Digital Glossary

Learn all of the digital marketing terms, lingo, and buzzwords with our ultimate digital marketing glossary.

Used in HTML alongside the title attribute to denote the use of an abbreviation.

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Refers to the part of the web page that is visible on-screen before the user scrolls down.

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An open source project driven by Google (and to an extent Twitter) to provide a coding structure that loads websites faster for mobile devices.

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Refers to the structuring of web content in such a way that it is easily accessible to all users, in particular users with disabilities.

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Total cost of an advertising / marketing campaign divided by the number of visitors (visitor acquisition cost) or divided by the number of customers (customer acquisition cost). Monitoring of acquisition cost is an important factor in effective PPC advertising.

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An Internet advertising specialist. Ad brokers act as middlemen between web site owners with advertising space to sell and advertisers.

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The number of potential page views a site has available for advertising.

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Referring to the relationship between words, particularly words used in a search engine query. Search engines typically assign higher value to pages where the search terms appear next to one another (as in the query) than to pages where the search terms are separated by other words.

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An option at most of the major search engines that allow users to specify certain search criteria. For example, users can elect to see only documents added to the database after a certain date, documents in specific languages etc.

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Affiliate programs allow other people to sell your products on a commission basis. All your affiliates really do is place link to your site. When a visitor arrives at your site, your affiliate program “makes a note” of the site that referred him. If a visitor buys something and the referring site belongs to one of your affiliates, you pay that affiliate either a percentage of the sale or a fixed amount – according to your agreement.

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A method of organising a large amount of data into logical groups or categories, especially useful when planning out the navigation and structure of a large web site.

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Different pages can be presented at the same URL. Different pages are delivered based on the agent name requesting the page. Typically, agent names starting with “Mozilla” indicate regular browsers while search engine spiders use names like Googlebot, Scooter etc. Agent Name Delivery is not a very effective form of cloaking though. Search engines can (and do) disguise spiders as “Mozilla” agents.

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Agile marketing is the practice of reacting quickly with a specially created piece of well-timed content in order to capitalise on a currently trending topic or news-story.

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Founded in 2011 by Dmitry Gerasimenko, Ahrefs is an SaaS SEO platform most popular for its back-link discovery tool Site Explorer.

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AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript and XML) offers a way to harness the power of JavaScript and XML to enhance interactivity in web pages.

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A website and toolbar that tracks the number of hits (visitors) to a particular website and ranks them based on this amount.

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Algorithms are sets of rules according to which search engines rank web pages. Figuring out the algorithms is a major part of SEO. The thinking is that if you understand how they calculate relevance, you can make specific pages on your site super relevant for specific search terms. For more on algorithms and SEO in general, please refer to the Search Engine Yearbook.

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Data mining software typically used for statistical analysis.

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An automatic penalty applied to a site by Google. Unlike manual penalties, algorithmic penalties are automated and are sometimes not accompanied by a message in Webmaster Tools.

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A term often used in the financial community to distinguish between algorithm-based search engines like Google and payment-driven search engines like Overture. The term is slightly confusing. All search engines – including Overture – has some form of algorithm working behind the scenes.

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A special search command for Google. A search for allintitle:widget would only return sites that has the word “widget” in the title.

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A special search command for Google. A search for allinurl:widget would only return sites that has the word “widget” in the URL.

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Anchor Text are the characters displayed to the user that contain a link. Anchor text is a useful way to input links into sentences and paragraphs without having to include the entire URL.

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An anonymous FTP (Anonymous File Transfer Protocol) server allows visitors access to files stored on the server. These anonymous visitors may download or upload files to and from the anonymous FTP server. Access can be normally be controlled from within a web control panel.

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Anti-aliasing is a feature of many design programs such as PhotoShop and GIMP. This feature creates a smoothing effect on the colour edges of an image, providing a smooth transition from one colour area within the image to the next colour area in the same image. Without anti-aliasing the individual pixels would be more visible on the edges of the colour areas.

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The Apache HTTP server is free software. It is an open source Web server.

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API (Application Programming Interface). A document interface that allows software applications to interact with other applications. For an example the Twitter API.

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Short for application, an app performs a function on your mobile phone or computer.

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A small application, usually in Java, usually for use on the Web.

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An application server is installed as a software engine in a computer network. One of its functions is to host software applications. Another function of the application server is to transmit applications to linked computers.

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ARPANet (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) was the forerunner to the Internet. ARPANet was created by the U.S. Department of Defense during the 1960’s.

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In programming, an array is an index of data values. In PHP, for example, an array contains a number of variables.

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The practice of rewording an article multiple times, either to be posted for link building purposes or as content for a site. This is considered a form of Spam.

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ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) is a standard for code numbers. The standard is applied world-wide by computer programmers. ASCII encodes all the upper and lower-case Latin numbers, letters, punctuation and more.

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ASP (Active Server Pages) is a Windows-based server-side scripting language used for creating dynamic content.

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In the context of HTML, an attribute is a characteristic of a tag. An IMG tag, for example, could include attributes that specify the height and width of the image.

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Marketing attribution is the practice of dividing credit between any channel (whether it’s social media, email, telephone, etc) that a customer comes in to contact with on their journey to conversion.

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In the context of search engines, the term refers to the percentage of the total Internet population that use a particular search engine during a given month. Together with search hours, audience reach is an important measure when calculating the popularity of the different search engines.

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An SEO term used to describe the credibility and popularity of a website.

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Marketing automation refers to any software or technology put in place to automatically serve people marketing communications on a variety of online channels in order to save time and resources.

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An image that represents an account on social networks and forums.

