Glossary of Search Engine Ranking Terms
By Sumantra Roy
Here is a glossary of commonly
used terms in the world of search engine ranking.
Alt Tag: The
alternative text that the browser displays when the surfer does not want to or cannot see
the pictures present in a web page. Using alt tags containing keywords can improve the
search engine ranking of the page for those keywords.
Click Popularity: A
measure of the relevance of sites obtained by noting which sites are clicked on most and
how much time users spend in each site.
process by which your site can display different pages under different circumstances. It
is primarily used to show an optimized page to the search engines and a different page to
humans. Most search engines will penalize a site if they discover that it is using
The text present within the <!-- and --> tags in a web page. Most search engines
will ignore the text within the Comment Tags.
Crawler: See Spider.
site containing links to other sites which are organized into various categories. Examples
of directories are Yahoo! & Open Directory.
Page: A page which has been specially created in order to get a high ranking
in the search engines. Also called gateway page, bridge page, entry page etc.
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.
HTML technique allowing web site designers to display two or more pages in the same
browser window. Many search engines do not index framed web pages properly - they only
index the text present in the NOFRAMES tag. Unless a web page which uses frames contains
relevant content in the NOFRAMES tag, it is unlikely to get a high ranking in those search
A page containing links to various doorway pages.
A paragraph style that is displayed in a large, bold typeface. Having text containing
keywords in the Heading Tags can improve the search engine ranking of a page for those
Text that is visible to the search engines but is invisible to humans. It is mainly
accomplished by using text in the same color as the background color 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 penalize web sites which use such hidden
Image Map: An
image containing one or more invisible regions which are linked to other pages. If the
image map is defined as a separate file, the search engines may not be able to index the
pages to which that image map links. The way out is to have text hyperlinks to those pages
in addition to the links from the image map. However, image maps defined within the same
web page will generally not prevent search engines from indexing the other pages.
database of sites used by many of the larger search engines like HotBot, MSN etc. For more information, see http://www.inktomi.com
scripting language commonly used in web pages. Most search engines are unable to index
these scripts properly.
word or phrase that you type in when you are searching for information in the search
Denotes how often a keyword appears in a page or in an area of a page. In general, higher
the number of times a keyword appears in a page, higher its search engine ranking.
However, repeating a keyword too often in a page can lead to that page being penalized for
Denotes how close to the start of an area of a page that a keyword appears. In general,
having the keyword closer to the start of an area will lead to an improvement in the
search engine ranking of a page.
Denotes the number of times a keyword appears in a page as a percentage of all the other
words in the page. In general, higher the weight of a particular keyword in a page, higher
will be the search engine ranking of the page for that keyword. However, repeating a
keyword too often in order to increase its weight can cause the page to be penalized by
the search engines.
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.
Meta Description Tag:
The tag present in the header of a web page which is used to provide a short description
of the contents of the page. Some search engines will display the text present in the Meta
Description Tag when the page appears in the results of a search. Including keywords in
the Meta Description Tag can improve the search engine ranking of a page for those
keywords. However, some search engines ignore the Meta Description Tag.
Meta Keywords Tag:
The tag present in the header of a web page which is used to provide alternative words for
the words used in the body of the page. The Meta Keywords Tag is becoming less and less
important in influencing the search engine ranking of a page. Some search engines ignore
the Meta Keywords tag.
Meta Refresh Tag:
The tag present in the header of a web page which is used to display a different page
after a few seconds. If a page displays another page too soon, most search engines will
either ignore the current page and index the second page or penalize the current page for
Pay Per Click Search
Engine: A search engine in which the ranking of your site is determined by the
amount you are paying for each click from that search engine to your site. Examples of pay
per click search engines are Overture, HootingOwl etc.
Robot: In the
context of search engine ranking, it implies the same thing as Spider. In a different context, it is also used to indicate a software which
visits web sites and collects email addresses to be used for sending unsolicited bulk
text file present in the root directory of a site which is used to control which pages are
indexed by a robot. Only robots which comply with the Robots Exclusion Standard will
follow the instructions contained in this file.
A software that searches for information and returns sites which provide that information.
Examples of search engines are AltaVista, Google, Hotbot etc.
Placement: The practice of trying to ensure that a web site obtains a high rank
in the search engines. Also called search engine positioning, search engine optimization
Using any search engine ranking technique which causes a degradation in the quality of the
results produced by the search engines. Examples of spamming include excessive repetition
of a keyword in a page, optimizing a page for a keyword which is unrelated to the contents
of the site, using invisible text, etc. Most search engines will penalize a page
which uses spamming. Also called spamdexing. In a different context, spamming is also used
to mean the practice of sending unsolicited bulk email.
A software that visits web sites and indexes the pages present in those sites. Search
engines use spiders to build up their databases. Example: The spider for AltaVista is
Stop Word: A
word that often appears in pages, yet has no significance by itself. Most search engines
ignore stop words while searching. Example of stop words are: and, the, of etc.
The contents of the Title tag is generally displayed by the browser at the top of the
browser window. The search engines use the Title tag to provide a link to the sites which
match the query made by the user. Having keywords in the Title tag of a page can
significantly increase the search engine ranking of the page for those keywords.
Sumantra Roy is one of the most respected and recognized search engine positioning
specialists on the Internet. For more articles on search engine placement, subscribe to
his 1st Search Ranking Newsletter by sending a blank email to mailto:1stSearchRanking.firstname.lastname@example.org or by going to http://www.1stSearchRanking.com
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