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Search Jargon Definitions and Explanations | Local Search Glossary

Adwords - Google's Pay-Per-Click advertising program. (also see: PPC 

Aggregator - A company that creates the underlying business database for local search directories. The most important U.S. aggregators are Infogroup, Localeze, and Acxiom. These companies compile, or "aggregate," data about businesses from multiple online and offline sources including phone bills, business registration records, chamber of commerce membership rosters, and many other sources. An aggregator is also known as a "data aggregator" or "data provider." (also see: data provider IYP 

Algorithm - A special formula used by search engines to rank the web pages it "reads" in order of importance or relevance for a particular keyword search. (also see: crawl spider Local algorithm Organic algorithm Universal algorithm 

Anchor Text - The text contained in a web link. Descriptive words used in a link can be used to improve the relevancy of the page to which the link points...for instance "Minneapolis plumber" is more descriptive than "click here." 

Areas Served - A feature of the Google Places Center in which home-based and go-to-home business owners can specify names of state, cities, towns, neighborhoods, or ZIP codes that they serve. Not to be confused with Service Area, which lets business owners draw an outline around the areas which they serve. Areas Served and Service Area currently comprise a one-or-the-other choice within Google Places; both features are optional and debuted in April of 2010. (also see: custom fields service area 

Authoritative OneBox - The term for a single Google Places listing alongside a large map which is embedded in a traditional search result page. The "holy grail" of Local search optimization, this kind of visually-dominant result often leads to click through h rates of 2x above the rate typically seen for a #1 organic result. Appears when Google is more or less certain that the keyword searched implies a specific business is the most relevant result. (also see: universal results OneBox ,Google Places 

Blended Search / Blended Results - See Universal Algorithm / Universal Results 

Business Title - The name of a business--specifically the name of a business as registered at one of the major local search engines or Internet Yellow Pages directories. Combined with Physical Address and Phone Number, the Business Title represents a third of a business's online identity (NAP). As a long-term strategy, it's best to keep Business Title consistent across the web and representative of one's offline presence. (also see: phone number physical address NAP 

CMS (Content Management System) - A complex platform of computer code that allows a website to be edited, or "managed," easily by someone with no knowledge of computer code. Popular CMS's include Wordpress, Joomla, and Drupal. (also see: Site Architecture HTML WYSIWYG 

CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) - A type of website code which allows for easier page editing by designers and faster processing of HTML by search engines. (also see: HTML Flash 

Category - One of a set of approximately 2,000 default business types with which the Local Search Engines try to associate each business in their index. Although each search engine and data aggregator has its own taxonomy, many categories are based on the North American Industry Classification System, or NAICS. Google Places requires one category from its own index and up to four additional categories which may be custom-created. (Also see: custom category NAICS 

Centroid - The "civic" center of a neighborhood or metropolitan area as determined by a local search engine. The centroid is usually, though not always, close to the geographic center of a city or neighborhood. To find the centroid of your city, simply type its name in a search box and see where the pushpin shows up. 

Check-in - A digital announcement of a customer's presence at a specific physical location, often a business. Check-ins are the key component of most location-based services including Foursquare, Gowalla, and Brightkite, some of which allow business owners to offer rewards to customers who make these announcements. 

Citation - A mention of a business name in close proximity to its address, phone number, or both. Used by the search engines to weigh both the accuracy and popularity of businesses in their indexes. (Also see: Directory IYP Unstructured Citation 

Claim - The act of verifying one's business information with a local search engine and taking ownership of that business listing at that search engine. Prevents hijacking by spammers or competitors. Often involves entry of an emailed or posted PIN number into a web form. 

Cluster - A search engine's collection of business information from all its data sources about a particular business location. In some cases, a search engine's attempt to create a cluster is too "aggressive," causing distinct business listings to merge in its index. In other cases, its attempts to create a cluster may not be strong enough, causing multiple listings to appear for the same business. 

Conversion - The process of convincing a website visitor to call, email, or visit a business offline, i.e. "convert" to a customer. (also see: landing page 

Coupon - A specific online discount created in Google Places or other Local Business Centers that appears alongside a business listing. 

