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200+ Terms & Definitions You Need to Know

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200+ Terms & Definitions You Need to Know

Search engine optimization, like any specialized industry, has its own unique set of terminology, definitions, and abbreviations.

This SEO glossary compiles more than 200 of the most common terms you are likely to hear and will definitely need to know during your SEO career.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y


A

Above the Fold

Content that appears on a website before the user scrolls. Google created the Page Layout Algorithm in 2012 to lower the rankings of websites featuring too many ads in this space.

AJAX

Asynchronous JavaScript and XML is a type of programming that allows a webpage to send and receive information from a server to change that page dynamically without reloading.

Algorithm

A complex computer program used by search engines to retrieve data and deliver results for a query. Search engines use a combination of algorithms to deliver ranked webpages via a results page based on a number of ranking factors and signals.

Algorithm Change

Some algorithmic changes go completely unnoticed. However, the impact of a major algorithmic change can usually be seen quite quickly, though the change sometimes takes a few weeks to completely roll out. Algorithmic changes come in three forms:

  • Algorithm Update: The search engine changes certain signals of an existing algorithm.
  • Algorithm Refresh: The search engine re-runs an existing algorithm using the exact same signals as last time.
  • New Algorithm: The search engine adds a new algorithm to improve search quality. For example: Google Panda, Google Penguin.

Alt Attribute

HTML code that provides information used by search engines and screen readers (for blind and visually-impaired people) to understand the contents of an image.

Also known as: Alt Text

AMP

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is an open-source HTML framework that allows a desktop-first page to be delivered faster on mobile. It was used as a criterion to gain visibility in the news Top Stories carousel.

The AMP logo has since been removed from search results and Google announced that AMP is no longer a requirement for appearing in Top Stories. The emphasis is now on Core Web Vitals to measure faster delivery and page loading and the influence of AMP is now questionable.

Analytics

The science of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data to take future action based on what has (or hasn’t) worked historically.

Also see: Google Analytics

Anchor Text

The clickable word or words of a link. This text is intended to provide contextual information to people and search engines about what the webpage or website being linked to is about. For instance, if you were creating a link to send your visitors to Search Engine Journal, “Search Engine Journal” is the anchor text.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The science of making computers perform tasks that require human intelligence. Rather than following a set of programmed rules (like an algorithm), an AI computer system is basically a digital brain that learns. AI can also make and carry out decisions without human intervention.

Authority

The combination of signals search engines use to assess websites and webpages for the purposes of ranking.

Author Authority

Authority is a concept of using the reputation and credentials of a person who writes content online as a ranking factor. Originally, Google tested this in combination with Google+ but despite several patents filed, no evidence supports author authority as a ranking factor.

Google is placing emphasis on E-A-T to reduce disinformation online, especially in YMYL niches such as health and finance. In these spaces, building the authority of an author is recommended for a brand to show credibility, even if it currently doesn’t influence ranking.


B

B2B

Short for business-to-business. In B2B SEO, the buying cycle is longer, products and services are more expensive, and the audience is professional decision-makers.

B2C

Short for business-to-consumer. In B2C SEO, the buying cycle is typically shorter (though it still varies by industry), products and services are (mostly) cheaper, and consumers are the audience.

See: Inbound Link

Baidu

The most popular search engine in China, Baidu was founded in January 2000 by Robin Li and Eric Xu.

Bing

The name of Microsoft’s search engine. Bing launched in June 2009, replacing Microsoft Live Search (previously MSN Search and Windows Live Search). Since 2010, Bing has powered Yahoo’s organic search results as part of a search deal Microsoft and Yahoo struck in July 2009.

Black Box

A complex computer program that is poorly understood. Inputs and outputs can be observed, but there is no access to the process itself due to its confidential nature. For example, Google’s algorithm is a black box.

Black Hat

Risky tactics that go against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Also see: Webspam

Blog

A publication of content, sorted in chronological order, with the most recent content appearing at the top. The content reflects personal or corporate interests, and can be written by an individual or a group of contributors. Blogs were originally called web logs or weblogs. However, as “web log can also mean a server’s log files, the term was confusing. To avoid this confusion, the abbreviation “blog was coined, and became the common term.

Bounce Rate

The percentage of website visitors who leave without visiting another page on that website. Bounce rates range widely depending on industry and niche. Although bounce rate can indicate potential content or website issues, it is not a direct ranking factor, according to Google.

Bot

See: Crawler, Googlebot

Branded Keyword

When a user’s query includes an exact match, or variation, of a specific company or brand name. For instance, “Search Engine Journal”, “SEJ”, “SearchEnginejournal.com”, and “Search Engine Journal SEO 101 Guide” are a few examples of branded keywords.

A navigational element that helps users easily figure out where they are within a website.

See: Website Navigation

A link that leads to a 404 not found. Typically, a link becomes broken when:

  • A website goes offline.
  • A webpage is removed without implementing a redirect.
  • The destination URL is changed without implementing a redirect.

C

Cache

A technology that temporarily stores web content, such as images, to reduce future page loading times.

Cached Page

A snapshot of a webpage as it appeared when a search engine last crawled it.

Canonical URL

An HTML code element that specifies a preferred website URL, when multiple URLs have the same or similar content, to reduce duplicate content. Also known as canonicalization.

ccTLD

A country-code top-level domain. For instance, a company based in the United Kingdom would have a domain like this: www.example.co.uk, where uk is the ccTLD.

Citation

In Local SEO, a citation is any mention online of a brand Name, Address or Phone number (NAP). Citations are usually found in directories, social network and community profiles, website resources lists, or any mention of a brand online that does not include a link to the website. NAPs can influence ranking and visibility on Google maps.

Click Bait

Content that is designed to entice people to click, typically by overpromising or being intentionally misleading in headlines, so publishers can earn advertising revenue.

Click Depth

Click depth is the number of clicks it takes to get from the home page, or an entrance page, to a destination page on a website. The more clicks it takes, the less likely Google will crawl the page or it will rank.

Pages that are the closest to the homepage are considered to be the most authoritative and the most likely to be crawled and indexed by Google.

Click depth is important for pages to be crawled efficiently and for the flow of link equity; therefore does influence ranking indirectly.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

The rate (expressed in a percentage) at which users click on an organic search result. This is calculated by dividing the total number of organic clicks by the total number of impressions then multiplying by 100.

Cloaking

Showing different content or URLs to people and search engines. A violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

CMS

Stands for Content Management System. A web-based application that lets people create, upload, and manage digital assets.

Co-Citation

How frequently two websites (or webpages) are mentioned together by a third-party website, even if those first two items don’t link to (or reference) each other. This is a way search engines can establish subject similarity.

For instance, imagine Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Roundtable never linked to or mentioned each other. However, other websites and blogs would likely mention both SEJ and SER on lists of popular search engine news publications.

To see this in action, see: related:https://www.searchenginejournal.com/ search engine journal

Code To Text Ratio

The amount of text displayed on a page compared to the amount of code used to construct the page is called the code to text ratio. A higher ratio of text to code is considered to provide a better user experience but is not a direct ranking factor.

Poorly written comments, often off-topic and self-promotional, posted by spambots in the hopes of getting a free (but ultimately worthless) link.

Competition

There are two types of competition:

  • Direct Competitors: Companies that sell similar products and/or services, serve the same needs, and target a similar audience both online and offline.
  • SEO Competitors: Companies that vie for the same keywords and organic search visibility, but with unalike products or services that address different needs and/or target audiences.

Recommended reading:

Content

  • Words, images, videos, or sounds (or any combination thereof) that convey information that is meant to be distributed to and consumed by an audience.
  • One of the two most important Google ranking factors (along with links). Search engines want to reward content that is useful, informative, valuable, credible, unique, and engaging with better traffic and visibility.

Content is King”

A phrase often used by speakers at conferences and writers on popular SEO (and digital marketing) publications. In this context, “content is king” usually means that content is essential for you to have any SEO, digital marketing, or business success.

This phrase actually dates back to a Bill Gates essay, “Content is King”, published January 3, 1996.

Recommended reading:

Conversion

When a user completes a desired action on a website. Examples of conversions include:

  • Completing a purchase.
  • Adding items to a shopping cart.
  • Completing a form (e.g., requesting a demo, registering for a webinar/event).
  • Downloading premium content (e.g., ebook, whitepaper).
  • Subscribing to an email newsletter.
  • Video views.

