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SEO Glossary

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SEM Glossary

In the ever-changing field of online marketing, Search Engine Optimisation has become an Enigma to some business owners and marketing managers. This is partly because SEO experts spoke in a language all of their own which, without translation and is virtually impenetrable to the layperson. This SEM glossary seeks to remedy that situation, explaining popular SEO terms in plain English.


Pay per click advertising program offered by Google. This service allows advertisers to receive targeted website traffic for a fee that is relative to the content type.


Contextual advertising by Google. Website publishers earn a portion of the advertising revenue for placing Google sponsored links on their site.

Affiliate Program

A Web-based pay-for-performance program designed to compensate “affiliate” partner web sites for driving qualified leads or sales to a “merchant” web site. Typically, the merchant pays a percentage of any sales resulting from any click through (via banner or text link) to their Web site from an affiliate partner’s Web site.


A set of rules that a search engine uses to rank the listings contained within its index, in response to a particular query.

Automated Submission

Services that use a web based tool or software to submit sites to search engines, free for all pages, and directories.


Backlinks are the inbound links that point to a particular web page. Backlinks are important for search engine optimisation (SEO) because some search engines, especially Google, give more credit to websites that have a good number of quality backlinks. Sites with better backlink counts usually rank better in SERPs.


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.


The amount that an advertiser is willing to pay for a click on a specific keyword.


Blog is short for weblog. A weblog is a journal (or newsletter) that is frequently updated and intended for general public consumption. Blogs generally represent the personality of the author or the Web site.

Click Through Rate (CTR)

The percentage of times an ad is clicked on, based on the number of times it’s viewed. If a banner ad is seen by 200 hundred site visitors and 10 of them actually click on the ad, the banner ad has a click-though rate of 5 percent.


The hiding of page content. Involves providing one page for a search engine or directory and a different page for other user agents at the same URL. Legitimate method for stopping page thieves from stealing optimised pages, but frowned upon by some search engines resulting in penalties.

Conversion Rate (CR)

An equation that determines the number of visitors that become something else like subscribers, buyers or members. For example, the conversion rate of visitors that subscribe to a newsletter = number of visitors divided by number of subscribers. If a website has 10,000 visitors and 500 subscribe, the conversion rate equals 1 in 20.

Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)

Cost per Acquisition or also known as Cost Per Sale. This is typically an average dollar amount to the total cost in clicks it takes to convert to a sale.

Cost Per Click (CPC)

Cost per click. This is a frequent term used in PPC terminology. It refers to the cost associated with each click.


“Cost per Thousand.” The dollar figure used to evaluate the cost to reach a thousand persons in a media buy. CPMs are calculated by multiplying the cost of an ad by 1,000, then dividing that number by the total audience. CPM = Cost x 1,000 – divided by total Audience.


Crawling is a program where a web crawler (also known as a web spider or ant) browses the World Wide Web in a methodical, automated manner. Web crawlers are mainly used to create a copy of all the visited pages for later processing by a search engine, that will index the downloaded pages to provide fast searches.

Click Through Rate (CTR)

Click-through ratio or click-through rate. Metrics used in measuring the effectiveness of an advertising banner (and similar). The percentage of ad views that resulted in an ad click. A method of rating how many times a banner is clicked on. A ratio of the number of times a banner is shown to the number of times it is clicked on. For example, if a banner has a CTR of 20:1, it means that 1 out of 20 people have clicked on it (ie 5% of the people who viewed it).

Deep Linking

Deep linking, on the World Wide Web, is the act of placing on a Web page a hyperlink that points to a specific page or image within another website, as opposed to that website’s main or home page.


Topical lists of Internet resources, arranged hierarchically. Directories are meant to be browsed, but they can also be searched. Directories differ from search engines in one major way – the human element involved in collecting and updating the information.

Doorway Pages

These are designed to increase a web sites ranking in a search engine. The doorway page is usually a replication of the key words and description of web sites. It relies on repetition of related words and phrases to increase search engine ranking.

Dynamic Content

Information in web pages which changes automatically, based on database or user information. Search engines will index dynamic content in the same way as static content unless the URL includes a ? mark. However, if the URL does include a ? mark, many search engines will ignore the URL.

Entry Page

Also known as a landing page. The page that a visitor sees first after clicking a link. Very useful for online marketing and pay-for-click advertising. Since this is the first page a visitor sees, it must be designed to immediately show the visitor what they are looking for and provide them options to continue on the site.

