Internet Marketing / Search Engine Optimization Glossary

Are you in the process of researching search engine optimization services? Considering hiring a search engine optimization firm to conduct optimization on your business website? Below is a list of common search engine optimization terminology to assist you in understanding the search engine optimization practices.

Algorithm: A set of rules that a search engine uses to rank the listings contained within its index, in response to a particular query. No search engine reveals exactly how its own algorithm works, to protect itself from competitors and those who wish to spam the search engine. Source:

Auto bidding: A bidding process in which participants enter the highest amount they would pay for a keyword. The price actually paid is automatically set to the lowest needed to maintain the position of the ad without going over the cap set by the bidder. (See fixed bidding.) Source:

Backlinks: All the links pointing at a particular web page. Also called inbound links.

Banned: When pages are removed from a search engine's index specifically because the search engine has deemed them to be spamming or violating some type of guidelines.

Black Listed: See Banned.

Click-through rate (CTR): The percentage of those clicking on a link out of the total number who see the link. For example, imagine 10 people do a web search. In response, they see links to a variety of web pages. Three of the 10 people all choose one particular link. That link then has a 30 percent click through rate. Also called CTR. Source: Webmaster World Forums

Contextual Link Inventory: To supplement their business models, certain text-link advertising networks have expanded their network distribution to include "contextual inventory". Most vendors of "search engine traffic" have expanded the definition of Search Engine Marketing to include this contextual inventory. Contextual or content inventory is generated when listings are displayed on pages of Web sites (usually not search engines), where the written content on the page indicates to the ad-server that the page is a good match to specific keywords and phrases. Often this matching method is validated by measuring the number of times a viewer clicks on the displayed ad. Source:

Conversion Rate: The relationship between visitors to a web site and actions consider to be a "conversion," such as a sale or request to receive more information. Often expressed as a percentage. If a web site has 50 visitors and 10 of them convert, then the site has a 20 percent conversion rate. Source: Webmaster World Forums

Cloaking: Sending to a search engine a version of a Web page different from what Web surfers see. Used to increase the page’s chances in search rankings. Considered spam.

Cost per click (CPC): Paying for sponsored links or paid inclusion links according to each time a user clicks on a link.

CPM: System where an advertiser pays an agreed amount for the number of times their ad is seen by a consumer, regardless of the consumer's subsequent action. Heavily used in print, broadcasting and direct marketing, as well as with online banner ad sales. CPM stands for "cost per thousand," since ad views are often sold in blocks of 1,000. The M in CPM is Latin for thousand. Source: Webmaster World Forums and

Delisting: When pages are removed from a search engines index. This may happen because they have been banned or for other reasons, such as an accidental glitch on the search engine's part. Source: Adventive

Directories: A type of search engine where listings are gathered through human efforts, rather than by automated crawling of the web. In directories, web sites are often reviewed, summarized in about 25 words and placed in a particular category. Source:

Distribution: Search engines, directories and pay-for-placement providers enter deals with portals and other Web sites to distribute their search results to those sites. Also sometimes called syndication. Source:

Doorway Page: A web page created expressly in hopes of ranking well for a term in a search engine's non-paid listings and which itself does not deliver much information to those viewing it. Instead, visitors will often see only some enticement on the doorway page leading them to other pages (i.e., "Click Here To Enter), or they may be automatically propelled quickly past the doorway page. With cloaking, they may never see the doorway page at all. Several search engines have guidelines against doorway pages, though they are more commonly allowed in through paid inclusion programs. Also referred to as bridge pages, gateway pages and jump pages, among other names. Source:

Fixed bidding: A bidding process in which participants enter the exact amount they would pay for a keyword, which is the price they are charged if their paid link appears on a page and is clicked on. (See auto bidding.)

Graphical Search Inventory: Banners, and other types of advertising units which can be synchronized to search keywords. Includes pop-ups, browser toolbars and rich media.

Index: The collection of information a search engine has that searchers can query against. With crawler-based search engines, the index is typically copies of all the web pages they have found from crawling the web. With human-powered directories, the index contains the summaries of all web sites that have been categorized. Source:

Keyword: Word or phrase (sometimes called a keyword phrase in that case) a Web searcher uses to find pages when doing a Web search. Web sites emphasize important keywords in their copy and meta keyword tags. They also bid on them to have their banners and paid links appear at a search site’s results page. Source:

Keyword Analysis: The process of researching whom is typing in what by number to target a specific audience.

Keyword density: Formula used to determine whether keywords are being overused on a Web page. The formula is the total number of words in all keyword mentions divided by the total number of words on a page. Keywords should fall into 2% to 8% density.