Conversion Rate

The rate (expressed in a percentage) at which website users complete a desired action. This is calculated by dividing the total number of conversions by traffic, then multiplying by 100.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

The process of improving the number or quality of conversions that occur on a website. Some popular CRO tactics include testing changes to website design, copy, images, price, call-to-action, and messaging.

Core Update

When Google makes broad updates to its core algorithm. Google sometimes announces a specific theme to their updates, such as the Page Experience update, but core updates are non-specific and happen several times a year.

Core Web Vitals

A set of metrics that measure the performance of the page related to user experience. Core Web Vitals were introduced alongside the Page Experience update as the main signals that indicate a good user experience:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – loading performance.
  • First Input Delay (FID) – interactivity.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – visual stability.

Google did confirm Core Web Vitals as a ranking factor but said that relevance and other factors may be more important.

Correlation

The extent to which a relationship exists between two or more elements. Often used in SEO research to infer relationships of variables on search rankings due to the black box nature of algorithms. Always remember, however, that correlation ≠ causation.

Crawl Budget

The total number of URLs search engines can and want to crawl on a website during a specific time period.

Recommended reading:

Crawl Error

  • URLs that a search engine bot is unable to crawl.
  • URLs that return a status code error.

Crawler

A program search engines use to crawl the web. Bots visit webpages to collect information and add or update a search engine’s index.

Also known as: Bot, Spider, Web Crawler

Crawling

The process of gathering information, using a crawler, from the billions of public webpages to update, add, and organize webpages in a search engine’s index.

CSS

Cascading Style Sheets describe how HTML elements (e.g., color, fonts) should appear on webpages and adapt when viewed on different devices.

Customer Journey

All of the potential moments (or touchpoints) at which a prospect is exposed to or engages with a brand. All of these interactions are designed to eventually persuade, influence, and convert that prospect to become a customer, client, or subscriber.

Though customer journeys can vary greatly by business type and industry, typically it is made up of four main “stages”:

Awareness > Consideration > Decision > Retention

Google’s Avinash Kaushik offers an alternative framework:

See > Think > Do > Care

Also known as: Buying Process, Consumer Decision Journey, the Customer Journey to Online Purchase, Marketing Funnel, Path to Purchase, Purchase Funnel


D

Data

All the hard numbers that represent real customers – the who, what, where, when, why, and how – all of which is needed to make informed decisions about SEO strategies and tactics.

Dead-End Page

A webpage that links to no other webpages. So called because once a user or bot arrives on this page, there is no place to move forward.

  • A link pointing to any webpage other than the homepage.
  • A link pointing to content within a mobile app.

Deep Link Ratio

When an internal link points directly to a page other than the homepage on a site, this is known as a deep link. The ratio of deep links compared to links to your homepage is known as deep link ratio.

It is considered that having links directly to deep pages in a site indicates quality of content on the site. The more deep links you have the better the site. There is no evidence to support that deep link ratio has any direct impact on ranking.

De-index

When Google removes a website or webpage, either temporarily or permanently, from search results, specifically its search index. Google provides a Remove URLs tool in the Search Console for voluntary cases; however, a website may also be de-indexed as punishment for violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, in the form of a manual action.

Also known as: Delisting

Direct Traffic

In Google Analytics, users that navigate directly to the site by typing the URL directly into the browser or by clicking on a bookmark are known as direct traffic. Google will also include into direct traffic any traffic sources it doesn’t recognize.

Directory

A list of websites, usually separated by related categories and maintained by human editors. Depending on the directory, inclusion could be free or paid. In the past, links from directories were highly sought after (e.g., DMOZ), leading to widespread abuse and overall devaluing of this sort of link building.

Also known as: Web Directory, Link Directory

Disavow

If your link profile includes a high number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality inbound links that may be harming your rankings – and don’t have the ability to get them removed for a legitimate reason (e.g., the link exists on a site you have no control over) – you can use Google’s Disavow Tool tool to tell Google to ignore those links.

DMOZ

The Open Directory Project. This human-edited directory of websites launched June 5, 1998 and closed March 17, 2017.

Do-follow

A link that doesn’t use the “nofollow” attribute. In other words, a link.

Domain

A website address – typically ending in an extension like .com, .org, or .net. For example: www.searchenginejournal.com is the domain of this website.

Domain Age

The date a domain was registered on, to the current date is known as domain age. For example, Search Engine Journal was registered on 10th June 2003, so it has a significant domain age.

It was once considered that a greater domain age gave a domain more authority, but this idea of domain age as an influence on ranking has since been dismissed.

Domain Authority

  • The overall “strength” of a website, built up over time, which can help a new page rank well quickly, even before that content has earned links or engagement.
  • A score, between 0-100, SEO software company Moz uses to predict the ability of a website to rank in search results.

Recommended reading:

Domain History

Any activity, including backlinks and website built on a domain previously is known as domain history.

If a previous website on a domain received a penalty this will remain attached to the domain and cause issues for the new owner.

It’s recommended to always check the domain history before you purchase a domain.

Doorway Page

Webpages that are created to rank in search engines for specific keywords only for the purpose of redirecting users who click on that page to a different website.

DuckDuckGo

A search engine that was founded September 28, 2008. It is often praised for its heavy focus on user privacy and a lack of filter bubbles (search personalization). DuckDuckGo relies on more than 400 sources to serve its search results, including vertical search engines, its own crawler, DuckDuckBot, Bing, and Yandex. In 2016, 4 billion searches were conducted on DuckDuckGo.

Duplicate Content

When a significant amount of content contained on one webpage matches, or is incredibly similar to, content that exists elsewhere on the same website or a completely different website.

Dwell Time

The amount of time that elapses between when a user clicks on a search result and then returns to the SERP from a website. Short dwell time (e.g., less than 5 seconds) can be an indicator of low-quality content to search engines.


E

E-A-T

Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness was a concept taken from the Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines and became known as E-A-T.

E-A-T represents signals that Google uses to determine quality content but it is not a direct ranking factor.

Google has committed to stopping the spread of disinformation, especially from any sites operating in Your Money Your Life (YMYL) niches such as finance or health.

E-commerce

The buying and selling of products, all conducted online.

Recommended reading:

A link that is given by one website to another without the recipient asking or paying for it.

Also known as: Natural Link.

.edu Links

Educational-focused institutions have a top-level domain (TLD) of .edu. For example, stanford.edu. A link from such a site is known as a .edu link.

Links from .edu sites were considered ‘hard to get’ and thought to have more value for link building. As a result, link builders targeted .edu links until many of the lesser-known .edu sites became devalued by Google and any benefit of the link was ignored.

Engagement Metrics

Methods to measure how users are interact with webpages and content. Examples of engagement metrics include:

  • Click-through rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Bounce rate
  • Time on page/site
  • New vs. returning visitors
  • Frequency and recency
  • Dwell time

Entities

People, places, organizations, websites, events, groups, facts, and other things.

Also see: Knowledge Graph

See: Outbound Link


F

For certain queries, usually questions (i.e., who/what/where/when/why/how), Google sometimes shows a special block above the organic search results. This box contains a summary (in the form of paragraph, list, table, or video), as well as the publication date, page title, link to the webpage from which the answer originated, and URL.

Also known as: Position Zero.

Recommended reading:

Findability

How easily the content on a website can be discovered, both internally (by users) and externally (by search engines).

First Link Priority

A concept in internal linking is that Google treats links differently if there are two links on a web page pointing to the same page. It was thought Google would consider the anchor text from the first link to have more influence.

There is no definitive evidence for how Google treats the same link on a page. When adding links to a page, it’s recommended to do this on a user-first basis and apply the link to anchor text where it is relevant.

Links that appear in the bottom section (or “footer) of a website.

See: Website Navigation

Freshness

Freshness refers to the age of content published online.

It is considered that Google gives pBlan-kriority to fresh content in some niches for some queries depending on certain factors. For example, searches related to COVID announcements or sports results.

Query Deserves Freshness (QDF) is part of the Google algorithm that determines when a query should show up-to-date information, especially in breaking news, recurring events, information queries, and product queries.


G

Google

The search engine founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in September 1998. Google marked a radical departure from human-edited web directories, relying on web crawling technology and a complex algorithm to analyze hyperlinking patterns to rank websites. Google is the most-used search engine in nearly every country in the world.

