Jargon buster: SEO

Add your own bits of jargon-busting down below in the comments section. The more confusing terms we can all demystify together, the easier business will be.

AdSense: an application created by Google that allows you to host adverts on your website and earn money. Google displays contextual adds on your site and you're paid for every click. 

AdWords: the sponsored adverts that appear at the top and to the right of all Google searches are paid for via Google's AdWords. Its pay-per-click model enables you to advertise against individual search terms and set daily spend limits.

AJAX: short for Asynchronous JavaScript And XML. A web development technique that allows the display of additional content on a page without a full page reload. When you see a drop-down menu on a site, it's AJAX. Think of Google Maps as an example - when you move around, you don't need to wait to go to a new page or for the page to refresh - you simply view lots of new content on the same page. But you don't get as many SEO-friendly url's and headings when you implement it. Here's an article on how to get round that.

Algorithm: the complex computational equations search engines use to index content, using programming language.

Alt tags: if you hover your mouse over an image and a text box pops up, that's an alt tag. They're there to help blind people read a web page. If you tag them with appropriate keywords you up your search engine ranking.

Anchor text: when you see a link in some text, the anchor text is the actual words that you click on for the link (usually in a different colour or underlined). Linking on keywords ups your ranking.

Black hat SEO: SEO practices seen as taboo, as they break search engine rules and regulations, but good for upping your ranking. E.g. Keyword stuffing, invisible text.

Bots: short for robots, these are web applications that can run the same task over and over again without needing supervision. Spiders are a type of bot, as are most junk emailing systems.

Flash: animation software that jazzes up websites. The trouble is, search engines can't read it very well so if your website is in flash you need to make sure you describe what's in it in HTML too so you get indexed properly.

Grey hat SEO: SEO that combines black hat and white hat SEO techniques.

Headings: search engines pick up on words formatted as headings - written as, for example, H1 or H2 in HTML - and give them more weight when they're trying to figure out what the site is about and how it should be indexed.

HTML: HyperText Markup Language - the language websites are written in, that search engines read to figure out indexing.

Indexing: the process of determining how high up a website should come in search results.

Invisible text: a black hat SEO technique that involves writing lots of keyword-filled text in the same colour as the background of your web page - so that users can't see it, but spiders can, and so rank it higher thinking you've got a lovely keyword-laden site full of useful content.

JavaScripts: a type of computer programming language. Search engines can't read Java so anything on your site or in an application run by Java (Java applets) will not be picked up by a spider and so will have no effect whatsoever on your ranking.

Keywords: the 'keywords' or 'search terms' people type into Google, Yahoo! Et al to find your site. You need to identify your most effective ones to optimise your site's SEO with them.

Keyword stuffing: including too many or irrelevant keywords on a web page to try to get more traffic to the page.

Linkbacks: a notification that someone else has linked to your website.

Meta description: the description of a web page that appears when it's listed on a search engine, under the page title. It's buried in the back end of your site in the HTML and doesn't appear on the site but you can change it by speaking to your developer, designer or web host. Find out how to write the perfect meta description right here.

Meta keywords: again hidden in the HTML of your site, this lists keywords of your choosing and spiders pick up on them - although there's debate over how much influence they actually have. Keywords should match the page's content.

Meta tag stuffing: a black hat SEO technique - using meta tags and meta keywords that have nothing to do with the page's content.

Meta tags: HTML codes inserted into a web page, some of which show up as the description and header in search results - meta descriptions and meta keywords are types of meta tag.

Page title: part of the meta data - a title you give a webpage that appears when it is listed on Google but not on your actual site. Try to squeeze a couple of keywords in their to up your ranking.

Ranking: where you appear in search engine results (the aim of SEO is basically to be ranked number one or as near to it as possible on Google for your chosen keywords).

Reciprocal linking: getting another website to link to your site and vice versa so you both benefit in SEO terms - the more sites that link to your site, the better your ranking will be.

Search engine: Google, Yahoo, Bing, et al.

SERP: short for Search Engine Results Page - the list of results you see when you search for something on a search engine.

Spider: A computer programme which 'crawls' websites to find out what sort of information it contains in order to determine where it should be ranked on the results page. Also known as a robot or a crawler.

White hat SEO: fair practise SEO approved by search engines.


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