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Search Marketing Glossary

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Learn search marketing from the ground up!

Our search marketing glossary is designed to help you learn more about all things search. Scroll through our glossary to get a high-level definition of each term, or click through the provided links to deep-dive into the corresponding topic. If you still want to learn more, head over to our blog for more educational resources.

Enjoy!

A

A/B Testing

A method of comparing two versions of a webpage or mobile app experience against each other in order to test the accuracy of the testing tool.

Abandoned Domains

A web address that potentially has links pointing to it, but has not been renewed and is available for purchase. The process of buying an abandoned domain and then using a 301 status code to automatically redirect to another website is a common link building strategy.

AdSense

Google AdSense is an advertising platform that can help you generate revenue by allowing Google to place ads on your website.

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Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing strategy that allows marketers to expand their reach by rewarding affiliates for promoting their product, service, or site.

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Aging Content

Refers to pages on a site that have lost their timeliness and relevance. Unlike evergreen content, aging content can drag the entire site down.

Algorithm

A series of steps used by a computer or program to solve a problem. The major search engines use proprietary algorithms to measure rank and display web pages in their SERPs. Google claims its search algorithms rely on over 200 measurable factors, some of which are thought to be keywords and inbound links.

Alt Text

Alt text is HTML code that is used to describe an image for visually impaired users that rely on screen-readers.

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Anchor text

Anchor text is the part of a hyperlink or link that is visible to web users.

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Article Spinning

The practice of using a computer program to take an existing article and “rewrite” it. This is done by replacing certain nouns, verbs, and descriptors with synonyms. Webmasters then repost the “new” article to various sites in order to build links. This type of content is considered highly dubious, and search engines target sites that use spun articles for potential penalties.

Authority Linking

The practice of linking to a website that is considered an authority (or at least authoritative) in its field.

Automated Submitting

A site that uses a program to automatically submit its web pages to the search engines, social media sites, and directories. The risk in using such automated programs is that your website may be listed in places that are not relevant or appropriate for your purposes.

Authority (website)

A calculated metric used for ranking; comprised of its domain’s age, content, inbound link profile (quality and quantity), and search query.

B

Backlink

A link that is inbound from an external and independent site. The amount and quality of backlinks a site has will influence its search ranking.

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Backlink Audit

The process of examining a website’s backlink portfolio and making recommendations for link removal and/or disavowal.

Backlink Profile

This refers to the appraisal of the number, quality, variety, and general health of the backlinks a website possesses.

Baidu

The world’s second-largest search engine behind Google, used primarily in China.

Black Hat SEO

Refers to a set of SEO tactics that attempt to increase the rankings of target sites through manipulation such as cloaking, keyword stuffing, and robot-driven link building. Search engines have tried to limit these strategies by penalizing websites using (or abusing) this practice. 

Blog

Short for “weblog,” is an online journal with ongoing posts. Blogs are an integral part of an overall strategy to create an online presence, have a stake in the online community, and attract people to your site. Great blog posts encourage links to your content and increase your perceived authority on the subject you are blogging about.

Bots

Programs designed to crawl and copy web pages for later processing and indexing by search engines. They generally begin with a list of URLs to crawl, and while crawling, the bot identifies all the hyperlinks and adds those URLs to the list of sites to be crawled next. Also known as spiders and web crawlers.

Bounce Rate

The rate at which website visitors leave without interacting with the page. This could be due to many factors including failure to load quickly enough or because the page isn’t what they were looking for.

Brand Awareness

The degree to which consumers are acquainted with or knowledgeable of the qualities/image of a particular brand. Brand awareness is managed by utilizing social media, content marketing, and various other resources that increase public knowledge of a company’s presence.

Brand Mentions

The natural or organic mention of a company’s brand online, often as a link. Business owners should monitor not only their brand mentions but those of their competitors.

Broken Links

A broken link is a link on a website that no longer takes the user to its designated target. Broken links are bad for user experience and having many broken links will make a website less trustworthy.

