Search Engine Dictionary: A complete guide to search engine terminology

 

 

 

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P

packet sniffing

The practice of monitoring pieces of data (called packets) as they move over the Internet.

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page impression

See page view

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page jacking / pagejacking

The act of duplicating a (usually high ranking) web page and presenting the duplicate as the original. This kind of blatant theft is fairly uncommon. In most cases the legitimate author / owner can easily prove ownership of the material.

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page popularity

See link popularity

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PageRank

Google's measure of the link popularity of a page. For a more detailed look at PageRank and how to maximize yours, please refer to the Search Engine Yearbook.

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PageRank hoarding

The practice of getting as many inbound links as possible while giving as few outbound links as possible. This is done in attempt to increase PageRank / link popularity. Regarded as spam.

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page view / page impression / page request

Often confused with a hit, the term refers to the actual number of pages (not files) viewed by all visitors to a site in a given time period. The number of page views (and other statistics) can be obtained through log file analysis.

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paid listing

A listing on a SERP that is achieved through outbidding competitors (as in PPC). The term is sometimes also used to refer to keyword-targeted advertisements, where the advertiser pays the search engine a fixed amount to have its ad shown on the SERP for a specific keyword.

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parentheses

Some search engines allow users to use parenthesis ( ) to group words. This is especially useful in Boolean searchers.

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partial word matching

Some search engines will consider not only exact matches, but also partial matches. This means that if the search term is contained within a word in a document in its index, the search engine considers the document a match. It's not as complicated as it sounds though. If the user enters "word" as the query, the search engine will consider a document a match if it contains word or wordiness or foreword or MSWord etc. So the search term should be contained in the word.
Also see begins-with partial word matching.

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pay per click

See PPC

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pay-per-click search engine

See PPC search engine

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pay per lead

See PPL

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pay per view

See PPV

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personally identifiable information

Referring to information collected by a web site that can be used to identify a user. It does not refer to usernames or nicknames, but rather to information like real names, telephone numbers, physical addresses etc.

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phrase search

A search for documents containing an entire phrase - as opposed to one or more keywords. The important distinction here is that in a phrase search, the words has to appear side by side in the document (exactly as in the query) for that document to be considered a match. If the words appear scattered or they appear side by side but in the wrong sequence, it is not considered a match. Phrase searching can be done on most search engines by simply enclosing the phrase in quotation marks.

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placement

See positioning

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politeness window

Most spiders will not crawl an entire site in one session. Instead, they crawl a couple of pages and return after a day or two to crawl a couple more and so on until they have indexed the entire site. This is a self-imposed limit in order not to overburden a server. These gaps between sessions are collectively known as the politeness window. Nice spiders.

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pop-under / popunder / pop under

A supposedly less annoying variation of the pop-up. It creates a new browser window, usually containing an advertisement that is displayed behind the current window. The user then only sees the pop-under when the current window is closed or minimized. In truth, many users find pop-unders as annoying as pop-ups, with the added irritation of feeling tricked into not closing the new window immediately.

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pop-up / popup / pop up

A new browser window (usually containing an advertisement) automatically opened when the users performs a specified action - like opening a page, clicking a link, closing a page etc.
Also see pop-under.

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portal

A web site that functions as a kind of starting page or entry point to the web. Portals typically have a wide variety of features such as search, free web-based e-mail, news etc. Well-known examples include Excite and Yahoo.

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portal page

See gateway page

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portal site

See portal

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positioning

Often used as a synonym for optimization.

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postcoordination of terms

The use of 2 or more single words to describe a document. A page about herbal cures for common ailments, for example, could be indexed under "herbal", "cures" and "remedies". The search engine would then consider that document a match to a query like "alternative remedies".

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PPC

Pay-Per-Click. An advertising payment model where the advertiser pays only when the advertisement is actually clicked. In other words, the advertiser literally pays only for visitors rather than per advertisement impression. The term CPC (cost per click) is sometimes used in the place of PPC and the plural PPCs is sometimes used to refer to PPC search engines.

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PPC search engine / PPCSE

A search engine that uses the PPC (pay per click) payment model, also known as the CPC (cost per click) model. Advertisers bid on keywords they wish to target. The search results are then ranked based on the bids with the highest bidder's site ranked first. Advertisers only pay when their links are clicked - not every time their sites appear in the results. PPCSE marketing has become a fairly important and potentially effective online marketing technique. We take a look at some of the important PPC search engines (like Overture) and reveal some top PPC strategies in the Search Engine Yearbook.

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PPL

A system where the receiving site pays a certain amount to the referring site for every new lead.
Also see PPC.

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PPV

Pay per visit. Same as PPC only the term "visit" is used instead of "click".

Added - August 31, 2004
by Rob Bartlett of www.genieknows.com/

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precision

Search engines will often consider a document a match to a query when that document is not really relevant to the query. These mistakes happen because search engines, to a certain extent, have to "guess" what the user is looking for - especially when words used in the query have double meanings. Search engines must find a balance between recall (it's ability to find all relevant documents) and precision (it's ability to find only relevant documents). The aim in information retrieval is to get both recall and precision spot-on. In other words to return all relevant documents and nothing else. In the real search engine world however, it is often a trade-off. Precision is scored by dividing the total number of pages found by the number of relevant pages found. For example, if 1000 documents are found and 770 are relevant, the search engine's precision is 0.77 or 77%.

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precoordination of terms

The use of compound terms to describe a document. A page about herbal cures for common ailments, for example, could be indexed under "herbal remedies".

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PR

Short for PageRank.

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PR0 / PR zero

PageRank zero. A penalty (rumored to be) imposed by Google on sites caught spamdexing. It's worth noting that Google denies having such a penalty.

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probabilistic model

Referring to any search engine model that matches documents to a query based on the probability that a document will be relevant to a query.

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promotion

In the context of search engines it refers to submitting of the site information with the intent of getting the search engine to list the site.

Added - May 31, 2003
by Christian Nielsen of
www.nielsentech.com

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proximity

See adjacency

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proximity search(ing)

In proximity searching the user can specify a maximum distance between keywords. For example, in a search for "guns roses" with a maximum distance of 2, documents containing the following are considered matches:
- guns and roses
- guns 'n roses
- more guns than roses
While these are not:
- …used guns, but in the next example André used roses
- Guns blazed in the rose garden
Ok, bad example. It's worth noting that some search engines also let you define the order, so "roses and guns" does not count as a match.

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