exclamation point for glossary of Web terms


Glossary of Web Terms

This Glossary is a work in progress. New terms will be added periodically.

Above the Fold: referencing the top part of a newspaper, the term describes the top part of the page that the user can see without scrolling down.

Blog: The name "blog" is a truncated form of "web log" according to Rebecca Blood's essay "Weblogs: a history and perspective." Blog is used to refer to sites that can best be described as mini sites or mini directories, populated with the site owner's personal opinions. Blogs are now popular for business use as well.

Browser or Web Browser: A program used to display Internet content. Two of the best-known and most widely used browsers are Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer. Browsers read coded pages and display them as web pages.

Browser Compatibility: the ways different browsers display the same page. A key consideration in web design and SEO is to create pages that are browser independent - in other words pages that work as they are supposed to regardless of the user's choice of browser

Conversion Rate (CR): The percentage of site visitors that deliver the most wanted response. The CR is an important measure of the effectiveness of the online sales effort. For example, if 4 out of every 100 visitors to a site deliver the MWR, the CR for that site is 4%.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets): An add-on to HTML that allows for more accurate control over the way a web page is rendered. CSS allows designers to create custom styles that are then applied to the web site in one of a variety of ways. The main benefit is that something like text colors for an entire site can be changed by editing only the CSS file. CSS can also be used in SEO, but most SEO techniques that involve CSS are considered spam.

Database: A collection of information that has been systematically organized for easy access and analysis. Examples include: Web site search and online stores/shopping carts.

Dead Link: A link to a page that no longer exists or has been moved to a different URL. Search engine spiders regularly respider pages in its index and removes dead links. Most search engines also offer ways for users to report dead links.

Description Tag : In the context of the search engines, the description refers to the descriptive text accompanied by a title and URL in the search results page. Some search engines take this description from the meta description while most generate their own from the page content. Directories often ask for a description when you submit your page.

Description Tag: An HTML tag that gives a general description of the contents of the page. This description is not displayed on the page itself, but is largely intended to help the search engines index the page correctly. A growing number of search engines are completely ignoring the description tag.

DHTML: Dynamic HTML, which is sometimes referred to as the next generation HTML. It gives site designers increased control over the appearance of a site.

Directory: A categorized collection of links to the web, usually compiled manually. Directories can either be general (to the entire web) like ODP or Topical like the Dotcom Directory. Although they cannot rival search engines for index size, the generally do offer higher quality search results, arrived at through some editorial selection process.

Domain/Domain Name: A sub-set of internet addresses. Top-level domains are divided into .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, .gov and .edu. Apart from these there are also country-specific domain extensions like .ca, .com.au, .co.za, .fr etc. In SEO it is generally accepted that having a keyword-rich domain is beneficial.

Flash : "Macromedia Flash" -- a vector graphic animation technology that requires a plug-in but is browser-independent.

Frames: Allows designers to display two or more web pages simultaneously. The general perception is that frames can greatly improve site navigation, but they are browser-dependant and not search engine friendly. Most search engines do not index framed pages correctly.

Google Dance: Once a month Google updates its entire index of web sites. That is called the Google Dance and can last for a couple of days.

Hand Submission: The practice of visiting each search engine and directory and submitting the registration form by hand as opposed to using a software program. Some systems will not accept automated submissions.

Heading/Heading tag: Has significance in SEO because Search engines normally assign more weight to documents where the keywords used in the heading tags. Pages that use heading tags generally rank higher, but excessive use might get the page de-listed.

Hit: One hit is one request for a file on a web server. A visitor opening a page with 5 images will in the process generate 6 hits (1 each for the images and one for the HTML page itself). The term is sometimes also used with reference to the number of results (hits) a search engine returns for a specific search. Hits are often confused with page views and unique visitors.

HTML: Hypertext Markup Language. HTML is the primary language used to create web sites.

Host, Hosting Company/Service: The server where your Web site resides. A host server is required to allow people to access your Web site on the Internet. Host companies charge a monthly fee with a variety of payment options and hosting plans. Plans vary from very basic for small sites to full featured plans to accomodate high volume sites.

Index: Th e searchable database of documents stored by a search engine - often simply referred to as a search engine's database. When used as a verb, it describes the process of converting a collection into a searchable database. The term is sometimes also used to refer to directories like ODP.

Keyword: A word used in a search. In SEO, pages are typically optimized for specific keywords. Keywords are targeted based on what users looking for the specific information or product are most likely to use as part of a query. Accurate keyword targeting is considered by most to be essential to effective SEO.

Keyword density: A measure of the percentage of words on a page that are specifically chosen

Keyword domain name: A domain name that contains keywords.

Keyword Phrase/Key Phrase: Two or more words that form a "keyword". In SEO the term keyword is usually used to refer to both keywords and key phrases. It simply refers to words entered in a search.

Landing Page: A specifically targeted page that a visitor reaches after clicking a search engine listing. Marketers attempt to improve conversion rates by testing various landing pages for promotions.

Link Popularity: A measure of the quantity and quality of inbound links. Link popularity is an important factor in SEO.

