SEO Glossary of terms

Google AdSense is a fast and easy way for website publishers of all sizes to display relevant Google ads on their website’s content pages and earn money. Because the ads are related to what your visitors are looking for on your site or matched to the characteristics and interests of the visitors your content attract you’ll finally have a way to both monetize and enhance your content pages.

It’s also a way for website publishers to provide Google web and site search to their visitors, and to earn money by displaying Google ads on the search results pages.

Adwords is Google’s CPC (Cost per Click) based text advertising.

An algorithm is an operational programming rule that determine how a search engine indexes content and displays the results to its users.

The ALT attribute is designed to be an alternative text description (provide a text equivalent) for images.

Anchor text is the actual text part of a link (usually underlined). Used by search engines as an important ranking factor. Google pays particular attention to the text used in a hyperlink and associates the keywords contained in the anchor text to the page being linked to. Also see “Google bombing.

Back links are inbound links pointing to a web page.

Banner Ad A graphic image, usually a GIF or JPEG, that can be placed anywhere on a web page, most frequently centered across the top. The tile ad is a smaller counterpart, typically grouped with other tile ads along a side margin. The standard banner ad is 468 x 60 pixels; the most common size for tile ads is 125 x 125 pixels.

Bidding means placing a bid price that you are willing to pay as an advertiser on a pay-per-click search engine. The highest bid for a given keyword achieves the top spot in the PPC search results. In Overture, the top three bids are “featured” on Overture’s partners’ sites, including AOL, Altavista, Infospace, and others. The minimum bid amount on Overture is 5 cents per click through.

Black Hat SEO is sometimes called spamdexing (the opposite of White Hat SEO). Black Hat SEO can be any optimization tactics that cause a site to rank more highly than its content would otherwise justify or any changes made specifically for search engines that don’t improve the user’s experience of the site. In other words, Black Hat SEO is optimizations that are against search engine guidelines. If you step too far over the mark, your site may be penalized or even removed from the index.

Cache is copies of web pages stored locally on an Internet user’s hard drive or within a search engine’s database. A cache is the reason why web pages load so quickly when a user hits the Back button in their web browser, since the page is not being redownloaded off of the Internet.

A call to action or CTA is copy used in advertising to encourage a person to complete an action as defined by the advertiser.

Click through is the action of clicking an ad element and causing a redirect to another web page.

Click through rate is the rate at which people click on a link such as a search engine listing or a banner ad Studies shows that click through rates are six times higher for search engine listings than banner ads.

Cloaking is basically a “bait and switch” tactic, where the web server feeds visiting spiders content that is keyword-rich, thus fooling the search engine into placing that page higher in the search results. Yet when the visitor clicks on the link they are given different content, which may be totally unrelated. Search engines frown upon this practice and some will penalize or ban sites that they catch doing it.

Cold Fusion is a web scripting language with limited capabilities, mostly centered on database access. ColdFusion program files are saved on the web server with a .CFM file extension.

Conversion is the act of converting a web site visitor into a customer or at least taking that visitor a step closer to customer acquisition (such as convincing them to sign up for your e-mail newsletter)

Conversion Rate is the rate at which visitors get converted to customers or are moved a step closer to customer acquisition.

Cost per Action is the cost incurred or price paid for a specific action, such as signing up for an email newsletter, entering a contest, registering on the site, completing a survey, downloading trial software, printing a coupon, etc.

Cost per Click is the cost incurred or price paid for a click through to your landing page.

Deep Submitting is submitting URLs of pages deep in your site to the search engines. For example, if a webmaster of 200-page website submits each of those 200 pages. This tactic is frowned upon by some search engines because it unnecessarily clogs up their submission database when the search engine spider could find those pages on its own by exploring links starting at the home page.

Directories – Human editors group websites into categories and provide site descriptions or edit descriptions that are submitted to them. With a directory, picking the right category and composing a description rich in key phrases will ensure maximum visibility. Contrast this with a search engine, which is unedited and concerned primarily with the HTML of a site’s constituent pages.

Error Page is a web page stating an error message such as “File Not Found”.

Exact Match is a form of keyword matching where the search query must be exactly the same as the advertisement keyword.

Frames – When separate web pages are combined into one, each potentially with its own scrollbar. You know you’re on a framed website when part of the page scrolls while the rest of the page stays in place. Frames frustrate people because much of the time when the person tries to bookmark a specific page, it doesn’t actually work but instead bookmarks the “frameset” page which is typically the home page. Search engines don’t like frames.

Google is the world’s number one search engine with a 50.8% market share, ahead of Yahoo! 23.6% and Live Search 8.4% (Dec 2006)

Google Analytics is a free web analytics tool offering detailed visitor statistics. The tool can be used to track all the usual site activities: visits, page views, pages per visit, bounce rates and average time on site etc.

Google Bowling is a black hat SEO technique used to knock competitors down or out of search engine results. It is a form of SEO sabotage that is conducted by pointing hundreds of questionable links from low quality sites at a competitor’s site so they end up banned or penalized by Google.

