Keywords Optimisation SEO

Keyword optimisation comes after you have conducted keyword research and built your list of target keywords. (Free bonus On-Page SEO Keyword Optimisation Cheatsheet here.)

Here’s a sample of a raw keyword research list in excel format:

Keyword Research List Example

So what we’re essentially doing here is taking these keywords and placing them into key areas of your website. They are:

  1. Title Tags
  2. Domain Name and URL
  3. Meta Description
  4. Images
  5. Content

1. Title Tags (Best Practices)

Title Tags <title>Example Title</title> tell search engines what your page is about. Search engines may then use your title tags to display your page title on the search results snippets.

Title in search results snippets

If your website is on WordPress.org, install the Yoast SEO plugin to enable the Title Tag field to fill in your title tags. If you’re on other content management systems, there should be a built-in SEO title box/field or an extension to enter your title tags.

Here are some SEO best practices for your Title Tags:

  • Place the keyword closer to the front of the title. Moz tested and concluded that this increases the likelihood of a user clicking on the search result and also helps in search engine rankings.
  • Ensure your title is unique, outstanding, and appealing. Cross check with competitor sites and your own internal page titles. Consider the searcher intent and make your title appeal to their emotions. The more appealing the title, the higher the click-through-rate. Search engines also place importance in the uniqueness of your title.
  • Keep the length of your title between 50 – 60 characters / 512 pixels wide. If the title is too long, search engines will truncate the titles and show an ellipsis.
  • Include your brand name in the title tag. It is good practice to place your brand name in front on the title tag for the homepage and at the back for internal pages of your site. This increases brand exposure and the likelihood of a user (who has repeated seen the brand’s name) clicking on a particular brand’s search result.
  • Optimise for multiple keywords. Optimising for multiple keywords increases the chances of ranking for more than one keyword. For example, business cards and name cards share similar meaning and can both be included in the title tags if there is sufficient space (512 pixels max).

2. Domain Name and URL (Best Practices)

The domain name and URL appears in the search results snippets as well.

Domain URL in Search Results Snippets

Exact match domain names (EMD) like classroomforrent.com no longer have significant direct impact on rankings after Google turned the knob down on EMDs in the recent years.

However having an EMD can indirectly impact rankings when external sites include a naked hyperlink (e.g. <a href=“http://classroom-rental.com>classroom-rental.com</a>) to your site, since keywords in the anchor text are considerably an important ranking factor.

Here are some SEO best practices for your domain name and URLs:

  • Keep all sections of your site in one domain or subdomain. It is recommended to keep your important webpages in sub directories (e.g. example.com/blog/post/ as opposed to blog.example.com/post/) as search engines use different ranking metrics for domains and subdomains.
  • Avoid nesting folders into deep layers e.g. www.example.com/folder1/folder2/folder3/example-content as search engine spiders may have trouble crawling deeper into your site. Search engines also tend not to crawl deeper into your site if you have a low domain authority.
  • Include your keywords in your URLs. e.g. https://www.example.com/classroom-for-rent/
  • Keep your domain name and URLs short and easy to understand (< 100 characters) and use lower case letters. This makes it easier for users to remember and type into the browser. Some users may not be exactly sure whether they have gotten the correct spelling of the domain name. Thus they would search for the domain name on Google instead of typing the full address.
  • Consider removing “stop words” such as and, or, but, a, etc. Shorter URLs allow users to easily remember and type the full URL.
  • Avoid rewriting dynamic URLs into static URLs e.g. (www.example.com/index.php?page=icdl-module&id=31). Though it is advisable to use static URLs as much as possible, in cases when you have dynamic content, it is recommended not to remove information (hiding parameters) to make them look static. To check whether Google has problems crawling your dynamic URLs, you can check for any issues/alerts in your GWT (Google Webmaster Tools) account.
  • Use hyphens and underscores as word separators but avoid hyphens on domain names. Using hyphens and underscores (hyphens preferred) on your URLs is recommended. It helps indicate to search engines the number of keywords used in the URL. E.g. example.com/rentalounge/ should be written as example.com/rent-a-lounge/. On the other hand, domain names should avoid using hyphens as this is common practice among spammy websites. (e.g. class-room-rental-for-rent.com)
  • Get HTTPS. Google has confirmed the use of HTTPS as a ranking signal. However it is now only a very lightweight signal compared to other signals such as high-quality content. It is still good practice to adopt HTTPS on your websites as Google may decide to strengthen this signal over time.

Further reading:

Keep a simple URL structure | Google Search Console Help

15 SEO Best Practices for Structuring URLs | Moz

3. Meta Description (Best Practices)

The meta description isn’t a ranking factor as stated by Google in 2007. It’s worth noting however, that meta descriptions can improve clickthrough (driving user traffic to your website).

Meta Description Example

Here are some SEO best practices for your meta description:

  • Keep your meta description between 150 to 160 characters. If your meta description is too long, Google will truncate it.
  • Include your target keywords in your meta description. This will make it more compelling for users to click when they see words that are relevant to their search query.
  • Make your meta description is unique, outstanding, and persuasive. Treat the meta description as your ad text. Be sure to browse through the search results (both paid and organic results) and ensure yours is the most outstanding and has the most compelling value proposition.
  • Ensure it is wrapped around the meta tags. <meta name=”description” content=“Example meta description content that will often show up in the search results snippets.”> and placed in the <head></head> section. For WordPress sites, use the Yoast SEO plugin to easily add a meta description.
  • Use only alphanumeric characters in your meta description. If wrapped in quotes “ ”, Google won’t display it.
  • Use structured data markup if it is appropriate to the content. (Use a WordPress rich snippets plugin if you are using WordPress, or hire a web developer if you wish to create your own snippets.)

4. Images (Best Practices)

Using images can help make your content livelier and also convey credibility (trust is an important factor for conversions). Avoid using overly-used stock photos. If you’re selling a product, include closeup photos of them. If you’re renting out a room, include professionally-taken photos of your rooms.

Which company would you trust?

Here are some SEO best practices for your images:

  • Use a descriptive image file name i.e. (car-showroom.jpg instead of DM9902.jpg). This will help Google understand your image better and help it rank better on Google Image Search.
  • Make your alt tags descriptive of the image and include your target keywords when possible (do not stuff keywords). <img src=“http://example.com/uploads/car-showroom.jpg alt=“car showroom”>. This is a ranking factor and will help in your rankings.
  • Reduce your image file sizes and use the right image file type (e.g. JPEG is preferred over PNG / GIF). Slow loading times can negatively impact your rankings.
  • Use unique, high quality, custom graphics/photos where possible to increase chances of people embedding/citing your images. This will help in your link building efforts. 
  • Include your images into your sitemap and submit your sitemap to search engines. It will help search engines to crawl and index your images better.

5. Content (Best Practices)

Creating the best and most relevant answer for your target search queries is one of the best principles to stick by. Think of the search query as a question (also known as the searcher intent), and your content as the answer to the question, and you’ll be on the right track.

If someone were searching for “currency converter tool”, what would be the best thing to show up in front of her?

Yup, you got it. An online currency converter software like www.xe.com.

Currency converter tool example content

Content can come in many forms, including some of the following:

  • Blogpost – Copy that’s a couple of hundred (or thousands of) words long and may include images, written in a friendly, second-person point of view style.
  • Article – Online news reports, magazine, or a shortened form of a white paper are all examples of articles, written in a more serious tone as compared to a blogpost.
  • Video – If someone were searching for “how to bake a cake tutorial”, a blogpost with a detailed step-by-step video detailing how to bake a cake from scratch would be a great answer.
  • Product Page – A page zooming in on a product’s specific details on an e-commerce website.
  • Listicles – Think of search terms like “best restaurants in my area”. What would be the most appropriate results? – Most probably content publishing sites like www.thesmartlocal.com featuring an blogpost titled, “21 Best Local Restaurants in Singapore”.

The list goes on and on…

Here are some SEO best practices for your content:

  • Ensure your main content (MC) and supplementary content (SC) is relevant to your target keywords and provides the best answer to the searcher intent. This helps to minimise “pogo-sticking” (where a visitor bounces back to the search results pages right after clicking on a search result), as visitors expect to see a relevant and useful content after clicking on a search result.
  • Mention your primary and secondary keywords early on in your copy. It is good SEO practice to mention your primary and secondary keywords in the first paragraph of your copy. This signals to search engines that your content is relevant to your target keywords mentioned in your title.
  • Primary and secondary keywords should be included in subheadings and distributed evenly throughout your copy. On the other hand, stuffing your target keywords on every paragraph of your copy can be a signal of spam and get your pages penalised by search engines.
  • Ensure your content is unique and has E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness). Write like you’re the subject matter expert and worry about keyword optimisation later. These are indicators which Google uses to access the quality of your content and are used in their ranking algorithms.
  • Link out to relevant internal pages of your website or relevant external websites where appropriate. To improve your pages’ relevancy score and help search engines understand the topic of your pages and index them better, link each page back to its category or subcategory pages, related internal pages of your site, and external relevant and reputable sources.

Key Takeaways

  1. Conduct in-depth keyword research prior to keyword optimisation so that you won’t miss out placing any important keywords in your title, URL, meta description, images, and content.
  2. Always be relevant when choosing keywords to optimise for. You don’t want to confuse users by showing them keywords that aren’t relevant to their search queries. For this, you need to really understand the intent of the search queries (searcher intent).
  3. Do not spam or stuff keywords. Instead, develop your content naturally first and get a subject matter to craft your content. Worry about placing your target keywords in your copy later.

There’s a fine line between optimising your pages for search engines and catering to humans. If you optimise your content too heavily, you risk speaking to search engines rather than writing in human language. If you totally ignore how search engines rank your content, you’ll miss out on optimising for the right keywords.

As SEOs, we have to be creative, resourceful, and flexible in order to keep both search engines and humans happy.

Here’s a free bonus On-Page SEO Keyword Optimisation Cheatsheet you can reference the next time you’re keyword-optimising your webpages.

A-Z SEO Glossary of Terms and Definition

A-Z SEO Glossary of Terms and Definition

Welcome to the A-Z Glossary of SEO Terms & Definitions.

You may use the search bar below to filter the table of SEO terms, then click on the search results to navigate to the definition.

Alternatively, you may download this glossary as a PDF file.

Numbers 0 - 9
200 OK
301 (Moved Permanently)
302 Found (New HTTP Version 1.1)/Moved Temporary(Old HTTP version 1.0)
307 (Temporary Redirect)
403 (Forbidden)
404 (Not Found)
410 (Gone)
500 (Internal Server Error)
503 (Service Unavailable)
A
Above The Fold
Ahrefs
Absolute URLs
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
AJAX
Algorithm
Algorithmic Penalty
Algorithm Update
Alternate Text
Anchor Text
B
Backlink
Backlink Checker Tool
BackRub
Bing
Bing Keyword Research Tool
Bing Webmaster Tools
Black Hat SEO
Block-Level Link Analysis
Blog
Blog Commenting
Blog Comment Spam
Blog Network
Bot
Bounce Rate
Brand Keywords
Brand Mentions
Breadcrumbs
Broken Link
C
Canonical URL (rel=canonical)
Cache
Country Code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD)
Click-Through-Rate (CTR)
Cloaking
Co-Citation
Co-Occurrence
Correlation vs Causation
Code Swapping
Content
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Content Hub
Content Marketing
Content Uniqueness
Conversion
Conversion Rate
Crawl
Crawl Budget
Cross-Linking
Curated Content
CSS
D
De-Indexed
Directory
Disavow
Dofollow
Doorway Page
Domain Authority
Domain Name
Duplicate Content
Dwell Time (Time Spent On Page)
Dynamic Content
Dynamic Serving
Dynamic URL
E
E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trust)
Editorial Link
Egobait
Entity
Everflux
Exact Match Domain (EMD)
External Link
F
FLASH
Frames
Freshness
G
Google AdWords Keyword Tool
Google Alerts
Google Bombing
Google Dance
Googlebot
Google Keyword Planner
Google My Business
Google Sitelinks
Google Slap
Google Suggest
Google Supplemental Index
Google Trends
Google Webmaster Guidelines
Google Webmaster Tools
Guestographics
Guest Blogging / Guest Posting
H
Hummingbird
HTML
HTML5
HTML Sitemap
HTTPS
I
Image Filename
Image Sitemap
Image Title
Impression
Inbound Link
Index
Indexability
Infographic
Internal Linking
International SEO
Interstitials
Inverse Document Frequency (IDF)
IP Address
J
JavaScript
jQuery
K
Keyword
Keyword Cannibalisation
Keyword Categorisation
Keyword Density
Keyword Difficulty / Keyword Competition
Keyword Optimisation
Keyword Rankings
Keyword Research / Keyword Analysis
Keyword Stuffing / Keyword Spam
Knowledge Graph
L
Landing Page
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)
Link
Link Age
Link Acquisition
Link Bait
Link Building
Link Burst
Link Buying
Link Condom
Link Diversity
Link Juice / Link Authority / Link Equity / Link Love / Link Popularity
Link Exchange
Link Farm
Link Hoarding
Link Reclamation
Link Relevancy
Link Rot
Link Spam
Link Text
Link Velocity
Linkerati
Local Citation
Local SEO
Long Tail Keywords
M
Main Content (MC)
Main Navigation Menu
Manual Penalty
Meta Description
Meta Keywords
Meta Refresh
Meta Robots
Mirror Site
Mobilegeddon
Mobile-Friendly
MozRank
Multiple Keyword Optimisation
N
Natural Language Processing (NLP)
Natural Links
Negative SEO
Newsjacking
Niche Keywords
Nofollow
Noindex
(Not provided)
O
Off-Page SEO
On-Page SEO
Online Reputation Management
Organic Search Results
P
PageRank
Page Authority
Page Loading Time / Page Speed
Pagination
Paid Links / Paid Inclusion
Paid Search Results
Panda Algorithm
Penguin Algorithm
Pigeon Algorithm
Pogo-Sticking
Press Release
Primary Keywords
Private Blog Network (PBN)
Proximity (Local search)
Q
Query Deserves Diversity (QDD)
Query Deserves Freshness (QDF)
Query / Search Query
Query Refinement
R
RankBrain
Rankings
Rank Checker Tool
Reciprocal Linking
Reconsideration Request / Re-Inclusion
Redirect
Referral
Rel="alternate" hreflang
Rel="nofollow"
Relative URLs
Responsive
Reverse Engineering
Rich Snippets
Robots
Robots.txt
Roundups
RSS Feed
S
Schema.org
Scraped Content
Search Console
Search Engine
Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)
Search Engine Result Snippet
Search Engine Penalty
Search Engine Submission
Search History
Search Operators
Search Term / Search Query
Search Terms Report
Search Volume
Secondary Keywords
Semantic Search
SEO Audit
SEO Copywriting
Site Architecture
Sitemap
Sitewide Links
Sneaky Redirects
Social Bookmarking
Social Signals
Spamdexing
Spider
Splash Page
Splog
Static Page / Static URL
Structured Data Markup
Subdomain
Subheading
Sub Navigation Menu
Supplementary Content (SC)
Supplemental Results
T
Target Keywords
Term Frequency
Thesaurus
Title / Page Title
Title Tag
Top Heavy
Top-Level Domain (TLD)
Touch Element
Trackback
Trust Flow
TrustRank
U
Uniform Resource Locator (URL)
Unnatural Link
URL Parameters
User Experience (UX)
V
Vary: User-Agent HTTP Header
Video Optimisation
Viral Content
W
White Hat SEO
X
XHTML
XML Sitemap
Y
Yandex
Yahoo!
Yelp
Z
Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT)

Numbers 0 – 9

200 OK

http-200-status-code

HTTP Status Code – 200

The 200 HTTP status code is used to indicate that the request of a webpage (http://example.com) was successfully received, understood, and accepted.


