In the field of SEO, hCard was best known as a microformat standard used for creating structured data; this data, implemented for the benefit of search engines over people, helps Google to better understand information on web pages. Usage of hCard has been phased out in favour of Schema markup. hCard vs Schema hCard has […]
NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)
NAP stands for name, address, phone number. For a search engine, these collective details form a unique marker that separates you from anyone else. The more you can solidify your identity, the better. Through listing your NAP details consistently, you demonstrate your presence in a certain area, and most importantly, your right to rank for location-based searches performed there.
SEO cocitation refers to the symbiosis that occurs when websites discuss interrelated themes, concepts and mention each other. An important aspect of cocitation is the significance (for Google) of the words that surround links. Cocitation first prompted discussion years ago when Google’s anti-spam updates prevented low-quality blog networks from impacting on search rankings.
Vertical engines are search engines that specialise in different types of search. In the generic Google model, examples of verticals would be Google’s image search, location or map search, news search, and web search. In many respects these should be considered to be separate search engines, all within the Google umbrella.
Announced by Google in 2011, Schema markup is form of a microdata that was established in collaboration by the search giants Google, Bing, Yahoo! and Yandex. The aim has been to develop a specific vocabulary of tags that enable webmasters to communicate the meaning of web pages to computer programs that read them, including search engines.
Early in 2011, Google launched Panda, a search results algorithm which filtered out websites with thin, low quality content. This was the start of a series of major quality control checks. Google Panda stripped search results pages (SERPs) of poorly constructed, spammy content, enabling higher quality websites to rise to the top.
Syndication Source Tag
In 2010, Google introduced two new meta tags for news articles: syndication-source and original-source. These tags were designed to enable news curators to publish another site’s article on their own site, without risking a Google penalty for duplicate content or plagiarism. The canonical tag now performs this function.
Keywords And Keyword Research
From the earliest stages of your SEO campaign, you’ll be aware of keywords. These are single words or phrases which you want search engines to associate with your website, so that when those keywords are entered in search by a user, your site is visible. These phrases should be central to your business, and highly relevant to the service and information provided by your website.
Also known as ‘rich results’, rich answers are becoming increasingly important to SEO as Google users are coming to rely on them for both quick answers to quick questions and breakdowns of complex topics. Google is constantly shifting and evolving, its developers coming up with new and intuitive ways to display answers to users’ search queries.
Google Analytics defines bounce rate as the percentage of sessions in which a user left your site from the page through which they entered it, without interacting with it. Not only does a high bounce rate indicate that a business has lost a number of conversion opportunities, but there’s been evidence to suggest that high bounce rates can damage a website’s search visibility.
User reviews are an extremely powerful aspect of SEO and digital marketing. Not only is Google more likely to reward websites with positive user reviews with better rankings, but reviews can also act as a powerful promotional tool. 92% of consumers will read a review before they buy a product or service.
Local search is a constantly evolving field in search. For business which need to draw customers to a physical location, ranking well in local search can be a critical consideration in any decent marketing strategy, and has swiftly become an SEO top-priority. Local search results are those which are relevant to a user based on their current location, or on the location they type manually into search.
Conversion Rate Optimisation
A conversion occurs on a website when a user performs an action which takes them further along the buying cycle. For example, a conversion could be requesting a quote, or simply buying your product outright. A business’s website should always be built with a view to having a good conversion rate.
A crucial part of any SEO campaign, link building is the process of obtaining links from an external source which points to your own website. These links, or hyperlinks’ provide clear pathways across the rambling maze of the world wide web, enabling both search engines and users to visit your website and get it on the search results map.
Rel Canonical Tag
A rel=canonical tag is a snippet of HTML code which marks up web pages that are at risk of being interpreted as duplicate content. By implementing this tag in pages with similar or identical content, webmasters are able to convey to search engines which is the original page—the ‘canonical link’—and which are subsequent copies.
Spam refers to a broad range of unwanted pop-ups, links, data and emails that we face in our daily interactions on the web. Spam’s namesake is, (now unpopular) luncheon meat that was often unwanted but ever present. Spam can be simply unwanted, but it can also be harmful, misleading and problematic for your website in a number of ways.