Google Analytics

A free web analytics program that can be used to track audience behavior, traffic acquisition sources, content performance, and much more.

Visit: Google Analytics

Google Bomb

A practice intended to make a website rank number one for a surprising or controversial search phrase. This was accomplished by having a large number of websites link to a certain webpage with specific anchor text to help it rank for that term.

For example, in 2003 President George W. Bush’s White House bio ranked number one on a search for “miserable failure.”

Googlebot

The web crawling system Google uses to find and add new websites and webpages to its index.

Google Dance

A term used starting in 2002 for the volatile period of time during which Google updated its search index, roughly every month.

Google Hummingbird

A Google search algorithm that was officially announced in September 2013 after it had been in use for a month. The purpose of Hummingbird was to better understand the full context of queries (i.e., semantic search), rather than certain keywords, in order to provide better results.

Recommended reading:

Google Panda Algorithm

A major Google algorithm update that initially rolled out in February 2011, it was followed by numerous subsequent updates. The goal of Google Panda was to reduce the visibility of low-value content, often produced by “content farms. In 2016, Panda became part of Google’s core ranking algorithm.

Recommended reading:

Google Penguin Algorithm

A major Google algorithm that launched in April 2012, it was followed by a series of updates and refreshes. The goal of Penguin was to reduce the visibility of overly-optimized sites, or sites that excessively abused certain spammy tactics (e.g., building low-quality links, keyword stuffing). In 2016, Penguin started running in real-time as a part of Google’s core algorithm.

Recommended reading:

Google Pigeon Update

The name (given by the SEO industry, not Google) of a significant Google local search update launched July 24, 2014. The goal of Pigeon was to improve the accuracy and relevance of local searches by leveraging more traditional Google ranking signals and improving distance and locating ranking parameters.

Recommended reading:

Google RankBrain

A major Google algorithm change officially introduced in October 2015, although it had been in testing for months before this. With RankBrain, Google added machine learning to its algorithm and has been called the third most important ranking signal. In June 2016, it was revealed that RankBrain has been involved in every query and has an impact on rankings.

Recommended reading:

Google Sandbox

A theorized and debated (but never confirmed by Google) “waiting period” that prevents new websites from seeing the full benefit of their optimization efforts. Typically, this effect is witnessed most often with new sites targeting competitive keywords and can only be overcome when the site gains enough authority.

Google Search Console

Google’s Search Console offers several helpful features, including the ability to monitor sites for indexing errors and site speed. These pages are also used to communicate manual action notifications.

Recommended reading:

Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines

Google uses a document of guidelines for its internal Quality Raters to reference when manually reviewing websites.

The original internal document was confidential and then Google publicly released the Search Quality Rater Guidelines online which is updated from time to time.

Information in the document is a guide to creating quality content and features the concept of E-A-T. The guidelines are not a list of any direct ranking factors.

A website where you can explore data visualizations on the latest search trends, stories, and topics.

Visit: Google Trends

Recommended reading:

Google Webmaster Guidelines

Google’s guidance on good website optimization practices, as well as “illicit” practices that can result in manual action. Simply:

  • Make unique, valuable, and engaging websites and webpages for users, not search engines.
  • Avoid tricks and techniques that deceive users and are intended only to improve search rankings.

Recommended reading:

.gov Links

Government organizations have a top-level domain (TLD) of .gov. For example, usa.gov. A link from such a site is known as a .gov link.

Only government entities in the US can apply and gain a .gov TLD. Other countries have their own country-specific version, such as .gov.uk.

Government TLD domains are tightly regulated and trusted sources of information. For this reason, a link from a .gov domain is considered to have significant value and has been targeted by link spam.

Gray Hat

A supposed “gray” area between techniques that adhere to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, but then add an element that bends the rules a little.

Guest Blogging

A popular link building tactic that involves developing content for other websites in exchange for a backlink pointing at your own pages.

Also known as: Guest Posting.


H

Heading

HTML heading tags (H1-H6) separate content into sections, based on importance, with H1 being the most important and H6 being the least important. Headline tags should be used naturally and should incorporate your target keywords where relevant, as doing so may provide a small SEO benefit.

Headline

An H1 tag.

Head Term

A popular keyword with high search volume that is usually difficult to rank for.

Also known as: Head Keyword, Short-Tail

Hidden Text

Any text that can’t be seen by a user that is intended to manipulate search rankings by loading webpages with content-rich keywords and copy. This technique is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can result in a manual action. For example, adding text that is:

  • Too small to read.
  • The same color as the background.
  • Using CSS to push the text off-screen.

Hilltop Algorithm

Influenced by the HITS Algorithm, and added to Google’s algorithm in 2003, Hilltop assigned “expert” status to certain websites or webpages published about a specific topic that also link to unaffiliated pages about that topic.

Recommended reading:

  • Hilltop: A Search Engine based on Expert Documents (Krishna Bharat & George Mihaila)

HITS Algorithm

Hyperlink-Induced Topic Search is a link analysis algorithm that assesses a value not just based on content and inbound links (authorities), but also its outbound links (hubs).

Recommended reading:

Homepage

The default, or introductory webpage, of a website.

.htaccess File

A server configuration file that can be used to rewrite and redirect URLs.

HTML

Stands for Hypertext Markup Language. HTML tags are specific code elements that can be used to improve the effectiveness of SEO for webpages and websites.

HTTP

The Hypertext Transfer Protocol is how data is transferred from a computer server to a web browser.

HTTPS

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure uses a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to encrypt data transferred between a website and web browser. HTTPS is a minor Google ranking factor.

Hub Page

An authoritative central resource (e.g., page or article), dedicated to a specific topic (keyword), that is continually updated and linked to, and also links out to topically-relevant webpages.


I

Inbound Link

A link to a webpage that originates from an external website. For example, if Search Engine Journal were to link to Google, that would count as an inbound link on Google’s side; if Google were to link to Search Engine Journal, that would be an inbound link on SEJ’s side.

Index

The database search engines use to store and retrieve information gathered during the crawling process.

Indexability

How easily a search engine bot can understand and add a webpage to its index.

Indexed Page

A webpage that has been discovered by a crawler, has been added to a search engine index, and is eligible to appear in search results for relevant queries.

Information Architecture

How a website is organized and where various content and navigational elements are located on webpages.

Information Retrieval

The process of searching for information (e.g., text, images, video) from a large database and then presenting the most relevant information to an end user.

Internal Link

See: Website Navigation

IP Address

An Internet Protocol Address. IP addresses can be:

  • Shared: Numerous websites share an address within one server or a group of servers (a.k.a., virtual hosting).
  • Dedicated: A website has its own address.

Neither will help you rank better; however, a dedicated IP address can increase site speed.


J

JavaScript (JS)

A programming language that makes it possible to dynamically insert content, links, meta data, or other elements, on websites. JavaScript can potentially make it difficult for search engine bots to crawl and index webpages and increase the time it takes for webpage to load for users.


K

Keyword

The word, words, or phrase that an SEO professional or marketer targets for the purpose of matching and ranking for what users are searching for. The words used on webpages can help search engines determine which pages are the most relevant to show in organic results when a searcher enters a query. Keywords usually represent topics, ideas, or questions.

Also known as: Keyphrase.

Keyword Cannibalization

A type of self-competition that occurs when multiple pages from one website rank for the same query on a SERP. This can result in a lower CTR, diminished authority, and lower conversion rates than from having one consolidated webpage that ranks well.

Recommended reading:

Keyword Density

How often a word or phrase appears within the content of a webpage. At best, this unproven concept is outdated, if ever really mattered to search engines. There is no ideal percentage that will help a webpage rank better.

Keyword Research

The process of discovering any relevant topics, subjects, and terms searchers enter into search engines, as well as the volume and competition level of those terms. This practice is made possible by a variety of free and paid tools.

Keyword Prominence

When a keyword is placed as high as possible on a web page to influence ranking for a search term.

Using a keyword inserted at the beginning of a page, for example in the first paragraph, does send a strong signal to Google about the page.

Keyword prominence does work as a ranking signal if the theme of the page is aligned with the keyword.

Keyword Stemming

In language and grammar, words are constructed around a variation upon a root or stem. For example, shopping, shopped, shops are all variations of the stem ‘shop’.

When trying to rank for a term such as ‘shop’, using variations of the word on the page (shopping, shopped) will all be considered the same stem keyword by Google. This also applies to plurals such as bikes/bikes or fly/flies.