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Business to Business (B2B). A business provides a b2b offering when it focuses on selling to other businesses, not to end users. For example: A web design business sells a service that helps other businesses.

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Business to Customer. As opposed to a b2b business which sells to businesses, a b2c business focuses on selling directly to the customer or end user. For example Amazon.com.

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A network backbone is a high-speed line or a series of connections. It is a major pathway within a network. Not all networks use a backbone component.

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The backend of a web site refers to the HTML markup, code, files and server processes that make the web site work. The backend is what the web designer builds, the frontend is what the web site visitor sees.

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A link on another web page that links to the page you are viewing. Also called an inbound link.

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A Black hat Internet marketing technique. The idea is to have two versions of a web page. One version is optimised for search engines, the other for users. Once the search engine indexes the first (takes the bait), the webmaster switches the pages so that the page optimised for users now lives at the URL of the page the search engine indexed.

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The maximum amount of data that a connection can transfer.

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Referring to the practice/habit of ignoring banner advertisements.

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Some search engines will match indexed words that contain a search term at the beginning.

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A collective name to describe all manner of fancy, advanced features. If a web site has “all the bells and whistles”, it has everything you could ever want.

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A testing stage / testing version of a product. For example, when a beta version of a search engine is released, users can access it online and are encouraged to report bugs and give general feedback.

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The amount you are willing to pay for advertising on keyword rankings using PPC (Pay Per Click) means on search engines.

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A buzzword that is a much shorter way of saying ‘the massive volume of data that has suddenly become available to us thanks to the rise of online traffic, which has in turn led to the need for accurate analytics packages and improvements in understanding the data accrued.’

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A method of analysing a web page’s content on a block-by-block basis, rather than looking at the whole page. It implies that some parts of a page are more important than others, based on what people tend to focus on. Microsoft is said to use block level analysis (BLA) to make its search engine results more relevant.

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The name “blog” is a truncated form of “web log” according to Rebecca Blood’s essay “Weblogs: a history and perspective.”

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Part of the link building process, blogger outreach is the practice of identifying and contacting bloggers, usually for SEO purposes.

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A Boolean combination of terms allowing the inclusion or exclusion from search results of documents containing certain words. This is achieved through the use of operators such as AND, NOT and OR.

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In web design the term refers to a navigational element at or near the top of the page showing the path within the site from the homepage to the current page.

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A high-capacity data transmission channel. Broadband access to the Internet allows users to send and receive data at a much higher speed than is possible with a regular phone line.

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A browser is software used to access web pages. Examples include Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Microsoft Edge.

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Referring to the different ways different browsers display the same page. A key consideration in web design (and SEO) is to create pages that are browser independent – in other words pages that work as they are supposed to regardless of the user’s choice of browser.

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A bug, in web design terms, is an error or a problem where the site does not behave as it should.

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A rapid increase in the popularity of a new topic.

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A CAPTCHA is field in a web form, designed as a security feature intended to differentiate between users and bots.

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Case-sensitive systems differentiate between uppercase and lowercase. “ABC” and “abc” are not the same thing on a case sensitive system.

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CGI (Common Gateway Interface) programs/scripts run on the server and are usually designed to add functionality to a website.

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A tool initially developed in information science to identify the core (most cited) set of documents for a given topic. In the context of web searching and search engine algorithms the term “link analysis” is more commonly used.

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The number of times a document is referenced by other documents in the same collection. Citation count (or link count) differs from link popularity in that only the number of citations (links) and not the quality of the links is considered.

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In direct relation to Google AdWords or any other pay per click advertising platform. Click Fraud is when individuals click on an advert with the sole purpose of incurring costs to the advertiser.

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Referring to the action of clicking through from, for example, a search engine’s results page to a web site. Click through rates are especially useful in Internet advertising where it is an important factor in determining the success of an advertisement.

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Often used in Internet marketing to describe the percentage of users who click on a link or advertisement. The CTR is used as a measure to determine the effectiveness of a link / advertisement. It is most effective if used in conjunction with other measurements like conversion rate.

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Search engines can track user clicks in order to “learn” from users which pages are most relevant to a query.

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A computer, program or process requesting information from a server.

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Used to describe a linking structure where a group of web pages interlink heavily while there are few or no links to or from pages outside the group. General consensus is that search engines can detect closed loops and penalise pages in closed loops.

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Search results grouped together (to save space on the SERP), usually based on a shared top-level domain.

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A technique the search engines use to group different pages from the same domain in their search results pages.

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In web design terms, a cluttered page is a page where the design elements (navigation, images, text) are bunched together so tightly that the user has trouble finding what they came looking for.

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A content management system (CMS) offers a way for a user to edit the content of a web site from within a browser-based interface, without any HTML skills required.

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When a web page or site is so full of code (scripts, font tags, redundant HTML) that it becomes hard to edit, slow to download, and more difficult for search engines to index.

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Also known as “social filtering”. A technique used to improve relevance, it returns documents other users with similar queries found relevant.

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The practice of combining search results from multiple collections.

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A log file that tracks visitors on a web site. A combined log file typically includes additional information on user agents, referrers etc.

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A standard log file with no additional information.

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A search for documents related conceptually to a search term, rather than for documents that actually contain the search term itself.

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The content of a web site refers to all the text, images, sound etc. that make up the web site, but not the layout elements such as the background or navigation links.

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Filtering documents by extracting some or all of the content contained in each document. Modern search engines all use content-based filtering in combination with other filtering mechanisms.

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Total cost per sale, calculated by dividing the total cost of an advertising campaign by the number of resulting sales.

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Conversion points are the points at which your customers have completed a specific action on your website.

