From rookie to SEO rock star, we all need to cover our bases in terms of knowledge and practice.
In this article, I put together Level 1 of my SEO dictionary following the way a practitioner learns the basics of search engine optimization.
Terms included in SEO Dictionary Level 1:
- Spider / Web Crawler
- Organic vs. Non-organic
- White hat SEO
- Black hat SEO
- User intent
- SERP (Search Engine Results Page)
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
- Search engine PPC (Pay-Per-Click) ads
It’s the process through which search engines (like Google) browse websites with the scope to analyze and index their content. Today, crawling requires online content to be structured, coming from experts, trustworthy and authoritative (promoted by Google’s search team as E-A-T ratings for many years already).
Crawling also is performed by SEO tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, Moz which browse websites (at your request) to analyze content and to check websites for errors. These tools can also perform competitive analysis, benchmarking your website content vs. competitors’.
Spider / Web Crawler
They are programs behind search engines like Google that automatically and continuously browse the internet and fetch webpages.
It’s important to know that spiders/web crawlers are used also by SEO monitoring tools such as Ahrefs, Semrush, Moz and others and if they are allowed by website servers, they can browse and analyze them (unlike Google by user request) for SEO purposes.
It is the process through which a search engine stores information about a page, its content, structure, and relationships (called backlinks) with other pages.
The reversed process is called De-indexing and might happen when a page is deleted from the Google database (automatically or by users’ request) or when a website is banned by the search engine.
Organic vs. Non-organic
In SEO, organic relates to a website displayed in search results pages (SERP).
In contrast, when referring to Google Search, non-organic means paid advertisements.
It is the technical term used by digital specialists that refers to the words that are being typed into a search field or search bar.
For example, during COVID-19 2020 crisis, people performed many interesting coronavirus related queries:
White hat SEO
It is the optimization performed with the human user in mind. It follows the search engines’ guidelines and as Google recommends, white hat SEO should be performed with users’ search intent in mind (similar to how retailers are focused on building great customer experience).
If you are interested in using or paying for SEO, I think you should go first through Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines, the ‘bible’ of mastering white hat SEO.
Black hat SEO
Just like the dark force in Star wars, black hat SEO is a fraudulent way of optimization that violates search engines’ usage and quality guidelines. Usually, it’s performed by website managers that intend to improve Google rankings faster than normal and for that purpose, they implement abusive or questionable techniques.
Since I totally disagree with using them, I will mention only a few: keyword stuffing, doorway pages, content automation, clickbait, link farming. Hopefully, most of these techniques are already picked up by Google Search algorithm and most websites that use them are being penalized. Read more about these techniques on Cognitiveseo.com Blog.
User intent is not a typical SEO dictionary term, although it should be the purpose of search engine optimization. As I mentioned a bit earlier explaining White hat SEO, “user intent” refers to the principle which Google intensively promotes for a few years already: Digital content should be written or produced for the user.
For this reason, Google Search AI capabilities improved significantly late 2019 with the BERT neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP), so all content publishers will have to comply more and more with this principle if they intend to rank high in Google.
SERP (Search Engine Results Page)
Is the actual page with links of websites that a user sees in Google after performing a search query.
Important to say, most of the times SERP is different on desktop vs. mobile, very different from one location to another (and here Local SEO comes into play), but also based location on your activity.
For example, a logged-in Google Search Console manager might see a different SERP than a colleague searching the same term, even if they sit next to each other and that’s because Google is able to micro-personalize SERPs for each user.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization, which includes a series of techniques and web editing processes that aim to acquire more free of charge, organic traffic via users’ search queries. It can be applied to any type of search engine, including Google, Bing, Yandex, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, and others.
For this SEO dictionary term, I recommend reading my previous articles Top 5 questions on SEO with practical insights.
SEM (Search engine marketing)
It is a set of specific digital activities that have as the main purpose maximizing revenue through search engines.
Not many people know that SEM includes SEO with all its subsequent activities, but also PPC (Pay Per Click ads, such as Google ads), so this fact might be summarized in a memorable equation:
SEM = SEO + Search engine PPC
Search engine PPC (Pay-Per-Click ads)
PPC ads, in general, are advertisements for which and advertisers pay each time they are clicked by a visitor.
In Google Search, for example, they are called Google Ads (although many people still refer to them by their old name, “AdWords”) and as opposed to Organic Traffic, they work only if a campaign is active and has an allocated budget.