Glossary of Terms

Navigating through the world of search engines, veterinary websites and the Internet in general can be tricky if you don't know the language. The staff at VetNetwork has compiled a glossary of some common terms to help veterinarians, veterinary hospital staff members and veterinary industry professionals find their bearings in creating veterinary websites to best represent your practice.


AdSense: A Google service, AdSense allows businesses large and small to place relevant content ads on their website and receive a share of profits from any ad clicks.

AdWords: Google's advertising network. AdWords are keyword-targeted and sold on a per-click basis. For example, when a user searches for "California veterinary hospital," your AdWord ad shows up next to the top search results; you pay a small fee only if a user clicks on your ad.

Algorithm: A programming rule that dictates how a search engine reads content on websites and creates search results.

Alt Tag: An HTML attribute that provides a text equivalent of an image for search engine crawlers.

Analytic Applications: These tend to be business-oriented applications that help measure and optimize performance as well as monitor pre-set risk indicators. Often, these applications create a user dashboard to display a range of values being measured (key performance indicators or KPIs) and tools for the user to perform analysis and take action.

API: An Application Programming Interface (API) is software that allows one website to access and include content, data or functionality from another website. For example, a veterinary practice could use an API for Google Maps on its website to show the location of the veterinary hospital. Websites also often use APIs to show video content that is held by another website. APIs are also used to create Mashup applications or websites.

Application: Also known as an App, is software created to enable a user to perform one or a number of related tasks. A word processor is an application as is a Web browser.

ARPAnet: The first iteration of what would become the Internet. It was developed in tandem by a handful of researchers at MIT and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. It was originally intended to provide a Web-like communications structure that could survive even if one node were to be eliminated in a nuclear attack.


Black Hat SEO: Purposefully going against search engine guidelines to get your site a higher ranking than it deserves. Your veterinary website could be penalized for using Black hat SEO and could even be removed from the search engine's index.

Blog: Short for 'weblog', a kind of online diary with entries made on a regular basis. Blogs can cover any subject matter and good blog content can drive more traffic to your veterinary website.

Bot: Software applications that perform automated tasks on the Internet. These tasks usually involve gathering and indexing data on websites for search engines. In all, they perform tasks at a much faster rate than a human could.

Buffer (Video): This is a method for streaming video across the Internet so that it can be shown without choppiness or breaks. For example, a video on your veterinary website can be shown in an unbroken stream on a pet owner's computer. Buffering can be thought of as similar to a tape delay. Rather than displaying a video as the data is received by the computer, a buffer is created between what is shown and what is being downloaded.

Bulk Submissions: A program that submits many URLs to search engines. Search engines discourage the use of these programs.


Clickthrough: Clicking an ad element and going to another web page.

Client/Server Computing Model: This is the basis of the Internet, the World Wide Web and most other computer networks. Essentially, data and some functionality are held on large centralized servers, which respond to specific requests from client computers. This allows data to be stored and managed centrally rather than at each client computer.

Cloud Computing: An Internet-based model for the consumption and delivery of information technology resources. This is becoming popular in the business world as it frees them of having to support the infrastructure for IT resources such as Customer Relationship Management, ERP, and Human Resources, to name a few. Instead, the infrastructure, functionality and data is all accessed via the Internet (e.g. The Cloud).

Compression: Reducing the size of files—documents, video, audio, etc.—so that they can be more easily sent via the Internet. Files are compressed by a program at the sender's/server's end and unpacked/decompressed at the user's end.

Conversion: The act of turning your veterinary website visitor into a client of your practice.

Cookie: Information placed on a visitor's computer by a web server. Cookies are often used to store data such as order numbers, email addresses, user IDs and session IDs.

Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs): These are country specific Top Level Domains such as .us, .uk, .au, etc.

Crawler: A form of Bot used by search engines to find, catalogue and index webpages.

CSS: Short for Cascading Style Sheet (CSS), pages of code used to control the design, layout and appearance of your veterinary website.


