SEM - Search Engine Marketing Glossary
Listed below is a glossary of commonly and some not so commonly used terms in the field of search engine marketing, optimization and ranking.
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The text that is displayed when you mouse over an image. Alt tags are required by the ADA.
A set of rules that a search engine uses to rank the listings contained within its index in response to queries. No search engine reveals exactly how its own algorithm works, to protect itself from competitors and those who wish to spam the search engine. Source: Did-It.com
When your bid on a given keyword is automatically changed by 1 cent when your nearest competitor changes their bid. Although you set a maximum bid, you may pay less if auto budding works in your favor. Auto bidding is not so commonly used anymore.
Links pointing to a web page or website from other websites. Also called inbound links.
When pages are removed from a search engine's index specifically because the search engine has deemed them to be spamming or violating some type of guidelines.
Blocklist AKA Blacklist AKA Blackhole
A blackhole list, sometimes simply referred to as a blacklist, or blocklist, is a database of IP addresses which do not meet the publisher of the list's policy for acceptance of inbound email.
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 percentage of those clicking on a link out of the total number who see the link. For example, imagine 10 people do a web search. In response, they see links to a variety of web pages. Three of the 10 people all choose one particular link. That link then has a 30 percent clickthrough rate. Also called CTR. Source: Webmaster World Forums
The process by which a site will display different content to human visitors than it does to search engine spiders. Most search engines will penalize a site if they discover that it is using cloaking. Those violating these guidelines might find their pages penalized or even banned from a search engine's index. IP deliver is a form of cloaking.
The text present within the html code of a web page that is not part of what the browser presents to the viewer. Used to denote sections and make notes in the code.
The relationship between visitors to a web site and actions considered to be "conversions" such as a sale or request to receive more information. Often expressed as a percentage.
Cost Per Click (CPC)
The amount you pay for each click on your sponsored ad. Also known as
The cost for 1,000 impressions or ad views.
Component of search engines that gather listings by automatically "crawling" the web. A search engine's crawler (also called a spider or robot), follows links to web pages. It makes copies of the web pages found and stores these in the search engine's index.
see Clickthrough Rate.
When pages are removed from a search engines index. This may happen because they have been banned or for other reasons, such as an accidental glitch on the search engines part. Source: Adventive
A site containing links to other sites which are organized into various categories. Examples of directories are Yahoo!, Open Directory, LookSmart, NBCi etc.
A page which has been specifically 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. Generally, search engines will index dynamic content in the same way as static content unless the URL includes a ? mark.
See Doorway Page.
An HTML technique allowing web site designers to display two or more pages in the same browser window. Search engines do not index framed web pages properly - they only index the text present in the NOFRAMES tag and that is generally not enough to attain proper ranking.
See Doorway Page.
Graphical Search Inventory
Banners, and other types of advertising units which can be synchronized to search keywords. Includes pop-ups, browser toolbars and rich media.
A page containing links to various doorway pages.
A paragraph style that is displayed in a large, bold typeface.
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.
Also known as ad views. "Impression" is the term used to describe the viewing of an ad by the user's browser.
The collection of information a search engine has that searchers can query against. With crawler-based search engines, the index is typically copies of all the web pages they have found from crawling the web. With human-powered directories, the index contains the summaries of all web sites that have been categorized.
Any type of marketing that utilizes the internet. Includes but is not limited to - Search Engine Optimization, E-Mail, and Pay per Click.
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 engines. More than one word is also called a keyphrase.
The maximum amount of money you are prepared to pay for every time that a user clicks on your pay-per-click ad on a search engine and thus visits your website.
Denotes how often a keyword appears in a page or in an area of a page. 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.
Using a keyword or keyword phrase repeatedly in visible or invisible areas of a site. Anytime you are trying to trick the search engines to give you better ranking.
Denotes the number of times a keyword appears in a page as a percentage of all the other words in the page. Repeating a keyword too often in order to increase its weight can cause the page to be penalized by the search engines.