Ethical SEO

This is a search engine optimisation methodology, which relies on all improvements to a sites position only being conducted using techniques and methods which fall inside the Terms and Conditions of Search Engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing.

Free For All (FFA)

Free For All pages are not search engines or directory’s. They are, for the most part, pages that simply take submissions that usually stay active for a period of time. A submission is placed at the top of their list and then moved down and eventually out as other submissions are made. These sites are rarely recommended and usually result in the reception of a flood of unwanted e-mail and solicitations.

Google Bomb

A Google bomb or Google wash is an attempt to influence the ranking of a given site in results returned by the Google search engine. Due to the way that Google’s PageRank algorithm works, a website will be ranked higher if the sites that link to that page all use consistent anchor text.

Google Dance

An informal term created to explain the phenomenon of frequent shifts in rankings while Google updates its database.

Hand Submissions

The practice of visiting each search engine and directory and submitting the registration form by hand as opposed to using a software program. Some systems will not accept automated submissions.

Hidden Text

Text that is visible to the search engines but is invisible to humans. It is mainly accomplished by using text in the same colour as the background colour of the page. It is primarily used for the purpose of including extra keywords in the page without distorting the aesthetics of the page. Most search engines penalise web sites which use such hidden text.


This term is often used to tell advertisers how many times their banner ad was seen by visitors viewing the page. Impressions (page views) describe the information received by a Web site visitor after he or she has downloaded all the elements (text and graphics) that make up a single Web page.

Inbound Link

A hypertext link pointing to a particular web site. Inbound links as a measure of the web popularity are used by search engines for positioning of web pages in search engines indexes.


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 categorised.


A scripting language commonly used in web pages. Most search engines are unable to index these scripts properly.

Keyword Effectiveness Index (KEI)

The higher the KEI, the more popular the keywords are, and the less competition they have, which means they have a better chance of getting to the top.

Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

A significant measure used on its own, or in combination with other key performance indicators, to monitor how well a business is achieving its quantifiable objectives. For example; Understanding what marketing program is driving quality visitors, who is converting to sales leads and where your site is failing customers are a few of the many elements needed to measure success.


A word or phrase which is used when searching for a website in the search engines or directories. It is these words or phrases that webmaster use when describing or explaining the content of their website.

Keyword Density

Keyword density calculates the percentage of keyword words and phrases compared to the total of words in your web page body.

Keyword Stuffing

A technique where too many instances of the keyword are put into a web page without any context or use to make it keyword rich or increase keyword density. This practice is considered spamming and should be avoided at all times.

Landing Page

The specific web page that a visitor ultimately reaches after clicking an advertisement. Often, this page is optimised for a specific keyword term or phrase.

Lead Generation

The process of collecting contact information and extracting potential sales leads.

Link Farm

A link farm post large amount of unrelated links on their site. Link farm sites and the links that the site provides are pretty much useless and not worth adding links to. (aka FFA – Free for All).

Link Popularity

The number of sites which link to a particular site. Many search engines use link popularity as a factor in determining the search engine ranking of a web site.

Link Text

Link text is the text used within the hyperlinks which is visible for the visitor to see. (aka Anchor text).


The information that appears on a search engine’s results page in response to a search. See “Results Page.”

Meta Search Engine

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

Meta Tags

An element of HTML coding on a website that is used by search engines to index a website. Most meta-tags are included within the ‘header’ code of a website and the most important tags are the title, description and keyword tags. Rules used by different search engines govern how such tags are used, how many characters they should contain, and how they should be formatted.

Mirror Sites

Websites or web pages with the same or similar content as another. They could be used to target near same keywords as the other. As they provide no new and no useful information a Search Engine may penalise a mirror website.

Mouse Trapping

Mousetrapping is a nifty little web browser trick, which attempts to keep a visitor captive at on a website, often by disabling the ‘Back’ button or generated repeated pop-up windows.


A popular feature of the Internet. Sort of an electronic bulletin board, newsgroups are organised by subjects, and members can post messages for other members to read, as well as reply to any posted messages.

Off page Factors

The factors that impact the ranking of a web page but that are not located on the web page itself. Inbound links, anchor text etc. are examples of off the page factors.

Organic Listings

Listings that are not pay for placement or pay per click. They are Web sites who appear in a search engines index or listings because the search engines have deemed them significantly important for them to be included. Paid inclusion is considered organic even though it is paid for because they appear intermixed with unpaid organic results.


