Search Engine Optimization Experts can be like the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz. Scary until you find out who they are and what they can do for you. Below is a list of questions I am asked nearly every day by my cleints, hopefully this can answer a few of the questions you have regarding SEO.
- What does SEO stand for?
SEO means different things to different people, but the acronym SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
- What is SEO?
Defining SEO five years ago would have been a far easier task than it is today. Five years ago there was a relative road map for what SEO needed to be done to boost a website to the top rankings. Today, that road map is closer to a treasure map, where you have a giant X on where you want to go, but the process to get there is only marked with a few landmarks. Another way to look at SEO is, the art of doing anything and everything to build the relevance of a website in the Internet sphere, resulting in top rankings in the search engine result pages.
- How come my website is not ranked #1 in Google? or why can’t I find my website in Google search results?
There are a couple hundred reasons why your website might not rank in the search engines, to answer for your specific website I would need to review it in detail. However, generally speaking:
- If you can find your website, but not in the top spots of Google then the likely result is not enough time/resources spent on SEO. Seek out an SEO expert that can guide you through the steps to achieve first page rankings.
- If you cannot find your website at all then the likely result is you have not spent any time on SEO. Start with the basics and validate your website with the major search engines, from there you will likely notice that you rank for some long tail keywords, before you start ranking for general keywords. Certainly an SEO expert would be a wise investment at this time.
- Why am I #1 all the time when I search but when my friends search for me they cannot find me?
This is most likely the result of personalized search by Google. If you have this enabled, Google has learned what sites you prefer and shows those at the top of your results. Try signing out of Google in the top right corner before conducting a search. Also make sure that everyone is typing in the word the same way. You can get drastically different results searching for a word with or without quotes, or with minor spelling changes.
- With SEO, when will we see results?
Unfortunately, the only way to answer this question is to say ‘It Depends’ That being said, if it depends, what are some of the factors that influence when my site will rank. Here are a few of my favorites.
What keywords should I use?
- How old is your website? Older sites (5+ years) tend to have seniority as an influence in their results, thus they tend to rank higher.
- Does your website have relevant content for the words you are seeking to rank for? If your site only sells ‘red widgets’ and you are trying to rank for ‘blue widgets’ this is a lost cause. Try building valuable content specific to the keywords you are trying to rank for.
- What is the competition level for your business? What word would you use to find your business, besides your business name, or website name. Take that word and type it into Google and search. Once the search is complete, look in the top right corner, the number that displays is the amount of competition for that keyword. Are there millions of web pages competing for that term or only a handful?
- Last but not least is effort. Effort, like anything means the difference between the best in the world, and those that simply pick up the scraps. I meet with clients every day, and we spell out a road map to SEO success. Some clients leave everything to us, and we build and promote their website with great success. Other clients due to budget restraints or desire to prove they can do it, decide they want to help us in the SEO process. These same clients leave the office pumped up that they are going to do X, Y and Z to boost their rankings. Then 3 months down the road, not only have they not done X, Y and Z, they have lost the potential revenue that could have been generated by increased rankings as a result of X, Y and Z. End result, if you do not have the time, or knowledge to put into SEO, let a professional do it for you.
I cannot overstate this enough to clients, the keywords you select have a direct impact on your rankings and on your website traffic. Let’s say for this example, we are a lawyer in San Diego, California specializing in DUI cases. What type of keywords would you select? If you are selecting global keywords like “DUI Lawyer” you are barking up the wrong tree. You need to narrow your focus to ensure that you can rank for the word, but also that the business you generate is valuable. Let’s say you put in a large amount of money into SEO that would be required so you could rank for “DUI Lawyer” Now that you rank well, when people in New York search for DUI Lawyer, they find your business. Is this good or bad? Bad would be the correct answer. What value are you to a client in New York if you cannot represent them? You are better off selecting better keywords in the beginning, and spending your money on keywords like “DUI Lawyer San Diego” which will take less time (read less money on SEO), and give you more relevant results specific to your business in your geographical location.
Can my website rank for iPhones?
Do you sell iPhones? Are you an Apple distributor? Do you support iPhones? Do you want to spend $50k every month on SEO? Those are just a few of the questions I would start off with. Just because something is popular, does not mean you can simply put up a website and start ranking for it. However, if you want to head down this road of selling or promoting popular products, the word you should Google is ‘Affiliate Marketing.’ Affiliate marketing allows you to promote other peoples products, and when they make a sale because of a lead you generated, then you get a kick back.
Can we rank for every single keyword related to my business?
The short answer is yes, but it is going to take time. Generally speaking, for every page on your website, if it has at least 750 words on it, you can use that page for 2-3 keywords. If the page has fewer than 750 words, then you need to scale back your expectations on the number of keywords you can rank for from that page. Beyond that it is pretty much simple math, if you want to rank for 300 keywords, then you need to start with 100 pages of unique content specific to the keywords you wish to rank for. While you are building the content, be sure to focus on SEO so you can ensure you pages pack a punch in the search engines. Learn more about How to write valuable content for your website.
How much does SEO cost?
