Your guide to a successful online business!

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is vital to any online business. Getting your site to rank for the search terms your potential customers are using is an excellent way to boost sales and increase leads. But SEO can be a tough topic to get your head around, especially in the early days. Strange abbreviations and terms make it hard for beginners to learn the basics of the topics. In this overview, you’ll be able to get to grips with the most common and important SEO phrases, allowing you to get on with the business of optimising your site. You may wish to bookmark this page so you can come back to it when you need to, and you’ll also find it works best in conjunction with an SEO tool like the 123-reg Search Engine Optimiser.

404 error

What is it?

A 404 error occurs when your web browser tries to access a web page that doesn’t exist. It’s also known as a “not found” error, which is much more descriptive. This error can occur for a number of reasons, although it usually happens because someone has typed an address incorrectly into their web browser, or they’ve clicked a link to a page that has been deleted.

Why does it matter?

Although Google has said that 404 errors won’t have an adverse impact on your rankings, that doesn’t mean they can be ignored. 404 errors can be terrible for user experience – if someone clicks a link on your site and gets sent to an error page, that damages the chances of them becoming a customer.


 

Alt text

What is it?

Al text is text that is displayed when an image on a website cannot be shown. The alt is short for alternative.

Why does it matter?

Search engines still find it difficult to understand images. Including alt text gives search engine bots an extra clue as to what the page the image is on is about. That increases the chances of you ranking well for keywords relating to the page’s topic. Alt text also helps people who use a screen reader to access your website – the alt text is read aloud and lets visually impaired people understand what an image represents, even if they can’t see it fully.


 

Backlink

What is it?

A link to your website from another site. Sometimes, people will just call it a link. The two words are generally interchangeable.

Why does it matter?

Good links are the backbone of good SEO. If high authority sites are linking to your site, then you have a better chance of ranking well in Google. It’s important to monitor the number of links you have and the websites they’re coming from.


 

Broken links

What are they?

A link that doesn’t work meaning that if someone clicks it, they’re not sent to the page they were supposed to see. Broken links can be caused by typos when creating the link, or the deletion of the page that was linked to.

Why does it matter?

See 404 errors.


 

Competitors

Websites that offer similar products and services to yours and are looking to attract customers using the same keywords as you.

Why does it matter?

Monitoring your competitors and what they’re doing in terms of SEO is vital. You can get ideas about what kind of content you should be creating, and what sort of websites will be willing to link to you. Use an SEO tool to monitor your competitors.


 

Content

What is it?

The text, images, video and audio that make up your website.

Why does it matter?

Search engines are geared towards helping people find content that matches their needs. If you understand these needs and create content that meets them, you’ll be more likely to rank well. What makes good content is too big a topic to cover here, but it’s something we regularly talk about on the 123-reg blog.


 

Crawling

What is it?

A search engine gathers information about websites by crawling them with search engine bots.

Why does it matter?

If there are problems crawling your site, then your pages may not show up in search results. That means it will be impossible for people to find those pages via a search.


 

Dead links

See broken links


 

Desktop

What is it?

A way of describing the device someone used to visit your website. A desktop visitor has viewed your site on a traditional computer (either a desktop or a laptop). See also mobile and tablet.

Why does it matter?

You need to ensure your website is easy to view and use no matter what device someone is using to access it. You can more about doing that in this guide. If you’re not sure how your site is displayed on a mobile device, the 123-reg Search Engine Optimiser tool can help you.


 

Duplicate content

What is it?

Content that is exactly the same as or very similar to content that is found elsewhere on the web, or on your own site.

Why is it important?

If you’re duplicating your own content – so you have two or more pages that are identical – you’re making Google’s job a lot harder. Search engines will try to decide which is the original version of the page and include that in the search results, but the easiest thing to do is eliminate duplicate content. If you’re duplicating content from other website – for example syndicating news stories or reprinting press releases – then search engines will likely ignore those pages on your site. You can use the 123-reg Search Engine Optimiser tool to identify duplicate content.


 

Google My Business

What is it?

A business directory run by Google.

Why is it important?

If your site is listed on Google My Business, then you have a chance of showing up in search results on Google Maps, Google’s search engine and on Google+.


 

Heading tags

What are they?

Tags that indicate a piece of text on a web page is to be used as a heading. They run from <h1> to <h6>. Below is an example of these tags in action on the 123-reg blog.

titles

Why is it important?

These tags used to be a very important part of SEO but those days are long gone. However, they still matter when it comes to telling readers and search engines what a page on your website is about. You can get the lowdown on using heading tags in this guide. The 123-reg Search Engine Optimiser tool will help you identify any problems with your tags without having to go through each page manually.


 

Indexed

What is it?

Search engines can only display a web page in their search results if they have indexed that page. Search engines index pages by crawling them.

Why is it important?

Although having a paged indexed doesn’t mean it will rank well in search engines, it’s still important to know how many pages of your site are indexed. If you have a lot of pages on your website and only a few of them are indexed, this indicates that there is probably an SEO problem with your site.


 

Keywords

What are they?

Each page on your website should be focused around certain keywords (sometimes called key phrases). These keywords should reflect the kind of words people would use to find whatever it is the web page is about.

Why is it important?

If you don’t optimise your pages for keywords, then search engines will find it harder to understand what a page is about. That makes it less likely that your page will rank well for search terms potential customers are using to find a business like yours.


 

Loading time

What is it?

