Sunday, December 7, 2008

Last of the SEO glossary

So this is the last of the SEO term glossary we're going to cover before we're going to look at an SEO case study and work through an example step by step. More details of this below after today's final set of terms:

text links - These are plain HTML links that do not involve images, flash, or javascript

time on page - Exactly what it says.. the amount of time someone spends on one page before clicking an outbound link or entering a new address in the address bar. Longer is better, obviously.

toolbar pagerank (PR) This is a value between 0 and ten giving an indication of relative page importance - it is not the same as pagerank. This is not updated frequently by google and is so not a reliable indicator of current status.

trust rank - This is a method of differentiating between valuable pages and spam by quantifying link relationships from trusted human evaluated seed pages. Manual is given more weight than automated links.. debatable how accurate the SEO algorithms for determining this are.

URL - Uniform Resource Locator - This is the http:// .. web address you type in your address bar

user generated content (also known as UGC) This includes media like Social bookmarking networks, wikis, and some blogs that rely heavily on UGC. The content that users create drive the site and the business model.

walled garden a group of pages which link to each other, but are not linked to by any external pages. A walled garden may still be indexed if it is included in a sitemap, but it is unlikely to have high pagerank

web 2.0 Much hyped-about technology characterised by websites which are designed to encourage user interaction.

white hat SEO - SEO techniques that conform to best practice guidelines (viz. Google's guidelines). This is what you want to use.

widget - this is a small application on blogs, web pages etc that provide specific functions such as a displaying number of subscribers, hits, time and date etc.

So from the next few posts, we're going to be looking at a case study. I've exchanged a couple of emails to the cartoonists at Wonkie cartoon blog and they're keen to get input from an SEO point of view on their site.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

SEO glossary - Terms S

Today we're covering the letter S.. I'm also working on getting a potential case study to walk you through a full SEO implementation. If you have any suggestions then drop me a line and you could get a freebie!

sandbox There is a rumour (and there are plenty about Google!) that Google puts new sites into a “sandbox.” Think of this as a trial period for the site in which it will not rank well. THe idea behind this is that a site should be around for a certain period of time to be relevant. Short term sites are unlikely to have anything of value for the end user. Again, debatable but you need to know the term.

scrape This is the process of copying content from a site, often through the use of bots. If you have half decent content with some keywords, it's likely your content WILL get scraped at some point or the other .. be prepared!

search engine (or SE) is an application that searches 1 or more documents for relevant matches of a user's keyword phrase and returns a list of the most relevant matches. The big three Internet search engines are Google, Yahoo and MSN

search engine spam These are webpages that are specifically created to cause search engines to produce inappropriate or less relevant results. Many people claiming to do SEO are actually spammers.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) - SEM is used to describe the process associated with researching, submitting and positioning a Web site within search engines to achieve maximum exposure on certain keyword searches.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) This is the process of increasing the number of visitors to a Web site through achieving high rankings in the search engine results pages (see SERP below). Obviously the higher the rank the better as there is a greater chance the searcher will click through to your webpage.

Search Engine Results Page (SERP) - the results page that comes up after a user does a search based on keywords

site map - This is a single page or group of pages which link to every user accessible page on a website - exactly what it sounds like - a map of the entire website. An XML sitemap, often kept in the root directory of a website, usually has the specific purpose to help search engine crawlers ensure they index all website pages.

sock puppet - act of establishing multiple user profiles or hiding your real identity when posting comments, etc.

social bookmark This is very important - it's a form of Social Media where user's bookmarks are aggregated for public access. Common sites for this are Digg, StumbleUpon, Mixx, Newsvine and many others. There are a number of products such as AddThis that allow a user to easily bookmark a page and share it with their friends.

social media - Web-based technologies used by people to share information and views. Blogs, wikis, forums, social bookmarking, user reviews and rating sites (digg, reddit) are all examples of Social Media. As are sites such as Facebook.

