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The Ultimate Digital Marketing Glossary: 50 Terms You Need To Know

Most industries have their fair share of jargon, and digital marketing is no exception. From the CTR of your adverts to the bounce rate of your website, there are numerous terms used by marketers that might sound like gobbledegook to the uninitiated.

However, there’s often no substitute for explaining things in plain English. Today, we’re going to look at fifty of the most common words, phrases and acronyms you’re likely to come across in the world of digital marketing – and reveal the meaning behind the neologisms…

  • A/B testing: The process of creating multiple variants of a page and showing them at random to different website users, to see if the ‘A’ variant or the ‘B’ variant might be more popular with visitors. Sometimes, this is also known as A/B/C/D testing, or ‘split-testing’.
  • Abandonment rate: The proportion of users who initiated a predefined conversion process, but left the website before completing it. For example, if 10 of the 100 people who started to buy something from your online shop left without submitting their order, your abandonment rate would be 10%.
  • Algorithm: A set of rules, logic or calculations followed by a computer. In the context of digital marketing, we usually talk about things like ‘the Google algorithm’ or ‘the Facebook algorithm’ when trying to craft content that will be favoured by these automated processes.
  • Anchor text: The visible text of a hyperlink.
  • Authority: One of the factors considered by Google when ranking websites on its results pages. A site that has been around for years and is a well-respected source of information (such as Wikipedia) is said to have high authority – and tends to rank very well in search results.
  • B2B / B2C: These acronyms stand for ‘Business-to-business’ and ‘business-to-consumer’ respectively, and describe the operating model of a commercial organisation – in other words, whether they primarily offer their services to individual end customers, or to other businesses.
  • Backlinks: Backlinks are all of the links on other websites that point to your page. Collectively, they make up what’s known as your site’s backlink profile.
  • Black Hat SEO

  • Black hat / white hat SEO: ‘Black hat’ is a euphemism in many tech fields for unethical practices, and in the world of SEO can include engaging in optimisation practices that contradict Google’s guidelines, fill websites with spam and other ‘quick fixes’ that don’t provide long term results and often result in ranking penalties. By contrast, ‘white hat’ SEO is essentially doing it the good guy way and improving your rankings as a consequence of making your site genuinely more valuable for human users.
  • Bounce rate: The percentage of visitors who arrive at your website but then leave without accessing any other pages. High bounce rates can indicate a problem with the website’s content or layout – it may be that users find it off-putting, confusing, or uninteresting.
  • CMS (Content Management System): The system used behind-the-scenes to handle all of a website’s content. For example, WordPress is an extremely popular CMS used by numerous websites to handle main site pages and blog posts. Other content management systems include the likes of Drupal, Joomla, Concrete5, ExpressionEngine and Magento.
  • Conversion rate: Simply put, the percentage of your total users who complete whatever process you consider to be a ‘conversion’ (which might be buying a product, successfully submitting a message to your sales team, registering for the site, or whichever outcome you ultimately hope to achieve).
  • CPA (Cost Per Acquisition): The average cost of a single conversion in a paid ad campaign. If you spent £100 on ads and got 100 signups, your CPA would be £1.
  • CPC (Cost Per Click): Similar to the above, this is the average cost of each user who clicks your advert in a paid campaign. As not everybody who clicks an ad will necessarily go on to sign up or buy anything, it’s useful to consider these as two separate metrics.
  • Crawler/bot/spider: A crawler is a program that automatically visits (or crawls) a large number of websites and pages to build an archive of data about them. Googlebot, Google’s own crawler, is perhaps the most famous and seeks to build an index of the entire Internet as best it can. Many other companies have produced their own crawlers to mimic the behaviour of Googlebot or to perform other useful SEO-related functions (such as Moz, Majestic, and Screaming Frog).
  • CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation): The process of amending a website or page to increase the percentage of users who go on to complete a conversion process.
  • CTA (Call To Action): A call to action is a short message used on a website or elsewhere that encourages the user to perform a specific action using unambiguous language (“buy now”, “sign up today”, “click here”).
  • CTR (Click Through Rate): The percentage of people who, having been shown your paid ad, have clicked it.
  • Featured snippet: The box of information that often appears at the top of a Google search results page – before the actual results – in an attempt to answer the user’s query by extracting a highlighted passage from the top search result. These can be quite important for SEO, and many search optimisation specialists spend a lot of time tweaking pages to try to get Google to use them as its source for a featured snippet.
  • GDPR: Short for the General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR is an EU law that places certain restrictions on the types of personal data that websites can collect about users (and for what reasons). For more information, please see the Wikipedia article on GDPR.
  • Geo-targeting: The practice of targeting different content to different users based on their geographic location.
  • Google Ads: Google’s paid advertising network.


