Glossary of basic terms used in website building.

Glossary of website building terms



above the fold, affiliate/associate programs, Alt tag, autoresponder.


bandwidth, banner ads, bridge page, browser, bulletin board.


cache, catch-all e-mail account, CGI script, chat, client, client-side, cloaking, Comment tag, cookie, CPM, crawler, credit card, credit card processor.


directory, domain name, doorway page, dynamic content.


ecommerce, e-mail publications, encryption, entry page.


FAQs, Flash, font, form (and FORM tag), forum, Frames, FTP.


gateway page, GIF.


hallway page, Heading tags, hidden text, hits / pages / visits / visitors, hosting, HTML, hyperlinks.


image map, IP address, ISP/Web host.


Java, JavaScript, JPEG.


keyword, keyword frequency, keyword prominence, keyword weight, Kilobyte.


link exchanges, link popularity, Linux, log files and log file analyzers.


mail to: link, mailing list, merchant, Meta Description tag, Meta Keywords tag, Meta Refresh tag, Meta tag, MP3.




opt-in e-mail marketing, OS--operating system.


Pay-Per-Click search engine, protocol, RealAudio/Video, real-time authorization, redirect, residual income, robot, robots.txt.


scripting, search engine, search engine placement, secure server, secure sockets layer (SSL), server, server-side, shopping cart, sig file, spamming, spider, splash page, stop word, store design, streaming.


Telnet, Title tag.


Unix, URL.




Web address.





above the fold

What you see on your browser screen without scrolling. Typically, this is a space 600 pixels wide by 480 pixels tall. The height dimension comprises the online version of what is known in the newspaper world as above the fold. When users link to your website, they see this area first. So, this is where the most important information about your site should appear.

affiliate/associate programs

In 1997, launched the first associate program. Amazon initially started by selling books online. Amazon figured, "Why not convert millions, soon to be squillions, of websites into specialized, niche bookshops for us? We'll pay a commission when a site refers a customer who buys a book." And thus, the first associate program (affiliate or referrer program) was born. Affiliate programs increase exponentially the exposure of a merchant's product or service.

Alt tag

The alternative text that the browser displays when the surfer does not want to or cannot see the pictures present in a Web page. Using alt tags containing keywords can improve the search engine ranking of the page for those keywords.


When a customer sends an e-mail to a certain address manned by an autoresponder, this powerful mailbot automatically fires back an e-mail response, usually an informative sales letter. And it does it immediately and for a fairly low additional monthly fee (some hosts offer autoresponders for free). Autoresponders are the e-mail equivalent of a fax-back service. They can save you hundreds of dollars when used for basic tech support, product inquiries for more details, sales-oriented letters to all kinds of questions etc.


The range of frequencies a transmission line or channel can carry: the higher the frequency the higher the bandwidth and the greater the information carrying capacity of a channel. Bandwidth is most accurately expressed in cycles per second, or hertz (Hz), which measures the amount of information that can flow through a channel. But, it's also common to use bits or bytes per second instead.

banner ads

Those graphic advertisements that you see at the top of so many Web pages.

bridge page

See doorway page.


Software that reads and translates HTML-coded Web pages automatically, allowing you to view, download, upload or otherwise access documents on Internet sites and navigate from one site to another. Netscape makes Navigator (NN) and Microsoft makes Internet Explorer (IE).

bulletin board

A bulletin board is a location on a website where people come to share information. Typically, you see a list of postings for a certain topic. You can read each posting, choose to respond to one or more of them, and then enter and post your response. Or you can start your own thread, a continuing sub-topic within the topic under discussion. If this type of concept fits with your product and target market, it can be a great way for visitors to trade information.


Your browser stores everything it reads on the user's hard disk. Every HTML page, every graphic. The next time it comes to pull down the same page, it uses the cached version, which is much faster - no need to download again via the Internet.

catch-all e-mail account

If you have your own domain "" and catch-all e-mail account, no matter what word you put in front of "," you'll get it. So "" comes to you. So does "" Yes, even "" will reach you!