social media marketing (SMM) Website/ brand promotion through social media

spam ad page These are Made For Advertisement pages which usually use scraped or machine generated text for content. These pages have no real value to users. Spammers often create sites with hundreds of these pages (they get revenue based on the ad-clicks)

spam-dexing Also known as search engine spamming, this is the practice of deceptively modifying web pages to increase the chance of them being placed close to the beginning of search engine results, or to influence the category to which the page is assigned in a dishonest manner. - definition taken from Wikipedia

spammer A person who sends/ posts something unsolicited and commercial

spider A bot or crawler used by search engines to find and add webpages to its index.

spider trap - this is an endless loop of automatically generated links which can “confuse” a spider program. These are often intentionally used to prevent automated scraping or e-mail address harvesting by bots.

splash page Often animated, graphics pages without significant textual content. These are usually great for human users but can be very bad for SE spiders which usually only navigate through text links. Beware how you use these. The same argument applies to flash-based websites.

Splog - Spam Blog or Splog is a blog which usually contains little if any value to humans, and is often machine generated or made up of scraped content. It's not as irritating for end users as it is for the original copyright owners. Sadly there is little to do to stop them. Report them as contravening the DCMA to Google .. it's a process but probably worth the effort to protect your content and ranking.

static page A webpage without dynamic content or session-id variables in the URL. Static pages are good for SEO in that they are friendly for search engine bots.

stickiness Opposite of bounce. Website should entice users to stay on the site longer, and view more pages - this is called improving “stickiness”. An internally well-linked site is important for stickiness

submission (to search engine) - submitting your URL to a search engine to crawl and index

supplemental index These are pages with usually very low or non-existent pagerank. They may be still relevant to a search query and can often appear in the SERPs (labelled as a supplemental result). This does not necessarily indicate a Google penalty.

That's S done for today! As I was typing this out I thought it may be useful to have a site that has a combination of images/ photos and text to optimise. The cartoon blog I mentioned in my previous post, Wonkie, is probably a good one for this.

Friday, November 28, 2008

SEO Glossary terms N-P

Today we're covering terms from N-P related to SEO - we're almost there!

natural search results These refer to search engine results which are the result of organic linking and not paid for or sponsored in any way.

nofollow This command is usually found in the HEAD section of a web page or within individual link code (usually looks something like rel="external nofollow" when represented as part of a anchor href statement). This tells search bots to not follow either any links on the page or that specific link. Use of the nofollow statement is a form of link condom.

noindex This command is found in either the HEAD section of a web page or within an individual link code. It instructs search bots not to index that page or the specific link. Again, this is a form of link condom.

non reciprocal link This is also known as a one-way link. if site X links to site Y, but site Y does not link back to site X, then the link is considered non reciprocal. Search engines tend to give more value to non-reciprocal links than to reciprocal ones because they are less likely to be the result of dodgy behaviour between the 2 sites.

organic link organic links are those that are published only because the content creator feels they will add value for their users.

pagerank (or google PR) is typically a value between 0 and 1 assigned by the Google. It is a measure of link popularity and authority amongst other mostly unknown factors. Newbies should not worry about this too much for now - it can be pretty random and most SEO specialists agree that real page authority and pagerank often have little correlation. Also Google is a bit painful when it comes to assigning pagerank.. it all appears somewhat random at times. In short, don't sweat it!

pay for inclusion This practice, also known as PFI in short, basically amounts to charging a fee to include a site in a directory or search engine. Probably good not to consider a Yahoo directory submission e.g. as a paid link - it just helps with faster consideration of your site by SEs

portal A consolidator website which offers a wide range of features to entice users to make the portal their “home page” on the web. IGoogle, Yahoo, and MSN are portals.

PPA (or Pay Per Action) is similar to PPC (Pay Per Click) except here the publishers only get paid when click throughs result in a conversion - be it a sale or lead or whatever.

PPC (Pay Per Click) this is an ad scheme where sponsors pay advertising agencies, e.g. Google Adwords, whenever a user clicks on their ad.