Keyword stemming is Google’s ability to understand the variations of a keyword and is part of its algorithm.

Keyword Stuffing

Adding irrelevant keywords, or repeating keywords beyond what is natural, to a webpage in the hopes of increasing search rankings. This spam tactic is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can result in a manual action.

Knowledge Graph

An entity database Google uses to surface facts and information on people, places, and things (a.k.a., entities) – and their connections – in a Knowledge Panel or carousel at the top of search results on relevant queries.

Knowledge Panel

A box that appears at the top of, or on the right rail (desktop only), of Page 1 of Google’s search results for relevant queries. This panel contains facts and information on people, places, and things, as well as links to related websites or Google searches.

KPI

Stands for key performance indicator. A measurement method businesses use to gauge whether marketing and business objectives, targets, and goals are being reached.


L

Landing Page

  • Any webpage that a visitor can navigate to.
  • A standalone webpage that is designed to capture leads or generate conversions.

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)

An information retrieval method designed to help search engines identify the correct context of a word. LSI doesn’t play a useful role in SEO today.

See: Google Latent Semantic Indexing

Lead

A person who may or may not be interested in your product(s) and/or service(s). A lead willingly shares their email address (and usually other personal or contact information) in exchange for something they deem of value from the website.

Link

A connection between two websites built using HTML code. A link enables users to navigate to websites, social networks, and apps. Links play a critical role in how search engines evaluate and rank websites.

Also known as: Backlink.

Link Bait

Intentionally provocative content that is meant to grab people’s attention and attract links from other websites.

Link Building

A process designed to get other trusted and relevant websites to link to your website to help improve your organic search rank and visibility. Link building can be done by:

  • Conducting outreach to media outlets, bloggers, influencers, and webmasters.
  • Attracting editorial links naturally, by publishing various types of high-quality or sensational content.
  • Paying for them. For example, you can obtain links via sponsored content, paid reviews, or paying for a specific type of link to appear on another website.
  • Forging partnerships.
  • Manually. For instance, you link together various properties you manage or own, or add your site to online directories or review sites.

Link Equity

The value of inbound links, in terms of relevance, authority, and trust.

Link Farm

When a group of websites link to each other, usually using automated programs, in the hopes of artificially increasing search rankings. A spam tactic.

Also known as: Link Network, Blog Network, Private Blog Network

Link Juice

A term you should never use in public or online.

Did you mean…: Authority or PageRank

Link Profile

Every type of link that points to a particular website. The quality of a website’s link profile can vary widely, depending on how they were acquired and the anchor text used.

Link Stability

Where a link remains on a page consistently for a period of time without being changed or updated.

Google did apply for a patent that referred to link churn and how often the links on a page were changed, but there is no evidence that link stability has any influence on ranking.

Link Velocity

How quickly (or slowly) a website accumulates links. A sudden increase in link velocity could potentially be a sign of spamming, or could be due to viral marketing or doing something newsworthy (either intentionally or unintentionally).

Links, Internal

Links that navigate from one page to another page on the same domain. Internal links can be inserted on a page, in the main navigation menu, or in the sitemap.

Internal links can be used to indicate the importance of a page on a site. For example, a page that is directly linked from the home page compared to a page that is four clicks from the homepage.

Internal links are important because Googlebot crawlers follow internal links to navigate your site and find new pages.

Links, NoFollow

In a hyperlink, rel=”nofollow” is an attribute added to the link to show that you are not passing any credit or endorsement to the page you are linking to

Nofollow was originally introduced by Google to limit comment spam and devalued all nofollow links, but they have since changed how the directive works.

Nofollow is now considered a ‘hint’ which means they may still use some information about linking patterns, but generally, still accept that no weight should be passed through the link.

Links, Outbound or External

An external or outbound link is a link from a page on x domain page to a page on y domain. For example, a link from searchenginejournal.com/google to google.com/about-us

It was considered that external links to authority sites added value to a page because it demonstrates that the page is well-researched and is using trusted sources.

External links are not considered to have any influence on ranking and should only be used to cite sources where relevant.

Log File

A file that records users’ information, such as IP addresses, type of browser, Internet Service Provider (ISP), date/time stamp, referring/exit pages, and number of clicks.

Log File Analysis

The process of exploring the data contained in a log file to identify trends, administer the site, track user’s movement around the site, gather demographic information, and understand how search bots are crawling the website.

Long-Tail Keyword

  • Highly specific multiple-word terms that often demonstrate higher purchase intent.
  • Less popular keywords that have low search volume that are usually easier to rank for.

M

Machine Learning

A subset of Artificial Intelligence in which a system uses data to learn and adjust a complex process without human intervention.

Manual Action

Google’s term for a penalty. Google will take manual action on a website after a human reviewer (i.e., a Google employee) manually reviews a website to confirm whether it has failed to comply with Google’s Webmaster guidelines. Penalized websites can either be demoted or removed entirely from search results. Manual actions can be assessed to the entire website or just certain webpages.

Meta Description

A tag that can be added to the “head section of an HTML document. It acts as a description of a webpage’s content. This content isn’t used in ranking algorithms, but is often displayed as the “snippet that appears in the search results. Accurate and engaging descriptions can increase organic click-through rate.

Meta Keywords

A tag that can be added to the “head section of an HTML document. Adding a bunch of keywords here won’t help you rank – search engine algorithms have ignored this tag for ranking purposes for years due to abuse (in the form of keyword stuffing).

Meta Tags

Information that appears in the HTML source code of a webpage to describe its contents to search engines. The title tag and meta description are the most commonly used types of meta tags in SEO.

Metric

A way to measure activity and performance in order to assess the success (or lack thereof) of an SEO initiative.


N

Natural Link

See: Editorial Link

Negative SEO

A rare but malicious practice where webspam techniques are used to harm the search rankings of another website, usually a competitor.

Recommended reading:

Niche

A specific market or area of interest consisting of a small group of highly-passionate people.

Noarchive Tag

A meta tag that tells search engines not to store a cached copy of your page.

Nofollow Attribute

A meta tag that tells search engines not to follow one specific outbound link. This is done in cases when a website doesn’t want to pass authority to another webpage or because it’s a paid link. The nofollow attribute looks like this:

<a href=”http://www.example.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Anchor text goes here</a>

Noindex Tag

A meta tag that tells search engines not to index a specific webpage in its index.

Nosnippet Tag

A meta tag that tells search engines not to show a description with your listing.

“(not provided)”

After search engines moved to secure search in 2011, keyword data was removed from Google Analytics, replaced with “(not provided)” – thus making it impossible to know which queries were responsible for visitors finding a website.

Recommended reading:


O

Off-Page SEO

Demand generation and brand awareness activities that take place outside of a website. In addition to link building, promotion tactics can include social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, influencer marketing, and even offline marketing channels (e.g., TV, radio, billboards).

On-Page SEO

These activities all take place within a website. In addition to publishing relevant, high-quality content, on-page SEO includes optimizing HTML code (e.g., title tags, meta tags), information architecture, website navigation, and URL structure.

Organic Search

The natural, or unpaid, listings that appear on a SERP. Organic search results, which are analyzed and ranked by algorithms, are designed to give users the most relevant result based on their query.

Orphan Page

Any webpage that is not linked to by any other pages on that website.

Outbound Link

A link that directs visitors to a page on a different website than the one they are currently on.


P

PageRank

According to Google: “PageRank is the measure of the importance of a page based on the incoming links from other pages. In simple terms, each link to a page on your site from another site adds to your site’s PageRank. Not all links are equal.” The algorithm was named after Google co-founder Larry Page.

Recommended reading:

Page Speed

The amount of time it takes for a webpage to completely load. Page speed is ranking factor.

Pageview

A webpage is loaded in a browser.

Paid Search

Pay-per-click advertisements that appear above (and often below) the organic results on search engines.

PBN

Stands for Private Blog Network.

See: Link Farm.

PDF

Stands for Portable Document Format file. PDFs can contain text, images, links, videos, and other elements.

Recommended reading:

Penalty

See: Manual Action

Persona

A fictionalized representation of an ideal website visitor or customer – their demographics, behavior, needs, motivations, and goals – all based on actual data.

Also known as: Buyer Persona, Marketing Persona

Personalization

When search engines use search history, web browsing history, location, and relationships to create a set of search results tailored to a specific user.