301 (Moved Permanently)

301-status-code

HTTP Status Code – 301

If you have a page that’s permanently changed URLs (e.g. www.example.com/old-page has changed to www.example.com/new-page), you should implement a 301 redirect and relink all previous resources to the new URL.

A 301 HTTP status code indicates that the requested resource has been permanently assigned a new URI (Uniform Resource Indentifier).

301 redirects pass 100% PageRank from the old page to the redirected page, though it was noted otherwise previously.


302 Found (New HTTP Version 1.1)/Moved Temporary(Old HTTP version 1.0)

If you have a page that’s temporarily under going maintenance, you’d implement a 302 redirect. Take note that search engines may not index the redirected URL as a 302 signals temporary redirection. If your page is moving permanently, you should use a 301 instead.

302 redirects pass 100% PageRank as well.


307 (Temporary Redirect)

The 307 redirect is the successor of the 302 redirect, albeit many pre-HTTP/1.1 user agents do not understand it. The 307 was introduced to improve certain conditions in which user agents behaved when they received a 302 response.


403 (Forbidden)

403 (Forbidden) HTTP Status Code

403 (Forbidden) HTTP Status Code

A 403 status code forbids the user from viewing the content on the resource page and indicates why the valid request has not been fulfilled (e.g. due to not having the necessary permissions).

Google will very quickly remove your content from its index when it sees a 403 status code. Many sites have lost a ton of pages in the Google index due improper use of 403s when they should have been using a more temporary status code such as a 503 (Service Unavailable), which doesn’t lead to immediate removal from the index.


404 (Not Found)

The requested resource could not be found and may have either moved or may be available in the future.

Do 404s hurt your site rankings? Not directly at least. Google prefers that your “dead” pages return a proper 404 or 410 response code rather than a “soft 404 ” (an unclear signal for dead pages e.g. returning a response code other than 404 or 410).

Inbound links/external references to 404 pages should also be modified to point to relevant live (200 OK status code) web pages.


410 (Gone)

For requests for resources that are no longer available permanently and without any known forwarding addresses, a 410 status code is used.

If the server is unsure whether the condition is permanent or temporary, a 404 status code should be used instead.


500 (Internal Server Error)

A 500 status code is a generic error message given when the server encounters unexpected conditions, preventing it from fulfilling the request.


503 (Service Unavailable)

The server is currently unavailable due to a scheduled maintenance or is temporarily overloaded. When Googlebot comes across a 503 status code, they will not immediately deindex the page and will attempt to crawl it again at a later time. However if repeated attempts to crawl the page is not possible due to the 503, the page will eventually be removed from the index.


A

Above The Fold

Having the content is above the fold of the page means the content is immediately displayed without scrolling down further on the page.

Google is against having too many ads or sites that don’t have much content above the fold of the page. Meaning to say if a user has to scroll farther down to avoid the ads in order to see the content, that constitutes to a bad user experience and your rankings will decline (see Top Heavy).


Ahrefs

One of the best backlink checker tools in the SEO industry. Ahrefs suite of tools also expand to keyword research and popular content explorer.


Absolute URLs

An absolute URL takes the full form of the URL e.g. http://www.example.com/resource-page/ and is recommended for proper on-page SEO.

See also: Relative URLs


Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

The AMP Project is an open-source initiative aiming to make the web better for all. The project enables the creation of websites and ads that are consistently fast, beautiful and high-performing across devices and distribution platforms.


AJAX

AJAX stands for Asynchronous Javascript and XML. It is a client-side script that exchanges data with a server/database without reloading or refreshing the page.

This method of displaying information is quicker and can provide a better user experience, however it can be difficult for Google to crawl content coded with AJAX.


Algorithm

Algorithms are complex computer programs that can perform complex calculations, data processing, and automatically accomplish conditional tasks.

Search engines use algorithms to return your questions with relevant answers. Google’s algorithms rely on over 200 signals including things like keyword mentions, page speed, and page authority in order to accomplish this task automatically on a massive scale.


Algorithmic Penalty

If you see your rankings drop heavily overnight (like from #3 to #59), you might have received an algorithmic penalty. Check your Google Webmaster Tools Search Console to verify whether you might have also received a manual penalty.

Sites that receive algorithmic penalties typically resolve on their own (regain their rankings) after fixing any issues that may have triggered well known algorithms such as Panda or Penguin.


Algorithm Update

Google updates their algorithms 500 – 600 times a year on average to combat spam. Once in awhile Google releases public statements when they make major changes to their algorithms. Notable algorithmic updates in the recent years include Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Mobilegeddon, and RankBrain.


Alternate Text

alt-tags-example

ALT Tags Source Code

The alternate text or shorthand term “ALT tag” refers to the attribute within an image tag (e.g. alt=”description”). ALT tags should be descriptive of the image to tell search engines and users the nature of the image.

If the image is contextually relevant to your resource, try to include the your target keyword(s) in the ALT tags.


Anchor Text

Example of an Anchor Text

Example of an Anchor Text

The anchor text is the text within a hyperlink that is clickable. Upon hovering the cursor over and clicking on the anchor text, the user will be taken the destination URL specified in the hyperlink code.

The words in the anchor text can influence the search engine rankings of the page that it links to. Therefore it is good practice to ensure that the anchor text is relevant to the destination page.


B

backlink-illustration

Backlink Illustration

A backlink is any external link from another domain that links to any page on your domain. Backlinks are a major ranking factor in Search Engine Optimization and that means having more backlinks correlate to higher rankings.

Note that there are dofollow and nofollow backlinks. Dofollow links pass PageRank but nofollow links do not.


Backlink checker tools help you analyze your backlink profile to see which websites linked to your website. Here are a few recommended ones:

  1. AHrefs
  2. Moz Pro
  3. Majestic
  4. SEO Spyglass
  5. Semrush

BackRub

BackRub was the initial name of the gigantic search engine Google. Here’s the history of Google in depth.


Bing

What is Bing? – A heap, especially of metallic ore or of waste from a mine. Source – Google.

Bing is one of the most popular search engines in the world after Google. It is currently owned and operated by Microsoft.


Bing Keyword Research Tool

A keyword research tool by Bing to get keyword ideas and data from Bing’s organic and paid search.


Bing Webmaster Tools

A webmaster dashboard by Bing to provide webmasters reporting tools, diagnostic tools, notifications, and a summary view of how their websites are performing on Bing’s organic search results.


Black Hat SEO

Black hat SEO refers to the use of shady practices, automated programs, and aggressive techniques aimed at manipulating search engines to drive a site’s rankings up.

Websites that go against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines risk getting dealt with a manual or algorithmic penalty.


This approach of link analysis sprung from the idea that links from different sections of the page or webpage blocks are weighted differently. In layman terms, a link in the footer may not count as much as a link in the header.


Blog

A web log or weblog, more commonly known as a blog, consists of entries/posts/blogposts listed in reverse chronological order (most recent entry appearing first).

Blogposts tend to be written in a more conversational and informal tone than white papers and press releases. It is a great way for SEOs and content marketers to build relationships in similar communities and acquire backlinks.


Blog Commenting

A great way to build relationships and increase personal branding/brand awareness. Most blogs allow readers to post their comments and include a link back to their own websites.


Blog Comment Spam

A black hat SEO technique where “black hatters” aggressively post irrelevant comments that include links (usually with over optimized anchor text) back to their websites in hopes of manipulating search engine ranking signals.


Blog Network

A network of blogs, usually privately owned by an SEO agency, SEO consultant, or in-house, in effort of manipulating search engine rankings through off-page SEO techniques such as pointing exact match anchor text links to a target domain.

In recent years, Google has clamped down on many blog networks, most notably MyBlogGuest, in efforts to deter low quality sites that use deceptive tactics to game the search engine results pages (SERPs).


Bot

Also known as search engine spiders, robots, crawlers. These automated software agents crawl content on the web for the purpose of understanding and indexing the content in order to pull the most relevant results to a searcher’s query.


Bounce Rate

The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors landing on a single page of a website and leaving without viewing any other pages of the same website. There are certain default conditions set by web analytics tools such as Google Analytics and several modifiable conditions that constitute to a bounce such as page inactivity for 30 minutes or more.

High bounce rates, especially when the traffic source is from Google search, also correlate with a decline in rankings. See pogosticking.


Brand Keywords

Branded keywords are queries that include a brand’s name. For example the search term “amazon web services” is a brand search query of the company Amazon.

Brand keywords take little to no effort to rank highly for, especially for a brand’s official domain. So a newly created website e.g. www.ilovepurses.com will almost always rank #1 for search terms such as “ilovepurses catalogue”.


Brand Mentions

A brand mention is any mention of a brand name in any web document. It is also a link building strategy known as Link Reclamation, where brand mention tools are used to track and alert a brand of any brand mentions across the web. Following which the PR team can perform an outreach to request the text where the mention occured to be updated with a hyperlink back to the brand’s website.


breadcrumbs-example

Breadcrumbs example

The internet equivalent of Hansel and Gretel’s trail of breadcrumb navigation method. Breadcrumbs are used as a navigational aid for users to keep track of their location when browsing a website.


Any link that leads to a 404 page not found, bad gateway, or internal server error. Link equity is also lost when a hyperlink leads to a 404 page, unless the 404 page redirects to a live URL (200 OK).

This is due to the fact that Google treats 404 pages as non-existent (a black hole) and any link equity that flows to the page ends there.

Further reading:

Do 404s hurt my site?


C

Canonical URL (rel=canonical)

<link rel="canonical" href="http://example.com/canonical-url-you-want-indexed/">

The rel=canonical tag is used to tell search engines that various URLs have essentially similar content. Search engines will then only index the canonical URL. This takes care of duplicate content issues which confuse search engines as to which content they should rank.

The rel=canonical code is placed on the duplicated pages which you do not want search engines to index. Search engines will then follow the specified URL and index it instead.

Further reading:


Cache

A computing term in which data is stored into a hardware or a software (e.g. browser) so that future requests can be served faster.

Page speed is one of the signals Google’s algorithms look at when ranking pages. Leveraging browser caching can enhance the loading speed of your webpages, reduce bounce rates (which may be a negative ranking signal), and allow search engines to crawl more pages on your site.


Country Code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD)

Two-letter internet top level domains designated for specific countries.

www.example.com.sg
www.example.ca

The letters marked in red are ccTLDs.

Having a ccTLD signals to search engines and users the geographic location in which a site originates. Google uses this signal to rank a local site higher in local search results. This means that with everything else equal, example.com.sg will rank higher than example.com in google.com.sg search results pages.


Click-Through-Rate (CTR)

The ratio of clicks to views from advertisement, email, video, or page links. So if an ad creative had a 1% CTR, it had 100 views and 1 click.

Does CTR influence search rankings? Check out the following articles and be the judge:


Cloaking

A deceptive search engine optimisation technique in which content is presented to search engine spiders is different than that returned to a user’s browser.

Cloaking is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.


Co-Citation

A co-citation is a similarity measurement technique used to determine whether a subject is similar to another subject and based on whether a third party source referenced both subjects in a single document.

In simple terms, if webpage A and B are cited by webpage C, A and B may be said to be related to each other, even though they don’t directly link to one another.

It is speculated that search engines may be able to assume similarities between page A and B based on the number of co-citations from different third party sources, and rank pages based on those signals.


Co-Occurrence

Co-occurence on the other hand refers to particular phrases mentioned in close proximity to each other.

It is speculated that exact match anchor text links are weakening and if a particular keyword was mentioned in close proximity to an outbound link, it would signal to Google that the citation had contextual relevance to the keyword.


Correlation vs Causation

A phrase used to emphasise that correlation does not imply causation. In other words, the mutual relationship between two variables does not necessitate that one causes another.

In SEO, this phrase is commonly used when an SEO activity did not directly influence a page’s rankings, but rather in an indirect way.

For example, pages with high social media share count tend to rank higher on Google than pages with lower social media shares. As social media signals aren’t used by Google as a direct ranking signal, this event is a correlation rather than a causation.


Code Swapping

A form of black hat SEO where a page is optimised for ranking, and then swapping another page’s content in its place once it has achieved top rankings.


Content

The currency of online marketing and SEO. Quality content is essential for influence and maintaining SEO rankings.


Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A network of servers that speedily deliver web content to users based on their geographic locations.

As page speed is a ranking factor, delivering web content at high speed is a good enough reason to get a CDN.


Content Hub

A one-stop destination where web users can find any type of content (guides, ebooks, branded, curated, user generated, faqs) related to a particular topic.


Content Marketing

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. Source – Content Marketing Institute.

Content marketing and SEO are interrelated but not entirely integrated. SEO comprises of two main parts – On-page SEO and Off-page SEO. On-page SEO is more technical and off-page SEO (the link building part) relies heavily on content marketing.


Content Uniqueness

The uniqueness level of a piece of content. We all know that duplicate content usually doesn’t bode well when it comes to rankings. So what’s the magical percentage?

Unfortunately there isn’t a set percentage for determining the content uniqueness level. Rather, it is the unique value that a content provides that influences its rankings, even if it has duplicated parts in it.


Conversion

A conversion is an important action that takes place in a customer’s buying journey. It could range from anything from a contact form enquiry, view of a key page, average time spent on a page, to a sale.


Conversion Rate

The ratio of the number of total visits to the number of conversions in terms of percentage.


Crawl

A term used when search engine spiders discover and process information of web documents.


Crawl Budget

The number of pages of a website and the number of times a day a search engine will crawl a website. It is important that all pages of a website that intends to rank on top of Google get discovered and crawled, otherwise they would not be indexed and ranked in Google’s search engine results pages.

The higher the domain authority of a website, the higher crawling priority Google assigns it. Note that there are a myriad of other factors that affect crawl budget such as how often a page is updated (e.g. About Us and Contact Us pages do not update very often and therefore Google does not crawl these pages as often as trending news articles).

In order to conserve a website’s crawl budget, a robots.txt file is used to block sections of a website that have no intention of ranking on the search engine results pages.


Cross-Linking

Reciprocally linking between two different websites or two separate webpages within the same website. This signals to search engines that the linked content are somewhat related to one another.


Curated Content

Curated content is relevant information on a particular topic that has been gathered and presented in an organised and meaningful way.


CSS

CSS = Cascading Style Sheets – A plain text file saved with the extensions .css that is used to style and format web elements in a presentable way.


D

De-Indexed

Refers to the process of a website vanishing from Google’s search results pages.

One of the ways to check whether your website has been de-indexed, is to use the search operator site:www.yourwebsite.com and enter it into Google search. If you don’t see any results, unless your website is relatively new (a few weeks old), it is likely you have been de-indexed.

example-site-search-operater

Example of site search operator


Directory

A collection of data and links to websites, webpages, and web documents, organised into respective categories and subcategories. There are free and paid directories, with free directories offering free submission of website listing and paid directories charging for inclusion for a one-time or recurring fee.