Directory: A human-edited index of websites, such as the Open Directory Project. While search engines are concerned with the actual code on a website, directories strive to group websites by specific categories, such as veterinary practices, with keyword-rich descriptions.

Domain Name System (DNS): A hierarchical naming structure run on a system of distributed databases that enables Web browsers, email programs, handheld devices and other Internet-connected assets to send and receive information. It stores domain names or email addresses and then translates them into an IP address so the correct source of data/information can be found.

Dynamic Website/Webpage: The content changes and adapts to reflect the unique needs and desires of the user. For example, Netflix is programmed to reflect the personal movie tastes of specific users.


Firefox: A Web browser by Mozilla that in 2010 became the most used browser, even beating Microsoft's Internet Explorer. It is open source and can be downloaded for free.

Frames: Frames are a website design structure that allows for the dividing of a Web page into two or more independent parts. Different content and functionality can be maintained or changed in each part without affecting the other frames. Frames are not user-friendly and make navigation more difficult. Search engines also have trouble indexing pages with frames.

Fresh: What Google calls frequently updated web pages. If Google's spiders see that a page on your veterinary website changes frequently, they will revisit and re-index those pages more often.

FTP: File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is the standard for passing files across the Internet and works the same way as HTTP for webpages or SMTP for email.


Gateway: Software that enables data to be transferred, used or accessed between incompatible networks or applications. Two different applications may not be able to share data directly, but a gateway enables the data passing through to be reformatted so it can be used on either end.

Google: The world's largest search engine, with a little more than half the total search engine market-share. Google sets the standard for web searches and offers numerous search-related advertising, marketing and content services, including AdWords, Blogger, Google Maps and more.

Google Analytics: This is a free service offered by Google to help website owners better understand the Web traffic their site is receiving. For example, you can track where your veterinary website visitors came from (search engine, link, email link, typed your URL in a browser, etc.), keywords visitors use to find your practice website, total number of visitors, pages they looked at, duration of visit, and much more.

Googlebot: Also known as a spider or crawler, Googlebot is the search bot Google uses to index sites for the search engine.


Hardware: In terms of technology, hardware is the physical components used for computing such as a computer, server, printer, scanner, etc.

Heading tag: An HTML tag used to denote a page or special section. Search engines pay close attention to text in heading tags and consider it to be more important than other page content. A heading such as "Diagnostic Services" on your veterinary website is considered an important keyword by the search engines.

Hosted Application: These are applications where the software that runs it is located on a server rather than the user's computer and is delivered via the Internet to the user's Web browser.

Hosted Applications are also the basis of a software model known as Software as a Service (SaaS).

HTML: HyperText Markup Language (HTML), the programming language used to create and display web content.

HTTP: Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is the standard that specifies how Web browsers and servers communicate to send and receive webpages.

Hyperlink: Allows a user to go from one document to another via links encoded within the document. The most common hyperlinks are in webpages that direct a Web browser to another webpage or website. For instance, a veterinary practice website might contain a hyperlink (Order Here) that, when clicked, opens a pharmacy page. Hyperlinks can also be added to word processing documents, spreadsheets and more.


ICANN: The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the international, not-for-profit organization that manages and oversees all of the unique identifiers used by the Internet. Its primary mission is to keep the Internet secure, stable and interoperable.

Inbound Links: Links that point to your veterinary website from sites other than your own, such as the local Chamber of Commerce business listing site. Inbound links from reputable sites can improve your site's page ranking on Google.

Internet Backbone: These are networks or data routes that are the heart of the Internet and allow for data to travel broad geographical swaths, such as nationally or internationally, very quickly. They are managed and operated by governments, large research/academic institutions, and private companies.

Internet Explorer: A Web browser produced by Microsoft. It is free to download and one of the most popular browsers in use.

Internet Protocol (TCP/IP): The method or protocol by which all data is sent and delivered via the Internet. It allows any form of data—email, video, pictures, software, webpages, documents, and more—to be sent from any server, carried by any router and received by any computer.

