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SEO Glossary

An ever-growing glossary of SEO Jargon

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SEO Glossary » h

Heading (HTML)
See HTML heading
Hidden text

Hidden text refers to web content disguised to be invisible to visitors, usually as a deceptive keyword stuffing technique. Hiding text or links is a violation of Google's Webmaster's Guidelines, and can result in penalties, or complete removal of a website from the search engine.

Techniques

Techniques to hide text usually consist of CSS or JavaScript manipulation, including:

  • Text the same colour as its background
  • Text indented off of visible area of screen
  • CSS display:none
  • Setting font size to 0
  • Positioning text behind an image

Acceptable Use

Not all hidden text is considered deceptive. In some cases, hidden text can be used to improve a website's accessibility. One example of graceful degradation is to add secondary text, viewable only to visitors who cannot access web technologies such as Flash and JavaScript.

Acceptable uses of hidden text include:

  • NoScript tag, to provide content to those who don't have JavaScript enabled
  • Alt attribute, to display alternative text should a website's image not be viewable
  • Image replacement, to make text in images (usually buttons) accessible to screen readers, text-only web browsers, and search engines

To determine whether the use of hidden text is justified, question whether it improves the content's accessibility, or if it's being used to deceive search engines.

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Hit

A hit is a request to a web server for any type of file. There are normally many hits for each page view, as web pages are typically comprised of numerous files, including:

Because one web page view results in numerous file requests, hits are not appropriate as a measure of traffic. Hits are, however, useful in evaluating web server requirements and to monitor server stress levels.

More accurate measures of web traffic volume are page views and unique visitors.

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.htaccess

A .htaccess (hypertext access) file is a "distributed configuration file" that provides a way to make web server configuration changes on a per-directory basis.

.htaccess should not be used if the better performing web server configuration file is available. However, most web hosts don't allow access to configuration files; therefore, .htaccess is a convenient way to override default server configurations.

Common .htaccess uses:

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HTML
See HyperText Markup Language Top
HTML5

HTML5 is the fifth revision of HTML, the main markup language used to create web pages. A stable HTML5 specification is scheduled for release from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) by the end of 2014; however, most major web browsers already support a variety of HTML5's new features, despite the specification not yet having reached final Recommendation status.

History

Work on HTML5 began in 2004 by the the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG) in response to the slow development of W3C's web standards, and the W3C's decision to abandon HTML to focus on XHTML 2.0. At that time, the W3C's HTML 4.01 hadn't been updated since 2000.

In 2007, the W3C changed directions once again, this time abandoning XHTML, and resolved to adopt the WHATWG's HTML5 as the starting point of its new HTML working group. Together, the W3C and the WHATWG worked on the development of the HTML5 specification until 2011, when differing visions and goals for the specification resulted in the two groups working on separate versions.

The W3C has opted to publish a "finished" version of HTML5 by December 2014, while the WHATWG will continue working on a versionless "Living Standard" for HTML, in their words: continuously maintaining the specification rather than freezing it in a state with known problems.

New Features of HTML5

HTML5 introduces numerous new HTML elements that offer some semantic replacements for generic divs and spans. The following new elements all work in Internet Explorer 9 and above, Firefox, Opera, Chrome, and Safari:

  • Header defines a header for a web page or section
  • Aside defines content related to the surrounding content: Often used for sidebars
  • Footer defines a footer section
  • Article defines an article: Suitable for forum posts, blog posts, news stories, and comments
  • Hgroup for grouping headings with subheadings (<h1> to <h6>)
  • Nav defines navigation links
  • Section defines a section in a document
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HTML element

HTML elements are the basic units of HTML, the predominant markup language of the Web. Most elements have an opening and closing tag that surround the element's content.

Learn more about HTML elements Top
HTML heading

A heading is an HTML element used to structure web pages into user-friendly sections with brief topic descriptions, for easy scanning and improved readability.

HTML headings should not be confused with the HTML title, which is not visible on a web page, aside from the title bar at the very top of most web browsers.

HTML heading tags are available in six levels (<h1> to to <h6>), with H1 as the most important and H6 as the least. Headings are used hierarchically, as in the following example markup of headings and subheadings:


<h1>Canada</h1>
...
    <h2>History</h2>
    ...
    <h2>Geography</h2>
        <h3>Climate</h3>
        ...
    <h2>Architecture</h2>
    ...
    <h2>Neighbourhoods</h2>
        <h3>Old Montreal</h3>
        ...
        <h3>Mount Royal</h3>
            <h4>Attractions</h4>
            ...
    <h2>Demographics</h2>
    ...
    etc    
								

Most web browsers render more important headings in larger fonts than less important ones by default; however, as with all other HTML elements, presentation can be visually styled to preference with CSS.

