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Common SEO Terms You Might Hear About With Your Website

You will probably be aware of the importance of SEO in order to get your website noticed, but the problem is that the lay person will have very limited knowledge of the industry, the methods and techniques, and even the terminology that can be used. However, it is often the case that a few common terms are used and by offering an explanation as to what they mean it should make things a bit clearer for you before you go ahead and start your SEO campaign.

Algorithm

The first term is algorithm and this is important. You see, when Google are working out the rankings of websites on their search engine they use something called an algorithm. Now, the way in which they calculate the positions does tend to change every now and then and you should keep an eye out for updates named after animals. Basically, just see this term as being an equation and the result of the equation is your ranking on Google.

Backlinks

Backlinks have always been important in SEO but the types of links that have been preferred by Google has certainly changed. The easy explanation of this term is that it is a link to your website from another website and Google sees this link in the same way as an Internet recommendation. Previously, it used to be the case that the more links you had the higher the ranking but now it is the quality of the site that is important rather than the number.

Black Hat

Black hat is something that has to be avoided as it focuses on methods and techniques that are purely aimed at the search engine and not the public. It includes methods that are against the terms and conditions of the search engines and if you are caught using them then your site is going to be punished by Google.

White Hat

On the other side is white hat and as you can imagine it is the complete opposite of black hat in that it focuses on methods and techniques that work and are in line with the terms and conditions of the search engines.

Bounce Rate

The bounce rate is a percentage of people that end up leaving your website after they have just landed on the home page. For Google, this is then seen as your website being boring and not worth visiting so it is a negative thing for your ranking if you have a high bounce rate.

Keyword Stuffing

You may know that keywords are important for good SEO, but overdo it and you end up doing keyword stuffing and that is bad. Google prefers keywords to be used naturally and for things to make sense so if your content is just keyword after keyword thrown in, then they are not going to be best pleased.

Meta Tags

Meta tags are things that you do not see, but they are required by the search engine as they use them to find websites after an individual has carried out a search. They then use this to show you the small sentence that appears on the list of searches so you know what the website is going to be about before clicking on a link.

Organic Search Results

Organic search results refers to the page that you see on Google when you carry out a search but not including the paid adverts that appear at the top or at the side of the page. The results that you see at the top should, by all accounts, be the pages that have been optimized correctly for the search terms that you entered.

Paid Search Results

Paid search results refers to those adverts that appear on the side or the top of the page when you go onto Google or any other search engine. This links in to Adwords and you can effectively buy your way to the top if you have the budget available for it.

Sitemap.xml

This is something slightly more technical, but it is a document that is going to be hosted beside your website that contains every page that is on your site. The search engine spiders that then come your way will look at this document and learn all about your website including how the pages link together. If your website is using WordPress, then this is something that is generated automatically.

Now, we are not saying that these are all of the important terms that you should know about when it comes to SEO for your website as there are many more. Instead, it is merely designed to give you some insight into what is actually being meant when you ask about SEO for your site and you are met by a host of terms that just seem to bewilder you.

The main thing is that if you do not understand these kinds of things, then ask for them to be explained. After all, you are the client and deserve to know what you are spending your money on.

Getting to Grips with 301 and 404 Errors

In the world of web design there is always going to be a point where pages have been moved or changed and yet individuals visiting the website find themselves being pointed back to the old pages. However, thankfully there are things in place that makes those errors seem less of a problem thanks to the way in which they are able to explain to the visitor what is going on.

By doing this, it makes it less likely that the individual visiting your website is even going to be aware of something going on or, at the very least, they are not going to be too annoyed that the page they were trying to visit appears to have either been deleted or moved.

So, what are these things in place that we are talking about? Well, they might sound a bit boring and non-descriptive but they are known as 301 and 404 errors and we should perhaps explain a bit more about them.

301 Errors.

If we can start off with a little bit of more technical stuff because basically a 301 error is the Http response status code that indicates a page has been permanently moved. Now that the technical part is past we can now get on with really explaining what is going on.

This error is also a redirect in that it then sends individuals to the new page and indeed it is regarded as being the best way of redirecting individuals on websites although we need to perhaps provide an example of how this error can work.

Say your ‘About Us’ page used to be at .com/aboutus and yet it has now been redesigned or perhaps you have changed your entire website so the page that contains information about your company is actually now at .com/ourcompany. Now, the individual visiting your page could type in the first option but of course it is no longer there so a 301 error picks up on this and redirects them to the new page. It makes the changes seem less annoying and you also do not miss out on the individuals finding the page and going off elsewhere so you can understand why this is so important.

301 errors can be used on any webpage that has since been moved or altered and you should see it as something that takes you by the hand when you are lost and redirects you to where you want to be. It is essential that any website that has made changes has this implemented as it does make the website seem more professional.

404 Errors.

The other type of error that we are talking about are 404 errors and, once again, we need to start off with some technical stuff before we provide an easier to follow explanation.

From a technical point of view, a 404 is an Http standard response code for when an individual has been able to communicate with the server that the website is on but the server is unable to complete whatever it is that they have asked of it. However, in this instance you will receive a 404 error when it is something that the individual has done wrong at their end rather than something that is wrong with the website.