  • Google Analytics: The industry standard for user analytics, Google Analytics allows webmasters to access a very detailed wealth of anonymised information about their site and its users – which pages are the most popular, where traffic has come from, how many visitors are converting, and a great deal more besides.
  • Google Search Console: Google provides a free tool for allowing webmasters to check up on their site’s search performance and visibility.
  • Hashtag: On social media, a hashtag is a word or phrase (without spaces) marked with a hash symbol (#). This causes the post to be tagged with that hashtag, and users can search for all of the posts that have been tagged with the same identifier. Thus, tagging your Instagram post with #dog will cause your photo to show up for anybody who is looking at the hashtag feed for pictures of dogs.
  • Heatmap: A user heatmap is a popular tool that allows a webmaster to see a Predator-vision-style representation of which areas of their page are the most used by visitors. Tools such as HotJar can record how many clicks are received by each element of the page, and use that data to create a visual display of which links are ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ in terms of user interest.
  • Impression: Every time your paid ad is shown to a user, this is called an impression. However, this doesn’t concern how many times it has been clicked – only how many times it has been displayed. Therefore, an ad with high impressions but a low click-through rate (CTR) may need to be rewritten or redesigned to be more appealing (as people are seeing it, but not clicking on it).
  • Indexing: When Google collects data about a website for its list, it is said to have indexed the page.
  • Keywords: Keywords are the most important words and phrases that describe the content of your page and what users will type into Google when searching for your topic. Keyword research is using various tools to identify which keywords are the most important for optimisation of the site.
  • Keyword stuffing: The outdated SEO practice of padding out a webpage with repetitive and redundant search engine keywords. It’s a terrible idea – in fact, we wrote a whole thing about why you shouldn’t do it
  • KPIs (Key Performance Indicators): In essence, a KPI can be whatever benchmark you decide is a good way to tell that your marketing efforts are actually working. It could be that you want to see an increase in traffic or conversions, a reduction of bounce rate, an increase in the number of returning visitors, or any other metric of your choosing.
  • Landing page: A landing page is a page on your site that users arrive at from search results or an advert. A common SEO practise is to identify which pages on your site are key landing pages and clearly define them as such for Google’s crawler.
  • Link building: The process of getting links to your website from others. This might be achieved via guest posting, leveraging pre-existing professional relationships, requesting link insertions, or any of a number of other techniques.
  • Local search: Google will often serve different results to different users based on their geographic location – somebody searching for ‘Italian restaurants’ from a computer in London won’t see the same results as a user from Glasgow. Thus, many businesses find it essential to optimise their site for good visibility in local search results.
  • Long-tail keyword: Whereas we might imagine that most keywords are short, single-word items (such as ‘toys’), long-tail keywords are longer phrases that are much more specific (‘barbie doll clothes and accessories’). These search terms are often easier to rank for than generic keywords, and crafty keyword research looking for these sorts of phrases can sometimes yield good SEO results.
  • Meta-data: Encompassing meta-titles, meta-descriptions, and (to a much lesser extent) meta-keywords, meta-data is information stored in the header tag of a web page that contains data about the page for search crawlers to use. The contents of these tags can often make a notable difference to a website’s SEO performance, and are often the first port of call when seeking to improve the Google presence of a page that doesn’t rank very well.
  • NoIndex: Noindex is an attribute that can be added to a website’s header tag which asks Googlebot to not add the page to its index. This should be thought of as more of a suggestion than a hardline command, but Google’s crawler tends to respect the directive more often than not.
  • Organic traffic: Visitors who find your site from a search engine results page, as opposed to a direct link from another site, a social platform, or a paid advert.
  • PPC (Pay Per Click): A type of paid marketing, where you pay only when a user clicks your advert.
  • Rankings: The order in which websites are returned on a search engine’s results page.
  • Remarketing / retargeting: This is the practice of targeting advertising towards people who have already demonstrated an interest in your business. For example, this might be users who have previously visited your website or interacted with you on social media.
  • Rich Snippet

  • Rich snippet: Whereas a normal snippet is the short excerpt of a web page that Google displays with each listing on its results pages, a rich snippet has additional features (which might include imagery, review stars, the preparation time of a recipe, or any of a number of other additions).
  • Robots.txt: A file that can be used to recommend to Google’s crawler that it should index or ignore different areas of your website. Googlebot will always look for this file in the root directory of your site (eg.,
  • Schema: Schema markup is a special kind of HTML that can be used to explain the structure of your content to Google. For example, you might want to make it very clear to Googlebot that what you’ve written might be a postal address, medical information, or a movie review – and by using the right type of schema markup (as described on you can make sure the search crawler understands what it’s seeing.
  • Search query: The word or phrase used by a user looking for something on a search engine.
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation): The process of making improvements to a website to increase its presence in search results. This can involve on-site factors such as changing the meta-data or improving the content, or off-site and holistic factors such as seeking to better the site’s backlink profile and overall authority.
  • SERP (Search Engine Results Page): The page of results that a search engine presents in response to a user’s query.
  • Sitemap: A sitemap is a list of all of the pages on a website. This can either be a publicly visible HTML sitemap for the use of human visitors, or an XML sitemap used to help Googlebot find its way around.
  • Tracking pixel: A small chunk of code that can be added to your website to collect data for a particular service (eg. a Facebook tracking pixel to keep track of Facebook users who end up on your page). Sometimes this code may incorporate a literal ‘pixel’ in the form of a 1×1 image file, but not always.
  • USP (Unique Selling Point): The thing that differentiates your business, service, offering, or website from that of others. For many marketing projects, identifying your USP is the foundation of knowing what messaging to put on your site and in your ad campaigns.
  • UX (User Experience): User experience design is concerned with making sure a page is intuitive and pleasant to use. If a website has a high bounce rate, improvements to UX may be the solution – and if users are confused or frustrated, they are unlikely to stick around.

