Cookies Definition & Meaning

What Are Cookies?

Cookies are text files that a web server generates and sends to a web browser to track a specific user, store identifying information, and personalize website experiences.

Web servers log data such as addresses, passwords, and session browsing history and use cookies to tag that data to specific users. Internet cookies are stored in the user’s web browser and then communicate with the server to recall data when a user returns to a specific website on that server. Cookies can be blocked or deleted to improve personal privacy and prevent data tracking. 

There are two main types of cookies:

Learn more about the SEO Chatter mentorship
  • Essential Cookies: Required for the website to function properly. For example, cookies that store a user’s shopping cart or login information.
  • Non-Essential Cookies: Not required for a website to function properly, but rather to track how a user interacts with a website for marketing purposes. For example, Google Analytics uses cookies to track user behavior metrics like average time on site, bounce rate, and pageviews for website owners to analyze and measure website performance.

There are four types of computer cookies that are used to track, collect, and store data that companies request:

  • Session Cookies: These are temporary cookies that log your online activities and expire as you close out of a web page. Otherwise, your browsing history would always be blank, making the use of some websites (e.g. ecommerce) frustrating.
  • First-Party Cookies: Also known as Persistent Cookies. These cookies track your online preferences and personalization settings for specific websites. Examples include login information, language selections, menu preferences, internal bookmarks, etc.
  • Third-Party Cookies: Also known as Tracking Cookies. These cookies collect data based on your online behavior, interests, location, age, and search trends and are passed on or sold to advertisers by the website that created the cookie to generate custom advertisements.

Visit the SEO Glossary

Go to the SEO Glossary to find more terms and definitions that relate to the field of search engine optimization.