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Before you can get started in Search Engine Optimization, whether you’re doing it yourself or you’re planning on outsourcing the work, you need to familiarize yourself with the terminology used in the industry.

Knowing what each phrase means will ensure you feel in control of your marketing strategy. That being said, let’s begin with SEO terminology basics!

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On-Page Terminology

On-Page terminology will appear quite often when speaking with your SEO technician.

  • Alt-text
  • Heading tag
  • SSL
  • Site load time
  • Sitemap.xml

Alt-text is simply an alternative text for an image. It’s purpose is to increase accessibility for those who cannot see, or are visually impaired. However, it’s also a way for search engines to decipher what your image is about. Your alt-text should describe, in detail, what your image is. You can also throw some keywords so that you can increase your rankings.

Alt-text: Two cows eating grass outside

IMPORTANT: Do not keyword stuff your alt-text with stuff like “dentist near me Brooklyn NY” but rather, make the alt-text natural. If you’re trying to rank for “dentist Brooklyn NY” you may say something along the lines of “Dentist treating patient in Brooklyn, NY office” as this makes sense and someone with sight issues can understand what the image is about.

Heading tags are important HTML tags that indicate how important a specific phrase is. H1 carries the most weight, while H6 carries the least amount of weight. Although, most websites these days only go down to H4.

SSL stands for Secured-Socket-Layer and is a certificate your hosting company gives you to verify to a site user that their connection is secure via encryption. If your site isn’t secure, it will hinder your rankings.

Site load time simply refers to how long your site takes to load. If your site load time is over 6 seconds, your users are more likely to bounce off and not want to engage with your website.

Sitemap.xml is a file that Google and other search engines read to map out your site. This makes it much easier for them to crawl your site and index each page.

Keywords and Keyword Research Terminology

Keywords, target keywords, key phrase, all refer to the same idea. What search term do you want to be #1 for? What are the most common search phrases that your potential customers are looking up.

Many SEO’s will say “what is your desired keyword?” Think about all the keywords you want to appear for. For example, if you’re a dentist in Brooklyn NY you may want to rank for “dental implants brooklyn ny” or “child dentist brooklyn ny”

Keyword research simply refers to the process SEO experts take when looking for the most profitable keywords.

What does “volume” mean in SEO?

Search volume or “vol” as you may sometimes see it, simply refers to the number of times a phrase is being searched up, usually on a monthly basis. The higher the search volume, the more likely you are to reach a larger audience if you’re ranking high for that term.

What is “keyword difficulty” in SEO?

The difficulty of a keyword is usually on a scale of 0-100, or 0-1.0. Simply put, it’s how difficult it would be to rank on the first page for your target keyword. For local SEO, most keywords will be between 0-20. Anything above 20 is going to be quite tricky to rank for, unless your domain has a ton of authority.

If the key phrase “child dentist brooklyn ny” has a difficulty of 20/100 we can assume it’s going to be quite difficult to rank #1.

Most keyword research tools will give you an estimate of “easy” “medium” and “hard” difficulty. For beginners, and non-SEOs, it’s a good idea to follow-up your keyword research tools, but remember they aren’t 100% accurate. Many websites that look like they shouldn’t belong on the first page end up on the first page by building up site authority.

Cost-per-click (CPC)

You’ll most likely come across this term when running Google Ads, Facebook Ads or any pay-per-click advertising method. However, when doing organic SEO research you may come across this as well.

Simply put, CPC is the estimated cost that a company will pay to have their ad clicked on when displayed for a specific term.

When you’re doing your keyword research you can assume that if a keyword has a CPC of $2.00/click, that keyword is profitable. As a local business, you should be going after keywords with a CPC between $1-10.

SEO Analytics Terminology

Now that you know the on-page basics, it’s time to talk about analytics. Make sure to setup your Google Search Console and Google Analytics for your site so you can monitor your site’s traffic. Remember, you want a data-driven approach to your marketing, not just intuition.

Bounce rate, what does it mean?

What is a bounce rate? Simply put, a bounce rate is a term we online marketers use to describe the rate at which users load a page, and immediately click right off.

You’ve definitely loaded a page that you didn’t want to load before, and as soon as you realized that you probably clicked right off. That’s a bounce.

So how does it affect your rankings? Well, if your bounce rate is high, it indicates to Google that your site content is not relevant to what the user was searching for, or that it wasn’t engaging enough to keep the user on your site.

However, you can’t expect every user that lands on your site to engage with it, so bounces are expected. Generally speaking, a healthy bounce rate is anywhere between 0-65%. If you have a bounce rate of 80% on a particular page, there is probably something that isn’t clicking with your users and you should probably check your web design and content.

Session duration

A session duration is simply how long a user stays on your site. A site with a longer average session duration (taking into account the avg. session duration of all users) will usually perform better.

Think about it, if you’re going to give out rankings would you want to favor a site that has users staying on the page for 5 seconds, or the site that has users staying on the page for a full minute?

Your SEO expert might tell you that your session duration is an average of 48 seconds. Depending on your content, your session duration should be between 30 second and 2 minutes. The longer your duration, however, the better!

Backlinks and Internal Links

Almost every SEO salesman, or agent will talk about backlinks and how you need dozens of links to rank higher in Google. But what exactly are backlinks? And what are internal links?

Backlinks and why they matter

A backlink is a link from another site pointing to your site. Simple! The problem is you need to consider where your links are coming from. If your links are coming from spammy forums from China to your dental page, Google is going to spot that and penalize you for that.

When looking at backlinks you want to check the site’s domain authority / rating, and what kind of content that site is known for. A backlink from the BBB, Yahoo Local, and Manta are great for local businesses.

The more backlinks you have, the more authority your site will have. This is because search engines favor sites that have a lot of external signals.

Internal linking, a FREE way to build authority.

So another way to build site authority is by building content, and link that content together. You’ll notice that in this blog there are links to other pages from JCSURGE. This is called internal or inter linking. It helps distribute page authority, and really helps with User Experience.

In your service pages, and blogs, anytime you reference another service or blog you want to create an internal link to that page so that you can increase overall site authority.

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Have Any SEO or Marketing Related Questions?

Now that you know the basics of SEO terminology, you’re ready to begin increasing your site’s ranking. You can either do it yourself, or have the SEO experts are JCSURGE do it for you.


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