The field of digital marketing does come with a lot of complicated jargon, but it needn’t be an ongoing mystery for newcomers.

By bookmarking our handy reference guide, you can return to this page in the future as a refresher if you should happen to encounter a buzzword you don’t recognise – and by staying abreast of the industry lingo, you can make sure you’re always part of the conversation.

5 SEO Myths That Just Won’t Die

Persistent myths are a regular feature of human society. Whether we’re talking about classical concepts like dragons and King Arthur, or “urban legends” such as the notion that Area 51 might contain an alien spacecraft, myths can be fun ideas that make the world seem to be a more fantastical place. While we don’t often think of SEO as having a mythical component, there are certainly some ideas that owe more to fiction than reality.

Some modern myths might be better described as commonly held misconceptions – such as the belief that the Great Wall of China is visible from space (it’s not) or that vitamin C helps you get over a cold (it doesn’t).

As with many technical disciplines, SEO has its own fair share of frequently cited untruths which have somehow managed to persist for years despite having no basis in fact – and today we’re going to set the record straight on five of the worst offenders.

Fake news

  1. SEO is done once and then you’re golden

Often, we’re not geared up to think about “optimisation” as an ongoing, long-term effort. If you’ve got something that’s unoptimised, you optimise it and then it’s optimised – right?

Many of us don’t realise what a dynamic and constantly-changing environment the Google search results pages really are. New pages are indexed at a rate of 100 billion a month, algorithm updates juggle things around, some sites undertake SEO practices for the first time while others are being penalised for succumbing to hackers or using black hat SEO tactics, and so on.

It follows that the results page you get for your query on Monday may well appear differently to what you see on Tuesday, because the Internet never sleeps.

The very idea that you can optimise your site once and then expect it to perform at the top of Google’s results forever is patently silly. What happens when the competitors you out-optimised start to use their own SEO practices to catch up with you? What happens when Google changes its system? You’re going to need some new tactics.

Every industry – and every client – is different, but often getting a given website to the top of the results page is only half of the battle, and the real trick is keeping it there. It’s not enough to rest on your laurels and expect Google to recognise the site’s self-evident brilliance for the next decade – the search results page is a never-ending treadmill, and you’ll have to keep moving if you want to stay where you are.

  1. Great content is all you need

We should be clear: we think that great content is very, very important for search engine optimisation. Creating rich and valuable content for a site’s visitors is a very powerful way to improve rankings and increase user satisfaction, reduce your site’s bounce rate, and boost conversions. Great content is awesome, and it forms the backbone of a lot of what we do.

Kermit typing

However, sometimes people take the idea a little too far, and start coming out with maxims like “write great content and the rest will take care of itself.” While we might see some truth in the statement, it’s also misleadingly reductive.

What about link-building? What about keyword research, and meta-titles, and site speed optimisation? There are a large number of techniques for improving any site’s SEO, and while all of them can make a difference, a really powerful SEO strategy will use them all in combination.

In short, any expert who tells you “this one technique is all you need” is probably not taking their job seriously – or are getting it seriously wrong.

  1. Google are actively trying to outfox SEOs

Every good SEO professional knows that Google can and does update its algorithms on a regular basis – sometimes causing merry hell in the process – and it can be tempting to see deliberate malice when your entire job is making sure that those search results pages look the way you want them to.

Of course, Google’s job isn’t to serve data in a way that pleases SEO consultants – it’s to provide genuinely useful results to its countless daily users in whichever way it thinks is best, and getting annoyed with Google for changing its approach is a bit like getting angry at clouds for raining on you.

Chill out, homeboy

Combined with the deliberate obfuscation of the inner workings of the search engine’s logic (which we all know would immediately be exploited into oblivion if it were ever revealed), operating in the world of SEO can sometimes feel as though Google is specifically trying to make our lives difficult.

That being said, the search engine giant has made no secret of its disdain for dodgy black hat techniques. Confusing this highly specific grudge with a dislike for the SEO industry as a whole is an easy mistake to make, but the truth is that Google actually seems to approve of search engine optimisation when it’s done properly – as evidenced by the amount of helpful material provided by its Webmaster Guidelines and its part in establishing useful SEO standards such as Schema markup.