C

Cache Copy

The search engine’s copy of your website on its server. Every time the search engine crawls and indexes your site, it replaces the cached copy of your website.

Call to Action (CTA)

A call to action is a statement that encourages the reader to do something, such as click, download, contact, etc.

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Canonical

Canon; the official/genuine codified version of a text or document. Canonical aids in the search engine’s quest to credit the original sources of various documents.

Click-through Rate (CTR)

Click-through rate (CTR) is a metric that measures the frequency with which people click on a link as a percentage of those who have viewed that link.

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Cloaking

A black hat SEO strategy that makes a web page look different to a search engine than it does to a site visitor.

Competitive Research

The act of exploring a competitor’s backlink profile for a wealth of information such as market reach, SEO strategy, and keywords.

Content

A term used to describe the available information on a website comprised of all forms of media such as text, links, images, .gifs, graphics, videos, etc.

 

Content Gap

Crucial information about an industry or market that should be covered but was somehow overlooked. If the gap is discovered, creating content to fill the gap can be a powerful way to build relevant links.

Content Marketing

Content that is used to advertise a company web site; such content is created and used across a broad network of sites, social media outlets, forums, etc. to increase sales and brand awareness.

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Conversion

Represents the number of site visitors that respond with a sign-up, purchase, or call to action.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Conversion rate optimization is the process of increasing the number of users who visit your site that complete a desired action or goal.

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Cost Per Click (CPC)

Cost per click is the monetary value assigned to each click you earn from paid search advertising.

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Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM)

Cost per thousand, or CPM, refers to how much it costs to reach 1,000 people with your advertisement.

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Crawl Frequency

Refers to how often a website is crawled. A site with more authority and unique content will be crawled more frequently than a site with low link authority.

CSS

Stands for Cascading Style Sheets and refers to the codes used to control the style or appearance of a website.

D

Dead Link

A link that does not work. A dead link differs from that of a broken link because a broken link may still be working, just not for the intended purpose.

Deep Links

Links that point not to a site’s homepage, but to a page deeper in the website. For example, www.samplesite.com/page/information.

Deep Link Ratio

The relation between the number of deep links to home page links on your site.

Deindex

A site that has been removed from a search index and not included in the SERPs anymore. Deindexing is different from a site penalty, which means that the site has only lost rankings.

Directory

Websites that contain lists of products, services, or resources separated into categories and/or subcategories. Submissions can be human-edited, or automatically published.

Dofollow Links

A link that allows link equity to flow to the URL being linked to.

Domain Authority

Also known as DA, it a metric developed by SEOMoz that predicts how a website will perform in search engine rankings. DA is scored on a logarithmic scale ranging from zero to one hundred points. The higher the score, the greater the authority.

Duplicate Content

The content (usually text) on one site that identically matches the content on another site. Having duplicate content can adversely impact the amount of trust the site receives from search engines. Sites with canonical issues can also be affected by duplicate content.

Dynamic Website

A site that is frequently changed and will sometimes change based on the unique user’s interaction with it.

E

Ego Bait

A tactic that involves posting flattering content about an individual in an effort to get them to link to your site or content.

Embed Code

HTML code that allows users to obtain the content for inclusion on their own site. e.g. YouTube includes embed code for the videos on its site.

Embedded Link

A type of hyperlink that has been embedded by the author into the existing text of an article or website.

Evergreen Content

Information and data that is timeless and ever-useful. Evergreen content is not tied to current events or trends, so there is less chance of an audience losing interest in the specific content. Evergreen content should be added to your site frequently to promote natural link building.

External Links

A link that links out from your site to another.

F

First Crawled

Denotes the first time a website or page was crawled by a web bot.

Flash

A type of multimedia technology that allows Web developers to incorporate interactive content and animations onto their websites. Flash animations will only look the same on different browsers if they are equipped with the necessary plug-ins.

Footer

The section of web content located at the bottom (or foot) of the page. Most often contains technical information such as copyright information for the website, the name of the website’s author and business, address, and the date of the most recent update (if applicable). The footer is also treated as its own section of the web page, separate from the header, content, and sidebars.