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In the context of web design, conversion rate (CR) refers to the percentage of web site visitors that take the intended action such as signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase. In other words, what percentage of your web site visitors do what you want them to do.

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In web design, a cookie is a small text file that a web site saves on a user’s computer. The cookie stores information about that user. On the user’s next visit to the same web site, the web site retrieves the cookie to access the information. Cookies are useful for saving bits of information like

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Typically accompanied by something like “You are visitor number ___ since Oct 2018”. Counters count page views, not visitors.

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Cost per thousand impressions (M= Roman numeral for 1000). A pricing system often used in the banner advertising industry.

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Referring to links between a family of domains – for example your business site, your personal homepage and your cat’s homepage.

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CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) is a style sheet language that determines the look of elements on a web page.

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The practice of buying domains that contain popular trade names (for example fordmotors.com) or are common misspellings of popular trade names (for example gogle.com). The intent is usually to either resell the domain or to pull traffic through misspellings, rather than to develop a serious, unique site.

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Referring to professional online researchers. Sometimes also referred to as “super searchers”.

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Data visualisation brings your difficult to read data to life in a captivating, image-based and shareable way.

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A database is a collection of data, organised into tables and records. In web design, a web site that writes to a database and/or displays information from a database is referred to as a dynamic web site. Databases are typically used to store information like user account information, product information etc.

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A dedicated server is a web server that is used to host one web site only. All the resources on the server is available exclusively to the web site. This is in contrast to shared hosting where the resources are shared by multiple web sites hosted on the server.

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Referring to the removal of pages from a search engine index. De-listing can occur at the request of the site owner or a variety of other reasons. Most often, delisting occurs when a page breaks a search engines terms of service.

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Deprecated tags, elements or attributes are ones that have become obsolete or they have been replaced by newer versions. Continuing to use a deprecated tag/element/attribute might seem to work fine, but it will eventually stop working as newer web browsers stop supporting it.

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This means to transform an expensive, complicated product used by a small minority, by making it more affordable and accessible, and therefore creating a brand new market.

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Used in computer graphics, it is a method of creating new colours from ones that already exist in the image by interspersing pixels.

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A domain is set to be “parked” when it has been registered but not developed into a web site. The registrant pays the annual renewal fees to prevent the domain from falling into someone else’s hands. DNS parking is typically done to protect trademarks. Domains registered for resale are usually also parked.

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A declaration at the top of an HTML document specifying the syntax used in the rest of the document. It is possible to publish an HTML document without declaring the DOCTYPE, but doing so could cause serious display problems especially if CSS is used.

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One of the problems that search engines have to deal with is that the web changes continuously. Their databases have to reflect new trends, news stories etc. They have to index document streams (e.g. news stories) that appear, tend to grow in intensity for a while (burst) and then gradually fade away.

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A domain name is a name by which a web site or web server is identified, for example peterwoottonseo.com. Domains can include letters, numbers and hyphens only.

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The last bit of the domain name, for example “.com”, “.net” or “.org”. There are hundreds of different domain extensions, including country-specific domain extensions such as “.co.uk” for the UK, “.com.au” for Australia etc.

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Describes the activities related to trading in domain names. Domaining has become an occupation, with many entrepreneurs buying and selling domains full-time.

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A keyword-rich domain name used to achieve high search engine ranking for a particular keyword / key phrase.

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Referring to a page designed to rank well for a selected keyword and redirect visitors to another, “real” page. Important here is that there are two kinds of doorway pages: those generated automatically based on a template and manually created keyword focused content pages (KFCPs)

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Adobe Dreamweaver (formerly Macromedia Dreamweaver) is a popular and powerful web development program.

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The action of clicking on links within a web site or directory, working through categories and sub-categories, in order to find specific information.

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Web site content generated automatically, usually from a database and based on user actions / selections. Dynamic content typically changes at regular intervals, for example daily or each time the users reloads the page. SERPs are dynamically generated pages, changing depending on user input.

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The practice of adding fields to a database and page templates, like for an eCommerce website, where just as each page has a different product, the optimisation elements are also different. Usually limited to the page title, meta description and meta keywords.

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A web site that writes to and/or reads from a database and/or a web site where the content changes based on user inputs.

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A website can earn links by providing content or design that other websites link to naturally. It is considered to be a sign of high quality content or design.

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The term normally refers to web sites that provide access to public information like catalogs, e-books, databases, audio files etc.

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A very short version of your sales pitch – short enough to tell it to someone in an elevator before you reach your destination.

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A link that opens the users default email client to send an email to the address in the link. The syntax is the same as for a regular link, with the addition of “mailto:” in front of the target, which in this case would be the email address.

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An embedded style refers to CSS rules placed in the document itself, as opposed to in a separate .css document.

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Not to be confused with the homepage, the entry page is the first page the users sees when following a link to the site. This is often the homepage, but a link can point to any page on the site.

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Slang for pretty graphics. Calling a web site “eye candy” is usually a compliment, but it can also imply that the web site over-emphasises design at the cost of functionality.

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A method for testing the effectiveness of a web page. An eye tracking device monitors the movement of the pupil to determine where on the page the subject looks first. It tracks the movement of the eye as the subject scans the page. This information is then used by the web designer to improve the page layout.

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Used in many web sites, a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) is a list of questions that users often ask. The question is followed by either the answer or a link to the answer.

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A favicon is a small icon image that is associated with a specific site, usually containing the site logo or a variation thereof.

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FBKS (Failure Between Keyboard and Seat) is a funny, shorthand way of saying that the user is a dumb*ss.