  1. Guest posting is dead

This is one of those dramatic proclamations that has been made on a regular basis for so long now that it’s beginning to sound like those people who keeping saying the world is about to end because Nostradamus or the Mayan calendar said so. Here’s an article from earlier this year, for example, along with one from 2016. Here’s another from 2014, one from 2013, and did you know that 2012 had some too?

We’re not sure why people are still writing these things, in spite of the fact that high-quality guest blogging has continued to work consistently for link-building throughout.


Some of the misgivings have been due to some less-than-glowing comments from Google in 2014 (“stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy”), although these were later softened with some clarifications (“There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging… Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there”).

Another warning was issued by the search engine providers in 2017, although it didn’t add too much new information.

Yes, writing low-quality articles with the sole objective of getting a do-follow link is spammy and gross – it ought not to be a surprise to anybody that Google doesn’t like that sort of thing. But there is a difference between doing that and trying to write a unique and high-quality piece of content designed to bring real value to the readers of another website (who may just decide to link to you in return).

If your guest posts are well-written, non-cynical and provide genuine value to readers (and aren’t mass-published), you have nothing to be concerned about – no matter what the SEO alarmists tell you every year.

It’s worth nothing that while guest posting is most certainly still very much alive, it is a lot harder than it used to be. Webmasters are far more alert to spammy pitches, and securing an article on a prestigious publication takes a lot of time, effort, and some top quality writing. But that’s the point anyway, isn’t it?

  1. You can get position 1 results in a matter of days

The danger with an industry in which the day-to-day principles aren’t well understood by the general public is that sometimes you encounter practitioners who, for want of a more polite term, we might describe as snake-oil salesmen.

From time to time we see people making promises along the lines of “getting you to position 1 in one week” and other such claims, which can sound terribly impressive to unsuspecting potential customers but have absolutely no basis in reality.

It's a trap

For one thing, some industries are highly competitive and it may well be the case that all of the client’s competitors have been powerfully optimised already – it might take a sustained and dedicated effort to dislodge them and claim the top spot in the search results.

For another, Google’s crawlers often take several weeks to register changes and it might be next month before you see any of the fruits of your link-building labour; and let’s not forget that often the best SEO strategy in the world can encounter delays when cooperating with the client’s existing web development team or internal review process.

In short, these claims never stand up to scrutiny and are an unethical way to handle client expectations. The honest truth is that real SEO can take many months of sustained research, strategising, optimisation and link-building – and saying you can do it all overnight is tantamount to quackery.

Of course, with the frequency of Google’s algorithm changes, none of these debunkings are necessarily set in stone – maybe one day content will actually become the only important factor for SEO, or the search giant really will kill guest posting once and for all.

For now, though, the only thing to be done is to keep an ear to the ground and to stay up-to-date with current developments – all the while diligently sorting fact from fiction.


Keyword Stuffing Is Poison For SEO – Here’s Why

In a lot of ways, the early days of the Internet were a simpler time. You didn’t have to make the kind of responsive web pages that would display just as well on a 360×640 smartphone screen as they did on a 1080p desktop monitor, the use of cookies wasn’t a tangle of confusing legislation – and search engine optimisation (SEO) was a lot more straightforward.

The intelligence of Google’s ranking algorithm has come along in leaps and bounds over the years, largely to the benefit of the Internet in general – the inevitable corollary being that many of the SEO tactics of days gone by are no longer effective (and in some cases now work to the detriment of the page they were intended to boost).

What is keyword stuffing?

Sometimes rather oxymoronically referred to as “over-optimising”, “keyword stuffing” is the practice of jamming as many target keywords into the display text or hidden markup of a webpage as possible (often regardless of any concern for its readability in the eyes of an actual human being) in the hope that this will convince Google of said page’s overwhelmingly high relevance for those keywords. Just look at how many times these keywords come up!

The example provided by Google is as follows:

Keyword stuffing example
Provided in the form of an image, so that Google doesn’t think this website is guilty of keyword stuffing…

The writer of the above hypothetical example would be hoping that this would be enough to convince Google that their site was the number one destination on the web for all things relating to custom cigar humidors and put them at the top of the search rankings – and wouldn’t it be nice if that were all you had to do?

Of course, it doesn’t work that way, and if it did, that company’s competitors would have to fill their sites with spamtastic, keyword-packed paragraphs to keep up – and pretty soon the entire Internet would become nothing but an unreadable mess of word salad with little or no value to human readers.

Google’s engineers know that if search engine users found nothing but keyword-stuffed nonsense pages, the usefulness of the service would be in jeopardy and they’d all eventually be out of a job; and so their algorithm is constantly updated to try to identify good-quality content which is of genuine value to humans – and to penalise transparent attempts at gaming the system.

What even is a humidor, anyway?

Why is keyword stuffing bad?

As well as being generally ineffective, keyword stuffing is ultimately sort of a pointless tactic in any case.