Internet Protocol Address: This is a series of numbers used to uniquely identify every single device connected to the Internet—routers, computers, servers, smart phones, personal handheld devices, and more. These addresses are used to send and receive data over the Internet.

Internet Protocol Packets: Much like an envelope used to send a letter or package, an IP Packet can contain data of any type—email, video, documents, webpage, etc.—within a virtual envelope with a delivery address, return address and additional information. This means that routers do not have to be able to read the data inside the IP Packet; they simply know where to direct it. Once it reaches its destination, the user's computer reads what type of data is in the packet and uses the appropriate software application to open and display it.

Intranet: Private IP Packet-based networks operating within a LAN.


JavaScript: A programming language commonly used within webpages, and that can be read by most web browsers, to create functionality beyond what is possible in a basic HTML-based webpage.

JPEG: (Joint Photographic Expert Group) A format for storing images.


Keyword: A word a pet owner might type into a search engine to find a veterinary website. Having the right keywords in your veterinary hospital's website means your site will show up in relevant search results.

Keyword Density: The number of times a keyword appears on a web page. The more times the keyword appears (within reason), the more weight that word is assigned by the search engine.

Keyword-rich: Website copy that is full of good keywords, but remains readable and user-friendly.

Keyword Stuffing: A black hat SEO technique that places excessive amounts of keywords into website copy and the HTML code. Stuffing includes using hidden text with long strings of keywords, filling alt tags with long strings of keywords and more. Keyword stuffing is discouraged by search engines.


LAN: Local Area Networks (LAN) are computer networks in a limited geographic area such as a veterinary hospital or a linked set of veterinary practice locations. A LAN allows computers to store and retrieve data from a central database, which is far more efficient than storing data on each computer.

Link Building: Requesting links from other websites for the purpose of increasing your link popularity.

Link Popularity: Though not as crucial as it once was, link popularity remains a part of Google's search algorithm. The more outside sites that link to your veterinary practice website, the better your site will rank in Google's index.

Link Farm: A group of highly inter-linked websites created solely to inflate link popularity. Link farming is discouraged by search engines and having a link there could harm your site's ranking.


Mashups: These are websites or applications that combine two or more distinct software tools to create a new service. For example, a veterinary hospital website may combine Google Maps, a Pet Portal, and a contact form to create a full-service website for its clients. Because the website uses existing software, the veterinary practice does not have to re-create it.

Meta Data: Generically speaking, this is data about data. It describes what it is, how it is structured, and any rules around the data. For veterinary practice websites, Meta Data provides spiders, crawlers, and bots used by search engines with descriptive information about the website and the practice.

Meta tags: Individual bits of information about the content on a webpage placed in the HTML code, but not displayed on the actual page for the user to see. These compose the Meta data for a webpage. In the early days of the web, search engine crawlers used Meta tags to index pages leading some developers to take advantage of them to increase the rank of their sites. However, the ability to manipulate search rankings through Meta tags has decreased significantly as search engines are far more sophisticated in how they rank pages. Meta tags are still useful in influencing how your veterinary website is described in search results.


Navigation Bar (nav bar): Icons or links on your veterinary hospital's web pages that direct users—and search engine spiders—to your website's content.

Negative Keyword: A technique used by Google AdWords to help with keyword matching. The advertiser can specify terms they do not want their ad to be associated with; for example, the negative keyword "-organic" used with the keyword "pet food" means the ad will not be displayed if a user searches for "organic pet food."

Net Neutrality: The notion that all data being passed across the Internet should be treated equally. The fear is that without net neutrality some backbone and other carriers could restrict certain types of data or create tiered classes of data thereby slowing some and speeding others. This could also lead to monetizing the flow of data across the Internet thereby making it more expensive.

Node: One of many communications points within a network. In the Internet, nodes can be individual computers or servers.


Open Source: A philosophy and methodology of software development where the source code for an application is readily accessible and available to the public without restriction. Open source means that enhancements can be made, new functionality added, or interoperable applications can be created by programmers thereby making the original software more useful.