CGI script

Common Gateway Interface. Interface standard that sets the rules for running external programs (gateways) on a Web server. Gateway programs, or scripts, are external, executable programs that can be run under various information servers interchangeably. All the work is done by the server. CGI offers total cross-platform, cross-browser compatibility. Gateway scripts conforming to this standard can be written in any language that produces an executable file. The most popular language for CGI scripts is PERL - a cross-platform programming language that is ideal for CGI programming. And it's free. Some of the more common CGI scripts found on the Web are used to put the content of a form into an email message, to query a database query and to generate HTML pages.


A popular form of interactive, online communication that allows Internet users to have real-time conversations with others via computer. When participating in a chat discussion, Internet users enter virtual chat areas, usually organized by topic of interest, where they can exchange instant communications with like-minded individuals.


A remote computer connected to a host or server computer that represents the customer side of a client/server relationship. Client can refer to you, to your computer, or to the software running on your computer.


Client-side pertains to programming that is done on YOUR desktop computer.


The process by which your website can display different pages under different circumstances. Primarily used to show optimized page to the search engines and a different page to humans. Most search engines will penalize a site if they discover that it is using cloaking.

Comment tag

The text present within the <!-- and --> tags in a Web page. While most search engines will ignore the text within the Comment Tags, some, like Excite, will index the text present within them. Hence, using Comment Tags containing keywords can improve the search engine ranking of the page in Excite for those keywords.


A cookie is a small file that gets written onto your hard disk, either by javascript or by a CGI script from the website you are visiting. It is only a file that serves as an ID tag. It is not an application. So there is zero danger to the integrity of your hard disk. The cookie can only be accessed by the website that wrote the cookie to your disk. And the only thing that they really know is that the person with this ID tag is back. But if you provide personal information like full name, address, credit card info, this can be tied to the cookie. Then the site, but that site only, will be able to know that it is you personally returning to the site.


This means "cost per thousand impressions" (thousand is "mille" in French). An impression counts each time a visitor looks at ad.


See spider.

credit card

For our purposes, a credit card is any commonly used credit, debit, charge, or other payment card such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover.

credit card processor

An Internet service that verifies that a customer has sufficient funds for a purchase and then releases funds from the customer's credit card account. Your bank chooses the credit card processor.


A website containing links to other sites which are organized into various categories. Examples of directories are Yahoo!, Open Directory, LookSmart, etc. The most well-known directory is Yahoo!. Many people feel that Yahoo! is more important to traffic-building than any single engine. The advantage of the directories is that the websites listed are usually of a higher, more uniform quality. They are selected by humans, so it's not as easy to get in as it is for Search Engines.

domain name

A network name associated with an organization (e.g., or Domain names are organized in a hierarchy, with each level separated by a "dot." Common organizational types are commercial (.com), government (.gov), and network (.net). In the U.S., most Internet addresses follow a standard format: name of of organization.type of organization.

doorway page

A Web page which has been specially created in order to get a high ranking in the search engines. Also called gateway page, bridge page, entry page etc.

dynamic content

Information in Web pages which changes automatically, based on database or user information. Search engines will index dynamic content in the same way as static content unless the URL includes a ? mark.


Electronic commerce (also known as ebusiness.). Buying and selling products and services via the Internet.

e-mail publications

There are several kinds of publications that are e-mailed to customers:
e-zines - the equivalent of an electronic magazine. Collection of articles of varying originality are e-mailed on a regular basis to subscribers.
newsletters - same as e-zines.
moderated mailing lists - joining one of these enables you to post to the list. If the moderator accepts the posting as relevant and valuable to the readership, it gets mailed to everyone in the next issue, either in digest format (all the postings in a single e-mailing, the best way to receive it), or one by one as they are accepted (too bothersome).


Transforming data so that it is unreadable to everyone except the intended recipient. The recipient of the encrypted data must have the proper decryption key to decipher the message.

entry page

See doorway page.


Frequently Asked Questions. This efficient type of customer support takes advantage of the Net's "24 hr. X 7 days/week" nature.


A Web-based animation application that transforms Web pages into a swirl of action, colors, and excitement. Without broadband access, this involves a long loading time (and the potential loss of visitors who are unwilling to wait). As well, a Flash application means no content for Search Engines spiders to crawl and rank (which means that you can't take advantage of free Search Engine traffic).


The style and size of text.

form (and FORM tag)

<FORM> tags are special HTML tags that allow you to build forms on your Web page. Customer completes your form, entering the info that you request, then clicks on the SUBMIT button. Your CGI script picks up the data and processes it.