An process of connecting with businesses conducting a type of business comparable to yours in order to exchange links and thus move up both in natural search engine robot crawls as well as in pay-per-click campaigns.
A link farm is any group of websites that all hyperlink to every other page in the group. Although some link farms can be created by hand, most are created through automated programs and services.
The specific web page that a visitor ultimately reaches after clicking a search engine listing. Marketers attempt to improve conversion rates by testing various landing page creative, which encompasses the entire user experience including navigation, layout and copy. Source: Did-It.com
A raw count of how "popular" a page is based on the number of backlinks it has. It does not factor in link context or link quality, which are also important elements in how search engines make use of links to impact rankings.
The text that is contained within a link. For example, search engine is a link that contains the link text "search engine."
The information that appears on a search engine's results page in response to a search.
The number of other sites which link to a particular site.
Information placed in a web page not intended for users to see but instead which typically passes information to search engine crawlers, browser software and some other applications.
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. However, some search engines ignore the
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. 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.
Meta Robots Tag
Allows page authors to keep their web pages from being indexed by search engines, especially helpful for those who cannot create robots.txt files. The Robots Exclusion page provides official details.
Meta Search Engine
A search engine that gets listings from two or more other search engines, rather than through its own efforts.
The minimum amount set up a pay-per-click search engine for either a specific keyword, type of keyword, or the overall minimum bid acceptable for any keyword.
See Organic Listings
Listings that are not being paid for by using a pay-per-click or other such type campaign. Usually the left side listings in a search engine. Listings that search engines do not sell (unlike paid listings). Instead, sites appear solely because a search engine has deemed it editorially important for them to be included, regardless of payment. Paid inclusion content is also often considered "organic" even though it is paid for. This is because that content usually appears intermixed with unpaid organic results.
Links on a particular web page leading to other web pages, whether they are within the same web site or other web sites.
The position that your website has on a given search engine. Often seen abbreviated, as in "I've got a PR6 in Google", meaning you are ranked as number 6 under Goggle for a certain keyword.
The number of times a web page is viewed.
A sales technique currently under review by many search engines, paid inclusion is where an advertiser arranges to pay a search engine a certain amount of money to ensure a ranking in their search results, although most search engines do not guarantee the ranking will be among the highest. Many search engines have either stopped this type of plan or are in the process of considering removing this option for online marketing.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising -
A method of marketing where a business pays a certain amount of money each time someone clicks on a small ad on a search engine's results page or homepage and is then taken to the advertiser's website.
Pay Per PerformanceT Web Search
Overture's first PPC product which debuted in 1998.
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, Ah-Ha, Google AdWords, and LookSmart.
Advertising program where pages are guaranteed to be included in a search engine's index in exchange for payment, though no guarantee of ranking well is typically given. For example, Looksmart is a directory that lists pages and sites, not based on position but based on relevance. Marketers pay to be included in the directory, on a CPC basis or per-URL fee basis, with no guarantee of specific placement. Also see XML Feeds. Source: Did-It.com
Stands for pay-per-click and means the same as cost-per-click. See Cost Per Click.
Listings that search engines sell to advertisers, usually through paid placement or paid inclusion programs. In contrast, organic listings are not sold.
Term popularized by some search engines as a synonym for pay-per-click, stressing to advertisers that they are only paying for ads that "perform" in terms of delivering traffic, as opposed to CPM-based ads, where ads cost money, even if they don't generate a click.
Advertising program where listings are guaranteed to appear in response to particular search terms, with higher ranking typically obtained by paying more than other advertisers or by having better keyword to ad to landing page relevancy.
Pay per Click (PPC)
Usually a guaranteed position as a sponsored link in search results based on parameters that you set including how much you agree to pay.
A way to get indexed in search engine and/or directory databases. Usually quicker than free submissions.
Page Rank is a system for ranking web pages developed by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Stanford University. PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value.
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, Ah-Ha, Google AdWords and LookSmart.
(see Page Rank) Also stands for Public Relations and Press Releases.
See Search Terms.
