It’s a cool term I learned from Freakonomics , it means that one person knows much more than the other.
Information asymmetry is what allows experts to charge premium prices for their services. In our case, SEO companies have information asymmetry over you and thus they can screw you over without you even realizing that. It’s not a good position to be in, my friend.
Yet information asymmetry has a huge enemy.
There’s nothing more powerful for spreading information far and wide than the internet.
With this blog post I will try to even out the scales between SEO experts and you. I will do that by revealing the meaning of the most commonly used SEO terms. When you learn the language of SEO it becomes so much easier to understand it and once you understand it there’s no chance an SEO company will screw you over 🙂
What you will learn:
The basics of SEO that are necessary to understand more complicated SEO stuff.
You will have an understanding where your SEO company is spending its time.
The meanings of most important SEO terms.
Search Engine – Let’s start with the basics, shall we. A search engine is a tool that organizes all the information on the world wide web and allows to search it conveniently. Search engines are like the gods of SEO, they can give with one hand and take with the other. The most powerful gods are Google and Bing.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing a website for the search engines so that it would appear higher in the rankings and thus bring more visitors to the website.
SERP – It’s short for Search Engine Results Page.
White Hat SEO/ Black Hat SEO/ Gray Hat SEO – There are 3 hats of SEO, white, black and gray. You can think of them as different SEO mentalities. White hat means using methods that aren’t against Google’s terms.
Black Hat SEO methods involve spamming, looking for short term loopholes, building bots for tricking search engines and overall manipulating Google. By using these methods you can get high rankings really fast, but once Google finds out, your website will be banished to the oblivion with little chance of getting back. You want to make sure the company you’re hiring isn’t using these methods or you might be risking your website.
Gray hat is somewhere in between, using rather risky SEO methods that are very hard to detect or methods that are just one step ahead of what Google agrees on. I recommend hiring experts that use white hat SEO techniques.
Local SEO – If you have a local business, then you might want to hire local SEO experts. Local SEO isn’t too much different from general SEO, in fact it can be easier to rank for local SEO if the field isn’t competitive. In general regular SEO revolves around ranking for keywords like “dentist” “plumber” “vet” and local SEO revolves around ranking for keywords like “dentist new york” “plumber SF”.
On page optimization/ on page SEO – On page optimization is the first step when optimizing a website. When you hire an SEO company this is where they will focus first. On page SEO includes creating sitemaps, filling out metadata, optimizing content for specific keywords, etc.
Off page optimization/ off page SEO – Off page SEO is where SEO companies focus next and here they can spend an infinite amount of time, because the more you work here the further you can improve the authority of a website. Off page optimization is everything that’s off page for example backlinks, social signals, etc.
Keyword – It’s a word or phrase that a person enters into a search engine.
Keyword Research – Using software tools (Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, etc.) to find keywords that a lot of people use. A good keyword research uncovers keywords with high volume, low competition and targeted to your business.
Long Tail Keyword – Imagine, you created a revolutionary new diet to lose weight extremely fast and you decided to promote it using SEO. If you would rank for a keyword “diet” you would get thousands of visitors flocking to your site, but the problem is ranking for a keyword like that is very difficult. So, we try something different “weight loss diet”, but still it’s rather competitive and would take months if not years to rank for.
So, we look for a long tail keyword, it’s a phrase of 4 or more words that doesn’t have a lot of volume, but the competition is very low and it’s easy to rank for, an example would be “weight loss diet plan for men”. You can rank for it easily and start generating traffic.
Link/Backlink – A blog in your niche wrote a post and put a clickable link in the article linking to your site. That’s a backlink for your website. All links on other sites that link to yours are backlinks. Google evaluates backlinks and it’s one of many ranking factors. To put it simply a website that has a lot of links pointing to it will rank higher than a website that doesn’t. Current SEO methods rely mostly on building backlinks to rank higher.
Link Building – The most effective way to rank higher in search engines is to build more backlinks to your site. Current SEO methods rely mostly on building backlinks and if you hire an SEO company that’s where it will spend most of its time. There are many ways of building backlinks guest blogging, commenting, forum posting, outreach, etc.
Anchor Text – A link also has anchor text. For example, there’s many different ways I could link to Google. Either, Google, www.google.com, top search engine. All the links point to the same website, but have different anchor text. If a website receives a lot of backlinks with the same anchor text it tends to rank higher for that keyword.
Broken Link – When you link to a website and the website goes down or gets discontinued, then you have a broken link. To check for broken links install this plugin for WordPress.
Outbound links/ Inbound links – You can sometimes hear this term being used by your SEO company, but it’s just fancy words. Outbound link means that your website is linking to another website. Inbound link means that another website is linking to you.
