If you’re not in online marketing, you may not have a very firm grasp on search engine optimization (SEO), how it works and what its purpose is. It’s possible that you don’t use SEO at all, or you may leave this task to an outsourced agency.
People become easily confused with SEO. They want to know how to make their website rank higher on search engines, and they slightly understand how the right word choice has an effect on this, but when it comes to backlinks, algorithms and SERPs, most people scratch their head in confusion and walk away.
SEO is not as difficult to understand as most people think, but if you don’t use it on a regular basis, you will not be familiar with the terms associated with the topic. Just like anything else, once you are familiar with the vocabulary used with SEO, you’ll have an easier time understanding the whole SEO concept.
In order to have a better understanding of SEO, become familiar with the following terms.
Search engine optimization (SEO): Before you can familiarize yourself with other terms, you need to know what SEO is. SEO refers to implementing specialized tactics that will help your website rank in the search engines.
Search engine: A search engine is an online program that searches the Internet for content related to a search term entered by a user and provides results. Google and Yahoo are examples of search engines. When a user enters a search term into the search field, these programs will search the Internet and give the user a list of links that lead to content related to the search term.
Search engine marketing (SEM): Search engine marketing refers to the marketing tactics that are used through search engines. Search engine optimization falls into this category along with pay-per-click advertising.
Search engine results page (SERP): A search engine results page is the page in which your website appears on a search engine.
Keywords: Keywords refer to words and phrases that are popular search terms for your topic and industry. When your website copy contains keywords, your website will rank higher on the search engines.
Backlinks: Backlinks refer to website links found on the Internet that lead back to your website. For example, if you posted a link to your blog on your social networks, and your post was then re-sent by your audience, these would be backlinks. Backlinks are important because they help generate traffic to your site and they tell the search engines that the content is important.
Search engine crawlers/spiders/bots: Search engines use tools called crawlers, spiders or bots to search through websites for keywords, backlinks, etc. These tools then document the keywords and backlinks and use this information to determine how your site is ranked on the search engines. As long as you are updating your website content on a regular basis, these tools will come back to crawl your site on a regular basis in search of new keywords to help you rank appropriately.
Site Maps: Site maps are website files that act like a map of your site (hence the name). These maps tell both your users and search engine crawlers what content is on your site and where specific content can be found.
Penguin: Google uses an algorithm to determine how pages are ranked, and the most recent algorithm Google uses is named Penguin.
Pay per click (PPC/CPC): This is a marketing tactic in which companies create Internet ads that will appear on search engines depending on certain keywords. For example, if you have an ad with a keyword of “dog grooming Chicago”, then your ad will appear when that search term is entered into the search engines. These companies only pay for the ad when it is clicked through by a user.
If you become familiar with these terms, you will start to see how it all ties together, and then understanding SEO will not be as complicated as you initially thought.
Mey Lau is a strategist at SEOMap. Check out their website to learn more about their work and download their latest book