Search Engine Lingo

Updated March 29, 2006

The world of search has its own specialized language that can be intimidating at times, but these glossaries offer definitions and examples that will get you speaking the lingo in no time.

If you've ever visited sites that offer in-depth information about search engines, you may have found yourself baffled by Boolean or stumped by SERPs, or simply scratching your head over the meanings of countless seemingly esoteric words used by search professionals.

Fortunately, there are a number of high-quality glossaries that offer definitions of these specialized terms, ranging from basic descriptions for non-technical readers, all the way through advanced lexicons primarily designed for professionals.

No matter what your skill or interest level, spending some time with these glossaries is both interesting in and of itself, but will also help you come to a better understanding of the essential tools we use to navigate our way around the web.

Essential Search Engine Lingo

Search Engine Glossary
This glossary from Search Engine Watch provides is a basic overview of terminology. It's a good place to start if you're unfamiliar with search engine terms and concepts, written in a relatively non-technical format.

Search Engine Showdown Glossary
More advanced definitions of search engine terms from search guru Greg Notess, designed to illuminate the in-depth reviews, evaluations and articles about the technology featured on the Search Engine Showdown site.

Glossary of Internet & Web Jargon
This glossary from the U.C. Berkeley Teaching Library includes definitions for web and net terminology searchers invariably encounter while surfing the web. Helpful for getting a much broader understanding

More Technically Oriented Search Engine Glossaries

Search Engine Terms
This glossary was created by and for the members of the I-Search discussion list, geared toward webmasters and search engine marketing specialists who want to understanding how to get higher listings in search engine rankings. It's a multi-lingual glossary, available in six European languages other than English.

Search Terms Glossary
This glossary is a companion to the Search Tools web site, which focuses more on the world of local web site search technology rather than the global web search engines. It offers detailed definitions that are often cross-linked to each other, with abundant examples that illustrate key concepts.

Modern Information Retrieval Glossary
This glossary is from the textbook "Modern Information Retrieval" by Ricardo Baeza-Yates and Berthier Ribeiro-Neto. It's comprehensive, but highly academically oriented, though offering the additional bonus of links to other companion resources for the textbook.

Search Engine Forums Spotlight

Finding lost friend's email address
Free Pint Bar
"Does anyone know a good way to find old friends emails?"

SEO and cost effectiveness
Webmaster World Forums
"Monitoring logs is also another important part of maintenance. There's a gold mine in those logs and you need to know how to capitalize on the statistics."

Froogle: Google's shopping engine goes live
Webmaster World Forums
"We're always looking for new ways to organize the world's information--this is a great way to explore new ways of processing data on the web."

Search Engine Forums at JimWorld
"Froogle can be a big help in getting out to the viewing public pages that are normally not indexed because they are dynamically generated from a database."

IP based domain names VS. virtual hosting accounts
Cre8asite Forums
"Is there a difference to the SE's between a site that is hosted on a web server with its own assigned IP address, and one that may be on a host running a virtual hosting situation (where there may be many domain names associated with a single IP address)?"

Alexa Toolbar
Webmaster World Forums
"The search feature of the toolbar is powered by Google and can be installed at the same time as the Google bar. I think the traffic figure is better at determining site quality than Google's PageRank. But taken together, it is a powerful syntheses of data available while surfing."

Link Titles - do they influence search engines?
ihelpyou Forums
"Link titles are not used as 'standard' on many sites, and although they can be useful for actual visitors to a site, are they worth anything with regards to SEO?"

Inktomi Paid Inclusion
Cre8asite Forums
"Say I list myself in Inktomi using the paid inclusion, will some spider follow the sitemap link I have and list all my other site pages or will I have to pay another inclusion fee for listing all my other pages?"

Search Engine Forums Spotlight courtesy Search Engine Guide.

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.

Online search engines news
Britney tops Lycos search list...
CNN Dec 16 2002 2:09PM GMT
Tech latest
Surfers shun domains... Dec 16 2002 1:54PM GMT
Domain name news
ICANN to add new restricted domains...
ZDNet Dec 16 2002 1:43PM GMT
Online search engines news
Linux out-Googles Microsoft...
ZDNet Dec 16 2002 1:11PM GMT
Domain name news
ICANN starts reform process... reg Dec 16 2002 12:57PM GMT
Top internet stories
Feds invoked national security to speed key Internet change... Dec 16 2002 10:35AM GMT
Online search engines news
New Test Site From Google Focuses on Products for Sale...
New York Times Dec 16 2002 10:31AM GMT
Online portals news
A 'New Economy' Editor at Time to Oversee AOL Integration...
New York Times Dec 16 2002 5:52AM GMT
Online search engines news
Search Engine Tip: Improve Your TITLE Tags...
Net Mechanic Dec 16 2002 4:12AM GMT
Tech latest
Human or Computer? Take This Test...
New York Times Dec 13 2002 1:04PM GMT
Online portals news
'Yahoo' things are looking up: CEO... Dec 13 2002 12:59PM GMT
Online search engines news
Google Encroaches on eBay's Turf by Bringing Buyers and Sellers Together... Dec 13 2002 11:01AM GMT
Domain name news
VeriSign exits UK domain retail biz...
The Register Dec 13 2002 10:30AM 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.