Internet’s Search Engine Governance Part II
SEO-Related Terminology also known as Newspeak
In my last blog entry titled Search Engines’ Power over What You See and Do Not See, I compared the Internet search engines to George Orwell’s rise in totalitarianism in his famous novel, 1984. Interestingly enough, there is a totalitarianesque control through what is and isn’t displayed as well as perpetual monitoring, reporting, and data collection.
In the novel, Winston Smith rebels against Big Brother and the Inner Party. He ends up trapped, tortured, and brainwashed. Once he turns on Julia, his love interest, he is then reeducated to “love Big Brother” and released to the “outside world.” It might be a bit of stretch to compare our protagonist, Winston Smith, to a website, but maybe not.
SEO Black Hat Practices
In the novel, Winston is frustrated by the oppression of the Inner Party and Big Brother. He turns to “black hat practices” by purchasing contraband that is not allowed by the Inner Party and trusting O’Brien who turns him in. In the comparison, think of Winston as a physical representation of a website and its owner or developer. A website owner may also turn to black hat practices by adding scraped content from another site, purchasing or swapping links, and keyword stuffing, thinking that the website will see quicker lift in ranks. This type of digital contraband will only catch up to the Winston websites of the world and send each of them to the search engines’ Room 101 also known as the Internet abyss or Page 2 and beyond. If your website does not abide by the rules and stay up-to-date with algorithm changes like Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird, ranking for suitable terms is just an unattainable dream.
SEO Best Practices & Its Newspeak
Elements like title tags, meta-descriptions, headings, and on-page content are just the start. Those items need to be relevant and unique to pages on a website. Beyond those elements are breadcrumb, schema rich snippet mark-up, and image alt-text optimization. This gibberish might sound a bit like 1984’s “Newspeak,” and based on its description, the search engines have provided us new terms to use that are specific to the Internet. SEO professionals have replaced elements in the English language with these terms.
Learning the SEO Lingo
It is not necessary to learn these SEO-related terms like breadcrumbs, meta-descriptions, title tags, rich snippet, and so on, but if you must, here are quick definitions of some of the most useful:
Breadcrumbs: Clickable links on a page in your website that shows the hierarchy of the current page giving the user an ability to retrace their steps of prior hierarchical pages.
Meta-Description: An elemental summary that describes your website page to the search engines.
Title Tag: An element that describes your website page to the search engine and the page’s relevance to a user’s search query.
Rich Snippets: Small samples of your website’s content that enhances search listings making it easier for search engines to extract information.
Managing the elements described above is time-consuming and never-ending. Keeping up with the algorithms and making changes to the site to stay relevant to search queries is where SEO professionals can support and assist. Ask questions like “Will you mark-up rich snippets on my website?” When you ask the question, be sure you have a broad stroke understanding of what it entails, the outcome, and how to verify they have completed the task. Quick tips will help in understanding the importance of abiding by search engine rules as well as learning a few of the important SEO terms.