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When a company or entrepreneur identifies a potentially lucrative new idea it works at maximum speed to be first to market. This does not necessarily mean launching it first, but rather being the first to gain users/customers and take a big market share in the absence of any significant competition.

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In the context of web site design, a fixed width layout means that the width of the site is fixed to a specific pixel value, as opposed to a fluid width layout where the site width is specified as a percentage. The benefit of a fixed width layout is that the site content is always displayed the same, regardless of the user’s monitor resolution. This gives the web designer a bit more control over the final look of the site.

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Adobe Flash (formerly Macromedia Flash) is a multimedia program and plugin used extensively in web design. It is most often used for its animation capabilities.

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A function of HTML where the user enters data into form fields and usually sends the form using a “Submit” or “Send” button.

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Form validation (or more correctly, form field validation) forces a user to fill out all required fields in a web form. The validation is typically done in PHP where the developer can set up rules. For example: If the name field is blank, take the user back to the form and display an error message.

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The part of the web site that the end user sees.

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FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is one way of transferring files across the Net. FTP is often used in web development as a fast and easy way to upload a large number of files to a web server.

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In programming, a function is a section of code that can be invoked from other sections of the code or from other pages. The main benefit is that code that would otherwise be repeated often in a site can be placed in a function and invoked when needed. This makes for neater code and easier maintenance.

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Used in web project management, a gantt chart specifies objectives/milestones and assigns target dates to those objectives.

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A web site that remains available online, but that is no longer being maintained or updated. Unlike an abandoned site, a ghost site usually includes a paragraph stating that it is no longer being updated and it is kept alive because the information it contains may still be valid and useful.

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GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is a popular image format for the web. The GIF format is limited to 256 colours and supports transparency, which makes it suitable for simple graphics such as logos or buttons, but not for complex graphics such as photos.

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A core algorithm update designed to promote previously undervalued content.

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A change made to the way that Google indexes content on the web which fully rolled out in June 2010. Google claimed it would create 50% fresher results for searchers compared to the old system.

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Released in April 2012 Google’s Penguin update was somewhat of a supplement to the Google Panda Update. Google Penguin is heavily focused on penalising websites that engage in link spam.

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A Google update released in 2014 designed to improve local search results according to the searcher’s location.

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An Google update released in the latter half of 2016 that had a profound impact on local searches. It affected approximately two thirds of local searches.

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In the context of web design, graphics is a collective name for all the images associated with a web site.

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Growth hacking is the practice of companies with limited budgets using non-traditional and innovative methods of obtaining exposure and therefore generating growth.

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A page on a web site where visitors can enter their names and leave their comments about the site. Guestbooks worked great until automated guestbook spam made them more of a liability than an asset. Today few company web sites still offer a guestbook. The ones that do usually have effective anti-spam measures in place.

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GUI is short for graphical user interface. It’s that part of an application (or web site) that’s intended for the user. Also called the “front end”.

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A hit is a request for a file on a web server – any request for any file, so opening one HTML page which contains 10 images and 1 Flash animation will register as 12 hits (1 HTML file + 10 + 1). Hits are not the same as visits, contrary to what some web marketing schemes would imply. 10,000 hits may sound impressive, but if every page loads 100 images then 10,000 hits translates to less than 100 actual visitors.

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Referring to the very first page that loads on a web site when only the domain is entered. For example, the homepage on this web site is https://peterwoottonseo.com

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In order for your web site to be visible to the world, it must be “hosted” on a web server. The host is the company that provides the web server.

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An htaccess file is an Apache configuration file that influences the directory where it is located. Its uses are numerous and includes functions like redirects, URL rewriting etc.

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HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. It’s the primary language used to construct web pages. HTML is often used in conjunction with languages that allow the web developer to add functionality, such as PHP, CSS and JavaScript.

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In relation to web development, the term “comments” usually refers to comments entered into the code of the site to make the code more human-friendly.

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The ICO format is used for image icons, like the favicon (favicon.ico) used in web design.

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In Web terms an impression is one request for a specific file. This is used as a metric in web advertising as an indication of the number of times a specific advertisement was viewed.

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A link from one page on a domain to another page on the same domain, as opposed to an external link which links to a page on a different domain.

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Originally designed by the US Military and called ARPANet, the Internet has grown to a global network of interconnected, smaller networks. The Internet facilitates data transfer and digital communication through, for example, email and the WWW.

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A collective name that groups all activities related to marketing on the Internet, including marketing on the WWW, email marketing etc.

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Every computer connected to the Internet has an IP or IP address. IP addresses are numerical, consisting of three blocks e.g. 123.456.7.89.

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Jaggies is a nickname given to images that have jagged or pixelated edges where the edges should be smooth.

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JavaScript is a client-side scripting language used to create dynamic behaviour in HTML documents. The primary use and benefit is that actions can be performed on the page without the need to reload the page.

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Describing the action of fixing something in an unconventional but creative way.

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JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) format is an image format that is commonly used in web site design. It’s best for images that use gradients or that contain a large number of colours, such as photos.

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Referring to messy, unorganised or poorly commented code.

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The gaps between letters. In the word “in”, the kerning is the small space between the “i” and the “n”. Used extensively in logo design, it is used to a lesser extent in web site design to aid legibility.

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This is a black hat SEO technique where webmasters will attempt to hide text from the user, but make it visible to search engines for the purpose of manipulating the search rankings.

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Any type of online marketing where two or more marketers benefit by referring customers between each other.

For example, a web designer and an SEO expert could work together, referring clients between each other, allowing each to specialise.

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An effective but usually not very elegant, temporary workaround to a problem.

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The page where a user enters a web site. In reality, any page on a web site is a potential landing page in that the user could follow a link from another site or from a search engine directly to any page within the site.