Google Checkout – Google’s online payment processing service, designed to simplify the online purchase/payment process. It works by allowing users to store their credit card and shipping details on their Google Account. Therefore minimizing the amount of information they need to input at the point of purchase. Purchases can be made at the click of a button.

The Google Dance refers to when Google indexes are updated. This period of time often results in fluctuations in the index size and some noticeable changes in search engine result positions.

Internet slang to refer to the substance which flows between web pages via their hyperlinks. Pages with lots of links pointing to them acquire much ‘Google Juice’ and pages which link to highly ‘juicy’ pages acquires some reflected ‘Google Juice’.

Google Traffic Estimator is a tool that indicates the number of clicks to expect on Google Adwords ads for particular keywords.

Google Trends is a tool from Google Labs. It allows you to see how Google search volumes for a particular keyword have changed over a period of time. It shows the popularity of search terms from the beginning of 2004 onwards.

Google Sitemaps are XML files that list the URLs available on a site. The aim is to help site owners notify search engines about the URLs on a website that are available for indexing.

Grey Hat SEO – using both Black Hat and White Hat techniques.

Hidden Text is a SEO spam tactic to hide contextual html text from human visitors to a webpage, however making it available to search engines to spider the text.

Impression is the number of times your search ad is served to users by search engines.

Inbound link are links that point to your site from sites other than your own. Inbound links are an important asset that will improve your site’s Page Rank (PR).
An Internal Link is a hypertext link that points to another page within the same website. Internal links can be used as a form of navigation for people, directing them to pages within the website. Links assist with creating good information architecture within the site.

KPIs help organizations achieve organizational goals through the definition and measurement of progress. The key indicators are agreed upon by an organization and are indicators which can be measured that will reflect success factors. The KPIs selected must reflect the organization’s goals, they must be key to its success, and they must be measurable. Key performance indicators usually are long-term considerations for an organization.

Keyword is a word that a search engine user might use to find relevant web page(s). If a keyword doesn’t appear anywhere in the text of your web page, it’s highly unlikely your page will appear in the search results (unless of course you have bid on that keyword in a pay-per-click search engine)

Keyword Density is the number of occurrences that a given keyword appears on a web page. The more times that a given word appears on your page (within reason), the more weight that word is assigned by the search engine when that word matches a keyword search done by a search.

Keyword Popularity is the number of occurrences of searches done by Internet users of a given keyword during a period of time. Both and Overture’s Keyword Selector Tool ( provide keyword popularity numbers.

Keyword Prominence is the location (i.e. placement) of a given keyword in the HTML source code of a web page. The higher up in the page a particular word is, the more prominent it is and thus the more weight that word is assigned by the search engine when that word matches a keyword search done by a search engine user.

Keyword Research is the process of determining the words and phrases that people use to find something, then compiling them into a list for use on web pages, etc.
Keyword Stuffing is described as placing excessive amounts of keywords into the page copy and the HTML in such a way that it detracts from the readability and usability of a given page for the purpose of boosting the page’s rankings in the search engines. This includes hiding keywords on the page by making the text the same color as the background, hiding keywords in comment tags, overfilling alt tags with long strings of keywords, etc. Keyword stuffing is just another shady way of gaming the search engines and, as such, its use should be strongly discouraged.

The landing page is a web page where people go to once they click on an online advertisement or natural search listing. Landing pages are designed to be highly relevant to the advertisement or search listing and encourage users to complete a “call to action”.

Link Building – Requesting links from webmasters of other sites for the purpose of increasing your “link popularity” and/or “Page Rank.” Considerations for link building can include directory submissions and press release syndication.

A link farm is a group of highly interlinked websites with the purposes of inflating link popularity (or PR). A link farm is a form of spamdexing, spamming the index of a search engine.

Link Popularity – When other web sites link to your site, your site will rank better in certain search engines. The more web pages that link to you, the better your link popularity.

Links are text or graphics that, when clicked on, take the Internet user to another web page location. Links are expressed as URLs.

Manual Submitting is submitting by hand to an individual search engine, rather than using an automated submission tool or service. Manual submitting is the more polite way to submit, and as such is less likely to land you in trouble with the search engines. But the best approach is not to submit at all and let the search engine spiders find your site through links from other sites to your site.

Meta Description is a meta tag hidden in the HTML that describes the page’s content. Should be relatively short; around 12 to 20 words is suggested. The meta description provides an opportunity to influence how your Web page is described in the search results, but it will not improve your search rankings. Make sure your meta description reflects the page content or you may be accused of spamming.

Meta Keywords is a meta tag hidden in the HTML that lists keywords relevant to the page’s content. Because search engine spammers have abused this tag so much, this tag provides little to no benefit to your search rankings. Of the major search engines, only Yahoo! still pays any attention to the meta keywords tag.

Meta tag stuffing is the process of repeating keywords in the meta tags and using meta keywords that are unrelated to the site’s content.

