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SEO Glossary - Ranking Factors

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Alt Attribute
an HTML element specified within an image tag. The text in the alt attribute will be displayed in the place of the image while the image loads or if a user has images turned off in their browser. In most browsers the text also appears as a "tool tip" when a user hovers the mouse pointer over an image after it has loaded. Creating an alt attribute for images is not required, but recommended since the alt text is factored into the algorithms of most search engines.
abbr. alternative. The ALT tags are instructions included in the HTML tags for describing graphics. When ALT text is included, a hint box with a description will appear when someone hovers their mouse over it. Including alternative text is a very important part of making your website accessible to people with disabilities. In addition, the ALT tags are important to search engines, as they look for the presence of your keywords in the three first ALT tags on your page. Therefore, the presence of your keywords in these tags can significantly improve your rankings.
Alt Text
short Alternative Text. It is an <img> property that is used as a placeholder when the image is loading (and for usability purposes). In the case of image links, it seems to have weight akin to anchor text.
an HTML tag that marks a specific point in an HTML document being either the source or destination of a hypertext link. Anchors allow you to create links from one hypertext document to another. They can point to different sections within the same document making their use common on single Web pages that have a lot of text. Anchors are often used to navigate a long document consisting of many sections. The <a name> tag specifies a place in the document. To point at the place defined by the <a name> tag, <a href> tag is used with the anchor name after '#' symbol in the URL.
the beginning of the main section of your Web page. The presentation area of a page is located between the opening and closing body tag (<BODY>...</BODY>). It includes all the images, links, text, headings and forms.
a clickable graphic that takes a user to another page or executes a program, such as a software demo or a video player.
Code Bloat
when a web page or a site is so full of code (scripts, font tags, redundant HTML) that it becomes hard to edit, slow to download and more difficult for search engines to index.
the HTML tags are used to hide text from browsers. Some search engines ignore text between these symbols but others index such text as if the comment tags were not there. Comments are often used to hide JavaScript code from non-compliant browsers.
Comment Tag
an HTML tag that is invisible to end-users, but can be picked up by search engines.
abbr. Cascading Style Sheet. A standard for specifying the appearance of text and other elements. CSS was developed for use with HTML in Web pages but is also used in other situations, notably in applications built using XPFE. CSS is typically used to provide a single "library" of styles that are used over and over throughout a large number of related documents, as in a website. A CSS file might specify that all numbered lists are to appear in italics. By changing that single specification the look of a large number of documents can be easily changed.
a descriptive text which concisely explains the purpose of a page. A Meta tag exists for this, and is used by some search engines when displaying the page as a result in SERPs.
abbr. Dynamic Hypertext Markup Language. It allows for the content to be visually organized into several different layers, one above the other. All the dynamics is purely browser-side and consists of advanced usage of CSS (cascading style sheets) and JavaScript to make the pages interact with the visitors.
every HTML document should have a HEAD tag at the beginning of its code. The information contained inside the head tag (<HEAD>...</HEAD>) describes a document. It does not show up on the page in the browser. The Title tag and Meta tags are found inside the Head tag.
many search engines give extra weight and importance to the text found inside HTML heading sections. It is generally considered good advice to use headings when designing web pages and to place keywords inside headings.
Headings H1-H6
syntax <h1>Keyword in the Heading</h1>, <h2>Keyword in the Heading</h2>, etc.
There are standard rules for the structure of HTML pages. They are in a document-like fashion: first the title, then a major heading that usually describes the main purpose of the section. Subheadings highlight the key points of each subsection. Many search engines rank the words found in headings higher than the words found in the text of the document. Some search engines also evaluate information about keywords found in all headings together.
Home Page
a web page that your browser is set to use when it starts up. The more common meaning refers to the main web page for a business, organization, person or simply the main page out of a collection of web pages, e.g. "Check out N's new Home Page".
abbr. Hypertext Markup Language (file.htm)
abbr. Hypertext Markup Language (file.html)
HTML Table
arrangement of data - text, preformatted text, images, links, forms, form fields, other tables, etc. - into rows and columns of cells. Nowadays, especially in the context of Web 2.0, the use of tables for page layout is widely discouraged by expert Web designers since it makes the source code less readable and slowly rendering in Web browsers and the page content harder to update. By their nature, tables are meant for laying out tabular data, such as lists and matrices. For cleaner page layout, CSS is used nowadays, which also makes pages an easier nutrition for Web crawlers.
abbr. Hypertext Transfer Protocol
abbr. Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure
Internal and External Pages
internal pages are located on the website that you have scanned, external pages are found on any other domain.
abbr. JavaScript (file.js)
a scripting language based on the concept of prototype-based programming. The language is best known for its use in websites (as client-side JavaScript), but is also used to enable scripting access to objects embedded in other applications.
