After the first lesson, I thought I’d touch on some more SEO terminology you may hear of that can help you understand how SEO works. If you’re ready for more, here we go!
These are terms to describe how websites and webmasters (which is what you are called if you are running (or hosting) your own website) abide by the Google terms of service. True Whitehats do everything by the rules. Blackhats can be anything from hackers to just not following the rules (such as taking someone’s data, or asking someone to put a link on the site but not disclose it). Of course there must be lots of Greyhats out there too as nearly all websites (and especially some of the bigger ones and smaller ones who don’t necessarily understand) fail to always abide by the rules. And naturally, there are rules and there are rules, and we all know that rules are made to be broken, right?!
We touched on this in Part I, under page rank, but basically, it stops any links that come from your page sharing your page ranking, or “blocks page rank distribution”. As I mentioned, it used to be the case that if someone commented on your page and added a clickable URL in their comment, anyone clicking on that comment would generate a share of your page rank to the other site. You still see people doing this on some big sites (e.g. BBC), but they are missing the fact that most webmasters are wise to this tactic and will make all comments No Follow (this is hidden in the html coding, but is done automatically for all WordPress hosted blogs). Of course, sometimes, it’s good to share, and is therefore possible to turn this off selectively, by removing the No Follow code. You can also use a plug-in such as Comment Luv to allow users to gain PR, which you might want to do if you are a warm and fuzzy parenting blogger who mostly gets comments from other warm and fuzzy parenting bloggers that have kind of become your blogosphere friends.
This is the visible text used to hide a URL and is often the descriptive text that users are most likely to use to search for something: car insurance, as opposed to a car insurance company by name. Similarly, are Head Terms (“Insurance”) and Long Tail Terms (“how to find the best insurance in London”). For example, you would put Faded Seaside Mama rather than http://www.fadedseasidemama.wordpress.com, especially when you start linking to actual pages within a website.
What people see when they go into your page, isn’t necessarily what the Googlebot sees. Using alternative (or Alt) text in your html coding can help the Googlebot find your page or match it to a search term, even if the content isn’t exactly the same. For example, you may post a photo of your cute kittens asleep in their cat bed and use the post title “Time to get a bigger bed!”. But if you want Google to find this, you would be better putting “sleeping cats” in the alt text. The same applies to images; for ease of reference, always ensure the image title is unique and meaningful (if you blog for a long time, your media library will become massive and it’s much easier to find something if it’s properly labelled), but also ensure the alt text describes the image succinctly and accurately. So your image may be titled “Joe building a snowman winter 2013″ for your filing, but the Alt text would be better as “boy building snowman”.
If an external website links to your website; let’s pretend you’ve done something newsworthy and the BBC News homepage is talking about it and then posts a link on its front page to your page, that’s an external or backlink. And that is fab for your page ranking!
One Way and Reciprocal Links
One way links are single links from one site to another while a reciprocal link means both sites link to each other. Quite often, larger companies will be quite happy to receive a one-way link from you, but less happy to reciprocate and link back. It’s all about manners!
Paid (Sponsored) Links
Once your blog starts to be a big hit, apparently, companies will start contacting you and asking to have paid links on your site. These are essentially a link from your page to theirs and they’ll pay you for doing it. This is the dubious grey area I mentioned under Black and White hats as it’s not really allowed, although apparently everyone does it. If your site is about parenting and suddenly your side bar is filled with links about gambling, there’s a good chance you will get caught by Google as the content is unrelated and the sidebar links are very likely to be paid for by the company that is being linked to (also called driving traffic). However, if you are able to produce relevant content and include the link in that, it is more difficult to pick up and is more White hat than Black hat. And of course, not all links in blog posts are paid for – I will quite often link to a company that I love just because I want to share that love. So far, I’ve not been paid for any of the links on my site anyway!! Often, bloggers will declare that a post has been sponsored although this doesn’t make it any more honourable (or less against the Google terms) other than letting unsuspecting readers know there may be a bit of spin on any opinions given.
That’s about it for now. Next time I’ll go into more detail about how to do SEO, but hopefully you’ve learnt something from this. If so, please share it!