SEO/SEM glossary - jargon, terminology and definitions
With search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine
marketing (SEM) such hot topics these days - and constantly evolving, it's
easy to get lost in all the various terminology and jargon used - especially
when you're starting out and trying to learn SEO/SEM strategies.
Even if you don't intend to handle search engine
optimization yourself and contract the work to others, it's important to
understand what your contractors are telling you. After all, it's well known
that some SEOP's run their businesses by the principle "if you can't dazzle
them with brilliance, baffle them with BS".
That aspect aside, with some basic familiarity of SEO
terminology, you'll also be able to tell if a contractor is heading down the
wrong path - possibly taking your site with them in the form of a ranking
The following glossary lists some common SEO/SEM terms and
definitions, with links to articles in some instances discussing the topic
in more detail:
301 - A server response code, meaning "page has been permanently
moved to x" A 301 redirect is commonly used to redirect sites or
individual pages in cases where a domain or page name is changed and is
usually the preferred method of redirection by search engines. Learn more
about using a 301 redirect.
302 - A server response code meaning "page has temporarily
moved". 302 redirects are a touchy subject with many people involved
with SEO as they can be also used against a site through a process called
302 hijacking or pagejacking.
Anchor Text - The visible text component of a hyperlink. Learn more
about anchor text
Alexa ranking - Alexa is a search
engine that provides extra information such as traffic rankings. An Alexa
ranking is an indicator used to gauge site performance, based on comparisons
drawn against other sites.
Algorithm - A mathematical formula used in calculating search
engine ranking. The goal of any SEOP is to understand the algorithm as best
as possible. Algorithms of course are very closely guarded secrets and I
have never met anyone who has "cracked" an algorithm. Search
engine algorithms change regularly to prevent anyone from gaming the system.
ALT Image tag - Search engines aren't able to read
images as such, so the alt tag or text attribute describes what the image
represents. Learn more.
Black hat - A person engaged in or tactic used to
increase search engine rankings using methods frowned upon by search engine
Bot - usually used in reference to a search
engine robot or spider; software applications that retrieve web page
information to feed into a database.
CSS - Cascading Style Sheets. Used mainly to decrease the amount of
source code on a page, by referencing a single set of instructions on how to
display various elements. Learn more about using cascading
COA - Cost Of Acquisition. The expense associated with acquiring a
visitor or converting a visitor to a sale.
Crawl - the process by which search engine spiders retrieve web page
CTR - Click Through Rate. A ratio of views of a page,
link or advertisement that result in a click to another page.
DMCA - Digital Millennium Copyright Act. A set of USA laws designed
to defend the rights of authors and creators of digital content from
DMOZ - Directory MOZilla is a human reviewed directory, the contents
of which appear on many sites, including Google. A listing in DMOZ is said
to assist boosting rankings in in Google's general search results.
Doorway Page - a page used for driving traffic to another page and
usually focusing on specific keywords. Generally, doorway pages are designed
for search engines only, human visitors never see them - consequently, they
are frowned upon. Doorway pages should not be confused with landing pages, a
Dupe/Duplicate content - usually used in reference to
a penalty applied by a search engine for the same content appearing on
different pages/sites. In theory, the site/page that was added to the search
engine last should be the one that is penalized.
FFA - Free For All pages; basically a link farm. You add your site
link to the page, it then gets pushed down as other links are added until
your link is ultimately pushed off the page. Not a suggested method of
promotion or link building. Read my article on
Flux - A term to describe the shuffling of positions in search engine
results in between major updates.
G - Google, also known as The Big G or The Mighty G.
Grey bar - A Google toolbar score that can indicate a ban in place on
the page currently being viewed; i.e. the page does not appear in Google
Grey hat - Optimization strategies that are in a unknown area of
IBL - Inbound Link. Links pointing from another site into your own.
KDA - Keyword Density Analyzer or Analysis. The ratio of keywords or
keyphrases in relation to other text on a page.
Keyword/Keyphrase - A word or words that strongly relate to a
page/site topic or search engine query. Learn more about keyword
and keyphrase strategies.
Keyword Stuffing - Where a keyword or
phrase is used excessively in page content or alt tags in an attempt to gain
higher rankings. Can result in page penalties or bans.