Directory links have been receiving flak from Google’s web spam team since the past few years.


Disavow

A method of dealing with spammy backlinks that were not intentionally acquired by a webmaster.

Google launched the disavow tool in October 2012 to provide an avenue for SEOs to vouch against low quality links that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and prevent a manual penalty.

Google however strongly advises this tool to be used as a last resort, and that SEOs should do their best to take down low quality links manually or through outreach.


Dofollow

A dofollow link is a hyperlink without the rel=”nofollow” attribute. See nofollow links. A dofollow link passes PageRank and other ranking signals (link juice) to the link destination.


Doorway Page

A form of cloaking or spamdexing. Doorway pages or websites are created with the objective of ranking highly for specific queries, which may lead a user to multiple similar destinations instead of one useful final destination.

Examples of doorway pages include:

  • Having multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page.
  • Pages generated to funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site(s).
  • Substantially similar pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined, browsable hierarchy.

Domain Authority

An SEO metric created by SaaS company Moz. Domain authority or DA can be used to predict the ranking ability of a website using a scale of 0 – 100, with 0 being the lowest and 100 being the highest.

Further reading:

What is Domain Authority? – Moz


Domain Name

A domain name e.g. www.example.com represents an Internet Protocol (IP) address e.g. 192.168.1.1 and is mapped to a computer server so that it can be accessed from anywhere in the world on the World Wide Web.

There are different top-level domains such as .com, info, net, org, edu (gTLDs) and country code top-level domains such as .sg, my, ca, us, au (ccTLDs).


Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is showing similar content on multiple locations (webpages/URLs). This causes problems when search engines don’t know which version to show to users and can result in 1. dropping all versions of the content from the search results pages and 2. ranking the wrong version.

There are many examples and different variations of duplicate content listed in this article.


Dwell Time (Time Spent On Page)

In layman terms, dwell time is measured starting from when a user clicks on a search result, spends time on the page, and ends when the user goes back to the search results pages.

Why does this metric matter to search engines? Since search engines aim to to serve useful content to their users, a longer dwell time signifies that a content must have been useful enough for a user to spend time digesting it.

Further reading:

Dwell Time: Does This Ranking Factor Really Live Up to the Hype?


Dynamic Content

Dynamic content, the opposite of static content, serves content that changes based on the user (e.g. browsing behaviour).

Further reading:

Dynamic Content & SEO – Having Your Cake & Eating It

Penalisation for personalisation: Google, dynamic content & SEO


Dynamic Serving

Serving different content to different users based on their device type. This is implemented to provide a mobile-friendly experience to mobile users as well as a desktop experience to desktop users, and optimise content for mobile searches.

Another popular method for mobile SEO is responsive design.


Dynamic URL

Dynamic URLs may change based on the session id which typically looks something like this http://example.com/page?id=21 or includes any of these characters: ? = &. Contrast to static URLs which look like this http://example.com/page.

If you have dynamic parameters, Google recommends that you do not rewrite them into static URLs as this may result in Googlebot crawling the same piece of content needlessly via many different URLs with varying values for session IDs.

Further reading:

Dynamic URLs vs. static URLs


E

E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trust)

Indicators which Google uses to assess page quality. Found and mentioned repeatedly in Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines.


editorial-link-illustration

Editorial Link

A hyperlink embedded within a page’s main content e.g. a blogpost.


Egobait

A link building technique used by SEOs to acquire backlinks. An egobait is essentially a link building asset created to stroke the ego of the target linker with the purpose of increasing visibility among influencers and hopefully acquire backlinks in the process.

Further reading:

Ego Bait for Links, Visibility, and Authority

A Guide To Producing Effective Egobait


Entity

Google has been moving towards entity search which is based on the knowledge graph. When users search for a particular entity e.g. “mount fuji”, Google displays specific information on this entity on the right side of desktop search results.

Google is able to do that by analysing past searches and user browsing behaviour to determine what information users are looking for, then displays the information within graph panels on the search results pages.


Everflux

Everflux essentially means constant fluctuation and refers to the way Google updates its index – by continuously crawling the web for new content and integrating it as quickly as possible into a separate index.


Exact Match Domain (EMD)

Back in the early days of SEO, exact match domain names (EMDs) ranked very well even without any on-page or off-page optimisation.

An exact match domain refers to a keyword targeted domain. For example if you wanted to rank for the keyword phrase “how to create a server”, you would buy www.howtocreateaserver.com and you would rank on top of Google.

The new EMD algo update in 2012 served to reduce low quality “exact match” domains in search results as quoted by Matt Cutts.


An external link is any hyperlink that points to a destination URL other than its own domain. If your website (e.g. www.yourwebsite.com) links to another website (e.g. www.anotherwebsite.com), the link is known as an external link.

Similarly if another website links to your website, it is also considered an external link.

There are some ongoing debates on whether linking externally to another website will help or hurt your SEO.


F

FLASH

A programming language that search engines have difficulty crawling and understanding content built with it.


Frames

Using frames on a page is the act of dividing the screen into different windows, displaying content from different URLs in a single view. Not a recommended technique as this may cause search engines to rank the wrong page on their search results.

Further reading:

Why Google doesn’t like frames in your sites


Freshness

A ranking signal which Google has explored many ways of using to influence the search results, as seen in many patents filed by Google.

Further reading:

10 Illustrations of How Fresh Content May Influence Google Rankings (Updated)

Google Freshness Algorithm Experiment


G

Google AdWords Keyword Tool

Google Keyword Planner was previously referred to as Google AdWords Keyword Tool.


Google Alerts

Google Alerts is a free tool provided by Google which allows you set up email alerts to monitor the web for interesting content and mentions of your brand, your competitors, and any particular entity.


Google Bombing

A practice whereby webpages are optimised to rank highly for irrelevant search terms.

One of the most infamous Google bombs in history was bomb targeting US President George W Bush for the keyword “miserable failure”.


Google Dance

Refers to an algorithmic fluctuation of Google’s search results pages as a result of rebuilding its rankings for a period of time.


Googlebot

Google’s web crawling robot, also known as a “search engine spider”.


Google Keyword Planner

A keyword research tool provided by Google. You need a Google AdWords account in order to use this tool.


Google My Business

A free Google business listing service that will enable a business to be found on Google Search and Google Maps.


Links shown below some of Google’s search results to help users navigate directly to various sections of a website. At this point in time, sitelinks are automatically analysed and selected by Google’s algorithms, therefore a webmaster won’t be able to control them directly.

Sitelinks example

Sitelinks example


Google Slap

Google slap has two references. One for their paid search results and the other for their organic search results.

Receiving a Google Slap on the paid search results means you haven’t been adhering to the Google AdWords guidelines and best practices, resulting in a significant drop in the Quality Score of your target keywords, or an account ban.

For the organic search results, getting a Google Slap means you haven’t been abiding by Google’s Webmaster Quality Guidelines (e.g. building spammy backlinks and keyword stuffing), resulting in a significant drop in keyword rankings or complete removal of your website in Google’s index.


Google Suggest

Suggested search terms that show as you type in your search queries on Google.

Google Suggest Example

Google Suggest Example


Google Supplemental Index

Contains supplemental results which reside in a secondary database that are deemed less important by Google.


A free tool by Google that allows you to explore trending search topics.


Google Webmaster Guidelines

A set of general guidelines, best practices, and principles for webmasters to reference in order to avoid getting penalised by Google.


Google Webmaster Tools

A free tool for webmasters to track their website’s search performance with Google, get support on site issues, and perform a variety of actions such as fetching Googlebot to crawl a page, submitting a sitemap, and targeting a website to a specific country.


Guestographics

Guestographics is a link building technique in which a link builder posts an infographic on his/her site, reaches out to other bloggers that published similar content, and offers the infographic to visually represent their content, possibly earning links in the process.


Guest Blogging / Guest Posting

A marketing method whereby a blogger contributes an article to another blog. This achieves several things:

  • Establishes authority on a subject matter
  • Increase traffic
  • Enhances reputation and brand exposure
  • Build links for off-page SEO
  • Strengthens relationship with other bloggers

However over optimising anchor text and guest blogging purely for links is frowned upon by Google.


H

Hummingbird

As Google moved toward semantic search, focusing on user intent and returning contextually relevant results, Hummingbird represents a newly revamped version of Google’s algorithm.

Interesting fact: Hummingbird is the name of Google’s algorithm.

Further reading:

FAQ: All About The New Google “Hummingbird” Algorithm

How Google Hummingbird Changed the Future of Search


HTML

Hyper Text Markup Language or HTML is a set code or markup language used to create structured documents on the World Wide Web.

There are a range of HTML elements such as the <title> tag and meta description tag that are picked up by search engine spiders and are used as clues or ranking signals to determine the ranking relevance of a page.


HTML5

HTML5 is another SEO-friendly markup language that delivers several improvements from HTML such as increased user experience (audio & video) and provides a good alternative to less SEO-friendly languages like Flash and Silverlight.

Further reading:

SEO Benefits of HTML5 & Schema

SEO Best Practices For HTML5: Truths, Half-Truths & Outright Lies


HTML Sitemap

A HTML sitemap, unlike an XML sitemap which is specifically catered for search engine spiders to crawl, is more user-friendly where users can find on a site and navigate to different pages by clicking on the links provided.

It looks something like this:

HTML Sitemap Example

HTML Sitemap Example


HTTPS

HTTPS or Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure signifies that all sending and receiving of information are encrypted and secured.

This is also a ranking signal as publicly declared by Google.


I

Image Filename

The text before the extension of an image file e.g. (image001.jpg). It is recommended for the image filename to include your target keywords for SEO purposes, provided it is contextually relevant.


Image Sitemap

A sitemap listing images available on your website which increase the chances of your images getting picked up by Google and displaying on Google Image search results.

You may separate your image sitemap and XML sitemap, or you may choose to include them together.


Image Title

The image title and caption is the content surrounding the image and provides search engines with information about what the topic and content on the page is about.


Impression

The number of times a search result is seen regardless of whether it is clicked or not.


A hyperlink from another website to your website. An inbound link may be “followed” or “nofollowed”. See rel=”nofollow”.


Index

A search engine’s index is similar in concept to a library’s index of books, whereby information is sorted and organised by predefined parameters so that it is easily retrievable when a search is conducted.

Additionally, indexing refers to the process of adding webpages to a search engine’s index.


Indexability

A page’s indexability refers to how easily or likely that a page can be included into a search engine’s index. It is dependent on a variety of factors such as the coding language used and how unique and authoritative the content is. Pages built with Flash and Javascript risk not getting indexed because search engines may not understand the contents of the page.


Infographic

An abbreviation of the phrase “information graphic”. An infographic is a graphical representation of information, data, or knowledge and is designed to be visually appealing.

It is also a popular link building technique.


Internal Linking

A method of hyperlinking different pages within a site to one another in efforts to signal to search engines the relevancy between the linked pages.


International SEO

The process of optimising a website to improve its search engine rankings in multiple countries. A few methods include:


Interstitials

Interstitials are ads that appear in a form of a popup, lightbox, or a separate browser window when you are browsing or waiting for a page to load.

Google announced on 10 January 2017 that they will start cracking down on “intrusive interstitials” on the mobile experience.


Inverse Document Frequency (IDF)

A numerical statistic that evaluates how important a word in a document is, based on a range of factors such as the weight of the term (or term frequency) in the document.


IP Address

IP stands for Internet Protocol and the address refers to the unique blocks of numbers (e.g. 192.168.1.1) which uniquely identifies devices on a computer network.

Acquiring many backlinks from unique IP addresses is a strong ranking signal as it signifies the diversity of a website’s backlink profile.


J

JavaScript

A lightweight programming language that can add dynamic interactivity to your website (for example, clicking on a button to display hidden content).

Further reading:

We Tested How Googlebot Crawls Javascript And Here’s What We Learned

Why All SEOs Should Unblock JavaScript & CSS… And Why Google Cares


jQuery

jQuery is a fast, small, and feature-rich JavaScript library. It makes things like HTML document traversal and manipulation, event handling, animation, and Ajax much simpler with an easy-to-use API that works across a multitude of browsers. – jQuery.com


K

Keyword

Keywords, in SEO context, are words and/or phrases used in webpages to help search engines connect users searching for relevant search terms to your website.


Keyword Cannibalisation

A bad occurrence whereby multiple pages target the same keyword (e.g. duplicate page titles), causing confusion to search engines and negatively affecting search engine rankings.


Keyword Categorisation

The process of grouping multiple keywords that are related to a specific topic into a section of a website or a single webpage. This enables you to develop more targeted content to rank for a group of related keywords.

Further reading:

What Is Keyword Categorization Technology and Why Does It Matter to You?


Keyword Density

The percentage of a keyword or phrase to the total number of words mentioned in a web document. There isn’t a set rule on the ideal keyword density percentage required to achieve good rankings. However keyword density does shape what search engines think about the overall topic of your content and this can influence your rankings.

Further reading:

Shattering The Myth About The Keyword Density Formula

What Is Keyword Density?


Keyword Difficulty / Keyword Competition

Keyword difficulty or keyword competition is a measurement of how much effort would be required for a webpage to rank for a particular keyword.

They are a variety of keyword difficulty tools to automatically calculate keyword competition:

  • Ahrefs
  • Semrush
  • Moz

Keyword Optimisation

The process of including target keywords in specific locations of a web document (for example the title tag, meta description, and URL) to increase search engine rankings.


Keyword Rankings

The position of a webpage on the organic search engine results pages (SERPs).


Keyword Research / Keyword Analysis

The process of discovering what keywords your prospects are using and understanding their intent to better optimise your pages for both users and search engines.


Keyword Research Tool

An online or offline instrument that enables you to retrieve keyword data and insights.

Suggested keyword research tools:

  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
  • Keywordtool.io

Keyword Stuffing / Keyword Spam

A black hat SEO technique whereby the same keyword is repeatedly mentioned in a web document with little regard for a meaningful user experience.


Knowledge Graph

An enhancement to Google’s search engine which delivers new information quickly and easily by deeply understanding the meaning of the search query.

Further reading:

Introducing the Knowledge Graph: things, not strings

The Beginner’s Guide to Google’s Knowledge Graph


L

Landing Page

In the context of search engine optimisation, a landing page is any page that a user lands on after clicking on a search result.


Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)

Latent semantic indexing or LSI is a formula used by search engines to determine whether a page’s content is semantically relevant to a keyword by looking for synonyms of the keyword or words that are related to the subject.

For example home, real estate, property, stamp duty, and property tax, are all LSI keywords.


Any hyperlink (clickable text, button, or image) that takes users to another section (internally or externally) of a website or webpage.


The total time a link exists in a search engine’s index. It also presumed by many SEOs that link age is used as a ranking signal.


The process of acquiring a backlink to increase search engine rankings.


A piece of content (infographic, case study, research paper, blogpost, image) designed with the purpose of attracting content creators to hyperlink to it.

Further reading:

What is Link Bait?


The process of acquiring backlinks through outreach, submission (e.g. to resource pages), and PR.