Headings are among the most semantically important HTML elements, as they add logical structure and context to web content that helps visitors and search engines access web sites more efficiently.

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HTML Table

The HTML table is an element used to represent tabular data (information you might find in a spreadsheet) on a web page. For several years, HTML tables were used innapropriately, to define invisible grids for web page layout design structure, a job reserved for CSS.

Example of simple HTML Table
Col A Col B Col C Col D
Row 1 Cell B1 Cell C1 Cell D1
Row 2 Cell B2 Cell C2 Cell D2
Row 3 Cell B3 Cell C3 Cell D3

HTML Source:

<table>
	<caption>Example of simple HTML Table</caption>
	<thead>
		<tr>
			<th>Col A</th>
			<th>Col B</th>
			<th>Col C</th>
			<th>Col D</th>
		</tr>
	</thead>
	<tbody>
		<tr>
			<th>Row 1</th>
			<td>Cell B1</td>
			<td>Cell C1</td>
			<td>Cell D1</td>
		</tr>
		<tr>
			<th>Row 2</th>
			<td>Cell B2</td>
			<td>Cell C2</td>
			<td>Cell D2</td>
		</tr>
		<tr>
			<th>Row 3</th>
			<td>Cell B3</td>
			<td>Cell C3</td>
			<td>Cell D3</td>
		</tr>
	</tbody>
</table>
								

Note: CSS not included in the above example.

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HTML Tag
See HTML Element Top
HTML Title

A HTML Title is an HTML element used to title web pages, telling search engines what each page of a website is about, much like the chapter of a book. Unlike HTML headings, HTML Titles are not visible on rendered web pages, although they do appear on the title bar, at the very top of most web browsers.

The HTML Title is the single most important HTML element to search engine optimization, and an important signal used by search engines to index web pages. In search engine results, the contents of HTML titles appear as a link that visitors click on, immediately followed by the content on the page's meta description.

HTML Title Guidelines

  • Length: HTML titles should be less than 512 pixels in length; usually equivalent to about 55 or 60 characters, including spaces. Longer titles may still be indexed, but won't show in SERPs, where they can have an impact on clickthrough rates
  • Write for people: Be as descriptive and concise as possible
  • Be relevant: Titles must represent the web page's content
  • Be unique: HTML Titles should be unique to each web page, just as the focus of content is
  • Structure for search engines: Use dashes (-) or pipes (|) to separate the main Title text from your brand or site name, e.g., Descriptive Title Here | Brand Name
  • Important keyword first: Place important keywords near the beginning of titles

HTML Title Example

<title>Complete List of Google Algorithm Updates | Springboard SEO</title> Top
HTTP
See HyperText Transfer Protocol Top

A HTTP cookie, also known as web cookie, or browser cookie, is a small file that stores data on computers about web browser activity. Cookies are set and retrieved by websites and analytics applications to track user-preferences such as language selection, which pages were viewed, and more, including:

  • User tracking: Tracking cookies are commonly used to compile long-term browsing activities. Because they can also store passwords and filled form data, including credit card and address information, tracking cookies are considered a privacy concern, and can be blocked in most browsers' settings.
  • User authentication: Authentication cookies are the most common type of web cookie, to know when a visitor is logged in to a website's user account.

Search engines and cookies

Search engines crawlers ignore cookies; therefore, it's important to ensure that web content is accessible when cookies are disabled.

See also: Session ID Top
HTTP status code

("Status code" redirects here)

Prior to a web page being displayed, the web server hosting the website sends a three-digit error/status code as part of its response data. The five categories of HTTP status codes (with common examples) are:

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Commonly referred to a link, a hyperlink is a clickable reference to another hypertext location or file, usually a web page.

Example of HTML markup for a link:

<a href="http://www.springboardseo.com/">Springboard SEO</a>

The example above renders on a web page as: Springboard SEO. The HTML element a, or anchor, references www.springboardseo.com as its target, and its anchor text is 'Springboard SEO'.

Links that point to external websites are interpreted by search engines to be votes of confidence for each referenced web page. These endorsements are powerful ranking signals, and are the basis of Google's PageRank algorithm.

Internal links are also interpreted as ranking signals; however, they score differently with search algorithms, as they are not considered third-party "votes".

Linking to low-quality sites can reflect poorly on your website's content; therefore. it's considered best practice to use a nofollow attribute on external links when you cannot vouch for the quality if the targeted page.

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HyperText Markup Language

HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is the main markup language used in the creation of web pages. HTML consists of a number of structural elements which can be used to mark up headings, paragraphs, lists, images, links, and other types of content for rendering in web browsers, and for efficient crawling by search engines.

Learn more about HTML Top
HyperText Transfer Protocol

HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is a communications protocol used to request and transmit web pages over the Internet or other network.

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