Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on March 17th, 2010

SEO Terminology for Beginners: A - Z

Although not as difficult as learning Chinese or Mandarin, SEO industry terminology can send any unsuspecting mind spinning in circles. Call it ‘nerd-isms’, computer lingo, or ‘dork-ese’, but one thing’s for sure, if you are trying to search engine-optimize your website, you need to understand the following terms in the SEO Terminology for Beginners: A - Z.

A is for Algorithm An algorithm is an effective method for solving a problem using a finite sequence of instructions. Google’s algorithm uses a patented system called PageRank to help rank web pages that match a given search query. The PageRank algorithm computes a “score” for web pages, based on a weighted sum of the pages linked to them. This is why backlinks are very important, but that will be explained in the next letter. B is for Backlink Backlinks are incoming links to a website or web page. The number of backlinks is one of many indicators of a page’s popularity and importance. Search engines, like Google, use the number of backlinks to measure and determine a web page’s ranking in search results. Backlinks can provide different amounts of value to a page. If the link is from an authoritative site on a relevant topic, it will have a stronger influence on rankings. If you link to irrelevant or suspicious sites, it will only hurt your rankings. C is for Content Management System A content management system (CMS) is software used to create and manage HTML content and work flow in an online, collaborative environment. A CMS helps facilitate content creation, control, editing, and essential maintenance functions. Basically, it is a publishing platform on which to build a website. The best CMS available is Drupal. D is for Drupal Drupal is a free and open source CMS written in PHP that is used as a back-end system for many different types of websites, ranging from small blogs to government websites. (see Drupal is also the most SEO-friendly CMS available to build your website. Here are 10 reasons why Drupal is the platform for SEO: 1. Configurable 2. Flexible 3. Stays optimized 4. No duplicate content 5. Clean code 6. Easy to integrate with 3rd party SEO services 7. Fights spam 8. Allows for landing pages 9. Community features 10. Thriving ecosystem E is for Error Page (404) The Error 404 "Page not found" is the page displayed whenever someone goes to a page that is not available. Sometimes the search engines will send traffic to a web page of yours that no longer exists. Maybe your visitors mistype a URL and they are sent to the darkest corners of the internet. To save their cyber-souls, you should have an error page that redirects them to the correct web page. This is a called a 404 page and is customized so that you can capture lost traffic and navigate them back to your site. F is for Facebook Fan Page Social media is quickly becoming an important factor in the search equation. Tweets and status updates are now being indexed by Google for its search results and businesses are optimizing their social media profiles to their advantage. Use Facebook Fan Pages to build your brands, create a community, and drive traffic to your official website. Check out my post from a few weeks back, Drupal Users Guide to Facebook Social Media Optimization, where I discuss the successful initiatives that companies like The Gap, Katalyst, and Dell are doing for SMO. While SMO doesn’t go hand-in-hand with SEO yet, it will compliment any campaign where social media will benefit. G is for Google According to a recent marketing research report by comScore, Google’s search engine dominates 65.6% of all U.S. online searches. They are the innovators and thought-leaders in search and the proverbial “tail that wags the dog” throughout SEO, PPC, and SEM. H is for HTML Header Tags A header tag is HTML code (H1, H2, H3, etc.) that is used to format text, define a page’s organizational structure, and simplify page navigation. As an identifier, the (H1) tag on your web site works just like a chapter title in a book. The text between (H1) and (/H1) should communicate exactly what that one page is all about and should include the keyword you are focusing on for this page. If there is further information or subsections on the page, you can use (H2), (H3), all the way up to (H6) heading tags to show hierarchical organization on the page. While it is OK to have multiple (H2) to (H6) tags, be sure to only use a single (H1) on any one page of your web site. I is for Image Optimization Images are everywhere on the web and should also be optimized when used on your website. Google Image Search uses the file name and the alt tag to determine what the image is all about. A filename like img0004.jpg does nothing for you. However, batman-light-saber-kills-shark.jpg is descriptive, keyword-filled and does wonders for the findability of, say, a batman fan site. The file extension (.jpg) also tells the search engines a lot about what that file is and how to display it to users. The alt text can be another indicator of what that element of the page is about and hence, what the entire page or site is about. J is for Javascript Javascript is an object-oriented scripting language used to in dynamic applications on websites and user interfaces, such as Flash graphics.The SEO urban legend warns you not to use javascript on your site. And this legend was once true, as search engines were once not able to crawl javascript. But javascript can now be crawled, when coded in a certain way. But most people don’t use it correctly and send the search engine spiders scampering off in a frenzy, without indexing some of your site. So, avoid javascript for navigational purposes on your site. K is for Keywords Keywords are single words that a search engine user types into the search box to try to find what they're looking for. Key phrases are the same as keywords except for the fact that they consist of two or more words. The most critical part of an SEO project is finding the right keywords. If you pick the wrong keywords, you'll spend months working only to find that there is nobody who wants to buy your product. Search engine optimization is a popularity contest for keywords and this is a popularity contest you want to win. L is for Link Building Link building is the practice of obtaining links from external websites to your own in order to improve traffic and search engine rankings. You can also link build with paid links and reciprocal linking, which some feel are more effective. Whichever way you do it, as long as its legal, it is one of the most important and beneficial aspects of any SEO campaign. M is for Module In