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Search Engine Optimization Definitions

Important Search Engine Optimization Terms

Algorithm: The mathematical computation used to determine which web pages get displayed in query (search) results.

Click-through rate (CTR): The number of possible clicks on a Web page divided by the actual number of times a link on that same page is clicked.

Cloaking (page): Sending one version of a Web page to a search engine that is different than what a Web user actually sees on the site. Cloaking, although considered unethical, is used to increase the potential ranking of a Web page. Most search engines will penalize a site if they discover it is cloaking.

Dead link: An Internet link which does not lead to a page or site. This usually occurs when a server is down, the page has moved, or it no longer exists. To check the links on your page, use our free Broken Link Checker.

Directory: A directory is a searchable subject guide of Web sites that have been reviewed and compiled by human editors. Two of the most known directories are Yahoo and Open Directory.

Doorway page: A page that has been created for the sole use of attempting to get a high ranking in the search engines. Again, this is an unethical practice that can lead to penalization by the search engines.

Hidden text: Text that is visible to the search engine spiders but not to site visitors. Hidden text is primarily used to add extra keywords in the page without actually adding content to a site which may mostly consist of images. Most search engines will penalize Web sites which use hidden text.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language): The coding language that all Web sites use to exist on the Internet.

Hyperlinks: Hyperlinks are used to link one or more documents together.

Inbound link: Links that direct users to another Web site. When a user arrives at a site from another site, that link is known as an inbound link.

Keyword: A word used to find pages when conducting a search. Improve your keyword strategy with our Search Term Suggestion Tool (powered by Yahoo).

Keyword density: Keyword density is the ratio of a keyword or key phrases to the total number of words on that page. Keyword density is one of the most critical aspects of successful search engine optimization.

Keyword frequency: Keyword frequency is the number of times keywords occur in the text on a given page. Search engines want to see more than one repetition of a keyword in your text to make sure it's not an isolated case.

Keyword phrase: A phrase used to find pages when conducting a search.

Keyword prominence: The general location of a keyword or phrase in relation to the overall text on that page. You'll want to make sure your important keywords appear early in your Web site copy and that they draw attention to themselves.

Keyword research: Researching the most relative and popular keywords for a given site.

Link popularity: Search engines often use link popularity as part of their ranking criterion. In simple terms, link popularity is the measurement of the number of other Web sites that include a link to your Web site on theirs. Each search engine, depending on their specific algorithms, determines it differently. At SubmitToday, our Opti-Links service is included in every Opti-Submit package. We create the link popularity for you by pre-selecting quality sites and grouping them in categories related to your product/service. Click here for more information on Opti-Links.

Meta tags: Meta tags are HTML tags that provide information describing the content of the pages a user will be viewing. To create your own meta tags, click here to access our free Meta Tag Generator. Following are the most common meta tags and their uses:

Title: This is considered to be the most important HTML tag used by many search engines as part of their ranking criteria. A Web page with a keyword in the title tag will rank higher than if the keyword was used in the body text alone. When a user views search results, the title tag will usually appear as the title of your Web page. Therefore, you will want to make sure your title really describes the main purpose of the page so it doesn't get passed over as irrelevant to the user.

Description: The description tag is the next most important meta tag. As with the title, your description will typically be listed in the search engines. You will have to tread the fine line between creating an effective description that will attract visitors yet still rank well in the search engines based on your selected keywords.

Keywords: Due to abuse by many Web sites in the past, search engines have reduced the importance of the keywords meta tag when ranking a Web page for keyword relevance. Many have actually decided to not consider the keywords tag altogether. While it has reduced in significance, it is still an important meta tag to include in your Web pages.

Copyright: The copyright meta tag is not viewable in the search engine results or on your Web page. This tag highlights and documents the copyright status of a portion or all of a particular Web page. Although it won't necessarily prevent someone from taking your copy, it will notify those that are doing so in a legitimate manner that it infringes upon your conditions of use. Some search engine spiders will read this tag, which may result in higher ranking.

Robots: The robot tag is essentially a set of instructions for search engine spiders that crawl your Web page.

Rating: The rating tag defines your preferred access level. It can be a useful mechanism for search engine spiders to determine the level of access appropriate for the associated Web page. However this is more often used in restricted environments of a company Intranet rather than the wide-scope of the Internet.

Revisit: The revisit tag is a request for the search engine spider to return to a particular Web page for reindexing. This is appropriate for sites that frequently refresh their content.

Mirror sites: Sites designed as duplicates of an original site, but are hosted on a different server. Link cloaking and doorway pages, the creation of mirror sites is a recognized spam tactic and violators will be penalized by many of the major search engines.

Outbound link: A link that directs users to another site. When a user arrives at a new site from your site, that link is known as an outbound link.

Paid inclusion: Paying to be included in a search engine or directory index. Paid inclusion does not maximize search engine rankings but will guarantee inclusion of any pages a spider might have missed.

Paid placement: Paying for a link to be included in a specific area on a search results page, usually at the top or right of the general search results. Paid placement links are usually indicated with a colored background or labeled as a "sponsored link."

Pay Per Click (PPC): A search engine that determines ranking according to the dollar amount you pay for each click from that search engine to your site. Examples of PPC search engines are and The highest ranking goes to the highest bidder.

Positioning: The process of ordering web sites 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.

Query: A word, phrase or group of words used to pass instructions to a search engine to locate relevant Web pages.

Search engine: A search engine is a database system designed to index and categorize internet addresses, otherwise known as URLs (for example, For more information on search engines, click here.

Search engine optimization (SEO): These are the techniques used to improve a Web page's results in a search. For more information on optimizing your Web page, click here.

Spam: Unethical techniques such as cloaking, mirror sites and doorway pages to trick the search engine spiders into giving the Web page a higher ranking. Search engines will often penalize or remove an offending site from its index. Spamming is also referred to as spamdexing and spoofing.

Spider: A software program used by search engines to crawl the Web, storing URLs and indexing the keywords and text of pages. Spiders are also referred to as crawlers or robots.

Stop word: A word that frequently appears in pages but has no significance. Most search engine spiders ignore stop words while searching. Example of stop words are: and, the, of, etc.

Submission: The act of submitting a web page to a search engine or web site to a directory.

Theme Engine: A theme engine is a search engine that indexes entire sites as one giant page. They then use only the most relevant keywords found to determine your sites theme. By determining a theme search engines hope to return more accurate results.

Traffic: The actual visitors to a Web page or Web site.

URL: The Uniform Resource Locator is used to specify the address of Web sites and Web pages.

Usability: Usability is the degree to how efficiently and effectively users can accomplish what they are trying to do on your Web site. For valuable tips on usability, click here.

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