How well a particular web page or web site is listed in a search engine results. Also called position.
A practice by which one site links to other (and vice versa) because they offer complementary products, are an affiliated site, etc. The more links one has to other sites usually results in a higher page ranking in search engines, as long as the links are not perceived as link farming.
Return on Investment (ROI)
The bottom line; that is, the amount of money you make as compared to the amount of money you have spent on all aspects of a campaign. Many tools exist to help you calculate your ROI for whatever undertaking, including pay-per-click campaigns.
Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)
The amount of money that is made above and beyond what is spent to advertize.
After a user enters a search query, the page that is displayed, is call the results page. Sometimes it may be called SERPs, for "search engine results page." Source: Webmaster World Forums
In the context of search engine ranking, it implies the same thing as Spider. In a different context, it is also used to indicate 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.
Stands for "Return On Investment" and refers to the percentage of profit or revenue generated from a specific activity. For example, one might measure the ROI of a paid listing campaign by adding up the total amount spent on the campaign (say $200) versus the amount generated from it in revenue (say $1,000). The ROI would then be 500 percent. Source: Did-It.com
RSS (Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary) is a format used to publish (syndicate) frequently updated web content including, but not limited to, blog entries, news headlines, and podcasts. Think of RSS in terms of your own personal wire service.
Any service generally designed to allow users to search the web or a specialized database of information. Web search engines generally have paid listings and organic listings. Organic listings typically come from crawling the web, though often human-powered directory listings are also optionally offered. Source: Webmaster World Forums
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search Engine Marketing is a broad term that covers any type of keyword marketing on search engines including pay-per-click, search engine optimization and other sponsored ads. The act of marketing a web site via search engines, whether this be improving rank in organic listings, purchasing paid listings or a combination of these and other search engine-related activities.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
A variety of techniques used to enhance your ranking in a search engine.
Search Engine Positioning and Reporting includes search engine optimization (SEO) as well as utilizing pay-per-click campaigns and ranking reports.
Search Engine results pages.
The words (or word) a searcher enters into a search engine's search box. Also used to refer to the terms a search engine marketer hopes a particular page will be found for. Also called keywords, query terms or query.
Acronym for search engine marketing and may also be used to refer to a person or company that does search engine marketing (i.e.., "They're an SEM firm).
Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, a non-profit, formed to increase the awareness of and educate people on the value of search engine marketing.
See search engine optimization
Shopping search engines allow shoppers to look for products and prices in a search environment. Premium placement can be purchased on some shopping search indices.
Any search engine marketing method that a search engine deems to be detrimental to its efforts to deliver relevant, quality search results. Some search engines have written guidelines about what they consider to be spamming, but ultimately any activity a particular search engine deems harmful may be considered spam, whether or not there are published guidelines against it. Also referred to as spamdexing. Source: Webmaster World Forums
A software that visits web sites and indexes the pages present in those sites. Search engines use spiders to build up their databases. Examples - The spider for AltaVista is called Scooter, the spider for Google is called Googlebot. See also Crawler.
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 act to submitting a URL for inclusion into a search engine's index. Unless done through paid inclusion, submission generally does not guarantee listing. In addition, submission does not help with rank improvement on crawler-based search engines unless search engine optimization efforts have been taken. Submission can be done manually (i.e., you fill out an online form and submit) or automated, where a software program or online service may process the forms behind the scenes.
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.
The number of people who visit a web page. If one person visits the same web page 3 or 4 times, the statistics will list them as 1 unique visitor only.
A form of paid inclusion where a search engine is "fed" information about pages via XML, rather than gathering that information through crawling actual pages. Marketers can pay to have their pages included in a spider based search index either annually per URL or on a CPC basis based on an XML document representing each page on the client site. New media types are being introduced into paid inclusion, including graphics, video, audio, and rich media.
Definitions above were drawn from multiple sources, as well as original writing. Content used is copyrighted, and remains property of its respective owners - Webmaster World Forums, Did-It.com, Adventive, SearchEngineWatch.com.
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