URL parameters are used to indicate how search engines should handle parts of your site based on your URLs, in order to crawl your site more efficiently. This refers to folders within a URL string, i.e. yoursite.com/folder-one/ or yousite.com/folder-two/, where folder one may have duplicate content to folder two or where the content in folder one should not be showing up in search results.
Hummingbird is a search algorithm used by Google. It was first introduced in August 2013, to replace the previous Caffeine algorithm, and affects about 90% of Google searches. Hummingbird is a brand new engine, but one that continues to use some of the same parts of the old, like Panda and Penguin. In terms of what Google is trying to do with this new engine, very little has changed—the focus is still on quality.
A branded keyword, or a branded search, is any query via a search engine that includes the name of your company, business or brand. Whether you’re a new company or a big fish, you’ll want to rank number one for your branded search. But it isn’t always easy to be the top listing, even for your own brand.
Perhaps the single most important factor in SEO is content. Good SEO agencies optimise content by producing information that both Google and users love. This process, known as content optimisation, will help make your site more visible in search.
The nofollow tag is a way that publishers can inform Google and other search engines that they do not endorse certain links to other pages. Nofollow is important for search engine optimisation as it proves to search engines that they are not selling influence or are involved in schemes deemed as unacceptable SEO practices.
Rel=Prev and Rel=Next
These functions were introduced by Google in September 2011 to help tackle the problem of duplicate content. The Rel=Prev and Rel=Next are added to the HTML code of a website in order to let search engines know that a certain collection of consecutive pages should all be indexed together.
A crawler is the name given to a program used by search engines that traverses the internet in order to collect and index data. A crawler will visit a site via a hyperlink. The crawler then reads the site’s content and embedded links before following the links away from the site. The crawler continues this process until it has visited and indexed data from every single website that has a link to another site. It essentially crawls the web, hence the name.
Meta Robots Tags
Robots.txt and meta robots tags are used by webmasters and search engine optimisation agencies in order to give instructions to crawlers traversing and indexing a website. They tell the search spider what to do with the specific web page, this may include requesting that the spider does not crawl the page at all or crawls the page but does not include it in Google’s index.
For a long time, search engines found it very difficult to read any information and links which do not appear in HTML format within a page’s source code. This applied predominantly to interactive or multimedia content. The continuing development of Google Image Search, has improved this somewhat.
Website navigation is one of the most important factors to both SEO and user experience (UX). A well-organised, well-designed website with straightforward navigation will not only improve your site’s UX, but will also help the search engine bots crawl a website by helping them find all the site’s content and making more efficient use of their crawl budgets.
Whether your site needs to be moved to another server or your company is rebranding and renaming itself, your onsite content needs to be precisely redirected to its new home. If your redirects are not properly completed, your new site will be riddled with 404 File Not Found errors, which can diminish user experience, leading to an increased bounce rate and therefore a decreased page ranking.
First Click Free
First Click Free is a Google tool that allows Google bots to crawl and index content held behind forms, predominantly on subscription or registration-only sites (ie. those with paywalls) such as The Times or The New York Times. Introduced in 2008, it allows Google to gain access to behind-form content and allows these pages to appear in search engine results for relevant queries.
White Hat vs Black Hat SEO
The terms ‘white hat’ and ‘black hat’ are commonplace in SEO. Put simply, white hat refers to good SEO practices that search engines recommend, while black hat refers to bad SEO practices that break search engine rules. Though black hat techniques may appear to lead to quick and easy boosts in search rankings, they never pay off in the long run.
Heading tags are important to a page’s rankings and to user experience. For a visitor, a heading tag changes the look of a heading or subheading, usually making it bigger and bolder. For a search engine, heading tags reveal the hierarchy of a page. A H1 tag is considered the main heading, followed by H2, H3, H4, and so on.
Meta tags are text snippets in the code of a web page. Site users cannot always see meta tags and heading tags. But these invisible pieces of code have a huge effect on the way a page looks, on whether users choose to visit a page, and, crucially, on how a page performs in search engines.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
Google’s AMP is an open source project designed to improve the loading speed and readability of content for mobile users. Think of it as an upgrade to mobile-friendly pages. According to Google, AMP aims to improve mobile experience by getting information to load instantaneously, including rich content like video, animations and graphics.
