When you start to build a website you'll probably encounter many unfamiliar words and phrases, and you may ask yourself "What does this mean?". Here's our explanation of those often confusing terms and abbreviations.
Acronyms and abbreviations will be included only if in common use.
Published by Alexa Internet Inc, a subsidiary of Amazon, Alexa Traffic Rank is a rough measure of a website's popularity, compared with all of the other sites on the internet, taking into account both the number of visitors and the number of pages viewed on each visit.
See also What is Alexa Traffic Rank?
The canonical tag is an HTML tag which may be placed in the <head> of a page by a webmaster to indicate to the search engines under which of several possible URLs he or she would prefer that page's content to be indexed and returned in search results.
In a web-based application, requests for data and the data itself are sent between the user's local computer and a remote 'server' (which term may be used to refer to either hardware or software) over a computer network. Processing which takes place on the user's own computer is described as being 'client-side', whereas that which takes place at the remote end of the connection is described as 'server-side'.
Cookies are small text files placed on your computer's hard drive. They provide a method for passing information from one web page to another, or for storing information between visits, and are used by this website for navigational purposes, to enhance our visitors' experience, and to help us to analyse how they use the website.
CSS, which stands for Cascading Style Sheets, is a language which describes how the HTML elements that make up a web page are to be displayed (for example, their size, colour and position). It allows the appearance of the page to be specified separately from its structure. By using external stylesheet (*.css) files referenced on each page you can control the appearance of many web pages simultaneously.
See also How to use simple CSS
Where two or more indexed pages contain substantially similar content, many webmasters believe that the search engines impose a 'duplicate content penalty'. In fact, unless there are copyright issues, there is no 'penalty' as such, but where two or more pages are substantially similar they will return the page that they consider to be the best match for the supplied search term, taking into account originality, relevance and authority.
Webmasters who have two or more pages with substantially similar content (whether on the same or different sites) may use the canonical tag to indicate to the search engines under which URL they would prefer that content to be indexed and returned in search results.
The 'European Union (EU) Cookie Law' is a piece of privacy legislation that requires websites operated by (or aimed at) citizens of countries in the European Union, regardless of where the website is hosted, to obtain consent from visitors before storing or retrieving any information on their computers, tablets or smartphones.
It started out as an EU Directive that was adopted by all European Union countries in May 2011, and incorporated into each individual country's legislation. Only 48 hours before it was due to be implemented in the United Kingdom in May 2012, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) changed its advice to website owners, saying that consent might be assumed if visitors continued to use the website. This followed the news that 95% of companies and many government departments had not yet complied with the new legislation.
Strictly speaking, you can't have an 'exact match domain' in isolation: it has to be in the context of a specific search term. However, it would be reasonable to expect a website's home page to be returned in the search results for its main keyword or key phrase. To the basic definition of 'a domain whose root name [what appears before the extension] matches exactly the search term' we may therefore add 'a domain whose root name matches exactly its main keyword or key phrase'.
There is no 'exact match domain penalty' as such. However, as the search engines' algorithms have become more sophisticated these websites no longer enjoy the advantage over other comparable sites (or even sites of better quality) that they once had, and the search engines may demote domains whose root names contain an excessive number of words, as this is often an indicator of poor quality.
File Transfer Protocol, usually abbreviated to FTP, is the standard method of transferring files between a user's computer and a remote 'server' on a computer network. You may use this method to upload web pages and other files to your site, but a proprietary sitebuilder will probably do this for you.
HyperText Markup Language, usually abbreviated to HTML, is a computer language used to create web pages. The similar XHTML stands for EXtensible HyperText Markup Language, which is almost identical, but must be written to stricter standards.
HyperText Transfer Protocol, usually abbreviated to HTTP, is the system or mechanism by which web documents are transmitted over the internet.
An 'interpreted' computer language is one in which the instructions are executed directly from the human-readable source code, rather than its being converted to machine code beforehand.
Strictly speaking, you can't have a 'partial match domain' in isolation: it has to be in the context of a specific search term. However, it would be reasonable to expect a website's home page to be returned in the search results for its main keyword or key phrase. To the basic definition of 'a domain whose root name [what appears before the extension] contains, but does not match exactly, the search term' we may therefore add 'a domain whose root name contains, but does not match exactly, its main keyword or key phrase'.
A partial match domain name may contain, for example, both a brand name and a keyword; of course, a brand name may itself contain a keyword.
RSS, which stands for Rich Site Summary, but is more often taken to mean Really Simple Syndication, is a way of distributing frequently changing web content without users' having to visit websites individually or subscribe using email, thereby saving time and ensuring privacy. The content is delivered through an RSS feed, an XML file that can be read and its contents displayed by software described as an 'RSS reader'. Several modern browsers include RSS readers as standard, but a number of other readers are available.
A search engine is a software system designed to search for information on the internet. The search results are displayed as a paginated list, often referred to as 'search engine results pages' or SERPs. The results returned may consist of a combination of web pages, images and other types of file. Some entries may be paid advertisements; the remainder are often described as 'organic' search results.
A 'search term' is word or phrase entered into a search engine in order to obtain a list of web pages related to that word or phrase.
In a web-based application, requests for data and the data itself are sent between the user's local computer and a remote 'server' (which term may be used to refer to either hardware or software) over a computer network. Processing which takes place at the remote end of the connection is described as 'server-side', whereas that which takes place on the user's own computer is described as 'client-side'.
A Uniform Resource Locator (URL), often informally described as a web address, is a reference to a file or document on the internet that specifies its location, and the method by which it is to be retrieved. An example of a typical web document URL is http://www.builda-website.net/glossary.html.
WYSIWIG (pronounced wiz-ee-wig) stands for What You See Is What You Get, and in this context usually refers to a web page editor in which what appears on the screen during the development process closely resembles the appearance of the web page when 'live'. The use of this term normally also implies the ability to manipulate the web document without the use of markup language.
EXtensible Markup Language, usually abbreviated to XML, is a markup language which defines a set of rules for encoding documents in a format that can be read both by humans and by machines. The most common uses for XML include RSS and search engine site maps.
If you haven't found the word or phrase that you were looking for in our glossary, please let us know using our simple one-question form, and we'll consider adding it to the list.
Build a Website » Glossary