Landing page - A page that is optimized and very
targeted towards a particular subject. An effective/valid optimization and
sales conversion strategy when implemented correctly. Learn more about creating
effective landing pages.
Link Farm - A page that consists of little else but links to other
sites and usually the sites listed have links back to the farm page. The
goal of a link farm is to artificially boost rankings through link
popularity and is consequently at risk of penalty or ban.
Link popularity - A gauge of a site's popularity based on the number
of inbound links. Link popularity is a factor in search engine ranking and
has greater strength (in theory) where inbound links are from other quality
Meta tags - These mainly refer to the title, keywords
and description tags. They are basically a summary of the content that is on
the page in different formats. Metatag content does play a role in rankings
for many search engines. learn more about meta
tags and title tags.
M$N - A reference to Microsoft's search engine.
Mirror - A copy of a site with some content differences to target
particular keywords. Not a recommended strategy as it can trigger a penalty
NDA - Non-Disclosure Agreement. You may be asked to sign one of these
when engaging the services of an SEOP so that the practices the company use
to assist you remain confidetial.
OBL - Outbound Link. A link pointing from your site to another site.
ODP - Open Directory Project - DMOZ
Off-page factors - Issues such as inbound links and the popularity of
sites with links pointing into your site that you have little control over,
but that still play a role in your rankings.
On-page factors - A reference to the elements
on your site and their role in your rankings, for example, keyword density,
title tag relevance etc.
OOP - Over Optimization Penalty. Where a search engine algorithm
detects that changes you are making to a page or the way the page is
constructed is to influence rankings over being useful to a site visitor.
Organic search results - the results displayed after a search engine
query that are not paid for by the listed site's owner.
P2P - Pay To Play. Any search engine marketing
strategy that requires payment to the search engine company.
Pagejacking - the copying of a page by unauthorized
parties in order to filter off traffic to another site. Learn more about
detecting and dealing with
PFI - Pay For Inclusion. Payment paid to a search engine company for
inclusion in results
PPCSE - A Pay Per Click Search Engine. Learn more
about pay per click.
PR/ PageRank™ - A ranking used by Google that is
meant to act as indication of the quality of a site and its authority
PR0/PageRank Zero - Another term relating to Google
PageRank. It can indicate that a page has been spidered but appearing in
general results as yet, or could also possibly indicate a penalty.
Reciprocal link - An agreement between two sites to exchange links.
Sites exchanging links can risk a penalty or ban if they are not of a
related topic. Learn more about effective
ROAD/ROI - Return on Advertising Dollar, or Return on Investment. The
measure of effective of expenditure vs. the number of visitors received or
SE - Search engine
SEM - Search Engine Marketer/Marketing
SEO - Search Engine Optimization
SEOP - Search Engine Optimization Professional.
Someone who claims to have the skills to increase a clients' search engine
rankings. Learn more about sourcing SEOP's
and SEM companies.
SEP - Seach Engine Placement (or Positioning/Promotion)
SERPs - Search Engine Results Pages. The pages that display after a
query is submitted.
Spamming the index - Related to black hat optimization techniques.
Pages that have high ranking but are non-relevant or exist purely to
redirect traffic to other sites.
Spider - A software application used by search engine companies to
visit web sites and return information about pages.
Stop words - common non-query specific words that are ignored by a
search engine when a query is made. These can include words such as I, and,
if; depending on how the query is constructed.
Submission - the process by which a search engine is manually
notified of a new site or page.
URL - Uniform Resource Locator. The web address of a site or page.
White hat - legitimate optimization techniques
employed that are agreeable to search engine companies, such as the proper
use of meta-tags, an adequate keyword saturation and spider friendly page
As you can see, the SEO and SEM sector has a language all of
it's own :). I hope this glossary has clarified a few terms you were puzzled
over, but were too afraid to ask about. Is there a term not listed you'd
like explained? You're welcome to contact me and I'll add it to this page on
the next update.
Further learning resources
The dangers of
engine optimization tutorials and articles
Taming the Beast
Tutorials, web content, tools and software.
Web Marketing, Internet Development & Ecommerce Resources
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