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SEO Value of a Glossary

How valuable is adding a glossary to a small site?



6:51 pm on Apr 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Will a small site benefit from adding a one page glossary of frequently used terms to the site?

Is there much SEO benefit to having a dictionary or is it just a small improvement to the users' experience?

[edited by: ergophobe at 2:11 am (utc) on Apr 24, 2012]


2:14 am on Apr 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator ergophobe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I would say it depends on

1. how competitive the terms are
2. how common good glossaries are
3. whether or not you have any real value to add

If nobody has a glossary, they are long-tail terms and you are an expert it will have decent value.

If there are dozens of glossaries, it's a mature industry and you have nothing special to add, I wouldn't think there would be much value.


4:03 pm on Apr 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Good points. It's a mature industry and the glossary terms are highly competitive, generic terms that I don't think we have the strength to compete for (at least not yet).

Thanks for the idea of using long-tail terms in the glossary. That may be a good way to go about it.


12:56 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator ergophobe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I'm always surprised at how easy it can be to rank for some long-tail terms. You can start with a standard glossary that likely won't rank for anything. Then just mine your analytics logs to see which long-tail terms have brought you even one visitor.

If you've gotten one visitor for a long-tail term that you are not optimized for, then you can certainly rank for it bring in visitors if you build a page about that term, have an optimized title, some decent content and point a couple of links at it (even internal links).

I think of that as "chipping around the edges" and it seems to build long-tail traffic pretty well over time while you wait to get some authority pages for tougher terms.


3:31 pm on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

I was looking for long tail terms by putting keywords that I thought we might use in Google's keyword tool and found that a lot of the short tail phrases had low competition and high local search volume, and the long tail terms had high competition but very low search volume. I was expecting the opposite to happen.

For example:
[net asset value] low, 1,600
[nav] low, 9,900
[etf net asset value] medium, 22
[index fund] high, 1,900
[index fund investing] high, 210
[what is index fund] high, 110

Is it still easy to rank for long tail terms if Google Keyword Tool says that they are high competition? and is it still worth it to go after them if the short tail terms are listed as low competition with more local monthly searches?


3:37 pm on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

I guess there is an added issue here. Is a keyword still "low competition" if it's top placements are held by monsters like wikipedia and yahoo finance?


5:42 pm on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator ergophobe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

long tail terms had high competition but very low search volume

Remember what the competition column is: it measures the number of AdWords clients bidding on those terms. As an advertiser, I typically do not want to waste my ad money on short-tail terms. I want to capture the searcher who is already way down the sales funnel.

Let's say I'm a local Ford dealer. I'm not looking to help build Ford's brand. I'm looking for the guy who sees the sun is out, spring is coming and he just absolutely wants a new car and he already knows more or less which one he wants.

Am I currently bidding on
- cars (no)
- brand (definitely not)
- model (definitely not)
- "brand model" (definitely not)
- "year brand model submodel" (probably not unless there's a national market because this particular car is hard to find and sold out in many locales)
- "year brand model submodel" city

So there might not be much competition in the AdWords tool for car or Ford, but when you get down to a specific model in a specific city, the bid price is likely to go way up, because these are buying terms.

But from an SEO perspective, will it be harder to rank #1 for
"cars" or
"year brand model submodel" city

cars - 11,640,000,000 results
"year brand model submodel" city - 14,400 results

So those might be competitive terms because they are money terms, but from an SEO perspective, their much easier to rank for.

The problem is that if I go to Google Insights or the Keyword Tool, I see there is not enough worldwide search data for Google to even report on those terms I'm playing with.

Then you have other questions to look at

1. It still might be hard if there are not that many pages, but they're all powerhouses like wikipedia as in your example (or in my example, like Ford.com and Car and Driver or what have you).

2. How specific are the terms? A lot of single-word phrases have multiple meanings. Back to my example, many car models have other meanings too. If someone enters [mustang] in Google she might be thinking of buying a horse or looking for employment at a famous ranch in Nevada.

3. How optimized are all those pages? You can very quickly get some idea of how many of the pages are minimally optimized for those terms by comparing

"year brand model submodel"
intitle:"year brand model submodel"

3. You can look to go long tail on short tail terms if you have some images, videos, etc that rank you in universal search.

