Definitions of Search Engine Marketing Terms

Below is a list of common terms used relating to search engines and online marketing.

Blog (web log)

A blog, is a journal hosted on a site and typically authored by an individual. It allows visitors to also publish their comments alongside the original posted material. Most blog owners generally update their content on a daily basis.


The unethical process of serving different content to a search engine than what a normal visitor would receive on the same url. The search engine then ranks the page based on the unrelated content that the user will never actually see. It is a dangerous tactic can result in a site being banned from a search engine.


Directories are often called a “search engine”. The big difference is that directories are actually made up of information gathered and categorised by humans. The most popular directories are dmoz and Yahoo.

  • A human directory editor will visit your site, review it and add it to the directory.
  • Directories store a short description (20 words) of your site.
  • Surfers can navigate the directory categories to find sites.
  • Surfers can also enter search phrases to find sites.

Dynamic Content

Dynamic content refers to pages on a site that are generated by a server side technology like .ASP, .JSP .CGI and .CFM . These technologies are normally used on database driven websites. Dynamic URLs contain variables that tell the server what information should go on the page. Dynamic URLs can normally be identified by the use of the ?

Dynamic Content Submission

Search engines have historically had problems with dynamic content and so ignore or only partially index dynamic website content. Special submission technology and protocols can be used to greatly enhance the amount of content a search engine indexes.

Home Page

We define the homepage as the HTML displayed to a search engine or browser when the main site domain name is accessed. Due to redirects and JavaScript this may be different from the final page that the visitor sees when they visit a site.


The action by which a search engine adds a site or page to its database.

Meta Tags

HTML not visible to the visitor but provides useful information for computer programs visiting a page (search engine spider).

Page Rank

A google specific way of determining how popular each page in a site is. This is calculated using a complex algorithm written by Google which may take into account the number of links to and from a page, how deep the page is within the directory structure, and the importance of other sites that link to it.

Page Title

HTML code that provides a short title for a particular page. This title is displayed in the top border of most browsers and normally forms the title of the search result displayed for a certain page.


When a search is carried out a search engine displays matching sites and pages from its database. The order in which these appear is called the ranking. Therefore if your site is listed first you have a number 1 ranking on that search engine for that phrase.


Similar to a robot. Its an automated computer program that navigates the internet, usually looking for some specific type of content, such as links or email addresses.

Robots.txt file

A text file stored in the top level directory of a web site to allow or deny robots access to certain pages or sub-directories of the site. This can control what is indexed by search engines.

Search Engine

An online service that gives access to and searching of a computer-generated database of Web pages. A search engine allows users to enter a search phrase and then finds and displays a list of all pages that contain the keywords that the user has entered.


  • Spiders visit your site
  • Content added to search engine database.
  • Search engines store content from many pages of your site.
  • Surfers enter search phrases to find sites.
  • Search engine returns results in order of relevance.

Search Phrase

A phrase that a surfer enters into a search engine or directory to find information on a particular topic.


An abbreviation for “Search Engine Results Page”.


A computer program that visits a website travelling from page to page via links. The spider downloads the content of each page for analysis and storage in the search engines database.


Similar to a blog in structure and logic, a wiki allows anyone to edit, delete or modify content that has been placed on the Web site using a browser interface, including the work of previous authors.