Forum

Online discussion sites where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages. Depending on the forum’s settings, users can be anonymous or may have to register and log-in to post messages.

G

Google Algorithm

A formula employed by the Google search engine to determine which pages are most relevant to a user’s search query.

Google Analytics

A tool offered by the search engine that allows site owners to view all of the available statistics regarding the site’s traffic, page rank, unique site views, and other demographic data.

Grey Hat SEO

Refers to link building tactics that are neither perfectly white nor obviously black hat. The term grey is similar to a “grey area” where exceptions to the rule reside. 

Guest Posting

An article on a website or blog from a writer who does not regularly contribute to the site. Can be a great source for relevant backlinks and can increase traffic to your site.

H

Header Tags

Header tags — such as H1, H2, and so on — are one of several HTML elements that affect on-page search engine optimization (or SEO).

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Home Page

The first page that visitors will see when they visit your website. It is important that the home page is focused and provides a clear picture of the services the site offers and the brand.

HTML Source

The raw programming code that can be viewed by right-clicking on a page and clicking “View Source” or by holding down Ctrl + U.

Hummingbird Update

An algorithm change for Google launched in September 2013. This update was designed to interpret search queries such as questions and sentences more as a human would, rather than just calling up websites with associated keywords. The effect is that Google now brings up more relevant deep link pages rather than a home page.

Hyperlink

Text on a website that contains HTML code. When that text is clicked, it directs the user to the linked target or site on the web.

I

Impressions

Digital marketing impressions, also known as ad views, describe the moment at which an ad is loaded on a web page.

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Inbound Link

A link to your site from another site.

Inbound Marketing

Refers to “earning” leads to your site with good content, social shares, and other strategies. With inbound marketing, potential conversions come to you; not the other way around.

Index

Indexing refers to the process of search engines crawling the internet to discover webpages and storing that information within an organized database called an index.

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Infographic

Short for information graphic, is a graphic visualization of data or other information. 

Interactive Content

Web content that responds to a user’s input such as playing a song, game, or video on a site. Compelling interactive content can earn quality backlinks.

Internal Link

Links between web pages on the same domain. Internal links help visitors navigate your site and help search engines understand your site's hierarchy. 

Internet Protocol (IP)

The primary procedure for relaying and routing data across networks. It has been used since its development in the 1970s, and it essentially makes the internet possible.

Interstitial

A form of Internet advertising that involves force-loading a full-page advertisement when a user navigates between pages on a domain. Usually, it will provide a link allowing the user to skip past it.

IP Address

A numeric representation of a computer’s “location” when it is connected to the internet. IP addresses are part of the overall way computers network and interact with one another.

J

JavaScript

A scripting language developed to create interactive effects within web browsers. Most search engines do not index content in JavaScript.

jQuery

An open-source JavaScript library that helps simplify the creation and coding of various web applications.

JSON-LD

Stands for JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data and describes a method for encoding linked data with JSON which makes it easier to organize, read, and write.

Juice

Commonly referred to as link juice, it’s the quality and authority of the links in your backlink portfolio. Links from authoritative and relevant websites pass more value to your website, potentially increasing your site’s position in search engine rankings.

K

Keyword Density

Keyword density describes the ratio of SEO keywords on a webpage as a percentage of the total words on that page.

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Keyword Equity

The amount of authority or relevancy assigned to a domain based on the keywords in that website’s tags, URL, and content.

Keyword Popularity

A keyword’s popularity refers to how many times that keyword was searched for during a set amount of time. This is similar to “trending” terms on social media sites such as Twitter.

Keyword Research

The investigation of a search term’s popularity used to determine the best search terms and anchor text to increase a given website’s search engine visibility.

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Keyword Stuffing

A spam or Black Hat SEO technique that entails loading pages with keywords that are related to the user’s search query with intent to draw search engines and users to the page. 