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In web design the layout of a page refers to the way that the different elements on the page is arranged. The position of the logo, navigation bar, page text etc. are all part of the layout of the page.

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Link authority is a measure of the effect or power of a link.

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A stand-alone piece of software or a component in a larger program, the link checker’s job is to find broken links in a web site and give the user a list or a report when it find broken links.

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A link exchange happens when two webmasters agree to link to each other’s web sites.

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A web site that contains many external links, where the purpose is to direct a link (and PageRank) to the linked pages. Having a link pointing to your site from a link farm should do no harm, but the link is of such low quality that it is seldom worth the effort. Linking from your site to a link farm can however be harmful to you as search engines routinely weed link farms out and are believed to penalise sites that link to them.

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Links “die” when the target page is deleted or moved to a different location. Link rot describes the phenomenon of links on un-maintained web sites gradually “dying” as their target pages are deleted or moved.

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Long tail keywords are keywords or key phrases that few people search for, typically very specific key phrases. These can be lucrative as the competition for these key phrases are much lower than for more popular search phrases.

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A seldom used attribute of the IMG tag in HTML. the longdesc attribute contains a URL where a long description of the image is available.

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Referring to the visual appearance and visual appeal of a web site layout. Often in web site design the designer will first create the web site as an image in a program such as PhotoShop where the look and feel can be finalised. Once the client approves the look and feel, the designer builds the actual site to match.

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Lorem ipsum is commonly used as a synonym for dummy text or placeholder text. Lorem ipsum usually starts with the words “Lorem ipsum” and consists of scrambled Latin words. It is used to mimic body text in a layout design, which helps the designer visualise the final product.

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Also known as an autoresponder, it is software that has the capability to send out pre-defined email messages in response to incoming email messages.

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Also known as a newsletter subscriber list, a mailing list is a list of email addresses of people who subscribed to a particular email newsletter.

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Short for malicious software, it is a collective term for all software designer to infect system in order to steal or destroy data.

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The obsolete act of manually entering your web site URL into a search engine submission form in order to alert the search engine to the existence of your site.

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A search engine that displays results from various sources, most often from a number of other search engines and it’s own index.

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A meta tag is an HTML tag that contains meta data specific to the web page. The most common meta tags are the meta description and meta keywords tag.

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A mirror is a site that holds a copy of another site’s files. Mirrors are usually set up in an attempt to spread server load over several servers where the site content is very popular. Many software download sites have mirrors set up in different countries to allow users to download from the mirror that will give them the fastest download.

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A moderator (or mod) is a human who takes on the task of controlling the user-generated content on a web site.

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Mosiac (properly NCSA Mosaic) was the first ever web browser, developed by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA).

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MP3 defines a standard for storing, compressing and transmitting digitial sound files.

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A named anchor is a link that links to another section on the same page. Named anchors are often used in FAQ pages, where clicking on a question near the top of the page will jump to an answer further down the page.

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Good Internet manners/etiquette. It’s an unwritten code of conduct that governs interactions between humans on the Web.

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Netscape Navigator was an web browser used extensively in the first 4 years of the WWW.

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A web page is said to be built on-the-fly when the page is “constructed” as the user loads it in their browser. Usually this involves dynamic content, where the page is built up of content pulled from a database, depending on the user’s actions.

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An invention of Amazon.com, one-click shopping allows returning customers to shop with “one click”, without the need to use a shopping cart.

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Describes being connected to the Internet. You are said to be online if you have an open Internet connection. If someone says they found something online, they found it on the Internet.

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A popular Internet browser that runs on most operating systems including MS Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

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In programming and in web search, operators can be used to combine expressions or search queries. For example in PHP a variable can be appended onto another variable using the + operator.

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Padding is used in CSS to specify the space/gap between the border of an element and the contents of the element.

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Stealing the source code of a particular web page and re-publishing it somewhere else. PageJacked content is fortunately not very effective as search engines generally ignore duplicates of pages that they already indexed.

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PageRank is Google’s proprietary measure for link popularity. It measures the number and quality of links pointing to a site and uses it as part of its ranking algorithm. In theory, the higher the PageRank of a site, the better it performs in search engine results pages (SERP’s).

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Advertisements usually displayed alongside or above regular or “organic” search listings. Paid listings are paid for by the advertiser. It is considered good practice to clearly differentiate paid listings from organic search results.

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PayPal enables anyone with an email address to send and receive money over the Internet. It’s an attractive alternative to credit cards and makes it easy for webmasters to accept payments on their web sites.

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Short for permanent link, it allows users bookmark and link to a page where the URL of the containing page might change, or where a very long page might contain anchors to different sections.

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A approach to marketing developed by marketing wiz Seth Godin. The idea is that your marketing efforts will be significantly more effective if your audience gives you permission to contact them. The hard part is getting permission by offering them true value first.

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PHP (recursive acronym for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) is a server-side scripting language. It is used extensively in web development to produce dynamic pages.

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Pixels are the tiny dots that make up the image on the computer monitor. Monitor resolution is measured in dpi (dots per inch).

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PNG (Portable Network Graphics) is an image format suitable for use on the web. It supports transparency and compression.

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A pop-up is a new window that appears over the browser window in response to a user action like opening a page, closing a page or clicking on a link.

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A page on a web site where the company states its policy regarding the use of visitor information. It discloses what information about users are collected on the site and how the company will use that information.

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Something is considered to be in the public domain when no copyright exists on the material – usually because the copyright has expired.

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In search engine terms, the “query” is the search term or search phrase entered into the search box.