Let’s say it did work, and our spam-packed site sat majestically at the top of the Google search results for cigar humidors – time to celebrate, right?

Peanuts celebration GIF

Well, not really, because any actual potential customers who click our link are going to say to themselves, “Yuck, what is all this nonsense? This looks super dodgy, I don’t think I want to buy anything from this site.”

In short: even if a visibly keyword-stuffed website did do well in search results, it wouldn’t be of any real use to anybody (and probably would have an appallingly low conversion rate for the webmaster).

Sometimes the keyword stuffing is done in such a way that it is not visible to the end user, and is either camouflaged in the layout (for example, by hiding words in white text on a white background) or by disabling their visibility via stylesheets (using display:none) – the latter tactic completely hiding the spam from human users, but preserving its readability for Google’s search spider.

This brings us onto the second reason that keyword stuffing is a bad idea: Google takes a dim view of the practice, and will actively penalise any website that it catches trying to manipulate its algorithm in this way.

A famous example is BMW’s German website, which in 2006 was caught trying to rank a spam-loaded page that auto-redirected human users to a nicer, cleaner version and was ultimately banned from the search engine – note that this happened nearly thirteen years ago, and you’d better believe that Google has since gotten a lot more sophisticated about spotting crude attempts to get an advantage over the competition.

“Webmasters are free to do what they want on their own sites,” Google engineer Matt Cutts has said, “but Google reserves the right to do what we think is best to maintain the relevance of our search results, and that includes taking action on keyword stuffing.”

What do I do if my site has been penalised for keyword stuffing?

Sometimes, keyword spam is implemented not so much out of a conscious desire to unfairly game the system but more of a general innocence about how websites work, or an outdated notion of SEO best practices.

Consequently, well-meaning users are occasionally surprised to find that their website has been blacklisted by Google and often end up feeling like they broke a rule nobody actually told them about.


Fortunately, Google do accept appeals in this matter. Once your site has been cleaned up and the spam excised, you can file a Reconsideration Request in Google Search Console and hopefully have it reviewed for re-inclusion in the search rankings for your target keywords.

What’s the alternative to keyword stuffing?

So, if you’re not allowed to stuff your pages with paragraphs full of product names and possible keyword permutations, what can you do with your page content to ensure good positioning in Google’s search results?

As with many things in life, the answer is that there aren’t really any shortcuts; Google’s algorithm wants to favour content that is the most useful to the largest number of people, and so the solution is… write really great human-readable content.

It may sound like an anticlimactic answer, but the truth is that there are no magic techniques to make Google “think” you have a great page full of really relevant and helpful information (apart from actually just honestly making that page).

The algorithms today are very sophisticated and able to tell with high accuracy which pages are likely to be the most valuable to human readers, and while there are often optimisations that can be made to a page’s meta-information and header tags for a bit of an SEO boost, few things are as powerful as high-quality content.

After all, content that is genuinely engaging for human readers is much more likely to be linked-to from other sites and shared on social media by interested users, and you simply can’t get that kind of organic word-of-mouth marketing by using spammy pages that look like they’ve taken keyword steroids.


Fundamentally, keyword stuffing is both useless and dangerous when it comes to boosting your presence in Google’s search rankings, and it hasn’t been a serious SEO technique for at least a decade. Nonetheless, we still see its influence in many websites, even today.

Even if it did somehow end up ranking fairly well, a spammed-up website wouldn’t do much except contribute to the general white noise of Internet spam – and consistently lose readers to competitor sites that featured genuinely interesting and useful page content.


SEO For Small Businesses & New Startups: How To Do It Yourself

We regularly get asked the question: how can I improve the SEO performance of my website?

The question is often followed with the caveat – but I don’t have any budget.

Which is a perfectly understandable and a situation that many organisations find themselves in. Startups are often self-funded, and SMEs may not necessarily have the marketing budget to employ an agency or employee full time.

So for those of you with the inclination, patience and perseverance (sprinkled with a healthy dose of nerdy intrigue) here’s a step by step guide on some of the key SEO considerations for a startup or SME, and some practical tips on how you can do it yourself.


The importance of keywords

The topic of keywords has been hotly debated over the last 12 months. Historically the SEO emphasis has been on “exact match” search terms. Put simply, if you wanted to rank well for “big red shoes”, you would create a page on your website that discussed the various benefits of wearing “big red shoes”. Easy.

Now, the search engines have become more sophisticated, understanding the semantic relevance and the relationship between keywords. Meaning that they’re attempting to understand the “intent” behind a users search query.

Under this premise overarching “topics” are increasingly important when compared with the old days of “exact match” keywords.

SEO: Keywords vs topics
Consider both topical themes and keywords throughout your websites content.

For example if you created an amazing piece of content that discusses “what not to say on Twitter”, the search engines would probably understand that you’re interested in information about Donald Trump.

Therefore websites (and individual page content) can rank well for a search query, even if that query doesn’t appear on your website.