The amount of time it takes for a web page to load.

Why is it important?

Website visitors are very impatient. If a page doesn’t load quickly, they’ll go elsewhere. If lots of people arrive at your site via Google and then leave immediately because a page isn’t loading fast enough, that can damage your search engine rankings.


 

Meta descriptions

What are they?

Meta descriptions are brief summaries of what a web page is about. They’re not visible on the page itself, but are often used when a page is shown in search results, or is shared as a link on social media.

Why is it important?

Meta descriptions aren’t used by search engines to rank your content. However, if your content is ranking highly, a well written meta description can encourage people to click through to your site rather than a rival site. You also need to have unique meta descriptions for each page on your site. The 123-reg Search Engine Optimiser tool will help you identify any problems with your meta descriptions.


 

Mobile

What is it?

A way of describing the device someone used to visit your website. A mobile visitor has accessed your website with a mobile phone, most likely a smartphone. See also desktop and tablet.

Why does it matter?

You need to ensure your website is easy to view and use no matter what device someone is using to access it. You can more about doing that in this guide. If you’re not sure how your site is displayed on a mobile device, the 123-reg Search Engine Optimiser tool can help you.


 

Mobile enabled website

What is it?

A website that can be used easily on a smartphone.

Why does it matter?

An increasing number of visitors are accessing the web with a smartphone. In addition, Google has said that it will give priority to mobile enabled websites in its mobile search results. You can learn more about getting a mobile enabled website in this guide.


 

NoIndex tag

What is it?

A tag that tells search engines not to include a page in its index. This page will not show up in search results.

Why is it important?

NoIndex tags can be useful if you don’t want a particular page to show up in search engine results. For example, you may want to add a NoIndex tag to a login page. However, if you’re not careful with NoIndex tags, you may stop users from finding pages they should be able to access via search engines. The 123-reg Search Engine Optimiser will tell you if your site has too many NoIndex tags.


 

Outbound links

What are they?

Links from your site to other sites.

Why are they important?

Linking to helpful resources located on other sites is good for user experience, as you’re directing people to the information and resources they need.


 

Postal address

What is it?

Exactly what you would think – the physical address of your business.

Why is it important?

Ensuring you display your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP) in a consistent manner across your website and on other sites where you have a web presence (Yelp! for example) helps search engines determine where your company is located. This can help you appear in local search results.


 

Rankings

What are they?

The position which your pages show up in search engine results. Rankings are tracked in relation to keywords.

Why are they important?

Tracking your rankings is fundamental to monitoring the results of your SEO work. Use a tool like the 123-reg Search Engine Optimiser to see how you’re doing.


 

Robots.txt

What is it?

A robots.txt file contains instructions to search engines. It tells them which pages of your website they’re allow to visit.

Why does it matter?

If a search engine bot can’t visit a page because the robots.txt file tells it not to, then that page’s content will not appear in search results. The page may still appear in search results, but the page’s title and description will not be shown. If you get your robots.txt file wrong, you may inadvertently damage your SEO efforts.


 

Search engine bots

What are they?

A piece of software that works its way through links on the internet to gather information about websites. This is used to build the index of a search engine and this index is used to generate search results.

Why are they important?

If search engine bots can’t access your site, then you won’t be added to a search engine’s index and so you won’t appear in search results.


 

Sitemap

What is it?

A sitemap is a list of pages on your site. It helps search engine bots better index content on your site. Sitemaps are often created in XML format.

Why is it important?

Search engine bots can usually find their way around smaller sites without too many problems. However, if you have a large and/or complex site then a sitemap is important in ensuring all pages are easily accessible by the bots.


 

Tablet

What is it?

A way of describing the device someone used to visit your website. A tablet visitor has accessed your website with a tablet such as an iPad. See also desktop and mobile.

Why does it matter?

You need to ensure your website is easy to view and use no matter what device someone is using to access it. You can more about doing that in this guide. If you’re not sure how your site is displayed on a mobile device, the 123-reg Search Engine Optimiser tool can help you.


 

Title

What is it?

Sometimes called a meta title, the title of a web page is exactly what it sounds like. You’ll most often see it in the bar at the top of a web browser. It’s also used in search engine results and when a page is shared via social media.

Why is it important?

Titles are one of the factors Google uses to rank your site, although they are a very minor factor. Additionally, if your content is ranking well, a well written title can encourage people to click through to your site rather than of a rival. You also need to have unique title for each page on your site.


 

Webmaster Tools

What is it?

A tool from Google that allows you to monitor some technical information about your site, including things like how often the search engine crawls your website.

Why is it important?

There’s lots of interesting information on offer. Plus, if you ever break Google’s guidelines and incur a penalty, you will be informed via Google Webmaster Tools.


 

www.

What is it?

It stands for World Wide Web and is a subdomain used on many websites.

Why is it important?

Because Google and other search engines consider www.example.com and example.com to be two different sites, it’s important to ensure you use either one or the other. You can do this by using a 301 redirect. If you need to know more about 301 redirect, you can check out this guide.


 

XML

What is it?

It means Extensible Markup Language. It’s a coding language.

Why is it important?

Sitemaps are usually created in XML. Don’t worry though, you don’t have to be an XML expert to create a sitemap. There are plenty of online tools that will do that for you.


 

Still stumped? If there’s an SEO word or phrase that’s puzzling you and it’s not on this list, leave us a comment and we’ll help you out.

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