301 : A permanent server redirect - a change of address for a web page found in the htaccess file on apache servers. Also useful for dealing with canonical issues.
Algorithm : A complex computer program used by search engines to retrieve and deliver information related to a specific query.
Algorithm (algo) : A program used by search engines to determine what pages to suggest for a given search query.
ALT text : A description of a graphic, which usually isn’t displayed to the end user, unless the graphic is undeliverable, or a browser is used that doesn’t display graphics. Alt text is important because search engines can’t tell one picture from another. Alt text is the one place where it is acceptable for the spider to get different content than the human user, but only because the alt text is accessible to the user, and when properly used is an accurate description of the associated picture. Special web browsers for visually challenged people rely on the alt text to make the content of graphics accessible to the users.
Analytics : The study of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data to take future action based on what has or hasn’t worked historically.
Anchor Text : The user visible text of a link. Search engines use anchor text to indicate the relevancy of the referring site and of the link to the content on the landing page. Ideally all three will share some keywords in common.
Artificial Intelligence : The art of making computers able to perform tasks that require human intelligence.
Authority (trust, link juice, Google juice) : The amount of trust that a site is credited with for a particular search query. Authority/trust is derived from related incoming links from other trusted sites.
Authority Site : A website which has many incoming links from other related expert/hub sites. Because of this simultaneous citation from trusted hubs an authority site usually has high trust, page rank, and search results placement. Wikipedia is an example of an authority site.
B2B : Business to Business.
B2C : Business to Consumer.
Backlink (inline, incoming link, inbound link) : Any link into a page or site from any other page or site.
Black Hat : Risky tactics that go against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Black Hat SEO : Search engine optimization tactics that are counter to best practices such as the Google Webmaster Guidelines.
Blog : A publication of content, sorted in chronological order, with the most recent content appearing at the top. The content publication reflects personal or corporate interests altogether.
Bounce Rate : The percentage of website visitors who leave without visiting another page on that website.
Breadcrumbs : Web site navigation in a horizontal bar above the main content which helps the user to understand where they are on the site and how to get back to the root areas.
Cache : A technology that temporarily stores web content, such as images, to reduce future page loading time.
Canonical Issues (duplicate content) : canon = legitimate or official version - It is often nearly impossible to avoid duplicate content, especially with CMSs like WordPress, but also due to the fact that www.site.com, site.com, and www.site.com/index.htm are supposedly seen as dupes by the SEs - although it’s a bit hard to believe they aren’t more sophisticated than that. However, these issues can be dealt with effectively in several ways including - using the noindex meta tag in the non-canonical copies, and 301 server redirects to the canon.
Click Bait : Content that is designed to attract people to click, typically by over-promising or being purposely misleading in headlines, so publishers can earn advertising revenue.
Cloak or Cloaking : The practice of delivering different content to the search engine spider than that seen by the human users. This Black Hat tactic is frowned upon by the search engines and caries a virtual death penalty of the site/domain being banned from the search engine results.
CMS : Content Management System - Programs such as WordPress, which separate most of the mundane Webmaster tasks from content creation so that a publisher can be effective without acquiring or even understanding sophisticated coding skills if they so choose.
Comment Spam : Posting blog comments for the purpose of generating an inlink to another site. The reason many blogs use link condoms.
Content (text, copy) : The part of a web page that is intended to have value for and be of interest to the user. Advertising, navigation, branding and boilerplate are not usually considered to be content.
Conversion (goal) : Achievement of a quantifiable goal on a website. Add clicks, sign ups, and sales are examples of conversions.
Conversion Rate : The rate (in percentage) at which users of a website complete a required action.
CPC : Cost Per Click - the rate that is paid per click for a Pay Per Click Advertiser.
CPM (Cost Per Thousand impressions) : A statistical metric used to quantify the average value / cost of Pay Per Click advertisements. M - from the Roman numeral for one thousand.
Crawler (bot, spider) : A program which moves through the worldwide web or a website by way of the link structure to gather data.
CRO : Conversion Rate Optimization. The process of improving the number or quality of conversions that occur on a website.
CSS : Cascading Style Sheets. They describe how HTML elements (e.g. color, font, format, and design) should appear on web-pages and adapt when viewed on different devices.
CTR : Click-Through Rate. The rate (in percentage) at which users click on organic search result.
Doorway (gateway) : A web page that is designed specifically to attract traffic from a search engine. A doorway page which redirects users (but not spiders) to another site or page is implementing cloaking. - Previous Definition revised based upon advice from Michael Martinez
Duplicate Content : Obviously content which is similar or identical to that found on another website or page. A site may not be penalized for serving duplicate content, but it will receive little if any Trust from the search engines compared to the content that the SE considers being the original.
