A Search Engine Optimization Glossary

Search engine optimization (SEO) techniques run the gamut from innocuous word changes to inethical or even illegal attempts to deceive web users. Some key terms in the SEO world. A sidebar to the feature story "Black Hat SEOs: Is This the Future of Search?"

Algorithm: In the case of search, a set of rules that determines how a search engine indexes content and displays the results to its users. Bait and switch: SEO technique that creates an optimized page that's submitted to the search algorithms but replaces that with the regular, less-optimized page as soon as the optimized page has been indexed. Black-hat SEO: SEO techniques that violate either the spirit or the letter of the terms of service of search companies. Any technique that increases a site's search ranking without actually increasing the site's value to the user of the site. Also referred to as gray-hat SEO and high-risk SEO. Clickthrough rate: The rate at which people click on a link such as a search engine listing or a banner ad. Studies show that clickthrough rates are six times higher for search engine listings than for banner ads, making search results more valuable than banner ads for driving traffic. Doorway page: Page full of keyword-rich copy that doesn't deliver any useful information other than the link into a site. The sole purpose is to feed the search algorithms keywords and links for increasing rankings. Also known as a bridge page or a gate-

way page.

Exact match: A form of keyword matching where the search query must be exactly the same as the advertisement keyword. Thus, "ring tones" matches only ads or search listings that use that precise phrase. Fresh: The term that Google uses to refer to frequently changing webpages. The fresher a page, the more Google's spider (Googlebot) will visit and index the page. Gray-hat SEO: SEO using both black-hat and white-hat techniques; since there's no definitive line between acceptable and unacceptable SEO, some consider all SEO gray hat. Also used interchangeably with black-hat SEO. Index: A search engine's database in which it stores textual content from every webpage that its spider visits. Keyword: A word a search engine spider user might use to find relevant webpages. If a keyword doesn't appear anywhere on your webpage, it's unlikely your page will appear in the search results for searches that use that keyword. Key phrase: A search phrase made up of keywords. Link building: Requesting links from webmasters of other sites for the purpose of increasing your link popularity and PageRank; also creating compelling content, which naturally encourages others to link to your site. Link building is one of the primary preoccupations of SEOs. Navigation bar (nav bar): A website's navigation icons that help users explore the site but are also crucial to getting spiders to the site's most important content. PageRank (PR): Google's trademarked term for its weighted formula for determining a site's popularity. Under PR, not all links are created equal. Google differentiates a link from what it deems an important site (such as Nytimes.com) as being better than a link from Scottsnewsoftheday.com. PageRank scoring ranges from 0 to 10, 10 being the best. PageRank scores get exponentially harder to achieve the closer to 10 they are. For example, increasing your own homepage's PageRank from a 2 to 3 is easy with not a lot of additional links, and jumping from a 7 to an 8 is very difficult to achieve. The higher the PageRank of the page that's linking to you, the more your site's PageRank will benefit. The better your PageRank, the better you'll do in Google, all else being equal. Pay-per-click (PPC): A pay-for-performance pricing model in which paid search listing or ads are priced based on number of clickthroughs rather than impressions (number of times it's served to user) or other criteria. Robots.txt: Text file placed in a website's root directory and linked in the HTML code. An important file that dictates the actions of a search spider on the site. It can even deny a spider access to the site. Search engine marketing/marketers (SEM): Using SEO and other techniques to generate ad revenue and referral fees from sites that rank high in the search engines, or the person who does that. Search engine optimization/optimizers (SEO): Any tactic used to influence website rankings in search results, or the person who uses those tactics. Spider: Also known as a robot or crawler. Programs used by a search engine to explore the Internet and collect information about webpages and store it in an index, which is then used for ranking pages in search results based on their relevance to the search. Having a site inspected is called "being spidered." Visibility: The degree to which your website is optimized for relevant keyword searches.

White-hat SEO: SEO techniques that do not violate the search engine companies' terms of service.

Source: SEOGlossary.com, CSO Reporting

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

Get the best of CSO ... delivered. Sign up for our FREE email newsletters!