50 search engine marketing terms you need to know

Most financial industry execs don’t know as much about search engine marketing as they should. This list of the most common and important terms will have you talking like a SEO pro in no time.


AdWords –  Google AdWords is Google’s main advertising product and main source of revenue. Google’s total advertising revenues were USD$42.5 billion in 2012.[2] AdWords offers pay-per-click, that is, cost-per-click (CPC) advertising, cost-per-thousand-impressions or cost-per-mille (CPM) advertising, and site-targeted advertising for text, banner, and rich-media ads. The AdWords program includes local, national, and international distribution. Google’s text advertisements are short, consisting of one headline of 25 characters and two additional text lines of 35 characters each. Image ads can be one of several different Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) standard sizes.

Sales and support for Google’s AdWords division in the United States is based in Mountain View, California, with major secondary offices in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the company’s second largest office is located in New York. The third-largest US facility is in Mountain View, California, headquarters. Engineering for Google AdWords is based in Mountain View, California.

Google has an active official public Help and Support Community maintained and frequented by highly experienced Adwords users (referred to as “Top Contributors”) and Google employees.

Alexa –  Alexa Internet, Inc. is a California-based subsidiary company of Amazon.com which provides commercial web traffic data. Once it is installed, the Alexa Toolbar collects data on browsing behavior and transmits it to the Alexa website, where it is stored and analyzed, forming the basis for the company’s web traffic reporting. As of 2013, Alexa provides traffic data, global rankings and other information on 30 million websites, and its website is visited by over 8 million people monthly.

Algorithm – For a typical query, there are thousands, if not millions, of webpages with helpful information. Algorithms are the computer processes and formulas that take your questions and turn them into answers. Today Google’s algorithms rely on more than 200 unique signals or “clues” that make it possible to guess what you might really be looking for. These signals include things like the terms on websites, the freshness of content, your region and PageRank.

Alt Tag or Alt Attribute – The alt attribute is used in HTML and XHTML documents to specify alternative text (alt text) that is to be rendered when the element to which it is applied cannot be rendered. It is also used by “screen reader” software so that a person who is listening to the content of a webpage (for instance, a person who is blind) can interact with this element. In HTML 4.01, the attribute is required for the img and area tags. It is optional for the input tag and the deprecated applet tag.

Anchor Text – Anchor text is the visible characters and words that hyperlinks display when linking to another document or location on the web. In the phrase “CNN is a good source of news, but I actually prefer the BBC’s take on events,” two unique pieces of anchor text exist for two different links: “CNN” is the anchor text pointing to http://www.cnn.com/, while “the BBC’s take on events” points to http://news.bbc.co.uk.

Search engines use this text to help determine the subject matter of the linked-to document. In the example above, the links would tell the search engine that when users search for “CNN”, Moz.com thinks that http://www.cnn.com/ is a relevant site for the term “CNN” and that http://www.bbc.co.uk is relevant to “the BBC’s take on events.” If many sites think that a particular page is relevant for a given set of terms, that page can manage to rank well even if the terms NEVER appear in the text itself.

Authority – Page Authority is Moz’s calculated metric for how well a given webpage is likely to rank in Google.com’s search results. It is based off data from the Mozscape web index and includes link counts, MozRank, MozTrust, and dozens of other factors. It uses a machine learning model to predictively find an algorithm that best correlates with rankings across the thousands of search results that we predict against.
Domain Authority represents Moz’s best prediction for how a website will perform in search engine rankings. Use Domain Authority when comparing one site to another or tracking the “strength” of your website over time. We calculate this metric by combining all of our other link metrics—linking root domains, number of total links, MozRank, MozTrust, etc.—into a single score.

To determine Domain Authority, we employ machine learning against Google’s algorithm to best model how search engine results are generated. Over 40 signals are included in this calculation. This means your website’s Domain Authority score will often fluxuate. For this reason, it’s best to use Domain Authority as a competitive metric against other sites as opposed to a historic measure of your internal SEO efforts.


Back Link – Backlinks, also known as incoming links, inbound links, inlinks, and inward links, are incoming links to a website or web page. In basic link terminology, a backlink is any link received by a web node (web page, directory, website, or top level domain) from another web node.

Inbound links were originally important (prior to the emergence of search engines) as a primary means of web navigation; today, their significance lies in search engine optimization (SEO). The number of backlinks is one indication of the popularity or importance of that website or page (for example, this is used by Google to determine the PageRank of a webpage). Outside of SEO, the backlinks of a webpage may be of significant personal, cultural or semantic interest: they indicate who is paying attention to that page.