E-commerce : Buying and selling of products online or digitally.
E-commerce site : A website devoted to retail sales.
FFA (Free For All) : A page or site with many outgoing links to unrelated websites, containing little if any unique content. Link farms are only intended for spiders, and have little if any value to human users, and thus are ignored or penalized by the search engines.
Gateway Page (doorway page) : A web page that is designed to attract traffic from a search engine and then redirect it to another site or page. A doorway page is not exactly the same as cloaking, but the effect is the same in that users and search engines are served different content.
Google Adwords/Ads : Google Pay Per Click contextual advertisement program, very common way of basic website advertisement.
Google Analytics : A program which assists in gathering and analyzing data about website usage. Google analytics is a feature rich, popular, free analytics program.
Google Dance : The change in SERPs caused by an update of the Google database or algorithm. The cause of great angst and consternation for webmasters who slip in the SERPs. Or, the period of time during a Google index update when different data centers have different data.
Google Juice (trust, authority, page rank) : trust / authority from Google, which flows through outgoing links to other pages.
Googlebot : Google’s spider program.
HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) : Directives or “markup” which are used to add formatting and web functionality to plain text for use on the internet. HTML is the mother tongue of the search engines and should generally be strictly and exclusively adhered to on web pages.
Impression (page view) : The event where a user views a web page one time.
Index (Noun) : A database of Web Pages and their content used by the search engines.
Index (Verb) : To add a web page to a search engine index.
Indexed Pages : The pages on a site which have been indexed.
Keyword : key phrase The word or phrase that a user enters into a search engine.
Keyword Cannibalization : The excessive reuse of the same keyword on too many web pages within the same site. This practice makes it difficult for the users and the search engines to determine which page is most relevant for the keyword.
Keyword Density : The percentage of words on a web page which are a particular keyword. If this value is unnaturally high the page may be penalized.
Keyword Research : The hard work of determining which keywords are appropriate for targeting.
Keyword Spam (keyword stuffing) : Inappropriately high keyword density.
Landing Page : The page that a user lands on when they click on a link in a SERP.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) : This mouthful just means that the search engines index commonly associated groups of words in a document. SEOs refer to these same groups of words as “Long Tail Searches”. The majority of searches consist of three or more words strung together. See also “long tail”. The significance is that it might be almost impossible to rank well for “mortgage”, but fairly easy to rank for “second mortgage to finance monster truck team”. Go figure.
Link : An element on a web page that can be clicked on to cause the browser to jump to another page or another part of the current page.
Link Bait : A web page with the designed purpose of attracting incoming links, often mostly via social media.
Link Building : Actively cultivating incoming links to a site.
Link Exchange : A reciprocal linking scheme often facilitated by a site devoted to directory pages. Link exchanges usually allow links to sites of low or no quality and add no value themselves. Quality directories are usually human edited for quality assurance.
Link Farm : A group of sites which all link to each other. - Previous Definition revised based upon advice from Michael Martinez.
Link Partner (link exchange, reciprocal linking) : Two sites which link to each other. Search engines usually don’t see these as high value links, because of the reciprocal nature.
Link Popularity : A measure of the value of a site based upon the number and quality of sites that link to it.
Link Spam (Comment Spam) : Unwanted links such as those posted in user generated content like blog comments.
Link Text (Anchor text) : The user visible text of a link. Search engines use anchor text to indicate the relevancy of the referring site and link to the content on the landing page. Ideally all three will share some keywords in common.
Long Tail : longer more specific search queries that are often less targeted than shorter broad queries. For example, a search for “widgets” might be very broad while “red widgets with reverse threads” would be a long tail search. A large percentage of all searches are long tail searches.
META Tags : Statements within the HEAD section of an HTML page which furnishes information about the page. META information may be in the SERPs but is not visible on the page. It is very important to have unique and accurate META title and description tags, because they may be the information that the search engines rely upon the most to determine what the page is about. Also, they are the first impression that users get about your page within the SERPs.
Mirror Site : An identical site at a different address.
Monetize : To extract income from a site. AdSense ads are an easy way to Monetize a website.
Natural Search Results : The search engine results which are not sponsored or paid for in any way.
Nofollow : A command found in either the HEAD section of a web page or within individual link code, which instructs robots to not follow either any links on the page or the specific link.
Noindex : A command found in either the HEAD section of a web page or within individual link code, which instructs robots to not index the page or the specific link. A form of link condom.
Non Reciprocal Link : If site A links to site B, but site B does not link back to site A, then the link is considered non reciprocal. Search engines tend to give more value to non-reciprocal links than to reciprocal ones because they are less likely to be the result of collusion between sites.
