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Algorithm: A set of rules that a search engine uses to rank the listings contained within its index, in response to a particular query. No search engine reveals exactly how its own algorithm works, to protect itself from competitors and those who wish to spam the search engine.
Backlinks: All the links pointing at a particular web page. Also called inbound links.
Cloaking: In terms of search engine marketing, this is the act of getting a search engine to record content for a URL that is different than what a searcher will ultimately see. It can be done in many technical ways. Several search engines have explicit rules against unapproved cloaking. Those violating these guidelines might find their pages penalized or banned from a search engine's index. As for approved cloaking, this generally only happens with search engines offering paid inclusion program. Anyone offering cloaking services should be able to demonstrate explicit approval from a search engine about what they intend to do. If not, then they should then have explained the risks inherent of unapproved cloaking.
Crawler: Component of search engine that gather listings by automatically "crawling" the web. A search engine's crawler (also called a spider or robot), follows links to web pages. It makes copies of the web pages found and stores these in the search engine's index.
Directories: A type of search engine where listings are gathered through human efforts, rather than by automated crawling of the web. In directories, web sites are often reviewed, summarized in about 25 words and placed in a particular category.
Link Popularity: A raw count of how "popular" a page is based on the number of backlinks it has. It does not factor in link context or link quality, which are also important elements in how search engines make use of links to impact rankings.
FFA: Abbreviation for Free For All. FFA sites post large lists of unrelated links to anyone and everyone. FFA sites and the links they provide are basically useless. Humans do not use them and search engines minimize their importance in ranking formulas.
Link Text: The text that is contained within a link. For example, search engine is a link that contains the link text "search engine."
Listings: The information that appears on a search engine's results page in response to a search.
Meta Search Engine: A search engine that gets listings from two or more other search engines, rather than through its own efforts.
Meta Tags: Information placed in a web page not intended for users to see but instead which typically passes information to search engine crawlers, browser software and some other applications.
Meta Description Tag: Allows page authors to say how they would like their pages described when listed by search engines. Not all search engines use the tag.
Meta Keywords Tag: Allows page authors to add text to a page to help with the search engine ranking process. Not all search engines use the tag.
Meta Robots Tag: Allows page authors to keep their web pages from being indexed by search engines, especially helpful for those who cannot create robots.txt files. The Robots Exclusion page provides official details.
Organic Listings: Listings that search engines do not sell (unlike paid listings). Instead, sites appear solely because a search engine has deemed it editorially important for them to be included, regardless of payment. Paid inclusion content is also often considered "organic" even though it is paid for. This is because that content usually appears intermixed with unpaid organic results.
Outbound Links: Links on a particular web page leading to other web pages, whether they are within the same web site or other web sites.
Pay-Per-Click: System where an advertiser pays an agreed amount for each click someone makes on a link leading to their web site. Also known as CPC.
Rank: How well a particular web page or web site is listed in a search engine results. For example, a web page about apples may be listed in response to a query for "apples." However, "rank" indicates where exactly it was listed -- be it on the first page of results, the second page or perhaps the 200th page. Alternatively, it might also be said to be ranked first among all results, or 12th, or 111th. Overall, saying a page is "listed" only means that it can be found within a search engine in response to a query, not that it necessarily ranks well for that query. Also called position.
Robots.txt: A file used to keep web pages from being indexed by search engines. The Robots Exclusion page provides official details.
Search Engine: Any service generally designed to allow users to search the web or a specialized database of information. Web search engines generally have paid listings and organic listings. Organic listings typically come from crawling the web, though often human-powered directory listings are also optionally offered.
Search Engine Marketing: The act of marketing a web site via search engines, whether this be improving rank in organic listings, purchasing paid listings or a combination of these and other search engine-related activities.
Search Engine Optimization: The act of altering a web site so that it does well in the organic, crawler-based listings of search engines. In the past, has also been used as a term for any type of search engine marketing activity, though now the term search engine marketing itself has taken over for this. Also called SEO.
Search Terms: The words (or word) a searcher enters into a search engine's search box. Also used to refer to the terms a search engine marketer hopes a particular page will be found for. Also called keywords, query terms or query.
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