Broken Link –Broken links are just what they sound like: links or hypertext links that are “broken” or not working. Most of the time, they produce a 404 error page, which indicates that the destination page does not exist.


Cost-per-click (CPC)
– The cost-per-click (CPC) is the amount you earn each time a user clicks on your ad. The CPC for any ad is determined by the advertiser; some advertisers may be willing to pay more per click than others, depending on what they’re advertising.

Clickthrough rate (CTR) – A ratio showing how often people who see your ad end up clicking it. CTR can be used to gauge how well your keywords and ads are performing.
Content Management System (CMS) – A Content Management System (CMS)is a computer program that allows publishing, editing and modifying content as well as maintenance from a central interface. Such systems of content management provide procedures to manage workflow in a collaborative environment. These procedures can be manual steps or an automated cascade.

The first content management system (CMS) was announced at the end of the 1990s. This CMS was designed to simplify the complex task of writing numerous versions of code and to make the website development process more flexible. CMS platforms allow users to centralize data editing, publishing and modification on a single back-end interface. CMS platforms are often used as blog software.

Conversion Rate – In internet marketing, the conversion rate is the proportion of visitors to a website who take action to go beyond a casual content view or website visit, as a result of subtle or direct requests from marketers, advertisers, and content creators.

Conversion rate = Number of Goal Achievements PER Visits
Successful conversions are defined differently by individual marketers, advertisers, and content creators. To online retailers, for example, a successful conversion may be defined as the sale of a product to a consumer whose interest in the item was initially sparked by clicking a banner advertisement. To content creators, a successful conversion may refer to a membership registration, newsletter subscription, software download, or other activity.

Favicon – A favicon  (short for Favorite icon), also known as a shortcut icon, Web site icon, URL icon, or bookmark icon, is a file containing one or more[1] small icons, most commonly 16×16 pixels, associated with a particular Web site or Web page. A web designer can create such an icon and install it into a Web site (or Web page) by several means, and graphical web browsers will then make use of it.[3] Browsers that provide favicon support typically display a page’s favicon in the browser’s address bar (sometimes in the history as well) and next to the page’s name in a list of bookmarks. Browsers that support a tabbed document interface typically show a page’s favicon next to the page’s title on the tab, and site-specific browsers use the favicon as desktop icon.

Inbound Link – A link from one site into another. Links from other sites with high search Authority will improve your SEO.
In search engine optimization (SEO) terminology Inbound link is the same as backlink

Indexed Pages – A search engine’s “index” refers to the amount of documents found by a search engine’s web Spider.

Internal Link – A link from one page to another within the same website, such as from your homepage to your products page.

Keyword – A word that a user enters in search. Each web page should be optimized with the goal of drawing in visitors who have searched specific Keywords.

Keyword Density – A proportional measurement of Keywords embedded in a page’s content. High keyword density focuses the page’s subject in a way that a search engine’s Spider understands. Search engines may interpret a Keyword Density that’s too high as spam, which results in a lower placement in search results

Keyword Stuffing – Repeating Meta Keywords and using keywords unrelated to the site’s content or sole the purpose of boosting the page’s rankings in search engines. This includes hiding keywords on the page by making the text the same color as the background, hiding keywords in comment tags, overfilling Alt Tags with long strings of keywords, etc. Keyword stuffing is considered a shady way to game search engines, and as such is discouraged.

Landing Page – Any page that is frequently seen by new, inbound visitors to your website. Look at your website traffic stats and any page getting a constant, heavy flow of visitors is likely to be a Landing Page. All your Landing Pages should be optimized to maximize Conversions.

Link Building – The activity and process of getting more inbound links to your website for improved search engine rankings.

Long Tail Keyword – An uncommon or infrequently searched keyword, typically with two or more words in the phrase.

Meta Data (also Meta Information or Meta Tags) – Meta data is information associated with a web page that’s placed in the HTML but not displayed by the browser for users to see. This data that tells search engines what the pages on your website are about. There are a range of Meta Tags, but only a few of which are relevant to search engine Spiders. The most well-known Meta Tags are the Meta Title, Meta Description and Meta Keywords.

Meta Description – A brief description of fewer than 160 characters of the contents of a page and why someone would want to visit it. This is often displayed on search engine results pages below the page title as a sample of the content on the page. Many financial institutions have Meta Descriptions that greatly exceed the 160-character limit.

