SEO Glossary

We have made every effort to include most of the widely used terms in this SEO glossary. It is not a full and final list. For more definitions see Wikipedia.

The following terms are all general terms used in SEO industry:

A, B, C, D, F, G, I, K, L, M, P, R, S, W

Algorithm

In SEO, a search engine algorithm is the formula search engines use to determine the ranking of websites on their results pages.

Anchor Text

HTML text that links to another location on the web. Anchor text refers to the visible text for a hyperlink.

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ALT Tag

A tag included in the source code of an image to define alternative text for site visitors who cannot or prefer not to view graphics in their web browser.

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Back Link

A link pointing to a website from other external sites. Also called inbound links or IBLs.

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Bot

Abbreviation for robot (also called a spider). It refers to software programs that scan the web. Bots vary in purpose from indexing web pages for search engines to harvesting e-mail addresses for spammers.

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Cloaking

Cloaking describes the technique of serving a different page to a search engine spider than what a human visitor sees. This technique is abused by spammers for keyword stuffing. Cloaking is a violation of the Terms Of Service of most search engines and could be grounds for banning.

Conversion

Conversion refers to site traffic that follows through on the goal of the site (such as buying a product on-line, filling out a contact form, registering for a newsletter, etc.). Webmasters measure conversion to judge the effectiveness (and ROI) of PPC and other advertising campaigns. Effective conversion tracking requires the use of some scripting/cookies to track visitors actions within a website. Log file analysis is not sufficient for this purpose.

CPC

Abbreviation for Cost Per Click. It is the base unit of cost for a PPC campaign.

CTA

Abbreviation for Content Targeted Ad(vertising). It refers to the placement of relevant PPC ads on content pages for non-search engine websites.

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CTR

Abbreviation for Click Through Rate. It is a ratio of clicks per impressions in a PPC campaign.

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Doorway Page

Also called a gateway page. A doorway page exists solely for the purpose of driving traffic to another page. They are usually designed and optimized to target one specific keyphrase. Doorway pages rarely are written for human visitors. They are written for search engines to achieve high rankings and hopefully drive traffic to the main site. Using doorway pages is a violation of the Terms Of Service of most search engines and could be grounds for banning.

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FFA

Abbreviation for Free For All. FFA sites post large lists of unrelated links to anyone and everyone. FFA sites and the links they provide are basically useless. Humans do not use them and search engines minimize their importance in ranking formulas.

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Gateway Page

Also called a doorway page. A gateway page exists solely for the purpose of driving traffic to another page. They are usually designed and optimized to target one specific keyphrase. Gateway pages rarely are written for human visitors. They are written for search engines to achieve high rankings and hopefully drive traffic to the main site. Using gateway pages is a violation of the Terms Of Service of most search engines and could be grounds for banning.

Google Dance

Up to June, 2003, Google has updated the index for their search engine on a roughly monthly basis. While the update is in progress, search results for each of Google's nine datacenters are different. The positions of a site appears to 'dance' as it fluctuates minute to minute. 'Google dance' is an unofficial term coined to refer to the period when Google is performing the update to its index. Google may be changing their index calculation method to allow for a continuous update (which will effectively end the roughly monthly dances).

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IBL

Abbreviation for In Bound Link. Any link on another page that points to the subject page. Also called a back link.

Ink

Abbreviation for Inktomi, the back-end search engine acquired by Yahoo. The Inktomi search engine is being phased out as Yahoo built a new search engine incorporating Inktomi's technology with elements of Yahoo's other search acquisitions.

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Keyword/Keyphrase

Keywords are words which are used in search engine queries. Keyphrases are multi-word phrases used in search engine queries. SEO is the process of optimizing web pages for keywords and keyphrases so that they rank highly in the results returned for search queries.

Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing refers to the practice of adding superfluous keywords to a web page. The words are added for the 'benefit' of search engines and not human visitors. The words may or may not be visible to human visitors. While not necessarily a violation of search engine Terms of Service, at least when the words are visible to humans, it detracts from the impact of a page (it looks like spam). It is also possible that search engines may discount the importance of large blocks of text that do not conform to grammatical structures (ie. lists of disconnected keywords). There is no valid reason for engaging in this practice.

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Landing Page

A web page that is focused on a key audience or topic and that serves as a destination for search engine traffic.

Link Farm

A link farm is a group of separate, highly interlinked websites for the purposes of inflating link popularity (or PR). Engaging in a link farm is a violation of the Terms Of Service of most search engines and could be grounds for banning.

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Mirror

In SEO parlance, a mirror is a near identical duplicate website (or page). Mirrors are commonly used in an effort to target different keywords/keyphrases. Using mirrors is a violation of the Terms Of Service of most search engines and could be grounds for banning.

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PFI

Abbreviation for Pay For Inclusion. Many search engines offer a PFI program to assure frequent spidering / indexing of a site (or page). PFI does not guarantee that a site will be ranked highly (or at all) for a given search term. It just offers webmasters the opportunity to quickly incorporate changes to a site into a search engine's index. This can be useful for experimenting with tweaking a site and judging the resultant effects on the rankings.

Portal

Designation for websites that are either authoritative hubs for a given subject or popular content driven sites (like Yahoo) that people use as their homepage. Most portals offer significant content and offer advertising opportunities for relevant sites.

PPC

Abbreviation for Pay Per Click. An advertising model where advertisers pay only for the traffic generated by their ads.

PR

Abbreviation for PageRank - Google's trademark for their proprietary measure of link popularity for web pages. Google offers a PR viewer on their Toolbar.

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Robots.txt

Robots.txt is a file which well behaved spiders read to determine which parts of a website they may visit.

RSS

Abbreviated form of Really Simple Syndication, a web feed format.

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SEM

Abbreviation for Search Engine Marketing. SEM encompasses SEO and search engine paid advertising options (banners, PPC, etc.)

SEO

Abbreviation for Search Engine Optimization. SEO covers the process of

  • making web pages spider friendly (so search engines can read them)
  • making web pages relevant to desired keyphrases

SERP

Abbreviation for Search Engine Results Page/Positioning. This refers to the organic (excluding paid listings) search results for a given query.

Shallow-wide

An SEO technique of distributing keywords across a large number of landing pages.

Spam

In the SEO vernacular, this refers to manipulation techniques that violate search engines Terms of Service and are designed to achieve higher rankings for a web page. Here are some definitions of spam from the search engines themselves:

Google, Yahoo, MSN

Spider

Also called a bot (or robot). Spiders are software programs that scan the web. They vary in purpose from indexing web pages for search engines to harvesting e-mail addresses for spammers.

Spider Trap

A spider trap refers to either a continuous loop where spiders are requesting pages and the server is requesting data to render the page or an intentional scheme designed to identify (and 'ban') spiders that do not respect robots.txt.

Splash Page

Splash pages are introduction pages to a web site that are heavy on graphics (or flash video) with no textual content. They are designed to either impress a visitor or complement some corporate branding.

Stop Word

Stop words are words that are ignored by search engines when indexing web pages and processing search queries. Common words such as the.

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www2/www3/www-xx

Google dance watchers use these terms as short-hand to refer to Google's different datacenters. You can add .google.com to the end of them to visit the data center that corresponds to the term.

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