De-mystifying the web

Ever had the feeling that someone’s trying to hide something from you? Well you’re not alone.

Many web companies fall into the trap of using web geekery and terminology to try and impress their customers. But this often has the reverse effect and far from being impressed, most of us end up frustrated and highly confused.

When you’re managing a business the last thing you need is to get bogged down in technical web terms. All you need is a rough understanding of what you need to do to get your website live.

The best thing to do is challenge anyone who starts talking in web speak and get them to explain what they are doing and why, so you can make sure no-one’s blinding you with science.

And if all else fails, follow our quick guide to a better understanding of some of those web terms.

Web rankings

Web ranking refers to how well your website ‘ranks’ when people conduct searches on Google. Your ranking relates to how high up your website appears in the search results for certain keywords, for example ‘Builder London’ or ‘Photographer Oxfordshire’.

When someone builds you a website they will do various things to help improve your rankings, like including key words and phrases in your content, or behind-the-scenes on your website

There are various ways that you can research the right keywords for your website, including using the Google Adwords keywords tool. All you need to do is enter some terms that describe your business, product or service and then see how well searched for they are. Google will also come up with some suggestions. If in doubt, ask your web developer for some guidance.

Natural listings/paid for listings

There are two types of listings that you need to pay attention to when getting your website live.

The natural listings are arguably the most important for your business, as these are the main search results that appear down the middle of the page when you conduct a web search. The ‘natural’ search results arise from Google crawling through websites and deciding which websites should appear when you type in a particular search term. Google is all about relevance, so it will only show the sites that its algorithm says are relevant to the words used in the search.

Simply put: if you search for ‘Eggs in a basket’, Google will show the websites that have the most instances of ‘eggs in a basket’ in their content.

The paid for listings appear down the right-hand side and these are based on any pay-per-click campaigns you may be running via Google Adwords. Pay-per-click can be valuable for your business if you’re operating in a competitive market, or you’re just getting started. But it’s important to put a good deal of effort into the content on your website, as this is how you will influence the natural ‘trusted’ listings.

Meta descriptions

This is a description of your business that the web developer puts into the back end of the website.  It is, quite simply, a description of what you do and it’s one of the many things that Google looks at when it’s deciding how to rank your website.

Your meta description will appear in the search results, underneath your web address, so it’s important that it gives a clear and accurate description of your business, so people know if your website is relevant to them. But it’s important that your meta description contains all the right keywords too, so that Google picks up on them and uses them to influence your web ranking.

You can have meta descriptions for every page on your website, so it’s worth asking your web developer to include as many of these as possible, to help boost your rankings.

Alt text

Alt text is ‘alternative text’ i.e. text that explains what an image is if people can’t see it. It should only appear when someone’s browser can’t pick up the image. Alt text should be descriptive and can include keywords if relevant, but try to avoid keyword stuffing at the risk of compromising the clarity of your description.

Image text

Image text is wording that appears when you hover over an image with your mouse. Again it should clarify what the image is of, for example if you have photos of customer work, then something like ‘Posters for Big Fish inc.’ will suffice. Use keywords if you can, but again don’t compromise the meaning for the sake of your keywords.

Developers are likely to request that you name images when you send them over so that they know what text to use for them.

A ‘call to action’ is more of a generic marketing term, but is often used in the context of websites. It’s really just a jargony way of saying ‘contact information’ or ‘prompts to make people take action’. So that could be a telephone number in the right place, a web form, or even a link to an online shop, so people can buy from you online.

It’s essential to have as many calls to action as you can, so that you’re encouraging people to enquire at every available opportunity. Your web developer should include these as standard. But make sure you check for them too.

Domains and re-pointing

A domain is another name for your web address. 

Once you’ve bought your domain, you need to ‘point’ it at the place where the website has been built i.e. the server, so that people can see your website when they put your domain name in their browser.

Your web developer will probably request an IP address from you to do this and then they’ll do the rest. If you’re not a web person then it’s advisable to get your web developer to re-point your domain for you, so you can get your website live without any hiccups. Get them to sign a Non-Disclosure agreement if you’re worried about providing access, or ask for confirmation on an email that everything will be above board.

And the rest?

When it comes to the web we could waffle on for hours, so all we ask is that you come to us with any questions you might have about the above, or any other web terms that might be keeping you up at night. Advice is absolutely free of charge and we’re always happy to help!

Just give us a buzz on 01865 989 899 or email us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The author - Rosie Heptonstall, Marketing Manager for Clever Business Websites

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