Now, simply focusing on quality content that delivers what your audience wants is just as important.

BUT, that doesn’t mean that you should completely ignore the inclusion of exact match keywords.

The reason for this is that Google isn’t perfect, and while they do their very best to understand a users intent, the complex relationship between the words of the English language can often befuddle even the very best algorithms.

So the best compromise at this stage is to consider both overarching topic ideas, organising your website structure accordingly, while also considering exact match keywords that can be applied to certain elements of a web page.

The important SEO elements to consider optimising on a page will include (and we’ll come on to these in a bit):

  • Meta-titles
  • Meta-descriptions
  • Alt-titles on images
  • Headings
  • Sub-headings

Key takeaway: Consider “topics” when designing your website and its overarching content structure, while considering “keywords” when optimising specific elements of a web page.


Selecting keywords

The next challenge is how to identify which keywords to use when updating the various elements highlighted above.

Understanding the various search volumes for relevant terms will help you determine the best opportunities and where to focus your efforts. The following process will help you examine hundreds (often thousands) of keywords around a particular topic, and once complete you’ll be able to download this important data into a nerdy spreadsheet. Colour coding columns are optional.

1. Sign in to Google Adwords.

If you don’t have an account you can set one up for free, but if you already have a Google Account (for Google Analytics, Google My Business, Google+ etc..), then it’s suggested you use the same login details to ensure everything is in one place. It also enables easier linking between Analytics and Adwords.

2. Select “tools” at the top and then “keyword planner”.

Selecting SEO keywords via Adwords
Selecting keywords via Adwords

3. Select “Search for new keywords using phrase, website or category”.

Selecting organic keywords via Adwords

4. Enter the keyword(s) you would like to examine.

If entering more than one separate with a comma. What you’re doing is asking Google to examine the search volumes for the keyword you entered, but it will also create a list of similar and popular search terms.

If you enter “big red shoes”, the list produced will inform you what people are typically entering into the search engines around this particular topic. It will also include the average monthly search volume for each keyword.

It’s important to make sure you select the country you’re interested in. You don’t want the monthly search volumes across the world, if you’re target market is just the UK.

conducting keyword research

5. Download the results into a spreadsheet

6. Review and refine your keyword list

It’s likely that you’ll now have a list of maybe 1,000 keywords on a spreadsheet. The only data you really need at this stage are the keywords, and they’re corresponding search volumes.

There may be a few irrelevant terms in there, so you’ll have to go through and tidy up the selection to ensure that everything that remains is relevant to your business.

7. Reviewing the SEO competition of keywords

The data that will be missing at this stage from your spreadsheet is how competitive each keyword is in organic search. It’s important to note that if you want to do this properly, it would be worthwhile investing in a keyword research tool like SEMRush that you can use to determine this level of competition.

But, if you don’t have the budget for that, you can make some assumptions based on a few factors:

  • Single keywords (e.g. shoes) will be virtually impossible to rank highly for (far too competitive).
  • Keywords with a higher search volume are likely to be more competitive.
  • For a new website, or if you’re an SME without much SEO activity to date, going after a particular niche would be advisable.

keyword research

In the example above, and if we organise the keywords by volume, we could (and we have to stress that this is a fairly crude technique for conducting keyword research) make some assumptions that:

Red: Keywords are competitive

Yellow: Medium competition

Green: Niche search terms that are likely to be lower in competition, and may be worth considering as part of your content strategy. They’re also be easier to rank highly for.

Blue: Maybe a nice topic idea for a blog post

By repeating this process for all products and services that you offer, you can start to build a strategic approach for:

  1. What type of content you need on your website
  2. How you apply the various keywords to each individual page on your site
  3. Which keywords to use when updating your meta-data and headings etc

Key takeaway: If you have a new website or you’re new to SEO, go for very specific/niche search terms that will have less competition, and create compelling content around those particular topics.


Assessing keyword competition

Once you’ve whittled down your keyword selection to some interesting keyword that you want to explore further, it’s a good idea to test your competition, and how difficult it may be to rank for these terms.

As mentioned there are a number of tools that can be used to speed up this process, however most are “paid” options that require a subscription license.

These options are easier and more efficient (a good example would be SEMRush or Majestic SEO), but if budget is a consideration then the process can still be achieved, although there is slightly more manual work to be done.

Free competitive analysis option:

  1. Install the MOZ extension on Chrome or Firefox.
  2. This will install the Moz button (top right on the image below) that when selected will give you some of the key competitive metrics of the various websites in the search results.

seo keyword competitiveness

Beneath each search result you will find a grey bar that highlights the terms PA and DA.

PA: Page Authority relates to the overall authority of the website “page” that appears in the search results. The higher the number, the greater the authority of that page.

DA: Domain Authority works in a similar way, but refers to the overall authority of the website.

Both metrics are important when determining your websites ranking position, and by comparing the performance of your website, with that of the websites appearing on the 1st page of Google, you can start to understand the competitive metrics of each keyword.