Outbound links are links that direct “off-site” to another website.

Page Rank – Google uses a weighted form of link popularity called Page Rank. Not all links are created equal. Google differentiates a link from an important site (such as as being better than a link from Jim-Bob’s personal home page.

Pay per Click – a pay-for-performance pricing model where advertising (such as banners or paid search engine listings) is priced based on number of click throughs rather than impressions or other criteria. Overture is an example of a search engine which charges advertisers on a pay-per-click basis.

Phrase Match is a form of keyword matching where an ad will be displayed if the user’s search query includes the exact phrase, even if their query contains additional words.

Reach is sometimes expressed as the percentage of the universe of a target audience, however it is measured by the total number of unique users who will see the ad over a specific period of time.

Reciprocal linking is the practice of trading links between websites.

Relevance is the likelihood that a given web page will be of interest or useful to a search engine user for a keyword search.

ROI – The benefit gained in return for the cost of investing budget into advertising or project. ROI can be measured by the following calculation: “Total Revenues (generated from campaign or project) minus Total Costs”

Search Engine is a web site that offers its visitors the ability to search the content of numerous web pages on the Internet. Search engines periodically explore all the pages of a website and add the text on those pages into a large database that users can then search. With a search engine, publishing web pages that incorporate relevant key phrases, prominently positioned in particular ways, is critical. Contrast this with directories, which don’t siphon content out of the HTML of a site’s constituent pages, but instead are comprised solely of site names and descriptions written or edited by human reviewers.

SEM / Search Engine Marketing are strategies and tactics undertaken to increase the amount and quality of leads generated by the search engines.

SEO / Search Engine Optimisation are strategies and tactics undertaken to influence the rankings of web pages in the search engines.
SERP / Search Engine Results Page is a page of search results delivered by a search engine.

Search term is a keyword, or phrase used to conduct a search engine query.

Spamming is most commonly associated with the act of sending unsolicited commercial email, but in the context of search engine optimization, spamming refers to using disreputable tactics to achieve high search engine rankings. Such spamming tactics include bulk submitting spamglish-containing doorway pages.

Robots are web crawlers are mainly used to create a copy of all the visited pages for later processing by a search engine that will index the downloaded pages to provide fast searches.

Syndication is an option that allows you to extend your reach by distributing ads to additional partner sites.

The target audience is the market in which advertisers wish to sell their product or service to. Target markets are defined in terms of demographics, psychographics, purchase behavior, media or product usage.

A text ad is a concise, action-oriented copy describing the product or service that is being advertised. The text ad appears alongside natural search results and links to a specified web page.

Trackback is a notification that someone has linked to a document on your site. This enables authors to keep track of who is linking to, or referring to their articles.

Tracking and reporting tools can help you learn as you go, so you can refine your ad creative, placement options, and spending levels if you’re not seeing the results you expect. The publisher of your ads typically will provide reports on ad impressions and clickthrough. For additional analysis of your traffic and actual customer conversion rates, you’ll need to build tracking mechanisms into your website.

Traffic is the amount of users that surf to a site.

A trademark is a word, phrase, logo or symbol that identifies and distinguishes a product or service from others in the marketplace.

Google Adwords Traffic Estimator is a tool that provides search volume, average cost-per-click, and position estimates for search advertising in Google’s search results and content network. It can be used to predict advertising performance before starting a campaign.

Unethical search engine optimisation techniques that are considered unscrupulous and can result in getting sites banned from the search engines. Examples of this include Keyword stuffing, where the site consists of a long list of keywords. Hidden text is when the text on the page is the same color as the background and often consists of lists of keywords that are put there in hope of tricking search engine spiders. Doorway pages that are designed for search engines and spiders in an attempt to trick them into indexing the web site into a higher position.

Unique visitors are a count of individual users who have accessed your web site. It should be noted that the “user session” metric does not yield an accurate unique visitor count, as multiple user sessions can be generated by one unique visitor.

URL – used interchangeably with web address. Acronym stands for Uniform Resource Locator. URLs can specify the location of a web page, an email address, or a file on an FTP server, among other things.

Usability refers to how user friendly a web site is. The ease of use that a user can perform an action or task through the user interface.

Visibility is how well-placed your web site is in the search engines for relevant keyword searches.

User Session is an instance of an Internet user accessing your web site for a length of time, then leaving. During a user session any number of pages may be accessed. A user session is considered finished once an arbitrarily chosen period of inactivity – typically 30 minutes – is exceeded.

Web Crawler – Also known as a ‘web robot’ or ‘web spider’, it is a program or automated script which browses the World Wide Web in a methodical, automated manner.

Web standards are widely adopted guidelines for CSS, XHTML etc. Web standards help ensure that web sites are accessible on a wide variety of platforms and to a wide range of users including users with disabilities.

Web2.0 refers to the new generation of web based services and communities characterized by participation, collaboration and sharing of information among users online.

A weblog or blog is an online journal. Weblogs are something of a phenomenon and have become increasing mainstream.