Here is a glossary of commonly used terms in the world of search engine ranking.
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.
See Doorway Page.
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.
The 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 cloaking.
The text present within the <!-- and --> tags in a web page. Most search engines will
ignore the text within the Comment Tags.
A site containing links to other sites which are organized into various categories. Examples
of directories are Yahoo & Open Directory.
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
See Doorway Page.
An 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 engines.
See Doorway Page.
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 keywords.
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 text.
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.
A database of sites used by many of the larger search engines like
MSN etc. For more information, see
A scripting language commonly used in web pages. Most search engines are unable to index
these scripts properly.
A 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 spamming.
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 spamming.
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.
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 email.
A 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.
Search Engine 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 etc.
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 called
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.
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Article by Sumantra Roy. Sumantra 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.net