A forum is a "meeting place" on a website where you go to ask and answer questions and to share information. Moderated or not, they function very much like newsgroups. Moderated ones work best, since spam and flames get weeded out.


An HTML technique allowing website designers to display two or more pages in the same browser window. Most search engines do not index framed Web pages properly - they only index the text present in the NOFRAMES tag. Unless a Web page which uses frames contains relevant content in the NOFRAMES tag, it is unlikely to get a high search engine ranking.


File Transfer Protocol. An Internet standard for uploading and downloading files over the Internet. FTP utilities are used to transfer Web pages and other files from your hard drive to a remote Web server.

gateway page

See doorway page.


Graphics Interchange Format. A compact graphics file format developed by CompuServe, that was once the standard for online color photos and images. It's still widely used for graphics that use only a limited number of colors, such as backgrounds. In recent years, however GIF has been superseded by JPEG for photos. While GIF images are limited to 256 colors, JPEGs can have up to 16 million colors. A "transparent" GIF has an invisible background, allowing the Web page to show around the edges of the graphic. JPEG does not permit this, so all JPEGs are rectangular.

hallway page

A page containing links to various doorway pages.

Heading tags

A paragraph style that is displayed in a large, bold typeface. Having text containing keywords in the Heading Tags can improve the search engine ranking of a page for those keywords.

hidden text

Text that is visible to the search engines but is invisible to humans. Mainly accomplished by using text in the same color as the background color of the page. Primarily used for the purpose of including extra keywords in the page without distorting the aesthetics of the page. Most search engines penalize websites which use such hidden text.

hits / pages / visits / visitors

When someone comes to your website, that's a visitor. No matter how long he stays on your site, he's still the same visitor. And that visit counts as one visit. If he goes away and comes back tomorrow, that's a new visit. But it does not count as a new visitor - he would best be counted as a repeat visitor. During one of his visits he starts at your home page, then goes to another. That's two page views (i.e., he has seen 2 different HTML documents). And that's not the same as hits. Each page view might trigger many hits - if that HTML page has 5 graphics on it, then the HTML document itself and each graphic are registered as a line in the log file. Each line in a log file counts as a hit. So that's a total of six hits.
So a visitor can account for many visits. A visit can have several page views. And each page view triggers several hits (unless it's only an HTML document and words, in which case a page view would create only one hit).


Every website is stored on a computer--called a server--that is connected to the Web. When your site is stored on one of these servers, your site is being "hosted" by the server.


Hypertext Mark-up Language. The coding language to create hypertext documents (HTML files) on the Web (Web pages). With HTML, you can "mark up" text (like old-fashioned typesetting code) by placing formatting commands ("tags") around it that tell the browser software how to format it for display. For example, HTML uses tags like <h1> and </h1> to structure text into headings, paragraphs, lists, hypertext links and more.


The underlined words or phrases you click on in Web documents to jump to another screen or page. Hyperlinks contain HTML-coded references that point to other Web pages, which your browser then jumps to.

image map

An image containing one or more invisible regions which are linked to other pages. If the image map is defined as a separate file, the search engines may not be able to index the pages to which that image map links. The way out is to have text hyperlinks to those pages in addition to the links from the image map. However, image maps defined within the same Web page will generally not prevent search engines from indexing the other pages.

IP address

When you get on the Web, your computer is assigned an IP address. This is a number that looks like These numbers belong to a host name, for example AOL or your local ISP or company where you work (if they have their own server). If you access the Internet via a dial-up service, your service provider assigns you a different temporary IP address every time you log on. If you access the Web via cable modem or DSL, your IP address remains static - it is always the same one.

ISP/Web host

ISP stands for Internet Service Provider. It is the company that provides you access to the Internet. Some ISPs provide only dial-up access. This means that your modem can dial the ISP's phone number, which gets you on the Net, so that you can surf the Web and get e-mail. Other companies provide only Web hosting services. Basically, a Web host rents you space on a computer that has 24 hour access to the Internet. You ftp your website onto their computer. Some companies, of course, provide both dial-up access and Web hosting services.