No Follow link/Do Follow link – there are two types of links that you can build, No Follow and Do Follow. A no follow link doesn’t pass “link juice” to the website it’s linking, meaning the link doesn’t increase the rank of the website it links to. A do follow link does pass “link juice” and increases rankings.
Still, it isn’t just black and white. For a balanced link portfolio you need both do follow and no follow links. Usually do follow links come from the body of a website and no follow come from the comments.
Google Penguin Update – We mentioned a balanced link portfolio, but why does it matter? Well, Google uses an algorithm called Penguin to determine whether a website has a natural backlink profile or a spammy one. If a website has a spammy link portfolio it can be devalued in SERP’s. Symptoms of a spammy link portfolio: using only do follow links, links with the same anchor text, links from unrelated websites or spam websites.
Authority Link – Not all links are created equal. Google is getting more and more sophisticated and is able to differentiate backlinks. A backlink from a new website, which has very little content, writes about gambling will have very little value to say a fashion website, but a link from a website that’s an authority in the niche of fashion, let’s say Vogue.com, would have a huge impact to your fashion blog.
Page Rank – This was a simple system designed by Google to weight the authority of different websites. It quickly became the industry standard for evaluating websites. Right now Google has discontinued the Pagerank system and it’s no longer used to rate the authority websites. You can check out tools like Moz Open Site Explorer for an alternative way of evaluating the authority of a website.
Private Blogging Network (PBN) – It’s probably the most popular way that SEO companies use to build backlinks. It’s a rather complicated process. The SEO company creates websites for the sole purpose of creating a backlink to your main site, the sites are regularly updated and with time their authority grows and so does the link value. As your PBN grows bigger and becomes more authoritative you build a lot of high-quality backlinks and your ranking increase.
Tiered Link Building – You only want high-quality websites linking to your website to avoid Google penguin penalties. Yet building authority backlinks is hard and time-consuming on the other hand building low-quality backlinks is easy and can even be automated. Tiered link building utilizes all of the methods. You firstly build a high-quality backlink to your site usually from a blog or news site, then to amplify that link you build lower quality links to that site to increase its rankings and thus the value of the link, these links can come from Web 2.0 sites. Lastly, to build the authority even further you build some automated backlinks to the Web 2.0 sites.
So, the link juice flows from all the spammy websites to the Web 2.0 pages, from those pages to the blogs or news sites and lastly to your website. In this way, you are safe from getting penalized.
Duplicate Content – Copying content from other websites and publishing it on yours is considered duplicate content and by doing that you can get penalized.
Thin Content – Content that is low value, short, has grammatical errors, etc. Can also get your website penalized.
Google Panda Update – Google Panda is an algorithm that evaluates the quality of the website’s content. It devalues websites with duplicate, thin and overall low quality content.
High-Quality Content – The characteristics of high-quality content is informative, well written, grammatically correct, unique and overall providing a great user experience.
Mobilegedon – Google recently started ranking mobile friendly websites higher for mobile searches I wrote in depth about this here.
Exact Match Domain – A domain name that has a relevant keyword phrase included. For example, a website about fashion would include the word style, clothing, accesories, etc. in the domain name. Having keywords in the domain name used to give higher rankings for that keyword, but not anymore.
Web 2.0 – Second generation of websites. If we would look at the websites that were created in the early days of the internet they were static and rarely updated. Web 2.0 sites are based on user-generated content for example, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Social Signals – When a page is shared on social media that creates a social signal quite similar to a backlink. It can be anything from a like, tweet, +1, pin, etc. Social signals are a ranking factor though they impact the rankings far less than backlinks.
Bounce Rate – When a person visits your website and leaves without clicking a single link, by clicking the back button or the close button it’s called a bounce. High bounce rate is considered a sign of bad user experience.
Outreach – It’s a common link building/ traffic generation technique usually used by bloggers. When you write a blog post you send an email to other bloggers letting them know about your blog post, sometimes you can get a link back though just getting a social share is good.
Alt Tag – This is mainly used to optimize images for search engines, because search engines aren’t too good at reading images they rely on keywords that you tell them about the image. Though not long ago Google introduced a new algorithm that allows it to understand images far better than before.
Indexed pages – The number of pages a search engine has stored in its memory.
Search Engine Spider – A program that crawls the internet and looks for new pages to include in its index.
Site map – It’s a map of your site that helps search engine spiders to easier find all your pages and properly index them.
Traffic – just another word for visitors.
Wrapping It Up
You made it bro! You now know the basics of SEO and you SEO company no longer speaks a foreign language to you.
Though maybe I missed something? Let me know in the comments below.