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SEO made simple: 15 Key Terms Defined

5 minute read
Cartoon man studying SEO newspaper

So you have an online store that sells beautiful, unique products but for some reason nobody on the internet can find you. Can you really blame them? They have to go through 4.54 billion pages before they can get to you. Did you know that there are simple changes you can make to your website that can help the right audience reach you? Search Engine Optimization is a complex concept that takes time and experience to master, however, with the application of a few simple concepts you can begin to harness the power of the over 100 billion google searches per month.


alt Tags: Text that shows in place of an image

You know when you have an image on a page that doesn’t load but you still see text in its place? That is because of the images alt tag. An alt tag can be added within an img tag (the html tag used to add an image to your webpage) as an alternative to the image if it does not load on your visitor’s web browser.

An example of this would be <img src=”cake”.gif” alt=”Chocolate cake”>.

Translation = Place the image of the cake on my site and tag it “chocolate cake.”
This means that if the image is unable to show on your user’s browser, it will at least show “chocolate cake” so they know what should be there. This is especially helpful for people with visual disabilities using screen readers that will read out the ext of the alt tag for them.

In addition to creating a more comprehensive site, Google rates alt text highly in its ranking algorithm and it is the only way for search engine spiders to analyze images so a relevant alt text including a few important keywords would definitely help your website’s SEO.


Anchor Text : The visible text on a hyperlink, that once clicked, leads to the destination website.

Search Engines use this information as a precursor to what content they expect to find on your website. The more links to your website with relevant keywords in the anchor text, the higher the chance your page will rank well on search engine results pages.

An example of a hyperlink with anchor text would be <a href=””>Dropshipping Automated</a>

Translation = Use the link but show it as Dropshipping Automated


Headings (or <h1> to <h6> tags) : Tags used to define the HTML heading of your topic.

Headings are an important element of your SEO strategy because search engines use them to index and structure the content of your website. A page should organize its headings by their importance, starting with the most important <h1> to the least important <h6>. Although nowadays page content and other factors play a more important role in SEO, fixing your headings is a fairly simple step that could give your website a boost.


Keyword : A single word or phrase that helps users find your website on search engines.

One of the most important steps to creating your own online store is to find the best keywords that help people find your website organically through a search engine results page. Although deciding on the best keywords may take a while, you should do your research and find keywords that will attract the best possible sales prospects to your site. This includes understanding how relevant it is to your shop and how frequently it is used by other similar shops as there is high competition amongst the most popular general keywords.

Although certain keyword research softwares like Moz might be costly to start off with, you can see which keywords are trending for free using Google Trends or check the ranking of certain keywords with Free Keyword Rank Checker


Long Tail Keyword : Phrases or 3-4 words that are highly specific to the products your store sells.

If you are a smaller shop, you might find more success using a Long Tail Keyword. These are generally phrases of 3-4 words that are highly specific to the products your store sells and can help attract customers within your niche. One example might be, “gold jewelry with custom engraving” or “hand made organic soap.” As long as this keyword is unique, and reflects your brand 100% you should start seeing new organic visitors with very high conversion rates.

You should add these phrases on across your website, for example on your landing page or About Us section to increase the chances of Google recognizing your site.


Inbound Links : Links from other websites that link back to your own website.

This has been consistently a great strategy to rank higher on search engines, especially when well reputed, higher ranked websites include links to your online store. This can include links from popular bloggers writing about your shop, press from reliable news sources or even social media shares. Your inbound links don’t necessarily have to be from highly popular sources, they just have to be relevant to the content written about on the previous website and bring those who click it to the content they were looking for. Although it might be tempting, don’t spam your websites link on other websites and social media! Search engines recognize this and may blacklist your site, making your strategy exponentially more difficult.

A great way to reach out to influencers would be to go through their content, learn about how it helps you and let them know! Ask for their advice on how to grow your own content and build a relationship that would be beneficial to both of you. You could try commenting on their blog posts, sending them tweets, e-mailing them or any other way you feel comfortable. As long as you are genuine in your interest, you can expect some great inbound links in the future.


Nofollow : A way to tell search engines not to crawl that link or page.

Have you found certain pages on your website that aren’t relevant enough for search engine crawlers to follow? Maybe you’ve gotten paid to add a link to your site that isn’t relevant to your content? Have a comment box that unfortunately is riddled with content spammers? Don’t worry, using nofollow is a simple way to tell search engine robots not to crawl specific links on a page. All you have to do is a nofollow code to that specific link, or even entire webpage and search engines will no longer crawl that text. You can find out how to add the nofollow code based on your specific needs through this specific Google Nofollow Guide.