Directories were once an SEO staple. Conceived as the web’s answer to the Yellow Pages, online directories played host to huge lists of links which would send link juice to the sites they listed, boosting the Google rankings of the pages they linked to. Google did not like this.
Google Penguin is an algorithm update that was first announced in April 2012. The update aimed to reduce web spam, penalising websites that violated Google’s Webmaster Guidelines by using black hat techniques to obtain links and manipulate search engine rankings. It also rewarded websites with high quality link profiles.
The Knowledge Graph is Google’s system for organising information about millions of well-known entities: people, places, and organisations, to build a map of how information is interconnected. It’s a knowledge base used by Google to enhance its search results with the use of human language technology and the semantic web.
A sitemap is essentially a resource you create for your site to enable discovery by Google and other search engines. Providing resource metadata in the form of sitemaps is a key way to position your content to appear in search.
Link Metrics, PageRank & Domain Authority
Link Metrics is the collective term referring to the criteria for ranking search results. They reflect the importance of any given webpage on the world wide web, and include some measure of domain authority, relevancy and trust. It’s a way to measure websites not by how important their webmasters say they are, but by how authoritative, relevant and trusted other web users say they are.
Social Media Optimisation
Social media optimisation is sometimes referenced alongside search engine optimisation, suggesting that there are strong parallels between the two services. In reality, any good social media campaign is by nature a form of optimisation as it entails developing and implementing a media strategy that ensures maximum reach and visibility.
Anchor text is the descriptive text of an outbound link. It is clickable, and it’s readable to both the user and to search engines. How this link is described in the anchor text is considered to be one of the top three ranking factors, and remains an integral part of any content marketing or SEO campaign.
HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure)
HTTPS is an internet communication protocol that protects the privacy of user data between their browser and the website they’re using. A secure alternative to HTTP, this protocol is often used to protect confidential transactions such as online shopping orders and online banking. Because of this, HTTPS is widely used by e-commerce sites and sites containing sensitive material.
Google Analytics is a free web service that provides comprehensive statistics and analytical tools for SEO and marketing purposes. Analytics monitors traffic to a website and collects data on how visitors interact with the site. Data available through this service includes user demographics, behaviour and interaction, such as pageviews, bounce rate and average time spent on site.
Ad Retargeting And Remarketing
Retargeting or remarketing refers to any advertising approach that advertises to potential customers after they have had a first encounter with a business’ website. Retargeting is made possible by introducing a tracking device called a “cookie” that assigns a unique ID to a visitor. This allows subsequent ads to be selected based on the visitor’s history.
In a computing context, cache refers to the temporary storing of data, usually for purposes of fast retrieval upon a second load. In search specifically, “cache” is a reference to a web cache, usually HTML pages and images that are stored either by the browser or the search engine to reduce bandwidth.
Alt Attributes, Alt Text & Alt Tags
The alt attribute is designed to provide alternative text in the case that the image cannot not be seen. An alt tag is placed in the code surrounding an image and is usually only visible when the image does not or cannot load. The main audience for this was, and still is, the visually impaired.
Event Tracking & Conversion Tracking
Event tracking, or action tracking, usually refers to the monitoring of interactions on a website beyond a simple web page load. Event tracking provides data on how visitors are engaging (or not engaging) with a website. Conversion tracking is a form of event tracking that refers specifically to an action representing either a transaction or a significant step towards one.
What Is Link Juice?
Controlling internal link juice As discussed in Link Metrics, Link Juice is the amount of positive ranking factor that a link passes from one page to the next. A website has an overall Domain Rank. This is the total amount of positive link metrics associated with a website as a whole. The Domain Rank is […]
A 301 redirect is an instruction that tells a browser: “The requested page is no longer available at the URL you have, you’ll find it at this new new address”. The browser is then automatically redirected to this new URL and the desired, relocated content is displayed. This happens so quickly users rarely notice a page has been redirected.