In the context of Search Engine Optimisation, it is a series of steps that promote a webpage or website on the internet and strive to achieve higher rankings on the Search Engines.

Outbound Links

Outbound links are links from your web page to another web page.

Page Rank (PR)

Page Rank was a function of Google that measures the quality of a website on a scale of 0 to 10. The theory was that high quality sites receive a higher Page Rank based on visitors and traffic your site receives. Page Rank is a “vote”, by all the other pages on the internet.

Paid Listings

A Paid listing is provided by Search Engines for greater online visibility. These Paid listings are normally shown on the top or right hand side margin, within the Search Engine results. Pay per click (PPC) ~ Pay per click is an online advertising payment system which allows advertiser to bid on the level of exposure, depending on the bidding amount amount. Up to 10 results will display on each Search Engine Result page and the highest bidder for the Pay per click will receive the #1 spot.

Pay For Performance (PFP)

Term popularised by some search engines as a synonym for “pay per click,” stressing to advertisers that they are only paying for ads that “perform” in terms of delivering traffic. This approach is opposed to CPM-based ads, which cost money even if they don’t generate a click.

Pay Per Click (PPC)

Advertising model in which advertisers pay for click-throughs to their website. Ads are served based on keywords or themes.


The numerical position in a search result. For example: the number-one position for the keyword “travel.


A word, a phrase or a group of words, possibly combined with other syntax used to pass instructions to a search engine or a directory in order to locate web pages.


The relative location of a web page on the list of web pages generated by a search engine. A higher ranking is desirable because it places the page nearer the top of the list making it more likely to be viewed by the person entering the search request.

Reciprocal Linking

The process of exchanging links with other websites is called Reciprocal Linking. Since both participating websites get an inbound link, it helps in building link popularity.

Results Page

The page that is displayed after a search phrase is typed into a search engine. Also referred to as search engine results page or SERP.


A robot is an automated program that accesses a web site and traverses through the site by following the links present on the pages.

Return On Investment (ROI)

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 (eg, £200) versus the amount generated from it in revenue (eg, £1,000). The ROI would then be 500%.

Really Simple Syndication/Rich Site Summary (RSS)

RSS is a protocol, an application of XML, that provides an open method of syndicating and aggregating Web content. Using RSS files, you can create a data feed that supplies headlines, links, and article summaries from your Web site. Users can have constantly updated content from web sites delivered to them via a news aggregator, a piece of software specifically tailored to receive these types of feeds.

Search Engine

Internet search engines (eg Google, Bing) help users find web pages on a given subject. The search engines maintain databases of web sites and use programs (often referred to as “spiders” or “robots”) to collect information, which is then indexed by the search engine.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

The act of marketing a website 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 Engine Optimisation (SEO)

The term used to describe the marketing technique of preparing a website to enhance its chances of being ranked in the top results of a search engine once a relevant search is undertaken. A number of factors are important when optimising a website, including the content and structure of the website’s copy and page layout, the HTML meta-tags and the submission process.

Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS)

The page of listings displayed upon completion of a search at a search engine.


Search Engine Spam are pages created deliberately to trick the search engine into offering inappropriate, redundant, or poor-quality search results. Inappropriate content is content not related to the actual search query.


A software that visits web sites and indexes the pages present in those sites.


Some search engines and directories support word stemming and recognise common variations of a word. An example of word stemming is “act, acting, actor, acts, actress”. If a query for actor is used, pages that have actress, acting or act could also be displayed.


The number of visitors to a Web page or Website. Refers to the number of visitors, hits, page accesses, etc., over a given time period. As a general term, it describes data travelling around the Internet.

Unique Visitor

A unique visitor is a unique IP address that has made at least 1 hit on 1 page of the web site during the current period shown by the report. If this visitor makes several visits during this period, it is counted only once.


Also known as a session or a user session, is the total number of people who access a website over a certain period of time. Unlike “unique visitors” which is a net number, a “visitor” is a gross number, meaning two “sessions” by a single user would count as two visitors.

Web Copywriting

The writing of text especially for a web page. Similar to the writing of copy for any other type of publication, good web copywriting can have a great effect on search engine positioning, so it forms a major part of optimisation.

XML Feeds

Also referred to as Trusted Feed. A process where web pages are fed into the search engine index for maximum keyword exposure. More commonly used for database driven sites where multiple search queries can apply.

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