In most occasions, it will happen because the individual has types in the wrong URL and the server is basically telling you that the page that you are trying to reach does not exist on the server. It may have once been there but now it has been deleted and they have just not updated their bookmarks or changed the URL that they are typing in.

However, the pages that they then see that contain the 404 error can often be customized so that there are graphics and messages on there telling them what has gone wrong. Some companies make light hearted comments on there so that the individual is not frustrated at getting a 404 error and then there are attempts to get them to go elsewhere on the website.

In other words, there is a bit of an apology from the website for the error even though it is down to a mistake by the individual visiting and this 404 error is like a polite notice just informing them of something that has gone wrong.

So, as you can see both 301 and 404 errors do play an important role in keeping people aware of what is going on with websites when changes have been made or the visitor has made an error when trying to access a page. They are not just useful things to have but rather they are essential pieces of kit that are able to explain to the visitor what has gone wrong rather than them just being given a completely blank page. After all, if you just provided them with no information then why on earth would then then continue to another page of your website? The answer is that they wouldn’t so thanks to these errors that will never be a problem.

Can Old Content Help With SEO?

In previous blog posts we have kind of alluded to the simple fact that SEO is a rather complex business due to what appears to be its ever changing nature. It seems that new theories and ideas as to what works and what fails are popping up all the time and that just makes things even more difficult to understand as a result.

One such example is the theory that your old content could actually improve your SEO and this seems to go against a number of theories simply because it was previously believed that old content would be too laden with keywords for it to now be effective. Well, to some that is no longer the case.

How To Take Advantage.

You see, in the past it was all about sheer quantity, or that is what people thought, but that particular game has certainly changed now as quality of content reigns supreme. However, this is where you need to be slightly ruthless with your old content in order to then benefit from it.

What people are now saying is that you have to go through the content and unpublish those articles that just do not come up to the standards that you would expect. This is going to clear out a lot of deadwood in an instant and then you are left with the content that you are then able to work with.

At this point you then need to see if the good content requires any additional editing just to further improve the quality at all. This may sound like a lot of work initially, but all that you are doing is refreshing old content, making it relevant again, and then the likes of Google will pick up on it being new and reindex it.

You see. The old content that is no longer relevant is also going to have an impact on the speed at which your website loads. The faster the loading speed then the better it is for your visitors and then Google is going to love you even more and it certainly helps where your website then ranks.

Also, here is another tip that is also going to help things along even more. Whenever you delete old content you should make sure that there is a 301 redirect put into place on that page for the sake of sending people to a new page that has updated content. This is going to help with keeping them on your website for longer and clearly that is also going to also help your SEO as Google love happy people that spend longer on a website.

Furthermore, when you are examining the old content, it is certainly better if you check the way in which your keywords are being used. Look at the long tail keywords that are bring used and then make sure that they are making sense and appear naturally in the content. This is important as it was not always the case with old content where the key was to really stuff in as many keywords and combinations as possible. The problem is that this did not always make sense and yet that was not as important in the old days.

Well, that is no longer the case because of the issue of quality over quantity that is now the important part in all of this.

Look at the facts that are included and perhaps just update the points that are being made to make sure that they are still relevant or even making sense. Google may love fresh new content on a regular basis but the cool thing is that by updating old content it comes across as being refreshed and is now relevant again and yet you still get the benefit of its history as well. In other words, you are really getting the best of both worlds and that is only going to be beneficial to you.

So, what we are saying is the following.

When you have quite a lot of content on your website and that content has been built up over a period of time then it is now the time for you to look at having a clear out and just freshen it up so that you can still get the benefit of it and indeed improve your ranking at the same time. This is something that Google now expects and the best part is that it is also not going to cost you a fortune to do.

Remember that SEO is something that does change and you need to stay on top of it all and to stay abreast of what the new updates are meaning for your website. However, what this post shows is that there is no need for you to make major wholesale changes at all and instead you can just make some minor adjustments that can then have a profound impact on your ranking.

Understanding the Importance of Speed for Websites

Webfoot Website SpeedWhen it comes to you having your website it is one thing wanting something that is amazing to look at and capable of providing all of the information that you have deemed to be relevant, but there is something else that is perhaps even more important than the way it looks. That thing is the speed of the website and we are going to look at the reasons as to why this is so important.

The one thing that you can generally say about us humans is that we are often not the most patient species on the planet. We want things to happen now and to not sit around and wait for it as we get bored, irritated, and simply storm off and go elsewhere or do something different. Now, this also applies to websites and, to be honest, the problem is actually worse with websites than it is generally going to be elsewhere.

But why is it like this?

The problem is that we always feel that we are so busy that we hate to waste time. Also, we are aware that there are a number of websites out there for whatever it is that we are searching for that there is no reason for us to just be stuck on the one site as there are other options available. In other words, we hate the very idea of effectively being held captive by a website while we wait for it to load.