Crawl - The act of "reading" webpages by a search engine. (also see: spider algorithm 

Custom Category - A field in Google Places in which a business owner is allowed to enter his/her own classification for his/her business. Many business owners target specific keywords related to their business with custom categories; including location keywords in these fields is not allowed by Google Places Guidelines. (Also see: category 

Custom Field - A set of "choose your own" descriptive fields for a Google Places listing. Many business owners include their business's specialities, taglines, years in business, or neighborhoods served in these fields, for example. 

Data Provider - Strictly speaking, a company with an explicit contract to supply local search engines with underlying business information. In the U.S., the major data providers are Infogroup, Localeze, and Acxiom. The nature of Superpages and YellowPages.com's relationships to the major local search engines (Google, Bing, and Yahoo) is unclear, although these companies are frequently referred to as data providers as well. Google and the other local search engines often scrape business data from a variety of different websites, too, so the term "data provider" often includes Internet Yellow Pages by implication. (also see: aggregator IYP 

Directory - Any website which lists business names and contact information in an organized fashion, typically in alphabetical order, or by business type. Directory information is frequently assimilated by the local search engines. (also see: IYP ,citation 

Domain Name - The web address or "homepage" of a particular business or organization. Examples: JoesPlumbing.com, PortlandDentists.com, etc. Domain names are reserved at registrars such as GoDaddy.com, Dotster.com, and Register.com. (also see: WHOIS URL 

Feed - A structured, automated list of content or data produced by a website. Feeds are usually created in order to allow users to subscribe to website updates, but certain types of feeds (such as products) can also be submitted to various search engines. (also see: RSS XML 

Flash - A type of website code which allows for fancy graphics and animations but that is difficult for search engines to read and understand (also see: CSS HTML 

Geo Sitemap - A special kind of webpage, usually invisible to site visitors, which directs search engines to any KML files the site owner wishes to associate with his/her domain. Geositemaps can be created at http://geositemapgenerator.com
 and then submitted via Google Webmaster Central. (also see: KML Sitemap Webmaster Central 


Geotagged - An adjective to describe a piece of text content or other media content (such as photos or videos) that has been associated with a particular latitude and longitude coordinate. 

Google Account - An email address and password combination that has been registered with Google. A Google Account is required to claim a Google Place Page, which may be more trusted if the domain name associated with the Place Page matches that of the Google Account used to claim it. (also see: domain name 

Google Places - A free business listing service offered by Google where business owners can submit or claim ownership of their business information. Formerly known as the Google Local Business Center until April 2010, "Places" is intended to represent a broader range of geographic points of interest--such as paks or historic sites--in addition to local businesses. (also see: claim Place Page local business listing 

hCard - A special kind of website code (microformat) which allows search engines to easily distinguish a business's name, address, and phone number from other content on a webpage. (also see: microformat 

Head Keywords - Very competitive, usually weakly-targeted keywords with a high number of searches. Usually either one word, or two word phrases, such as "lawyers" "dentists" etc. (also see: keyword long-tail keywords 

Header Tags - The bold headlines on a webpage. Also known as H1, H2, H3, or Hx tags. It's a best practice to include keywords in these tags. 

hReview - A special kind of website code (microformat) which allows search engines to easily distinguish a rating and text comment about a particular business from other content on a webpage. (also see: microformat 

Hyperlocal - An adjective used to describe a website or web content that is extremely specific to a particular neighborhood or town. Hyperlocal content is typically something that a traditional media outlet would not devote resources to covering. 

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) - A type of website code which is easily read and understood by search engines. HTML is the original programming language used on the internet. (also see: CSS Flash 

Inbound Link - A connection via code from another website into your own website. Inbound links are a major component of the search engines' organic ranking algorithms, but their importance for Local/Maps algorithms is not clear. (also see:anchor text link juice 

Internal Linking / Internal Anchor Text - Term(s) that refer to a link from a page your own website to another page on your own website. (also see: anchor text link juice on-page site architecture outbound link 

IYP (Internet Yellow Pages) - Online version of a traditional Yellow Pages directory. The business information on these sites is often crawled by the local search engines and used in forming the cluster for a business or associated as a citation for that business. (also see: citation structured citation directory cluster data provider 

Keyword - A term entered by searchers to find businesses or websites at a search engine. Somewhat confusingly, "keyword" (singular) can often mean a phrase of several words put together. (also see: long-tail keywords short-tail keywords 