Back to my example, I get 601K for "year brand model submodel" but only 1450 on image search and, typically, image search will slide in around number three or four in universal search and it will show the top four images if they're all landscape format, the top six if they're all portrait, and the top 5 if there's a mix.

So to be in the top four in Google for a non-image, I actually need to be in the top three (because one of the top four is usually for images, though perhaps not for your terms, but charts and graphs and infographics rank well in image search too).

This means I need to be in the top 0.0005% to show in the top four of universal search with a text-page match. To be in the top 4 of the universal search results by ranking with an image, I only need to be in the top 0.3% of images. Granted, there are downsides to images (no clickable title; video has them though!), but it can be a way to squeeze into shorter tail terms with a longer tail strategy.

That's a bit rambly, but just trying to throw out some ideas for how you can attack the glossary problem and see if you can't start ranking for some of those terms.


7:58 pm on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Not rambly. It all made sense.

Actually this gives me some confidence. I often saw terms that I thought would be good targets, but felt concerned about the lack of data around them.

It's been a struggle to get images on the site due to the technical nature of our content, but I'm hoping to get some alt text on the new site.

Do you see much value to being more instructional or informative in ALT text for the sake of Accessibility? (you know, rather than just using a stand-alone keyword in the ALT attribute)


8:55 pm on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator ergophobe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Just me and this is not advice: I never use a standalone keyword as alt text unless it describes the image perfectly. For example, let's say I had a PNG/GIF chart of widget futures. I would probably choose "chart of widget futures, 2005-2012" as the alt text rather than "widget futures".


90% Accessibility. "Widget futures" doesn't tell a blind user anything. If the chart is already illustrating a page on widget futures, she knows that already. What she needs to know is whether this is a filler image just for color or real data and, if it's real data, maybe she needs to get someone to pull some numbers off it for her.

10% Searchability. I'm not going to rank for widget futures, but I just might rank for "chart of widget futures".

My rule of thumb is not try to include content that doesn't offer something to the visitor. That doesn't mean I'm not verbose, rambling and often horribly off-topic and frequently spouting useless noise. It means that when I do so, it's by accident, not on purpose ;-)


9:15 pm on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Excellent example.
That has been my philosophy on my other sites; so i'm glad to see you agree. My alt tends to echo the text in the banners, but making sure to include keywords. I don't often get flat image charts, but I will keep your strategy in mind if i should in the future.


11:04 am on Oct 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

If you have a competitive dictionary or page of advices, you can use them as additional ground pages to expanding audience.


11:09 am on Oct 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Sorry my mistake, i meant landing pages :)


2:28 pm on Oct 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

It enhances usability value of the website if its in a niche and represents itself as an expert.

- lalit kumar


2:29 pm on Oct 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Oopsie..:P I should have said

Glossary enhances usability value of the website if its in a niche and represents itself as an expert.

- lalit kumar


8:41 pm on Oct 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month

As long as we're bumping, I can't help but notice that this site has a glossary ;)

Doesn't contain everything I've ever been moved to look up*-- but then, I suspect it was largely constructed in 2001 and left to chug along quietly ever since.

* Also a few "Oh, come on, even _I_ know what that means!"


9:22 pm on Oct 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I added a glossy of terms to a small hobbyist website of mine a few years ago and it's turned into one the most visited parts of the site.


11:38 pm on Oct 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member topr8 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Glossaries are useful, both for user experience and in getting long tail traffic ... focus on user experience (within the site, eg i use the glossary to help users that are already on my site), forget about seo and it will start to bring traffic as a handy side effect - i agree that it depends on your niche and the focus of your site though.

historic note: back in the day there was a guy here, pretty sure his m=name was Woz who was a big advocate of glossaries and even had a directory of glossaries.


5:00 am on Oct 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

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My biggest site IS a glossary.

It started out as a one page glossary on a site that eventually failed, but the glossary got enough traffic that I moved it to its own domain and expanded it into a niche encyclopedia.


3:31 pm on Nov 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi, it depends upon the products and services being offered over that site.Glossary helps to put more keywords on a single page that can be optimized most.

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