More soon :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

SEO Glossary - Terms J-M

So here are some more glossary terms you should feel comfortable with when discussing SEO.

keyword - This is a key phrase a user enters into a search engine when he's looking for something.

keyword cannibalization This refers to the excessive re-use of the same keyword on too many web pages within the same site. Doing this makes it tough for the users and the search engines to know which web page is most relevant for the keyword.

keyword density This refers to the percentage of words on a web page which are a particular keyword. If this value is unnaturally high the page may be penalized.

keyword spam/ stuffing This refers to an inappropriately high keyword density.

landing page this is the page a user arrives at when he clicks on a link after a search.

latent semantic indexing or LSI - Search engines index commonly associated groups of words in a document. SEOs refer to these same groups of words as 'Long Tail Searches' - see definition below. The majority of searches consist of three or more words strung together. The significance is that it may be too difficult to rank well for “cartoon”, it may be much easier to rank for “Jacob Zuma AIDS cartoon”. The more detail the better.

link - The thing you click on a web page that makes your browser go to another web page or another part of the same page.

link bait - This is a webpage that has been designed to attract incoming links, often mostly via social media networks like Facebook.

link building - this is the process of collecting inbound links to a website. Remember, no links, no authority, no page rank, no search engine love...

link condom This can be any of a number of techniques used to avoid passing link love to another page, or to avoid possible negative results of endorsing a bad site by way of an outgoing link, or to discourage link spam in user generated content. In blogs this is most commonly implemented using the nofollow tags (e.g. rel = "external nofollow" - when you see this in a page source it means search engines have been instructed not to follow the link or give the link authority)

linkerati or mad taggers these are the internet users who are the most productive targets of linkbait. Linkerati includes - posters in discussion forums, social taggers, bloggers and other content creators - those who are most likely to create incoming links or link generating traffic (in the case of social networkers).

link exchange a scheme to create reciprocal links often facilitated by a site devoted to directory pages. Link exchanges usually allow links to sites of low or no quality, and add no value themselves. The best quality directories are usually human edited for quality assurance - they usually have a screening process upon submission.

link farm a site that basically consists of a bunch of links. Not looked upon with friendly eyes by search engines these days as they are seen to warp organic search results

link love An outgoing link, which passes authority or page rank, this is without the use of a link condom (the opposite of nofollow by the way is dofollow in case you want to make a countable reference to another site)

link partner - Two sites which link to each other through some kind of reciprocal arrangement. Search engines usually don’t see these as high value links.

link spam - See Comment Spam earlier. Usually associated with blogs

link text - See Anchor text definition earlier

long tail - this refers to the fact that longer, more specific search queries are often more effective than shorter broad queries. E.g. see the LSI definition above. The larger percentage of all searches tend to be long tail searches.

mashup - this refers to a web page which consists primarily of software and other small programs (gadgets and widgets) or possibly links to such programs. Mashups are pretty quick and easy content to produce and are quite popular with users. Mashups can make good link bait. Tool collection pages are sometimes mashups. Others are top 10 tips for doing something etc.. e.g. top 10 SEO tips for newbies

META tags - These are important! The statements occur within the HEAD section of an HTML page and provides information about that webpage. META information may be in the SERPs but is not visible on the page. The most critical thing to remember is that they should be unique and accurate - especially the META title and description tags. This is because they may be the information that the search engines most rely upon to figure out what that web page is about. Also, they are the first impression that users get about your page within the SERPs. The title and description is what gets displayed in the search results when a user conducts a search and your page shows up in the results.

MFA - Made For Advertisements websites that are designed from the ground up as a venue for advertisements. This isn't always a bad thing.

mirror site This refers to having an identical site at a different address.

That's all for today! N-Z over the next week or so after I'm back from vacation!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Entertainment deviation!

Taking a break from the SEO jargon talk today and thought I'd introduce a site I came across on StumbleUpon today.. it's called Wonkie - a fantastic cartoon site especially the Viva South Africa cartoon strip.

They make proper use of Meta tags on the site but if you'll notice the cartoons themselves do not have 'alt' text associated with them - considering this is a cartoon based site and the images are as important as they would be in a photo blog, this is something the author should try to correct as a priority. More about this site as a case study after we're done with the first few SEO tips and lessons.. let me not jump the gun too much just yet!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

SEO Glossary - H-I

hit Refers to a hit or a server transaction - not really used any more since the concept of page impressions came about. One page impression could generate many hits.

hub - a trusted page with high quality content that links out to related pages.

HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) directives or “markup” which are used to add formatting and web functionality to plain text for use on the internet. HTML is the mother tongue of the search engines, and should generally be strictly and exclusively adhered to on web pages.

impression (page view) The event where a user views a webpage one time.

in-bound link (or incoming link) In-bound links from related pages are the source of trust and pagerank.

indexed Pages -These are the pages on a website which have been indexed by a search engine. Google webmaster tools are a useful way of keeping track of this

Friday, September 5, 2008

SEO glossary F-G

feed - This is content that is delivered to a customer via special websites or programs such as news aggregators or readers. An example is the Google Reader - try it if you haven't already.

FFA - FFA stands for Free For All - this is a page or site with many outgoing links to unrelated websites, containing little if any unique content. Link farms are only intended for search spiders, and have little if any value to human users, and thus are ignored or penalized by the search engines.

frames a web page design where two or more documents appear on the same screen, each within its own frame. Frames are to be avoided for good SEO because search spiders often fail to navigate them correctly. Also many users dislike frames because it is almost like having two tiny screen neither of which shows a full page of information at one time.

gateway page Also known as a doorway page - This is a web page that is designed to attract traffic from a search engine and then redirect it to another site or page. A doorway page isn't exactly the same as cloaking but the effect is the same in that users and search engines are served different content.

gadget - Also known as a gizmo or widget, these are small applications used on web pages to provide specific functions such as a number of feed subscriptions, a hit counter or IP map display. Gadgets can make good link bait.

Google bomb The combined effort of multiple webmasters to change the Google search results usually for humorous effect. The “miserable failure” - George Bush (try it out - type miserable failure in Google and do a search).

Google bowling This is the act of maliciously trying to lower a sites rank by sending it links from dodgy sources - Kind of like yelling “Hope the herpes goes away soon!” to your friend as you get off class. According to google's white papers this is usually not much of an issue since webmasters cannot control who links to their site.. don't worry about it too much.

Google juice This is usually referred to as Pagerank in Google, which flows through outgoing links to other pages.

Googlebot This is google’s spider program

GYM The big three search engines - Google, Yahoo and Microsoft

Friday, August 1, 2008

SEO Glossary - D-I

directory This of this is a giant yellow pages site containing an index of other relevant sites or services. An example is DMOZ or the Yahoo directory.

dofollow - Dofollow usually forms part of a link expression. It is inserted by plugins such as CommentLuv to ensure your blog gives commentors link love.

doorway - Also known as a gateway. This is another bad, bad thing to avoid doing - it is a web page that is designed specifically to attract traffic from a search engine. A doorway page which redirects users (but not spiders) to another site or page is implementing cloaking.

duplicate content - Also see canonical issues earlier. Obviously content which is similar or identical to that found on another website or page. You may not suffer from hosting duplicate content but also don't expect to gain any authority based on it. Be original in your content creation

e commerce - this is a website devoted to commercial sales like Amazon for example.

Monday, July 14, 2008

SEO Glossary - B an C

Today we'll cover the B and C terms important for you to know for SEO:

Bait and switch - Common con-artist terminology... In this case it refers to changing content after high rankings are achieved.

backlink - Also known as incoming links. This is any link into a page or site from any other page or site.

buying links - exactly what it sounds like - you buy links into a particular site or page

black hat SEO - Search engine optimisation technique that is bad - very bad. They do not follow google or other search engine guidelines and are techniques that effectively dupe the user into going to a page or website.

blog - This is a blog - it's a website that presents content in a chronological order. Most blogs use a CMS (see below) such as WordPress or Blogger (like this) rather than individually created webpages.

bots - These are also known as robots, spiders, crawlers. They are programs which performs an activity more or less autonomously. Search engines use bots to find and add web pages to their search indexes. Spammers sometimes use bots to “scrape” content for usually illegal anti-copyright reuse for their own benefits.

bounce rate - This is the percentage of users who enter a site and then leave it without viewing any other pages.