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When the DOCTYPE is not properly specified at the top of the HTML document, Internet Explorer goes into quirks mode, attempting to parse the HTML file in a backwards compatible way. If you just can’t get your CSS styles to display properly in Internet Explorer, check that your DOCTYPE is declared properly.

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Used in a web form, a radio button is a selection element. It’s a small circle that the user can click on. Once clicked, the radio button has a black dot in the centre. Radio buttons are commonly used where there is an either/or option. When multiple options can be selected, check boxes are more commonly used.

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A broad term that describes how well a site performs. Most commonly used to refer to search engine ranking, which is the position of the site in the SERP of a particular search engine, for a particular search phrase.

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A raster image is made up of pixels, arranged in a grid. Raster images are resolution dependant – the more pixels there are in the grid, the higher the resolution and the higher the image quality. Examples of popular raster image formats include JPG, BMP, GIF and PNG.

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In the context of web design, reach refers to the percentage of the total audience that the site reaches. For example, if 1 out of every 1,000 page views on the Web was on peterwoottonseo.com then this site would have a reach of 0.1%.

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In web design the term refers to space on a page rather than real-world properties. For example, the section of the web page that is above the fold (visible without scrolling), is considered valuable “real estate”, not to be wasted on irrelevant content.

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A reciprocal link or reciprocated link is a link back from web site A to web site B, in return for a link from B to A. The two web site owners agree to exchange links. In theory, both web sites gain a small advantage in search engine rankings.

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A redirect occurs when a web page automatically sends users to another web page. There are several ways to redirect visitors and several reasons why you would want to redirect visitors. The redirect method most commonly used is a “301 redirect”. This indicates that the page you are looking for has permanently moved to the new location. It’s handy for when you want to change your company domain and want to make sure people who enter your old URL still arrive at your site.

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The URL of the page that your site visitors were on directly before clicking through to your site is called the referring URL or referrer. In other words, it is where your site traffic comes from.

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When you do a search on a search engine, the search engine algorithm attempts to measure how relevant pages in its index are to your search phrase and it displays the most relevant pages at the top.

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Measured in dots per inch (dpi), the number of dots/pixels displayed per inch on the computer monitor.

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A broad, collective name for all types of interactive web media such as video, sound, and animation.

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This is a small file added to a website which provides instructions for bots that are entering the site. These instructions can include pages that you do not want the bot to index or a request at how often the search engine should visit your site.

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Safari is a web browser that was developed by Apple Inc. and introduced in 2003. Initially only for use on Apple computers, it now has a Windows version too.

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A sandbox is a play area (or more properly, a staging area) where tests can be conducted before a system goes live. PayPal, for example, offers webmasters a sandbox area where they can test the integration of PayPal into their web sites before taking real orders through PayPal.

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A search engine operates like a directory for the World Wide Web. A search engine is a web site that attempts to index (store) all or most of the Web in a database. When a user visits the search engine and conducts a search, the search engine returns results from its database, together with links to the actual sites where the information was collected from. Search engines use proprietary algorithms (formulas) to determine which web pages are most relevant to a user’s search and displays the most relevant results first.

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Largely a myth propagated by companies that charge a fee for search engine submission. In the early days of the web it was necessary to “tell” search engines about the existence of your web sites so that they could send visitors your way. Search engines had – and many still have – submission forms where users could add their sites. Nowadays though, search engines are so good at spidering the Web that they are likely to find your site very soon after it is published, making search engine submission redundant.

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Used in a Web form, a select box lets the user choose a value from a pre-defined list, rather than letting the user type in a box. It is handy for form fields like country names where a pre-defined list offers consistency. If the webmaster allowed users to type the country names themselves, some would type “America”, some “USA”, some “United States” etc.

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Short for Search Engine Marketing. It refers to all activities related to marketing web sites on search engines, including SEO and PPC marketing.

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Search Engine Results Page. The SERP is the page that a search engine displays in response to a search by a user.

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The vast majority of sites on the Web are hosted on shared hosting servers (as opposed to dedicated servers), where more than one web site “lives” on one server. It’s a great concept, because the cost of the server is shared, but it requires careful management of resources to ensure that no single web site on the server uses up more than its share of resources.

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Like its real-world counterpart, a web site shopping cart gives users somewhere to “put” the merchandise that they want to purchase from the site. When they have collected all the goodies they want to purchase, they click a “checkout” link to go to the payment section of the site. Shopping carts are typically built in PHP and use a database or cookies to store user information.

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A sitemap is a page within a web site that offers links to all the pages within that web site – or, at least, to the important pages within the web site. It is a great tool to offer your web site visitors and it helps search engine spiders to quickly find all of the internal pages on your web site, including pages that they might otherwise miss.

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Also known as a carousel. A popular way of displaying images that rotate on a web page, usually sliders are placed on the homepage of a website.

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In web design, a soft copy of a web site would refer to the actual, editable site files – as opposed to a hard copy which would refer to a non-editable format such as PDF or a printout.

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The source code of a web site would be all the HTML code, PHP code, JavaScript code etc. that make the site work. It could also include external files used in the site, such as images, Flash animations etc.

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Code that is so “tangled” that it is virtually impossible for a human reader to make sense of. Liberal use of comments is one way to untangle spaghetti code.

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A spambot operates much like a spider, but its mission is usually to collect email addresses for spam email campaigns. Webmasters often see a sharp increase in spam email received once they publish an email address on a site.

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A black hat SEO technique that relies on search engines indexing multiple pages that are almost identical. Like all spam techniques it was effective early on, but search engines quickly caught up and started penalising or at least ignoring these pages.

