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SEO Glossary of Search Engine Optimisation Terms


.htaccess (Hypertext Access)

The default name of a file on Apache based web servers that can be used to configure your website. You should not modify it unless you have very solid technical knowledge of website configuration.

404 error message

A 404 error message is the message you get when you try and access a non-existent web page. It is a sort of error message that is displayed by default when you click on a broken link within the website.


Absolute links

An absolute link is a hyperlink that uses an absolute reference, which includes the full URL address. An example would be:


Add-ons (for a web browser)

If you are using a web browser such as Firefox, you can download add-ons for your browser which extends the capabilities of the browser.


AdSense (Google)

AdSence is an advertising service organised by Google that allows you to make money from the website. Once you sign up Google will display adverts relating to your content and if people click on these adverts you will receive payment for every single click.


AdWords (Google)

Google CPC (Cost Per Click) based website advertising.


Affiliate Program

You can join other peoples affiliate programs in which case they will supply you with a small piece of code that you can insert into your website which will display an advert for their service or product. Different affiliate programs work in different ways but you will receive a small payment when visitors to your website either click on the link or make a sale using the link.

Alternatively you can set up your own affiliate program in which case you will supply the small piece of code to others to insert on a website and you will pay them a small commission each time people click on the link or purchase via the link. Affiliate programs are very easy to set up , a commonly used program is www.clickbank.com


Algorithm (Search Engine)

A complicated mathematical formula used by the search engines to determine the value of the individual web pages and rate them in relation to other web pages. The more points a particular web page earns with a particular algorithm for a search engine term, the more likely that it will appear before other competitors within the search engine results.


ALT Text

The ALT tag is hidden text that you can associate with a picture in a website and can be used to tell Google what the picture is about. This is an important SEO feature. If you are using Microsoft Internet Explorer to display a website that contains picture ALT tags, then when you move the mouse pointer over the picture you will see a pop-up displaying the ALT text.


AltaVista Search Engine

An Internet search engine that was very important in the early days of the web, but these days is only of minor importance.


Anchor Text

This is the text displayed within a hyperlink on a website. Using correct anchor text within your links is very important to your search engine optimisation. Anchor text is also known as link text.



Short for ‘Application Program Interface’. You do not need to know much about this as this is primarily for use by programmers. If you are a programmer you can use API routines to directly access parts of the program.


Ask Search Engine

The Ask search engine is one of the important search engines that you need to work with to achieve the full benefit of search engine optimisation techniques.


Authority Site (Authority Web)

An authority site is basically a site that is well respected by the search engines. It has probably been in existence for a number of years and will have a large number of links from other websites pointing to it.

The more authority a web page has the higher its Google PageRank will be.


Back link

A link to your website from another website. This is an important SEO feature. You need both quantity and quality when it comes to back links.


Bad Neighbourhood

A bad neighbourhood is a website that has been recognised by the search engines as using techniques that they disapprove of such as black hat SEO techniques.

If your website contains links to bad neighbourhood, your website could be penalized for this by the search engines.


Bing Search Engine

The Bing search engine is operated by Microsoft and is one of the top search engines that you need to be concerned about when optimising your website for search engine listings.


Black Hat SEO

Black hat SEO involves search engine optimisation techniques that go against the ‘terms of use’ published by the search engines. While black hat SEO techniques may produce very short-term results in the long run you run the risk of being penalised by the search engines or in extreme cases banned altogether from the search engine results. Do not use black hat SEO techniques.


Blacklisted websites

Most search engines keep a list of sites that they have blacklisted for continued use of spamming techniques. If your website contains links to blacklisted site, your website could be penalized for this by the search engines.



A blog also known as a weblog is a type of website that is easy to set up with little or no technical knowledge. Sometimes the entire website is actually a blog site which can be made to look like a typical website.

In other cases a company will have a website and a separate blog that is hosted elsewhere.

If you wish to create a blog the best way to do it is to install a blog within a folder on your actual website. Typically you would use free WordPress software to do this.


Body text (website content)

The body text refers to the text that is visible on the web page when viewed with a Web browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer. It does not include information in the head area of the HTML web page code and also does not include the non-visible HTML code used to format the web page.



The word ‘Bot’ is short for robot and is a type of search engine spider that crawls the pages on the web looking for new of changed web pages to categorise and display within its search engine listings.


Bounce rate

The bourse rate is an indication of the percentage of customers who view one page on your website and then leave without clicking on any hyperlinks to view other pages within your website.