KML (Keyhole Markup Language) - standardized geographic formatting of an address with corresponding latitude and longitude information. A KML file refers to a set of one or more locations coded in this format. Google Places sometimes relies on KML as an additional data point about a business in its index. KML files can be created free of charge at http://geositemapgenerator.com
 and then submitted to Google Webmaster Central alongside a geositemap. (also see: geo sitemap Webmaster Central 


Landing Page - The page that a searcher first visits when clicking through from a search engine results page. Typically, this term refers to the page that visitors land on when clicking through from a local search result or a PPC advertisement. In local search, a landing page should usually include a contact phone number, the address of the business, and perhaps driving directions. (also see: conversion local algorithm / local results PPC 

Link Juice - Slang for the organic ranking potential that can be passed from one page to another via a link. (also see:organic algorithm / organic results anchor text inbound link internal linking outbound link 

Local Algorithm / Local Results - Refers to the specific formula, and results returned by that formula, used by search engines for ranking business listings relevant for a particular geographic area. This algorithm is distinct from the search engines' traditional organic algorithm. (also see: algorithm organic algorithm / organic results 

LBC (Local Business Center) - The former name of Google Places . Rebranded in April 2010. 

LBL (Local Business Listing) - Generic term for a page on a search engine, IYP, or directory containing basic and enhanced business information for a local business. Google's version of a local business listing is now known as a Place Page. (also see: Place page IYP directory 

LLC (Local Listing Center) - A free business listing service offered by Bing, and Yahoo, where business owners can submit or claim ownership of their business information. Analogous to Google Places. (also see: claim Google Places local business listing 

Local SEO (Local Search Engine Optimization) - A specialized kind of online marketing that increases visibility for businesses interested in ranking for geographically-related keywords. A large part of Local SEO involves ranking in the Local algorithms, as well as ranking well in the organic results for Local keywords. (also see: SEO Local Algorithm/Local ResultsOrganic Algorithm/Organic Results 

LBS (Location-Based Service) - A form of geotagging that facilitates, or is facilitated by, social interaction. The key action of a location-based service is a check-in. Popular location-based services are offered by Twitter, Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite, and Yelp. (also see: check-in 

Location Prominence - Technical term used by Google in its Local search patent to identify some of the criteria behind its Local algorithm. Location Prominence is analogous to PageRank in organic search. (also see: PageRank Local Algorithm )

Long-Tail Keywords - Low volume, highly-targeted, less competitive phrases used by searchers to find businesses or websites at a search engine. Examples include "portland, oregon dentists for root canal infection" or "Cheapest teenage driver car insurance Waco, TX." 

Maps Algorithm / Maps Results - See local algorithm / local results 

Merge - The act of combining similar or duplicate local business listings. It is rare that listings will merge at Yahoo Local; however, both Google and Bing's clustering mechanisms can sometimes be over-aggressive, causing what should be a distinct business listing to be subsumed beneath another that is unrelated. No search engine has a foolproof mechanism in place yet for businesses who actually do want to merge two separate/duplicate listings. (also see: cluster LBL 

Meta Description - A handcrafted snippet of text that can be included in a tag near the top of the code for each web page  This text sometimes appears beneath your Title Tag in organic search results if it matches one or more of the keywords for which the user has searched. For this reason, well-written meta descriptions include keywords and persuade searchers to click through. (also see: title tag meta keywords organic algorithm/organic results 

Meta Keywords - A hidden list of keywords that can be included in a tag near the top of the code for each web page  Largely because of its susceptibility to spam, no major search engine uses the meta keywords tag to evaluate the relevance of a page and it does not influence ranking. Title tags and meta descriptions remain very important, however. (also see: title tag ,meta description 

Meta Tags - The generic term for hidden pieces of specially-structured code near the top of each webpage that can provide more information to search engines about the content of the page. (also see: title tag meta description meta keywords 

Microformat - A special kind of code that allows search engines to more easily parse the content inside the code. Popular microformats include hCard for address and contact information and hReview for rating and sentiment information. (also see: hCard hReview 

MyMaps - A free Google Maps product offering that allows registered users to save particular physical locations and/or include a comment about each location. MyMaps are based on KML and being included in them may improve Local rankings. (also see: KML Local Algorithm/Local Results 

Natural Algorithm / Natural Results - See Organic Algorithm / Organic Results 

NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) - A standardized taxonomy of business types upon which many search engines, IYPs, and data providers base their own category systems. (also see: category data provider IYP 

NAP / NAP+W (Name Address Phone + Website) - The "thumbprint" of a business online. Local search engines use NAP information that they crawl on the internet, and receive from data providers, to judge the accuracy of the data in their own indexes. Consistent NAP information is essential to increasing the number of citations and improving search engine rankings. 