Key performance indicator (KPI)

A key performance indicator (KPI) is a specific, measurable value that a business uses to track progress towards desired goals.

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L

Landing Page

The destination of a given hyperlink. That hyperlink might be embedded in the text, an image, an advertisement, a flash game or a video.

Last Crawled

The last time a website or page was crawled by a search engine bot. This information used to be available in Google’s Webmaster Tools, but they have since removed it. To check your site’s last crawl date you can use the “cache” search operator. For example, entering the search cache:example.com will display the last cached copy of the site along with its last crawled date.

Lead Generation

Lead generation describes the marketing process that is implemented in order to capture and convert interested customers.

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Link Building

A system of tools, tactics, marketing strategies, and sometimes schemes created with the purpose of gaining links back to your website. Gaining links can increase the position of a website in search engine rankings, and that leads to increased traffic and revenue.

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Link Disavowal

A formal request to Google to disregard certain harmful links accompanied by evidence of attempts to have those link removed by the responsible webmasters.

Link Equity

The amount of value a link has to the page it links to. Link equity can be measured by PageRank (Google’s system), the site’s domain authority (offered by Moz) and the relevance of the two pages.

Link Neighborhood

The location of your website as determined by the sites that link to you and the sites that you link to. Just as links to and from authoritative and relevant sites can boost your rankings, links to and from bad sites can bring you down. 

Link Scheme

Any scheme that attempts to artificially raise link authority. Link schemes should be avoided in order to avoid penalties from Google.

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Link Velocity

The speed at which a site gains new links. Generally, a steady and reasonable increase of links enhances a website’s potential to rank in the SERPs. Acquiring a large number of links quickly is a red flag for search engines and usually indicates some type of automation at work.

Linking Domains

The domains that have given links to your site. The greater the variety the better.

Local SEO

A geotargeted optimization strategy that focuses on name, address, and phone number citations to build an association between a website/business and a certain location.

Long Tail Keywords

Phrases that are usually specific to a niche or industry. These are easier to rank for than more general, high traffic keywords. Optimizing for many different long tails can help rank a website for important individual keywords without the danger of over-optimization.

M

Manual Submission

The process of submitting URLs to search engines manually rather than using software that automates the process. Manual submission tends to be a more effective and inexpensive method of ensuring that your pages are indexed.

Marketing Funnel

A representation of the sales process that accurately describes a consumer’s journey from awareness of the product to the moment of purchase, illustrated in a funnel-shaped diagram.

Meta Description

A meta description is a short synopsis of a webpage that displays in search, underneath the title of the corresponding page.

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Meta Tags

These are special HTML tags which define metadata about a particular HTML document. They can specify things such as page descriptions, keywords, author’s name, and date last modified. This information is used by web browsers and search engines but is not displayed on the web page itself.

N

Naked Link

A link whose anchor text is the same as the website’s URL. For example pageonepower.com.

Navigation Bar

A static list of links that lead to other locations on the site. The navigation bar serves as the primary means for easily navigating a website.

Nofollow Links

Links that have the HTML rel attribute that tells a spider or web bot to not follow that specific link. Essentially, this means that the site or document it links to is not (fully) endorsed.

No Index Links

A command found within the website’s code that notifies robots not to index a specific link or page. The page or link will be reviewed by search engines but it won’t be indexed.

NAP

Acronym for Name, Address, Phone number, used to solidify local SEO for a website.

O

Off-Page Optimization

Refers to optimization practices that occur externally from your site. The most common off-page optimization strategy is link building.

On-Page Optimization

A part of SEO that involves optimizing the source code of a website. More particularly: HTML, header tags, URLs, and the robots.txt.

Organic Link

A link that your site attracts naturally with quality content. It’s the objective of link bait or any other quality-driven web initiative.

Organic Search

Returned search results that appear because of their relevance to the search query and/or keywords. In contrast to paid search results, these results have not been purchased and show up based on their own merit.

Outbound Link

A link from one website leading to another website. Relevant outbound links can help build credibility and boost rankings.