So, what is the outcome? Well, it has been shown in studies that if we do not see real progress being made with a website loading in a matter of seconds then we are very likely to just click off and go elsewhere. As a website owner that is going to result in you effectively having people just bouncing off your domain name and of course in this kind of situation you are not exactly going to be able to get the results that you expected from your site.

Overall this is going to have a profound impact on your bottom line and your business is going to suffer from a marketing and monetary perspective and that is hardly something that you want to have happening on a regular basis.

Often, the problem with load times is that people want to have this huge and elaborate website with all of the fancy bells and whistles as they mistakenly think that this is what people are looking for. They want the wow factor when somebody lands on their site, but what is the point in having the wow factor if it takes forever to load and nobody then sees it?

That in itself just does not make sense and it is clear that there has to be a balance between effective design and a short loading period.

This speed issue is a massive problem. In actual fact, the way in which we are now using our smartphones or tablets to access the Internet has only made matters worse. A study showed that as many as 73% of smartphone users have complained about the slow loading speed of websites and, as a result, they simply navigate away.

Now, imagine almost 3 out of every 4 people that load your URL not even bothering to wait for the page to load as it is just taking too long. How is that going to affect your business?

So, what do you do?

Well, the answer is actually easier than you think and it is all back to that key part, the website. You have to get honest and real with yourself and accept that having all of those fancy things is not all that it is cracked up to be. People are more interested in what you are trying to tell them and the information that they are looking for rather than whether or not some cool little gadget flies in on a spaceship and lands on a sunflower before the page opens up or some other crazy stuff like that.

Do yourself a favor and focus on the content. Focus on the navigation and making sure that all of the information that is relevant about your website is on there and is accessible. It is that information that is going to make your business and website a success and nothing else. It is not the cool design that takes an eternity to load.

All that we are saying here is that you need to put some more time and effort into thinking about the actual design and how it is going to work from a practical point of view. Also, you want to listen to your designer and if they say that something is going to be too heavy and take forever to load, then accept that this is going to be the case and take a different route instead.

Websites should be useful, informative, and still look good. They should not load slowly or else there is no point in having them.

The Dirty World of SEO

Search Engine Optimization has been around for what feels like forever. However, it is also fair to say that it has had its fair share of ups and downs and we are not just talking about the methods and techniques that have to be used in order to make any difference to your ranking on the search results pages.

Instead, we are talking about the dirty side of SEO which is actually partly to blame for the way in which Google has to constantly change how they rank websites to make sure that those that are doing things in the correct manner are not being pushed aside by those that are rather unscrupulous in their approach.

Yes, we are talking about the dirty world of SEO.

People may not be aware but there are two approaches known as white hat and black hat and there is a big, big difference between them. White hat involves using methods that fit in with the rules and regulations whereas black hat breaks those very same rules by using methods that are initially highly effective and yet they actually result in websites being punished eventually and them falling down the search results pages.

The problem here is that even though people are aware that Google clamps down on these approaches there are still a number of companies and individuals that are only too willing to risk it all for short term gain with their SEO. They are willing to stuff keywords all over the place, build huge numbers of links, and do a whole host of other illegal and frowned upon things just to get up those rankings and gain huge traffic. It really is a never ending battle and you can even see how tough it is with the number of times that Google changes its approach and the algorithm in order to counteract what these black hat people are doing.

Here is another thing.

As these methods can actually make a difference, (remember we are talking about short term gains and then you get whacked by Google) the people that supply the ‘technology or technological know-how) will often charge big bucks to take control of your SEO approach. They are also very good at selling it to you by stating how they can get you on the first page of Google in next to no time and that this will then bring all of these riches to you that are far and above your wildest dreams.

To be honest, it all sounds impressive but you should just completely ignore all of their sales pitch.

Sure, they might actually get you on the first page of Google but more often than not it is a mixture of these illegal techniques mixed in with lucky timing or they aim for keywords that you could actually rank for quite easily doing things in the correct way. However, you end up being impressed when you do indeed appear on that page and you see an increase in the traffic to your website, but it does not end there.

Eventually, and you have no idea how long this is going to take, Google is going to realize what is going on, change things around, and literally overnight you can go from the first page of Google into absolute oblivion as Google strips out all of the SEO work that has been done on your website by changing that algorithm.

In other words, the money you have spent has been wasted and yet the person offering the service to you will not care. For them, they will argue that it was not their methods that caused this but rather it was Google changing the way they do things and that it was all out of their hands.

However, this is not true.

White hat SEO uses methods that fit comfortably in the rules and by staying on the correct side of the law it does mean that you have nothing to fear. It might take slightly longer to get up those results pages, but you are going to stay there for longer and that is where you really do benefit from it.

Also, using white hat techniques means that Google will actually push you up those rankings when it attacks those websites that use black hat methods. As those website owners wake up and see that they have vanished, you will wake up and see that you have climbed the rankings without anything extra being done. How cool is that?

Basically, the point we are making in this blog post is to always make sure that the company you hire to do your SEO uses only white hat methods and do your research into their methods before you go ahead and spend any money. You may be drawn to them by the short term gains, but think of the bigger picture and the damage it would do to your website if your link vanished into oblivion.

Remember, the long term picture is always going to win.

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