When talking about SEO strategy and digital media marketing, you hear lots of buzzwords like Keyword Research and Metadata. If you’re anything like my other friends, you smile and nod when you hear these terms and hope that they aren’t critical to understanding the rest of the conversation.
The bad news is that they are monumentally foundational to the SEO conversation.
The good news is that they aren’t nearly as complicated as they sound.
What is a search engine?
A search engine is a program, like Google or Yahoo, that searches through websites and categorizes their information. When a search engine user types in a search term (keyword), the search engine can connect them to the most relevant information.
What does SEO mean?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of optimizing websites so that they rank higher in search engines, like Google.
There are several ways to optimize a website:
- Adding content using targeted keyword research
- Metadata incorporation
- Backlink integration
- Structural repair
What is keyword research?
A keyword is a term that people use when they are using a search engine to try to find information. For example, if you wanting to find out how hotels make those fancy towel animals, you might use “towel origami” for your keyword.
It is helpful for websites to incorporate commonly used keywords that are relevant to their businesses in their websites. To do this, you would conduct keyword research to find out what terms people are using when they are searching for information that is closely related to your business or blog.
There are two different types of keywords, short-tail and long-tail. Short-tail keywords are 3 words or less while long-tail keywords contain more than three words. People tend to use short-tail keywords more often, but they deliver less targeted results.
For example, if I use the short-tail keyword “socks” then the search engine will show me websites where I can buy socks, see the world’s fanciest socks, and review a list of the most comfortable socks. However, If I use the long-tail keyword “how to crochet socks,” I will get a refined list that is more targeted towards what I am looking for. This helps both me, as the searcher, as well as the website that is trying to get me to visit them.
What is metadata?
Metadata is simply data that describes other data. Metadata is used by search engines to figure out what is on the website’s page.
Search engines don’t have eyes, so they can’t “see” images. They rely on descriptive metadata to figure out what the images are about.
Search engines are also in a hurry – there are millions of websites online and they need to skim them to figure out what they are about. Metadata tells the search engine what a page is about so that it can tie it back to the most closely related keywords.
Metadata is used all over a page – in the title, description, tags, heading structure, and even the URL itself.
What are backlinks?
Backlinks are essentially a form of citation. When one website references another website and provides a URL for the reference, it is called a backlink.
For example, if my website is discussing innovative egg recipes then I might include a backlink for recipes by Handsome Brook Farm Pasture Raised Eggs – click here. I just gave them a backlink reference. By doing so, I give their page more page authority. The more websites that give them backlinks, the more credibility they have and the higher they will rank in search engines.
Clearly, it is advantageous to form relationships with people in your industry so that you can receive and provide backlinks too boost your search result rankings.
What is website structure repair?
Websites can break if they are not maintained properly. Website structure repair is the practice of fixing any broken pieces of a website.
For example, you have probably seen the error message “404: Page Not Found.” That means that the page link no longer connects to the page that was originally created at that URL. The information that used to live there has moved or died – RIP. This is just one type of error that counts against a website’s search result ranking. It is important to regularly go through your website and make sure that all of its bits and pieces are in working order.