SEO Jargon Explained

I grew up in a military household – which meant acronyms were commonplace. Each department, job role or institution had its own abbreviation, and as an ‘insider’ I knew my NCO from my NATO from my NAAFI. It was only when ‘civvy’ (sorry – civilian) friends looked blankly at us like we were speaking a foreign language that I realised it was, well, a foreign language, to anyone outside our world.

I feel it’s somewhat the same these days with digital marketing terms. But I also feel some ‘online experts’ are taking advantage of this. By talking in acronyms, they reinforce the (incorrect) notion that the web is terribly difficult to understand – and consequently scare people into thinking they can’t tackle this online gold mine by themselves.

So, in the interest of proving this wrong, here’s a run-down of the most common acronyms and terms used in SEO. (Sorry – Search Engine Optimisation.)

301 Redirect – A method used to redirect permanently moved web pages from an old URL to a new URL. This is important to ensure you don’t lose the authority gained at the previous address when you move a page to its new address (this is critical for SEO purposes).

Algorithm – A mathematical formula used by the search engines to decide where websites rank in the results pages. Algorithms are constantly changing and redefining which websites are the most relevant for a search engine user’s query based on millions (if not billions) of different factors, such as content, links, domain age and so on.

Authority – The credibility of your site in the eyes of the search engines. Authority can be built through relevant content, quality links and strategic SEO processes.

Bots – A shortening of ‘internet/web robots’, a bot is an automated piece of software that reads, analyses and files information from websites. Also known as ‘spiders’, bots ‘crawl’ and ‘index’ web pages so that search engines can find relevant pages for any given search query.

CMS – Stands for ‘Content Management System’. This is the ‘back-end’ interface which allows web editors to easily upload new content to their site.

Domain – Your ‘domain’ is the address people use to find your site (ie www.yourcompany.co.uk).

Domain Age – A site’s domain age indicates how long it has been in existence. Older sites are generally more ‘trusted’ in the eyes of the search engines – so it can contribute to your site’s authority.

Footer Links – Internal, text-based links found at the bottom of a page which link to other pages within the website.

Indexing – When search engines ‘index’ your web pages, they are effectively reading, analysing and storing information from them. This helps the likes of Google quickly find relevant pages for any given search query. As a general rule, the more frequently you add content to your pages, the more frequently they are likely to be indexed. Which is a good thing for SEO.

FTP – Stands for File Transfer Protocol. This is a method of transferring data to web servers and vice versa.

Geo-targeting – The process of targeting your campaign at a particular region – such as England, Devon or Exeter, depending how focussed you want to be. This can provide more qualified traffic to your site as increased specificity (eg SEO agency London) often indicates a more purchase-ready customer.

Google PageRank – Often referred to as simply PageRank or PR, it is named after Larry Page (rather than being a reference to a web page). Based on a scale of 0-10, PageRank is a metric for ranking a page based on the quality and quantity of its links. NB: PageRank used to be a key indicator of how important Google felt a website was – however, abuse of the system has led Google to remove it from the ‘Webmaster Tools’. Consequently, although it remains an indicator of how important Google thinks a page is, it is not something that should be seen concentrated on as much as in the past.

Keyword – A word or term that users type into a search engine. Keywords can be generic (eg “hairdresser”), branded (eg “Toni&Guy hairdresser”), long-tailed (eg specialist Afro hairdresser”) or geo-targeted (eg “hairdresser Oxford”). For SEO purposes, you should be targeting keywords based on what you think your consumers will type in to find your business, how relevant those keywords are to the content of your site and how competitive your industry is.

Link Building – The process of getting other websites to link back to yours. Links are one of the most important elements of SEO, as they serve as ‘votes’ to your site, showing search engines how popular your pages are.

Meta Tags – ‘Back-end’ information on a website’s pages, including the meta title, meta keyword and meta description text that is inserted into the code of your site’s pages. The meta title and description for your site may appear on the search engines’ results pages (SERPs).

Referrals – Visitors that arrive at your site via links from third-party pages. Site referrals can be increased by the process of link building.

SERPs – Search Engine Results Page.

Spiders – Not the eight-legged type! Also known as ‘bots’, spiders ‘crawl’ web pages, reading, analysing and filing information found on them. This ‘indexing’ process allows search engines to quickly find relevant pages for any given search query.

Title Tag – Title tags are inserted into the code of your site’s pages and appear at the top of your web browser. They should be different for every page and are an important element of SEO because they tell the search engines what each page is about.

Got any other terms that are confusing you? Let us know and we’ll put them into plain English for you!