Operating System: Basic underlying software that enables the functionality of a computer. Windows, MacOS, and Linux are examples of operating systems.

Organic Search: Results in a search return that are not paid for by advertisers. Google has a mix of paid and organic results in its search returns. Paid ads are highlighted at the top of a return and run down the right column. The remainder are organic results.


PageRank: Search algorithm designed by Google's Larry Page to rank webpages on Google's search results. A webpage is ranked between a scale of 0 and 10, depending on on-page and off-page factors such as the quality of inbound links. The better the PageRank of your veterinary website, the more your ranking in Google's index will increase, and the higher your veterinary website will appear in search results..

Paid Inclusion: Paying a search engine to include your web page in their index.

Pay-per-click: An advertising method where pricing is based on the number of user clickthroughs. Google AdWords is pay-per-click advertising.

PDF: Portable Document Format (PDF) created by Adobe. It is the most widely used format for sharing documents across the Internet no matter the end user's operating system or hardware.

Platform: This refers to a hardware and software architecture that provides a basis upon which an application can run. The best and biggest example would be that the Internet is a platform upon which the World Wide Web runs. A smaller, closer to home example would be your computer (the hardware) and your operating system (software) create a platform on which you can run your Web browser or email or an accounting program and so on.

POP: Post Office Protocol (POP) is the standard by which email programs on individual computers receive email from servers.


Reciprocal Linking: Trading links between websites.

Robots.txt: A text file placed in a website's root directory and linked to the HTML code; this file allows webmasters to direct the actions of search engine spiders on the site.

Routers: These are very powerful computers and software that are used to interconnect the very many networks that compose the Internet. They can be thought of as traffic cops that pass IP Packets across the Internet from one point to another.


Safari: This is the relatively popular Web browser by Apple. It is the default browser on all Mac computers.

Search Engine: A website that gives visitors the ability to search the content of numerous other websites on the internet. Search engines use programs called "spiders" to explore all the pages of a website and add the content of those pages into a database that users can search. The more useful the content on your veterinary hospital website, the better your website will rank in search engine results. Search engines are the number-one way pet owners find veterinarians on the web and having a good ranking means more potential clients will find your veterinary practice website.

Search Engine Marketing: Strategies to help build viewership of a website through search engines. These can include paid ads in search results listings, SEO efforts, and a range of intelligent advertising strategies.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Strategies and tactics that can be used to influence the rankings of your veterinary website pages in search engines.

Server (Web/Internet): These are computers and related software that perform a critical function in supporting the Internet and World Wide Web. An Internet server helps direct traffic across the Internet from one location to another by translating a domain name ( into an IP address. Web servers store content, such as your veterinary hospital website, and deliver it over the Internet to a pet owner's computer.

Service Oriented Architecture (SOA): This technology is used to establish interfaces between disparate applications thereby making them interoperable and creating a whole new service. For example, SOA can be used to seamlessly link disparate systems when a user purchases an online pet medication or product. The pet owner is able to make selections from an online catalogue, order pet care products, pay for them, and have them shipped quickly and easily. Behind the scenes, though, each of these steps invokes a number of separate applications such as for the online pet products catalogue, financial applications, warehouse order and inventory control, and more without the user ever being aware.

SMTP: Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) is the standard for how email is to be passed across the Internet by email servers. It is also the standard of how an email application on a computer sends an email message. Computers receive email messages using POP (Post Office Protocol).

Software: This is a collection of computer programs and data that enables specific functionality on a computer. Software is anything from the Web browser to the word processing program to spreadsheets.

Software as a Service (SaaS): This is a software model where software is hosted on a remote server, as opposed to the user's computer, and delivered via the Internet, often for a subscription fee. It is a model that is commonly used in the business world for software tools such as Enterprise Resource Planning, HR management, Accounting, Customer Relationship Management, and much more.

