Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important art and science you need to understand to bring traffic to your blog from Google search results. SEO is both an art and a science. A great place to start is learning new SEO terms to understand how how it all works. If you’re having trouble with your blog not ranking on Google, hopefully these terms below will give you new insight on where to keep looking.
Let’s start with helping you using the following SEO Terms:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Google Sandbox
- Long Tail Keywords
- Ranking Factors
- XML Sitemap
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is process of tuning both your overall blog as well as the individual posts to rank on the list of search results returned by search engine (usually Google).
Fine tuning SEO is both an art and a science. Google hasn’t published the exact formula it uses rank search results. With enough digging around we can gain insight into the things that affect ranking in research results, while inferring other factors based on experience.
The ranking formula changes over time. The SEO tactics used in the past may not work in the future as Google. The algorithm changes with fixed loopholes and new ranking factors added. Mobile wasn’t a consideration years ago, but now it’s a top source of traffic.
The larger algorithm updates are usually given a name to help refer to them in future conversations, and distinguish between them. Panda and and penguin may sound familiar.
The Google Sandbox is a concept not officially acknowledged by Google. This one is something you will likely experience as a new bloggers. You do everything right to optimize your posts but it still takes months to receive search traffic from Google.
Google has mentioned that the search algorithm takes site age into account when prioritizing search results. While feels unfair, Google wants to make sure it’s showing valuable content in results, not spammers. Depending on the search phrase you’re targeting, it can take 3 to 9 months to start seeing traffic from Google search results.
When you do a search on Google, the word phrase you type is referred to as keywords. A search phrase with a least three words is called a long-tail keyword. Long-tail keywords usually start with a specific popular keyword, followed by another one or two words.
When someone uses a long-tail keyword they are searching for an answer to a specific problem or question. The benefit to longer phrases is they are generally less competitive to rank your posts. You have an opportunity to write targeted content with the potential of ranking faster. This is particularly true if no one else has published content that specifically targets this search.
Tools including Keywords Everywhere help you identify the long tail keywords people are actually using to search Google. Optimizing your posts for keywords no one uses won’t have the traffic effects that you’re hoping for.
Tip: When you’re starting a new blog, try focusing low competition long tail keywords can help overcome this challenge, and gain some traction faster.
Google uses a complex formula (search algorithm) to decide which pages to include in a search result and how to order them. The various components in the formula are called ranking factors. There are at least 200 factors involved.
Ranking factors change over time with new ones added (mobile friendly) and others removed. Do you remember the DMOZ directory? While there’s an understanding of the pieces of the ranking puzzle, the weight of each factor isn’t known. Google hasn’t published all aspects of its secret ranking sauce.
When you think about ranking factors, remember these three things:
- Some of these factors you could potentially control, some you cannot.
- Others take time.
- Some change over time.
The best advice is to write awesome, well structured content your target visitors want to read. Avoid doing things that feel like cheating or shortcuts. As Google adjusts the algorithm those cheating shortcuts could result less traffic or ranking penalization for your blog. Oops.
The XML sitemap is a structured list of the posts and pages in your blog. The Google crawler will try to navigate your blog by following links. The sitemap helps Google find all the pages as well as provides a suggestion of prioritization for re-crawling pages.
To help a search engine crawl your blog, make sure you enable the XML sitemap in your SEO plugin (such as Yoast). Or if needed install a separate plugin.
Over to you. Has this list of SEO terms helped?
Starting by learning the terminology builds a solid foundation to build your blogging journey. Are there there other SEO terms that you heard about and want to make sure others understand?