Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of those things that a lot of people talk about but don’t really know much about. Heck, when my interest in digital marketing first began seven or eight years ago, I didn’t know much about SEO other than what the acronym stood for. I’ve come a long way, friends.
I share that because I can empathize with the majority of people out there who don’t know a ton about the world of search — especially when it comes to the nitty gritty of how search engines work and even some basic SEO terms– because that was me, once.
Since then, I’ve cultivated a deep understanding of search strategies, thanks to a great team around me and some incredible resources out on the interwebs — Moz, Search Engine Land, Backlinko, among others. I learned the importance of SEO for essentially every type of business, no matter the goals, as it can drive:
- Foot Traffic
- Lead Generation
- Online Sales
- Brand Awareness
Since I promised “10 minutes or less” in the title of this post, we should dive right in, huh? Here we go — 8 of the most important SEO terms you need to know!
Alright, I’m starting with keywords not because they are the most important part of SEO, rather, because ‘keywords’ seems to be where most peoples’ minds go when they think of SEO.
Keywords are the actual words and/or phrases a user types into a search bar in Google, Bing, Yahoo!, DuckDuckGo, etc, and are vital to how search engines work. Ideally, you want your company’s website to show up on that first page of search results when someone searches for a keyword that is related to your business.
For example, our agency does digital marketing. When someone searches for ‘digital marketing Milwaukee,’ we’d like to show up for that. The same concept applies to you and your business: identifying keywords your audience is using and implementing a strategy to be found for those search terms.
2) Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
A search engine results page (affectionately referred to as ‘SERP’) is exactly what it sounds like: the page a search engine shows after you hit ‘Search.’ In Google, a SERP can consist of a variety of components, including:
- 8-10 URL results
- Advertisements (Google AdWords)
- Features Snippets or Quick Answers
- Related Search Terms
The goal of a search engine is to deliver high-quality results on these SERPs, so optimizing your website to be positioned well here has never been more important, and more competitive.
3) Title Tags
A title tag is the title of a page on your website. This lives within an HTML tag inside the head section of a website, and shows up in both the browser tab and the SERP.
Title tag optimization is a basic SEO strategy that can help with ranking. Ideally, you’d include the primary keyword you are trying to rank for in your title tag, a secondary keyword (if room), and your brand, like below. All in all, a title tag should fall in the 50-60 count for characters.
4) Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions used to be all the rage in the world of search engine marketing, but have since fallen off in terms of Google ranking factors (still important, though!).
A meta description is a 160-character-or-less snippet that describes the web page. It can be found under the title tag in a SERP, and should describe the page; think of it as an elevator pitch to the searcher of why they should click this result over the others.
Keyword inclusion (note: not stuffing) is important here as Google bolds the search terms in the meta description, catching the eye of the searcher, ideally guiding them to click.
5) ALT Text
Image ALT text describes the image to a search engine. While humans are able to see the images displayed on a web page, search engines can’t, so they rely on the ALT text to understand what the image is and if it is relevant to the search query.
We recommend including image ALT text whenever possible, as it can help with page ranking when it comes to specific keywords. For example, using that ‘digital marketing Milwaukee‘ keyword example again, if we have an image on our Digital Marketing page, we may want to add image ALT text for that keyword like ‘digital-marketing-Milwaukee-Regal’ or something similar.
6) 301 Redirect
A 301 redirect is the primary method for redirecting traffic from one URL (page) to another. This is often done during a website redesign where companies decide to add/remove pages to/from their site.
When a user clicks a link to a page that no longer exists, a 301 redirect will tell Google (or other search engines) “Hey, that page isn’t there anymore. Take the user here, instead!”
By doing this, you are able to main a majority of ‘SEO value’ for a page that you remove by passing it over to the new page at the end of the redirect. Long story short, you can think of a 301 redirect as a permanent address change.
7) Anchor Text
Anchor text is one of the most important factors when it comes to ranking well for a given keyword. In fact, if trusted, high-quality websites link to your website using keywords you want to rank for in their anchor text, well, that’ s a huge win.
In general, great SEO avoids use anchor text words like ‘here’ and ‘this,’ and focused on using primary keywords for anchor text.
8) Link Building
Speaking of anchor text and links, Link Building is a common SEO strategy many agencies and organizations use. In essence, link building is just that: the process of building high-quality links to your website.
We like to think of links to your website as votes. In general, the more votes you have, the better, but it isn’t just quantity that matters here, quality is huge. If a random person tells you who they are voting for in an election, you don’t think too much about it. If the New York Times declares their support for a candidate, that may mean more to you. In this example, random person = low quality, small website, and New York Times = high quality, trusted website.
The more high-quality links you have pointing to your website, the better, and link building is a strategy for going out and earning those links.
That’s It for Now
OK, so hopefully this only took you 10 minutes to read. If you’d like to learn more about SEO, check out some of our other popular resources on SEO and digital marketing in general. Or, if you’d like to learn more about how your business can increase leads, grow sales, or anything in between, reach out to our team here.