Further reading:

A 4-Step Link Building Methodology

Link Building Tactics


A significantly rapid increase in the quantity of backlinks pointing to a website, especially new websites.

This may alert the Google manual web spam team to look into the matter, since links typically build up slowly over time.


The act of buying or selling links that pass PageRank. I.e. putting a rel=”nofollow” tag to the hyperlink on a sponsored link is fine.

Buying or selling links goes against Google’s Quality Guidelines – Link Schemes. This extends to non-monetary transactional deals such as exchanging free gifts for links.


Links that block PageRank from flowing to the destination URL. This is done by placing the rel=”nofollow” tag e.g. <a href=”http://example.com” rel=”nofollow”>click here</a>.


Link diversity refers to the assortment of the kinds of links in a website’s link profile. These attributes can be classified into:

  • Diversity of anchor text
  • Follow vs. nofollow
  • Location of the link on the page (e.g. footer, header, sidebar, editorial links)
  • Type of website (e.g. forum, blogpost, resource list, .gov, .edu links)

Further reading:

20 Attributes that Influence a Link’s Value – Whiteboard Friday


Link authority refers to the amount of value a link passes to the destination page. This includes:

  • Dofollow links
  • Links from topic-related pages pass topical relevancy signals
  • Redirects (301, 302, 307, meta refresh)
  • Links from pages with high PageRank

Also known as reciprocal linking. Reciprocal linking is perfectly “legal” if it is naturally acquired. For example if website A links to website B from the footer with the anchor text “visit our sister company”, it is considered natural.

However sending unsolicited emails to a ton of different websites saying you will link to them if they link to you is a form of a link scheme, according to Google Webmaster Quality Guidelines.


A network of websites that link to one another although the content is often unrelated and of low quality. The idea is that this reciprocal linking pattern will improve search engine rankings. However the opposite is true as search engines have developed algorithms to detect this pattern of unnatural linking.


The act of trying to prevent link juice from flowing out to other websites, such as by adding a nofollow tag or not linking out at all.

This is generally a bad idea as Google easily detects this method. On the other hand, some studies conclude that outgoing links play a part in rankings.

Not linking out to other sites also reduces your chances of cultivating link building relationships.


A link building technique of reaching out to someone who has mentioned your brand or referenced your content, but did not link to you, and asking them to link to you.

Further reading:

Link Reclamation Best Practices – The Complete Guide

The Definitive Guide to Link Reclamation

Link Reclamation – How to Get the Links You Deserve


A measurement of how relevant a link is to the destination URL. Some clues search engine algorithms look for include:

  • Are the target keywords found in the anchor text?
  • What is the URL of the page where the backlink was found?
  • Is the topic of the page where the backlink was found relevant to the link destination?

Further reading:

Moz – Anchor text


Link rot refers to any hyperlink on the web that is no longer functioning as it was intended. It may come in the form of broken links (links that lead to 404 pages) or the page in which the link was found was taken down. This is bad for your SEO, as broken links lead to a loss of link value.

Here are some possible causes of link rot:

  • Links that no longer work due to some form of blocking such as a firewall or content blocking filters
  • Links to website that changed domain names without redirecting the old domain to the new one
  • Links to a page in which the content was intentionally taken down by the webmaster
  • URL structure may have been changed or restructured

Further reading:

SEO: Avoiding link rot with your aging website


Any form of link building which goes against Google’s Webmaster Quality Guidelines – Link Schemes. Some examples of link spam include:

  • Creating low quality links through Private Blog Networks
  • Posting irrelevant links on forum threads
  • Buying cheap links on low quality websites

Throughout the history of SEO, Google has been constantly cracking down on link spam (spammy link building activities).

Some of Google’s most notable link spam algorithms:

  • Penguin
  • Payday Loan

Also known as “anchor text”. The clickable text of a hyperlink.


The rate (how fast or how slow) in which links are acquired within a span of time.

A steep rise in acquired backlinks in a short amount of time can be a red flag to search engines for suspected unnatural link building techniques. On the other hand, a slowdown on link acquisition can signal to search engines that the web is losing interest in the domain and affect its domain authority.


Linkerati

A term describing website owners and content creators who link out to other websites, coined by Rand Fishkin.


Local Citation

Where your company’s Name, Address, Phone number (NAP) is mentioned on other websites such as directory listings.

This helps to rank your Google My Business listing page better on the local search results.

local-search-results-example

Local search results example


Local SEO

The method of optimising a local business to rank on the local search results. This includes building local citations, earning Google My Business reviews, and building the website’s Page Authority.

Further reading:

Local Search Ranking Factors – Moz


Long Tail Keywords

Keywords phrases that are longer and more specific to the searcher’s intent. The reverse would be short tail keywords which are more generic in nature.

Examples of short tail keywords in the real estate niche include:

  • buy property
  • real estate
  • purchase house

Examples of long tail keywords in the real estate niche include:

  • how to buy a private property in singapore
  • northvale condo floorplan and pricing
  • what to look out for when purchasing a home

M

Main Content (MC)

All content on a webpage can be classified as either Main Content (MC) or Supplementary Content (SC).

The MC is any part of the webpage that directly helps the page to achieve its main purpose. For example, the MC of a currency converter tool page would be the currency converter tool itself. It should be displayed above the fold and in a prominent location of the page.

Further reading:

Official Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines


Contains links to internal pages of a website, usually located in the header section.

main-navigation-menu

Main Navigation Menu

Further reading:

Mega Menus & SEO – Search Engine Land


Manual Penalty

A manual action whereby a human engineer from Google or Bing has manually reviewed a site flagged for spammy activities relating to Search Engine Optimisation and purposefully prevents the site from ranking highly.

Further reading:

Fighting Spam – Inside Search – Google


Meta Description

A HTML attribute that is used to provide search engines with a summarised description on the contents of your webpage. It is commonly used by search engines to display as the preview snippet of the search engine results pages.

<head>
<meta name=”description” content=”Meta description that will show up in the search engine results preview snippets.”>
</head>

Note: Meta description isn’t a ranking factor, however it may increase the click-through-rate of your search results, resulting in increased website traffic.


Meta Keywords

A HTML attribute that lists the keywords that are found on the webpage. It is no longer used as a ranking factor by major search engines. In fact, spamming this meta tag can have adverse effects on your rankings.

<head>
<meta name=”keywords” content=”keyword 1, keyword 2, keyword 3″>
</head>

Further reading:

Is the Meta Keyword Tag Still Used by Google, Bing, And Yahoo? – Chris Edwards


Meta Refresh

A method of getting a web browser to refresh a page after a give time interval e.g. after 5 seconds. It can also be used to instruct the web browser to redirect the user to a different URL upon refreshing the page.

Here’s how a meta refresh tag looks like:

<meta HTTP-EQUIV=”refresh” CONTENT=”0;URL=http://www.site-you-want-to-redirect-to.com/”>

Google recognises meta refresh as a page redirect and allows PageRank to flow from the current page to the redirected page. However it is more recommended to use 301 permanent redirects if you the URL of the page has permanently changed.


Meta Robots

A HTML attribute that instructs search engines to obey a set of rules such as not indexing a page and not following any links on the page.

<head>
<meta name=”robotscontent=”noindex,nofollow” />
</head>

Further reading:

The Ultimate Guide to the Meta Robots Tag – Yoast


Mirror Site

A mirror site is a replica of another existing website. It is commonly used for the following reasons:

  • To increase speed by serving identical sites that are located closer to the user’s geographical region
  • For SEO purposes – Setting up multiple identical sites to build an online presence, and then diverting the traffic back to the original website. (This may result in a search engine penalty)

Mobilegeddon

A Google ranking algorithm update that launched on 21 April 2015. It ranks webpages on mobile search results based on how mobile-friendly (readable text size, touch elements well spaced out, etc) they are.

Further reading:

Mobile-first indexing – Google Webmaster Central Blog


Mobile-Friendly

Describes how accessible a webpage is to users who are browsing the page on a mobile device. For example:

  • How fast does the page load on a mobile device?
  • Are there interstitials and do they disrupt the user experience (e.g. pop up and cover the whole screen)?
  • Can the code be processed by the mobile browser? (Don’t use FLASH)
  • Are the buttons too small for the fat fingers?

The best way to check whether a webpage is mobile friendly is via the Mobile-Friendly Test Tool provided for free by Google.

Further reading:

Mobile Optimisation – Moz


MozRank

MozRank represents how important a webpage is by calculating the number and quality of webpages that link to it (link popularity). It is originated from Moz.

Further reading:

What is MozRank


Multiple Keyword Optimisation

The method of optimising SEO tags and contents on a webpage (images and text) for a variety of keywords.

For example the title tag of a page could include more than one variation of the keyword:

<title>Rent a meeting/conference room</title>

Where meeting and conference are synonyms but are both included to optimise the title for multiple keywords.


N

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

In SEO context, NLP or Natural Language Processing is the ability of a computer program to interpret human language and understand the meaning behind a query, and then be able to return relevant answers.

Post rollout of Google’s Hummingbird and RankBrain algorithm update as well as the Knowledge Graph has seen significant improvements in terms of Natural Language Processing.


Backlinks that are acquired through non-spammy techniques such as one to one outreach, quality guest blogging, and submission of webpages to high quality web resources.


Negative SEO

A deliberate act of spamming black hat links to a competitor’s website with the aim of sabotaging its rankings through a search engine penalty.

Further reading:

A Startling Case Study of Manual Penalties and Negative SEO


Newsjacking

A creative link building technique whereby SEOs ride on a trending news story and contribute their own piece of the story, in efforts to drive links back their content. This usually involves a lot of participation in popular social media channels.


Niche Keywords

Groups of keywords and keyword phrases that contain keywords related to a particular niche.


Nofollow

A HTML attribute that can be added into the code behind hyperlinks to tell search engines not to pass PageRank to the destination URL.

<a href=”http://www.example.com/” rel=”nofollow”>This link does not pass PageRank</a>

This is generally done when webmasters don’t fully trust a source that they are linking to, thus preventing PageRank to flow to the given source.


Noindex

A HTML attribute to tell search engines not to index a particular webpage.

<meta name=”robotscontent=”noindex“/>


(Not provided)

Since 2011, Google started blocking webmasters from viewing what search queries their website visitors keyed into Google Search and clicked on their search result. Thus


O

Off-Page SEO

Refers to external website related activities (mainly link building and content marketing) in order to boost a website’s search engine ranking positions.

Extends to Local SEO where local citation building and link building play a big part in ranking Google My Business pages on the local search results.


On-Page SEO

Refers to internal website activities such as keyword, site speed, mobile, and content optimisation in order a boost a website’s search engine ranking positions.


Online Reputation Management

Online Reputation Management refers to the practice of monitoring and attempting to positively influence the public perception of a brand or a person on the web.

Some strategies include addressing negative comments directly on social media platforms (forums, Facebook, Twitter) and performing search engine optimisation on brand search terms to ensure the first page of the SERPs do not contain any negative results.


Organic Search Results

The non-paid section of a search engine results page, usually below the paid ads. Ad fees will be charged to the advertiser when a user clicks on a paid ad result. Whereas no fees are charged when a user clicks on an organic search result.


P

PageRank

A ranking algorithm created by Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to calculate the importance, authority, and reliability of a web page from a scale of 0 – 10, with 0 being the lowest and 10 being the highest.


Page Authority

No one explains this better than Moz, the creator of Page Authority:

Page Authority is a score (on a 100-point scale) developed by Moz that predicts how well a specific page will rank on search engines. It is based off data from the Mozscape web index and includes link counts, MozRank, MozTrust, and dozens of other factors.


Page Loading Time / Page Speed

The amount of time it takes for a webpage to load.

Page loading time is a Google ranking factor which may affect your rankings if it loads too slowly. Google recommends your pages load in 4 seconds or less.

If your site is loading slowly, you may check for any issues with this tool: PageSpeed Insights

Some common issues include:

  • Bloated code. In which case you may want to minify your HTML/CSS files.
  • Slow server response time. In which case you may want to upgrade your web hosting plan or switch web hosts.
  • Synchronous Javascript code blocking resources. In which case you may want to switch to asynchronous code.
  • Not leveraging browser caching. In which case you may want to install a browser caching plugin if you’re running on WordPress.
  • Huge image file sizes. In which case you may want to reduce your image file sizes.

Pagination

The process of segmenting content onto multiple pages and including paginated links to those pages. Here’s an example of pagination:

pagination-example

Pagination example

Google recommends that you indicate paginated content as this will help them index your content better on their search engine results pages.

Further reading:

Pagination: Best Practices for SEO & User Experience


Paid inclusion refers to the act of transacting in order to acquire a link back to one’s website. In other words, buying links.

This goes against Google’s Quality Guidelines and may result in a manual penalty.


This refers to the search results located above the organic search results, controlled by Google AdWords.


Panda Algorithm

A Google algorithm focusing on penalising websites with low quality on-page content. As of 2016, the Panda algorithm is now part of Google’s Core ranking signals.


Penguin Algorithm

A Google algorithm focusing on penalising websites with spammy backlink profiles. As of 2016, the Penguin algorithm now runs in real time within the core search algorithm.


Pigeon Algorithm

A Google algorithm aimed at providing more accurate and relevant local search results.


Pogo-Sticking

Refers to the act of clicking on a search result and clicking back to the search engine results pages because they did not find what they were initially searching for.

This is often discussed to be a bad ranking signal as it is one of the factors that show a page did not serve its intended purpose.


Press Release

A publicity technique usually involving a compelling news story that is distributed to news sites.

This used to be a very popular link building technique until Google indicated that optimised anchor text links in press releases fall under unnatural links that violate their guidelines.


Primary Keywords

The primary keywords are high priority keywords that are included in more prominent areas within a page such as the title tag, when optimising a webpage for rankings.


Private Blog Network (PBN)

A PBN is a network of sites usually created and maintained by an SEO or SEO agency. It is then used to manipulate the rankings of targeted websites by creating keyword-optimised anchor text links to them.

Google has shut down many PBNs and are consistently issuing manual penalties that devalue any outgoing links from websites that link unnaturally to other websites.

Further reading:

Google Warning: Get A Free Product To Review, Nofollow That Link & Disclose


Proximity (Local search)

An important local ranking signal used by Google to determine the local ranking position of a business based on its proximity to the searcher.


Q

Query Deserves Diversity (QDD)

A ranking system used by Google to return diverse search results to search queries, particularly generic queries, branded search terms, and news search terms.

Take this example search query “water” and see what Google returns.

QDD Example

QDD Example

Google returns the definition of water in the first result, some of the latest news on water, how water works, and an organisation dealing with water solutions.


Query Deserves Freshness (QDF)

A “freshness” algorithm created by Google to return fresh results for search queries revolving around a trending topic.

In the 2016 U.S. elections, the term Donald Trump spiked to a peak search volume of 30 million worldwide.

Donald Trump QDF Search Results

Donald Trump QDF Search Results

The key to appear on the fresh results would be to publish breaking news stories as soon as possible.


Query / Search Query

Keywords or keyword phrases entered into a search engine with the intention of getting relevant results.


Query Refinement

Query refinement refers to the process of correcting or refining a search query to return more relevant results. Query refinement can be done by either the search engine or the user.

