The disciplines of search engine optimisation, website design and development, writing, editing and proofreading, like most areas of specialty, overflow with jargon, acronyms and slightly incomprehensible babble. However, life’s too short to get steamed up over it, so simply click on the A-Z links above to find plain English explanations for SEO, SEM, FAQ, FTP and so on and so forth…
Alt text / alternative text – Alt text is displayed when holding a mouse over an image.
AltaVista – A search engine which is part of the Yahoo!/Overture network.
Anchor text – This is the text on a web page that works as a link, for example ‘View more’.
AOL – A global advertising-supported Web company offering a suite of popular web brands and products.
Ascender – The part of a lowercase letter that rises above the height of the letter (e.g. d, h and k). See descender.
Back link – A link from another web page, also called an inbound link.
Base line – The imaginary line on which type sits.
Below the fold – The part of a web page that cannot be seen without scrolling further down the page.
Bleed – The area beyond the trimmed page.
Blog – A website or online journal frequently updated by an author, known as a blogger.
Broken link – A link pointing to an inactive destination. These linking lemons are also called dead links.
Cloaking – Arguably an illicit website optimisation technique used to serve up a different version of the same page to search engines than to users.
Crawlers – Programs created by search engines to help them to retrieve information about websites. Also known as spiders. This process of retrieving information is also called indexing.
Cross linking – The process of two websites or web pages linking to each other.
CSS – Cascading style sheet, which when used in conjunction with HTML provides formatting information for web pages.
Deep linking – The process of linking sub-pages in a website to core pages in order to assist search engines find and index as many pages as possible.
Descender – The part of a lowercase letter that falls below the base line (e.g. g, p and q).
Description tag – A Meta tag that provides search engines’ spiders with a description of the website or web page. Some search engines display information from description tags in search engine results pages.
Directory – A website that organises and displays information in a series of categories. Directories do not crawl the internet to retrieve information like search engines. Instead a directory relies on information supplied to it for inclusion. Inclusions and listings in directories can be free or paid.
DMOZ – This leading directory, edited by real people, provides results to Google and other leading search engines. Also known as the Open Directory Project (ODP).
Domain name – A unique name (e.g. www.thecontentedwebsite.com) assigned to an IP address that identifies a website.
Doorway page – A web page created and integrated into a website to better rankings and increase visits to a website. Well-written doorway pages can be useful, relevant and informative additions to website content.
Download time – The time taken by a website or web page to download to a web browser.
Duplicate content – Publishing the same content on more than one domain name. As an optimisation technique, this is regarded as spam and a big no-no for search engines.
Dynamic content – This refers to content gathered from databases or other sources and displayed to the user depending on their request. Search engines can index dynamic content if the page names are the same each time. Search engines do have problems, however, indexing pages which use changing session ids or other query strings.
Em – A relative measure of time. (1 em is 10 points in 10-point type). An — in HTML.
En – Half an em. An – in HTML.
Exit page – This refers to the last page that a user sees or closes before saying adios to a website.
FAQ – An acronym for frequently asked questions. Often seen incorrectly as FAQ’s or FAQs (grrrrr…).
FTP – Another acronym, this one stands for file transfer protocol and refers to the process of uploading and downloading files to and from your web space or server. In order to access files on a server, a FTP user name or ID, FTP password and FTP URL are normally required.
Folio – The number that appears on a page of a manuscript or publication.
Google – A little-known search engine…okay, just kidding. Google is of course the world’s most used search engine with over 70% of the search engine market share in New Zealand and earning over $5.51 a quarter. (Sources: Hitwise and Google, March 2009)
Google Analytics – Google’s free website performance analysis (statistics) program.
Google AdWords – Google’s advertising network for advertisers.
Google AdSense – Google’s advertising network for website owners.
Google dance – Term given to the shifts in rankings when Google updates its database.
Google Earth – Maps and satellite images for complex or pinpointed regional searches.
Google Chrome – Google’s browser program that combines minimal design with sophisticated technology to make searching the web quicker and safer.
Google Labs – Insight into tasty and tantalising technology getting cooked up by the big G.
Google Maps – Local businesses, maps and driving directions from Google.
Google New Zealand – Version of the international search engine that offers the option to restrict search to New Zealand websites.
Google WebMaster Central – Google tools for website owners, optimisers and marketers.
Header tag – The tag <header></header> that defines the title, description and other Meta information about a web page.
Hits – Refers to the number of times a file on a website is called up by a web browser.
HTML – An acronym for hypertext markup language, which is the language used to create web pages.
HTTP – An acronym for hypertext transfer protocol, which is the protocol used to serve web pages to a web browser.
Inbound link – A link from another web page (on a 3rd party website) that links to your web page.
Inclusion – The term given to having your website listed or included in a search engine or web directory index.
