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Search Optimization Glossary

If you’re not neck deep in digital marketing or if you have a significant other, pet, or hobby, you probably can’t keep up to all the jargon. If that sounds like you, here’s a list of terms to help clarify the mudification. We’ll keep adding to it too.


A mathematical equation unique to each search engine, used to calculate the relevance of a web page to a search keyword. Algorithms are well guarded by search engines and are constantly adjusted to stay current with changes in techniques and search activity.

Anchor text (a.k.a. text link):

The description of a hyperlink. E.g. This link takes you to the Search Warrant Online Marketing search tips.

Article marketing:

Submitting articles with important keywords to article directories in order to attract users to your Web site and to encourage incoming links from other websites, thus improving search engine rankings.

Backlink (a.k.a. inbound link):

A link to your site from another Web site. Your site will rank higher in search engine results the more backlinks it has.


When a Web site is ignored by search engines due to its operators attempting to gain search engine rankings through unethical means, such as creating content for spiders that differs from the content human users see.

Click-Through-Rate (CTR):

The number of clicks on a link, as a percentage of the total number of viewings of the link.


Using one page for human users and a different one for search engine spiders. Unless this is done for legitimate reasons (with a search engine’s knowledge), cloaking can be risky and can result in banning.

Conversion rate:

The number of people who purchase or request information (or complete another goal), as a percentage of the total number of visitors to the site.

Cost-Per-Click (CPC):

The amount an advertiser pays the host site or search engine each time a user clicks on the ad link.

Cost-Per-Thousand (CPM):

The cost for each thousand users viewing an ad or listing. Term comes from traditional advertising.


Similar to banning. The removal of a site from search engine results.

Doorway page (a.k.a bridge, gateway, or jump page):

An entry into a site other than the homepage. This may be a legitimate landing page for measuring results or a specific promotion, but more often these are created exclusively to deceive search engines. Sites can be penalised for improper use of doorway pages.

Exact match relationship:

A search result that precisely matched the user’s search term. These are entered in quotation marks in Google.

Keyword or keyword string (a.k.a. search term or query):

Any word or phrase that a user types in a search engine’s Search field. Keywords are also words and phrases defined by search marketers . When your defined keyword matches the keyword inputted by the user, your ad or site may appear.

Landing page:

The page that appears after a user clicks on a paid ad on a SERP. This page is built to give users the precise information that they searched for (Learn to improve your landing pages here). Used for tracking arrivals and effectiveness of the campaign.

Link popularity:

The number of backlinks a page has, regardless of the quality of the pages or sites linking to it.


The results that appear on a search engine results page.

Meta tags:

HTML tags that contain instructions for spiders or browsers. For search engine marketing and optimization, the description, keywords, and title tags are most popular.

Meta description tag:

Contains a description of the page. Often used by search engines on the search engine results page.

Meta keywords tag:

Contains keywords for the page. Search engines consider this tag at their discretion; many search engines ignore it because it is often abused.

Meta title tag:

Contains the title of the page. This title is displayed at the top of the browser window and in search engine results pages.

Organic results:

The “natural” listings that appear in a search engine when a user conducts a query on a keyword or keyword string. Organic results consume most of a SERP and include a title and description for each result. These results are ranked by search engines for their relevancy – not through paid placement.

Outbound link:

A link from your website to another site or page.

Page rank (or Google Page Rank):

A number between 0 and 10, based on a complex formula that rates a web page for its popularity, in terms of the number of other sites that link to it.

Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising:

Advertising done through search. The advertiser only pays for ads that are clicked.

Paid listings:

Listing that only appear if an advertiser has paid for inclusion in the results. Usually identified as “sponsored links.”

Paid placement:

The order or placement of a paid listing depends on how much the advertiser pays.

Rank (a.k.a. Position):

The numbered position of where a listing appears in the search engine results.


Each engine defines relevancy differently, but it’s typically a measure of the volume and quality of related content on a site as well as its overall popularity. Site popularity is often measured both by the number of inbound clicks and the number of other sites that link to it.

ROI (Return on Investment):

Immediate return of a particular marketing activity expressed as a percentage of the amount spent.

Search engine:

A site that enables users to search a database of Web pages. Provides relevant matches to users’ search queries.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM):

  1. Paid advertising on search engines, also referred to as pay per click (PPC) advertising. On a Google search engine results page (SERP), the paid ads appear at the top of the page and along the right margin in the “Sponsored Links” sections.
  2. Perhaps more correctly: all the kinds of marketing that use search engines as a channel. This includes both PPC and search engine optimization (SEO) .

Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

The process of designing, writing, and linking your Web pages in such a way that search engines display your site more prominently than others in their organic results when a user searches on terms that you have selected.

Search Engine Results Page (SERP):

Any search page that appears as a result of a user launching a search query.

Search marketer:

A professional marketer that is familiar with the tips and tricks to optimize your Web site and pay per click program for search success.

Search spider (a.k.a. Robot or Crawler):

A computer program that roams the Internet to find, file, and rank Web pages. The spider gathers information about a page and all its links to index an entire site. Each search engine pulls results from a database of pages compiled by search spiders.

Spam (a.k.a. Spamdexing):

Any search marketing technique that jeopardizes the search engine’s goal to display relevant results. Includes instances where all results lead to the same place, pages that have no relevancy to the search query, meaningless content on a page, or any efforts to monopolize the search results. Sites reported as spamming search engines may be banned.

Submission (a.k.a. Registration):

A request to be included in a search engine’s database. May include a URL, a description of the site, and other information. Does not guarantee inclusion.

Some definitions inspired by content on SearchTempo.com.

What clients are saying…

Where we get the best results for our efforts is SEO. You have to improve it constantly, but it is a very powerful and honest form of marketing. If you truly have a site that prospects will find useful, Google will reward you.

Allan Wille,

CEO, Klipfolio Inc.

Search Warrant took our existing content and repositioned it for SEO. We just review keywords and discuss priority, and Search Warrant takes it from there. The process works really well.

Brendan Ziolo,

Sipera Systems

Search Warrant helps us ensure that we are using industry-leading techniques…We see Search Warrant as a partner in a very collaborative program. It’s a really valuable relationship.

Cathy Kirkpatrick,

Vice President, Alphabet Creative.

30 Burke, Guelph, ON, N1L 1J2, Canada