In the case of query refinement by a search engine, the search engine will suggest related search terms, correct spelling errors, and attempt to automatically complete your search query as you are typing it out.


R

RankBrain

RankBrain is a machine learning algorithm created by Google to help process and sort through search queries and return more useful and relevant results.

Further reading:

FAQ: All about the Google RankBrain algorithm


Rankings

The ranking positions of a website’s target search queries, also commonly referred to as keyword rankings.


Rank Checker Tool

A software that allows you to check your search engine ranking positions for selected search phrases and keywords.

Here are some free rank checker tools:


Reciprocal Linking

Reciprocal linking refers to two or more different websites linking to one another.

In general, natural reciprocal linking is fine, such as if Website A links to a content resource on Website B, and Website B links to Website A’s blogpost. However the links must not be manipulated i.e. over optimised anchor text.

What isn’t acceptable is “Excessive link exchanges (“Link to me and I’ll link to you”) or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking” – as stated in Google’s Link Schemes.


Reconsideration Request / Re-Inclusion

A submission-based appeal to Google or Bing to lift a manual penalty as a result of spamdexing a website (failing to comply to Google Webmaster Guidelines and Bing Webmaster Guidelines).

Further reading:

Submitting a reconsideration request (Google)


Redirect

The instance of sending users and search engines to a different URL than the one initially requested.

There are various types of redirects such as:

  • 301 permanent redirect
  • 302/307 temporary redirect
  • Meta refresh

Referral

Refers to the referral traffic sent from other websites to yours typically through hyperlinks. The more quality backlinks earned, the more referral traffic from these sources.


Rel=”alternate” hreflang

A HTML tag used to markup pages that are similar in context but targeted to different countries and/or languages.

For example if you have a Japanese version on www.yoursite.com/jp and an English version on www.yoursite.com/en you would put the following markup on both the Japanese and English versions:

<link rel=”alternate” href=”http://yoursite.com/cn” hreflang=”jp” />
<link rel=”alternate” href=”http://yoursite.com/en” hreflang=”en” />

This will signal to Google that there are two geo-targeted versions of your website and help them to show the correct version on both google.co.jp and google.com.

Further reading:

Hreflang: The Ultimate Guide – Yoast

Use hreflang for language and regional URLs – Google


Rel=”nofollow”

A HTML attribute attached to the code behind the hyperlink to signal to search engines that page does not endorse the destination URL.

<a href=”http://www.externalwebsite.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Nofollow link</a>

Also commonly referred to as “nofollow links”, these links do not pass PageRank or link juice.


Relative URLs

Relative URLs are much shorter than absolute URLs, displaying only the path e.g. /resource-page and omitting all other details such as the protocol e.g. https:// or domain name e.g. example.com.

This may cause on-page SEO problems such as:

  • Spider traps
  • Protocol-relative URLs
  • Relative canonical URLs

Further reading:

Why Relative URLs Should be Forbidden for Web Developers – Yoast


Responsive

Used to describe how flexible or fluid the contents of a webpage are when it is requested from various devices of various screen sizes such as mobile phones, smart phones, and tablets. Such as the following example:

Desktop Vs Mobile Responsive Versions

Desktop Vs Mobile Responsive Versions

To be on the safe side, you may want to check whether your responsive webpages pass Google’s Mobile Friendly Test tool.

Further reading:

Make sure your site’s ready for mobile-friendly Google search results


Reverse Engineering

Reverse engineering is an SEO link building technique by which you run your competitor’s domain through a backlink checker tool like Ahrefs and analyse their backlink profile.

Once you’ve identified websites (who’ve linked to your competitors) that may also potentially link to you, you’ll go out there and get links from these websites or similar-themed websites.


Rich Snippets

Rich snippets or structured data markup are a type of microdata markup (using the Schema.org vocabulary) that are added to webpages, with the purpose of making the webpage result on the search engine results pages more visually outstanding, and also display information related the query.

Rich snippet example

Rich snippet example

Further reading:

Introduction to Structured Data


Robots

Robots, also referred to as search engine spiders, are computer robots programmed by search engine engineers to crawl webpages and process information for data storage and retrieval purposes.


Robots.txt

A text file that website owners use to provide instructions to search engine spiders about which files and directories to ignore when crawling a website. The robots.txt file is stored in the root of the domain. Here’s an example of what it looks like:

User-agent: *

Disallow: /members-area

Where * signifies all search engine robots that are programmed to obey a robots.txt file, and Disallow: /members-area tells search engine robots not to crawl the member section of the website.

This conserves the crawl budget of a website by blocking access to unimportant directories, thus allowing more important sections of the website to be crawled and processed.


Roundups

A curation of the best content on a related topic or industry in a blogpost. Also used as a link building technique by SEOs.


RSS Feed

RSS feed stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. It is an XML-format file in which web authors can update the feed list by adding new stories/blogposts and readers can access this list by subscribing to it.


S

Schema.org

Schema.org is a set of vocabulary types, properties, and enumeration values that can be used with a variety of encodings including RDFa, Microdata and JSON-LD to markup webpages, emails, and many other applications.

When used on webpages, it can create rich snippets that display marked-up data on the search engine results pages.


Scraped Content

Scraped content is content that is copied and/or slightly modified from other sources and published on your own site.

In general, this is a negative term used to describe stolen content and goes against Google’s Quality Guidelines – Scraped Content.


Search Console

Previously known as Google Webmaster Tools, Google Search Console is a free web service help website owners monitor their site health and maintain their search presence on Google.

Webmasters can submit their websites to Google Search Console and verify their ownership. Once verified, webmasters can perform a range of actions including:

  • Submitting a sitemap
  • Fetching Googlebot to specified URLs
  • Checking for crawl errors
  • International targeting
  • Check for malware
  • And more

Search Engine

A program designed to allow users to search for and retrieve information on the World Wide Web.

Popular search engines worldwide include Google, Bing and Yahoo!, Baidu, Yandex, and Ask.com.


Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

SERPs are pages displaying links to webpages in response to a query entered by a search engine user. It contains two main types of results – Paid search results (ads) that advertisers have to pay search engines for every click, and organic search results which are ranked by algorithms based on dozens of ranking factors.


Search Engine Result Snippet

A summarised version of a webpage that is displayed on the search engine results pages. This snippet can be customised by editing the meta description of the page.


Search Engine Penalty

A form of punishment dealt by search engines to websites that implement spammy web activities in effort to manipulate their search engine rankings.

This may come in one of two forms – An algorithmic penalty (punishment dealt by search engine algorithms) or a manual penalty (a manual action dealt by a human search engineer).


Search Engine Submission

The process of submitting a website to the search engines and one of the ways to get into a search engine’s index.

Note: Submitting a website/webpage to a search engine does not guarantee indexation. Some reasons a website/webpage may not get indexed are, duplicate content and thin/shallow content.


Search History

A collection of search queries recently performed by a search engine user. Based on a user’s search history, search engines may tailor search results to individual users, thus the results may appear different from user to user.


Search Operators

A set of vocabulary that can be added to search queries in order to filter the search results.

Here’s an example of a search operator that searches only for keywords found in a page title:

intitle:”write for us”

Search operator title example

Search operator title example

Another example of a search operator that filters results found only on a particular website:

site:www.example.com


Search Term / Search Query

A keyword or phrase entered into a search engine for the purpose of retrieving information (search results) related to the search query.


Search Terms Report

A report generated by Google AdWords that displays the exact keywords a user searched for and clicked on a paid ad result.

Here’s a sample of a search terms report:

Search terms sample report

Search terms sample report


Search Volume

The specific number of searches performed for a particular keyword or keyword phrase. Search volumes for specific keywords can be research through keyword research tools such as:

  • Keywordtool.io
  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

Secondary Keywords

Keywords that are of a lesser priority than primary keywords that need to be optimised on a website or webpage. Keywords of a higher priority go in the <title> tags, meta description, and other important locations on a webpage.

Keywords may be prioritised according to:

  • Search volume
  • Conversion rate
  • User intent

Semantic search is a scientific method of seeking to accurately understand the intention and context of a search query in effort to return highly relevant search results to the searcher.


SEO Audit

An on-page and off-page review or assessment of a website to identify any issues that may cause a website to be “unfriendly” to search engines, such as blocking search engines from crawling and indexing an important web resource.

An SEO audit may be performed manually or via a tool such as Semrush. An on-page SEO audit may involve checking a range of items including:

  • The presence of a sitemap
  • Target keywords included on key landing pages
  • Page loading time

An off-page SEO audit may involve checking for:

  • Spammy backlinks (negative SEO)
  • Keyword-optimised backlinks

SEO Copywriting

SEO copywriting is writing copy that is keyword-optimised for search engine ranking purposes. It is generally frowned upon these days, as SEO copywriters have gotten a bad rep for writing copy intended for search engines rather than for humans.

Here’s an example of an extreme case of bad SEO copywriting:

SEO Copywriting at its worst

SEO Copywriting at its worst

As Google shifts toward semantic search and delivering ultra useful results to searchers, good SEO copy is no longer a priority, rather providing a great user (and useful) experience should be the primary focus while placing keyword optimisation second.


Site Architecture

The site plan of a website’s navigational structure.

It is recommended to separate main category (broad) content from sub category (specific) content. For example, “Digital Printing” is a broad category keyword and “Flyer Printing” is a more specific category, therefore they should be separated pages.


Sitemap

A sitemap can be in HTML or XML format. HTML sitemaps are included on the front end of the website for users to gain a birds-eye-view and easily navigate through a site. Whereas XML sitemaps are created to submit to search engines for better site crawling and indexation.

You may submit your sitemap to:

  • Google Webmaster Tools
  • Bing Webmaster Tools

Sitewide links are hyperlinks that are found on the same location of multiple pages of a website. E.g. a sidebar or footer link.

Google’s algorithms consolidates sitewide links and may count them as one.

Further reading:

Are related sitewide footer links the key to dominating Google?


Sneaky Redirects

A redirect is the action of sending a user to a different URL other than the one they requested. A sneaky redirect on the other hand is intended to deceive search engines by displaying different content to search engines and cloaking. This is also known as cloaking and can result in a manual action by search engines.


Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking involves the act of bookmarking, annotating, and sharing web documents through online bookmarking platforms such as Delicious, Scoop.it, and Digg.

Social bookmarking can be a way to drive traffic and links (usually nofollowed) to your website, although links may come indirectly (as a result of increasing the visibility of your content to bloggers).


Social Signals

As Google evolves its algorithms, social signals as a ranking factor becomes a hot topic for discussion in the search engine community.

Google representatives have suggested and reiterated that Google does not use social signals as ranking factors.

Great content that’s shared heavily on social media networking platforms tend to rank well on search engines. However it may not suggest a direct causation.

I.e. If page A, which has 10,000 Facebook shares and 100 backlinks, is ranking on SERPs position #1, there is a correlation between having more backlinks as a result of a increased content visibility. And links as we know, are a major ranking factor.


Spamdexing

Spamdexing is a form of spamming search engines to manipulate a page’s rankings on the search engine results pages.

Spamdexing includes but is not limited to:

  • Displaying different content to search engines and humans
  • Keyword spamming
  • Creating superfluous backlinks
  • Mass acquisition of low quality backlinks such as unmaintained web directories,

Spider

A spider or a search engine robot is a computer program that discovers web pages/documents and process their contents for search engine indexing and sorting purposes.


Splash Page

A splash page is a webpage a visitor first sees upon visiting a website, and allows the visitor to select an option to continue further into the site. For example, choosing a country/region or language to view the site in, or displaying an advertisement or “quote of the day” for a set amount of time before allowing the visitor to click into the site.

Splash pages are usually thin with content and not keyword-optimised, thus making it bad for SEO.


Splog

A Splog is a shortened term for a Spam Blog (Spam + Blog = Splog). It is a blog created for spammy purposes such as:

  • Stealing authority content from reputable websites and placing ads on them to earn ad revenue
  • Used to create superflous backlinks to targeted websites (a form of spammy link building)
  • Spinning stolen high quality content to make it look unique to search engines in hopes of ranking for specific keywords

Static Page / Static URL

A static page delivers content to visitors exactly as per developed. The URL does not change as well.

A dynamic page on the other hand, shows content that may change from time to time. A page displaying the latest blogposts (blogroll) is an example of a dynamic page, whereas an About Us page that doesn’t automatically change its contents would be an example of a static page.


Structured Data Markup

Structured data markup is a text-based organisation of data that is used to increase the visibility of pages in the search result snippets. This is done by using JSON-LD and Microdata to create various markup data types such as critic reviews, recipes, and online courses.

Once the markup is done, it may be tested for validity on Google via the Structured Data Testing Tool.


Subdomain

A subdomain is another part of a website. It takes the following form subdomain.maindomain.com.


Subheading

The subheading is a heading given to a subsection of a page. It should include your target keywords when possible.


The sub navigation menu are the links that take the user to another section of a website when clicked on. It is a best practice to keyword-optimise (do not over optimise!) the sub navigation anchor text links.


Supplementary Content (SC)

The supplementary content as mentioned repeatedly in Google’s Quality Rater’s Guidelines refers to content that supports the overall content of a page in providing a good user experience.

For example, the main content of a currency converter tool page would be tool itself, and supplementary content would be the latest foreign currency exchange trends and updates.


Supplemental Results

Supplemental results are URLs that are considered less important and are placed in Google’s supplemental index (a secondary database).

Pages in the supplemental index don’t rank well and it may be time to run a few checks on things such as:

  • Page Authority. Are you getting enough backlinks?
  • Duplicate content. Is your copy very similar or partially similar to another existing article?
  • Internal linking. Are enough internal pages on your linking to the affected page?

T

Target Keywords

The keywords or search terms you intend to optimise your website and webpages to rank well on the the search engines results pages.


Term Frequency

The term frequency refers to the number of times a term is repeated on a document. It is a metric (as part of a weighting system) that is used by search engines for page ranking purposes.


Thesaurus

A resource that lists related terms or synonyms of a word. It can also be used as a tool to aid in keyword research.


Title / Page Title

The title of a page is generally visible near the top of the page, and is usually surrounded by the <h1> tag. It is a best practice to include your target keywords in the page title.


Title Tag

title-tag

Title Tag on the search results snippets

The title tag <title>Page Title Goes Here</title> is used by browsers to display at the top of a browsing tab and is also often used by search engines to display on the search engine results snippets.


Top Heavy

A Google search engine algorithm used to filter or downgrade webpages that place too many ads above the fold of the page.


Top-Level Domain (TLD)

The top level domain is appended after the domain name e.g. www.example.com, where example is the domain name and .com is the top level domain.

It is recommended to get a .com domain if you plan to target an international search audience, as .com domains can rank better across Google Search’s international domains (e.g. www.google.com.sg). On the other hand if you decide to target only one country or region, you may get a ccTLD (e.g. www.example.sg).


Touch Element

A touch element refers to a button or link on a mobile device. It is one of the signals used in Google’s Mobile ranking factors.

Touch elements should not be sufficiently large in size and not too close to another touch element, otherwise users may accidentally touch unintended elements.


Trackback

A trackback is a notification sent automatically by one website (website A) to another website that it (website A) has linked to.

This is a great technique for relationship building among bloggers from similar niches and can encourage reciprocal linking as well.


