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SEO Glossary - Search Engines

Search Engines | Keyword Research | Ranking Factors | SEO Techniques | SEO Submission | Link Building | Usability | Paid Advertising | Social Media Marketing | Email Marketing | Web Analytics


a property of the relationship between words in a search engine (or directory) query. Search engines often allow users to specify that words should be next to one another or somewhere near one another in the web pages searched.
Agent Name Delivery
the process of sending search engine spiders to a tailored page, yet directing your visitors to what you want them to see. This is done using server side includes (or other dynamic content techniques). SSI, for example, can be used to deliver different content to the client depending on the value of HTTP_USER_AGENT. Most normal browser software packages have a user agent string which starts with "Mozilla" (coined from Mosaic and Godzilla). Most search engine spiders have specific agent names, such as "Gulliver", "Infoseek sidewinder", "Lycos spider" and "Scooter".
short Ask Jeeves
a complex mathematical formula used by a search engine to rank the web pages that it finds by crawling the web. The search engines' algorithms are the top secret. There are many people outside of the search engine industry that attempt to reverse-engineer the code so they can understand how they work in an attempt to help people to rank higher in the search results. Algorithm is a set of rules that a search engine uses to rank the listings contained within its index in response to a particular query. No search engine reveals exactly how its own algorithm works to protect itself from competitors and those who wish to spam the search engine.
Alexa Traffic Rank
is a trustworthy index of a page popularity. Alexa, a California-based subsidiary of, collects information about traffic to websites that is measured according to the number of users who visit a website having an Alexa toolbar installed in their browsers. The most important thing to remember about Alexa Traffic Rank is that it is a REVERSE indication. The LOWER the number, the MORE hits a website gets. Figures from 10,000 and lower indicate a really good traffic.
once one of the most popular search engines with a large database on the web ( Until 1998, this search engine provided the search results for Yahoo!. AltaVista was indexing all the words in a web page, and new pages were normally added to the database fairly quickly, within a couple of working days. You were asked to submit just the home page of your website. The AltaVista spider would then explore your site and index a representative sample of the pages. The use of keyword meta tags was penalized. AltaVista placed various alternative options before its search results, including suggested questions (using the Ask Jeeves service), RealNames. Paid entries were appearing at the start of the search results. In 2003 AltaVista was acquired by Yahoo!. In 2011 Yahoo! discontinued the service. The search panel was replaced with a Yahoo! search, with all results returned on a Yahoo! page.
abbr. America Online
AOL Netfind
once a default search engine for users of the AOL Internet service provider.
short AlltheWeb
abbr. AltaVista
if a website uses any unethical tactics (spam) when attempting to rank high in the search engines a website can be banned from appearing in the results and may get blacklisted for life. It is possible to remove the spam from your site and email the search engines in question you can get your site reincluded and ranking again, but this can take a long time.
Microsoft's search engine (former MSN Search)
in SEO terms, refers to being banned from submitting to a particular search engine.
Boolean Search
a search formed by joining simple terms with AND, OR and NOT for the purpose of limiting or qualifying the search. If you search information on cod fishing in Portugal and your search also brings back information on sardine fishing and diving in Spain, the Boolean search "cod AND fishing AND Portugal NOT diving" can narrow your search focus.
Broad Match
your ad appears when a search query contains words of your keyword, regardless of their order and even if other words are also included. For example, a broad match for the keyword "baseball shoes" would include "shoes for baseball" and "baseball t-shirts and shoes". Broad matches are usually less targeted than exact or phrase matches.
Click Popularity
measures the relevance of search results by monitoring user behavior from the search results. If a user clicks on a result and returns to the SERPs within a short period, the site is viewed as less relevant and downgraded in the rankings. Similarly, if click-through rates on the first page of results are low and users have to click through to the second or third page to find relevant results, this is taken into consideration when re-ordering results. Click popularity algorithm is one of the most effective ways of presenting relevant search results. However, they are vulnerable to manipulation by click-bots which attempt to artificially boost click-through rates. A pioneer in click popularity was Direct Hit.
a process of clicking on a link in a search engine result page to visit an indexed site. This is an important link in the process of receiving visitors to a site via search engines. Good ranking may be useless if visitors do not click on a link which leads to the indexed site. The secret here is to provide a good descriptive title and an accurate and interesting description.
in search engine results pages, a limiting of each represented website to one or two listings.
another name for a search engine spider. A robotic program that visits and downloads web pages and stores them to be inspected by the search engines later.
Crawler Based SEs
complex applications used to gather and sort information about websites, then provide search results relevant to a user's query. To get information about websites, crawler-based search engines use special automated programs known as crawlers, spiders, bots or robots. Some search engines only accept submitted information and bring back pages that are located at the submitted URLs. More advanced and powerful search engines crawl the Web regularly and cache the pages found. When a search engine user requests some information, the search engine will search for the requested information in its index. Based on the keyword relevancy algorithms, it will decide in which order the found pages are displayed.
