SEO, or search engine optimization, is the make-or-break factor for thousands of businesses across the country. Did you know that 93% of any individuals' online actions begin with an internet search? Of this number, 75% of these searches conclude on the first page of results. Your business can’t grow if it’s buried on page 11 of a Google search. However, bringing your name to the top is possible—this is where SEO comes in.
SEO is a fancy term to explain something relatively simple: making your website more attractive to a search engine’s algorithm. If your website checks all the algorithm’s boxes for the broadest number of searches, your ranking will increase. These factors are extremely broad and can include the text of your webpage, its metadata, or its mobile compatibility. With the right elements and tweaks, your website can rise from the bottom of the search results to the top—all without paid marketing. With larger players dominating this space, making sure your company doesn’t get left in the dust is a must.
An SEO consultant can help you navigate these “boxes” and implement changes, but it’s important to cover a few bases before getting started—namely vocabulary. Speaking the same language and knowing the lexicon is paramount. Thankfully, Search Engine Land developed a full dictionary and how-to guide to get started. Below are a few terms you’ll likely see along your company’s SEO journey.
Blackhat: Often followed by the word “SEO,” blackhat most commonly refers to practices that are specifically designed to fool search engines into seeing a website as having more value than it really does, almost always in violation of the search engines’ webmaster guidelines.
Cache: This is the storage of web content in memory, in an order that makes the data more readily useful to a user. Caching commonly occurs on both servers and browsers.
Frames: Two or more documents are loaded independently and displayed on the same screen, each within a frame. It’s not advisable to use frames since search engine spiders have trouble navigating them.
Head: The head of a document contains elements such as the document’s title, metadata, scripts, styles and more. It will not contain any of the page’s content which is to be displayed.
HTML: Hypertext markup language. This language is the heart of the Web, defining the content that is to be displayed and how it should be displayed.
HTTP: Hypertext transfer protocol. This is the protocol used across the World Wide Web, defining how messages are formatted and transmitted, as well as how servers and browsers should respond to various commands.
IP Address: Internet Protocol Address. A unique string of numbers separated by decimal points, which identify a device and serves as its address point on the internet.
Metadata: This is a set of data that is not always displayed by the browser, which provides information to the search engines about other data on the page.
Organic: This refers to search results that do not include any paid advertising.
PageRank: This is a calculation to determine the overall quality of a page, based upon many factors, the most important of which is still considered to be inbound links.
Title tag: HTML that creates the title of a web page and generally tells humans and search engines what the page is about. It is located in the section of a web page and what (usually) shows up in the search engines organic results.
Webmaster Guidelines: These are guidelines are published by search engines, describing behaviors and practices which the search engine considers to be acceptable. Failing to comply with those guidelines can result in a loss of rankings or punitive action.
TL;DR—These few terms are only the tip of the iceberg, but familiarizing yourself with SEO begins with speaking the same language as the professionals. Besides, adding a few more words to your vocabulary can never hurt. In fact, Merriam-Webster has just added over 800 new words to their next edition, of which “TL;DR,” “Rando,” “Guac,” “Adorbs,” and “Force quit" will all be making an appearance.