A programming language developed by Sun Microsystems specifically for writing programs that can be safely downloaded to your computer through the Internet without fear of viruses or other harm to your computer. Using small Java programs (called "applets"), Web pages can include functions such as animations, calculators, and other jazzy enhancements. Java is a simple, robust, object-oriented, platform-independent multi-threaded, dynamic general-purpose programming environment. It is best for creating applets and applications for the Internet, intranets and any other complex, distributed network.


A scripting language for Web pages designed by Sun Microsystems and Netscape as a supplement to the Java programming language. With Javascript, developers can create really sophisticated Web pages and make them interactive. Java and JavaScript are not the same thing. Java was built as a general purpose object language, while JavaScript is intended to provide a quicker and simpler language for enhancing Web pages.


(also known as JPG). This file format for color-rich images was named after the Joint Photographic Experts Group, the original name of the committee that wrote the standard. JPEG is designed for compressing either full-color or gray-scale images of natural, real-world scenes. It compresses graphics of photographic color depth better than competing file formats like GIF, and it retains a high degree of color fidelity. It works well on photographs, naturalistic artwork, and similar material; not so well on lettering, simple cartoons, or line drawings. JPEG files are smaller and, therefore, quicker to download that GIF files.


A word or phrase that you type in when you are searching for information in the search engines.

keyword frequency

Denotes how often a keyword appears in a Web page or in an area of a page. In general, higher the number of times a keyword appears in a page, higher its search engine ranking. However, repeating a keyword too often in a page can lead to that page being penalized for spamming.

keyword prominence

Denotes how close to the start of an area of a Web page that a keyword appears. In general, having the keyword closer to the start of an area will lead to an improvement in the search engine ranking of a page. However, in some cases, having the keyword in the middle or the end of an area may lead to an improvement in the search engine ranking of the page.

keyword weight

Denotes the number of times a keyword appears in a Web page as a percentage of all the other words in the page. In general, higher the weight of a particular keyword in a page, higher will be the search engine ranking of the page for that keyword. However, repeating a keyword too often in order to increase its weight can cause the page to be penalized by the search engines.


Although kilo is Greek for a thousand, a kilobyte actually contains 1,024 bytes (that's 2 to the 10th power). Abbreviated as K.

link exchanges

Find websites with similar interests to yours. Look for sites with similar customer demographics that do not compete directly with you. Offer them to put a link on your website in exchange for a link on their website. If they agree, that's a link exchange.

link popularity

The number of websites which link to a particular site. Most search engines use link popularity as a factor in determining the search engine ranking of a website.


Intel-processor-based operating system developed as an alternative to Unix. It is currently used by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

log files and log file analyzers

Every time someone logs onto your website, information like IP address, time/date, error messages, originating page (called referrer page), are recorded by your server into log files. There are up to four files:
- access (or transfer) file
- error file
- agent (or browser) file
- referrer file
Sometimes, the last two (agent and referrer) are combined into the access file, called a combined file. If your ISP can't or won't supply all four, it's worth switching to one that will - the referrer file is invaluable. It is the referrer file, or the referrer field in the combined file, that tells you where your visitors are coming from, and what keywords they use to find you.
A "log file analyzer" analyzes these files and assembles the data into results like:
- number of hits, page views, visits, and visitors
- most popular pages
- most frequent entry and exit pages
- most frequently used keywords

mail to: link

This is an HTML link that automatically opens an e-mail software, with the address already entered. All the sender has to do is enter the body text and the subject.

mailing list

A mailing list is much like a newsgroup, except that it is e-mailed to everyone in the group. First, you subscribe to the mailing list (usually via e-mail, or by filling in a form). You will receive e-mail from the mailing list, either one by one as they are sent by others in the group, or all at once as a single digest e-mail at the end of the day (or week). A mailing list can be either moderated or unmoderated. A moderator will generally keep the group spam-free and on a higher plane. When you see a topic of interest, reply by composing and sending an e-mail. It will be sent to everyone in the group.


A business entity that sells goods and/or services and determines the methods of payment they will accept (e.g., cash, check, credit card, debit card).

Meta Description tag

The tag present in the header of a Web page which is used to provide a short description of the contents of the page. Some search engines will display the text present in the Meta Description tag when the page appears in the results of a search. Including keywords in the Meta Description tag can improve the search engine ranking of a page for those keywords. However, some search engines ignore the Meta Description tag.

