Search Engine Glossary of Terms

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by Sage

Internet terminology provides many different ways of saying the same thing. A host of phrases are used in the web promotion business. Although search engine specialists derive slight differences from these terms, they essentially mean the same thing. These definitions should help clarify:


The search engine program that ranks sites based on certain criteria. Google has over 100 different ranking criteria that sites need to meet.

Bid for Click

A search engine under which you bid for your site to be ranked under a keyword. You pay that price when someone.

Bot (Web Bot)

A search engine program that crawls the internet adding sites to the search engine database.


The background code that runs a web site. As well as HTML, this can include: JavaScript, ASP, Coldfusion and more.


The movement of a search engine spider (or bot) through the internet by following the links between sites.


A list of web sites that is compiled under categories and sub-categories. Yahoo is an example of a directory.

Dynamic Page Site

Pages that are created ‘on the fly’ from the contents of a database. These pages cause many promotional difficulties.


Some sites have pages that are made up of multiple HTML pages. Typically the navigation will be on one page and the content on another. You can tell if you scroll down the page and the navigation remains static. Frames are bad for a sites search engine promotion.


The basic code from which web pages are created.

Inbound Link

A link that comes in to your site.

Key Term (Key Phrase)

The sequence of keywords used by a search engine user to find a site.


A word used by a search engine user to find a site.

Keyword Density

The percentage of keywords compared to other characters on an internet page.

Keyword Research

Researching the most effective key terms to be used in web promotion.

Keyword Spamming

Deliberate repetition of keywords in a page by using invisible or tiny text to increase keyword density. This is banned by search engines.

Link Relevancy

How similar in content/services two linked sites are.

Meta Search Engine

A search engine that compiles it’s results from the databases of other search engines.

Meta Tags

Specific areas built in to HTML code to hold information for search engines to read. Meta tags no longer play an integral role in the web promotion of a site.


The process of altering site structure, code, content, titles and meta content to be search engine friendly.

Outbound Link

A link that leaves your site.

Pay Per Click

A search engine, like Looksmart, that charges you a fixed amount every time your listing is clicked on.

Promotion Page

Site pages that have been designed to rank highly in search engines. The term ‘doorway’ page has been negatively associated with poorly designed pages that have little or no content for a user and that use tricks to capture search engine attention. While these have been banned by search engines, any page in a site can legitimately be designed to rank highly in a search engine.

Reciprocal Link

An exchange of links between two sites.


How often a search engine updates its index. Google updates its index once a month.

Search Engine

An internet program that ranks relevant sites based on the keywords that the user has typed in. Google is a search engine.

Search Engine Promotion

The business of making web sites rank well in search engines.

Search Engine Positioning

The business of making web sites rank well in search engines.

Search Engine Report

A report detailing site rankings across the search engines under specific keywords.


Also called a ‘bot’, a spider is a search engine program that crawls the internet adding web sites to the search engine database.

Web Promotion

The business of making web sites rank well in search engines.