The world of Search Engine Optimisation or “SEO” is a strange and often bewildering place, filled with jargon, acronyms and cringe-inducing phrases, like ‘link-juice’. (Urrgh!). None of which make the topic particularly accessible or attractive to website owners looking for ways to make their websites deliver better results. Which is a shame, as the concepts behind all the jargon are actually pretty straight-forward once you get your head around the lingo.
Once mastered, discussions with SEO Consultants become far less daunting, their monthly reports start to make sense and online strategies become more accessible.
So, if you would like to understand what to spend and where in order to make your website more competitive, spending the next 10 minutes learning the lingo could be a good start.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is the process of ensuring a website and its content are fine-tuned to ensure optimal performance in search results. Essentially; ensuring a site appears as close to the top of the results as possible when a relevant search term is entered into a search engine.
It is said that algorithms used by search engines to determine the best pages to display for any given term, typically take 200 factors into account when making their calculations. These might include the location of the person undertaking the search, the speed at which the server returns a page, the relevance of a page’s content to the intent of the person searching, the ‘authority’ and perceived trustworthiness of the website… and so on.
A Search Engine Optimisation Specialist may undertake a wide variety of tasks to ensure a website performs well in search engine results. These tasks can include anything from reducing the size of images to ensure they load faster, updating meta tags to ensure they include keywords, increasing the response times of the server hosting the site, or contacting other site owners to encourage them to link to the site in order to increase Backlinks.
A good SEO Consultant should not only be able to document the changes they make, but also demonstrate their effectiveness in subsequent analytics reports. Key performance indicators depend on the objectives of individual SEO campaigns, but can include increases in; site visits, average keyword rankings, conversion rates and the number of search terms for which the site appears.
The ultimate aim of any SEO Consultant is to see their client’s site appear in the number 1 position for the search term with the highest number of searches. This is seldom as simple as many consultants may have you believe when they are attempting to sell you services.
Keywords are the words and phrases potential clients are typing into search engines when looking for the goods and services you offer. If you want them to arrive on your site, ready to buy, you need to ensure the same words and phrases they are using, appear in all the right places on your site.
A great SEO strategy depends on thorough Keyword Research, to determine exactly what your audience are searching for and how they are doing it. For example; are they asking questions, or using brand names? Where there is more than one word or phrase that describes your services, which one is searched for more often?
Typically, it pays to have an SEO professional do some thorough Keyword Research for you, as they are likely to have some powerful (but expensive) tools at their disposal. However, there are some great free tools around, such as Google’s Trends, that can be useful when carrying out your own research. Here’s an example of Google Trends’ comparison between searches for the terms “Search Engine Optimisation” & “SEO” within the UK.
Short Head / Long Tail
Keywords can split into two sub-categories, short head and long tail. Short head, sometimes referred to as ‘head terms’, are comprised of three or fewer words, generally less specific and the first things you would search for- for example: ‘PS4 Game’ or ‘black boots’. The beauty of the short nature of the keywords is that the ease at which that can fit into your website copy, you won’t have to reword your sentence to fit it in. In contrast, a long tail keyword selection is more defined, using over three words- for example ‘PS4 Call of Duty Game’ or ‘high-heeled, leather black boots’.
The higher you rank for short head keywords, the more organic traffic your website will encounter. However, if your competitors are multinational businesses, you might struggle to beat them in the rankings. For example, a small shop selling PlayStation 4 games would struggle to beat larger companies such as GAME or PlayStation in the rankings for short head keywords.
Due to their more complex structure, however, the competition for long tail keywords is often lower. There is also a positive association between long tail keywords and conversion rates. An individual who has taken the time to enter a more specific search suggests they are more likely to complete a goal.
SERPs – Search Engine Results Page
Once a potential client has entered their keyword into a search engine, they are presented with a search engine results page, a SERP.
Each SERP can show different results, even if it is the same keyword being used in the same search engine. This is because a variety of factors are taken into consideration when presenting a SERP; factors such as the physical location of the user, their social settings or their browsing history.
Traffic – Organic Vs Direct
Organic traffic is the term used to describe visitors that have landed on your website after clicking a link in a SERP. The visitor has not had to click on any paid-for advertising or follow a referred link, they are there organically.
Your organic traffic is directly affected by your SEO and relies on the carefully researched keywords. The more effective, and high you are ranking for your keywords, the more organic traffic you will encounter. By regularly publishing high quality, appropriate blogs you can increase the amount of organic traffic to your website.
Typically, direct traffic is the result of a visitor directly typing your website address into the URL bar, there was no use of a search engine or a social media link. Another form of direct traffic could include a user clicking on a bookmark they have previously made and saved to their desktop or bookmarks bar.
