The 20 Most Common SEO Questions Answered
As people’s accessibility to high-speed internet grows, and businesses increasingly recognise the importance of their website as their digital shop window, it is no surprise that more and more people are asking questions about Search Engine Optimisation and how it works. As experts in SEO, we get to speak to a lot of clients who ask a lot of questions, so we thought we would list the top 20 most popular questions and their answers.
1) What is a search engine algorithm?
The algorithm is a means by which search engines rank web pages in their results. An algorithm is used so that they can include multiple factors in their ranking, and weight those rankings accordingly. Google’s algorithm comprises of more than 200 signals and is a closely guarded secret!
2) How do I pick between SEO and PPC?
Broadly speaking SEO is a longer-term investment in your website, and PPC is a short-term advertising tool. But your business will have short-term (e.g. promotional) and long-term (e.g. product development) goals, so you should use a combination of SEO and PPC to maximise results.
3) Why am I not ranked at number one?
It is really difficult one to answer as there are so many factors which will affect your SEO success: are your target keywords correct for your business; what is the competition for this keyword; is your site content right; etc. Our recommendation is to focus on your own website and optimise that first, and then start worrying about the competition. Get the user experience right, and SEO nirvana will follow.
4) How do I pick my keywords?
The selection of target keywords is one of the most important parts of your SEO campaign. You should start by asking some customers what search terms they use – these might be different from what you expected! You should also use Google’s keyword tool which sits within AdWords: it helps with keyword ideas and can give you an idea of how competitive they are.
5) Should I have a blog?
Yes, you should! Blogs are a great way of updating your website, giving people a reason to keep checking back on your site, giving you something to talk about on social media, and if written well and properly optimised, they can massively benefit you from an SEO perspective.
6) What is a good blog post length?
Kind of depends! There are places for all sorts of blog post lengths. If you are sharing someone else’s work, a short post introducing the blog would suffice, but if you are trying to generate some SEO value, your post should probably be between 800 and 1500 words. But never write with SEO in mind – write with the person reading the blog in mind.
7) Can I copy product descriptions from another site?
Even though you may be selling the same product as another website, you should definitely not copy someone else’s product descriptions. You are exposing yourself to a duplicate content issue with the Google Panda update, and it’s not selling to your specific audience. Write your own!
8) As reviews are important, how can I get more?
The best way is just to ask people to review. Most will appreciate being asked for their opinion, but they may well want to post it on the platform where they normally post reviews. So, make sure that you have a presence on a number of review websites relevant to your industry so that people can feedback where they want.
9) Link-building is dodgy, right?
No! But the rules around link building are changing all the time, so we really recommend that you work with an SEO professional to avoid inadvertently doing something that a search engine would frown upon.
10) I’ve got some spammy links: how do I get rid of them?
We won’t ask how you got these links…! You should firstly ask the webmaster of the site where the link sits, and if that doesn’t work (and it won’t in every case), as a last resort and assuming you are using Google, you should use the Google Disavow Tool which will remove the influence of those links to your site.
11) How can I tell if my website has been penalised?
It is likely that you will notice a drop in website traffic and rankings if you track these metrics on a regular basis. You should check Google Webmaster Tools on a regular basis for any potential Manual Actions. We also recommend checking the Moz Google Algorithm Change History which records major Google algorithm updates affecting search. If an update corresponds to the time your sites search visibility was impacted chances are this could be the reason.
12) I want to optimise for multiple locations – how do I do it?
The best way to optimise for a location is to have your business based there, but that is not always possible. Any additional locations that you want to prioritise should genuinely be a priority, not just aiming to optimise everywhere. If you have a list of target locations, prioritise them and start from the top of your list by creating content on your website all about that location and that location only. This strategy works well for Nationwide companies with offices/branches in different cities.
13) How do search engines read images?
There are certain industries which rely on good rankings of their images, as this is how the audience find their products, e.g. fashion, interior design, etc. Search engines use ‘alt tags’ to understand what the image is about, so make sure your images are accurately and succinctly described. It won’t be long before search engines can recognise images from the image alone, but alt tags are still likely to play a role.
14) Do meta descriptions matter?
From actually generating SEO value, no they don’t. But when your web page is displayed in search results, it is the meta title and meta description which are displayed, so they still play an important role in encouraging the user to click on your link.
15) Can I do SEO myself?
There are some elements of SEO which you can do yourself, like blog writing and optimising your page structure. But unless you are prepared to devote yourself to keeping abreast of SEO developments, you should hire a professional to make sure that you are doing the right thing to avoid potential penalties.
16) How quickly can I get to see results?
It can take some time to see SEO results. This can vary from a few days to a few weeks, and when you are looking for the impact of your SEO work, remember that your competition are probably doing the same – don’t be impatient, SEO is a long-term investment.
17) What is a search engine spider?
Not as creepy as it sounds…! Search engine spiders go from page to page across the web by following links, both internal and inbound. In their journey, the spiders are picking up all sorts of information about the pages so that they can feed this information into the results of a search engine query.
18) Do I need SEO?
It depends on your website is all about. If you are running a private blog, then no, you are not worried about your blog not being found. But if you are running a commercial website, then absolutely you should – you want your website to be found by your audience as quickly and easily as possible.
19) What’s the most important element of SEO?
There are over 200 factors which search engines take into account when ranking a website, so it’s difficult to pick out the most important. You should try to find the one factor for your site which needs improvement and focus on fixing that. Start with your on-page content and structure, then worry about the rest. The most important factor is the one you’re not great at yet or haven’t yet focused on!
20) What’s the future of SEO?
- Mobile – people are searching using mobile devices more and more
- Personalisation – with increasingly sophisticated consumers, personalisation is fast becoming an expectation, not a wow moment
- User experience – to improve their search results, search engines will start to understand user behaviour on site, e.g. time on site, pages / visits
- Multimedia – content marketers need to work harder and harder to attract customers attention, so the use of new media tools will fast become a challenge for the search engines (and SEO specialists!)
What are the SEO questions that you are asked all the time? Leave a comment, let us know, and don’t forget your answer too!