Crawling the Web
a job of a search engine crawler. It will follow a set list of pre-defined links that are deemed worthwhile to follow.
website is removed from a search engine's index. There are several possible reasons for this, including extended downtime and techniques perceived by search engines to be "spam".
False Drop
a web page retrieved from a search engine or directory which is not relevant to the query used. This could be for one of the following reasons: (1) a web page contained the queried keywords, but they were used in a wrong context, with a different meaning or with a different inter-relationship; (2) a web page is an attempt of spamdexing; (3) a search engine has a fault in its database or a bug in its query program.
the act of filtering out web pages that use spam to promote their pages. Filter is a software routine that examines web pages during a robot's crawl looking for search engine spam. If a filter detects the use of spam on a page, a ranking penalty is assessed. Common filters look for hidden text, links to bad neighborhoods and many other SEO techniques that search engines don't like.
Filter Word
Please refer to Stop Word
Filter Words
stop words like "is", "am", "were", "was", "the", "for", "do" that search engines deem irrelevant for indexing purposes.
Google crawlers that are known to add pages to the Google index more promptly than others.
short Google.
a major search engine on the Internet today with approximately 65% of all search traffic. When people speak of search engine optimization (SEO), they often refer specifically to ranking on Google.
Google API
Google Bot
Google spider that crawls the web looking for web pages. It can be recognized by a user-agent string which contains Goolgebot in it.
Google Dance
the Google updates used to be called so among the experts. At the beginning of a month a deep crawl of the Web took place, then after a couple of weeks the PageRank for the retrieved pages was calculated and at the end of a month the index database was finally updated. Later, Google switched to an incremental daily update model (sometimes referred to as everflux) so the concept of Google dance gradually became historical.
Google Everflux
an anomaly by which web pages can quickly appear and then fall out of the Google rankings. Usually this occurs to newly added web pages.
Google Toolbar
a downloadable toolbar for Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox that allows to search Google without visiting a Google's website. The toolbar also displays the Google PageRank (PR) of a page currently viewed in the browser. One of the latest versions also included a very good popup-blocker. In 2011 Google discontinued supporting the Google Toolbar for the Mozilla Firefox browser.
Please refer to Google
a website's home page or so-called front cover to a website.
(also known as spiderability) whether a site can be indexed by a search engine spider. If a site is not indexable or if a site's indexability decreased, positioning will suffer.
the search engines collect information and include it into their databases of search results. The process involves extracting the machine-readable text from web pages and storing it in a format that can be efficiently searched. Indexing is performed by search engine spiders.
the search engines that automatically crawl the Internet for web page and news group content. Due to the automated nature of indices they can contain a huge amount of information that is regularly updated every time the search engine spiders find new content. The major search engine indices include Google, Yahoo! and Bing.
short Inktomi
Live searches
the information on how often people search a given keyword on the Internet.
Directory/PPC Engine hybrid.
short LookSmart
a meta search engine ( on which the search results from various search engines are summarized in an easy to read form.
abbr. Microsoft Network
MSN Search
Please refer to Bing
a proprietary numerical score that is assigned by Google to every web page in their index. PR for each page is calculated by Google using a special mathematical algorithm, based on the number and quality (as determined by Google) of the inbound links to a web page. PageRank is a technical asset of Google, it is an exponential-based value that signifies importance of a web page. The PR is displayed as a green bar with a numeric value (from 1 to 10) in the Google Toolbar whenever you visit a website.
a punishment levied on a web page by a search engine as a result of using an SEO tactic that it doesn't approve. Tactics that most often result in penalties include using hidden text, sneaky redirects and linking to a bad neighborhood. A penalty usually results in a web page being credited a lower Google PageRank (PR) than it actually earned. Penalties also result in a very low ranking on the SERPS where it will hardly be found by any web surfers.
a ranking assigned by a search engine to a page. The position denotes where that page is displayed in the search results for a given keyword or phrase.
a process of placing the websites or web pages by a search engine or a directory so that the most relevant sites appear first in the search results for a particular query. Software such as Web CEO can be used to determine how a web page is positioned on a particular search engine when using a particular search phrase.
abbr. PageRank
a request for information, usually to a search engine or a database. The user types in words or topics, and the search engine returns matching results from its database. A query is at the center of every search engine interaction.
the order by which a search engine shows results extracted from its database per searcher's query. Each search engine uses its own unique algorithm to rank web pages. The major search engines use ranking algorithms that combine both keyword relevance and page popularity.
