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A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail
all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is
happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our
thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to
have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible. Modern English,
especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which
can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these
habits one can think more clearly.
This poignant observation is even more true for technical topics. It is essential for clear analysis of search results first, to know something precise about technical vocabulary, and second, to be absolutely rigorous when using these words in our thinking and communicating.
With this in mind I thought a thread about commonly misunderstood words and fuzzily understood technical concepts could be helpful.
1. Page Rank is not Ranking
Don't know why we can't put this craziness to bed, but it's still around. If anyone is not clear about this, read Google PR - PageRank FAQs [webmasterworld.com]
2. Site has no technical definition
Trust me on this one. There is a definition for "domain" but "site" is a casual word with no techical reality.
3. Page has no technical definition
Google indexes a url, not a page. For example, if the viewport of your computer displays an html document that contains an iframe, then there is content from two different urls being displayed.
4. alt is an attribute, and not a tag
You can look this one up. There is no such thing as an "alt tag"
5. title is either an attribute or an element
The attribute type of title does nothing to speak of for your rankings, right now at least -- although it can help your site's usability quite a bit. But the title element is probably the most important on-page factor there is for well-targeted ranking.
6. spidering and indexing are two different processes
Just because googlebot asks your server for a url does not mean that url is indexed. While we're at it, let's mention "caching" -- it's really a third process.
7. linked to and linked from are very different things
This seems obvious, and yet in technical discussions the fog of chaos often starts to build
8. rel="nofollow" is an attribute, quite different in effect from a robots meta tag nofollow
This one gets mangled a lot lately. rel="nofollow" just means "I don't vouch for this link - don't send PR, and please don't nail my domain if this happens to point to a bad neighborhood."
There are in fact four very significant stumbling blocks in the way of grasping
the truth, which hinder every man however learned, and scarcely allow anyone
to win a clear title to wisdom, namely,
(1) the example of weak and unworthy authority
(2) longstanding custom,
(3) the feeling of the ignorant crowd, and
(4) the hiding of our own ignorance while making a display of our apparent knowledge.
- Roger Bacon
Does anyone have another example of misunderstood technical language that confuses people in their understanding of SEO?
[edited by: tedster at 2:28 am (utc) on Jan. 5, 2007]
In his algorithm, Kleinberg calculates two scores, a hub value and an authority value. The hub value is based on the outbound links, and the authority value is based on inbound links. One big difference between his algo and others is that his was to be calculated at the time of the query.
At this point, HITS is pretty much prior art, and many people have evolved something more sophisticated on its basis. But Kleinberg did give us a technical meaning for the word "authority", which roughly means "a site that many other sites link to on a given topic."
Its WebmasterWorld - Not Webmasterworld or WebMasterWorld
Its AdWords - Not Adwords
Its AdSense - Not Adsense
The list goes on and on. When it doubt, go to the official source and verify. There is nothing more frustrating than brand names not formatted properly. ;)
Its WebmasterWorld not Webmasterworld
peeve #2: improper mixup of The Internet vs. the World Wide Web
peeve #3, and my favourite peeve, is on radio spots where they tell me to "Log on to ourwebsite.com", meaning, load it in a browser. I'm not logging on. there is no authentication or password needed. Instead, they could say "go" to their website, or "check out" their website, or "see" it or any other verb that just means load it and view it. "Log on" means something different.
Here's another one that blurs many discussions -- url does not mean domain. Moving a "page" to a new url is one thing, moving it to a new domain is a very different deal.
And likewise, having a keyword in the domain name is not the same as having a keyword in the url.