PHP

Hypertext Preprocessor is a scripting language used to create dynamic content on webpages.

Piracy

Search engines aim to reduce the organic search rankings of content that infringes on copyright. Google introduced a filter in 2012 that reduces the visibility of sites reported for numerous DMCA-related takedown requests.

Recommended reading:

Pogo-sticking

When, after entering a query, a searcher bounces back and forth between a SERP and the pages listed in those search results.

Also see: Dwell time

Position

See: Rank

PPC (Pay Per Click)

A type of advertising where advertisers are charged a certain amount (usually determined by bid, relevance, account history, and competition) every time a user clicks on the ad. Combining PPC and SEO can result in more SERP real estate, clicks, and conversions. Also, PPC data can inform your SEO strategy, and the reverse is also true.


Q

QDF

Stands for query deserves freshness, where a search engine might decide to show newer webpages in search results (rather than older pages) if a particular search term is trending, perhaps because a news event has resulted in a surge in searches on that topic.

Recommended reading:

Quality Content

Content that helps you successfully achieve business or marketing goals (e.g., driving organic traffic or social shares, earning top search rankings, generating leads/sales).

Quality Link

An inbound link that originates from an authoritative, relevant, or trusted website.

Query

The word, words, or phrase that a user enters into a search engine.

Also known as: A search.


R

Rank

Where a webpage appears within the organic search results for a specific query.

Ranking Factor

An individual component which contributes to a complex series of algorithms that determine where webpages should appear with the organic search results for a specific query. For years, Google has said that its algorithms “rely on more than 200 unique signals” to help users find the most relevant webpage or answer.

Also known as: Ranking Signal.

Reciprocal Links

When two websites agree to exchange links to one another.

Redirect

A technique that sends a user (or search engine) who requested one webpage to a different (but equally relevant) webpage. There are two types of redirects:

  • 301: Permanent
  • 302: Temporary

Referrer

URL data that identifies the source of a user’s webpage request.

Reinclusion

The process of asking a search engine to return a website or webpage(s) to its search index after de-indexing.

Relevance

A way search engines measure how closely connected the content of a webpage is aligned to match the context of a search query.

Reputation Management

The practice of crafting a positive online perception of a brand or person – including in search results and on social media – by minimizing the visibility of negative mentions.

Also known as: Online Reputation Management, Public Relations

Responsive Website

A website designed to automatically adapt to a user’s screen size, whether it’s being viewed on a desktop or mobile device.

Rich Snippet

Structured data can be added to the HTML of a website to provide contextual information to the search engines during crawling. This information can then be displayed in the SERPs, resulting in an enhanced listing, known as a rich snippet.

Recommended reading:

robots.txt

The Robots Exclusion Protocol (or Standard) is a text file, accessible at the root of a website, that tells search engine crawlers which areas of a website should be ignored.

Return on Investment (ROI)

A way to measure the performance of SEO activities. This is calculated by dividing how much revenue you earned via organic search by the cost of the total investment, then multiplying by 100.


S

Schema

A form of microdata which, once added to a webpage, creates an enhanced description (commonly known as a rich snippet), which appears in search results.

Scrape

A technique used to copy website content or information using a computer program or script. Search engines, such as Google, scrape data in order to build a searchable index of websites.

Also known as: Web scraping.

Search Engine

A computer program that enables users to enter a query in order to retrieve information (e.g., files, websites, webpages) from that program’s index (i.e., a web search engine, such as Google, indexes websites, webpages, and files found on the World Wide Web). A search index is built and updated using a crawler, with items being analyzed and ranked by a series of algorithms.

Also see: Baidu, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Google, Yahoo, Yandex

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

An umbrella term for increasing a website’s visibility in search engine results pages, encompassing both paid and organic activities.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The process of optimizing a website – as well as all the content on that website – so it will appear in prominent positions in the organic results of search engines. SEO requires an understanding of how search engines work, what people search for (i.e., keywords and keyphrases), and why people search (intent). Successful SEO makes a site appealing to users and search engines. It is a combination of technical (on-page SEO) and marketing (off-page SEO).

See: On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO

Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

The page search engines display to users after conducting a search. Typically, search engines show about 10 organic search results, sorted by relevance. Depending on the query, other search features may be shown, including:

  • AdWords Ads (above and below the organic search results)
  • Featured snippets (a.k.a., Position Zero)
  • Images
  • Knowledge panels
  • Local Pack (with map)
  • News
  • Related questions
  • Related searches
  • Shopping results
  • Sitelinks
  • Tweets
  • Videos

Also known as: SERPs, when referring to multiple search engine results pages.

Search History

Search engines track every search users conduct (text and voice), every webpage visited, and every ad clicked on. Search engines may use this data to personalize the results for signed in users.

Also known as: Web Browsing History.

Share of Voice

How many impressions a brand receives in the SERPs for search terms when compared to the total impressions that the brand’s competitors receive for those same search terms.

Sitelinks

Up to six algorithmically-chosen links that appear below the listing for the same website of a top-ranked organic search result. Pages can be blocked from appearing as sitelinks within the Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools.

Also known as: Deep Links (Bing).

Sitemap

A list of pages on a website. There are two types of sitemaps:

  • HTML: This type of sitemap, typically organized by topics, helps site users navigate a website.
  • XML: This type of sitemap provides crawlers with a list of webpages on a website.

Sitewide Links

A link that appears on every page of a website, typically in a sidebar or footer of blogs or websites that use templates.

Social Media

Platforms (websites and apps) where users can interact with each other, as well as create, share, and consume content.

Social Signal

Any factors that demonstrate authority and influence on popular social networking websites. For example, the social authority of a user on Twitter.

Although many correlation studies have indicated that socials signals impact rankings (e.g., number of Likes/shares a piece of content receives), Google has publicly stated that social signals are not a direct ranking factor. Popular sites that have a lot of social media engagement tend to rank well for other reasons.

Spam

See: Webspam

Spider

See: Bot

Split Testing

A controlled experiment used to compare at least two webpages to measure the effects of a different variable on conversions. After the pages are shown for a long enough period of time to site visitors to gather an adequate amount of performance data, a “winner” can be declared.

Also known as: A/B Testing.

SSL Certificate

A digital certificate used for website identity authentication and to encrypt information sent to the server using Secure Sockets Layer technology.

Status Codes

The response codes sent by a server whenever a link is clicked, a webpage or file is requested, or a form is submitted. Common HTTP status codes important to SEO:

  • 200 (OK)
  • 404 (Not Found)
  • 410 (Gone)
  • 500 (Internal Service Error)
  • 503 (Service Unavailable)

Stop Word

A frequently used word. For example: a, at, for, is, of, on, the. Search engines have, in the past, ignored these words to save time/resources when indexing. Search engines have evolved greatly since the early days, and stop words sometimes are meaningful, so this isn’t something to worry much about for SEO purposes.

Recommended reading:

Subdomain

A separate section that exists within a main domain. For example: http://jobs.searchenginejournal.com/ is a subdomain that exists within the main domain of https://www.searchenginejournal.com/


T

Taxonomy

Organizing and categorizing a website to maximize content findability and help users complete desired on-site tasks.

Time on Page

An inexact estimation of how long a user spent looking at a particular webpage. Pages with high exit rates can greatly skew this data.

Title Tag

An HTML meta tag that acts as the title of a webpage. Typically, the title tag is the title search engines use when displaying search listings, so it should include strategic and relevant keywords for that specific page. The title tag should also be written so it makes sense to people and attracts the most clicks. Typically, title tags should be less than 65 characters.

Top-Level Domain (TLD)

The extension of a given web address. These include:

There are also many more industry and country-specific options.

Also known as: gTLD (Generic Top-Level Domain); Domain Extension.

Traffic

The people (and sometimes bots) who visit your website.

Trust

Generally applies to the history of a domain (e.g., whether it cites or features expert sources, builds a positive reputation, adheres to Webmaster Guidelines).

TrustRank

A link analysis technique used to separate good “reputable seed pages” from web spam.

Recommended reading:


U

User-Generated Content (UGC)

Any form of content – videos, blog posts, comments, reviews, etc. – that is created by users or customers.

Universal Search

When search engines pull data from multiple speciality databases to display on the same SERP. Results can include images, videos, news, shopping, and other types of results.

Also known as: Blended Search.

