Frequently Asked Questions About SEO

What is SEO?

The set of changes to & about a website which seeks to increase the amount & qualitative nature of visitors to that websites via the organic search results of search engines.

What’s the difference between organic vs. paid results?

When Google returns its search results, it produce two types of results: organic results and paid results. Organic search results most closely match the user’s search query based on relevance as deciphered by Google’s search algorithm. Also known as natural search results, ranking well in organic results for relevant and valuable search terms is the goal of SEO.

Paid results are auction priced advertisements & are produced for as long as the advertiser’s budget lasts relative to the cost per click they have paid for their targeted search terms. If you want to dominate the search results for certain keywords in paid search, you need to be willing to pay more money for each click than your competitors are willing to pay.

People tend to avoid advertising if they can. Erudite search engine users know where ad are placed in the results page. They know that people have paid to show up in those positions. They are more likely to click on organic/natural/merit based search results. Paid search results are considered advertisers, whereas organic results are seen as trusted experts offering the best information relative to their search query.

What are meta descriptions and do they still matter?

Meta descriptions are technically HTML attributes that offer concise explanations of what a webpage is about. They can be used on search engine result pages to show a preview for a webpage. They are far less of a direct ranking signal as they once were (almost not at all these days) BUT they remain important because – when Google chose to use the suggested meta description – they are the effective ‘sales pitch’ to users to click on your webpage.

Should I optimize my domain name to include keywords?

After Google’s Exact Match Domain update, the importance of having the exact keyword in your domain name is far less important. Try to pick the best available domain name first & consider keyword matching/partial inclusion as a bonus but entirely unnecessary aspect of your final choice. Very much a nice to have not a need to have…

How do I know when I’m using the right number of keywords on a page?

You don’t & can’t – the ideal is to write naturally – to a human reader – writing by numbers has largely been usurped by Google algorithm changes of the recent past. In the word’s of Matt Cutts, formerly Google’s Head of Webspam, “write for users not search engines”.

What’s the difference between internal and inbound links?

Apart from the obvious – they are treated differently by Google with external links carrying more direct ranking influence. Having said that internal links are an important component in assisting the GoogleBot to navigate your website efficiently.

How many internal links do I need on each page of content?

Internal links help Google establish site architecture and relative intra-site importance of webpages. For this reason, you should have internal links both on a site-wide & on-page, in-content basis. The actual number of internal links per page will vary & depend on the utility offered to users (once again).

Do I need to know code to do SEO myself?

It obviously helps to know some basic coding but the majority of modern SEO, especially on a CMS such as WordPress, is achievable without specialist coding knowledge of any variety.

What is robots.txt?

The robots exclusion standard or robots.txt, is a standard used by websites to communicate with web crawlers and robots. It specifies which areas of the website should not be processed. Not all robots cooperate with robots.txt; namely: email harvesters, spambots, malware, and robots which scan for security vulnerabilities.

What is the sitemap.xml file?

An XML file that lists the URLs of a website. Where robots.txt is a robot exclusion standard; Sitemaps are a robot inclusion standard – that is mapping out crawl-able pages, posts & media of a website.

How can I see what pages are indexed?

Google [site:] plus yourdomain.com to get an estimated count of the number of indexed pages for your domain. Use the root domain & exclude “www” in your search.

Why do you need alt text on your images?

Alt text describes to Google what image is showing, allowing them to give users more appropriate results from an image search.

How long does it take to see results from SEO?

Most SEO firms will tell claim it takes 4 to 6 months to start seeing results. It varies wildly but that’s generally in the ballpark for most projects. Note that SEO results are cumulative & escalate over time. If you’re getting positive results after 6 months these will compound after 12 months & re-compound thereafter. The most profitable relationships I’ve entered into with businesses have lasted for over 5 years during which time their fortunes have literally exploded.

Should I hire someone to do my SEO?

Again depends – if you genuinely want to be the dominant player in your sector online (and in online search) & the value of being that dominant player is more than the cost of hiring someone to do your SEO on a year-to-year basis & you believe it is possible to attain that level of dominance then I’d say you should definitely consider it as one of three options open to you. The other being self-study & instructor led study into SEO.

What’s a good goal to set for your SEO?

Forward momentum in SERPs.

What about SEO has changed in the last few years?

Mobile devices have obviously exploded and Google has emphasized the optimizing websites for mobile users. By 2015 mobile search queries surpassed desktop ones – a seismic event in the evolution of search that can not be overstated in terms of significance. Optimizing for mobile devices is now nothing less than required. Its mobile-friendly ranking update came in two significant roll outs to date.

Content marketing is now part of a successful SEO strategy. Google has refined what it considers good content in recent years. It it now almost impossible to get away with any gimmicky content-based tactics, such as high quantity content without quality and substance. Search engines prefer those who produced the best, most valuable content, spawning the adoption of content marketing among SEOs — and content is still king today.

Google has worked to smash black-hat and spam-based link-building practices, penalizing link wheels, exchanges and paid links. In 2012 the Penguin update ushered in the link building reality we experience today. With it only natural link accumulation will gain your website & webpages authority.

There have been many minor changes to the layout of Search Engine Results Pages. Local and more location-specific searches have become more commonplace — especially on mobile devices.

Google Panda and Penguin stopped keyword stuffing in its tracks making it not just not ideal but counter productive.

Another major change in recent SEO is Google’s Knowledge Graph, which first emerged around 2012 – this has increased the focus on Schema.org microformatting making content more simply deliverable.

Between 2011 & 2015 Google released random, major updates to its organic search algorithm. But the search engine giant has attained a solid foundation, the importance and number of updates has decreased.

How can Social Media be used for SEO?

A variety of studies support the idea that Google incorporate social signals when ranking a webpage.

What is 301 redirect?
A 301 redirect tells search engine that a webpage has permanently moved to another url.