P

PageRank

A link analysis algorithm named after Larry Page and used by Google. It is a measure of the importance of a web page based on the incoming links from other web pages.

Paid Links

When one website offers a link to another website for money. Paid links are a violation of Google’s quality guidelines, and therefore buying or selling links is a high-risk proposition. 

Panda Update

A Google algorithm update that changed the way web pages are ranked and penalized sites with poor quality content.

Pay Per Click (PPC)

Pay Per Click (PPC) is an advertising campaign with the intention of driving user activity to a given business's website, where the advertiser pays for each ad click.

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Penalty

A virtual reprimand against site owners for engaging in practices that search engine companies find unacceptable such as black hat SEO. A penalty typically consists of a site losing rankings in the SERP. Many penalties are timed (30, 60, or 90 days), while some are permanent, remaining in place until the offending issue is resolved.

Penguin Update

An algorithm shift created by Google that went into effect in April of 2012. This updated targeted spammy and manipulative backlinking tactics.

Profile Links

Usually found on forums or message boards, profile links are very low value and anyone who wishes to register can often get a link from their newly created profile. As a link building strategy, it has been abused by spammers and is therefore not recommended.

Q

Query

Search string that a user enters into a search engine.

Qualified Traffic

Refers to website visitors who fit the demographics of a website's ideal target audience, and are likely to convert.

R

Reciprocal Links

Occurs when one site offers to link to another site if they get a link in return. Technically, reciprocal links are a violation of Google’s quality guidelines which means websites can be penalized if caught engaging in this practice. 

Reconsideration Request

A formal written request accompanied by an extensive link disavowal request that’s submitted to Google’s webspam team through Webmaster Tools in order to have a manual ranking penalty removed from a website.

rel=doindex

An HTML command that can be used to tell robots to index a specific link or page, even if the respective page or section of the website has a blanket noindex command.

rel=noindex

An HTML command that tells robots not to index either a page (if it’s in the header) or an individual link.

Resource Pages

A site that collects and aggregates websites and content related to a specific online niche and publishes this information into a list of web pages. Many specialized markets have websites that host resource pages and it can be worthwhile to pursue them for relevant links.

Robots.txt

Robots.txt is a text file that tells search engines what to crawl on a site by using certain commands.

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Root Domain

A root domain is the base domain of a site. For example, www.ebay.com, not www.ebay.com/felines/kittens/kittenbeds.

RSS Feeds

Short for RDF Site Summary, RSS feeds are subscriptions to the posts the user selects for aggregation into a personalized stream of content.

S

Schema

Schema is data markup within HTML that helps search engine crawlers better understand a webpage.

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Scraped Content

Content gleaned from the internet via a computer program and posted on another site.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search engine marketing (SEM) refers to the paid side of search marketing which involves paying for advertisements within search engine results and on webpages.

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Search engine results page (SERP)

The webpages that search engines display after a searcher inputs a question or query into their platform.

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Search Modifiers

Types of modifiers used in a web search to affect the results of the search. For example inurl, intitle, quotation marks, and intext modifiers.

Search Ranking

Search ranking or SEO ranking refers to the position a website or webpage holds within a specific search engine results page.

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Semantic Search

Google’s move to improve search accuracy by incorporating more intuitive artificial intelligence and focusing more on searcher intent with the contextual meaning of terms as they appear in the searchable data space.

SEO

Acronym for Search Engine Optimization which involves using technical tools and strategies to maximize a website’s potential for ranking highly in the page results from a web search.

SEO Competition

A competitor, in the context of SEO, is a website or webpage that is competing with your target page for ranking in the search engine results.

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SEO Keywords

SEO keywords are the terms and phrases associated with your business that people use when entering a query into search engines to find your website.

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Sitewide Link

A sitewide link on a page remains in the same location on the website, no matter what page of the site you are on. These are typically in a static header or footer of a website.

Spam

Unsolicited commercial-based content generated for monetary purposes.

Spider

A search engine robot (bot) that crawls a site for information to determine site-relevance to a queried term.