Indexing – The process of a search engine spider visiting your website and collecting information about it.
JPG (JPEG) – An acronym for joint photographic experts group and a compression method used for saving images and photographs, reducing their file sizes whilst retaining quality.
Keyword – A word typed into the search box of a search engine by a user interested in finding information relating to that word.
Keyword density – The number of times a keyword appears in web page text calculated as a percentage (i.e. number of keywords in a page against the total number of words on that page).
Keyword search phrase – A string of words typed into the search box of a search engine by a user interested in finding information relating to those words.
Keyword stuffing – This technique, of saturating a page with keywords, is regarded as spam by search engines. Tasteless, meaningless… a big no, no.
Keyword tag – This Meta tag has been much abused in the past, but some search engines retain an interest in it nonetheless. The keyword tag lists keyword permutations relating to the page subject.
Leading – The space between one line of text and the next.
Link – A selectable connection from text, picture or information object to another.
Link popularity – Link popularity is a measure of the quantity and quality of sites that link to your website. It is an example of how search engines use off-the-page criteria to determine which websites publish quality content.
Link strategy – The planning process behind improving a website’s link popularity. See Link Strategy.
Meta tag – A tag (text) written to provide information to search engines about websites and web pages. Meta tags, (e.g. Meta title, Meta description and Meta keyword tags) cannot be seen when a web page is viewed via a web browser, but can be seen via the page source code. Search engines may display elements of Meta data on their search engine results pages (SERPS).
MSN NZ – Used by approximately 2.8 million New Zealanders a month, MSN New Zealand is Microsoft’s network of services for New Zealanders. (Source: MSN, February 2009)
ODP – An acronym for Open Directory Project. See DMOZ.
Optimisation (optimization) – When used in the context of search engine optimisation (SEO), optimisation is the process of promoting a website on the internet, increasing its online visibility and improving its rankings. See Search Engine Optimisation.
Orphan – The first line of a paragraph at the foot of the page.
Outbound link – A link from your website to a 3rd party web page. The opposite of an inbound link.
Paid inclusion – Paying a fee for inclusion or listings in a web directory, website or search engine.
Pay per click (PPC) – This is an advertising model whereby an agreed amount is paid by the advertiser for each click through to their website generated through a search engine advertisement placement.
Penalty – Contravening search engine guidelines for webmasters can result in a penalty being imposed on a website. This may involve websites dropping in rankings or being ignored totally in search results.
Pica – A measurement of 12 points.
Proof – A proof is a trial version of text/material prior to its publication.
Proofreading – Reading a proof copy of text in order to detect and correct any errors.
Query – A search conducted in a search engine using keyword or keyword search phrases.
Ranking – The position of a website or web page in the search engine results pages.
Reciprocal link – When websites publish links to one another, these links are called reciprocal.
Recto – A right-hand page.
Referrer – When a visitor arrives at your website via a link published on another website, the other website or source is known as a referrer.
Reversed out – Text or lines produced as white on black (or another colour).
Robot.txt – This is a file written and stored in the root directory of a website that restricts search engine spiders from indexing certain areas of the website.
Sans serif – A typeface without serifs (e.g. Arial, Calibri, Tahoma, Trebuchet, Verdana).
Search engine – A search engine is a website that enables users to search for information on the internet based on the keywords and keyword phrases they use.
Search engine friendly – This is the term given to describe websites that present their content in accordance with search engine guidelines and preferences.
Serifs – The slight projections that finish the strokes in letters.
SERP – An acronym for search engine results page, on which a search engine returns results to the user following their search query.
Spam / Spamming – Optimisation tactics that contravene search engine guidelines.
Spiders – Programs created by search engines to help them to retrieve information about websites. Also known as crawlers. This process of retrieving information is also called indexing.
Spread – Two facing pages, also called a double-page spread.
Submission – The process of requesting an inclusion for a website or web page into a search engine, directory or other website.
Targeted keywords – Specific keywords or keyword phrases that are incorporated into website content. Targeted keywords are often selected based on search engine usage, target market, industry and competition. See Keyword and Market Research.
Title tag – This Meta tag defines what the title of a web page is. It is one of the most important locations on a page for influencing that page’s ranking in the search engine results pages.
Traffic – Term given to people using the internet.
Unique visits – In your statistics program, this refers to each different IP address visiting your site.
Verso – A left-hand page.
Visits – Refers to the number of accesses made by the same visitor (e.g. if one unique IP/ visitor views more than one web page in an hour, all pages are viewed as part of one visit).
Web hosting – Paying for space on a web server for your website via a web hosting company.
Website statistics – Data about website performance, usually provided by your web hosting company.
Widow – A short last line of a paragraph at the top of a page. Also the last word of a paragraph on a line by itself.
Xenu link sleuth – A free multi-threaded link checking software to analyse websites to find broken links.