Trust Flow

Trust Flow is a metric created and trademarked by Majestic. It is a quality score assigned to webpages on a scale of 0-100, and is calculated by analysing a site’s backlinks from trusted third party websites.


TrustRank

A metric for determining the trustworthiness of a link, described by researchers Zoltan Gyongyi and Hector Garcia-Molina of Stanford University and Jan Pedersen of Yahoo!.


U

Uniform Resource Locator (URL)

The Uniform Resource Locator or URL is commonly referred to as the website address and is used to locate and access webpages (HTML, Javascript, FLASH), documents/files (PDFs, video, images) on the World Wide Web.

It is recommended to include your target keywords in your URL to better your search engine rankings.


Used to describe links that are obtained or created unnaturally for the purposes of manipulating a website’s search engine rankings.

If this sort of spammy link building tactic is detected by Google or Bing, it may result in a manual investigation and demotion of the site in question.


URL Parameters

URL parameters, also known as query strings, are dynamic URLs and are appended to the back of the Uniform Resource Locator after the ? symbol (e.g. www.example.com/page?sourceid=123&sessionid=2).

Google recommends not to rewrite your dynamic URLs into static URLs unless you only intend to remove unnecessary parameters, as this can cause Google to misinterpret the information and cause indexation problems.


User Experience (UX)

User experience (UX) is a person’s overall experience when interacting with your website or webpage. Reader-friendly fonts, alluring images, great copy, and appropriate call-to-actions all play a role in delivering a satisfying user experience.

Search engines were built to serve users searching for useful information pertaining to their search queries. Google, Bing, and other major search engines constantly update their algorithms to serve that purpose – delivering useful, authoritative, and trustworthy content (content that provides a satisfying user experience).


V

Vary: User-Agent HTTP Header

The Vary: User-Agent HTTP header indicates to servers, caches, and search engines that there is a different version of a webpage served to mobile and desktop users.

When using dynamic serving (automatically detecting device types and serving specific content to each type), adding the Vary: User-Agent HTTP header signals to Google that there is a mobile-optimised content version and allows Google to crawl the content faster and serve them appropriately in search.

Further reading:

Dynamic Serving | Mobile-Friendly Websites | Google Developers

Vary: User-Agent header | Varvy


Video Optimisation

The process of optimising a video for search engine rankings. It includes:

  • Placing target keywords into video file name, title text, description, tags.
  • Getting quality viewership (e.g. majority of viewers watched the entire video)
  • High average user rating (e.g. a substantial number of video likes on Youtube)

Viral Content

Viral content or contagious content refers to content (infographics, blogposts, controversial articles, memes) that spreads on the web (social media networks, community blogs, forums, news/PR sites) like wildfire.

Great outcome for brand awareness, link building, and social media marketing campaigns.


W

White Hat SEO

White Hat SEO refers to the act of optimising a website for search engine rankings while abiding by search engine guidelines such as Google Webmaster Guidelines and Bing Webmaster Guidelines.


X

XHTML

XHTML stands for Extensible Hypertext Markup Language and is quite similar to HTML, the basic language for constructing web pages on the World Wide Web.

XHTML is part of the XML family and, like HTML, it is also easily understandable by search engines.


XML Sitemap

A sitemap is sort of like a directory of all the pages, images, and files existing within your website. Think of a shopping mall directory, where you have all the shop unit numbers in one list.

An XML sitemap is a type of sitemap that contains metadata about each URL and is added to the root directory of a website and submitted to search engines (e.g. submit an XML sitemap to Google Search Console) where it will be crawled and processed by search engines.

This sends important signals to search engines such as the organisation of your site content and the importance of each page.


Y

Yandex

A popular Russian search engine.


Yahoo!

A rude, noisy, or violent person. Source – Google

Yahoo! is a web search engine that was merged with Bing in December 2009.


Yelp

An authority business directory that houses a community of reviewers of businesses, publishes events, and more.


Z

Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT)

The Zero Moment of Truth represents how consumers shop and make purchase decisions throughout the customer buying journey in this day and age.

How is this related to search? There are over a 100 billion searches on Google each month, and a handful of them are searching for product-related information prior to purchasing from a brand (e.g. third party customer reviews). Google calls this the Zero Moment of Truth or ZMOT.


 

In SEO terms, a link/backlink/inbound link is a hyperlink from one website to another. Link building refers to the effort of acquiring these links to improve a website’s rankings on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

There’s no question that links are crucial in improving a website’s rank on the SERPs. A search ranking factors correlation study conducted by Moz and a new Google ranking study concluded that links are among the more influential factors for search engine rankings.

Getting links isn’t tough; getting quality links is. So before you go about sending random link requests and submitting to every A-Z directory, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do your links offer any value to the user?
  • Are your link destinations contextually relevant?
  • Are your links self promotional in nature?

If the answers are yes, yes, and no, you’re on the right track.

Not all links are equal

Remember that links with the nofollow attribute aren’t counted in Google’s overall algorithm.

<a href="http://example.com/" rel=”nofollow”>link</a>

The kind of links that will get you on the first page of Google are editorial links. That is, links that are placed in the content body of a blogpost, article, or whitepaper.

Let’s look at two examples of editorial links from two separate articles.

Example A:

According to a study <= (link) conducted in 2012, 80% of people love sushi.

Example B:

Today, selling insurance policies <= (link) is even more challenging than it was 10 years ago.

In example A, clicking on the anchor text “a study” would take you to a research paper to back its claims. In example B, the anchor text “insurance policies” would take you to the author’s insurance policy sales page.

Which do you think offers more value? Which do you think is more contextually relevant and non self promotional? – Example A is the clear winner.

It’s really about providing value

If you want to acquire high quality links (and we’re talking about links that really move the needle in rankings), you have to keep one key thing in mind – Can you provide value in exchange for the link?

Let’s say you’re reaching out to a popular food blog to write about your newly opened restaurant, what incentive could you give the blog to feature you?

You’d probably have to offer something like a $100 dine-in voucher. If we’re talking about well-known blogs, they would charge you a handsome fee for their review.

Similarly, if you were pitching a guest article to a popular blog in your industry, you’d have to make sure your content provides great value to their audience.

One of the best advices from Rand Fishkin is to give before you receive. Reach out to your community’s top influencers, friends, colleagues, and associates and ask them whether there’s anything they would like you to promote to your network out of good will.

Quoting Rand, “This is not a direct reciprocation, like, “Well, I did this for you, so now you do this for me.” This is just seeding the pot. You are creating a positive impression with these folks. Trust me, a lot of the time, even if you don’t have something to promote, if you do this for people in your network and people in your world, just try and make their lives better and promote their stuff, they will automatically be incented for the next few months to do something nice for you. If they can think of anything, they will try and do it for you. They will be more likely to help you out. If you do ask for a share, you’ll be more likely to get it.”

Go out there and get those links

Link building is an on-going process. You don’t just build links overnight and expect to rank on top forever. There’s always going to be competition. It also takes awhile for search engines to pick up your links and work out your rankings. So be consistent if you intend to stay on top.

A method of approaching link building

Link building methodology

It starts from analyzing the landscape, defining your linkable assets and target audience, developing and executing your strategy, and finally measuring your success so you can optimize better for the next campaign.

PS: We’ve also included a link building methodology template to use when executing your link building campaigns.

Analyze

Imagine you’re planning to launch a roundup and your goal is to acquire backlinks to it. Where do you start?

You could start by analyzing the results of similar roundups that have been published in the past. Using tools like Buzzsumo and Ahrefs, find out the quantity of social shares and backlinks these articles earned.

Go to Buzzsumo.com and enter a keyword that you’d use in your title and analyze the buzz effects of similar content out there on the web:

buzzsumo roundup search example

Next, pick out a couple of them and check out their backlinks with Ahrefs:

AHrefs roundup example

If you’re not seeing the success (lots of social shares and links) that you’re hoping to achieve, it may be a better idea to try a different content idea or you might end up in the same boat. I recommend reading this post by David McSweeney on 8 Actionable Ways To Get Backlinks By Spying On Your Competitors.

We once did a roundup titled 40 web design trends in 2015. This article was picked up by the Slideshare team and featured on their homepage.

With this credential, we reached out to 40 different people mentioned in our blogpost and got a response rate of 20% – some invited us to guest write for their blog and others told us they loved it and would share it on their social networks.

However even with all that effort and buzz, we only managed to secure one link. Quite a letdown, considering the buzz and enthusiasm it generated.

Had we analyzed the results of similar articles beforehand, we’d have discovered articles like these do well in acquiring social shares but weren’t very “linkable” so to speak.

How then would you go about analyzing the landscape if you’re a startup and your website is newly launched?

If your site is new and you don’t have any idea where to start, a good way would be to Google your top 5 competitors and analyze their link profiles. This may help you to spot some link opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t have thought of.

Here’s what we did with one of our websites (in the training room rental niche). Upon analyzing the backlinks of our competitors with Ahrefs, we found that customers were linking to their “how to get there” page from their event landing pages. This made a lot of sense given how detailed the directions to the training centre were.

With this new insight, we replicated that strategy and suggested to every new customer that they could link to our “how to get there” page from their event landing pages so their attendees wouldn’t lose their way.

You can see how detailed our directions to our training rooms are (it’s really about providing value).

In the next section, we’ll go through what you need to define in order to devise effective link building strategies.

Define

There are three main things you need to define before executing any link building technique:

  • What are your objectives (how many links do you intend to earn)?
  • What are your linkable assets (your content, products, how-to guides, resource pages)?
  • Who are your target linkeratis (people who will link to you)?

What are your objectives?

Your objectives shouldn’t just be limited to earning links. They should also aim to drive brand awareness, build relationships, and increase your social presence.

If your only objective for guest posting were to earn links, you wouldn’t really care where your article went as long as you acquired the links. You’d submit your blogpost to random article directories, low quality blogs, etc.

Say if your objectives were to increase brand awareness and drive traffic back to your site, you’d be looking at very different avenues (popular blogs with lots of user comments and domain authority).

What are your linkable assets?

Before you decide whether a piece of content, resource, or product is link-worthy (something people will not hesitate to link to), put yourself in the shoes of people who might link to you.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Would you link to your own piece of linkable asset and why? (Would you link to that case study you’ve just written?)
  2. Would it provide any value to the target audience?
  3. Is it contextually relevant?
  4. Is it self promotional by any nature?

There are a ton of spam guest contribution requests out there. If you’re outsourcing a 500-word guest article for $5 and linking heavily to your product-centered content, your pitch will probably get deleted.

Who are your target linkeratis?

Your target linkeratis are people who might link to you. They range from bloggers, forum users, to content creators and resource editors.

An example of a resource editor would be a government official managing a “useful links” resource page. In this case if you have something useful to contribute to that page, ensure your outreach formally written. No slangs and informal abbreviations.

On the other hand, if you’re reaching out to an industry blogger to submit a guest post, you can add a little personal touch to your outreach email (e.g. telling them how much you like their content).

The key is to connect your linkable assets to your target linkeratis and view your pitch through their eyes. You should always ask yourself the aforementioned questions:

  1. Why would I link to this?
  2. Would it provide any value to my target audience?
  3. Is it contextually relevant?
  4. Is it self promotional?

Develop & Execute

Once you have defined your objectives, linkable assets, and target audience, it’s time to develop and execute a strategic approach to acquiring those links.

Let’s look at a couple of link building examples that still work well today, provided you take good precaution not to “piss search engines off” (Like spinning your articles to make them unique and submitting them to dozens of low quality article directories):

  • Creating evergreen content
  • Guest posting
  • Relationship building
  • Directory/resource submission

Creating evergreen content

If you don’t have any existing linkable assets, you can start by creating evergreen content (content that never becomes outdated).

It could be a case study with comprehensive and conclusive research data, a definitive guide, a huge list post, a glossary of industry terms, and anything that is impossible to create for five bucks. This can help you to attract links naturally and also allow you to link back to them in your guest posts.

Browse popular articles with lots of social shares through Buzzsumo. Do keyword research on industry search terms and create 10x content (content that’s 10 times better than any other similar content).

When your content is ready, publish it on your blog and promote it. If you’re new in your industry, your newly created content will be like a tree on a remote island. You have to get the word out if you want to earn links and social shares.

Send outreach emails to people who might be interested in it, share it across all your social channels, and link to it from existing blogposts (both on-site and off-site).

Guest posting

If you’re intending to submit a guest article to a popular blog in your industry, make sure your topic is relevant to the blog’s audience and your content is unique and highly useful. Otherwise your pitch will most likely get rejected.

Use advanced search operators to find blogs that accept guest posts. An example would be typing intitle:”write for us” your industry to yield search results of blogs in relevant industries that accept guest contributions.

Advanced search operator example

There are a few key things to note for a successful guest posting campaign:

  • The pitch
  • The author’s profile
  • The submitted content

The pitch is important especially if a site does not openly invite guest contributions. For that, I suggest you check out outreach letters for link building by Peter Attia.

If a site already has guest posting guidelines set in black and white, be sure to read them very thoroughly before you decide whether or not to contribute. There may be cases where you realize your content idea may not be what the site is interested in.

The author’s profile is also an important deciding factor. We get a ton of spam emails requesting to guest post for our site. Here’s a recent one we received:

Hello,

I’m [name], constant and avid follower of your blog posts and I’ve liked most of the blog posts written here. I noticed that you’re accepting guest authors on https://www.equinetacademy.com/become-contributor-write-us/. I also realized you’ve already published some great guest posts from different authors with distinct styles and I’d be privileged if I were provided with an opportunity to delight your blog followers with some informative blog posts.

I’m a content expert and I’ve contributed some sensible and informative articles to surplus niche-specific blogs. I realize the value of content and its part in helping out numerous people out there in the space.

The blogs offered by me are absolutely free of cost for your website. As a reward, I would like to earn dofollow backlinks from your end.

I think I’m crisp & clear. If you have any confusion for the aforementioned points, you can freely revert me.

Looking for a positive response!

Unless you want to piss Matt Cutts off, don’t ever mention you would like to earn dofollow backlinks in return. Just… no. The above email pitch doesn’t tell us much about the author or their writing style, except that they’re pretty much hungry for backlinks.

It would be good to reference your previous guest contributions (the chances of approval would be higher if you have posted before on authority blogs) and suggest one or two topics you’re willing to touch on. Here’s a good example (keep it short and sweet and right to the point):

Hi,

Do you accept guest contributions to [site name]? I have previously published for a variety of online publications on marketing topics and was wondering if I could possibly guest write for you too?

My most recent article published to date here: [reference your recent post on an authority site], but I have also published for [authority site 1], [authority site 2], and many others.

I publish quite a bit on [topic] and could write about anything you have a content gap.

Looking forward to your response.

Through referencing your previous guest contributions, one can see your writing style and profile. If you want to maximize your approval rate, I suggest writing for the top blogs in your industry first.

Last but definitely not least (if you’ve already made it far enough and have gotten a response), don’t disappoint with thin and low quality content. Write something that offers a unique perspective on a trending topic, be detailed with examples, free it from grammatical errors, and basically try to follow everything outlined here and here.