Unnatural Link

Any links Google identifies as suspicious, deceptive, or manipulative. An unnatural link can result in Google taking manual action on your website.

URL

A uniform resource locator is the specific string of characters that lead to a resource on the web. The term URL is usually short-hand for the letter-based web address (e.g., www.searchenginejournal.com) entered into a browser to access a webpage.

URL Parameter

The values added to a URL in order to track where traffic comes from (i.e., which link someone clicked on to discover your website or webpage). Here’s an example of a URL parameter (bolded):

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/example-article-url/999999/?utm_source=share-back-traffic&utm_medium=desktop-share-button&utm_campaign=twitter

Also known as: Query String.

Usability

How easy it is for people to use your website. Site design, browser compatibility, disability enhancements, and other factors all play a role in improving usability and making your site accessible for as many people as possible.

User Agent

Web crawling software.

User Experience (UX)

The overall feeling users are left with after interacting with a brand, its online presence, and its product/services.


V

Vertical Search

A specialized type of search where the focus is only on a specific topic, type of content, or media. For example, YouTube (video), Amazon (shopping), Kayak (travel), Yelp (business reviews).

Virtual Assistant

A bot that uses natural language processing to perform tasks, such as conducting web searches. For instance, Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana.

Visibility

The prominence and positions a website occupies within the organic search results.

Voice Search

A type of voice-activated technology that allows users to speak into a device (usually a smartphone) to ask questions or conduct an online search.


W

Webpage

A document that exists on the World Wide Web and can be viewed by web browsers.

Website

A collection of webpages hosted together on the World Wide Web.

Website Navigation

How a website connects its webpages to help visitors navigate that site. Website navigation comes in a few different forms, including:

  • Main Navigation: The major topics or subjects your website is focused on. For instance, on SEJ our Main Navigation consists of SEO, News, PPC, Content, and Social.
  • Secondary Navigation: Topics related to the main navigation. For instance, on SEJ secondary navigation includes links to webinars, podcasts, guides, SEJ Summit, and other topics.
  • Footer Navigation: Typically this includes links to pages that contain important informational resources about a brand or business. These pages usually aren’t important for ranking purposes. For example, SEJ’s footer navigation links to our About Us page, privacy policy, and our various social profiles.
  • Related Links: This area usually appears in the right rail or beneath content. It might be called “Most Popular,” “Most Read,” or “Trending Now.”
  • Content Links: Links that appear within your main content (e.g., articles, landing pages).
  • Breadcrumb Navigation: This type is less popular than it once was. Essentially, each webpage shows a “trail” to help quickly tell visitors where they are on your site. For example: Home > SEO > Link Building > What Is Website Navigation?

Also known as: Internal Links (or Internal Linking), Site Architecture

Webspam

Any methods that exist solely to deceive or manipulate search engine algorithms and/or users.

Also known as: Black Hat SEO, Spam, Spamdexing, Search Spam

White Hat

Tactics that comply with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Word Count

The total number of words that appear within the copy of content. Too little (or thin) content can be a signal of low-quality to search engines.

WordPress

A popular blogging and content management system.


X

XML

Extensible Markup Language is a markup language search engines use to understand website data.

XML Sitemap

A list of all the pages on a website that search engines need to know.


Y

Yahoo

Yahoo was born in April 1994 and was an incredibly popular search engine and portal in the ’90s. Yahoo search was mostly human-powered, at least until June 2000 when a then-unknown search engine called Google began powering Yahoo’s organic search results. That deal continued until 2004, when Yahoo started using its own search technology. Since 2010, Yahoo’s organic search results have been powered by Microsoft’s search engine, Bing.

Yandex

The most popular search engine in Russia, Yandex was founded September 23, 1997 by Arkady Volozh and Ilya Segalovich.


Featured Image: Blan-k/Shutterstock




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The Complete Guide to Google My Business for Local SEO

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The Complete Guide to Google My Business

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that business owners can use to manage their online presence across Google Search and Google Maps.

This profile also puts out important business details, such as address, phone number, and operating hours, making it easily accessible to potential customers. 

Google My Business profile shown on Google MapsGoogle My Business profile shown on Google Maps

When you click on a business listing in the search results it will open a detailed sidebar on the right side of the screen, providing comprehensive information about the business. 

This includes popular times, which show when the business is busiest, a Q&A section where potential users can ask questions and receive responses from the business or other customers, and a photos and videos section that showcases products and services. Customer reviews and ratings are also displayed, which are crucial for building trust and credibility.

Business details on Google My Business profileBusiness details on Google My Business profile

Using Google My Business for Local SEO

Having an optimized Google Business Profile ensures that your business is visible, searchable, and can attract potential customers who are looking for your products and services.

  • Increased reliance on online discovery: More consumers are going online to search and find local businesses, making it crucial to have a GMB listing.
  • Be where your customers are searching: GMB ensures your business information is accurate and visible on Google Search and Maps, helping you stay competitive.
  • Connect with customers digitally: GMB allows customers to connect with your business through various channels, including messaging and reviews.
  • Build your online reputation: GMB makes it easy for customers to leave reviews, which can improve your credibility and trustworthiness.
  • Location targeting: GMB enables location-based targeting, showing your ads to people searching for businesses in your exact location.
  • Measurable results: GMB provides actionable analytics, allowing you to track your performance and optimize your listing.

How to Set Up Google My Business

If you already have a profile and need help claiming, verifying, and/or optimizing it, skip to the next sections.

If you’re creating a new Google My Business profile, here’s a step-by-step guide:

Access or Create your Google AccountAccess or Create your Google Account

Step 1: Access or Create your Google Account:

If you don’t already have a Google account, follow these steps to create one:

  • Visit the Google Account Sign-up Page: Go to the Google Account sign-up page and click on “Create an account.”
  • Enter Your Information: Fill in the required fields, including your name, email address, and password.
  • Verify Your Account: Google will send a verification email to your email address. Click on the link in the email to confirm your account.

Step 2:  Access Google My Business

Business name on Google My BusinessBusiness name on Google My Business

Step 3: Enter Your Business Name and Category

  • Type in your exact business name. Google will suggest existing businesses as you type
  • If your business is not listed, fully type out the name as it appears
  • Search for and select your primary business category

Adding business address to Google My Business profileAdding business address to Google My Business profile

Step 4: Provide Your Business Address

  • If you have a physical location where customers can visit, select “Yes” and enter your address.
  • If you are a service area business without a physical location, select “No” and enter your service area.

Adding contact information to Google My Business profileAdding contact information to Google My Business profile

Step 5: Add Your Contact Information

  • Enter your business phone number and website URL
  • You can also create a free website based on your GMB information

Complete Your ProfileComplete Your Profile

Step 6: Complete Your Profile

To complete your profile, add the following details:

  • Hours of Operation: Enter your business’s operating hours to help customers plan their visits.
  • Services: List the services your business offers to help customers understand what you do.
  • Description: Write a detailed description of your business to help customers understand your offerings.

Now that you know how to set up your Google My Business account, all that’s left is to verify it. 

Verification is essential for you to manage and update business information whenever you need to, and for Google to show your business profile to the right users and for the right search queries. 

If you are someone who wants to claim their business or is currently on the last step of setting up their GMB, this guide will walk you through the verification process to solidify your business’ online credibility and visibility.

How to Verify Google My Business

There are several ways you can verify your business, including:

  • Postcard Verification: Google will send a postcard to your business address with a verification code. Enter the code on your GMB dashboard to verify.
  • Phone Verification: Google will call your business phone number and provide a verification code. Enter the code on your GMB dashboard to verify.
  • Email Verification: If you have a business email address, you can use it to verify your listing.
  • Instant Verification: If you have a Google Analytics account linked to your business, you can use instant verification.

How to Claim & Verify an Existing Google My Business Profile

If your business has an existing Google My Business profile, and you want to claim it, then follow these steps:

Sign in to Google AccountSign in to Google Account

Step 1: Sign in to Google My Business

Access Google My Business: Go to the Google My Business website and sign in with your Google account. If you don’t have a Google account, create one by following the sign-up process.

Search for Your BusinessSearch for Your Business

Step 2: Search for Your Business

Enter your business name in the search bar to find your listing. If your business is already listed, you will see it in the search results.

Request access to existing Google My Business accountRequest access to existing Google My Business account

Step 3: Claim Your Listing

If your business is not already claimed, you will see a “Claim this business” button. Click on this button to start the claiming process.

