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ARTICLE MarketingJune 25, 2014

SEO series, part 1: An introduction to 10 SEO terms

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Every e-commerce business owner needs a basic understanding of SEO terms and concepts. In this introduction to SEO, The Web Showroom’s Brent Yorzinski explains 10 essential search engine terms.

With the rapid growth of the online environment, there are now thousands of companies and web developers providing specialist search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies for e-commerce businesses. It is, however, important for business owners themselves to have a basic grasp of key SEO concepts, so they can ensure they are getting the right services for their particular e-commerce site.

In Australia, when people talk about SEO, they are primarily referring to page rankings on Google, as the search engine giant holds more than 90 per cent of the search engine market here.

While SEO has changed in recent years, some companies offering SEO advice have not moved with developments and are offering business owners services that are simply no longer relevant or effective.

Brent Yorzinski is the SEO Product Manager at Sydney-based The Web Showroom, where he develops strategies for organic search marketing campaigns.

Here, Yorzinski outlines his top 10 SEO terms that every e-commerce business owner needs to understand.

1) Content Management System (CMS)

For SMBs, this should be a top concern, even though it is not purely an SEO concept, says Yorzinski.

A CMS is the system that manages your website content – such as Drupal, Joomla!,WordPress, or a proprietary system. It is important that your CMS allows modification of elements that impact SEO. This way all your content – words, images and videos – hosted on the CMS is optimised to make it easy for Google to understand and read it.

“A CMS is the foundation of the pyramid that the rest of your SEO strategy is built on,” says Yorzinski. “You need to know its capabilities and be able to discuss it with your web developer.”

2) Guarantees

Some SEO agencies bandy around a “guarantee” that they can get you a certain ranking in Google. Yorzinski, however, warns this is usually a sign that you should stay away from those agencies, as “no-one can guarantee your Google rankings”, he says.

Even Google itself has stated clearly that organic rankings cannot be guaranteed by anyone. “Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a ‘special relationship’ with Google or advertise a ‘priority submit’ to Google,” the search engine giant has warned.

Yorzinski says SEO agreements that include guarantees typically “do not end well for the business owner”.

3) Keywords

The SEO industry constantly refers to “keywords”. As keywords are central to SEO, SMB owners need to have a basic grasp of the concept.

At a very basic level, keywords are the words or phrases that individuals type into Google when searching for a webpage. You want to create a basket of keywords where you want a website to appear whenever a person types one of those phrases into Google. Determining the most appropriate keywords is the starting point for most SEO activities, so it is important to select your website’s keywords wisely.

“Keywords have a huge impact on the return on investment of a campaign, so it is important to explore your keywords and see how competitive and attainable they are,” says Yorzinski.

4) Analytics

While analytics is not a “pure SEO” term, it is important to track and measure results from any SEO strategy or campaign that you put in place.

Make sure you put your targets and goals in place before you start an SEO campaign, says Yorzinski. “This is a really important consideration when engaging with an agency,” he adds.

5) Content

Content is a really vital component to SEO these days, as Google rewards websites that provide useful, quality, frequently updated content.

There are all sorts of different types of content that you can create, or alternations that you can make to existing website content to help boost your search rankings.

Before beginning a campaign, Yorzinski advises having a “frank discussion with your SEO agency” about its plans for content and how that will impact your SEO.

6) Links

Links are a crucial component for an SEO strategy, but it is also one of the trickiest areas that should be approached with caution. In the past, many website owners went out and bought links, which didn’t have much relevance to their websites. Google has cracked down heavily on this practice, and the search engine can now punish you for getting links in a way that breaks its rules.

“Be careful how you acquire links – you want to make sure you are getting helpful links, not ones that could hurt you or even get you banned by Google,” says Yorzinski.

7) Directories

Online directories used to be an effective SEO strategy, but Yorzinski says now they can actually end up damaging your website. He suggests steering clear of poor quality directory links and listings.

8) Guest blogging

Previously, guest blogging used to be a popular way for people to acquire more links for their websites. Recently, Google cracked down on guest blogging that is primarily being done to attain links, rather than add value and quality content to the site.

Yorzinski says it is still “OK” to have a guest blogger, if it adds value to the Web as a whole. However, he cites the example of MyBlogGuest, where Google viewed the site as a means to connect bloggers with people doing SEO for the purpose of link building. Under its recent changes, Google has penalised this site.

9) Panda

This is an algorithm that relates to content that Google considers “spammy” or of little value.

Where there used to be online programs that automatically generated website content that ranked well, now it is important that websites feature quality, original, useful content.

“An SEO agency or copywriter should put a content strategy in place that adds values to users, which will help you to rank well,” he says.

10) Penguin

This is a Google algorithm that relates to links. Each version of this Google algorithm is stricter on natural links versus unnatural links.

“If you read a website and think the content is valuable and you then put a link to it from your own website, then that is a natural link,” explains Yorzinski.

Google favourably views these types of natural links. However, many websites obtain unnatural links that have been bought – Yorzinski warns against this. “Stay away from anything where you the sole goal is to attain links from other websites,” he says.

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Marketing SEO series, part 4: Five SEO tools for small businesses