Off-Listing / Off Page - Adjective(s) used to describe criteria the search engines use in their Local algorithm that are not directly associated with a local business listing, or with the website specified in that local listing. Examples include / also see: citation inbound link MyMaps KML 

OneBox - Term for a type of nonstandard search result embedded within the more familiar "ten blue link" default results. Oneboxes sometimes show Local results, image results, video results, or news results, for example, each of which is determined by a unique algorithm for that particular type of result. OneBoxes first appeared at Google when it announced the advent of Universal Search--returning any kind of content relevant to a particular keyword, rather than just web/text content. (also see: Universal results Authoritative OneBox 

On-Page - Adjective used to describe criteria that you can control and adjust on your own website to improve search engine rankings. Examples include / also see: Title tag internal linking site architecture header tags 

Organic Algorithm / Organic Results - The mathematical formula traditionally used by search engines to rank websites in order of importance and relevance. Distinct from Universal or OneBox algorithms, including Local. (also see: Universal algorithm OneBox Local Algorithm 

Outbound Link - A link pointing from a page on your own website to a page on another website. Although a webpage loses some link juice by linking out, search engines view outbound links to quality websites as a natural occurrence on the web. (also see: link juice anchor text inbound link internal linking 

PageRank - Google's special formula for ranking webpages which it intends to be roughly correlated with the quality, relevance, and popularity of that page. PageRank can also refer to a number that this formula assigns to a particular web page. Analogous to Location Prominence in Local search. (also see: location prominence link juice 

Phone Number - Combined with Business Name and Physical Address, the Phone Number represents a third of a business's online identity (NAP). Because of the importance of a consistent NAP for citations and proper clustering, using tracking phone numbers on different websites or in different media is generally not a good idea for local business listings. (also see: Business Title Physical Address NAP citation 

Phone Verification - One of two methods of claiming a local business listing at Google Places and Bing Local. The other method is via postcard which is much more cumbersome and time-consuming. (also see: Google Places Bing LLC claim

Physical Address - Combined with Business Name and Phone Number, the Physical Address represents a third of a business's online identity (NAP). Because of the importance of a consistent NAP for citations and proper clustering, using PO Boxes or referring to the same location in multiple ways is generally not a good idea for local business listings. (also see: Business Title Phone Number NAP citation 

Place Page - Google's version of a local business listing. Includes owner-submitted information about a business, including categories, hours of operation, etc., as well as information Google pulls from around the web, such as reviews, ratings, and nearby businesses (often competitors). (also see: Google Places local business listing claim 

PO Box - A virtual mailing address whose use can adversely affect your local search rankings. 

Popularity - A trait of a website or business that can be quantitatively measured in a number of ways. For websites, search engines typically measure popularity by the number and quality of inbound links to that website. For businesses, things like the number and quality of citations, reviews, LBS check-ins, or MyMaps might be used. (also see: PageRank citations ,reviews LBS check-ins MyMaps 

Postcard Verification - One of two methods of claiming a local business listing at Google Places and Bing Local. The other method is via phone which is much less cumbersome and time-consuming. (also see: Google Places Bing LLC claim 

PPC (Pay-Per-Click) - Generic term for paid advertising programs at major search engines in which businesses are charged a fee when a searcher clicks on their advertisement--as opposed to a fee based on the number of times their ad is shown or a flat monthly fee regardless of visibility. 

Rating - A numerical assessment, often on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent) of a customer's experience with a business. 