Editing business information on Google My BusinessEditing business information on Google My Business

Step 4: Complete Your Profile

Once your listing is verified, you can complete your profile by adding essential business information such as:

  • Business Name: Ensure it matches your business name.
  • Address: Enter your business address accurately.
  • Phone Number: Enter your business phone number.
  • Hours of Operation: Specify your business hours.
  • Categories: Choose relevant categories that describe your business.
  • Description: Write a brief description of your business.

Step 5: Manage Your Listing

Regularly check and update your listing to ensure it remains accurate and up-to-date. Respond to customer reviews and use the insights provided by Google Analytics to improve your business.

Unverified Google My Business profileUnverified Google My Business profile

Step 6: Verification 

Verify your business through postcard, email, or phone numbers as stated above. 

Now that you have successfully set up and verified your Google My Business listing, it’s time to optimize it for maximum visibility and effectiveness. By doing this, you can improve your local search rankings, increase customer engagement, and drive more conversions.

How to Optimize Google My Business

Here are the tips that I usually do when I’m optimizing my GMB account: 

    1. Complete Your Profile: Start by ensuring every section applicable to your business is filled out with accurate and up-to-date information. Use your real business name without keyword stuffing to avoid suspension. Ensure your address and phone number are consistent with those on your website and other online directories, and add a link to your website and social media accounts.
    2. Optimize for Keywords: Integrate relevant keywords into your business description, services, and posts. However, avoid stuffing your GMB profile with keywords, as this can appear spammy and reduce readability.
    3. Add Backlinks: Encourage local websites, blogs, and business directories to link to your GMB profile. 
  1. Select Appropriate Categories: Choose the most relevant primary category for your business to help Google understand what your business is about. Additionally, add secondary categories that accurately describe your business’s offerings to capture more relevant search traffic.
  2. Encourage and Manage Reviews: Ask satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on your profile, as reviews significantly influence potential customers. Respond to all reviews, both positive and negative, in a professional and timely manner. Addressing negative feedback shows that you value customer opinions and are willing to improve.
  3. Add High-Quality Photos and Videos: Use high-quality images for your profile and cover photos that represent your business well. Upload additional photos of your products, services, team, and premises. Adding short, engaging videos can give potential customers a virtual tour or highlight key services, enhancing their interest.

By following this comprehensive guide, you have successfully set up, verified, and optimized your GMB profile. Remember to continuously maintain and update your profile to ensure maximum impact and success.

Key Takeaway: 

With more and more people turning to Google for all their needs, creating, verifying, and optimizing your Google My Business profile is a must if you want your business to be found. 

Follow this guide to Google My Business, and you’re going to see increased online presence across Google Search and Google Maps in no time.

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LinkedIn Rolls Out New Newsletter Tools

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LinkedIn Rolls Out New Newsletter Tools

LinkedIn is launching several new features for people who publish newsletters on its platform.

The professional networking site wants to make it easier for creators to grow their newsletter audiences and engage readers.

More People Publishing Newsletters On LinkedIn

The company says the number of LinkedIn members publishing newsletter articles has increased by 59% over the past year.

Engagement on these creator-hosted newsletters is also up 47%.

With this growing interest, LinkedIn is updating its newsletter tools.

A New Way To View & Comment

One of the main changes is an updated reading experience that displays comments alongside the newsletter articles.

This allows readers to view and participate in discussions more easily while consuming the content.

See an example of the new interface below.

Screenshot from: linkedin.com, June 2024.

Design Your Own Cover Images

You can now use Microsoft’s AI-powered Designer tool to create custom cover images for their newsletters.

The integration provides templates, size options, and suggestions to help design visually appealing covers.

More Subscriber Notifications

LinkedIn is improving the notifications sent to newsletter subscribers to drive more readership.

When a new issue is published, subscribers will receive email alerts and in-app messages. LinkedIn will also prompt your followers to subscribe.

Mention Other Profiles In Articles

You can now embed links to other LinkedIn profiles and pages directly into their newsletter articles.

This lets readers click through and learn more about the individuals or companies mentioned.

In the example below, you can see it’s as easy as adding a link.

1718346362 491 LinkedIn Rolls Out New Newsletter ToolsScreenshot from: linkedin.com, June 2024.

Preview Links Before Publishing

Lastly, LinkedIn allows you to access a staging link that previews the newsletter URL before hitting publish.

This can help you share and distribute their content more effectively.

Why SEJ Cares

As LinkedIn continues to lean into being a publishing platform for creators and thought leaders, updates that enhance the newsletter experience are noteworthy for digital marketers and industry professionals looking to build an audience.

The new tools are part of LinkedIn’s broader effort to court creators publishing original content on its platform amid rising demand for newsletters and knowledge-sharing.

How This Can Help You

If you publish a newsletter on LinkedIn, these new tools can help you design more visually appealing content, grow your subscriber base, interact with your audience through comments, and preview your content before going live.


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The 6 Biggest SEO Challenges You’ll Face in 2024

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The 6 Biggest SEO Challenges You'll Face in 2024

Seen any stressed-out SEOs recently? If so, that’s because they’ve got their work cut out this year.

Between navigating Google’s never-ending algorithm updates, fighting off competitors, and getting buy-in for projects, there are many significant SEO challenges to consider.

So, which ones should you focus on? Here are the six biggest ones I think you should pay close attention to.

Make no mistake—Google’s algorithm updates can make or break your site.

Core updates, spam updates, helpful content updates—you name it, they can all impact your site’s performance.

As we can see below, the frequency of Google updates has increased in recent years, meaning that the likelihood of being impacted by a Google update has also increased.

How to deal with it:

Recovering from a Google update isn’t easy—and sometimes, websites that get hit by updates may never fully recover.

For the reasons outlined above, most businesses try to stay on the right side of Google and avoid incurring Google’s wrath.

SEOs do this by following Google’s Search Essentials, SEO best practices and avoiding risky black hat SEO tactics. But sadly, even if you think you’ve done this, there is no guarantee that you won’t get hit.

If you suspect a website has been impacted by a Google update, the fastest way to check is to plug the domain into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.

Ahrefs Site Explorer screenshotAhrefs Site Explorer screenshot

Here’s an example of a website likely affected by Google’s August 2023 Core Update. The traffic drop started on the update’s start date.

Website impacted by Google's August 2023 Core UpdateWebsite impacted by Google's August 2023 Core Update
Hover over the G circles on the X axis to get information about each update.

From this screen, you can see if a drop in traffic correlates with a Google update. If there is a strong correlation, then that update may have hit the site. To remedy it, you will need to understand the update and take action accordingly.

Follow SEO best practices

It’s important your website follows SEO best practices so you can understand why it has been affected and determine what you need to do to fix things.

For example, you might have missed significant technical SEO issues impacting your website’s traffic. To rule this out, it’s worth using Site Audit to run a technical crawl of your website.

Site Audit screenshot, via Ahrefs Site AuditSite Audit screenshot, via Ahrefs Site Audit

Monitor the latest SEO news

In addition to following best practices, it’s a good idea to monitor the latest SEO news. You can do this through various social media channels like X or LinkedIn, but I find the two websites below to be some of the most reliable sources of SEO news.

Even if you escape Google’s updates unscathed, you’ve still got to deal with your competitors vying to steal your top-ranking keywords from right under your nose.

This may sound grim, but it’s a mistake to underestimate them. Most of the time, they’ll be trying to improve their website’s SEO just as much as you are.

And these days, your competitors will:

How to deal with it:

If you want to stay ahead of your competitors, you need to do these two things:

Spy on your competitors and monitor their strategy

Ok, so you don’t have to be James Bond, but by using a tool like Ahrefs Site Explorer and our Google Looker Studio Integration (GLS), you can extract valuable information and keep tabs on your competitors, giving you a competitive advantage in the SERPs.

Using a tool like Site Explorer, you can use the Organic Competitors report to understand the competitor landscape:

Organic competitors screenshot, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerOrganic competitors screenshot, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

You can check out their Organic traffic performance across the years:

Year on Year comparison of organic traffic, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerYear on Year comparison of organic traffic, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

You can use Calendar to see which days changes in Positions, Pages, Referring domains Backlinks occurred:

Screenshot of Ahrefs' Calendar, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerScreenshot of Ahrefs' Calendar, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

You can see their Top pages’ organic traffic and Organic keywords:

Top pages report, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerTop pages report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

And much, much more.

