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In the context of search marketing, "algorithm" is usually a reference to a search algorithm.

Search engine companies engineer complicated algorithms that automatically return relevant search results from their index for their users' search queries.

Alt Text
Images displayed in HTML have the option of an alt tag, which provides the browser with alternate text, to use when the picture can not be displayed. Alt text is the text that an alt tag contains.

Using the alt tag is helpful in SEO, as it gives the search engine robots a better idea of what the image portrays on a site.

Anchor Text
In HTML, anchor text refers to any text wrapped in HTML anchor tags. Anchor tags are used to designate hyperlinks, or links, on a web page. Anchor tags can be used to link a variety of web page elements to other web pages or web sites. When anchor tags are used on text, they are more useful to search engine crawlers.

The text found between the opening and closing anchor tags is called the anchor text, and is used by search engines to determine the topic or content of the page being linked to.

For example, if you have a web site about cars, and five people are linking the word "cars" to your web site from their web site, this will give your cars related web site more credibility for your topic. If, rather than "cars," those five people are linking the word "cats" to your web site, the anchor text will be misleading to the search engines, instead of helpful.

It is a good idea to whenever possible, have relevant and descriptive anchor text, to best leverage the search engines.

Any incoming links to a web page. Search engines are commonly known to rank sites with more backlinks higher in search results.

Other terms for backlinks include incoming links, and inbound links.

Black Hat SEO
Black hat search engine optimization can be considered any technique or practice that illegitimately boosts a website's ranking within search results. Steering clear of black hat techniques is sometimes a tricky subject, as search engines decide what's against the rules, and what isn't - and sometimes they aren't always perfectly clear about it.

For example, it was once a very common practice for people to exchange links on their websites, in the hopes that the extra backlink would boost both or their sites higher in search results. Only recently has link exchanging become very clearly a negative thing, as far as search engine ranking is concerned.

In order to never risk losing rank or placement in a search engine, it is always best to avoid any black hat SEO methods, and stick to what are known as white hat methods, instead - if your SEO firm doesn't commit themselves to white hat SEO, you may want to reconsider using their services.

A desired action a web visitor completes after arriving at your web site. E.g. purchasing a product, completing an enquiry form, or e-mail form, signing-up for a newsletter etc.

Writing that promotes products and/or services. "SEO Copywriting" is a related term that pertains to writing for website content that is optimized for search engines with strategic keyword placement while remaining accessible to readers.

Also known as a spider or robot - a computer program or script that automatically navigates the web, viewing pages, archiving them, and referencing them for use in search engines and other projects.

Googlebot is Google's crawler (also known as a spider or robot) which traverses the web, viewing and saving pages for Google's search index.

Gray Hat SEO
Considered the middle ground between white hat and black hat SEO, gray hat SEO tactics are those that aren't explicitly defined as bad by search engines. Basically, if search engine guidelines don't state their position on a specific SEO technique, it may be considered gray hat.

Often, gray hat techniques are considered to not be aligned with the 'spirit' of the search engine guidelines, even if they aren't clearly defined as bad. For this reason, it is often best to avoid gray hat SEO techniques, but many people use their own judgment to categorize gray hat methods into either white hat or black hat categories.

Also known as heading or header "tags" and "HTML Headings," H1s and H2s are HTML elements, and their primary purpose is to define a document's structure and to mark content as deserving of attention from search engines. For search engines, the text found between the opening and closing H1 tags is considered more important than the text found in H2 tags, which is more important than text for in H3 tags, etc.

Heading Tags
See H1/H2.

In the context of a search engine, an index is the collection of web data crawled by search spiders, and organized in an easy to access catalog or database. When you search for keywords in a search engine, the behind-the-scenes software does a quick and thorough search of the current index to find relevant pages.

A search engine index is constantly changing, and most modern search engines have huge indexes accompanied by very complex software used to manipulate and traverse the index quickly and efficiently.

See Search Term.

Keyword Density
A ratio of how many keywords are found on a webpage or website compared to total word count. In general, the higher the keyword density, the more relevant the target keyword appears to search engines. For example, the following sentence has a keywords density of 20% when the target keyword is 'trust', "Establish trust with search engines."

It is best to not have a keyword density that is too high or too low, for your target terms.

Link Bait
Something on your website (possibly a helpful article, useful software, or something entertaining), that people are likely to link to from their site. If someone finds some of your content valuable enough to link to it, you know that you are offering useful content, and building backlinks at the same time.

Links or hyperlinks are how the web is navigated. To move from one website to another, or from page to page on a website, users click on links. Links are created using an HTML anchor element. Every link generally has at least two properties; the destination URL, or where the user will be taken if they click on the link; and the anchor text, or the words on the page that are clickable to the user.