SEO, a module is a part of a content management system that performs a certain task. For example, if you want to block spam from your Drupal website’s blog, you will need to download, configure, and enable the Mollom module. Most CMSs, like Drupal, will come with a certain set of modules with the core installation, with additional modules that you can download and install, if you see fit. N is for Node In SEO, a node is a connection point. A node can be a single web page, blog post, or landing page for your site. O is for On-Page SEO You may hear this phrase mentioned quite often in relation to off-page SEO. So let’s distinguish between the two. On-page SEO refers to the text and content on your website pages. This includes editing your page and content with keywords so that the search engines can rank your page well and funnel traffic your way.Off-page SEO refers to the text and backlinks from other website pages to your website pages. This is nearly impossible to completely control as you can’t factor in every single site that is linking to your content via their blog and website. P is for PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Also known as Per-Per-Click advertising, PPC is an internet advertising model in which advertisers pay hosts only when their ad is clicked. With search engines, advertisers, meaning you, will bid on keyword phrases relevant to your target market. When your keyword phrase is queried by a searcher, your ad pops up in the paid search column on the right. Q is for Query Query in SEO refers to the words or phrases a person types into a search box. For example, when I needed a word for the letter Q, i went to Google and typed in ‘SEO dictionary’. That example is an example of a solution for writer’s block. R is for Robots.txt Search engines such as Google have web robots, or programs, crawling the internet to index web content. A robots.txt file restricts access to your site by search engine robots that crawl the web. You need a robots.txt file only if your site includes content that you don’t want search engines to index, i.e. admin pages, sensitive information, etc. You do not want to restrict access to your entire site, otherwise you will be invisible to all search engine rankings. In order to use a robots.txt file, you’ll need to have access to the root of your domain. Check out this great Google Webmaster Central resource for more information. S is for SEO Checklist The SEO Checklist is a Drupal module that provides a checklist of good Drupal SEO best practices. It also provides a checklist that helps you keep track of what needs to be done. Maximize your Drupal website in all the major search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. All you need to do is go down the list and do all the items. When you’re done, you’re optimized! T is for Title Tags The page title (also known as title tag) is a line of text in the HTML of a web page, summarizing what that web page is all about. It serves the following functions: • It tells visitors that they are in the right place • It is displayed in the browser title bar • It holds important keywords so that your page can be properly categorized by Google and the other search engines • It is displayed whenever someone bookmarks your site • Search engines usually use the page title as the heading of the search results U is for URLs URL, or Universal Resource Locator, the address used by a browser to locate a certain piece of content. There are two different types of URLs - static and dynamic. Dynamic URLs have random characters like ?, =, &, or $ in the query string. These are not SEO-friendly. Clean URLs are URLs that do not contain any strange characters like ?, =, &, (, ), or $. Don't confuse a clean URL with a properly optimized one, though. While a clean URL can be easily read, it doesn't tell the search engines anything about your web site. Search Engine Optimized URLs actually contain some keywords. V is for Viral Marketing Viral marketing refers to marketing techniques that use social networks to increase brand awareness or to achieve other objectives via video clips, interactive games, advergames, ebooks, brandable software, images, or text messages. For example, Doritos is a perfect example of how to run a viral campaign. In the past, among other things, they have called upon brand fans to produce their own commercials. The winner’s entry was aired during the Super Bowl XLIII between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals. This photo was taken in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil where a viral marketing campaign suspended a giant bag of Doritos (3 meters tall and 132 kg in weight) and simply asked its target audience to guess the number of chips in the bag on the Doritos website. W is for Wiki A wiki is a collaborative website that allows easy creation and editing of web pages via a web browser, commonly using a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) text editor. It is similar to a blog in structure, but a wiki allows visitors to change the original posted material. Think Wikipedia. Y is for Yahoo! Despite Google’s death grip on the search market, Yahoo is still one of the best web directories. As of the end of 2009, Yahoo had roughly 12% of the search market. They recently struck a deal with Twitter so that you can follow your Twitter feed on Yahoo's interface while you are logged into your Yahoo! email account. Be sure to submit your website to Yahoo’s directory for SEO best practices, as Google is not the only search engine people use. Z is for Zen Zen is the ultimate starting theme for Drupal websites. This theme has fantastic online documentation and tons of code comments for both PHP and HTML. The idea behind Drupal's Zen theme is to have a "very flexible standards-compliant and semantically correct XHTML theme that can be highly modified through CSS and an enhanced version of Drupal’s template system." This theme is super clean and extremely simple, with either a one, two, or three column layout of fixed or liquid width, straight out of the box. In addition, the HTML is written for increased accessibility and SEO. Thanks For Reading! Did you find this post entertaining, useful, or interesting? Please repost, retweet, or redistribute to any of the social sites of your choice, and please subscribe to our RSS feed for daily fodder. For every RSS subscription Volacci gets, a kitten earns its whiskers. You like kittens, don’t you? Do the right thing, then. Subscribe. We also are very interested in what you have to say in response to this blog post. As always we are very grateful for you, our reader, and greatly value your input. Please start a conversation with a comment below.