canonical issues - Also known as the issue of duplicate content. It is sadly just about impossible to avoid duplicate content, particularly on blogs where numerous applications like RSS to blog help spammers scrape original content for their own use. The noindex meta tag in legitimate copies, and 301 server redirects can help search engines distinguish between duplicate content on your own site (e.g. on and and which may all lead the user to the same default page)

click fraud - Some companies like the infamous ClickMonkey site encourage click fraud - the practice of generating clicks usually to: (a) make the advertiser of a particular competitor site incur advertising cost that will yield him no return or (b) and more commonly, getting people to click on ads on your own site to fraudulently generate revenue. Make no mistake, this is fraud and it is a felony in most parts of the world - get caught doing this and you'll be screwed (most likely in places you'd rather not be screwed)

cloak - This is the practice of delivering different content to the search engine spider than that seen by the human users. This is one of many Black Hat SEO techniques and is frowned upon by the search engines and carries a virtual death penalty of the site/domain being banned from the search engine results.

CMS Content Management System - Programs such as Drupal, Joomla and Wordpress, which separate most of the tedious website maintenance tasks from content creation so that a content publisher can focus on what he does best - creating content.

comment spam - This is the bad, bad practice of posting blog comments for the purpose of generating a backlink to another site or webpage.

content - This is also refered to as copy. It is the part of a web page that is intended to be of interest to the user. Advertising, navigation, and branding messages are not usually considered to be content.

contextual advertisement Advertising which is related to the content.

conversion - This is the achievement of a quantifiable goal on a website. Click-throughs, sign ups, and sales are examples of conversions.

conversion rate - Percentage of users who convert

CPC - Cost Per Click the rate that is paid per click by an advertiser

CPM - Cost Per Mil (i.e. 1000) impressions. A metric used to quantify the cost of showing your ad 1000 times.

crawler - This is bot or spider (see earlier) that studies a website or page to capture the link structure for search engines.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

First - the SEO glossary! - Start with A

So let's become familiar with the most important terms - a letter a day to start with. Today we'll cover numbers and the letter A:

301/ 302 server redirects - you can get two types of redirects - permanent and temporary. The change of address for a web page found in the htaccess file if you're using an Apache server.

adwords - Google product allowing website owners to advertise their products using a CPC (Cost Per Click) or CPM (Cost per 1,000 impressions) basis. The advertisements are contextual - i.e. they depend on the context of the content on that page.

affiliate - An affiliate website is a third party marketer or reseller of products. The products and/ or services are sold in return for fees or commissions. Some types of affiliate programs can be quite lucrative - particularly in the gambling space

alt text - Alt text is a description of an image or graphic. It is not usually displayed to the end user, unless the image is not available, or a browser is used that doesn’t display images. Alt text is important because search engines can’t tell one picture from another. Alt text is the one place where it is acceptable for the spider to get different content than the human user, but only because the alt text is accessible to the user, and when properly used is an accurate description of the associated image.

analytics - Another google product which assists in gathering and analyzing data about website usage. It is free.

anchor text - Anchor text is the text of a link that's visible to the end user. Search engines such as google use anchor text to indicate the relevancy of the referring site and of the link to the content on the landing page. Ideally all three will share some keywords in common.

authority - Also known as link juice or Google juice, this is the amount of trust that a site is credited with for a particular search query. Authority/trust is derived from related incoming links from other trusted sites. You can trust that your authority will be zero when your website is just starting off - it takes time to build up so be patient.

authority site - This is a website which has many inbound links from other related expert or hub websites. Because of so many links from trusted sites, an authority site usually has high trust, pagerank (see later for definition), and search results placement.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

My First Post

Finally getting started into the big blue blogosphere - my blog, Craig's Corner will be covering a variety of SEO related topics that I have found useful over the last few years. I'll be taking excerpts from other sites and adding them here as and when I think people, particularly beginners, will find them useful.

When I started off in the SEO space things were a lot simpler than they are now. It was pretty easy to game search engines - even google. Particularly over the last year a lot of this has changed with Google changing its strategy with regard to search and making it harder for people to simply buy links to effectively buy themselves into good ratings. Perhaps this is good for the consumer (debatable at times) and not so good for the online marketer - it has introduced a lot more variables and inconsistency in the ratings (at least from an SEO perspective).

Enjoy the blog and hope it gives you a better understanding of SEO practices and what you should or should not do to piss search engines off!