Relationship building

Search for popular bloggers in your niche using tools like Followerwonk.com, Alltop.com, Buzzsumo.com, and just browsing through social media channels such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Make it a commitment to comment daily on at least 3 to 5 blogposts/social media posts/forum threads of your target linkeratis to build rapport.

Once you’ve built rapport and gained their trust, they will be more willing to look into your link requests and accede to them.

As mentioned above, one of the best relationship building advice by Rand is to give before you receive. Send an outreach message to them, tell them that you love their content, and ask if there is anything they’d like you to share with your audience. Just as how bid4skill smoothly executed their link building outreach campaign by doing a roundup featuring recommended digital marketing training providers (including Equinet Academy), and then reaching out to the training providers they featured to explore potential collaboration opportunities.

Through building your online presence, you may have earned some name/brand mentions from loyal customers or industry associates. These mentions could be anything from recommended partners (like the ones below) to testimonials.

Recommended partners page example:

Recommended partners page example

Testimonial example:

Testimonials and link mention

Browse through the blogs of your contacts on a regular basis and spot any opportunities for link requests, or use a tool like Google Alerts to alert you of any name/brand mentions (both yours and your competitors’) found across the web.

Google Alerts

For Google Alerts, make sure you wrap your brand name in double quotations to avoid any irrelevant notifications. So for example if your name is Dylan Sun, make sure you set the alert as “Dylan Sun”. Otherwise you might receive content that include phrases like “Bob Dylan” and his soundtrack “House of the Rising Sun”.

If you do manage to find any mentions from close friends, business associates, and past happy customers, all you have to do is ask them to convert the mention into a link.

Directory/resource submission

Ensure your site is free of viruses and looks trustworthy (no broken image links and 404 pages) before submitting to any directory. Use advanced search operators to find directories and resource pages (e.g. intitle:”business directory” intext:”your niche”).

Generally you’re looking for directories and resource pages that have human reviewers manually approving submissions. You want to make sure you fulfill the stated requirements of a directory, especially if you’re submitting product-centered content (e.g. a course outline) to a course directory, otherwise the chances of getting approved are slim.

Early this year in Singapore, the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) launched a national movement known as SkillsFuture which provides SGD$500 in credits to every Singaporean above the age of 25 to apply for approved courses.

Our company was one of the first to submit our courses to be eligible for the funding, which got approved under one of the directory’s category listings, earning us a good dofollow link.

Directory link to WordPress course example

In order to obtain a high approval rate, your website design also needs to look trustworthy (i.e. not too many ads above the fold of the page, no broken images and links, etc.) and your content has to offer value. Of course, our WordPress course curriculum had to be really comprehensive and structured as you can see.

This example is one of the more common and acceptable instances where product-centered content can earn links, as it is generally more difficult to acquire links to product-centered content than to free, helpful resources (e.g. how-to guides, glossary of industry terms, etc).

Measure

Basically you want to measure these two metrics:

1. Your rankings after acquiring the links. Monitor your rankings after acquiring the links through a tool like Firefox Rank Checker or Moz Rank Tracker. Note that it takes 10 weeks on average to see one rank jump.

2. Your link acquisition success rate in terms of percentage. If you sent out link requests to 10 linkeratis and received 1 link, it’s a 10% conversion rate, which is pretty decent. But if you’re sending 100 guest post requests and only getting 1 or 2 replies, you may need to refine your pitch.

Your Turn

Do you have a link building framework, guideline, or methodology you apply when doing link building? Please share them in the comments!

So you’ve done weeks of research and consultations from various SEO consultants. If you’re on your final step to choosing your desired SEO agency, do this 5-step checklist first before submitting your first payment deposit, because it might just make you think twice about signing those papers.

1. Run their proposed list of target keywords on Google Keyword Planner

This happened to one of my past clients whom I had consulted. The SEO company targeted keywords which had little or no search volume. Upon highlighting this issue, incredibly, the SEO consultant was “amazing” enough to tell us not get “fixated on the numbers”.

Here’s the screenshot of our conversation:

SEO-Agency-Convo

So above, my reply and a screenshot of their proposed list of target keywords on the then Google AdWords Keyword Tool (Now Google Keyword Planner).

And here was their reply on this:

Appreciate your feedback.

Yes, I agree that “Google Keywords Tool” does play an important role in keywords/ key-phrases research, but don’t get fixated on numbers. Years of our tech team experiences have shown the current site’ content strength to guide through the research. Some keywords/ key-phrases may have very low search volume but will be relevant to your site and industry. 

We provide quality service as our guarantee. If the milestone are not met, we work free for you. 

Moving ahead, setting you apart.

Cheers!


Obviously it was a poor argument on their end but my client still went ahead with them. In the end they did not deliver and blamed it on Google’s algorithm updates. Way to go.

I highly recommend you conduct thorough keyword research before even looking for an SEO agency. That way you’ll be more knowledgeable when you’re discussing the deliverables and campaign objectives.

2. Conduct an on-page SEO audit on their past/existing clients

You may use an on-page SEO analysis tool and run one of their past/existing client’s sites on it. Still, I’d rather do a manual SEO audit, just because I don’t fully trust the accuracy of automated tools.

Some obvious telltale signs you can look out for are checking the title tags and meta descriptions on a couple of pages to ensure they have solid copywriting skills and are not spamming keywords into these areas.

To do this, open up the page on your Chrome browser and right click on a blank section of a page, then click “View source”. Search for the “title tags” and “meta description” by clicking “Ctrl+f” for Windows and “Command+f” for Mac and analyze them.

How-to-View-Page-Source

3. Check on the backlink profiles on their past/existing clients

Many SEO consultants promise to earn you white-hat links that abide by Google Webmaster Guidelines. When in actual fact a lot of them resort to Private Blog Networks (PBNs), classified ads, over-optimized anchor text on forum posts, and many more questionable link acquisition techniques.

By running a check on one or more of the backlink profiles of their past/existing clients, you can get a clearer picture on their link building activities. Of course, do note that the results you see may be reflective of a previous SEO agency and not the one you’re looking to hire. Therefore you should perform this backlink check on a few clients to check for consistent results.

So what are some recommended white-hat link building techniques? Some of my favourite are:

One to one outreach

Online publicity campaigns

Building links in person

Link building with local events

4. Call up their past/existing clients

What better way to get first hand information than hearing from the horse’s mouth?

Ask your SEO agency for a sample SEO report of their past/existing clients. Navigate to their websites and fish out their contact information.

Hopefully you’ll be able to get a couple of minutes with the marketing department to gather some feedback that will aid in your decision-making.

5. Read through the contract again thoroughly

There was one SEO agency that stated on the contract, “If client changes content without the permission of [SEO company], [SEO company] has the right to stop all works immediately and nullify this agreement”, which was little too extreme in my opinion.

A good SEO agency will work closely together with you to develop and optimize content on your site without resorting to such extreme measures. Check that the contract protects you and the SEO agency to a reasonable extent, or else you might get terribly burned.

One final tip when hiring an SEO firm – know what SEO is all about. If you have a good overview of what SEO is and how to do it right, you’ll know exactly what questions to ask during a one-to-one consultation with your SEO consultant and be equipped with the knowledge to spot any tell-tale signs.

 

rusty-chain-1-1412496__1464062421_116.86.192.144

I think you will agree with me that getting backlinks is never the easiest undertaking when it comes to SEO (search engine optimization). It has gotten even harder in recent years, as Google stepped up its policing efforts on grey hat SEO techniques such as building private blog networks.

White hat link building is time-consuming and worse, your efforts can yield no results at all. As SEO marketers, instead of just thinking about how to build more backlinks, can we instead find other ways to rank our websites better?

Its actually possible.

You can rank for a competitive keyword even without building a single backlink to your page. By following this Google guideline that is obvious but overlooked by everyone else, I managed to drive thousands of organic visits to a single page every month.

And in this post, I am going to show you what this page is, the keyword it is ranking for (local keyword!) and how you can replicate the results.

And the keyword is…

First of all, let me reveal the keyword!

”private universities singapore”

Why is it competitive ?

Tertiary education is one of the biggest and most important investment of our lifetime especially in paper-conscious Singapore. Private education providers bend their backs to get more students. Not surprisingly, advertisers abound in the search results, pushing the bid to $3.55 per click.

pe-example

Needless to say, we were up against higher domain-authority dudes in the organic results, with backlinks by the truckloads they have accumulated over the years. Kaplan has DA of 44, Internations.org with DA of 71 etc.

Oh yes, I haven’t mentioned our website. We are found below Wikipedia at 2nd placing; Digitalsenior.sg with the lowest domain authority among the pack. This is the page in question: http://digitalsenior.sg/private-university-in-singapore-selection-guide/ 

pe-example2

Google Search Example

How we did it

Google loves quality content and they are not hush-hush about it. Our results up there is the best testament to the fact that quality content triumphs abundant backlinks.

But, easier said that done. I hate to be one of those people tells you that you have to do something but don’t want to tell you how.

Let me break down the steps in which we produce the content

Step by step guide to producing quality content

Of course, it begins with identifying the keyword we would like to rank for. At 590, the search volume was decent, and it checked our first box. Next would be looking at the competition. Typically, the presence of numerous high-authority competitors in SERP is enough to discourage a SEO marketer from tackling the particular keyword, but we held our horses and went for a deeper level of analysis.

After looking through each of the results, we found out that none of those listed are meeting the needs of the users. They either provide a perspective that is too broad(talking about all universities) or that is too narrow(only talking about one university).

What I’m saying is that the research and planning work is just as important. You don’t want to spend effort in trying to rank for a keyword that is impossible to surmount. Trust me, there are plenty of keywords in Singapore that are wide open for contention, you just need to search for it.

Don’t rush into writing

Once we have zoned in on the keyword, its time to get to work, right? Wait, there’s more to do before we start writing.

That is to analyze the user needs. What do people specifically want to know when they search ”private universities singapore” ? We can’t talk to these people individually, so we did the next best thing, which is to check out the sentiments in forum. For topics of this nature, discussion is carried out in Hardwarezone, in the academic section.

We found out that people mostly ask about the top 6 private universities in spite of the fact that there are 300 of them in Singapore. We heaved a sigh of relief as we learnt that there is no need to write about all of them. We also discovered that their main concerns surrounding the choosing of these universities include matters such as recognition and tuition fees.

Next up, we embarked on our research to find the answers to all their questions, at the best we could. Luckily , our needs analysis at the forum also provided us with a lot of insights to answer these questions. That said, we still ended up combing many other resources such as Jobscentral, wikipedia in order to arrive at satisfactory solutions to meet the users’ needs.

The most important Google ranking criteria

Now, we are ready to start writing 🙂 Remember, Google is all about user experience. We had huge chunks of data and information with us now, and dumping everything at our readers is the opposite of a positive user experience. It is therefore crucial to put some thought into the structure and arrange the information in a logical way that is easy to read. In our case, we segmented the article into 6 portions with each representing a factor that is important to them. Don’t forget your subheadings!

digitalsenior.sg article example

digitalsenior.sg article example

Once we had the outline, writing became much easier and quicker. The end result was an article spanning 2500 over words. Lastly, we added pictures so that the article did not look like one whole boring essay.

Its time to hit publish!

In case you were wondering, we really published and did nothing with it at all. No backlinking and no promotion. We wanted to see how far could a quality piece of content take us.

What happened?

First, it began to appear on page 2, then page 1 but at the last position. It gradually moved up the rankings and eventually reached no.2 . The traffic improvement followed!

digitalsenior analytics ss

digitalsenior.sg traffic analytics

What is Google’s ranking formula?

You may ask, how would Google know whether this is a quality of content, since they are not the pre-U students searching for university !?

It turns out that they have statistical ways to gauge content quality. Here are some of them:

The time spent on this page is 4minutes 52 seconds based on my Google analytics figures. Given that the average attention span of people is now at 8 seconds, 5minutes is a very decent duration. Google knows that.

digitalsenior.sg analytics example

Remember I said that my webpage was at the bottom of the first page’s search results initially ? It stayed there for awhile before moving up.

Why did it move up ?

Well, this is another of Google’s way to detect content quality.

Think about the time when you search for something.

When you click on a result and press backspace immediately(within 2 seconds), it is a signal to Google that the content is irrelevant or useless to the user. In SEO terms, it is known as pogosticking.

On the other hand, if people click on a result and they stay with it, it shows that user needs are being met. Gradually, Google weeds out the poor results and promotes the good results. All these are ”voted” by the users.

And right, democracy is in effect when it comes to Google SEO as well. Not coincidentally, Google is from US, the icon of democracy. Lol

Do u always need to produce long form written content?

At this point, you may be wondering:

if I am a non-writer, it means I stand no chance of ranking in Google search results at all? Am I just resigned to spending money to pay for traffic?

Fret not, Google is not that biased. Written content is not the end-all-be-all. Anything that benefits users will be considered for ranking.

There are alot of ways to do that. You can produce infographic , tables or even tools.

Take for example, this page in Digitalsenior.sg has hardly any words but generates more than 10,000 visits from Google every year: http://digitalsenior.sg/resources/nus-cap-calculator/ . It is a simple tool for people to calculate their university grades and ranks 1st for the keyword ”cap calculator” .

Bottom line

If there’s one thing that you take away from the article here, it is to solve needs.

Remember this. People use Google because they have a need. Through the search process, users hope to have their needs solved. If you can answer their needs, Google will reward you with so much traffic that your server can’t even handle.

So many people make the mistake of assuming they know what are users’ needs, and they produce content that are actually useless to users. It pays to do your homework to find out the real needs first.

Does that sound like a lot of work? Trust me, it is easier than building backlinks. And the traffic is definitely worth it.

Keyword research is the process of discovering what your customers are searching for in order to optimize and increase content visibility on the search engine results pages. It’s one of the most important and high return activities in SEO and should be conducted on an on-going basis.

You can (and feel free to) conduct keyword research:

  • Before you start a new business
  • Before you create a website
  • When you’re planning your site architecture
  • Whenever you create new content
  • Whenever you launch a new product
  • Whenever you feel like it (e.g. you feel you’re not receiving enough traffic)

So Tell Me, What Are The Benefits?

The benefits of conducting in-depth and effective keyword research are immeasurable.

Not all keywords drive you quality traffic. But some do. In fact, some high value keywords can potentially drive dozens of eager buyers to your site on a monthly basis. So imagine how much you might lose out if your keyword research process wasn’t thorough enough.

So what are some measurable benefits that come with effective and in-depth keyword research?

Keyword research helps you discover new buyer personas and understand buyer intent

Just by looking at the incoming search terms to your site, you’ll be able to tell what kinds of people are searching for your products and services and what they’re hoping to find.

Someone searching for “how to shoot beautiful photos” may not necessary be interested in buying a camera, but rather looking for expert tips on taking pretty pictures.

On the other hand, someone searching for “best cameras for shooting outdoor scenary” may be in the comparison phase and would need detailed comparisons on various camera brands before deciding what to buy, whereas someone searching for “second hand canon eos6d cheap” literally has their wallet out.

Keyword research empowers you with useful content ideas

For the first scenario “how to shoot beautiful photos”, we can guess that this person might have already bought a camera and is keen on learning how to shoot beautiful photos, though he/she may not necessarily own the best camera available in the market.