A conversion rate is the proportion of visitors to your site, that go on to complete a goal. (A goal could be making a purchase or subscribing to a service, thereby ‘converting’ from being a visitor to a customer). If a site received 100 visitors and 25 completed a purchase, the conversion rate would be 25%.
It is important to note that different industries have very different benchmarks for conversion rates. For example, dating websites and insurance companies tend to have a typically higher conversion rate than other eCommerce websites. The aim of most websites is to convert as high a proportion of visitors as possible.
Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)
CRO is the process of refining a website in order to achieve the highest possible conversion rate. This may involve moving elements on a page (such as buttons and forms) in order to increase visibility and clicks, changing the text and colour of calls to action, or mapping the visitor journey and structuring content in such a way as to anticipate the visitors needs at each stage of their journey. The ultimate aim is to reduce friction and remove obstacles that may prevent the visitor from making a decision to purchase.
A user visiting a page on your website, and leaving without any further exploration or interaction is called a bounce. The bounce rate refers to the percentage of bounce visits of the total amount of site visits. For example: If you have 100 total site visitors, yet 70 of them leave immediately without any further interaction with the site, your bounce rate would be 70%.
Although various features can be taken into consideration when calculating what counts as a session, classically the word ‘session’ is used to explain a visit to a website page within a select time frame. As a generalisation, that time frame is often 30 minutes. If a user remains on a webpage but is inactive for a full 30 minutes, their session will expire. If the user interacts with the page 29 minutes into the 30 minutes, the 30 minutes will be reset and still count as one session.
An Entrance or Landing page is a page that visitors first arrive at on visiting your site. Looking at the statistics for your entrance page can show you which of your pages are welcoming the most visitors, giving you insight into which pages may be performing well in search results or contain information that many people are interested in. You can then use this information as part of a strategy to guide and influence visitors towards other areas of the site, for example, towards a goal such as making a purchase, subscribing to a mailing list or submitting an enquiry.
An exit page is a page at which a visitor leaves your website. Identifying pages with a high proportion of visitors leaving could be useful during conversion rate optimisation. Reviewing the content on the pages could help retain visitors and increase the proportion of visitors making a purchase or achieving some other goal.
A backlink is a link on another website which brings traffic to your site. Don’t be fooled by the simple explanation – backlinks are incredibly important when it comes to SEO and increasing backlinks can be a complicated process. For many years, experts have believed that Backlinks are the number one factor when it comes to influencing search results performance. Links from credible, authoritative, relevant sources can have an incredibly powerful, positive impact on your search results. Conversely, links from the wrong sources can have a catastrophic effect. Encouraging the right kind of links can be a long and labourious process, but well worth the investment.
Link juice is the weighting or influence you receive from a backlink or referring IP; the more credible, authoritative and relevant the link source, the more ‘juice’ that link passes on to your site and so the more it can influence your position in rankings.
This one’s a bit tricky to explain, but it’s a simple concept. A server can host hundreds of websites, all of which will have the same or a very similar IP address. A backlink from one website hosted on the same server as your website will not hold as much ‘link juice’ as a backlink from a website from a different IP address.
Follow & No-Follow Links
When adding links to your website, there are ways to control whether or not to pass on ‘link juice’ of your own, by designating them either ‘follow’ or ‘no-follow’ links. As a default, links are designated as ‘follow’, thus passing on link juice to the site linked to. You can choose not to pass on any juice by electing to designate the link as no-follow. By doing so you are choosing not to vouch for the site, or the quality of the link. This means your site will have no influence on the linked website, you will provide no link juice to their site and will not be associated with each other.
Although images can be used to link to other pages, we tend to think of a link as some underlined text. Anchor text is the term used to describe the text that makes a text link. For example, the following text is anchor text: Click this link for details of our SEO services.
HTTP vs HTTPS
HTTP stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. The S stands for ‘secure’. When you see https in a web address, it means the website holds a security certificate, also known as an SSL certificate (Secure Sockets Layer Certificate). This means that when data entered into a website, for example via a web form, is transmitted to another, it is encrypted. In other words, it is not transmitted in plain text and so cannot be easily accessed, read or decoded.
Meta Tags, Titles and Descriptions
Meta tags are placeholders in code that can be read by search engines. A meta title is what a search engine understands to be the title of your page and so can be very influential in search results. Therefore, they’re a good place to include keywords.
When search engines display their results, the contents of the meta description are often used below the link, to give the viewer an idea of what the page is all about and why it is relevant to their search. This is the area below the page title that you see on your SERP. Although keywords in your meta description don’t necessarily have an impact on your rankings, they are your ‘last, best chance’ to influence and bring a visitor to your webpage; use the space to describe what is on the page to entice your visitor.
So, there you have it, hopefully, the next report you get from your SEO Consultant should make a little more sense.
Bookmark this page as a reference as we will continue to keep it up-to-date as new weird SEO related words and phrases are made up.