Broken image link

Remember that unlike pictures in a Microsoft Word document pictures are not stored with the text in a single file. A web page that contains a picture actually contains a link to the picture. If that link is inaccurate or if you delete the picture file then a broken image symbol will be displayed when the web page is viewed in a web browser, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer.


Broken Link

A broken link is a link that points to a page or picture that does not exist at the specified URL. This may be because the target page or picture has been either deleted or moved to a different location, and the hyperlink that is pointing to has not been updated.

In other cases it may be due to a typing error within the link so that the file name of the target page or picture has been incorrectly spelt.

Another common error is that in most cases the file name of web pages and pictures are case sensitive, and this has caused the bad link.


Browser (Web)

A web browser is software that allows you to view web pages. Examples include Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera.

Do not confuse the web browser with search engines.



To increase the speed with which you view websites, by default a local copy of recently viewed websites is held on your hard disk or within a search engine database.

Google can allow you to see older versions of a website that are held within the Google cache, which can be useful when researching websites.



This refers to a black hat SEO technique where your visitors see one website page, while the search engines sees a version of the page that is stuffed with hidden keywords. Cloaking will harm your SEO.



This refers to the process of trying to convert website visitors into actual customers.



Some web servers try and place hidden files on your computer so that the web server can keep track of you. Sometimes there might be legitimate reasons for this, while other times their use may be more intrusive.


CPC (Cost Per Click)

If you are using Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising the Cost Per Click is the amount of money that you will be charges every time someone clicks on your advert.



A type of search engine spider that crawls the pages on the web look to new of changes web pages to categorise and display within its search engine listings.


CSS (Cascading Style Sheet)

This is a separate file used by web designers to control the formatting and layout of a web page.


CTR (Click Through Rate)

This is a measure of the number of times a paid advert link is clicked on.


Dedicated IP addresses

This simply means that the website has it own unique IP address, as opposed to sharing the IP address with other websites that may be located on the same web server.


Description Meta Tag

This is a tag within the Head area of the web page that contains a description of what the page is about. This will have little or no effect on your SEO.


Directory (web directory)

This is a directory of websites, usual maintained by humans rather that automated software and in many ways is an online equivalent of the traditional printed yellow pages.

In many cases there is a fee to be included in the directory.


DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act)

This refers to legislation within the USA that protects copyright on the Web



Also known as the ‘Open Directory Project’. This is a quality online directory and including your website in it will help with SEO. They are very picky and you should only submit websites that are practically perfect in terms of content, formatting and coding.


DNS (Domain Name System)

As humans we type in a website URL, such as www.microsoft.com. Underneath the URL is a unique IP address which is how internet connected computers communicate with each other.

The Domain Name Service converts the web addresses you type into your browser (for example www.bbc.co.uk) into the IP address that the internet actually uses, an example of which would look something like this –

You can think of the Domain Name Service as being the Internet’s phone book.


Domain name

The domain name is another name for URL. It is the web address for a website, such as www.microsoft.com


Domain name registration

You need to register a domain name (such as www.example.com) prior to uploading your website. Domains can normally be registered for 1 or 2 years, after which you need to renew your registration, otherwise you will loss the rights to that domain name.


Doorway Pages (Gateway Pages)

Doorway pages are created solely to attract visitors using SEO techniques. The search engines do not like them and excessive use may damage your SEO efforts.


Duplicate content

This is where very similar content appears on multiple web pages, either within the same website or on different websites. This is not recommended.


Dynamic website

Dynamic websites use a database to create web pages on the fly in response to user requests. A typical example would be a shopping price comparison website. Search engines have problems indexing these types of websites.


Email Marketing

This involves sending out targeted emails to potential customers. Always use lists of emails where the recipients have ‘opted-in’, i.e. actually requested email information.

Sending out unsolicited emails is called spam and in many countries is illegal.


Ethical SEO (white hat SEO)

Ethical SEO basically means playing by the rules laid down by the search engines. If you engage in black hat SEO techniques, do not be surprised if your website ends up being banned by the search engines.


External Link

An external link is a link from your website to another website. This may be links to pages or documents. Be very carful who you link to as linking to websites that practice black hat SEO can damage your website’s standing with the search engines.


FFA (Free For All)

Free for All link pages allow anyone to link to them. They attract spammers and you should not use them. They will do very little to help you with SEO.



This is a web browser similar to Microsoft Internet Explorer.