Meta Keywords tag

The tag present in the header of a Web page which is used to provide alternative words for the words used in the body of the page. The Meta Keywords tag is becoming less and less important in influencing the search engine ranking of a page.

Meta Refresh tag

The tag present in the header of a Web page which is used to display a different page after a few seconds. If a page displays another page too soon, most search engines will either ignore the current page and index the second page or penalize the current page for spamming.

Meta tag

An optional HTML tag that is used to specify information about a Web page. Some search engines read the information contained within the tag and use it to index the page. There are several meta tags, but the most important for search engine indexing are the Description and Keywords tags. The Description tag returns a description of the page in place of the summary the search engine would ordinarily create. The Keywords tag provides keywords for the search engine to associate with your page. An example might look like this:

<META name="description"
 content="Website building terms">
<META name="keywords"
 content="Websites, Web pages, search engines">


Mpeg Layer 3 is an amazing standard for audio compression. It is capable of 10:1 compression with no noticeable loss in quality. It's the latest rage on the Internet. A heated controversy is currently raging over whether it's legal.


Newsgroups use a different communication means called "Usenet." Technically speaking, Usenet is neither the Web nor e-mail, so you use a different piece of software to access newsgroups (built into Explorer and Navigator).
When you find a group that fits your needs, read all the posts. If you find a topic of interest, simply reply and your post will be almost immediately visible in the groups list of postings. Available for others to reply to.
As for mailing lists and forums, newsgroups can be moderated or unmoderated -- most are not moderated.

opt-in e-mail marketing

Many Web marketers create a newsletter that offers content of value to the reader. The website asks visitors to subscribe to this newsletter. When they fill in and submit their e-mail address, they are said to be opting-in. The process of sending an e-zine or newsletter to people who have specifically requested to receive it is called opt-in e-mail marketing. It's a powerful, long-term relationship.

OS--operating system

The low-level software that schedules tasks, allocates storage, handles the interface to peripheral hardware and presents a default interface to the user when no application program is running.

Pay-Per-Click search engine

A search engine in which the ranking of your website is determined by the amount you are paying for each click from that search engine to your site. Think of Pay-Per-Click search engines as a low-cost advertising method.


The communications rules computers have to follow to talk to each other on a network. The Internet is a very heterogeneous collection of networked computers and is full of different protocols, including PPP, TCP/IP, SLIP, and FTP.


Progressive Networks' RealAudio client-server software system enables Internet users equipped with conventional multimedia personal computers and voice-grade telephone lines to browse, select, and play audio/video or audio/video-based multimedia content on demand, in real time. This is a big improvement in download times.

real-time authorization

A credit card purchase is authorized in real time, as the customer completes the checkout process online. If the authorization is positive, the order will proceed. Otherwise, the customer will receive an error message, and the order will be discontinued.


A redirect occurs whenever the surfer gets sent to an address different than the one actually requested. It is often intentionally programmed, through rather simple code, either a META tag or a CGI script, that sends your visitor to a different Web page.

residual income

Income that occurs for a prolonged period of time, after the original sale has been made. When applied to affiliate programs, once you succeed in referring a customer who buys, you should earn an ongoing (reduced) commission for every future purchase that customer makes.


In the context of search engine ranking, implies the same thing as Spider. In a different context, it is also used to indicate a software which visits websites and collects email addresses to be used for sending unsolicited bulk email.


A text file present in the root directory of a website which is used to control which pages are indexed by a robot. Only robots which comply with the Robots Exclusion Standard will follow the instructions contained in this file.


In the Internet world, a script is a program that runs on a server and processes requests in response to input from the browser. There is client scripting as well as server scripting.

search engine

A program that indexes websites according to words, phrases, and subject matter. Search engines help a user find desired information or resources by searching for keywords that the user specifies. Examples of search engines are AltaVista, Google, Lycos, etc.

search engine placement

The practice of trying to ensure that a website obtains a high rank in the search engines. Also called search engine positioning, search engine optimization etc.

secure server

A Web server that uses special software, called security protocols, to protect against third-party tampering. Making purchases from a secure server ensures that a user's payment or personal information is translated into a code so that it cannot be stolen.

secure sockets layer (SSL)

A transaction security standard developed by Netscape Communications to enable commercial transactions to take place over the notoriously non-secure Internet. SSL delivers server authentication, data encryption, and message integrity. With SSL implemented on both the client and server, your Internet communications are transmitted in encrypted form. The information you send can then be trusted to arrive privately and unaltered to the server you specify.