Ranking Algorithm
a methodology by which search engines calculate positioning results. Ranking algorithms can be influenced by a wide variety of factors including domain name, spiderable content, submission practices, HTML code and link popularity. Search engine ranking algorithms are closely guarded and constantly updated to attempt to filter out those sites which attempt to manipulate the results.
a process of informing a search engine or a directory that a new web page or website should be indexed.
a measure of how closely a search result, or a keyword-based ad, matches the user's keyword. Relevance is a key to harnessing the power of search advertising, regardless of whether the keyword-based ad appears on a results page or on a related content page. The more relevant your ad, the more likely the audience will be motivated to respond to your call to action. At the same time, the relevance of your ad and your ad's landing page can enhance the user's search and browsing experience, where irrelevant ads can cause users to ignore advertising altogether.
a degree to which the content on a web page that is returned in a list of search results (SERPS) matches the search query. In other words, if you use the search phrase "big blue widgets" and get a page that deals with "small yellow thingamajigs", the relevancy of that page is very low.
Relevancy Algorithm
a method used by search engines and directories to match the keywords in a query with the content of all web pages in their databases so that these web pages could be suitably ranked in the search results. Each search engine and directory uses a different algorithm and frequently changes its formula to improve relevancy.
the Google's algorithm which detects how old your page is and how long ago it has been updated. Usually pages with stale content tend to gradually slip down the result list, while new pages just crawled initially have higher positions than they would if based on PageRank only. However, some time after gaining boosted positions, new website disappear from the top places in search results, since Google wants to verify whether your website is really continued and was not created with the sole purpose to benefit from artificially high rankings over the short term. The period when a website is unable to make it to the top of search results is referred to as "being in the sandbox". This can last from 6 months to one year, then the positions usually restore gradually. However, not all brand new site owners observe the sandbox effect on their own sites, which has led to discussions on whether the sandbox filter really exists.
Search Engine
a searchable online database of Internet resources. It has several components: search engine software, spider software, an index (database) and a relevancy algorithm (rules for ranking). The search engine software consists of a server or a collection of servers dedicated to indexing Internet web pages, storing the results and returning lists of pages to match user queries. The spidering software constantly crawls the Web collecting web page data for the index. The index is a database for storing the data. The relevancy algorithm determines how to rank queries. Examples of major search engines are Google, Bing, Yahoo! etc.
Search Engine Friendly
a web page that has been designed and optimized for high search engine rankings. A search engine friendly page also makes it easy for search engines to follow the links on a page.
Search Engine Index
a giant repository (database) of web pages. Web crawlers collect web documents to generate and maintain index for search engines.
Search Engine Partner Network
the partnership of search engines showing the search results, ads or PPC listings throughout the whole network. Google's search partners network receives PPC listings and ads from Google AdWords program. Google's network includes such search engines as AOL Search,, AskJeeves, CompuServe, Earthlink, Netscape Search, etc.
Search Engine Results Page
(SERP) a ranked listing of web pages that are returned for a specific search query
Search Engine Spider
an automated software program designed to find and collect data from web pages. It follows links to find new pages on the Web. Traces of a spider's activity can be found in the server logs. You can see which files they requested. Search engine spiders identify themselves when they visit a site, for example, Google's spider is Googlebot, Yahoo!'s spider is Yahoo! Slurp.
Search Query
a keyword, key phrase or list of words that you type into a search field to find web pages on the topic that you're interested in.
Search Term
a word or a phrase entered by a user into a search engine in order to perform a search. The search engine or directory then uses its algorithm to search its database of pages or sites to find a matching key phrase and return a list of results. Users may enter general search terms, such as "software" or they may enter more specific terms like "web promotion software". A properly focused search term set forms the core of a good search engine positioning strategy and it is important to ensure that these are reflected in the actual content on a website. A search engine promotion that targets popular but relevant search terms has the advantage of driving targeted traffic, which can result in high conversion rates.
abbr. Search Engine Results Page
abbr. Search Engine Usability.
search engine spider used by Yahoo!
a function of some search engines and directories which allows results to be returned from some or all keywords based on the same stem as the keyword entered as a search term. For example, when stemming is switched on, a search for the word "dance" will return matches for any word whose stem is "danc-", matching the keywords "dance", "dancer" and "dancing".
Stop Word
a word which is ignored in a query because the word is so commonly used that it makes no contribution to relevancy. Examples are common net words such as computer and web and general words like get, I, me, the and you.
short Yahoo!
originally Yahoo! was a web directory of websites organized in a hierarchy. The web crawling and data storage was powered by Inktomi and later by Google until 2004 when Yahoo! became independent. In 2009 Yahoo! and Microsoft made a deal by which Bing would power Yahoo! search results.

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Search Engines | Keyword Research | Ranking Factors | SEO Techniques | SEO Submission | Link Building | Usability | Paid Advertising | Social Media Marketing | Email Marketing | Web Analytics

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