Landing page: The page a Web user reaches when clicking on the link on a search site’s results page.

Link popularity: The number and quality of links on other sites pointed to a Web page. Search engines increasingly rely on this to determine their rankings. Also called page popularity. Source:

Link Text: The text that is contained within a link. For example, search engine is a link that contains the link text "search engine."

Meta Search Engine: A search engine that gets listings from two or more other search engines, rather than through its own efforts.

Meta Tags: Information placed in a web page not intended for users to see but instead which typically passes information to search engine crawlers, browser software and some other applications.

Meta Description Tag: Allows page authors to say how they would like their pages described when listed by search engines. Not all search engines use the tag.

Meta Keywords Tag: Allows page authors to add text to a page to help with the search engine ranking process. Not all search engines use the tag.

Meta Robots Tag: Allows page authors to keep their web pages from being indexed by search engines, especially helpful for those who cannot create robots.txt files. The Robots Exclusion page provides official details.

Organic Listings: Listings that search engines do not sell (unlike paid listings). Instead, sites appear solely because a search engine has deemed it editorially important for them to be included, regardless of payment. Paid inclusion content is also often considered "organic" even though it is paid for. This is because that content usually appears intermixed with unpaid organic results. Source:

Outbound Links: Links on a particular web page leading to other web pages, whether they are within the same web site or other web sites.

Paid inclusion: Paying to be included in a search engine or directory index. Does not improve search rankings but guarantees inclusion of pages a spider might have missed and “respidering” of pages periodically. Also called pay for inclusion (PFI).

Paid placement: Paying for a link to be included on a search results page, usually at the top or right of the regular search results and set off by being labeled “sponsored links” or the like. Also called PFP—pay for placement, pay for performance, pay for position or pay for prominence.

Rank: How well a particular web page or web site is listed in a search engine results. For example, a web page about apples may be listed in response to a query for "apples." However, "rank" indicates where exactly it was listed -- be it on the first page of results, the second page or perhaps the 200th page. Alternatively, it might also be said to be ranked first among all results, or 12th, or 111th. Overall, saying a page is "listed" only means that it can be found within a search engine in response to a query, not that it necessarily ranks well for that query. Also called position. Source:

Reciprocal Link: A link exchange between two sites. Source: Webmaster World Forums

Results Page: After a user enters a search query, the page that is displayed, is call the results page. Sometimes it may be called SERPs, for "search engine results page." Source: Webmaster World Forums

Robot: See Spider.

Robots.txt: A file used to keep web pages from being indexed by search engines. The Robots Exclusion page provides official details.

ROI: Stands for "Return On Investment" and refers to the percentage of profit or revenue generated from a specific activity. For example, one might measure the ROI of a paid listing campaign by adding up the total amount spent on the campaign (say $200) versus the amount generated from it in revenue (say $1,000). The ROI would then be 500 percent. Source:

Search Engine: Any service generally designed to allow users to search the web or a specialized database of information. Web search engines generally have paid listings and organic listings. Organic listings typically come from crawling the web, though often human-powered directory listings are also optionally offered. Source: Webmaster World Forums

Search Engine Marketing (SEM): The act of marketing a web site via search engines, whether this be improving rank in organic listings, purchasing paid listings or a combination of these and other search engine-related activities.

Search Terms: The words (or word) a searcher enters into a search engine's search box. Also used to refer to the terms a search engine marketer hopes a particular page will be found for. Also called keywords, query terms or query.

Search engine optimization (SEO): Umbrella term for techniques used to improve a Web page’s results in a search. Areas of importance include page titles, page copy, links pointing to a site, meta tags, proper submission of pages to search engines and spam techniques that search engines frown upon.

Search engine results page (SERP): The page that lists the results of a search.

Spam: Techniques such as cloaking, mirroring and doorway pages (also called gateway, bridge, entry or portal pages) to trick the search engine into giving the Web page a higher ranking. Search engines will often penalize or de-list a site using spam. Also called spamdexing and spoofing.

Spider: Software program used by search engines to crawl the Web, storing URLs and indexing the keywords and text of pages. Also called a crawler or robot.

Search Engine Submission: The act to submitting a URL for inclusion into a search engine's index. Unless done through paid inclusion, submission generally does not guarantee listing. In addition, submission does not help with rank improvement on crawler-based search engines unless search engine optimization efforts have been taken. Submission can be done manually (i.e., you fill out an online form and submit) or automated, where a software program or online service may process the forms behind the scenes.

XML Feed: A simplified version of HTML that allows data (including product databases) to be sent to search engines in the format they request.

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