The world of search engine optimisation is confusing for the lay reader at the best of times. With specialists bandying about terms that mean absolutely nothing to those without the knowledge, understanding of these terms is essential. Naturally the logical place to start any glossary is with an alphabetical methodology; the hope of this article is to help the lay reader gain an understanding of the search engine optimisation industry giving some idea of how it works, so starting at A:
ALT Text/Attribute and Anchor Text. The search engine optimisation industry relies upon ALT text attached to an image to attract search engine spiders with textual information. Anchor text is a phrase that is likely to be used by searchers and hence is linked back to a website to make that website more popular in the search engine rankings.
Cloaking is a rather unscrupulous method of search engine optimisation that is used by ‘black hat’ SEO companies. Also defined as unethical, it involves presenting the search engine spiders with a different page from the one that the human user sees. These unseen pages are heavily laden with keywords to attract the spiders and once again, increase rankings. However, using this process will eventually result in harsh penalties from search engines such as de-listing that will render your site practically useless.
Directories and DMOZ. Directories are websites that contain listings of links from all over the web in a categorised form. DMOZ is the most widely used directory in the optimisation industry. This is because it is the largest with many affiliate directories; its human based approach does take longer than other directories but results are ultimately more worthwhile.
Ethical search engine optimisation. This is SEO carried out without employing underhand or unscrupulous methods. Also known as search engine compliance, it attempts to raise site rankings by conforming to the laws of the search engine regulators.
Gateway page. This can be defined as an unethical from of optimisation that optimises a page with the intention of leading visitors from one page to another. Subsequently the gateway page has no real value and hence the search engine regulators frown upon the practise.
Inbound links. A process of optimisation that uses links from external websites to raise the popularity of the site, naturally the more links the better.
Key phrase, Keyword, Keyword analysis and spamming. A keyword is a word that will have a link to the important information on the page, in conjunction with this a key phrase is a collection of keywords. Keyword analysis is the process of discovering which keywords will be useful to target in order to increase traffic to a site. Keyword spamming however is a ‘black hat’ method of optimisation that crams a page with keywords in order to attract the search engine spiders.
Link farm and popularity. Link farm is an unethical form of search engine optimisation that creates a webpage with the singular purpose of linking to other sites. As it is a clear attempt to increase link popularity it is held in contempt by search engines. Popularity is how a search engine sees your website in terms of the quantity and quality of links.
META tags. These are the tags at the top of a webpage that provide extra information on the page’s contents.
Natural links. These are links that have been created because an external party has found the information on a particular website useful. These are very powerful and hold a lot of sway with the search engine spiders.
On and off page elements. Off page elements are factors outside the control of a website developer such as incoming links, on page elements are the opposite of this and are under the direct control of the developer such as content and META tags.
Page rank. Page rank is a tool that allows the measuring of site rankings as an icon on the toolbar. The system is however becoming outdated and less widespread.
Reciprocal links and robots. Reciprocal links are the links that are created as a result of communication between two specific sites, although they are somewhat artificial their main purpose is to create traffic from one site to another. Robots are simply an alternative name for search engine spiders.
Site maps and spiders. Site maps are tree-like formations that give information on the content of a website while spiders are the software that search engines use to include websites to their database of information.
Unethical SEO. This is the process of search engine optimisation that utilises ‘black hat’ techniques in an attempt to hoodwink spiders to increase site rankings and popularity.
This is simply an outline of the terms used in the search engine optimisation industry; it has hopefully given the lay reader a better idea of the processes and elements that are involved in optimisation. This article however will not make you an expert; if everyone could undertake SEO themselves the need for specialists would be negated.