Keywords Meta Tag
syntax <META name="Keywords" content="small business, business, advertising, sales">
an HTML Meta tag that lists all of the main keywords and key phrases that are contained on that web page. Some search engines use the Keywords Meta tag to help rank web pages in their databases. Google does not.
META Description
syntax <META name="Description" content="Web page description">
the Meta tag that provides a brief description of a Web page. The importance of the Description Meta tag for ranking purposes has decreased significantly over the years, but there are still search engines supporting this tag. They log descriptions of the indexed pages and often display them with the Title in their results.
META Keywords
syntax <META name="Keywords" content="keyword1, keyword2, keyword3">
the Meta tag that lists keywords or phrases about the contents of a web page. It provides some extra text for crawler-based search engines. However, because of frequent attempts to abuse their system, most search engines ignore this tag. Please note that none of the major crawler-based search engines, except for Inktomi, supports the Keywords Meta tag.
META Refresh
syntax <META http-equiv="refresh" content="0;url=">
the META Refresh tag is a way to redirect or refresh users to another Web page after a specified number of seconds. META Refresh tags can be used for a doorway page specifically optimized for a particular search engine. It is accessed first by users, who then are redirected to the main Web site.
META Robots
syntax <META name="Robots" content="INDEX,FOLLOW">
the Robots instructions are normally placed in robots.txt file that is uploaded to the root directory of a domain. However, if a webmaster does not have access to /robots.txt, then instructions can be placed in a Robots META tag. This tag tells the search engine robot whether a page should be indexed, included its database and its links followed.
Meta Robots Tag
a HTML tag that instructs spiders to either index the page or not. Common uses are all, none, index, noindex, follow and nofollow.
Meta Search
a search of searches. A query is submitted to more than one search engine or directory, and results are reported from all the engines, possibly after removal of duplicates and sorting, example at
Meta Search Engine
compiles its results from many different search engines and returns them in one combined listing. An up-and-coming Meta search engine is Vivisimo. Other well-known meta search engines are IxQuick and Dogpile. Many surfers use Meta search engines as a convenient way to collate the best results from many different sources. In fact, many surfers don't even realize they are using Meta search engines. A general trend for some search engines was to combine a number of different sources for their results. For example, Freeserve uses Yahoo! to enhance its listings.
Meta Tag
a construct placed in the HTML header of a web page, providing information which is not visible to browsers. The most common Meta tags (and those most relevant to search engines) are KEYWORDS and DESCRIPTION. The KEYWORDS tag allows the author to emphasize the importance of certain words and phrases used within the page. Some search engines will respond to this information - others will ignore it. Don't use quotes around the keywords or key phrases. The DESCRIPTION tag allows the author to control the text of the summary displayed when the page appears in the results of a search. Again, some search engines will ignore this information. The HTTP-EQUIV Meta tag is used to issue HTTP commands, and is frequently used with the REFRESH tag to refresh page content after a given number of seconds. Gateway pages sometimes use this technique to force browsers to a different page or site. Most search engines are wise to this, and will index the final page and/or reduce the ranking. Infoseek has a strong policy against this technique, and they might penalize your site, or even ban it. Other common Meta tags are GENERATOR (usually advertising the software used to generate the page) and AUTHOR (used to credit the author of the page, and often containing e-mail address, homepage URL and other information).
the Meta information tag used to tell visiting search engine robots how to behave (e.g. not to index a certain page, or not to archive a certain page).
a text file that is used to control spiders that visit your website. Only spiders that conform to the Robots exclusion standard will obey the contents of the robots.txt file. This file allows you to grant an exclusive access to certain folders, file types and specific files depending on the robot accessing the site.
Site Depth
the number of pages contained within a website. Sites with more depth have a higher number of pages.
Site Architecture
in terms of SEO/SEM, the entire framework that supports your website content and thus defines the way search engine spiders index it. Site architecture consists of the navigation structure of your website, the page layout and the structure of various elements on your page, your file and directory system and the types of files you use.
Site Map
a web page that links to all pages found on your website in an intelligent and coherent manner. Such a page is excellent resource in getting a search engine to spider all pages found within a website.

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