Meta Keywords – The main issues, topics and subjects covered by a particular web page.

Meta Title – The title of a website page, enclosed in a special HTML tag within the header section of the page. The Meta Title is what appears in search engine results, and displays at the top of a user’s browser window when they visit that page.

Negative Keyword – A term specified by an advertiser telling Google AdWords that they do not want their ad to appear when someone Googles that term. For example, if you add the Negative Keyword “-nike” to the keyword “running shoes”, the ad will not be displayed if a person searches upon the term “nike running shoes”.

– A way to link to another website that you do not want pass SEO credit to. Do not ever use nofollow when linking to internal pages in your website. Use it when linking to external websites and pages that you don’t want to endorse.

Organic SEO – Organic SEO returns results that are generated naturally by a search engine. Organic search results are distinguishable from SEM which primarily focuses on PPC.

PPC (Pay-Per-Click) – Advertising method in which an advertiser puts an ad in an online advertising venue and pays that venue each time a visitor clicks on his/her ad. Google AdWords is the classic example of this.

Query – A Keyword or phrase entered into a search engine or database.

Redirect – Where the internet user is automatically taken to another web page address without clicking on anything. These are commonly used when a site moves from one domain to another.

Referrer – Another website with a link to your website that delivered a visitor to you.

Referrer String – A piece of information sent by an internet user when they navigate to your website from somewhere else on the internet. It includes information on where they came from previously, which helps webmasters understand how users are finding their website. Consider adding a referrer string whenever you run a promotion on any other website(s). Also use Referrer Strings to track traffic from your social media channels.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – Strategies and tactics undertaken to increase the amount and quality of leads generated by the search engines. SEM strategies almost always involve marketing cost/expense.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – A set of techniques to improve a website’s stature and presentation in a search engine’s index. Many SEO best practices can be utilized without incurring any costs.

Search Engine Results Page (SERP) – The listing of results returned by a search engine in response to a Keyword Query. If you show up in a search for “Boston Checking Accounts” as result #28, your SERP score for that Keyword is 3 because you fall on Page 3 of the results (assuming 10 results per page).

Sitemap – A special document created by a webmaster providing a map of all the pages on a website to make it easier for a search engine to Index that website.

Spider – A program deployed by search engines that browses the internet and collects information about websites as they jump from one link to the next. Google’s web Spider is called Googlebot.


Subscribe TodayTitle Tag – The text seen by a website visitor when they hover their mouse over one of your images. (Compare to Alt Tag.) Alt Tags are displayed when an image can’t be found or loaded, while Title Tags provide website visitors with additional information about the image or what they can expect if they click on it (e.g., “Click here to enlarge image,” or “Apply for your loan today!”).

Trackback – When a blog links to another blog, a trackback is a notification sent between the two blogs.

Traffic Rank – The ranking of how much traffic your site gets compared to all other sites on the internet. You can check your traffic rank on Alexa.

Unique Visitor – A count of individual users who have accessed your web site. If a visitor comes to a web site and clicks on 100 links, it is still only counted as one unique Visit. (Compare with Visit.)

URL – The web address of a page on your site (example: www.yoursite.com/contact). A URL (Universal Resource Locator) is the address of documents and resources on the internet. Most search engines look for the keywords in the domain name, folder name and page name. Keywords should be separated by hyphens. Example: http://www.keyword1.com/keyword2-keyword3.html

Visit – A common website traffic tracking metric measuring an internet user’s single session on your website — starting from the instant they first load your site and ending when they leave. During a user session any number of pages may be accessed.

301 Redirect – A way to make one web page redirect the visitor to another page. Whenever you change the web address of a page, apply a 301 redirect to make the old address point to the new one. This ensures that people who have linked to or bookmarked the old address will automatically get to the new one, and search engines can update their index.

302 Redirect – A “found” message. Also referred to as a “temporary redirect.” This form of redirection is commonly used when a URL has been moved to a different location, but will be returning to the original location eventually.

400 Bad Request – The server is not able to understand the document request due to a malformed syntax.

401 Unauthorized – The server requests user authentication (usually a password) before allowing you to load the web page.

403 Forbidden – A “forbidden” message delivered by a web server. Prevents access to a URL and displays the reason for preventing access.

404 Not Found – The server can’t find the page you are asking for.

500 Error – This usually means the website has crashed.

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