For example if all websites on the 1st page have a Domain Authority of 70 or more, and your website has a Domain Authority of 10, you can make the assumption that competition will be tough.

However in the example above, we can see the competition for “professional clown shoes” is relatively low, with DA’s ranging from 24 to 29. If your website is either close to those figures, or above, you can consider this a potential keyword target.


Domain and page authority explained

Both Domain and Page Authority are determined by:

  1. The age of a website
  2. The number, and more importantly the quality of links pointing to that page or website.

While there’s no official definition, as a general guide, Domain Authority for a website will be as follows:

1 – 10:

A new website or a website that has very few links pointing to it.

10 – 20:

A website that’s probably quite new, maybe with a few directory links pointing to it.

20 – 30:

A website that’s relatively ok, potentially with some dedicated SEO (or time) behind it.

30 – 40:

A good quality site and likely to be the threshold for many small or medium sized businesses. Active SEO work is likely to have been undertaken

40 – 50:

A well respected blog or website. Medium/large sized business.

50 – 90:

The domain of large businesses, very well respected sites and high quality blogs.


National newspapers, social media sites and some of the best sites in the world.

Key takeaway: Building your websites Domain Authority can take time, so be patient and set yourself realistic expectations.


Updating your meta-data and headings

As a brief bit of interesting yet pointless history, meta-data was traditionally used by libraries when they converted their catalog data, to digital databases. In the 2000s, as digital formats became the norm, the term metadata was used to describe the storage and classification of digital data.


The overarching term “meta-data” applies to both “meta-titles” and “meta-descriptions”, both an important element of SEO.


The <title> tag is still widely accepted to be one of the most important on-page optimisation factors.

Meta title example
Example of how a meta-title appears in the search results

The search engines place great emphasis on the title tag for assessing the relevance of the content on the page. Put simply a meta-title that includes “Big Red Clown Shoes”, is more likely to rank well for that particular term.

  • For many new websites, or relatively small sites, this is still an area that’s often neglected, but so easy to fix!
  • As a general rule however, there is greater weighting given to key phrases at the left of the title tag.
  • By using the data and information you gathered during your keyword research, you can update the meta-titles for every single page with the keywords that provide the best opportunity for ranking improvements.

Key takeaway: If you only do 1 thing to your website, it would be to check and update every single meta-title, for every single page throughout your website. Keep the character limit under 55.


Meta Descriptions, although no longer a primary ranking factor, are still an important consideration because they can help persuade an individual to click on your search results, driving clicks and additional traffic to your content….and yes we clicked on the result below!

Example of how a meta-description appears in the search results

Key takeaway: Give people a reason or a compelling proposition to click on your search result. Using words like “discover, find out, understand, how to” can often help. Keep the character limit under 160.


Headings & Subheadings

In very simple terms, each heading on a page is typically classified as an H1, H2, H3 etc. The most important heading is the H1, and should include relevant keywords that you would like to rank for.

The importance of the various headings decreases as you move down the page.

heading hierarchy for SEO

Key takeaway: While it’s important to consider the inclusion of keywords and the search engines when writing your headings, don’t forget the user. All headings should be compelling and grammatically correct.


The importance of links

Now that you’ve done completed your keyword research, and applied those keywords to some of the more important elements of a website, you can turn your attention to building links.

Most people in the world of SEO believe that links are one of the most important factors for determining the rankings of a website. Yes the world of SEO is changing, and writing quality content is fundamental to the success of any SEO campaign, but links are still important!

The simple premise is that getting another website to link to you is one of the hardest “signals” to manipulate.

Essentially each link is an endorsement of the quality of your site, but every link will have a varying degree of effectiveness on your rankings that are dependant on:

  • The trustworthiness of the linking domain.
  • The popularity of the linking page.
  • The relevancy of the content between the source page and the target page.
  • The anchor text used in the link.
  • The amount of links to the page.
  • The amount of domains that link to the target page.
  • The amount of variations that are used as anchor text to links to the target page.
  • The ownership relationship between the source and target domains.

How to build links

There are many techniques for building links, and while they vary in difficulty, SEOs tend to agree that link building is one of the hardest parts of their jobs. Some of the common techniques include:

  1. Directory links (low in value but beneficial for improving local rankings in the Google map)
  2. Partner/supplier links
  3. Broken links
  4. Press Releases
  5. Guest Blogging
  6. Writing great content

It’s best practice to use a variety of link building techniques, but be careful! Building poor quality links can do more harm than good. If a website looks poorly designed and contains awful content, chances are you don’t want a link from them.

They key consideration for link building is:


Great content for SEO

This is a key point and something that’s regularly overlooked by many people.

If you’re writing a guest post, you may want to reference some further research to reinforce your argument/point. If this in-depth research sits on your own website (maybe as a supporting blog post), then it provides a natural linking opportunity that provides value to the reader.