Relevance - The degree to which a certain business or certain website matches the intent of a searcher's keyword. In local search, a particular business must be considered by the search engines to be relevant for a particular keyword in order to rank for that term, but typically cannot rank for terms on which it is not considered relevant. For instance, a popular restaurant may rank #1 in local results for 'restaurants' or 'fine dining' but would not necessarily be considered relevant for search terms like 'bars' or 'pubs,' even though they are closely related terms. (also see: algorithm Local Algorithm 

Review - A customer's text summary of his/her experience at a particular business. Reviews can be left on search engines, via Location-Based services, or even blogs (especially Hyperlocal blogs) and are often assigned numerical ratings simultaneously. (see also: rating hReview structured review unstructured review 

Robot - An automated script created by a search engine to "read" webpages. (also see: spider crawl algorithm 

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) - Bare-bones computer code that many Content Management Systems produce when content is created or updated. RSS feeds allow readers to subscribe to websites and receive a ping, or sometimes an email, when they are updated. You frequently see RSS subscription icons on blogs. (also see: XML CMS Feed 

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) - An umbrella term for improving the presence, and increasing the number of customers gained by a business via all forms of search, including PPC, organic, local, and universal. (also see: SEO Local SEO PPC

Sentiment / Sentiment Analysis - The qualitative component of a customer review...i.e. "what was their experience like?" Google Places in particular is getting more sophisticated about extracting and analyzing reviews for quality of experience, and for some business types often extracts phrases like "expensive" or "good service" and displays them prominently on that business's Place Page. (also see: review rating Place Page 

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) - A term for improving the presence, and increasing the number of customers gained by a business via all *non-paid* forms of search, such as organic, local, universal, and mobile. (also see: SEM PPC 

SERP (Search Engine Result Page) - A page containing a list of websites and any of the following: paid advertisements, business listings, images, videos, news, or other media that best match a keyword. (also see: Universal Algorithm Organic Algorithm PPC Local Algorithm 

Service Area - Although service areas have always been an option to note in the custom fields of a Local Business Listing, this term now means a set of towns or neighborhoods that a go-to-client business specifies at Google Places. Service areas can either be entered as text-based cities or geographic regions or drawn as boundary lines over a map near the business owner's stated address. (also see: Google Places, local business listing, custom fields) 

7-Pack - Slang term for the OneBox of local business listings that often appear alongside a map at the top of a search engine result for a geographically-targeted keyword. These results are largely driven by the search engine's Local algorithm. Seven is currently the most common number of listings that appear (formerly 10). (also see: Universal search, Local Algorithm, OneBox, Three-Pack, Ten-Pack) 

Short-Tail Keywords - See head keywords 

Site Architecture - General term for the organization or hierarchy of a particular website; can also refer to the programming language or Content Management System that the site is built in. Site architecture, especially a site's internal linking strategy, is extremely important to consider in organic SEO. (also see: internal linking organic algorithm CMS 

Sitemap - A list of all pages on a website, sometimes submitted to Webmaster Central. Essentially a site outline that search engines can read easily. (also see: geo sitemap KML Webmaster Central 

Specialty Field - Another term for a custom field associated with a local business listing. Often used by owners to list their business' specialties. (also see: custom field Place Page local business listing 

Spider - Can refer either to the robotic script created by a search engine to "read" webpages (noun) or the act of "reading" web pages (verb). (also see: robot crawl algorithm 

Structured Citation - A mention of a business name and address and/or phone number on an IYP or directory website. Structured citations may or may not be coded in hCard microformat, but typically appear in a kind of pattern that is easy for search engine spiders to read. Differs from an unstructured citation, which may appear as a one-off reference on a blog or other hyperlocal website. (also see: citation unstructured citation hyperlocal 

Structured Review - A traditional review left on a major local search portal or IYP, accompanied by a numerical rating. Structured reviews may or may not be coded in hReview microformat, but typically appear in a kind of pattern that is easy for search engine spiders to read. Differs from an unstructured review, which may appear as a one-off reference on a blog or other hyperlocal website. (also see: review unstructured review rating hyperlocal 

Tag - Has two meanings in Local Search, unfortunately. The traditional meaning has been a hidden piece of code that allows search engines to crawl and assimilate information from a particular webpage more easily. As of April 2010, it also means a monthly paid enhancement (currently a Yellow sticky note attached to a Place Page) that appears in Google Maps and Google Universal (7-pack/3-pack/OneBox) results. (also see: Meta Tags Google Places Place Page local business listing 7-Pack 3-Pack 10-Pack OneBox 

