Search engine optimization glossary

Search engines play an important role in marketing a website to internet users. They are responsible for majority of the traffic to a typical website. So it makes sense to take advantage of the exposure of search engines can bring.

Attracting traffic through search engines is not a difficult task because many concepts have to be understood and applied correctly. To make that task easier for website owners, we have developed this glossary to highlight the important terms relevant to any search engine optimization project. We use terms when we talk to our clients. Our clients can use this reference to understand what we really mean when we use those terms.

301 redirect (or permanent redirect)
A permanent redirect is used when a web page is discontinued, removed, or its URL has changed. For instance, if your business no longer manufactures a product, you would your customer to see a new page dedicated to a substitute or new product. A permanent redirect is implemented on a web server and is search engine friendly. With a permanent redirect is set on the server, the web browser is automatically sent to the new page whenever the old page is requested.
302 redirect (or temporary redirect)
A temporary redirect is used whenever there is a short-term change in a webpage’s URL.
An algorithm is a set of factors used by search engines to rank (to determine the order of links that appear in search results). Google's search engine algorithm, for instance, may factor a website's link popularity, relevancy, age, and so on. As search engines employ different factors and weights to those factors (in other words, each search engine's algorithm is distinctly different), we can expect varying search results for the same search query across all major search engines.
Alternate text
Alternate text (coded as alt attribute in HTML) is the descriptive text for an image displayed on a webpage. Generally, all images should have alternative text unless they are used in designing the page. Use of alternative text not only helps search engines infer the subject matter of the image but also aids web visitors who are visually impaired.
Anchor text
Anchor text is the clickable text for a link. To help distinguish from surrounding text (if any), anchor text is usually in a different color (by default in color blue and underlined).
Back links or inbound links
These are the links your company’s website receives from other websites on the internet. More links a website has from reputable websites, the better it is for the receiving website in terms of boosting search rankings.
Banner ad
A banner ad is a promotional message embedded in an image, displayed on a web page. Banner ads are clickable – meaning when a website user clicks on the banner, the sponsor’s website or webpage is launched or opened.
Body text
This is the text that you see on the web page. Body text includes paragraphs, lists, links, headings, and so on. In addition to body text of a web page, search engines use web page’s keywords, description, title and other information to determine its placement in search results.
Software (program) used to navigate the web. Popular browsers today include Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox.
Cascading style sheet (CSS)
A cascading style sheet is used to customize the look of the elements displayed on (or printed from) a webpage. For instance, a style sheet can be used to customize the look of links, which are shown as blue against white background and underlined by default. Instead, links can be customized to be shown in black, bold fonts, and any desired background color. Of course, style sheets do more than customize looks of links.
Cloaking refers to a technique that serves different pages to web visitors than to search engines. Use of cloaking should be avoided because it can negatively impact search engine rankings.
Comment tag
A comment tag is used for reference purposes only and is ignored by search engines. In other words, use of comments doesn’t improve search rankings of a website.
Content management system (abbreviated CSM)
A content management system is a piece of software primarily designed to let non-technical staff to create and publish content on the web.
Content or copy
This is not only the body text but also the graphics, videos, audio files, PDFs, and so on. Content is the material you want to serve or provide to your customers.
Content writer (copy writer)
A person responsible for crafting the words for a web page. Often, for small businesses, business owner plays the role of a content writer.
It is a technology that web browsers use to store information, for example, to remember visitor’s preferences between page requests. Without the use of cookies, web interactions would be less personalized.
A directory lists (organizes) websites by subject. The directory is created by humans, opposed to results of a spider (or crawlier) – a special program used for scanning web pages. Because index of search directories is created based on the input of site owners or administrators, site owners have more control over where their entry appears in the directory (or the minimally know where it will be placed.) In contrast, spider-based listings are completely (or mostly) automated. A Yahoo directory is the famous example of a search engine directory. Links in this directory are based on the input from the site owners while links appearing in Google’s search result page are completely up to the Google’s search engine algorithm.
Directory listing
It is a link entry (for a specific subject) in a directory such as Yahoo! Directory and Open Directory. Today, most internet users use a search engine to find websites than a directory.
Domain name
A domain is a label for a website or email.
Doorway page
A doorway page is an entry page to a website. Burt are not all pages of a website potential entry pages? Yes, however, a doorway page is specifically created for boosting search engine rankings and is primarily created for search engines, not web visitors.
Dynamic page
A dynamic page is created "on the fly," based on what the web user requested. Think of your online credit card or bank account, the content of these pages is very specific to your account. The content of the pages is derived from multiple sources (or databases), before it reaches your screen. While private data should not be left for search engines to index (or access), other types of dynamic content should be generated in a search engine friendly format.
External link or outbound link
A hyperlink from one website to another.
Meta tags (or heading tags)
These tags are about a document. They describe the document. Meta tags are placed at the top of a web page, specifically, in the head section of the web page, therefore, they are referred to as header tags. Examples of meta tags include title, keywords, description, and so on.
A web site’s popularity is a measure of its importance, relation to other websites on the internet. The more popular a website more search engine traffic it is likely to attract. Conversely, a less popular website has low search engine referrals.
It refers to how well a document matches a search engine’s user’s query. Search engines use their algorithms to determine the relevancy of a document; documents found to be more relevant to the current query are placed top in search results than those found to be less relevant.
Search engine
From a web user’s perspective, a search engine is simply a website that helps the user find relevant sites or documents on the internet. From a website owner’s perspective, a search engine is a reliable (and free) source of exposure to the internet users.
Search results
Search results consist of list of websites (or documents) as links in response to a search query.
Spider (also known as robot or crawler)
A program that scans the web for information by following links found in webpages. Technologies that make it difficult for search engines to successfully finish scanning documents from a website should be avoided.
Posted on 12/12/2011 9:53:40 PM