This is a technology from Adobe that allows for more interactivity on a website. Often used to display moving graphics or as a navigation system within a website. Search engines may have problems understanding Flash, and you should use with caution.



A forum is a website where you can post messages and ask questions.


Freshness (Google)

This is a term used by Google and relates to how fresh the content of a web page is. Google likes to see changes on your website as this indicates a website that is up to date and regularly updated and maintained.


FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

FTP it a mechanism that is often used to transfer files from your computer to your website.



The Google search engine is the important search engine that you need to work with to achieve the full benefit of search engine optimisation techniques.


Google AdWords

This is an advertising scheme run by Google that allows you to promote your product or service within the search engine results.



This is the name of the Google spider program that crawls the web looking for new websites or websites with new content.


Google Cache

Google stores copies of frequency access web pages in the Google cache and this is a way of speeding up access when using the search engine.


Local page (Google)

This is a page of information about your company that you can create for Google and it will help when visitors search for local information about products or services.


Google PageRank

This is a number assigned by Google that indicates the importance of a website in the Google ranking system. The higher the PageRank number the better.


Google penalties

If you practice black hat SEO, you will be penalised by Google. Penalties range from your website being demoted within the search engines results to being banned completely from the search engines.


Google Webmaster tools

A free set of tools available from Google specifically designed to help Webmasters, who maintain and promote websites.


Heading Tag

The heading tag is a tag used within your web pages to tell Google that this text should be treated as a header. Using relevant keywords within the header tags is important for SEO.



The number of website hits relates to the total number of access requests made to your web server. This is different from the actual number of web visitors.


Home page (index.html)

The home page of a website normally has a file name of index.htm or index.html. Other file names and extension can be used, but it is the default page that will be loaded when you visit a particular website, using its base URL.


HTML (Hyper Text Mark-up Language)

This is the code behind a web page which is used by the web browser to display a web page.


HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure)

This is basically the same as HTTP, but uses security features to enable the safe transmission of sensitive information, such as credit card details.



A hyperlink is a link on your website that allows users to click on the link and be taken either to other pages on your website or to a different website. It can also be used to link to downloadable documents within your website.


In-Bound Link

An inbound link is the same as a back link. It is a link from another website that points to your website.


Indexed Pages

The pages on a website which have been found and listed by a search engine.


Internal links

Internal links are the links between the pages within your website.



This is a private internet that can only be accessed by entering a password. It is often used within organisation for sharing information.


IP Address (Internet Protocol Address)

The IP Address system is used to allow computers to communicate with each other.


Java Applets

These are small programs designed to run on your website. Menu systems often use java to give them extra functionality.


JavaScript (JS)

JavaScript is a scripting language that allows you to extend the functionality of your website. For instance you can use JavaScript to produce more advanced menu systems within your web pages.


Keyword Density

The keyword density relates to the number of times a given keyword appears on a web page. If the keyword density is too high Google may interpret this as an attempt at spamming.


Keyword phrase

A keyword phrase is a group of words that you would expect people to type into a search engine when searching for your particular product or service.


Keyword Prominence

The keyword prominence relates to the location within the HTML code of your preferred keyword. Google will pay particular attention to the text at the top of the page so you should make sure your keywords are located at the top of your web page.


Keyword research

This refers to the research that is required to see which words or phrases are relevant to help promote a particular website.


Keyword Stuffing

The phrase keyword stuffing relates to using excessive amounts of keywords within a web page. If you use keyword stuffing Google will penalise your website.


Keywords Meta Tag

The keywords Meta tag is contained within the Head section of your HTML pages and should contain a short list of your preferred keyword or keyword phrases, each one separated by a comma.


Landing Page

This is commonly used by people using pay per click advertising and is a special page for visitors to see when they click on a paid link.



A link on a web page can be either text or a picture that when clicked on will take you to another web page, either on the same website or on a different website.


Link Building

This refers to the process of getting other websites to link back to your website.


Link Farms

A link Farm is a collection of websites the main purpose of which is to provide links to other websites. Do not link to or from link farms.


Log File (web)

A file of activity that is generated by your web server. You can analysis this log to get useful information about your website visitors.


META tags

These are part of the hidden HTML code behind a website that can be used to supply some search engines with information about the website.


Mirror Sites

A mirror site is a duplicate copy of a website.



Short for Microsoft System Network, the original Microsoft search engine.