10-Pack - Slang term for the OneBox of local business listings that often appear alongside a map at the top of a search engine result for a geographically-targeted keyword. These results are largely driven by the search engine's Local algorithm. The 10-pack has largely been replaced by the 7-pack on Google. (also see: Universal algorithm Local Algorithm OneBox ,3-Pack 7-Pack 

3-Pack - Slang term for the OneBox of local business listings that often appear alongside a map at the top of a search engine result for a geographically-targeted keyword. These results are largely driven by the search engine's Local algorithm. The 3-pack tends to appear when the search engine identifies a keyword as having a strong local scent, but there isn't a larger number of businesses within a particular geographic area to satisfy that query.(also see: Universal algorithm Local Algorithm OneBox 7-Pack 10-Pack 

Title Tag - A piece of web page code that the search engines pay special attention to when deciding what that webpage is about. On a traditional SERP, the text of a web page's Title Tag is contained in the link to that webpage. If you're on a Windows computer, the Title Tag of a webpage appears in the blue bar at the top lefthand corner of of your screen when you are browsing the internet. On a Macintosh, the Title Tag usually appears at the top middle of the browser screen, in a silver bar. Including keywords in your website's Title Tags is very important for organic rankings; many experts feel that including geographic keywords in your website's Title Tags is important for Local rankings. (also see: organic algorithm meta tags ,meta description keyword SERP 

Trust - An important but hard-to-quantify ranking factor in both organic and local algorithms. Trust can be gained via many of the following: consistent NAP information, citations from high-authority websites (like government or chambers of commerce), inbound links from high-authority websites, consistently positive ratings, a large volume of check-ins, a Google account email whose domain matches a Places URL, and many other factors. (also see: most of this document!) 

Universal Algorithm / Universal Results - Term for a SERP containing a nonstandard search result embedded within the more familiar "ten blue link" default results. Any kind of content relevant to a particular keyword may be returned, rather than just web/text content. In the context of Local search, this usually means a 7-Pack, 3-Pack, or Authoritative Onebox. These universal results are driven largely by the local algorithm, rather than the organic algorithm, although the latter seems to have at least some influence. (also see: organic algorithm local algorithm OneBox 7-Pack 3-Pack 10-Pack 

Unstructured Citation - A mention of a business name and address and/or phone number on a website that is not an IYP site or other traditional directory containing standardized listings for many other businesses. Examples would be a newspaper or magazine article, hyperlocal blog, or social media profile. (also see: citation IYP directory Hyperlocal 

Unstructured Review - A text summary of a customer experience on a website that is not an IYP site or other traditional directory containing standardized review information for many other businesses. May not be accompanied by a numerical rating. Examples would be a newspaper or magazine article, hyperlocal blog, or social media profile. (also see: review IYP ,directory Hyperlocal 

URL (Uniform Resource Locator) - Geeky acronym for a the address of a web page. (also see: landing page domain name

Velocity - The speed at which a local listing or a website accumulates outside references, such as links, citations, reviews, or check-ins. Most experts believe that a consistent velocity for each criterion--rather than a flood--indicates to the search engines that a business is vibrant without trying to be manipulative (also see: inbound link citation review check-in LBS )

Verify - See claim 

Web Reference - See citation 

Webmaster Central - Free service offered by Google for users with a Google account to claim ownership of a particular website. Bing's and Yahoo's versions are called Webmaster Center and Site Explorer, respectively. Allows users to submit verified sitemaps for that domain. (also see: geo sitemap Google account KML sitemap 

WHOIS - The contact information kept on file by a domain registrar for the official owner of a domain name. Can be made private, but public WHOIS information may be viewed by the local search engines as a particularly trusted citation. (also see:domain name citation URL 

WYSIWYG - Stands for "What You See Is What You Get." Usually refers to Content Management Systems which allow for creating and editing web page information by someone who doesn't know computer code. (also see: HTML CMS 

XML (eXtensible Markup Language) - Bare-bones computer code that is very easy for search engines to read. XML is similar to HTML but is not really intended to be read by humans. Sitemaps are usually (also see: HTML RSS Webmaster Central Sitemap )