If you want to monitor your most important competitors more closely, you can even create a dashboard using Ahrefs’ GLS integration.

Google Looker Studio integration screenshot,Google Looker Studio integration screenshot,

Acquire links and create content that your competitors can’t recreate easily

Once you’ve done enough spying, it’s time to take action.

Links and content are the bread and butter for many SEOs. But a lot of the time the links that are acquired and the content that is created just aren’t that great.

So, to stand the best chance of maintaining your rankings, you need to work on getting high-quality backlinks and producing high-quality content that your competitors can’t easily recreate.

It’s easy to say this, but what does it mean in practice?

The best way to create this type of content is to create deep content.

At Ahrefs, we do this by running surveys, getting quotes from industry experts, running data studies, creating unique illustrations or diagrams, and generally fine-tuning our content until it is the best it can be.

As if competing against your competitors wasn’t enough, you must also compete against Google for clicks.

As Google not-so-subtly transitions from a search engine to an answer engine, it’s becoming more common for it to supply the answer to search queries—rather than the search results themselves.

The result is that even the once top-performing organic search websites have a lower click-through rate (CTR) because they’re further down the page—or not on the first page.

Whether you like it or not, Google is reducing traffic to your website through two mechanisms:

  • AI overviews – Where Google generates an answer based on sources on the internet
  • Zero-click searches – Where Google shows the answer in the search results

With AI overviews, we can see that the traditional organic search results are not visible.

And with zero-click searches, Google supplies the answer directly in the SERP, so the user doesn’t have to click anything unless they want to know more.

Zero Click searches example, via Google.comZero Click searches example, via Google.com

These features have one thing in common: They are pushing the organic results further down the page.

With AI Overviews, even when links are included, Kevin Indig’s AI overviews traffic impact study suggests that AI overviews will reduce organic clicks.

In this example below, shared by Aleyda, we can see that even when you rank organically in the number one position, it doesn’t mean much if there are Ads and an AI overview with the UX with no links in the AI overview answer; it just perpetuates the zero-clicks model through the AI overview format.

How to deal with it:

You can’t control how Google changes the SERPs, but you can do two things:

Make your website the best it can be

If you focus on the latter, your website will naturally become more authoritative over time. This isn’t a guarantee that your website will be included in the AI overview, but it’s better than doing nothing.

Prevent Google from showing your website in an AI Overview

If you want to be excluded from Google’s AI Overviews, Google says you can add no snippet to prevent your content from appearing in AI Overviews.

nosnippet code explanation screemshot, via Google's documentationnosnippet code explanation screemshot, via Google's documentation

One of the reasons marketers gravitated towards Google in the early days was that it was relatively easy to set up a website and get traffic.

Recently, there have been a few high-profile examples of smaller websites that have been impacted by Google:

Apart from the algorithmic changes, I think there are two reasons for this:

  • Large authoritative websites with bigger budgets and SEO teams are more likely to rank well in today’s Google
  • User-generated content sites like Reddit and Quora have been given huge traffic boosts from Google, which has displaced smaller sites from the SERPs that used to rank for these types of keyword queries

Here’s Reddit’s traffic increase over the last year:

Reddit's organic traffic increase, via Ahrefs Site ExplorerReddit's organic traffic increase, via Ahrefs Site Explorer

And here’s Quora’s traffic increase:

Quora's organic traffic increase, via Ahrefs Site ExplorerQuora's organic traffic increase, via Ahrefs Site Explorer

How to deal with it:

There are three key ways I would deal with this issue in 2024:

Focus on targeting the right keywords using keyword research

Knowing which keywords to target is really important for smaller websites. Sadly, you can’t just write about a big term like “SEO” and expect to rank for it in Google.

Use a tool like Keywords Explorer to do a SERP analysis for each keyword you want to target. Use the effort-to-reward ratio to ensure you are picking the right keyword battles:

Effort to reward ratio illustrationEffort to reward ratio illustration

If you’re concerned about Reddit, Quora, or other UGC sites stealing your clicks, you can also use Keywords Explorer to target SERPs where these websites aren’t present.

To do this:

  • Enter your keyword in the search bar and head to the matching terms report
  • Click on the SERP features drop-down box
  • Select Not on SERP and select Discussions and forums
Example of removing big UGC sites from keyword searches using filters in Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerExample of removing big UGC sites from keyword searches using filters in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

This method can help you find SERPs where these types of sites are not present.

Build more links to become more authoritative

Another approach you could take is to double down on the SEO basics and start building more high-quality backlinks.

Write deep content

Most SEOs are not churning out 500-word blog posts and hoping for the best; equally, the content they’re creating is often not deep or the best it can possibly be.

This is often due to time restraints, budget and inclination. But to be competitive in the AI era, deep content is exactly what you should be creating.

As your website grows, the challenge of maintaining the performance of your content portfolio gets increasingly more difficult.

And what may have been an “absolute banger” of an article in 2020 might not be such a great article now—so you’ll need to update it to keep the clicks rolling in.

So how can you ensure that your content is the best it can be?

How to deal with it:

Here’s the process I use:

Steal this content updating framework

And here’s a practical example of this in action:

Use Page Inspect with Overview to identify pages that need updating

Here’s an example of an older article Michal Pecánek wrote that I recently updated. Using Page Inspect, we can pinpoint the exact date of the update was on May 10, 2024, with no other major in the last year.

Ahrefs Page Inspect screenshot, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerAhrefs Page Inspect screenshot, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

According to Ahrefs, this update almost doubled the page’s organic traffic, underlining the value of updating old content. Before the update, the content had reached its lowest performance ever.

Example of a content update and the impact on organic traffic, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerExample of a content update and the impact on organic traffic, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

So, what changed to casually double the traffic? Clicking on Page Inspect gives us our answer.

Page Inspect detail screenshot, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerPage Inspect detail screenshot, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

I was focused on achieving three aims with this update:

  • Keeping Michal’s original framework for the post intact
  • Making the content as concise and readable as it can be
  • Refreshing the template (the main draw of the post) and explaining how to use the updated version in a beginner-friendly way to match the search intent

Getting buy-in for SEO projects has never been easy compared to other channels. Unfortunately, this meme perfectly describes my early days of agency life.

SEO meme, SEO vs PPC budgetsSEO meme, SEO vs PPC budgets

SEO is not an easy sell—either internally or externally to clients.

With companies hiring fewer SEO roles this year, the appetite for risk seems lower than in previous years.

SEO can also be slow to take impact, meaning getting buy-in for projects is harder than other channels.

How long does SEO take illustrationHow long does SEO take illustration

How to deal with it:

My colleague Despina Gavoyannis has written a fantastic article about how to get SEO buy-in, here is a summary of her top tips:

  • Find key influencers and decision-makers within the organization, starting with cross-functional teams before approaching executives. (And don’t forget the people who’ll actually implement your changes—developers.)
  • Adapt your language and communicate the benefits of SEO initiatives in terms that resonate with different stakeholders’ priorities.
  • Highlight the opportunity costs of not investing in SEO by showing the potential traffic and revenue being missed out on using metrics like Ahrefs’ traffic value.
  • Collaborate cross-functionally by showing how SEO can support other teams’ goals, e.g. helping the editorial team create content that ranks for commercial queries.

And perhaps most important of all: build better business cases and SEO opportunity forecasts.

If you just want to show the short-term trend for a keyword, you can use Keywords Explorer:

Forecasting feature for keywords, via Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerForecasting feature for keywords, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer
The forecasted trend is shown in orange as a dotted line.

If you want to show the Traffic potential of a particular keyword, you can use our Traffic potential metric in SERP overview to gauge this:

Traffic potential example, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerTraffic potential example, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

And if you want to go the whole hog, you can create an SEO forecast. You can use a third-party tool to create a forecast, but I recommend you use Patrick Stox’s SEO forecasting guide.

Final thoughts

Of all the SEO challenges mentioned above, the one keeping SEOs awake at night is AI.

It’s swept through our industry like a hurricane, presenting SEOs with many new challenges. The SERPs are changing, competitors are using AI tools, and the bar for creating basic content has been lowered, all thanks to AI.

If you want to stay competitive, you need to arm yourself with the best SEO tools and search data on the market—and for me, that always starts with Ahrefs.

Got questions? Ping me on X.



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