Search Engine Optimization and Marketing Terms & Definitions

eBizVisibility has provided a glossary of definitions of the most commonly used terms in the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) professions. This SEO/SEM/PPC terminology should help you better understand the world of search engines and Internet marketing. Feel free to contact eBizVisibility for answers to any of your SEO questions.


Ad — Paid Ads can be positioned anywhere on a search results page. They are displayed when a searcher submits a query to a search engine or website that triggers the ad. You commonly see ads at the top of the results, above the natural listings, and running down the right side of the page. Google identifies them as Sponsored Listings or Google Ads to separate them from natural results. Advertisers pay for online ads as they do with newspaper, TV or magazine ads, however the cost structure is different. In Pay-Per-Click advertising, they are paying each time the ad is clicked on. Other methods charge per thousand ad impressions.

ALT Text or ALT attribute — An HTML attribute that specifies alternative text the browser may show if image display is not possible or disabled by the user. Generally used to provide images with a text description and is usually visible in the browser while “hovering” over the image with the mouse.

Anchor Text — The word or words used in a link to a web page or areas within a page. Today, search engines use this information in part to determine a page's relevance.

B2B or "Business to Business" — A business that sells products or provides services to other businesses.

B2C or "Business to Consumer" — A business that sells products or provides services to consumers.

Backlinks — see Inbound Links

Bot — see Crawler

CPA or "Cost Per Acquisition" — A metric used to measure the total monetary cost of each sale, lead or action.

CPC or "Cost Per Click" — The amount Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertisers charge you for every click that sends a visitor to your website.

CTR or "Click-Through Rate" — The average number of click-throughs per hundred ad impressions, expressed as a percentage. For example, if an ad has 100 impressions and 5 clicks, the CTR is 5%. The higher the CTR, the more visitors the site is receiving.

CSS or "Cascading Style Sheets" — Style sheets give HTML developers a way to impose display characteristics uniformly over HTML documents or entire collections of them. They contain information on paragraph layout, text font styles and sizes, colors, backgrounds, and so on.

Conversion Action — The desired action you want a visitor to take on your site. This includes making a purchase, requesting more information, subscribing to a newsletter, downloading information, signing up for a free trial and more.

Conversion Rate — The percentage of visitors who take a desired action (convert).

Crawler or Spider or Bot — A search engine crawler is a program that visits Web sites and reads their pages, other information, and follows hyperlinks to other pages, in order to create entries for a search engine index or database.

Description (Meta) Tag — This HTML document header tag defines a short description for the web page. This description is often displayed along with the link to the page on many search engine result pages.

Destination Page — see Landing Page

eCommerce — Conducting commercial transactions on the Internet where goods, services or information are bought and sold.

Entry Page — Refers to any page within a website by which a visitor “enters” the site. While often the home page, it may be any page in the site, those bookmarked or landing pages targeted via a pay-per-click ad.

Geo-Targeting — In terms of online advertising, geo-targeting refers to allowing you to specify where your Internet ads will or won't be shown based on the searcher's location. It can be a powerful advertising option for geographically located businesses.

Google — largest search engine on the web. Google receives several hundred million queries each day through its various services.

Impression — One view or display of an online ad. An ad's total impressions is the number of times the ad was served by the search engine. PPC ads may get thousands of impressions but, unlike more traditional ad models billed on a CPM (Cost-Per-Thousand-Impressions) basis, PPC advertisers only pay when their ad is clicked on.

Inbound Links — All the links pointing at a particular web page.

Indexable — Also known as crawlable. If a web site is not “indexable”, or if it has reduced crawlability, it is difficult to get all its pages in the search engine index.

Keyword / Keyword Phrase — A specific word or combination of words that a searcher might type into a search field. The process of Search Engine Optimization is to optimize a website for specific keywords and keyphrases relevant to the target audience of the site.

Landing Page — The web page at which a searcher arrives after clicking on an ad. Landing pages are important to the success of PPC campaigns since it is landing page actions that determine conversion success.

Link Popularity — Generally refers to the total number of links pointing to any particular page.

Natural Results — see Organic Results

Negative or Excluded Keywords — Keywords specified by advertisers in PPC Advertising campaigns which should prevent specific ads from being displayed. They are used to avoid displaying ads for keyword combinations that are irrelevant for your products or services. An example negative keyword might be free, in case you aren’t offering free services or products. PPC Optimization uses negative keywords to filter out keywords and reduce wasted impressions and click-throughs and higher CPC.

Organic Results / Organic Search Listings — also called Natural Results. Organic search listings are website listings on search engine result pages (SERPs) that are not paid for. Sites get into organic results because search engines deem them relevant to searchers’ queries. Each search engine does it through its own proprietary algorithm. Some search engines mix paid advertising with unpaid in the organic results. This is referred to as Paid Inclusion Content, which itself is therefore considered organic.

