Glossary of Web Terms

There is a lot of lingo on the web which can be confusing if you don't know what it all stands for.

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301 Redirect – This is a redirect which lets the search engines know the page has been permanently moved to a new address. Whenever you move a page, maybe for a redesign or moving to a new domain, you should always 301 the old page to the new one in order to maintain rankings for it.

302 Redirect – This tells the search engines the page is only temporarily gone, so they will come back to look for it again in the future at this location. Not often used as 301 serves most purposes much better.

404 Not Found – The error code received when you try to access a page that does not exist. If no custom 404 page has been set up, both users and robots will encounter a dead end if they get this error. A custom page is easy to set up and will help keep users and bots on your site.


Absolute Link – A link that uses the full url structure, ex., as opposed to a relative link, which looks like /page1.htm. Favored for search engine optimization purposes in order to prevent canonicalization issues.

Ad Words – Google’s pay-per-click advertising network. Advertisers can choose to run ads on search and content networks.

Ad Sense – Google’s contextual advertising program for publishers. Site owners can display ads on their site, and when those ads are clicked, the publisher makes a small amount of money.

Algorithm – A mathematical formula used by search engines to determine the relevancy of a web page.

Alt tag – An attribute of image files that displays text when the image cannot be displayed.

AJAX – Asynchronous JavaScript and XML is a technique which allows a web page to request additional data from a server without requiring a new page to load.

Analytics - Software which allows you to track the behavior of visitors to your site. The information is based upon interpreting your log files or through a JavaScript tracking code.

Anchor Text – The click-able text used in a link. One of the major factors used by the search engines to determine what a page is about is the words used in the text of links pointing at the page. For example, a link that says “aspen real estate” most likely points to a site about aspen real estate.

Authority Site – A well established site considered the leader in your field. For example, sites like, and the like would be considered authorities.


Back link – A link from another site pointing at your site.

Banned – A site that has been penalized by the search engines for utilizing spammy techniques in order to artificially increase their rankings.

Blog – An online journal which is typically updated on a regular basis. Blogs are often personal in nature. Most can be subscribed to via RSS so that subscribers can know when a new updated is posted.

Bot – Slang for robot, crawler or spider. A program that crawls web pages collecting links and text.

Bookmarks – A collection of favorite web sites, typically stored in a web browser. New social bookmarking sites allow people to store their bookmarks online and share them with other users.

Broken Link – A link that doesn’t work. Usually this is due to a page being moved, and usually returns a 404 error.

Browser – A software application that is used for viewing web sites.


Cache – Copy of a web page stored by a search engine.

Cloaking – A technique used to present different content to human visitors than to search engine robots. Often considered spammy, there are instances where it is used in a legit manner. Geo targeting is one such instance.

CMS – Content Management System. A software application used to manage a web site, usually making it simpler than having to deal with the individual html files themselves.

Co-citation – The idea that links which appear near each other are considered related by the search engines.

Conversion – A desired action that is taken on web site This could be as simple as filling out a contact us form or as complex as completing a purchase.

CPA – Cost per action. A form of advertising in which the advertiser only pays when a desired action is performed, such as reaching a particular page of their web site

Crawler – Another name for search engine spiders. See also robot.

CSS – Cascading Style Sheets. A way of adding style to web pages that simplifies the actual code on the page.


Deep Link – A link to a page other than the homepage. Deep links are sign of quality to the search engines.

Dedicated Server – A server that is only hosting one web site, as opposed to several hundred via virtual servers.

Directory – A collection of web sites, sometimes hand edited, that are submitted by web users.

DNS – Domain Name Server, used to determine the IP address of a domain.

Domain – The name of a web page. is a domain.

Duplicate Content – Content that is identical to other content on the web. The search engines do not want to index multiple copies of the same document.

Dynamic Page – A page that is database driven and whose url structure can change. It’s best to rewrite these url's to appear static to help with indexing.


Error Page – Any page that is returned as a result of an error. The most common is a 404 Page Not Found error.

External Link – A link from your site that points to another web site


FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Favicon – The little icon that appears next to your web address in the browser and bookmarks.

Firefox – The only web browser as far as many people are concerned.

Flash – Animation software often used in web design to make web sites look unique and professional. Search engines have a hard time indexing the contents of a flash file and it is best avoided if search engine optimization is an important priority.

Forums – Online meeting place where people can post and respond to conversations.

FTP – File Transfer Protocol


Google Bot – The name of the robot that crawls pages and returns them to the Google index.

Google – Second only to God in terms of the power they wield. Will probably take over the world soon. At least I’m enjoying the ride.


Headings – The large titles on a page that often describe the main focus of a page and are enclosed in the h1, h2, h3, etc tags.

Hidden Text – Text that is hidden on a web page but visible in the code, often in an attempt to artificially increase the ranking of the page. A spammy technique.

Hit – An outdated traffic metric that defines the number of times an item is viewed. Synonymous with page view.


Hyperlinks – A link from one web page. to another.


Inbound Link – A link from another web site to the site in question.