Solution: This is a term used by software developers to describe software products composed of more than a single application or software module. For example, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) applications are really bundled sets of software applications (also called modules) that in combination solve a broad set of business problems around accounting, resource allocation, financial management, and more. Therefore, ERP is considered a solution rather than a single application. You could also think of the Windows operating system as a solution for home computing.

Spider: Programs used by search engines to explore and read websites on the internet. Spiders index your veterinary website and send the data back to the search engines, which organize the data into search engine results.

Static Webpage/Website: Websites or pages where the content is fixed and the same for every visitor.

Streaming Media/Video: Rather than downloading an entire media file before it can be viewed or heard on a computer—a lengthy process, especially for larger files such as movies and music CDs—the user's computer uses the data as it is being transferred. The computer buffers the video or audio so that it does not appear broken or choppy.

Submitting: Sending your veterinary hospital website to a search engine so that it will be indexed. One-time, manual submissions of websites are encouraged by search engines; submitting multiple pages from the same site, submitting multiple times and using automated submission tools is discouraged. Submitting your veterinary hospital's site does not guarantee that it will be indexed by a search engine.


Title Tag: The text displayed in the bar along the top of the browser window. Search engines assign the words in the title tag of your veterinary website more weight than other page content and also display the title tag in search results. Appropriate title tags can boost your veterinary hospital website's ranking.

Top Level Domain (TLD): The Top Level Domain is the .com, .edu, .org, .net, etc. of a domain name.


Upload: The process of transferring a file from the user's computer to another computer or a server.

URL: otherwise known as a web address; stands for Uniform Resource Locator (URL). URLs specify the location of a web page, an email address and other things. Clear, descriptive URLs ( can make your veterinary hospital's website more search-engine friendly.


W3C: The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the international standards setting body for the Web. It is led by the inventor of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee and is based at MIT, Keio University in Japan, and ERCIM in France.

WAN: Wide Area Networks (WAN) link geographically distributed computers and servers. For example, a large national or multinational company may use a WAN in order to better centralize and manage data.

Web 2.0: This refers to a segment of websites that are also known as Social Media or Social Networking sites. These websites facilitate users' ability to interact with each other in order to share information, collaborate, and more through blogs, wikis, hosted applications, mashups and more. A number of popular websites use these tools or incorporate these ideals such as Facebook, Wikipedia, Flickr, Twitter, SalesForce, WordPress, and others.

Web Analytics: Software that helps you track page views, conversion statistics and user behavior on your veterinary practice website. Analytics provide useful data about how pet owners and potential clients are finding your site and which pages they are looking at while browsing.

Web browser: The software that allows potential clients to view your veterinary hospital website. Brands include Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Opera.

Web Hosting Service Provider: This is a business that for a fee stores and manages websites for a range of clients on servers maintained and managed by the provider or a third-party host. The size and scope of these services depends on the complexity of the website.

Web Standards: Widely-adopted guidelines for CSS, HTML, etc. that ensure websites are accessible on a variety of browsers and to a wide range of users, including those with disabilities. Your veterinary website's search engine ranking can benefit from following web standards.

White Hat SEO: Search engine optimization techniques that conform to search engine guidelines and do not involve deception or gaming of a search engine's algorithm of any kind.

Wiki: Websites designed to promote collaboration among users, which can create and edit webpages at will as well as employ a number of tools designed to enhance collaboration. The best example of a wiki is Wikipedia.

World Wide Web: Though most people refer to the Internet and the World Wide Web interchangeably, they are in fact two different things. The Internet is a massive collection of public and private computer networks as well as the servers and routers that interconnect them. The World Wide Web is an interconnected system of HTML-based web pages that may contain text, images, videos and other multimedia that can be accessed via the Internet. The World Wide Web is an application in the same way as email, peer-to-peer networking, and Voice over IP (VoIP), are applications.


XHTML: A next iteration of HTML created by W3C.


Yahoo!: One of the oldest web directories and search engines. While Yahoo! is now behind Google in terms of search engine market-share, it still remains a major player in the search engine industry.