Links and linking play an important role in search marketing for a number of reasons. One reason is that search engines use the number of links from external websites (backlinks) as well as the anchor text contained in backlinks as part of their algorithm to determine the topic relevance and authority of a web page.

Long Tail
Long tail search terms are search phrases people use to find your website that contain your target search terms, but that have leading or trailing words, or both.

For example, your target term may be "widgets" - but people will likely find you by using a long tail terms like "new green widgets for sale."

If your website is well optimized for the search engines, when reviewing your web analytics you will see that although you get a lot of visits via searches on your primary target search terms, the majority of your visits will be from long tail search terms.

Meta Description
A meta description is an HTML header tag that allows a web author to describe the contents of their HTML pages. Search engines often use meta descriptions to describe pages to their search users.

A concise and descriptive meta description will encourage more search users to visit your page in their search results, making quality meta descriptions very important to SEO.

Organic Search Results
Organic search results describes any traffic from a non-paid search engine source. For example, if Google has indexed your homepage, and 4 people have visited your site based on their searches of Google's index, those 4 people can be considered organic search traffic.

Search traffic is generally divided into two categories, organic and paid. Many search engines offer pay-for-traffic programs, making the 'organic' distinction necessary.

PageRank is Google's name for their link analysis algorithm. Web pages in Google's search index are given a PageRank, a number between 0 and 10, that signifies that page's overall relevance. The algorithm that determines a page's PageRank is a complex mathematical algorithm that counts backlinks pointing to a page as a "vote" for that page by the linking website.

In general, the more backlinks a web page has, the higher it's PageRank will be (the number is calculated in relation to all other elements in the set, in this case, all other web pages in Google's index).

The rank or ranking of a web page in a search engine index is a number indicating where that page is displayed in the organic results section on a search results page.

For example, on Google, the first search results page generally shows ten URLs, starting with the #1 ranking page at the top, and the #10 ranking page at the bottom. In this example, if you ranked #11 for a specific search phrase, you would appear at the top of the second page of results.

Rankings are often used as a metric to measure the success of SEO efforts; ideally search optimization for specific phrases will result in the increased rank of a website or page for that term.

In the SEO industry, a 'redirect' is a reference to a search engine friendly redirection from one web page or website to another web page or website.

If the address for a particular page or resource changes, it is always advisable to redirect search engines and visitors to the new address using a redirect. If the address for a resource changes and a redirect is not implemented, the user or search robot will encounter an error page, and not reach their desired destination.

Search engine friendly redirects are implemented by using a server status code. The status code for a search engine friendly redirect is '301,' so a redirect may also be called a 301 redirect, or a 301 search engine friendly redirect.

Another method of redirecting users is to implement a javascript redirect, but this is not considered a search engine friendly redirect, as search engine robots do not use javascript.

Also known as a spider or web crawler - a computer program or script that automatically navigates the web, viewing pages, archiving them, and referencing them for use in search engines and other projects.

Search Engine
Most commonly used to describe a web service that maintains a searchable database of information from the World Wide Web.

A search engine consists of robot software, an indexer, a database or index, and rules (algorithms) to serve up the most relevant information in response to a search query.

Search Engine Marketing
Marketing your web site through the search engines, either by organic search (non-paid search), or paid search (pay-per-click).

Search Engine Optimization
Often abbreviated to SEO, Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing a web site for the search engines so that your web site gets indexed and ranked.

This includes but is not limited to researching and implementing optimal target search terms throughout the site in the copy and the source code, and creating relationships with other web sites and web users.

Search Term
Aka Keyword, a Search Term is a word or a phrase that web users type into a search box either at a search engine, or on a web site, to find the information they are looking for.

See Search Engine Marketing

See Search Engine Optimization

SERPs is an acronym for Search Results Pages, which refers to the listings the search engines provide in response to a search query.

Also known as a robot or crawler - a computer program or script that automatically navigates the web, viewing pages, archiving them, and referencing them for use in search engines and other projects.

Title Tag
In HTML, the title tag is an important tag found in the header of every page. The title tag is used to give a page a title, which is seem at the top of the browser, as well as in search results in search engines.

A well crafted and unique title tag is a key piece of SEO.

White Hat SEO
Considered the opposite of black hat SEO, white hat SEO tactics can be any search engine optimization methods that legitimately improve a site's search rankings.

In order to properly practice white hat SEO, you must be careful and diligent in adhering to the guidelines outlined by search engines. For example, Google's webmaster guidelines are often considered to be a good benchmark for what are acceptable SEO tactics according to Google. Other search engines may have different definitions of what is acceptable.