Infographic describing how to use nofollow tags

Infographic by SearchEngineLand


Page and Website Title : The text found in between your <title></title> tags on your HTML code.  

This is one of the most important tags for SEO, and are used on SERPs to display preview snippets for a given page. Since Google displays 50-60 characters per title page, your best bet would be to create a title that fits within that range.

According to Moz, the optimal title format should be:

Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name.

The reason this is important, is because when a user searches for keywords, the keywords are highlighted on SERPs. Additionally, other websites may use your title as anchor text when linking to you. Finally, web browsers will display your title text on its tab so if you’re a lesser known brand it may be a good idea to put your brand name second so new users will know what you have to offer.


PageRank: An algorithm that Google uses to decide the order in which websites appear on the SERP after a search query is entered.

Although this algorithm has not been revealed, what we know is that in order to have a high page rank, your page must have a lot of unique visits, several reputable inbound links, trustability, a good social presence, high user engagement, correct use of code, high accessibility and many more factors. Its tough to know exactly how to increase your PageRank, but as long as you are patient, put out unique and valuable content and don’t involve yourself in unethical SEO techniques you’re off to a good start.


Search Engine Results Page (SERP) : The page generated by a search engine after a certain query is entered.

Results vary from those generated organically by the search engine’s own internal ranking system and paid results, which are often displayed as well. Better SEO will help you rise up on the organic results generated by the search engine, which is great for high click through rates and conversions. This is so important, because 71.33% of searches result in a page one organic click, while only 5.59% result in a page two or three click.


Web Crawler : A computer program that browses the internet and extracts data from it.

By doing this, it indexes all the accessible pages of websites (including your own) and analyzes the keywords it receives so when users search for those keywords, it can reproduce this data on the SERP.


Canonical URL : A way to indicate to search engines that several different urls are actually one and the same.

This is a more uncommon term, but learning how to use canonical urls can solve your duplicate content problem. In simple terms, if you have multiple urls that point to the same content there is a chance you are confusing search engines. By setting a canonical link, search engines will automatically count all the different urls that lead to that content as the single canonical link. All you have to do is add rel=canonical to your html link tag and you’re set!


Sitemaps : A file, normally written in XML, where you can tell search engines about how the content on your site is organized.

Crawlers can use this to more efficiently crawl your website, as well as indicate how often your site is updated. There are several free resources such as that can create this for you, although you may be able to do it yourself as it is quite simple. A creation of a sitemap is most valuable if you’re site is new and doesn’t have many links, it’s large in size so crawlers may not reach all of it, parts of your site are not well referenced to each other or uses rich media content which will be explained below.


Rich Media Content : A term used in digital marketing to describe advertising content that doesn’t just include an image, but video, audio or other ways to engage people viewing it.

Having Rich Media in web results was found to increase the likelihood that users would engage with that content. Therefore, rich media would be most useful with regards to increasing the click-through rate of your website.

You can integrate rich media into your website through many simple ways. By optimizing the images on your website through Google’s Image Publishing Guidelines, your images might start to show up on the first page of search engines before people even have to click on the images tab. Similarly, you can read SearchEngineLand’s article on optimizing video content to improve click-through rates on your website.


Black Hat Search Engine Optimization : Engine hacking technique to boost your page rank.

As the name suggests, this type of SEO is devious in nature and tends to focus on search engine hacking rather than focusing on the human audience. These techniques, such as keyword stuffing, invisible text and clickbait links should be avoided, as they are not conducive to long term growth. As Search Engine bots and algorithms become more and more sophisticated, techniques like these usually end up getting your website labelled as spam and can lower your page rank significantly.

We hope this article will help simplify the seemingly complicated SEO process, and allow you to make simple changes that can make huge differences to your brand’s online visibility. Search Engine Optimization is not the only way to increase visibility for your brand, see how Modalyst helps 100s of brands meet thousands of retailers online here!

One thought on “SEO made simple: 15 Key Terms Defined

  1. Excellent introductory article on the basics (without getting bogged down with too much detail). The biggest change that we made was with our anchor text. Instead of linking “Click Here,” which you often see, we have made it more long tail keyword oriented, i.e. “packable rain hats.”

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