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In the context of web design, a spider is not an eight-legged creepy crawly. It’s a program that surfs the Internet, jumping from one page to the next by following links just like a human would. The spider’s job is to store (“index”) all the information it finds. A search engine like Google makes use of spiders to collect information from and about web sites to facilitate its web search.

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Spammy blog, or a blog that is of little value, often written by an inexperienced blogger or a blog that makes extensive use of stolen content.

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SSI (Server Side Include). Server side includes are small pieces of code that are saved as separate files which can then be included in the pages of a site. For example: The header section of a site is typically handled as a SSI. The header is built as a separate file and included at the top of every page of the site. This makes managing the site a snap, because changes to the header now means changing just one file rather than updating every individual page on the site.

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A static web site displays only static information that does not change based on user inputs.

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Web site content that give users an incentive to revisit often. Usually this requires some sort of investment from the visitor. For example, Q and A sites often have a scoring system for answers. If a user answers many tech questions and her answers are often tagged as the best answer, she can eventually become seen as an expert in her field.

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A subdomain is a third-level domain that is often used to organise information categories on a web site, often used in the same way as directories. For example, “www.example.com/blog” could be replaced with “blog.example.com”. In this example, “blog” would be the subdomain.

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Short for “system operator”, the name given to a person in charge of setting up, operating or maintaining a computer network or a specific network resource.

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Used in HTML markup to contain HTML code. The information between HTML tags is displayed on the web site.

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A visual representation of the important tags/words on a particular web page. It offers human visitors a way to quickly gauge what the page is about and it helps focus the page content for SEO purposes.

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A set of agreed-upon principles according to which information can more logically be stored in an information retrieval system. The term is used in science to describe the classification of natural elements.

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In web design, templates web sites can be purchased/downloaded and modified to save time in the web development process. Templates are also widely used in CMS systems such as WordPress and Joomla.

The term also applies to custom web design where the designer creates a page template to ensure a consistent look across the internal pages of a custom web site.

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A measure of how often a term is found in a collection of documents. TF is combined with inverse document frequency (IDF) as a means of determining which documents are most relevant to a query. TF is sometimes also used to measure how often a word appears in a specific document.

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In the classic vector-space retrieval model (Salton), documents and queries are converted to term vectors to allow documents to be matched to queries and ranked based on the number of times the search terms occur in each document.

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According to Chris Sherman’s “New Web Map Reveals Previously Unseen ‘Bow Tie’ Organizational Structure”, termination pages can be accessed via links from the core (heavily inter-linked part of the Web) but do not link back into the core.

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A type of search engine that attempts to automatically classify sites based on the keywords they contain.

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Similar to a dictionary, but containing lists of synonyms rather than definitions. Some search engines use a thesaurus in addition to things like stemming and fuzzy matching in an effort to improve recall.

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Content that provides little or no use to the user. Thin content is often used by spammers to increase the amount of content and therefore keywords on a website.

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A domain where the name itself has little value to the owner. Throwaway domains are typically used to experiment with. It’s common among search engine spammers to register throwaway domains to experiment with things like cloaking. Unethical SEO providers sometimes use throwaway domains to build link popularity to a client’s site. This can backfire though as search engines are continually finding better ways to combat spam. It’s worth noting that Google specifically warns against the use of throwaway domains. See their information for webmasters for details.

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A thumbnail image is a small version of a larger image, usually linked to the larger image. Thumbnails are typically used in web site galleries to allow the user to browse quickly through a collection of images.

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In web design, the page title (defined in the TITLE tag) is arguably the most important tag from a web marketing point of view. The page title is displayed in the title bar, right at the top of the browser, and it gives both humans and search engine spiders a quick indication of the contents of the page. The title is typically also displayed in SERP’s.

While it is important to have a keyword-rich title tag for each page on your site, the general consensus is that a unique, accurate title is more effective at driving traffic to your site over the long term.

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Top Level Domain. The TLD is that portion of a domain name that goes right at the end, for example “.com” or “.net”.

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With reference to search engines, toolbars are browser add-ons provided by the search engines. These toolbars often include a search box, shortcuts to the different sections of the search engine, additional page information etc.

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A very broad term that refers to the amount of activity and/or the number of users on a web site. If something is advertised as a “traffic-magnet”, the advertiser claims that it can bring many new visitors to your web site.

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To make small improvements. Tweaking a web site means to change the site’s look or performance without doing a major re-design.

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Affiliate programs work on the basis that a commission is paid by a vendor to an affiliate when the affiliate refers customers to the vendor – for example, 10% of the sale amount. Two-tier affiliate programs do exactly the same, but affiliates also get a (smaller) cut when another affiliate they referred sends a customer to the vendor.

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Registering domain names that are common misspellings of popular domains, for example microsofr.com, with the intention of placing ads on the misspelled domain and cashing in on typo traffic.

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The state of a web site when it is not finished yet, but design work has started on the site.

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In web site traffic analysis, “uniques” is a count of the number of unique users that accessed a site or a page within the site.

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The opposite of download: Loading content onto the web either through FTP or through a browser interface.

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URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is a fancy name for a web site address, for example http://www.webdesigndictionary.com/terms.php?letter=u

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Refers to information that is passed to the server with the URL that the server uses within the context of a script or server-based program.

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Usability refers to how easily web site visitors can find what they are looking for or accomplish a task such as contacting the company. The study of usability is critical to e-commerce, where the aim is to make the customer’s path to the order page or sign-up page as clear as possible.

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Any software that is used to access the web. Browsers are the most common group of user agents, but user agents also include mobile phones, multimedia players etc.

