Common SEO Terms You Should Know

Common SEO Terms You Should Know

At Rocket Clicks, we’re strong believers in education. As search marketing professionals, we continue to grow every day by stepping up to challenges and responding to the ever-changing policies of search engines and advertising networks. But we’re also dedicated to another type of education: that of our clients.

We work hard to make sure you get the best return on your investment in our services, but that ROI can be meaningless if you don’t understand the underlying factors of what we do. That’s why we do everything we can to make what we do as clear as possible. In order to further that goal, here are some words that are common around our office that might sound like gibberish without context.

Algorithm Update – Google and other search engines consistently update the methods they use to determine which websites to show for which search results. These changes are called algorithm updates. These are typically small-scale changes that impact only a small percentage of searches. However, Google occasionally releases large-scale updates to address problematic tactics. These often receive names like Panda and Penguin.

Authority – Authority is a bit of a catch-all term used to describe a site or page’s ability to rank. This is influenced by a significant number of factors, including links pointing to the site, relevancy/quality of the site’s content, and other trustworthy signals.

Black Hat/White Hat SEO – Google has laid out a variety of guidelines for what it considers to be ethical practices when optimizing a site for search results. Varying from these results, using tactics that Google does not condone, is considered black hat SEO. Most SEO agencies discourage these types of practices as they can lead to penalties from Google. Following Google’s guidelines is considered to be white hat SEO.

Bounce Rate – A page’s bounce rate is the percentage of times that a user visits that page, then immediately leaves the site. In a very general sense, higher bounce rates are considered bad because it indicates that users have determined your site is not what they’re looking for. However, this isn’t always the case – it might also indicate that your site answered a user’s question immediately.

Cloaking – Cloaking is the practice of displaying different content depending on who is viewing the page. This is a common spam practice which shows search engines a seemingly relevant page, but then shows actual users something completely different.

Crawl – Search engines view the web through a series of ‘spiders’ that crawl the web. This is essentially the process through which the search engine’s computers visit websites and pages on those websites. This is also how search engines determine what is in their index.

Disavow – Websites sometimes get links from harmful domains. While best practices are to try and get these links removed, this is not always possible. To help website owners, Google created a disavow tool that lets webmasters tell Google that they don’t want to recognize these links.

Index – A search engine’s index is what it pulls from when it shows a user the results of a search. The index is the engine’s collection of pages that it has crawled.

Keyword Stuffing – An old-school SEO tactic that focused on using the targeted keyword as many times as possible on a page in an attempt to get that page to rank better for that search term. Google has significantly reduced the effectiveness of this strategy, and it is now considered black hat.

Knowledge GraphGoogle is increasingly seeking to answer searcher’s questions on the results page itself. It does this through its Knowledge Graph, which is a collection of information that can then be displayed dynamically for specific search queries.

Link Equity (or Link Juice) – When we talk about link building, we often talk about link equity/juice. What we’re really talking about is the authority sites pass between each other when they link to one another. Google uses links as ‘votes’ or endorsements of other websites – so a website with more links pointing to it has more link equity, which generally means it’s more authoritative and likely to rank better.

Negative SEO – Most SEO tactics focus on building authority for a given website so that it can rank better in search results. However, there are some SEO agencies that use tactics to try and hurt a site’s position in search. The SEO community overwhelmingly discourages these tactics, and they are in a legal grey area.

Organic Results – Since most search engines have paid advertisements that are displayed alongside search results, SEO agencies must differentiate between these. Organic results are the normal sites that rank based on their authority and relevance to the search query, rather than using paid advertisements to appear on the page.

Penalty – A penalty is an action taken against a website by search engines that hurts the site’s ability to rank in search. These are most commonly associated with Google and can be a result of not complying with Google’s guidelines. Penalties can be given manually by Google’s web spam team or automatically after an algorithm update.

Are there any terms you’re curious about that we haven’t answered here? Let us know in the comments!