50 Essential SEO Terms Financial Marketers Should 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’s CPC (Cost Per Click) model for text-based advertising in its search engine. The amount an advertiser bids determines their ad’s relative position within the paid search results, and also factors users’ Click Through Rate (CTR) on the ad.

Alexa – A search service which measures website traffic.

Algorithm – A mathematical set of rules that a search engine uses to rank listings in response to a query. Search engines guard their algorithms closely, as they are the unique formulas used to determine relevancy.

Alt Tag or Alt Attribute – A description of an image in your site’s HTML. This is alternate text that will be displayed by a browser when an image can’t be found or loaded. Search engines and blind people rely heavily on Alt Tags. Add ALT text to images whenever possible. (Compare to Title Tag.)

Anchor Text – Text that is linked to a web page. This text is often a different color than the rest of the copy on a website and is commonly underlined, or purple if you’ve visited the link in the past. Anchor text helps search engines understand what the destination page is about; it describes what you will see if you click through.

Authority – An arbitrary score assigned by search engines to measure the power, relevancy, stature and credibility of websites. Common factors used to calculate site and page Authority includes inbound links, site age, traffic trends and a constant stream of unique, quality content.

Read More: Search Engine Marketing: 12 Common Mistakes Financial Marketers Make


Back Link – A link to your website from another site. The number and quality of backlinks have a big impact on your search engine ranking. See also, “Inbound Link.”

Broken Link – A hyperlink which is not functioning, or a link that does not lead to the desired location. Most websites have some broken links, but if there are too many it can indicate poor content, poor upkeep of the site, or both. Too many broken links may cause search engines to rank a page (or even an entire website) as being less relevant.


CPC – Acronym for Cost Per Click. Can be calculated one of two ways: 1) by taking the cost of an online campaign and dividing by the total number of clicks it ultimately generates; 2) In some situations, the CPC may be an amount charged by a search engine for each click they send to your website as part of a paid search (SEM) promotion.

Click Through Rate (CTR) – The percentage of those clicking on a link out of the total number who see the link. For example, your site might show up in 10 separate searches and get clicked three times = a 30% CTR.

Content Management System (CMS) – A web application used to manage web sites and web content. Popular blogging platform WordPress is a CMS.

Conversion Rate – The percentage of site visitors who performed a specific desired action after landing on one of your pages. Example: 100 visitors land on your web page offer a newsletter subscription and one person signs up = a 1% Conversion Rate.


Favicon – A small icon which appears next to URLs in a web browser. If you look at the URL in your browser window above, you’ll see a 16×16 pixel red square with the letters “FB” in it (for “The Financial Brand”); that is this site’s favicon.


Inbound Link – A link from one site into another. Links from other sites with high search Authority will improve your SEO.

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.

Read More: 50 Of The Most Spectacular Website Designs In Banking


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”.

Nofollow – 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.

Read More: Responsive Web Design For Financial Institutions: Fad Or Strategy?


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.

Read More: 10 Tips To Drive More Online Applications


Title 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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