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Unique Selling Proposition. It is generally accepted that, for online sales to happen, a site must have a USP. In other words, there must be a reason for people to buy from that site, rather than from its competitor. GoDaddy.com is not the only domain registrar, but they offer domains comparatively cheaply, they have pretty girls on the homepage 😉 and they have a fancy domain management area for their customers. Any or all of these can be considered the GoDaddy USP.

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In tech circles, vanilla means the simplest possible version of a program or web site. A vanilla version of a web site would have no bells and whistles – only the essential components that it needs to function.

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Vector graphics differ from bitmap or raster graphics in that they are not made up of a grid of pixels. They rely on computer algorithms to define paths and shapes. Vector graphics are rarely used in web design, but are very common (required) in graphic design. A logo, for example, would be created in vector format. From there it is exported to bitmap/raster format for use on a web site.

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A form of marketing where the user of the product or service helps to spread the word. The birth of the Web meant that ideas could spread quickly from one person to the next. Clever marketers turned that ability of the Web into one of the most powerful marketing techniques ever.

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A domain that is hosted on a virtual server. The domain is unique, but the IP address is normally shared with other domains. This has some implications for SEO. Please refer to the Search Engine Yearbook for a more detailed discussion on the importance of having a unique IP address.

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When a domain is hosted on a virtual server, it means that it shares that server with other domains. This is a very cost effective way of hosting web sites, but access speeds are not as high as for domains hosted on dedicated servers.

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Used as a metric in web site usage statistics, a visit represents one person accessing the site, regardless of the number of pages the user accessed (pageviews).

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The amount of time that any particular visitor spends on a site. Webmasters are usually not interested in individual visit duration’s, but rather in the average visit duration for all visitors to a site.

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The term is sometimes confused with unique visitor. The difference is that one unique visitor visiting a site repeatedly over a period of time will show up on the site’s log file as many visitors. The term therefore refers to the number of times people visit a site – not the actual number of people visiting a site.

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Short for vertical portal. It’s a type of web site that functions much like a traditional portal, but the content has a much sharper focus. Typically a vortal would focus on a specific topic (e.g. dogs) or a specific industry (e.g. web design).

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Short for World Wide Web Consortium. W3C’s mission is to “lead the Web to its full potential” by developing Web standards. W3C consists of a staff of technical experts, members and invited experts from the public. The larger webmaster community also has a role to play in providing input on the standards developed by W3C.

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WAMP (Windows, Apache, MySQL, PHP) is a development platform that web developers use to create dynamic web sites.

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A very large “archive” of the web. The Wayback Machine stores “snapshots of sites”, allowing users to have a look at how sites looked “wayback” then.

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A program designed to be used on the web, using a browser, as opposed to a stand-alone program like Microsoft Word.

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Copywriting specifically aimed at an online audience. It shares many of the ground rules of offline copywriting, but has quickly evolved to become a stand-alone science. Recently it has also begun taking into account how spiders see web pages.

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All the information a search engine can display about a particular web page in response to a query. In other words, search engines do not index actual pages. When a page is “indexed”, the search engine adds a snapshot-like “web record” to its index. The web record contains only the information the search engine is interested in (content) rather than the entire page. The contents of web records obviously differ from one search engine to another, depending on what each search engine considers important in order to rank pages accurately.

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A collection of files, grouped under a specific domain name and published on the Internet.

This web site (www.webdesigndictionary.com), for example, is a collection of HTML documents and images grouped under the www.webdesigndictionary.com domain name.

Web sites can be interactive in the sense that users are allowed to contribute to the content on the site, for example YouTube.com where users may upload videos.

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Describing the technique search engines use to compare the relevance of different documents to a query. Search engines effectively “weigh” different pages based on things like the occurrence of keywords in the title etc. in order to list documents in order from most to least relevant.

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A type of search where the query is a domain name and the result shows details of the domain, like when it was registered, by whom, when it expires etc.

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A popular link-checking program.

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XHTML (Extensible HTML) is HTML that rewritten to be compliant with XML rules.

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XML (Extensible Markup Language) defines rules for writing other markup languages.

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XUL (pronounced “zool”) is a user interface markup language developed by the Mozilla Project. Mozilla FireFox is an example of an application written in XUL.

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www.yahoo.com
One of the first and most-loved web directories, Yahoo is presently (2002) believed to be the most visited site on the Internet.

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It’s big! One yottabyte (YB) is equal to one septillion bytes. That’s 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. It’s so big that there isn’t one YB worth of computer data on the entire Web. In 2006 it was estimated at 160 exabytes. By 2009 it was 500 exabytes. When we get to 1 million exabytes, we will have 1 YB of information on the Web!

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YouTube (www.youtube.com) was launched in February 2005 and acquired by Google Inc. in 2006. The YouTube web site allows users to share videos and it offers a discussion area for each video.

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In March 2018, Google rolled out an update that removed organic results for a number of definitive search queries such as dates and times, famous birthdays and mathematical equations. The update was stopped by the end of March but could see a return.

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One zettabyte (ZB) is one sextillion bytes or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. To put that into perspective, the entire Web contained about 0.5ZB worth of information in 2009.

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Short for magazine, on the Net it usually refers to an electronic magazine – more commonly known as a newsletter. Zines are typically transmitted via email.

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ZIP is a Windows-based compression format, handy for grouping and compressing a collection of files. ZIP files can also contain directory structures. ZIP files can be uploaded to a web site and offered as a download.

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Some search engines allow users to limit a search to specific zones – better described as topic areas. A user may, for example, elect to search only documents from a certain geographic area or only documents created within a specific timeframe.

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A zone file contains the information needed to translate a domain name into an IP address.

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