Search Engine Glossaries

Baffled by Boolean? Confused about cloaking? Stumped by stemming? What you need is a good search engine glossary.

There are dozens, if not hundreds of terms that describe various aspects of search engines and how they work. Though you can use most search engines on a basic level without understanding these terms, a good working vocabulary is a must if you want to become a first-rate searcher.

There are a number of helpful search engine glossaries on the web. You'll want to take a look at all of them, because they each have a different focus. Some concentrate on web search technology and how it functions. Others are geared toward searchers, explaining advanced searching techniques and methods. Still others are for webmasters and web marketers and the tricks they use to promote sites and achieve top search engine rankings.

Each of the sites listed here offers well-written definitions. You'll probably want to refer to all of them over time to help satisfy your questions about particular words and concepts used frequently in the world of search engines and searching.

Search Engine Glossary

A brief list of terms that you'll see frequently in SearchDay and on the Search Engine Watch web site.

Search Terms Glossary

An extensive list of search terminology, prepared by search tools maven Avi Rappoport. This glossary includes terms from both the worlds of web search engines and classic information retrieval systems. Terms used in definitions that appear elsewhere in the glossary are hyperlinked, making it easy to jump between related entries.

Glossary of Internet & Web Jargon

From the Teaching Library at the University of California at Berkeley, this glossary is aimed at novices and has definitions both of basic searching terms and concepts, as well as entries on web browsers, internet architecture and other related subjects.

Search Engine Terms

This glossary of search engine terms is designed to complement the discussions taking place on the I-Search Digest discussion list, which focuses on issues of particular concern to webmasters and online marketers. The glossary is also available in French, Dutch, German, Italian, Serbian and Spanish languages.

Search Engine Glossary

A hyperlinked list of words associated with search engine promotion and optimization. Clicking on a word will display its definition.

Glossary for Information Retrieval˜weiss/glossary.html

Scott Weiss provides an expanded list of terms and more technical definitions relating to search engines and information retrieval. This is the one to use if you really want in-depth knowledge of particular terms, phrases and concepts.


Webopedia is one of the largest online dictionaries and search engines dictionaries for computer and Internet technology. It's probably the most useful general-purpose glossary for all types of computer and online subjects.

Search Headlines

NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.

A Tropical Solution for a Technical Dilemma...
Washington Post Nov 20 2001 6:09AM GMT
Nobel winners laud potential of Internet... Nov 20 2001 5:43AM GMT
Scientific, Technical & Medical Information Content Market, $13.9 Billion worth...
Content-Wire Nov 20 2001 5:16AM GMT
Content Taxonomy For Daily Telegraph & Forbes...
Content-Wire Nov 20 2001 5:16AM GMT
U.S. Warns Bioterror Web Sites...
New York Times Nov 20 2001 4:51AM GMT
How Important is Search Engine Optimization for Local Web Sites?...
Rank Write Nov 20 2001 4:33AM GMT
Top Five Search Engine Marketing Myths Uncovered...
InternetDay Nov 20 2001 4:10AM GMT
EFF Applauds Yahoo Ruling...
Electronic Frontier Foundations Nov 20 2001 3:29AM GMT
Cyber help for sale...
Rocky Mountain News Nov 19 2001 2:37PM GMT
Yahoos days as a profitable portal are over...
ZDNet Nov 19 2001 2:28PM GMT
Explorer Web searches lost without Java...
Chicago Tribune Nov 19 2001 1:29PM GMT
U.S. Aiding Broadband Despite Strong Growth...
Los Angeles Times Nov 19 2001 12:56PM GMT
BBC plans global news website...
Media Guardian Nov 19 2001 10:18AM GMT
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About the author

Chris Sherman is a frequent contributor to several information industry journals. He's written several books, including The McGraw-Hill CD ROM Handbook and The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See, co-authored with Gary Price. Chris has written about search and search engines since 1994, when he developed online searching tutorials for several clients. From 1998 to 2001, he was's Web Search Guide.