Organic Link : Organic links are those that are published only because the webmaster considers them to add value for users.
Outlink : Outgoing link.
PageRank (PR) : A value between 0 and 1 assigned by the Google algorithm, which quantifies link popularity and trust among other (proprietary) factors. Often confused with Toolbar PageRank. - Previous Definition revised based upon advice from Michael Martinez
Pay for Inclusion (PFI) : The practice of charging a fee to include a website in a search engine or directory. While quite common, usually what is technically paid for is more rapid consideration to avoid Google’s prohibition on paid links.
PPA (Pay Per Action) : Very similar to Pay Per Click except publishers only get paid when click through results in conversions.
PPC (Pay Per Click) : A contextual advertisement scheme where advertisers pay ad agencies (such as Google) whenever a user clicks on their add. AdWords is an example of PPC advertising.
Reciprocal Link (link exchange, link partner) : Two sites which link to each other. Search engines usually don’t see these as high value links, because of the reciprocal and potentially incestuous nature.
Redirect : Any of several methods used to change the address of a landing page such as when a site is moved to a new domain, or in the case of a doorway.
Robots.txt : A file in the root directory of a website use to restrict and control the behavior of search engine spiders.
ROI (Return on Investment) : One use of analytics software is to analyze and quantify return on investment, and thus cost / benefit of different schemes.
Search Bot (robot, spider, crawler) : A program which performs a task more or less autonomously. Search engines use bots to find and add web pages to their search indexes. Spammers often use bots to “scrape” content for the purpose of plagiarizing it for exploitation by the Spammer.
Search Engine (SE) : A program, which searches a document or group of documents for relevant matches of a user’s keyword phrase and returns a list of the most relevant matches. Internet search engines such as Google and Yahoo search the entire internet for relevant matches.
Search Engine Spam : Pages created to cause search engines to deliver inappropriate or less relevant results. Search Engine Optimizers are sometimes unfairly perceived as search engine Spammers. Of course, in some cases they actually are.
SEM : Short for search engine marketing, SEM is often used to describe acts associated with researching, submitting and positioning a Web site within search engines to achieve maximum exposure of your Web site. SEM includes things such as search engine optimization, paid listings and other search-engine related services and functions that will increase exposure and traffic to your Website.
SEO : Short for Search Engine Optimization, the process of increasing the number of visitors to a Web site by achieving high rank in the search results of a search engine. The higher a Web site ranks in the results of a search, the greater the chance that users will visit the site. It is common practice for Internet users to not click past the first few pages of search results, therefore high rank in SERPs is essential for obtaining traffic for a site. SEO helps to ensure that a site is accessible to a search engine and improves the chances that the site will be indexed and favorably ranked by the search engine.
SERP : Search Engine Results Page.
Sitemap : A page or structured group of pages which link to every user accessible page on a website, and hopefully improves site usability by clarifying the data structure of the site for the users. An XML sitemap is often kept in the root directory of a site just to help search engine spiders to find all of the site pages.
SMM (Social Media Marketing) : Website or brand promotion through social media.
Social Bookmark : A form of Social Media where users’ bookmarks are aggregated for public access.
Social Media : Various online technologies used by people to share information and perspectives. Blogs, wikis, forums, social bookmarking, user reviews and rating sites (digg, reddit) are all examples of Social Media.
Spammer : A person who uses spam to pursue a goal.
Splog : Spam Blog which usually contains little if any value to humans and is often machine generated or made up of scraped content.
Static Page : A web page without dynamic content or variables such as session IDs in the URL. Static pages are good for SEO work in that they are friendly to search engine spiders.
Time on Page : The amount of time that a user spends on one page before clicking off. An indication of quality and relevance.
Toolbar PageRank (PR) : a value between 0 and 10 assigned by the Google algorithm, which quantifies page importance and is not the same as PageRank. Toolbar PageRank is only updated a few times a year, and is not a reliable indicator of current status. Often confused with PageRank. - Definition added based upon advice from Michael Martinez.
Trust Rank : A method of differentiating between valuable pages and spam by quantifying link relationships from trusted human evaluated seed pages.
URL (Uniform Resource Locator) : Web Address of a page or a domain.
User Generated Content (UGC) : Social Media, Wikis, Folksonomies, and some blogs rely heavily on User Generated Content. One could say that Google is exploiting the entire web as UGC for an advertising venue.
Walled Garden : A group of pages which link to each other but are not linked to by any other pages. A walled garden can still be indexed if it is included in a sitemap, but it will probably have very low PageRank.
Web 2.0 : Is characterized by websites, which encourage user interaction.
White Hat SEO : Techniques which conform to best practice guidelines and do not attempt to unscrupulously “game” or manipulate SERPs.