Search Engine Optimisation Terms Explained

If you’re looking into SEO for the first time, it can appear to be some kind of mystical hybrid of rocket science and magic. There are a number of buzzwords which are often liberally thrown around: PageRank, backlinks, keyword density – but what do they all mean?

Search Term – The words which a person searching the web puts into the search engine. So if a user is looking for someone to redesign their company’s website they might cast their net wide and put in ‘website design’ or ‘web design’ or they might be slightly more speficic with ‘corporate web design’, or they might prefer to go local and type in ‘website design dorset’.

Keywords – The website equivalent of a search term. So if you think your customers are going to be searching for ‘corporate website design’ you would list ‘corporate website design’ as a keyword on your website. You’d need to think about all the search terms which people might put in if they were looking for your specific products or service, so you’d also list various permutations, like ‘corporate web design’ ‘corporate site design’ ‘professional website design’ etc. You might even include mis-spellings if you think that words will be frequently mis-spelled in the searches (“corporate webstie desing”?).

Page optimisation – This is the practice of ensuring that the page looks important to a search engine for your particular keywords. Meta-data, image titles, link text , urls …. and also vitally the copy itself (sometimes overlooked). Search engines rank some elements as being more important than others, so having your keywords in your content is better than just in your meta data, and having the keywords in the title of the page and the content is better still.

Keyword density – The ratio of keywords to total number of words appearing on the page. Almost all the search engines pay attention to the number of times your keyword appears on your page: so the presence of keywords there convinces the search engines of the relevance of your page to the search term. More keyword densitey = more relevant, but only to a certain point. There is a good deal of debate on what constitutes the ideal keyword density, and a page too dense with keywords is regarded as ‘keyword spamming’.

Off page SEO – This refers to the tactics which can be applied outside of the site to improve its rankings: including keyword research, and getting other sites to link to yours (inbound or backlinks).

On-page SEO – This refers to the optimisation of your site itself to improve your search engine ranking: including adding the relevant keywords to all elements of the page, checking the file names and structure, the validity of the code etc.

PageRank – Technically this should be Google’s PageRankTM , often abbreviated to PR – it’s the algorithm (system) google uses to establish which pages are relevant to your search term, and it looks mainly at inbound links. Links are votes for your site’s relevance and some votes are more important than others. It’s all about the amount of links pointing to your site, the relevance of the sites they’re coming from to your site, the words used in the code of those links. A good page ranking indicates that your page has been voted for by lots of other sites that google considers important.

PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important”.

The thing to note about a good page rank is that it’s not the only thing in play; and so it does not guarantee your page a high ranking for any given search term. Having a good page rank will help your site in the search engine rankings, but for any given keywords your page

So there you have it, a brief rundown of SEO terms. If you’re still unsure how to nudge your site towards the top of the rankings for corporate website design (or any other search terms, for that matter); get in touch, we’ll throw in a free site appraisal and SEO recommendations.

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