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SEO Glossary

search engine optimizationSearch Engine Optimization Glossary

Algorithm: The search engine program that ranks sites based on certain criteria. Google has over 100 different ranking criteria that sites need to meet.

Bid for click: A search engine under which you bid for your site to be ranked under a keyword. See Pay Per Click (PPC) and Paid Placement (PP).

Code: The background code that runs a web site. As well as HTML, this can include, JavaScript, ASP, PHP, JSP, Coldfusion and more.

Click-through rate (CTR): The number of possible clicks on a Web page divided by the actual number of times a link on that same page is clicked.

Cloaking: Sending one version of a Web page to a search engine that is different than what a Web user actually sees on the site. Cloaking, although considered unethical, is used to increase the potential ranking of a Web page. Most search engines will penalize a site if they discover it is cloaking.

Dead link: An Internet link which does not lead to a page or site. This usually occurs when a server is down, the page has moved, or it no longer exists.

Directory: A list of web sites that is compiled under categories and sub-categories. Yahoo is an example of a directory.

Domain: A sub-set of internet addresses. Domains are hierarchical, and lower-level domains often refer to particular web sites within a top-level domain. The most significant part of the address comes at the end - typical top-level domains are .com, .net, .edu, .gov, .org.

Doorway page: A page that has been created for the sole use of attempting to get a high ranking in the search engines. Again, this is an unethical practice that can lead to penalization by the search engines.

Frames: Some sites have pages that are made up of multiple HTML pages. Typically the navigation will be on one page and the content on another. You can tell if you scroll down the page and the navigation remains static. Frames are bad for a sites search engine promotion

Hidden text: Text that is visible to the search engine spiders but not to site visitors. Used to add extra keywords in the page without actually adding content to a site. Most search engines will penalize Web sites which use hidden text.

Hit: In the context of visitors to web pages, a hit (or site hit) is a single access request made to the server for either a text file or a graphic. If, for example, a web page contains ten buttons constructed from separate images, a single visit from someone using a web browser with graphics switched on (a "page view") will involve eleven hits on the server.
In the context of a search engine query, a hit is a measure of the number of web pages matching a query returned by a search engine or directory.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language): The coding language that all Web sites use to exist on the Internet.

Hyperlinks: Hyperlinks are used to link one or more documents together.

Inbound link: Links that direct users to another Web site. When a user arrives at a site from another site, that link is known as an inbound link.


Keyword: A word used to find pages when conducting a search.

Keywords: Due to abuse by many Web sites in the past, search engines have reduced the importance of the keywords meta tag when ranking a Web page for keyword relevance. Many have actually decided to not consider the keywords tag altogether. While it has reduced in significance, it is still an important meta tag to include in your Web pages.

Keyword density: Keyword density is the ratio of a keyword or key phrases to the total number of words on that page. Keyword density is one of the most critical aspects of successful search engine optimization.

Keyword phrase

Keyword phrase: A phrase used to find pages when conducting a search.

Keyword frequency: Keyword frequency is the number of times keywords occur in the text on a given page. Search engines want to see more than one repetition of a keyword in your text to make sure it's not an isolated case.

Keyword prominence: The general location of a keyword or phrase in relation to the overall text on that page. You'll want to make sure your important keywords appear early in your Web site copy and that they draw attention to themselves.

Keyword research: Researching the most relative and popular keywords for a given site.

Keyword Spamming: Deliberate repetition of keywords in a page by using invisible or tiny text to increase keyword density. This is banned by search engines.

Link popularity: Search engines often use link popularity as part of their ranking criterion. In simple terms, link popularity is the measurement of the number of other Web sites that include a link to your Web site on theirs. Each search engine, depending on their specific algorithms, determines it differently.

Meta tags:

Meta tags: Meta tags are HTML tags that provide information describing the content of the pages a user will be viewing.

Title: This is considered to be the most important HTML tag used by many search engines as part of their ranking criteria. A Web page with a keyword in the title tag will rank higher than if the keyword was used in the body text alone. You will want to make sure your title really describes the main purpose of the page so it doesn't get passed over as irrelevant to the user.

Description: The description tag is the next most important meta tag. As with the title, your description will typically be listed in the search engines. You will have to tread the fine line between creating an effective description that will attract visitors yet still rank well in the search engines based on your selected keywords.

Copyright: The copyright meta tag is not viewable in the search engine results or on your Web page. Some search engine spiders will read this tag, which may result in higher ranking.

Robots: The robot tag is essentially a set of instructions for search engine spiders that crawl your Web page.

Rating: The rating tag defines your preferred access level. It can be a useful mechanism for search engine spiders to determine the level of access appropriate for the associated Web page.

Revisit: The revisit tag is a request for the search engine spider to return to a particular Web page for reindexing. This is appropriate for sites that frequently refresh their content.

Re-submission: Repeating the search engine registration process one or more times for the same page or site. Under certain circumstances, this is regarded with suspicion by the search engines, as it could indicate that someone is experimenting with spamming techniques.

Mirror sites

Mirror sites: Sites designed as duplicates of an original site, but are hosted on a different server. Link cloaking and doorway pages, the creation of mirror sites is a recognized spam tactic and violators will be penalized by many of the major search engines.

Outbound link: A link that directs users to another site.

Paid placement: Paying for a link to be included in a specific area on a search results page, usually at the top or right of the general search results. Paid placement links are usually indicated with a colored background or labeled as a "sponsored link."

Pay Per Click (PPC): A search engine that determines ranking according to the dollar amount you pay for each click from that search engine to your site. Examples of PPC search engines are Overture.com. The highest ranking goes to the highest bidder.

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Query: A word, phrase or group of words used to pass instructions to a search engine to locate relevant Web pages.

Reciprocal link: An exchange of links between two sites.

Re-index: How often a search engine updates its index. Google updates its index once a month.

Search engine

Search engine: A search engine is a database system designed to index and categorize internet addresses, otherwise known as URLs (for example, http://www.yourdomain.com).

Search engine optimization (SEO): These are the techniques used to improve a Web page's results in a search.

Server: A computer, program or process which responds to requests for information from a client. On the internet, all web pages are held on servers.

Spam: Unethical techniques such as cloaking, mirror sites and doorway pages to trick the search engine spiders into giving the Web page a higher ranking. Search engines will often penalize or remove an offending site from its index.

Spider: A software program used by search engines to crawl the Web, storing URLs and indexing the keywords and text of pages. Spiders are also referred to as crawlers or robots.

Stop word: A word that frequently appears in pages but has no significance. Most search engine spiders ignore stop words while searching. Example of stop words are: and, the, of, etc.

Traffic: The actual visitors to a Web page or Web site.

Unique Visitor: A real visitor to a web site. Web servers record the IP addresses of each visitor, and this is used to determine the number of real people who have visited a web site. If for example, someone visits twenty pages within a web site, the server will count only one unique visitor.

URL: The Uniform Resource Locator is used to specify the address of Web sites and Web pages.