Search Engine Optimization Definitions

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Search engine optimization is a must for e-commerce companies who need to get noticed. This comprehensive glossary helps beginners understand SEO phrases and terms.

Search engine optimization is one of the primary keys to e-commerce success. Understanding how search engines rank websites and what people are looking for helps companies drive targeted traffic and increase sales.

Launching an Online Business: How to Start Optimizing a Website

Thousands of companies and independent consultants offer SEO services as a standalone service or as an element of an online marketing campaign. However, new or smaller e-commerce websites often find outsourced SEO unaffordable.

This glossary is the first building block in creating an effective SEO strategy. With a working knowledge of the terms and phrases used in search engine optimization, e-commerce business owners and webmasters have the tools to further explore the wonderful world of SEO.

Search Engine Optimization Strategy Terminology

Hidden Keywords- Keywords invisible to site visitors because they are hidden in the page’s HTML code.
Keyword stuffing- The awkward practice of cramming keywords into a website’s text whether or not they add value to the page content. This usually does not improve ranking and makes the page difficult for actual readers to understand.
Link Farm- A group of seperate websites with an abnormally high volume of interlinking designed to overstate each website’s popularity. Banned by most major search engines.
Mirroring- Another practice banned by most major search engines, this one involves creating two nearly identical websites targeting different keywords.
Cloaking- This practice, banned by most search engines, is used by spammers who point search engines to a page other than that a human sees when viewing the site.

General SEO Terminology

Analytics- Tools designed to track website visits and provide detailed information on searches and page views.
Anchor text- The visible text for a hyperlink.
Back link- Also known as an inbound link, it points to the subject page from elsewhere on the web.
Bot- Short for robot (AKA spider), this refers to software programs that scan the web to harvest information or index web pages.
Conversion- The measure of visitors following through on the goal of the site, usually by purchasing a product or signing up for a service.
SEO- Search Engine Optimization; the practice of making webpages attractive to search engine spiders while keeping them relevant with targeted keywords and phrases.
SEO Spam- Manipulation techniques designed to increase search engine ranking, but violating search engine Terms of Service.
SEM- Search Engine Marketing includes SEO and paid advertising such as banner ads.
Sitewide- The linking and navigation structure employed across the website; very important to SEO.
Splash Page- A flashy, graphic front webpage to impress visitors or assist in branding.
Title Tag- Located in the blue bar at the top of the browser window, the title tag is of little importance to readers, but has huge influence with search engines.
Visibility- How well a webpage performs in search engine rankings for each keyword.

Online Marketing/AdWords Terminology

CPC- Cost per Click refers to the expense paid by the website each time a person clicks through from an outside ad to their website in a paid advertising campaign.
CTA- Content Targeted Ads are placed on relevant websites in a paid advertising campaign.
FFA- Free For All websites post numerous random, unrelated links of little value to any reader.
Hits- Sometimes referred to in error as the number of times a webpage is visited. Hits record every download of a file from a web server, including each graphic on a page. One visit to a webpage with 10 graphics would record 11 hits. Measuring traffic by hits falsely inflates actual visits.
Hallway Page- An index page that links to a group of internal webpages for the spiders to crawl.
Impression- The number of times search engines show an advertisement to users.
Organic Listings- Search results based on factors such as keyword relevance and density; generally found on the left side of the results page. Does not apply to paid listings or advertisements.
Negative Keywords- Specific terms a Google Adwords user does not want their advertisement connected to.
PFI- Pay For Inclusion is a service offered by some search engines that allows webmasters to submit changes to the search engine often and have spiders crawl the page frequently to update the page’s ranking.
PPC- Pay Per Click is a type of advertising campaign where websites pay only when traffic is sent to their site by clicking through on an advertisement.
PR- Page Rank, Google’s trademarked term for their measure of webpage link popularity.

SEO Slang, Tricks & Traps

Keyphrase- A string of keywords (see below).
Robots.txt- A file that tells spiders which pages of a website they may crawl.
Spider Trap- A neat trick that sends unscrupulous search engine spiders in a continuous loop if they haven’t obeyed the instructions in the Robots.txt file and end up somewhere they’re not supposed to be.
Gateway Page- AKA Doorway Page. Banned by most major search engines, gateways are geared towards a specific keyword and designed to rank high, but drive traffic to another site.
Google Juice- A slang term for the “substance” that runs between websites via hyperlinks, ie.: a site with a lot of incoming links gets a lot of “Google Juice.”
Keywords- The specific words used in search engine queries. Proper use of keywords and phrases encourages higher search engine ranking, hence the importance of SEO.
Stop Words- Terms such as “the” and “for” that are ignored by search engines.
Universe – In SEM and advertising, universe refers to the entire population of a campaign’s target audience.

This list is not exhaustive, but should give new e-commerce entrepreneurs the confidence to further explore SEO strategy. Learning to build an online business, how to start driving more traffic to a site, and what it takes to constantly improve all take time to master.

For help in getting your online business of the ground, visit

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