Armed with this information, we can then create a piece of content, say, “How to Shoot Amazing Photos For Beginners”. In this article, we could provide excellent lighting tips on how to shoot beautiful photos even with the most basic camera, and then add that it would really pay off to get a more advanced camera e.g. a DSLR to shoot top quality photos.

By empowering your readers with expert knowledge through targeting useful content to relevant search queries, you’re building their trust in your brand. It would then be much easier to sell them your products and services.

More optimized content

Equipped with a comprehensive list of keywords, you’ll be able to make better decisions when optimizing your site by organizing your content into individual pages where multiple related keywords are optimized on each page.

Here’s an example of a well-structured site.

Site Architecture

Example Site Architecture of a Camera Store

As we can see in the above diagram, “Camera Store” and “Camera Brands” should be separate pages, as combining these two topics onto one page would dilute the page’s topical relevancy and result in subpar rankings.

The better practice would be to separate these two pages, including the target keywords e.g. “camera store”, “camera shop” into your “Camera Store” page and “camera brands”, “best camera brands” into your “Camera Brands” page.

In this guide, we’ll cover:

  1. Why it’s important to identify and understand your buyer personas before and during keyword research
  2. Types of keywords you should target
  3. Ways to do keyword research
  4. How to select the best keywords

Why is it Important to Identify Your Buyer Personas?

Not knowing who you’re marketing your business to is equivalent to firing a gun without aiming at the target board.

People in different stages of the buying funnel type different search queries. As business owners and marketers, we know that customer profiles vary from age, gender, relationship status, problems faced in work and personal life, etc etc.

If you don’t know who your customers are, your keyword research is going to be sloppy and incomplete, from an SEO perspective.

Here’s an example, if you run a business that rents out empty spaces, your target audiences are namely:

  • Business consultants looking to hold professional meetings with their clients
  • Event planners looking to plan and organize birthday parties
  • Influencers looking to run a preview seminar
  • Tuition teacher looking to hold tuition classes
  • Training providers looking to run workshops and courses

Note: To get the above data, you can conduct market survey, purchase statistical data, and analyze existing customer enquiries and profiles.

Let’s use the second example – the Event planners. To really understand the needs of an event planner, we have to think like one of them. Ask yourself these questions or hold a discussion with anyone who’s throwing a 21st birthday party. What are their concerns and requirements? Remember, you’re an event planner now.

Here’s a list of things that should come up:

  • Birthday party ideas
  • Venue and location
  • Cost

With these ideas, we can generate some keyword-optimized content. For birthday party ideas, we could come up with a listicle “10 Birthday Party Ideas That No One Will Never Forget” and get it ranked for the search term “birthday party ideas”.

As for venue and location, we should optimize our site for commonly used search terms keywords such as “event venue singapore”, “event venue for birthday parties”.

Understanding your buyer personas can give you broad keyword ideas no keyword research tool can.

Types of Keywords You Should Target

Should we just grab the whole list of keyword ideas generated by your keyword research tool and optimize our site with them? Well you can, however you might be fighting an uphill battle. Some keywords are so competitive that it’s almost impossible to rank on the top 5 positions without some heavy off-page SEO (Content Marketing & Link Building).

First we have to look into which part of the buying funnel your customers are at. Depending on their search queries, they could be in the “Awareness” stage or the “Action” stage. We refer to the AIDA funnel for this.

Again, we’re going to use the venue rental example.

Let’s look at some “Awareness” keyword examples:

How to organize a seminar
How to promote an event

“Interest” keyword examples:

Meeting room facilities
Seminar rooms in [location]

“Desire” keyword examples:

Training room rental rates
Training room rental [more specific location or a brand name]

“Action” keywords examples:

Rent a training room in [location] Rent a meeting room [location]

As you can infer, “Desire” and “Action” keywords are higher value keywords as they signify a higher level of interest in a particular product or service, therefore we should focus our SEO campaign on targeting these keywords first.

And then there’s short tail, long tail, and location based keywords. Typically we want to target longer tail keywords as they are generally less competitive than short tail/generic keywords. Location based keywords signify a strong interest in a particular location, so if you’re based in that location, you’ve zeroed in on your target audience.

Ways to Do Keyword Research

It’s widely known that keyword research tools (particularly Google Keyword Planner) aren’t fully capable of churning out a comprehensive list of keyword ideas.

Say for example when you enter a seed keyword “training room rental” into Google Keyword Planner, you’d get a broad list of keyword ideas like so:

Keyword Research example

Keyword research example with Google Keyword Planner

What you get are a bunch of closely related keyword ideas such as:

  • Training rooms
  • Training room for rent
  • Training facility rental
  • Rent training room

What are we missing out then? Let’s find out.

Using another keyword research tool such as Google Suggest on the keyword term “training room rental”, we can discover new keyword ideas that would be close to impossible to find just by entering a seed keyword into Google Keyword Planner.

Google Keyword Suggest example

Google Keyword Suggest example

Google Suggest example (bottom of search results page)

Check out these keywords suggested by Google:

  • Training room rental international plaza
  • Training room rental in bugis
  • Computer training rooms for rent

If your training rooms were located in international plaza, your results should be one of the most relevant to the searcher. It matches the searcher intent almost a 100%. Wouldn’t it be a pity if you didn’t optimize your page for this key phrase?

Here are some other recommended keyword research tools:

How to Select the Best Keywords

“Best keywords” is actually a misnomer. The keywords you should optimize your site for depends on:

  • How strong your domain authority is (how many authoritative and relevant backlinks you have and how long your website has been around) and how competitive your industry is on Search. Meaning to say you should target less competitive keywords (possibly lower search volume keywords) if your domain authority is not strong enough. You’ll rank much faster for them compared to more competitive keywords.
  • Which keywords have the highest chance of converting your visitors to customers (long tail, location based, branded, “Action” keywords).

For the third point, you need to track your conversions through your AdWords campaigns, Webmaster Tools, and Google Analytics goal conversion data.

Here’s a sample screenshot of an AdWords keyword search terms report:

We can tell which keywords convert best.

We can tell which keywords convert best.

If your site is already ranking for almost all of your longtail, location based, branded, and “Action” keywords, you should move up and optimize for more generic and “Awareness” keywords, as the audience you intend to reach may not initially be interested in purchasing your products and services, but may do so in the longer term.

Wrapping Up

If you’re starting out on a new business venture and you’ve just created a website, the “Best” keywords for you to target at this phase would be long tail, location-based, branded, and “Action” keywords, basically keywords that are less competitive and targeted to an audience who are more likely to convert.

What questions to ask an seoWhen it comes to a complex marketing medium like SEO, it is important to do your research beforehand – by asking the right questions. Think of it as a job interview. You won’t want the wrong people on your marketing team when your goals are to increase profits.

Here are 7 questions to interview your SEO agency before hiring them.

What link building strategies do you use?

When it comes to link building, there isn’t any one size fits all. A local service-based business and an e-commerce business might require different approaches to building links. Check out the following link building guides:

E-commerce link building

Link building strategies for small businesses

Be wary if your SEO consultant only mentions forum postings, blog comments, directory submissions, and article directory submissions.

In my experience, these companies engage in spam submissions such as auto commenting with randomly stuffed anchor text keywords on random blogs and submission of sites to poor quality directories which may harm your rankings in the long run.

Who are some of your clients?

Depending on the agency, they may not be able to divulge client details due to confidential agreements between both parties, etc. But you should be able to get at least one or two references and conduct your own SEO audit on them.

If you notice anything amiss, especially pages that are over-stuffed with high-query search terms and questionable backlinks (e.g. over-optimised anchor text backlinks), run the other way.

Do you abide by search engine webmaster guidelines?

Google and Bing frequently update their search engine algorithms. Google updates their algorithms approximately 500 to 600 times a year. These algorithms are aimed at taking down webmasters that engage in black-hat SEO.

If your SEO provider flouts any of the webmaster guidelines, your site may lose rankings or in the worst case scenario disappear completely from the search engine results pages. Be sure to check whether they adhere to Google & Bing’s webmaster guidelines.

How frequent will you keep me updated?

How frequent your SEO company updates you may determine how frequent they are actually working on your campaign.

Typically you should get updates at least 2 times a month on activities such as review and approval of new content and receive detailed monthly SEO reports on ranking positions, links acquired, and more.

How do you measure your success?

Though rankings are important, the ultimate goal in SEO is to increase business profits. Therefore, ranking for the right keywords will get you the right traffic and conversions.

Ask to see samples of their reports, articles, and webpages that they have optimised. Make sure to check for the quality of the content, as many SEO companies write shallow articles that are stuffed full of keywords.

How long have you been established?

Be sure to check how long they have been established. There are many new SEO companies who claim that they have been established for many years. However upon checking their business profiles, they were not even registered for more than a year.

Ask how big their in-house team is, and what work (content writing, link building, social media marketing, on-page SEO) they outsource, if any. Some SEO companies are only reseller of larger SEO companies, and you’ll be paying a marked-up price for the same set of services.

Will you keep me in the loop of all the changes you will be making to my site?

Some SEOs may change the meaning of your content in the process of optimising your pages. It is important to stay in the loop of any changes they are making on your site.

For example, you may find your cake decorating tutorial keyword-optimized, or rather stuffed with keywords, as such “This cake decorating tutorial will show how to decorate a cake. In this cake decorating tutorial, how to decorate a cake in 10 steps is as follows. First step on how to decorate a cake…” 

Also ensure you read through and approve any content they will be adding to your site so as to keep your brand message consistent.

Avoid These Mistakes

Be wary of spam emails from so-called SEO experts such as the following

“Hi google.com,

We noticed your site isn’t ranking well for your target keyword search terms as we had difficulty finding you on the search engines…”

My advice would be to mark these emails as spam as most of them aren’t reliable.

Hiring SEOs that guarantee rankings in a short amount of time

Unethical SEO techniques such as posting articles with over-optimised anchor text on poor quality article directories (i.e. article directories that are heavily spammed and are likely to get devalued by Google) may boost your rankings in a short amount of time, but the losses in the long run may be devastating.

Targets long-tail obscure keyword phrases that wouldn’t require much effort to rank anyway

Be wary of SEO consultants who try to rank you for overly long tail keywords such as [where to buy smoothshower shampoo in Tampines] or any other keywords that you would easily rank anyway such as your brand name.

Not understanding what you are getting from your SEO provider

Every business has different sets of goals, target audiences, and different approaches to link building.

Be sure to request for a break down and time frame of each activity such as:

  • How often will content be generated and how many per month
  • How many links will be acquired per month and how quality are the links
  • Is on-page SEO ongoing or a one-time thing
  • What will you require access to, and how often will you access it? (e.g. website backadmin, Google Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics, etc.)

Regardless of which SEO agency or digital marketing agency you wish to hire, you should have basic knowledge on the topic of SEO. If you haven’t already, read our Beginners Guide to SEO.

Happy Hiring!

 

Man pulling links from a building

Many SEO companies claim that they provide white-hat SEO services to their clients. And they do a pretty good job actually, at least on the on-page SEO side of things.

If you do on-page SEO analysis on some of their clients’ sites, you’ll see well optimized title tags, meta descriptions, properly formatted .xml sitemaps, an internal blog filled with SEO articles, and more which is rather impressive. However when you do a backlink analysis of the site, you’ll be in for a shock.

Many SEO companies today still apply link building methods that were popular before the Panda/Penguin era, some of them include:

  • Mass submission to unheard-of article directories
  • Free blogs created from free blog networks like wordpress.com with only one article. And to make things worse, an over-optimized anchor text in the main content body.
  • Submission of links to low quality directory listings

And the list goes on…

Truth be told, many SEOs still scratch their heads when it comes to white-hat link building. And I mean proper, legal, Google algorithm update-proof link building strategies. The temptation to take the shortcut is and has always been appealing for many SEO agencies and consultants alike.

But to stay alive in the post Panda/Penguin/Hummingbird era, you’re going to need great content. Exceptionally useful content with attractive headlines that tackles the question What’s In It For Me (WIIFM) almost instantly.

So here are 5 link building strategies for new websites.

1) Egobaiting

Egobaiting has been an all-time favourite and is still being used by new SEOs and experienced link builders alike.

Egobaiting is basically trying to get someone (preferably an influencer in your industry) to link to you by stroking his/her ego in a subtle manner like creating a list of top influencers in your industry and then linking out to each of them.

Tip: People are more likely to share/link to stuff that they are a part of.

More detailed coverage on the topic of egobaiting can be found on a guest post on Point Blank SEO by James Agate from Skyrocket SEO. I highly recommend checking it out. James is the founder of Skyrocket SEO and you can get great insights on SEO from his company’s blog as well as his contributed posts on the Moz Blog.

2) Broken Link Building

What is broken link building? Broken link building is essential finding webpages that have broken links (links to 404 pages) on them, and requesting the webmaster to replace the broken link with a link back to your resource.

The most common types of webpages you can find broken links are resource pages, or “list of [useful] sites” pages. Like this example: List of Guest Blogging Sites (140+ best sites)

You can find these pages by using search operators. E.g. Type into Google – inurl:list intitle:sites intext:blogging and see what comes up on the SERPs.

If you offer guest blogging on your site, then hit up the webmasters and have them include your site into their resource pages. Do you see how straightforward this is?

Neil Patel has an excellent in-depth guide to broken link building. I highly recommend checking it out if you want to master this effective link building technique.

3) Link Submission

This technique also applies the use of search operators to find link opportunities. You’re mainly looking for high quality directories with industry-relevant categories to include your site into.

E.g. Type into Google – directory intitle:business services if you’re providing a service or – directory intitle:sports if you’re running a sports business.

There are other link submission opportunities available such as event websites that you can submit your events and include a link back to your event webpage, infographic submission sites to submit your infographic site, or joining an organization to have your link included in their members list, and more.

You can find more advanced link building queries in the following article: 21 Link Builders Share Advanced Link Building Queries

4) Guest Blogging

Though Matt Cutts declared guest blogging dead earlier this year, guest blogging is still a lucrative way to build your reputation in your industry and attain links more easily as a result of the former.

Just don’t overdo it and scale it up until it’s really obvious that you’re web spamming. It still amazes me that there are still many gigs on Fiverr that sell you a guest post on their PR5 blogs with over-optimized anchor text all over the article body.

If you’re engaging in these activities, stop right away. Nevertheless, if you’ve gotten yourself a manual penalty, here’s a guide on how to try and remove it.

With that said, where do you start when you’re about to embark on some guest blogging?

  1. Start with reading articles related to your industry and commenting on them to build rapport.
  2. Curate a list of sites that accept guest blogging.
  3. Outreach to the respective webmasters through Email, Twitter, Google+, etc.

The best guide I’ve found on guest blogging so far has got to be from Brian Dean’s blog, Backlinko, The Definitive Guide to Guest Blogging

5) Social Networking Online/Offline

“We are not in the business of succeeding alone.” – Wade Harman

Which is harder to ask a favour from, a friend or a stranger? Forging relationships is a long and slow process. But when successful, it is much easier to ask a favour from, in which case, a link or a share for your content!

To forge strong relationships, you have to find the people that are into the same stuff as you and go the distance to connect with them. Retweet their tweets on Twitter, share their content, mention them in your posts, blog about their expertise, and comment on their articles.

Last but not least, here’s a great guide with examples on relationship-based link building!