Organic (Natural) Search Results

Organic search results are the search engines results that are displayed as a result of SEO activity, as opposed to the ‘paid for’ results, which are displayed because advertisers paid to have them displayed.


Navigation menu

The way you move from page to page within a website. Normally displayed across the top, or down the left side of a webpage.



A hyperlink attribute that tells a search engine not to follow a particular link. It can be a good way of controlling the transfer of PageRank juice.


Off-Page SEO

Off page SEO is basically all about getting links from other websites that point to your website.


On-Page SEO

On page SEO relates to any changes you make to the actual web pages contained on your website. A good example is tweaking the title of each webpage.


Opt-in email marketing

This type of email marketing only sends to email addresses that have agreed to accept emails from you.


Outbound Link

A link from your website to another website.



A system used by Google to assign a value to a particular web page. Uses a system from 0 to 10, with 0 being bad and 10 being good. You can view the PageRank of a web page after installing the Google Toolbar.


Paid Directories

A paid directory, as the name implies, is a directory that you have to paid to be included in their listings. An example would be www.business.com.


Pay-per-click (PPC)

This relates to web advertising systems, where you pay each time someone clicks on special links to your website.


PDF (Portable Document Format)

The Adobe PDF file format is widely used on the web for making downloadable documents available within websites. PDF files can be read using the freely available Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader program.



A programming language used by some websites.


Reciprocal links

A reciprocal link is where two different websites link to each other in the hope of improving their performance within the search engine listings.


Redirect (web)

A mechanism for automatically redirecting visitors from one web page to another.


Relative links

The system that is normally used for linking web pages within a website together. Often within website hyperlinks you will see two dots. This tells the web browser that the resource is located one folder up. All the references are relative in relation to the index page.



Normally called a bot, this is an automatic program that searches the web for new websites or updated content.



A small text file in the website root folder that can be used to control access by the search engines web crawlers to the website.


RSS Feed

Rich Site Syndication, RSS feeds can be used to publicise data on your website.


Scrapping (content scraping)

A terms that describes people who copy content from another website and display it on their own website, without permission,


Search Engine

Programs that can be used to search the web for information, the most famous example is Google.


Search Algorithm (Search Engine)

A complicated formula that search engines use to rate one web page against another in relation to a particular search phrase.


Search Engines

These are used by people to search the Web for information. Common examples include Google, Yahoo and Bing.


Search Term

The phrase typed into a search engine that is used to search for a particular product or service.


SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

This refers to efforts to improve a website positioning within the search engine results.


SERP (Search Engine Results Page)

The pages that display the results of a search query.


Shared IP addresses

Two or more websites that share an IP address, as opposed to each having a dedicated IP address.


Sitemap page (website)

A page within a website containing links to all the main pages within the website.



The text displayed for each website on the search engine results pages. Normally displays a title, description and a URL.


Spam (Emails)

Spam emails are sent out in bulk by email spammers. They are unrequested and unwanted. In many countries sending spam email is illegal.


Spider, Bot or Crawler

These are automated systems used by the search engines to find new pages on the Web and include them in their search engine listings.


Splash Page (Intro Page)

Splash pages, also called intro pages normally contain no text, just a picture of a flash presentation. They annoy visitors and may harm your SEO.


Static website

A static website contains individual web pages which have defined filenames and folder locations, as opposed to dynamic websites where pages are created on the fly in response to a user query.



Google uses stemming to search not just for the actual term used, but also for similar terms.


Title Tag

The Title tag is contained within the Head section of a web page and is one of the most important SEO on-site factors.


URL (Uniform Resource Locator)

This is the web address of a website that normally starts with the letters www.


Web Browser

Software used to view websites, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Google Chrome.


Website hosting

Once your website design is completed it needs to be copied to a website server host. This is a computer permanently connected to the web that holds your website and serves the pages within the website to visitors when they visit your site.


Website maintenance

Once your website has gone live and is available to all on the Web, you need to regularly check that the website is in good working order. This is necessary as new versions of web browsers are regularly introduced and this can affect how a website looks or operates.


White Hat SEO

While Hat SEO uses SEO techniques that are approved of by the search engines, such as Google.



This is a company responsible for registering domain names.



XML is short for Extensible Mark-up Language, which is a scripting language used by Web programmers.


XML Site maps

A file format that you can use to submit your important web pages to the search engines for indexing.



One of the original search engines and still important today in terms of SEO.



A website for viewing and sharing videos.



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