Index – A collection of all the web sites crawled by the search engine robots, used to return queries when a search is conducted.

Internal Link – A link that points to another page on the same site.

Internet Explorer – A far inferior browser, which unfortunately comes standard with most PC’s sold throughout the world.

IP Address – The numerical address of a web site Domain names point to a unique IP address where the files for the web site are located.

ISP – Internet Service Provider. A company that supplies internet service like Comcast or Qwest.

Invisible Web – The portion of the web that has not been crawled by the search engines. It is estimated that the majority of web sites out there are not in the indexes of the major search engines.


JavaScript – A scripting language used to create certain functions within a browser.


Keyword – A word or phrase used to search for something.

Keyword Density – The number of times a keyword appears on a page in relation to the amount of other text on the page.

Keyword Research – The process of determining what keywords people are using in searches for a given product or service.

Keyword Stuffing – A spammy technique used to artificially increase the rankings of a page by repeating keywords over and over.


Landing Page – The page that a user lands on after clicking a search result or an ad.

Link – A link from one web page to another.

Link Building – The process of getting links from other sites to your web site

Long Tail – Search terms that represent the majority of the traffic for many sites but individually have very low search volume.


Made for Adsense (MFA) – Web sites that are created for the sole purpose of generating revenue from clicks on ads. Complete garbage sites.

Meta Tag – See meta description and/or meta keywords.

Meta Description – A tag used to describe what a page is about. Often shown as the description in the search results.

Meta Keywords – A tag used to provide keywords detailing the contents of the page. No longer relevant for most sites as it was thoroughly abused by spammers.

Mod Rewrite – A technique used on sites on Apache servers to rewrite the url string, usually from a dynamic form to a cleaner structure more easily indexed by the search engines.


Navigation – The menu that allows a user to navigate through a web site

Nofollow – A tag which can be applied to indicate that the link may not be to a trusted site. Not recommended for use on internal sites.


On-Page Factor – Refers to the actual text and links on a web page. that influence the search results.

Off-Page Factor – Refers to factors that influence search rankings such as links, server issues, domain age, etc.

Organic Results – The natural search results that sit below the paid ads on a search engine results page. These results are ranked by an algorithm that determines their relevancy to particular searches.

Orphan Page – A web page. that has no links from other pages. Such a page is invisible to the search engines.

Outbound Link – See External Link.


PageRank – A measure used by Google to determine the importance of a page. Links from sites with higher PageRank are generally considered more valuable.

Page Title – The title of the page that appears in the top of the browser and in the search results. An important part of on-page SEO.

Pay-Per-Click – Ads that are paid for on a per click basis. See AdWords.

Penalty – Occurs when the a site partakes in activities meant to spam the search engines and gain rankings artificially.

Personalized Search – Search results that take into account your past search history to deliver results that are similar to what you’ve looked for in the past.


Reciprocal Link – A link exchange with another site. I link to you, you link to me.

Referrer – A site that refers traffic. Could be a search engine, partner site, ad, etc.

Relative Link – A link with the url structure /example.htm. Absolute links are preferred for SEO purposes.

Robots.txt – A file which is used to prevent certain sections of a web site from being crawled. Low quality pages like sign-up forms are often excluded, as are pages with duplicate content.

Robot – See also spider, crawler, bot.

RSS – Real Simple Syndication. Allows the contents of a site to be subscribed to and read through a feed reader such as Feed Burner or Google Reader.


Search Engine Marketing – The use of search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising to increase the visibility of a web site in the SERPs.

SERP – Search Engine Results Page.

Search Engine Friendly – A term that describes sites which are easily crawlable by the search engines and have implemented best practices from an SEO standpoint.

Server – A computer which hosts files for a web site

Site Map – A page that contains links to all other pages on a site. Allows the search engine spiders to quickly access all your content.

Social Media – A new breed of web site that focuses on user generated content that can easily be shared with others. Examples are, and Facebook.

Spam – Anything that goes against the webmaster guidelines set forth by the search engines.

Spider – A program that crawls web pages to retrieve information.

Supplemental Results – A separate index where low quality pages reside. Usually a page ends up in the supplemental results due to a lack of inbound links, freshness or duplicate content issues.


Unique Visitor – One person that visits your site. They may visit a couple times during the course of the day, but they represent one visitor.

URL – Uniform Resource Locator, the unique address of any document on the web.

Usability – Defines how easy it easy for a visitor to your site to perform the desired actions. Often poor design means poor usability.


Virtual Server – A server that is shared with other domains. Generic hosting plans at most companies use virtual hosting. A dedicated server is much better for many reasons and usually not much more expensive.


Wiki – Software which allows users to contribute to the content by editing the documents.

Wikipedia – An online knowledge resource, now used by many folks like an encyclopedia, even though the information may be false or inaccurate. A self-policing body tries to keep everything in line.

Wordpress – The most common software platform used by bloggers. Favored for it’s ease of use and abundant features.


Xenu – Software that checks a site for broken links. Also some guy in Scientology.



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