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Internet Terms You Need to Know

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

man confused at computerContributed by Info Guru Lindsay Shugerman

If you’re new to the Internet, it can be confusing. Especially if you’re thinking about putting a business online, or creating a brand new online business from scratch.

But even if all you want to do is search for the latest movies, start a blog or research your family history, the words and abbreviations can get confusing. Here are ten basic Internet terms you need to know, no matter what your online plans might be.

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10. Keywords

key on page

Put simply, keywords are any words Internet searchers use to find what they’re looking for. Website owners use these words to write titles, content, links and even URLs to maximize the chance that searchers will find their site — and will find what they want once they arrive.

As a searcher, you’ll be more likely to find what you want if you use a longer string of words (called a long-tail keyword) as your search. So “cheap laptops for college students” will probably get you closer to what you want than a search on “laptops”. As a website owner, using more complex, specific terms within your copy and titles will work better than repeating a one or two word phrase over and over and over.

9. URL

top 10 internet terms you need to know url

The term URL is short for “Universal Resource Locator.” It’s the three part address browsers, e-mail clients and other services use to find and identify content (webpages, etc.) on the Internet. It also provides information about the type of resource (a web page or a file to be downloaded, for example) so your browser or e-mail client knows how to handle the information once it’s located.

8. Browser

top 10 internet terms you need to know browser

A browser is a software program that lets you decode and see information once it has been located online. Browsers are free to install and use on your computer, tablet or cell phone.

Popular browsers include Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer and, if you have a Mac computer or iPad, Safari. As a user, you can go to all the same pages with any of the browsers, although some pages may look better in some browsers.

If you’re creating a website, be aware that your page could look different in different browsers, so do test for appearance before you launch.

7. ISP

top 10 internet terms you need to know isp

An ISP is short for “Internet Service Provider”. This is the company that provides the connection between the Internet and your computer or tablet. Most people have paid ISPs in their homes and workplaces, although more and more cities are offering free Internet access, making the need to pay for an ISP unnecessary.

6. Domain name

top 10 internet terms you need to know domain name

The domain name of a website is the name you or someone else has registered for a given online site or group of sites. It consist of the registered name (like “catalogs” and a top level domain identifier, like .com or .edu. Put together with the rest of the URL, something like is used by your browser to locate a specific web page.

5. Search engine

top 10 internet terms you need to know search engines

A search engine is a software package that takes user searches (keywords, remember?) and finds webpages to match that search. Different search engines use different rules or algorythms to select which websites to display for each search.

The most common search engines today include Google, Yahoo and Bing, although there are hundreds of smaller search engines used as well.

4. Spider

top 10 internet terms you need to know spider

No need to reach for the bug killer … these are not the spiders that crawl up the shower wall.

These spiders are bits of software search engines use to “crawl” through websites to find out what’s there. They report back to the search engines, and then that information is used to decide which pages to display when people search for a certain phrase.

3. Paid search versus organic search

top 10 internet terms you need to know search

When you use a search engine to look for something online, you usually see a results page listing about 20 websites. If you’re using Google, the first three websites listed on your computer monitor at the top and the ones listed down the right side are paid results. This means the owners of the sites paid to have their pages come up as results for certain keywords.

The 10 or so results down the center of the page are organic results. These are the pages the search engine’s spiders decided were the best match for your search. Both paid and organic results can be good, although many people prefer organic results since they are less ad-driven.

2. Bot

top 10 internet terms you need to know bot

They sound so cute, don’t they? Internet bots.

And they can be harmless. The spiders search engines use to crawl sites to evaluate content are a form of bot. So are the small bits of software that work within auction sites and online gaming sites. But these programs can also be used to place spam messages on blogs and other websites, or they can dig in and gather personal information used for identity theft. Whenever you encounter a webpage that requires you to type in a certain random string of letters (I hate those things! It always takes me three or four tries!) or do a simple math problem before you can enter or post, you are seeing a tool to protect against bots.

1. Cookies

top 10 internet terms you need to know cookies

Cookies? Yeah, but not the Mrs. Fields variety. Internet cookies are small snippets of code that websites place on your computer so you can save passwords, come back to a shopping cart, or revisit a certain page within the site. Cookies can also track your movement within a site, recording which pages you visit, what you add to then remove from your cart, or how often you return to the page.

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As a web surfer, you can decide what level of cookies to allow (use your security settings). As a website owner, make sure the cookies you place are needed for a better shopping experience, and do not compromise visitor privacy.


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