Well, let me turn this question and ask you how much does a house cost? Before you could answer how much a house would cost you would need more information, the same is true for SEO. To carry the anology further, the questions you would want to know are what type of house do you want (products/services do you sell), what type of construction materials were used to build the house (how the website is coded), what city/state do you want to live in ( what is the competition level for your business) and finally how soon do you want to move in (how so do you need your website to rank ). Having those few items defined makes it is far easier to determine what type of SEO package you need for your website, along with what type of ongoing expense is needed to ensure you get top rankings.
Why is SEO so expensive?
For the same reason that cars and houses so expensive. As fundamental as it sounds is SEO takes lots of time, resources and work to build website rankings in search engines. Often clients spend a large portion of their budget building a website, getting the perfect design and layout, which is great but the end result is none of that effort actually brings in business or generates traffic. SEO on the other hand, while it can be expensive actually makes your business money and generates traffic. The expense of SEO and SEM is eventually out weighed by the profit it generates. The key thing to remember, is the first year of SEO can often be frustrating because you are not seeing the top rankings, you need to keep in mind that top rankings take time, so your investment like a house is long term.
How long does it take to get indexed by Google?
With a properly SEO’d website, Google and the other major search engines can index your website within days or weeks. However, without SEO your website may never rank.
How do I submit my new site to Google/Bing/Yahoo etc.?
In modern SEO times, we do not submit websites to the major search engines. Currently, rather than submitting a website, you need to create an account with the major search engines, then the search engines provide some verification files for you to upload to your website. Once you verify that you are the owner, you can also submit your XML sitemap giving the search engines a few clues on where your website pages are located. Learn how to use Google’s Free SEO tools.
How do I submit to 1000 search engines at the same time?
There are hundreds of companies on the web offering to do this service for a very few dollars. They have automated scripts that submit your site for you. Then end result is these companies are nothing but spam services, they know that you have no way to prove if they did or did not submit your websites. Also, even if they do submit your website their is no guarantee you will be listed. Your better off spending your time/money building valuable content, rather than trying to find a way to spam the search engines.
Do I need an XML sitemap?
Yes, XML sitemaps allow search engines to find the pages of your website. That being said, with a well constructed/SEO’d website the need for an XML sitemap becomes less and less.
Do I need unique meta tags for my website?
Just like chapters in a book, each page of your website should have a unique meta tag title and description. This information is reviewed by search engines, and display in their search engine result pages. Well written meta tags can help you rank for your chosen keywords, and ensure you get clicks once you rank for those keywords. Learn more about How to Build Meta Tags.
Do I need a high PageRank for SEO?
No, the little green bar that Google has in their tool bar is often out of date, and not an accurate representation of how your website should rank. Often websites have top rankings, but only a 1 or 2 for their page rank in the tool bar.
What is linkbait?
Linkbait is a method of building content for your website that entices users to link to it. One of the original forms of linkbait was free video games. Websites would build a fun, addictive little game for their website, and then people would link to it so their friends could also visit the pages to find the game. Linkbait has now evolved into everything from putting videos, promotions, valuable written content, etc on your website all in an effort to build links to particular pages on their website. This article itself is an example of link bait.
I get asked this question in many forms, but the general message is the same.
Can’t my niece, nephew, brother, sister-in-law, intern, friend of a friend, etc who is a graphic designer, web developer, computer programmer, Dreamweaver expert, etc do the SEO for my website?
My guess is that person can also cook, but would they be in the kitchen of a fine dinning restaurant? There is a reason for using a professional for certain tasks, and SEO is no different. You would not want your brother to build you a house simply because he knows how to use a hammer. With SEO, unless you are constantly staying up with the trends, and changes in the industry, having someone other than a professional perform SEO services is asking for trouble.
Why should I outsource my SEO?
Unless you have a competent in house SEO, your better off using a company that can give your SEO campaign the attention it deserves. You most likely contracted to have your website built by someone other than an employee of your company. SEO should be no different. Just because you read a few stories on the internet about SEO, does not mean you are qualified to manage the SEO campaign for your business. Remember, SEO is one of the few online tools that actually generate business, just like sales staff you don’t want just anyone trying to make or break your businesses success, you want the right person for the job.
Is SEO designed for search engines not humans?
Some people assume that SEO is designed to ‘game’ the system so that your website can outrank the competition. It is actually just the opposite, search engines give you good rankings when you give consumers good information, resources, tools, products, services, etc. If you build for the consumer, the search engines will come.
Is buying links, hidden text, IP delivery etc. black hat SEO?
Those are a few of the ‘black hat’ SEO techniques that have been used by some SEO companies. Depending on the degree and frequency you use them will determine the affect on your website ranking. My suggestion is to avoid them all together. If you cheat on a test you may not get caught today, but eventually it will catch up to you.
Is black hat SEO legal?
No one is in jail because they used ‘black hat’ SEO. At the same time, the sites that have been caught no longer display in the search engine rankings. So ask yourself how important short term gains are from using ‘black hat’ methods, compared to the long term success of your business.
Does the size of your website matter?
Yes, to some degree it does but not as much as it used to. Years ago, websites that had over 100 pages tended to rank better than websites with less than 100. In modern SEO, the quality of your content has more of a reflection on your rankings than does the quantity of the pages on your website.
Do you still have more questions regarding SEO? Add them to the comment section below, who knows you question may be added to the SEO FAQ!