SEO Jargon-Busting: Part 1

Can’t tell your SERPS from your Keywords, your Alt Tags from your Metatags, or your Black Hats from your White Hats?

You are not alone!

If you’re having problems talking to your technical team about optimising your website or are just scratching your head about what optimising means for you and your business, help is at hand. I’ve created a handy SEO jargon-buster of 10 of the most-used technical SEO terms you might come across and maybe have been too shy to ask about.

1. Alt tag / alt text /alt attribute
These terms all essentially refer to the same thing. These are texts boxes that you add to an image on your website with a brief description of what’s in the image. Search engines can’t read images so any pictures you load onto your website should have Alt Text added to it. This is also a requirement for anyone who uses a screen reader since it keeps your site compliant under the UK Equality Act.

2. Black Hat (see also White Hat)
Black Hat tactics are where website owners use unethical techniques to try to influence where they appear in search results. Examples of ‘unethical’ techniques are link farms (buying irrelevant links from affiliate schemes) or keyword “stuffing” (shoe-horning keywords into every nook and cranny of webpage content). Search engines will define what is ‘unethical’ and will penalise offenders in page rankings. But what might have been acceptable to a search engine previously may become unethical in the next upgrade, which is why it’s important to keep up with SEO changes.

3. Bounce Rate
Not everyone who lands on your website will stick around and click through to any of your other pages. If they leave without clicking on anything this is classed as ‘bouncing’. So the Bounce Rate is the number of visitors to your site who leave without clicking on anything as a percentage of the total number of visitors.

Short for HyperText Markup Language and is the code that controls where things appear on a web page. It takes plain text and adds markers or directives to that text to create the required internet format. It’s this code that search engines read – the ‘mother tongue’ if you will – so it needs to be kept as clean and accurate as possible.

5. Keywords
Keywords are the words or phrases that someone types into the search bar of a search engine. Keywords are a vital part of your SEO strategy because if you want to be found on search engines then the relevant keywords need to be on your website.

6. Link text / Anchor text
Link text is what you see when you hover your mouse over a link on a web page before you click on it. Anchor text is a word or phrase on a web page that indicates that there is a link present. Anchor text is usually highlighted in some way (e.g. underlined or in bold) so your reader knows that there is a link. When you hover your mouse over anchor text the link text should become visible.

7. Meta Description
This is the description of your website that’s written into the HTML code. Although not visible to site visitors, metas are visible to search engines, so having a unique meta description for every page is important for SEO. Think of metas as a sneak preview of the web page content. You can always publish a website with no meta descriptions, but the risk is that the search results will display any content on the page that it thinks is relevant, and chances are it won’t be how you would want that page presented.

8. PPC (Pay-Per-Click)
Some website owners want to guarantee that they get on page one of search engine results, especially if they are in a competitive market or have a promotion running. To do this they will pay search engines to put them there using a Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign. You can usually recognise these as ‘sponsored results’ in a search. Google Adwords is an example of PPC. Each time a person clicks on their website because of seeing them in ‘sponsored’ search results, the website owner pays the search engine company.

Search Engine Results Page, or what you see when you type something into a search bar of a search engine and hit “Search”. It’s usually a list of all the web pages that the search engine believes match your search requirements.

10. White Hat (see also Black Hat)
Most search engines have best practice guidelines and website owners and advertisers who scrupulously follow these guidelines would refer to themselves as ‘White Hat’, i.e. the opposite of ‘Black Hat’ since they don’t consciously try to cheat the system. But, as previously mentioned, what may have been acceptable yesterday may not be acceptable tomorrow, so you need to keep up with developments in the SEO world.

Come back soon for Part 2 of SEO Jargon-Busting!