PPC — Acronym for Pay-Per-Click, as in PPC Advertising.

PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Advertising — A model of search advertising in which you only pay for the clicks on your ads, which themselves direct searchers to a specific page in your site. Well known PPC Advertising opportunities are with Google AdWords and Bing Ads (for Bing and Yahoo PPC ads). Cost per ad click-through is based on your bid which is influenced by what the competition is willing to pay for the same keywords and the search engines’ proprietary quality measures of your ad and the landing page content.

PPC Management — The monitoring and maintenance of a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising campaign(s). This includes changing bid prices, expanding and refining keyword lists, editing ad copy, testing campaign components for cost effectiveness and successful conversions, and reviewing performance reports.

PageRank (PR) — PageRank is Google's algorithm for ranking web pages that match a given search string. Google uses additional criteria besides PageRank for determining the ranking of pages.

Paid Inclusion — Paid inclusion is a search engine marketing product where the search engine company charges fees related to inclusion of websites in their search index. Paid inclusion products are provided by most search engine companies, the most notable exception being Google which does not let webmasters pay to be in their search engine listings.

ROI — Acronym for Return On Investment. The amount of money you make compared to the amount of money you spent on your investment.

Rank — How well positioned a particular web page or web site appears in search engine results. If your website is in position #1, you’re the first listing on the first page. If your site is in
position #11, it is likely to be the first position on the second page. Position #18 has it on the bottom of page 2. Rank and position affect click-through rate, and ultimately conversion rates.

Reciprocal Link — Two different web sites that link to each other.

Robots.txt — A text file, that resides in the web server's root directory, that is used to direct search engine spiders that visit your website. It is typically used to indicate which portions of the site should be crawled and which should not. It may have crawler-specific directives.

SERP — Acronym for Search Engine Results Page. The page delivered to a searcher that displays the results of a search query entered into the search field. The SERP displays both natural listings
and paid ads in different places and by various rank.

Search Directory — Similar to a search engine, in that they both compile databases of web sites. A directory does not use crawlers in order to obtain entries in its search database. Instead, it relies on user interaction and submissions for the content it contains. Submissions are then categorized by topic and normally alphabetized, so that the results of any search will start with site descriptions that begin with some number or non-letter character, then moving from A-to-Z.

Search Engine — A search engine is an application that searches for information on the web and returns sites which provide that information to a searcher. The top 3 search engines today are Google, Yahoo! and Bing. Search engines return their results to search engine results pages (SERPs). It generally ranks or orders the results according to its proprietary algorithms. Their algorithms are always improving in order to improve relevance to the searcher who queries the search engine using search terms entered into a search field.

Search Query — The word or phrase a searcher types into a search field, which initiates search engine results page listings and PPC ad serves. In PPC advertising, the goal is to bid on keywords that closely match the search queries of the advertiser's targets.

Site-Targeted Ads — Site targeting lets you display your ads on manually-selected sites in the search engine’s content network for content or contextual ad serves. Site-targeted ads are billed more like traditional display ads, per 1000 impressions (CPM), and not on a Pay-Per-Click basis.

Spider — See Crawler.

Sponsored Listings — A term used to identify paid advertisements. It is visible on some search engine result pages as a title or column head to distinguish between paid and organic listings.

Targeting — Narrowly focusing keywords and ads to attract a specific potential customer based on a marketing profile.

Traffic — Refers to the number of visitors a website receives. It can be determined by examination of web logs, but better yet, through Analytics tools like Google Analytics.

Traffic Analysis — The process of analyzing traffic to a web site to understand what visitors are searching for and what is driving traffic to a site. Google Analytics is one of the top tools for this analysis.

Unique Visitor — When tracking the amount of traffic on a Web site, it refers to a person who visits a Web site more than once within a specified period of time. Software that tracks and counts Web site traffic can distinguish between visitors who only visit the site once and unique visitors who return to the site. Different from a site's hits or page views — which are measured by the number of files that are requested from a site — unique visitors are measured according to their unique IP addresses, which are like online fingerprints. Unique visitors are counted only once no matter how many times they visit the site.

Usability — In terms of websites, usability refers to making the site work well so that the average person can use it for its intended purpose without getting hopelessly frustrated.

Web Server Logs — Most web servers keep a log of the traffic to your site. Web analytics programs, like Google Analytics, do so as well. Each tool reports different information and uniquely graphically represents it. This may include the search terms used by visitors to access your site, what referral source they used, where they were located, what device they were using, and much more. This information is very helpful in developing SEO/SEM strategies and PPC campaigns.


For a complete list of terms see the Search Engine Marketing Glossary of Terms, Courtesy of SEMPO.