The business end of a client/server setup, a server is a host computer on a network that stores information files, Web pages and other services and responds to requests for information from clients. The term server is also used to describe the software and operating system that makes the act of serving information possible.


Something that is done totally on your Web host's computer (or your own server, if you run you own), not on your desktop computer. It is generally a much faster way to get stuff done.

shopping cart

A section of an online store where a customer can order products and provide credit card information.

sig file

A short text file that contains a brief info-sales-message that appears at the end of your e-mail. You can generally compose and store many different sig files in your e-mail software. Then simply choose the one that fits the circumstances.


Using any search engine ranking technique which causes a degradation in the quality of the results produced by the search engines. Examples of spamming include excessive repetition of a keyword in a Web page, optimizing a page for a keyword which is unrelated to the contents of the website, using invisible or tiny text, etc. Most search engines will penalize a page which uses spamming. Also called spamdexing. In a different context, spamming is also used to mean the practice of sending unsolicited bulk email.


A software that visits websites and indexes the pages present in those sites. Search engines use spiders to build up their databases. Examples: The spider for Google is called Googlebot, the spider for Yahoo! is called Yahoo! Slurp.

splash page

A media-rich (usually Flash) entry page to a website. Usually, these pages take much time to load, and provide no real additional value to the site ("cool" is not a necessity for making the sale). Using a splash page means a good portion of impatient visitors won't wait for your page to load, but will resort immediately to the BACK button.

stop word

A word that often appears in Web pages, yet has no significance by itself. Most search engines ignore stop words while searching. Example of stop words are: and, the, of etc.

store design

A pre-designed online store that is ready to be customized and have products added to it.


On the Web, usually you wait for a file to download before you can see it. Same goes for music - you wait for a midi file to download, then you can listen to it. But streaming plug-ins, like RealAudio, play the music as it downloads!


(also known as remote login). An Internet protocol for connecting to a remote host or server on the Internet. It is primarily used to access online databases or to read articles stored on university servers. A user typically has to enter their user name and password before gaining access the system. With Telnet access users can: check email, download a program, or chat with other Telnet users.

Title tag

The contents of the Title tag is generally displayed by the browser at the top of the browser window. The search engines use the Title tag to provide a link to the sites which match the query made by the user. Having keywords in the Title tag of a Web page can significantly increase the search engine ranking of the page for those keywords.


A flexible, portable and powerful operating system, dominant around the world. It was invented in 1969 at AT&T Bell Laboratories and made available to researchers and students in 1973. It was used to develop the Internet's communication software protocols. Much of the Internet is hosted on Unix machines, and it is still the most common operating system for servers on the Internet.


The Uniform Resource Locator is used to specify the address of websites and Web pages. Having keywords in the URL can improve the search engine ranking of the page in a few of the search engines. However, most search engines do not give any preference to a page which has the keyword in the URL.


Both Netscape and Explorer allow you to see the HTML coding behind the actual Web page that you see with your Web browser software. The command is under the View menu. It's a terrific way to quickly learn how websites accomplish neat effects, what kind of keywords are used by your competition, etc., etc.

Web address

See URL.


eXtensible Markup Language. A programming language/specification that provides a powerful set of tools for developing the next generation of Web applications. XML is a smaller version of SGML, designed specifically for Web documents. It enables Web authors and designers to create their own customized tags to provide functions not available with HTML. For example, XML supports links that point to multiple documents, as opposed to HTML links, which can reference only one destination each.


A Windows-based compressed file commonly referred to as a "ZIP file." ZIP files can hold one or many files as well as a directory structure. On the Web, large graphics and programs are usually compressed into ZIP files and then made available for download. After you download the file, you need to use a decompression software program to "UNZIP" it.

Solo Build It!

What's New

Inexpensive Web Hosting
How to choose a fast and reliable service from the bulk of cheap hosting solutions.


Easy Website builders
Easy way to build a professional looking site for commercial use or just for fun.


Professional Web page templates


Remote computer access
New Web-based approach to remote computer access.

Sponsored links

Copyright © 2002-2023