Or, if you’re running a competition and the prize is an internship at your company, think about creating a competition page on your website that can be used as a natural linking reference when promoting the competition through PR etc.

Key takeaway: If you’re new to link building, a good place to start will be guest posting, providing the editors of an external website with high quality content.


Guest blogging: content ideas

The first stage of getting a guest blog accepted is to come up with a selection of post ideas that you can use when pitching to bloggers and editors. A good technique is to use any keywords identified during the keyword research, and enter them into Google.

For example “how to write a great guest post”.

At the very bottom of the search results, Google will often show a selection of similar searches that are relatively popular, and can be used as inspiration to help refine your ideas.

guest post ideas for SEO

By clicking on these results, you can essentially keep going until you find a long-tail search term that you can:

a) write about with confidence

b) is suitable for your target audience

c) would potentially appeal to editors

Key takeaway: Thoroughly research any website you’re considering pitching ideas too. It’s important to understand their guidelines, their tone of voice and if they’ve already posted an article that discusses one of you ideas. They’ll likely reject any article that’s previously been covered.


Finding websites to pitch your guest post ideas

Once you have a list of around 10 topic ideas, you can use Google to find suitable blogs/publications that accept guest posts. Most websites that typically accept guest posts will most likely have a page on their website titled:

  • “guest post submissions”
  • “submit your content/article”
  • “write for us”
  • “contributors”

By using a combination of these terms, we can quickly find websites that accept guest posts.

For example “write for us + travel blog”, gives the results below, and you can use this list to pitch your content ideas to.

seo guest pitching ideas

Key takeaway: It’s recommended that all targets, dates, contacts, email address and pitches sent are stored in an excel spreadsheet. This can help when following up and recording who/when you have pitched to previously.


Getting posts accepted

Don’t be disheartened if you don’t immediately hear back. Bloggers can sometimes reply weeks after a pitch, but a usual timeframe will be a few days.

Similarly not everyone will get back to you, and the process can seem time consuming to begin with, but if you start to build relationships with bloggers and editors, it becomes much easier to get posts accepted in the future.

Eventually you can have a network of contacts that you can regularly submit content to.

Key takeaway: Never have more than 10% of your total links coming from a single domain.

Words for titles

The title of a post is just as important as the content.

It’s the first thing a user (or editor) see’s and certain keywords can help with click through rates and the popularity of a post. Try to use words like:

  • Discover, Explore, Find Out and Uncover
  • “How to” posts and “Top 10 Tips” are also popular and regularly accepted by editors, but not always relevant for certain websites.
Examples of compelling blog titles
Examples of compelling blog titles

Writing content

Good grammar and spelling is obviously important. An editor will not want to spend ages making amends; the first draft you send over should be ready for publication.

People also read content differently online, they tend to skim so keep paragraphs shorts and break large chunks of text up with interesting sub-headings.

The opening paragraph is the most important and should succinctly summaries the entire proposition of your post. The rest of the article will reinforce this main premise, and the conclusion should again summarise your key message.

Don’t be afraid to use humour, it can often help get picked up if the post is quirky and funny, but most of all the content should be interesting, helpful and above all unique. Editors don’t want a re-hashed version of a popular topic, they tend to want something new and interesting.

Including links in your article

There are a few options to include links in post. Some sites will accept them in the main body of the copy, others will have regulations where you can only submit links in an “author bio” at the end of the post.

Key takeaway: From an SEO perspective, links in the body copy are the most effective. Similar to internal links on your own site, the higher up the page the better. But if you’re linking to your site, you will need to ensure that the page you’re directing readers to is relevant and is in context with the rest of the post.

Always ask yourself “am I adding value to the reader?”.


Not all links are created equal: no-follow

Unfortunately, not all links are created equal. Theress an attribute that can sometimes be applied to links called the “nofollow”.

If added, you won’t notice any difference if you’re a user, but by looking at the code of a website (right click on the page, and select “view page source), you may notice the following attribution on a link.

<a href="" rel="nofollow">Example</a>

In accordance with Google’s guidelines, any paid links (e.g. sponsorship links) should have the no-follow attribute applied to the link (this is done from the publications you’re pitching to, not yourself).

This essentially stops any link equity being passed from one site, to another. If these rules weren’t in place, then large businesses with deep marketing budgets would simply climb up the rankings by implementing a paid/sponsorship link campaign.

Some websites automatically apply this no-follow attribute to guest posts and you can check to see if this is standard practice for a website by installing this extension to Google Chrome:

Key takeaway: A healthy link profile should contain both follow, and no-follow links. But at the time of writing, followed links are more likely to help with your SEO rankings.

We’ve just begun to scratch the surface on SEO, but by following these steps, you’ll stand a good chance of improving the visibility of your website, and providing great quality content for both search engines and users alike. And that’s really the key to everything. Always think about creating great content, and always think “am I adding value to the reader”. If you stick by those principles, all you need is some hard work, patience and the occasional thesaurus.


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