Subpage

A page that is not the top-level domain. Pages following the forward-slash (/) of a site’s root domain are the site’s subpages.

T

Testimonial

A positive affirmation on a company or its products. Writing and submitting testimonials to sites that publish these increases links, brand awareness, etc.

Tiered Link Building

A link pyramid where very low quality and low trust sites link to slightly higher quality and more trustworthy sites that then link to better sites in turn. This is repeated in layers until a pool of fairly high value, high trust sites are created with acceptable backlink portfolios. These can be used to link to high-value sites without compromising that website's backlink portfolio. This technique is considered black hat SEO.

Title tag

The title that shows when you look at a webpage on a search engine results page (SERP).

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Traffic

The numbers of web visitors to your site. Google offers a free tool called Google Analytics which will provide traffic data for your site.

TLD

Acronym for Top Level Domain, the highest point of a given domain in the hierarchical Domain Name System.

U

UGC

Acronym for User-Generated Content, UGC is a variety of media/content available for use to the public using modern technologies such as forums, blogs, or Tumblrs. Utilizing it allows sites to have a broader scope of a given topic.

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

A unique selling proposition (USP) is a feature that distinguishes a business from competitors while meeting a defined consumer need.

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Unnatural Link

A link that has been intentionally placed by a webmaster on a site for the sole purpose of deceiving the search engines.

Unnatural Link Warning

An unnatural link warning is a notice to a webmaster from a search engine such as Google. These warnings typically say that a site has unnatural links that can negatively impact a site’s rankings.

URL

Uniform Resource Locator (aka web address) which refers to the list of characters that appear in a web browser's address bar. For example, pageonepower.com/search-glossary

URL Structure

Refers to the organization of a URL.

For example, http://www.example.com/subject/specific/ being good.

http://www.example.com/KJFKUH823hf being bad.

V

Viewable Impression

Also known as impressions, viewable impressions are a metric used to estimate how many people view a given advertisement.

View-through Conversion

A metric tracked through Google's display ad network which refers to visitors that converted within 30 days of viewing your ad even though they never clicked the advertisement.

W

Webinar

A seminar or class held online. Users can watch via live video feed or listen in over the phone when invited to from the webinar hosts.

Website Structure

Refers to the organizational structure of a domain. This structure should create an information hierarchy from the home page to deep links ranging from general to specific and organizing various topics into groups with similar topics to make it easier to navigate.

Web Crawler

Web crawlers — also known as “crawlers,” “bots,” “web robots,” or “web spiders” — are automated programs that methodically browse the web for the sole purpose of indexing web pages and the content they contain.

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Web 2.0 Sites

Sites that allow a user to interact with an online community by uploading content and commenting on other users’ content.

White Hat SEO

Search engine optimization practices that are in line with published search engine best practices and webmaster guidelines. Typically, white hat SEO involves optimizing a website with useful and fresh content and natural link building. 

Widgets

A small JavaScript or program that blogs and other websites use to create additional content depth on a site such as an email subscription form, contact form, or a live Twitter feed. Widgets can also be used as a tool, e.g. an interest rate calculator for realtor sites.

Wiki

A site that allows all users to contribute information and constantly seeks new information or contributions to make existing information more accurate, complete, and authoritative. However, a wiki site is only as reliable as the contributors on it and the people who moderate the content for accuracy.

X

XML Sitemap

An XML file that provides a map of a website by listing all pages to help search engines better understand site structure and crawl the site more quickly and effectively.

X-Robots-Tag

An element of the HTTP header reponse for a given URL that can instruct the same directives as a robots meta tag.

Y

Yandex

Yandex is the major search engine in Russia.

Z

Zero-Click Searches

Zero-click searches are searches conducted within Google that don't result in the searcher clicking one of the results or leaving the search engine.

Zero Position

Zero position or position zero refers to the Featured Snippet results which appear above the first position on a SERP. Since these results appear before position one, ranking here is commonly referred to as "ranking zero".