Are you new to SEO? Are you unsure how ranking works, or even how search engines do their thing? Where do the results come from? And, most importantly, how does YOUR website end up on the first page where people can see it? You’ve seen a bunch of jargon thrown around, but you don’t know how any of this fits together. So how do you get started?
While we can’t go into exhaustive detail—there are so many industry terms that we could probably write a lengthy dictionary—we can give you some insight into the basic terms so you have a foundation to build from. Here we have 7 great words lots of beginners want to know the definitions of. So read on for more details, all in one convenient spot!
1. What does “indexing” mean?
As the name suggests, this comes from the old systems of indexing, like you did with library cards and addresses before the days of computerized filing systems. Basically, indexing describes the way that a search engine adds a website into their system.
Of course, websites are not the only things that are indexed. All links, photos, content, and pages and subdirectories on your site can be indexed. Every time you update your site, Google will find the changes and index them.
It gets more complicated than this, but now you got the gist of it: indexing means the search engines are filing your website in their system. Without this step, you’ll never see your website rank, so it’s important to remember what it means.
2. Bots and crawling: That sounds weird. What is it all about?
A “bot” is usually a bad thing. You’ve probably heard of bots in the news recently, as they’re a pretty contentious topic right now. But in a search engine’s case, a bot isn’t bad at all. Also referred to as a “crawler” or “spider,” these terms simply refer to software that search engine companies use to browse the web, identify new sites, sift through all links and subdirectories, and then send the data back to the database so that the site can be indexed (as discussed above!). “Crawling” is just the process of gathering the data.
3. Organic search, organic search results: Sounds like a grocery store. What gives?
Organic search simply means when you type something into a search engine and then search away. Really, it’s that simple. “Organic” simply refers to the fact that the phrase arises naturally—aka, organically—by a person inputting the text.
Organic search results are simply the results that show up after you search. When you search, you’ll often see ads (also called sponsored links or paid results), and underneath them you’ll see the organic results. These are sites that are ranking without the help of ads.
4. On-page SEO and off-page SEO: Is there a difference?
Short answer? Yes. Off-page SEO means that you’re trying to get your site to rank by getting people to link to you or listing your site in business directories (referred to as “link building”). Many people forget that this is a necessary aspect of modern SEO practices.
On-page SEO is simply everything you do on your site (within your site). You can, for example, use SEO-friendly content and images, ensure your keywords are current and relevant, use title tags and descriptions, and tweak internal code and linking structures. It’s complicated, to be honest. That’s why hiring experts for this part is particularly helpful.
5. Link building: You just mentioned it, so what is it?
“Link building” is a term thrown around in the SEO industry as commonly as “cat videos” are at the office (it’s funny because it’s true). All it really means is that you’re trying to get prevalent websites to link back to you (“backlinking”). It is time-consuming, and, quite frankly, dull. But it’s one of the most important things that search engines consider when determining the influence and relevance of results so that they can rank them. Remember that search engines want to show the user the most relevant information—the sites most likely to answer the question they have or provide the information they want—so it makes sense that your site should be well made and informative to earn this desired spot.
6. Duplicate content: Is it bad?
Yup. If you have two pages on your site that have the same content, the search engines start to get suspicious. Are you building multiple pages to redirect to your site so that you have a better chance of ranking? Are you trying to trick the search engines into thinking your site is larger than it is? They don’t know, so they penalize you for it.
And duplicate content across multiple sites is even worse. That’s plagiarism, even if it’s your own site. How do the search engines know this? They don’t. So it’s a terrible idea to copy content from one site and put it in another, just as much as it’s a terrible idea to copy your own content within your site.
7. Keywords: You mentioned them, and they’re part of your packages. What are they?
Keywords are terms that people use to search for information. Let’s say you want to find a new Chinese restaurant in your town. When you go to a search engine, what do you type in? Something like “Chinese restaurant in MyTown,” right? Well, that is your keyword (even though it consists of multiple words—sometimes, this is referred to as a keyphrase). Keywords and keyphrases are the bread and butter of your marketing strategy. You want to optimize your site to rank for terms that people are actually searching for, so choose your keywords wisely (and if you choose to work with us, don’t worry—we’ll help you!).
While there are tons more valuable SEO terms that you might want to know, these are some of the most important. SEO is a dense subject. People spend years learning about it, and it changes so often that by the time we hit “publish” on this article, something will already have changed. But these terms have been used for many years and will remain valuable for years to come.
Want to talk more about SEO? Get in touch with one of our experts or request a demo to see how we can help your business rank on page one of the top search engines!