Veterinary SEO Glossary

If you don't understand the language, navigating through the world of search engines can be tricky. We've compiled a glossary of some common search engine-related terms to help you find your bearings.


AdSense: A Google service, AdSense allows businesses large and small to place relevant content ads on their website and receive a share of profits from any ad clicks.

AdWords: Google's advertising network. AdWords are keyword-targeted and sold on a per-click basis. For example, when a user searches for "California veterinary hospital," your AdWord ad shows up next to the top search results; you pay a small fee only if a user clicks on your ad.

Algorithm: A programming rule that dictates how a search engine reads content on websites and creates search results.

Alt Tag: An HTML attribute that provides a text equivalent of an image for search engine crawlers. For example: <img src="//" height="140" width="120" alt="Veterinarian at Computer">

Analytics: Software that helps you track page views, conversion statistics and user behavior on your site. Analytics provide useful data about how users are finding your site and which pages they are looking at while browsing.

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Black Hat SEO: Purposefully going against search engine guidelines to get your site a higher ranking than it deserves. Your site can be penalized for using Black hat SEO and can even be removed from the search engine's index.

Blog: Short for 'weblog', a kind of online diary with entries made on a regular basis. Blogs can cover any subject matter and good blog content can drive more traffic to your site.

Bulk Submissions: A program that submits many URLs to search engines. Search engines discourage the use of these programs.

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Clickthrough: Clicking an ad element and going to another web page.

Conversion: The act of turning a website visitor into a customer.

Cookie: Information placed on a visitor's computer by a web server. Cookies are often used to store data such as order numbers, email addresses, user IDs and session IDs.

CSS: Short for Cascading Style Sheet, pages of code used to control the design of a website.

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Directory: A human-edited index of websites, such as the Open Directory Project. While search engines are concerned with the actual code on a website, directories strive to group websites by specific categories with keyword-rich descriptions.

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Frames: Separate web pages combined into one page, each page usually with its own scroll bar. Frames are not user-friendly and make navigation more difficult. Search engines also have trouble indexing pages with frames.

Fresh: What Google calls frequently-updated web pages. If Google's spiders see a page changes frequently, they will revisit and reindex those pages more often.

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Google: The world's largest search engine, with a little more than half the total search engine market-share. Google sets the standard for web searches and offers numerous search-related advertising, marketing and content services, including AdWords, Analytics, Blogger, Google Maps and more.

Googlebot: Also known as a spider or crawler, Googlebot is the search bot Google uses to index sites for the search engine.

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Heading tag: An HTML tag used to denote a page or special section. Search engines pay close attention to text in heading tags and consider it to be more important that other page content.

HTML: HyperText Markup Language, the programming language used to create and display web content.

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Inbound Links: Links that point to your site from sites other than your own. Inbound links from reputable sites can improve your site's page ranking on Google.

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Keyword: A word a search engine user might use to find a web site. Having the right keywords means your site will show up in relevant search results.

Keyword Density: The number of times a keyword appears on a web page. The more times the keyword appears (within reason), the more weight that word is assigned by the search engine.

Keyword stuffing: A black hat SEO technique that places excessive amounts of keywords into website copy and the HTML code. Stuffing includes using hidden text with long strings of keywords, filling alt tags with long strings of keywords and more. Keyword stuffing is discouraged by search engines.

Keyword-rich: Website copy that is full of good keywords, but remains readable and user-friendly.

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Link Building: Requesting links from other websites for the purpose of increasing your link popularity.

Link Popularity: Though not as crucial as it once was, link popularity remains a part of Google's search algorithm. The more outside sites that link to your site, the better your site will rank in Google's index.

Link Farm: A group of highly inter-linked websites created solely to inflate link popularity. Link farming is discouraged by search engines and having a link there could harm your site's ranking.

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Meta tags: Information about the content on a webpage, placed in the HTML code but not displayed on the actual page for the user to see. In the early days of the web, search engine crawlers used meta tags to index pages; however, developers soon took advantage of this and began stuffing keywords into meta tags. Meta tags are now largely ignored by search engines; however, Yahoo! still reads meta keywords tags, and the meta description tag is useful in influencing how your site is described in search results.

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Navigation Bar (nav bar): Icons or links that direct users - and search engine spiders - to a site's content.

Negative Keyword: A technique used by Google AdWords to help with keyword matching. The advertiser can specify terms they do not want their ad to be associated with; for example, the negative keyword "-nike" used with the keyword "running shoes" means the ad will not be displayed if a user searches for "nike running shoes".

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PageRank: Google's way of tracking link popularity. Google differentiates a link from an important site (such as as better than a link from someone's personal home page. The higher the PageRank of the page that's linking to you, the more your site's PageRank will benefit. The better your PageRank, the more your ranking in Google's index will increase.

Paid Inclusion: Paying a search engine to include your web page in their index.

Pay-per-click: An advertising method where pricing is based on the number of user clickthroughs. Google AdWords is pay-per-click advertising.

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Reciprocal Linking: Trading links between websites.

Robots.txt: A text file placed in a website's root directory and linked to the HTML code; this file allows webmasters to direct the actions of search engine spiders on the site.

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Search Engine: A website that gives visitors the ability to search the content of numerous other websites on the internet. Search engines use programs called 'spiders' to explore all the pages of a website and add the content of those pages into a database that users can search. The more useful the content on your site, the better your site will rank in search engine results. Search engines are the number-one way users find things on the web and having a good ranking means more people will find your site.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): strategies and tactics used to influence the rankings of web pages in search engines.

Spider: Also known as a bot, robot or crawler, spiders are programs used by search engines to explore and read websites on the internet. Spiders index websites and send the data back to the search engines, which organize the data into search engine results.

Submitting: Submitting your website to a search engine so that it will be indexed. One-time, manual submissions of websites are encouraged by search engines; submitting multiple pages from the same site, submitting multiple times and using automated submission tools is discouraged. Submitting a site does not guarantee that it will be indexed by a search engine.

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Title Tag: The text displayed in the blue bar at the top of the browser window. Search engines assign the words in title tags more weight than other page content and also display the title tag in search results. Appropriate title tags can boost your site's ranking.

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URL: otherwise known as a web address; stands for Uniform Resource Locator. URLs specify the location of a web page, an email address and other things. Clear, descriptive URLs can make your page more search-engine friendly.

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Web browser: Software that allows users to visit websites. Microsoft's Internet Explorer is the most widely-used web browser, along with Firefox, Safari and Opera.

Web standards: Widely-adopted guidelines for CSS, HTML, etc. that ensure websites are accessible on a variety of browsers and to a wide range of users, including those with disabilities. A site's search engine ranking can benefit from following web standards.

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Yahoo!: One of the oldest web directories and search engines. While Yahoo! is now behind Google in terms of search engine market-share, it still remains a major player in the search engine industry.

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