search engines like Google and enter a search phrase or word the index ‘filters’ by using its own algorithm to best match what’s in its index to best match the searcher requested phrase and produces what it thinks best matches what the searcher is looking for. You must remember that the results you are seeing are what are in the search engines index and not the live web.
Directories – A directory can have several meanings but in terms of SEO a directory has been the term used for the creation of link farms where web developers could create a directory of links which the quick fix web developers used to promote clients websites to falsify the actual volume of genuine organicly created links. This method may have fooled the search engines for quite a while they certainly have taken steps to counter act such tactics with link farm directories.
Frames – Frames are one way of laying out a website like invisibly picture frames all side by side and on top of each other to make a matrix of shapes to include text and pictures just like a patch work quilt but with invisible stitching so that to the viewer they only see the content and not the frames all within one browser window. Essentially, there is one main document page which contains the frameset tag – this document specifies the dimensions and the placement of the frames and also the text and graphics that is intended to fill those frames. From a Search Engine standpoint the use of frames for your web page layout is not recommended. As frames do not use links in the same way as a non frames site page, and since the links they do use mainly point to one frame from another, they may cause obstacles and hurdles for crawlers to travel from one page of your site to another. If your site has been constructed with frames and you’re thinking that you don’t want to rebuild and you only want to engage the services of a new web company who are more conversant with SEO practices then be prepared. Any proficient web developer will and should tell you that your site needs to be re built as it’s almost impossible to really optimise a framed site effectively. So put it down to experience and get yourself a properly constructed coded website with a CSS-based layout without the hurdles and without the frames.
Gateway Pages – Also known as ‘doorway pages.’ These pages were created by web developers to rank well in search engines and were mostly created to play on the search engine algorithms. In other words, they are viewed as ‘spammy,’ and not really acceptable and on the fringe as ‘grey hat’ or even ‘black hat’ which is not acceptable at all to Search engines. If you are advised to have a gateway page or you have them already bear this in mind if they have been created purely for the slight manipulation or even deliberate manipulation of the search engines algorithms these pages won’t win you friends at the search engines. The difference between a page that has been well-optimized for search results and a ‘gateway page’ the quality of the content is probably the determining factor. In other words don’t have single pages out there acting as redirects to your main site unless they can stand up on their own as informative stand alone micro sites with their own unique content.
HTML – This stands for Hyper Text Mark-up Language and is the core basic language which has been the building blocks and foundations of the internet for the past decade since its inception in 1995. Search Engines Crawlers exclusively look at a web pages HTML code to read and determine the pages relevance. It is important for your website to have clear HTML tagging and to understand HTML tagging techniques if you are to get a good grounding in basic SEO practices.
Link Popularity – This the measure of your websites linking popularity within the web community and the quality of the inbound links coming into your website is a measure of your popularity and a measure to the search engines algorithm of your sites importance. This is measured by the number of links, the relevancy and most importantly the QUALITY of the links pointing back to your site from others. When one website publishes your web address and a short paragraph of description about your site this is a link back to you site. Links are often placed on link exchange pages and are not necessarily for readers to follow but more to show to the search engines crawlers that sites are linking to you and visa-a-versa.
Link Building – This is the process of actually developing link exchanges with other relevant sites to point a link back to yours
Link Baiting – This is allied to link building but is more specific to generating higher quality links by creating content that is particularly of great value to another website. If you have something that is going to be of great value to other web users such as free information, solution to a complex problem or piece of software or code which other web users would normally have to pay for then this is link bait. As once one person finds it and publishes it on a web forum saying where they have found this information then this generates more people to link to your site to help others find it.
Meta Tags – Meta Tags are identification tags very much like a clothing label to tell you what it’s made of where it’s made and what the garment is. In terms of search engine optimisation these meta tags are invisible to the web user and placed in the ‘Source Code’ of each page of a web site. Meta Tags are mostly used by web developers to put in certain words and phrases to ‘flag up’ to search engines crawlers certain information about the web pages content which may not be obvious from the actual content on the page which you and I can read. Meta Tags were used to be used by web developers to ‘stuff’ key words to artificially try to trick the crawlers to think the page was a bigger resource on a subject and even used to use invisible Meta tag key words which were white text on the white background so as to fool the naked eye. This is old hat and well and truly dismissed by search engine crawlers and should be regarded as unforgivable. The surprising thing is that there are still thousands of web developers who still think they can get away with this particularly in some developing countries and even within the UK and the USA. Web sites using this abuse could and will find their pages penalized and demoted. To view your Meta tags go to VIEW – SOURCE to see your source code and you will see at the top Meta Tags, Keywords and Description of your pages.
Robots – see also Crawlers
Search Engines – We would hope that you already know what a search engine is but for those of you who are not sure these are the main ones www.google.co.uk www.yahoo.co.uk www.msn.co.uk to name the main three. Search Engines are primarily websites that enable you and I to interrogate the internet and find what you are looking for whether it is information about a topic, a product your wish to purchase or an image or video. The Search engines require the searcher to enter keywords or phrase to help it match what you are looking for from its pages indexed in its directory.
Search Engine Marketing – Otherwise known as SEM this is the marketing of websites primarily referring to Pay-Per-Click PPC marketing in which an advertiser chooses to bid on selected keywords to ‘sponsor’ those words in an auction environment with other web advertisers who are also sponsoring the same key words. The highest bidder will have their website link placed at the top of the sponsored listings on a search engine which you will see at the top and on the right hand side of the page. PPC marketing is just one way in which you can market or promote your website. SEM Marketing is the term referring to all of the ways in which you can promote your website.
Search Engine Optimisation – This is the term referring to the overall holistic approach covering every aspect of performance of your website and how best to improve its search engine ranking placement. There can clearly be a difference between optimising a web pages code to remove all obstacles for the crawlers to creating link bait pages to deliberately entice other web sites to link
Search Engine Results Pages – Otherwise referred to as SERP’s this is the results of a search on a search engine and the results displayed in response to that search. Active web developers will often check the results of searches to gauge the improvement of any SEO techniques employed to raise the results of their client’s websites
Spamming – Spamming is when any unnatural effort is being made to manipulate the SERPS. What actually constitutes spamming is probably open to interpretation and is subject to change so if you want to keep afoot of what is considered spammy and what is safe you should always press your web developer to keep you informed. For example if Google considers a technique to be spammy which it did not a year ago then you should cease it immediately. Active web developers who are involved in SEO work are usually ahead of the crowd by reading the web forums and professional web news, after all that’s what you’re paying them for.
Spiders – see also crawlers
Submission – Submitting your website is the traditional meaning for the term Submission. This was definitely a required task 5 years ago when you had to submit your website to a search engine either free or pay to present your website for inclusion. If your web developers are still submitting your website then it’s about time they updated their service. Search Engines are far smarter than they used to be, were talking about the main ones such as Google, Yahoo, MSN which make up the bulk of searches carried out in the UK. These search engines have automated mechanisms namely – Crawlers – Spiders – Bots to actively come out to the internet servers and find you instead of you having to tell them. If you want your pages to be indexed by these search engines then just make sure the pages are clearly coded without frames, clearly Meta tagged and identified, with clear descriptions, plenty of fresh informative content and a sitemap to make it even easier for the search engines to view all your important pages. Gaining quality inbound links to your site as well and you can leave the search engines to do the rest.