Log File: Each web site has a log file (stored on the server), which records details every time a visitor to the site requests a file. Log files store data such as the IP address of the visitor, the visitor's nationality, operating system, browser etc. The log file can be analyzed to obtain statistics on unique visitors, page views, hits etc. Often used as measurements in SEO.

Log File Analysis: The analysis of records stored in the log file. In its raw format, the data in the log files can be hard to read and overwhelming. There are numerous log file analyzers that convert log file data into user-friendly charts and graphs. A good analyzer is generally considered an essential tool in SEO because it can show search engine statistics such as the number of visitors received from each search engine, the keywords each visitors used to find the site, visits by search engine spiders etc.

Meta Tag: An HTML tag placed in the head section of a web page. The tag provides additional information that is not displayed on the page itself. The initial idea was that webmasters should use these tags to help search engines index the page correctly by providing an accurate description of the page content and a list of keywords associated with the page. Unfortunately this left the door open to abuse. Many webmasters used these tags to gain an unfair advantage, forcing search engines to begin disregarding meta tags.

  • Meta KEYWORDS tag is used to group a series of words that relate to a website. These tags can be used by search engines to classify pages for searches.
  • The Meta DESCRIPTION is used to describe the document. The meta description is then displayed in search engine results.

ODP (Open Directory Project)/DMOZ: dmoz.org
A massive directory continually expanded by volunteers. What sets this directory apart is that it makes its database of indexed documents available to other directories & search engines. A listing here results in the page automatically being listed in many other directories and search engines. The model of using volunteer editors is fairly ambitious - and surprisingly successful. It is a mammoth achievement and an asset to the online world. Getting a site indexed at ODP can be difficult

Off Page, Off the page factors, Off the Page Criteria: The factors that impact the ranking of a web page but that are not located on the web page itself. Inbound links, anchor text etc. are examples of off the page factors.

osCommerce: A preconfigured shopping cart software solution. Considered the premier product of it's kind based on the usability and ease of use for both the online store owner and the customer. (The Web Division specializes in osCommerce store fronts.)

Optimized, Optimization: A page is structured to rank well on search engines for targeted keywords. It is a fairly subjective concept. Optimization means simply making a page spider-friendly by, for example, using text links rather than image links. In the SEO industry the term is more often used as a collective name for all the "tricks" webmasters use to improve a page's ranking.

PageRank: Google's measure of the link popularity of a page.

Page Title: The part of an HTML page that is displayed on a browser title line (usually at the top of the window). The text of a web page title is important, because it is the part of the page displayed on search engines as a link. Search engines also give the page title more weight when determining what order to display pages.

Payment Gateway: A payment gateway is a service provided by a billing or merchant processor. It allows credit card information to be collected and passed over the internet securely. A payment gateway can be thought of as a digital equivalent to a credit card processing terminal. Although there are many payment gateways available, some of the most popular include AuthorizeNet, USAePay and Verisign.

Payment Processor: A financial institution distinct from the bank that processes data from credit card transactions. Providing pre-authorization, post-authorization, and refund services to businesses accepting credit cards. They are responsible for the distribution of funds between consumers and businesses. Sometimes also referred to as a Transaction Processor. Required for online transactions via shopping carts and online payment systems. Payment processors include VeriSign, Merchant eSolutions and PayPal to name just a few.

Ranking: The position of a web page on the search results for a particular query. For example, a page that is listed third for the term "bubblegum" is said to have a ranking of 3 for that term.

Reciprocal Link: A link placed on site A, pointing to site B, on the condition that site B returns the favor. Also called a link swap. Contrary to popular belief, reciprocal linking does not necessarily improve a site's PageRank. In some cases it can have a negative effect on PageRank

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) : The act of altering a web site so that it does well in the organic, crawler-based listings of search engines.

Security Certificate: Required to protect online transactions and secure email transmissions.

Shopping Cart: A program that allows you to implement your own online storefront as an electronic commerce site. The shopping cart keeps track of what visitors have ordered and allows them to add or remove items from a virtual shopping cart'. Customers can view, add, or delete items in their shopping cart before making their electronic purchase. Shopping carts can be bought as independent pieces of software so companies can integrate them into their own unique online solution, or they can be custom designed to meet a specific set of requirements that may not be offered in a pre-configured software solution.

Sitemap: A map to your site. A sitemap contains links to every page of your site (see Google's sitemap for an example).

Spider: A browser-like program that forms part of a search engine. Its task is to "surf" the web by following links from one page to the next and from one site to the next. It collects information from the sites it visits and that information is stored in the search engine's database.

Submission: 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.

URL: Uniform Resource Locator / Universal Resource Locator. A unique Internet address (for example http://www.pandecta.com) that every Internet resource must have in order to be located.

Web Applications: In software engineering, a web application is an application delivered to users from a web server over a network such as the World Wide Web or an intranet. Web applications are popular due to the ubiquity of the web browser as a client, sometimes called a thin client. The ability to update and maintain web applications without distributing and installing software on potentially thousands of clients is another reason they are popular. Applications like webmail, Amazon.com and eBay are well known. (source:

KIS: Keep It Simple... Generally considered one of the golden rules of web design, SEO and online business.



Courtesty of The Web Division © 2005