As SEO continues to grow as a core component of all online marketing strategies, more and more people approach us looking for guidance. Interestingly, one of the first questions we are often asked is “What does SEO mean?”. SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is the process of optimizing your website to help search engines understand which keywords you should be ranking for.  Download our complete SEO Guide to learn even more.

While we are often asked for a general definition of SEO, there is plenty of other search terms that are important for professional services to know and understand. The rest of this post will be focused on defining some of that jargon so you can go into your next conversation about SEO confident and well-educated. I will try to keep the definitions short and sweet so if you need more clarification about a certain term, feel free to reach out in the comments.

The Algorithm:  A complex mathematic formula that search engines use to decide what websites appear after a search is entered.

Backlinks (inlinks): The term used to describe inbound links to your website. Anytime another website links to yours it is considered a backlink.

Authority/PageRank: Both of these terms are a measure of how trustworthy a website is in a search engines eyes. Trust is formed when one website backlinks to another so the more backlinks a website has pointed to it the more relevant search engines believe it to be.

Anchor text: Whenever a website links to you, the text that is hyperlinked is the anchor text. For example, in this link SEO Guide for Professional Services, SEO Guide for Professional services is the anchor text for the link pointing to this URL

Onsite/On-page SEO: Refers to optimizing the parts of your actual website where search engines look to understand what your website is about and what pages you should rank for. For more on onsite SEO read this post about Onsite SEO.

Offsite/Off-page SEO: Refers to links pointing back to your website that indicate to search engines that your site is a trustworthy source of content. Links come from other websites and social media. For more on Offsite SEO refer to an older post titled Offsite SEO – A Closer Look

Crawlers/Bots/Spiders: A computer program that browses the web for search engines to read and index all website and discover new links.

SERP: Acronym for search engine results page. This is the page that you see after typing in a search term to a search engine.

Indexed Pages: The pages of your website that spiders have found and have been stored by search engines.

Metadata: Website data that tell search engines what your website is about and what keyword searches it should rank for. This includes page titles, meta descriptions, and meta tags.

Headings: Text on your website pages that is placed within a header tag such as H1 or H2. Often this text is styled differently and is used as the headers on a page.

CTR: An acronym for click-through-rate. The % of visitors who see your website in the SERP and click on it.

Link-building: The name for actively seeking links to your website to improve your PageRank/ your website authority.

Understanding the terminology around SEO is the first step in putting together an SEO strategy for your firm. Now you’re ready to get started. Remember that SEO is constantly evolving as search engines tweak their algorithms. You will have to continuously adjust your strategy to stay at the top of the rankings. Read our free SEO guide for more help with your rankings.