We receive a lot of questions on a daily basis from clients and prospective customers who want to learn more about optimizing their site and increasing their visibility online. So we figured it was the perfect time to compile those questions into a FAQ section to give you some short and sweet answers to your burning SEO questions.
Here are the 26 most frequently asked SEO questions:
1. Why is my traffic growing so unevenly/unpredictably?
Organic traffic is highly dependent on search rank and typically only spikes when your key terms hit the first page or land among the top few spots. If you work on content marketing or social media engagement, then you’ll occasionally see growth in organic traffic that rises and falls based on the popularity of the content you share.
2. What specific keywords are bringing users to my site?
Several years ago, Google removed the ability to see which keywords brought traffic to websites due to privacy concerns. To determine how people find you, we now use Google’s webmaster tools along with an analysis of the landing page’s target keywords.
3. What does “keyword reach” mean?
This refers to the number of keywords or key phrases that you appear under on the first 10 pages of Google’s search results.
4. Why does someone in <other location> see my site in a different position?
Google always tries to serve the most relevant content to every user. This includes factoring in the location of the user to provide them with more localized results. This prevents mishaps like a world-renowned Italian restaurant in Manhattan placing higher in the results of someone trying to find an Italian restaurant in their neighborhood.
5. How do I know the SEO will be effective?
Anything you do to optimize your website and improve your visibility online is going to have an impact and change your rank in the search results. Whether or not your efforts are effective will be dependent on your goals and the amount of work you put in.
There are no guarantees that any SEO techniques or strategies will be 100% effective, and it’s impossible to guarantee that your site will appear on the first page (or any page) of the search results.
6. How many key phrases can I target?
You can target an unlimited number of key phrases, but what ultimately matters most is your budget, the amount of content you have on your site, the words and phrases your audience searches for, and the returns you can get from targeting certain keywords.
Rather than targeting everything, we prefer to help you come up with a strategy to target a mix of competitive and highly searched keywords along with lower-hanging fruit that’s easier to rank for.
7. How will I know if the links you build are good?
Our strategy focuses on building high-quality links from authority sites that have never been penalized and practice good ethics when it comes to their own optimization. We never build links from or link to questionable sources that might negatively impact your rank.
8. Can I rank well by just having good, optimized content?
Having great, high value, and authoritative content is a start. Not only does it attract links from other sites, but it also establishes authority and relevancy for search phrases. Google loves to see high value, rich content on websites, but there are countless sites out there that already have great content. Links are still a major ranking factor in determining the trust and authority of websites.
9. Will linking to other sites dilute my site’s page rank?
On the contrary: linking out to authoritative and trusted sites will tell Google that you’re trying to enhance the experience of the user. The only time external links can really do harm is if you’re linking to bad, spammy sites that have been penalized in the past.
10. How long does it take to start seeing results from SEO efforts?
This can vary depending on how competitive a niche is, the amount of effort put in, quality and frequency of content, etc. Some sites might start seeing results within a week, while others may not see a significant increase in traffic for a few months.
11. Can I recover from a rank penalty?
It depends on the severity of the penalty. If the penalty was due to bad link-building, it can take time to disavow bad links and then you’ll likely need to wait for an algorithm update before the penalty is removed from your record.
12. Do paid ads in Google impact search rank at all?
Paid ads are just that: paid placements within the search results. No matter where your ads appear or what the content and performance of those ads are, they will never impact your search rank.
13. Do you optimize meta content on all pages?
Meta content doesn’t work the same way it used to. Search engines used to crawl meta content to help them understand the context and relevancy of a page to match up with a user’s search query. That’s no longer the case, meta content won’t impact your rank. With that said, users still read meta content, so you want it to be compelling and match their search intent.
14. Should I register a new domain that includes a keyword?
This isn’t a make or break issue, and it’s okay if your domain doesn’t include a keyword. Keywords should only be used in situations where they fit naturally, anyway. Stuffing keywords or using an exact match domain can actually have a negative impact.
15. How many keywords should I include on each page and blog post?
Keyword density isn’t as important anymore because there’s no right or wrong number. Instead of aiming to use a keyword a set number of times in your content, you should instead try to incorporate natural variations of the keyword on your pages. If you write naturally for your audience, then you’ll discover that optimization happens naturally as well.
16. Do I need a robots.txt file?
Every website should have a robots.txt file. It’s a text document that typically lists the pages and information that you do not want crawled on your site.
17. Should I have a sitemap file?
A sitemap is good to have, especially if your site has a lot of pages or deeper link structures. It’s like a table of contents for your site and makes it easier for search engines to index your webpages.
18. What SEO services are available?
SEO services vary depending on a business’ online needs, but they typically involve a review or audit of your website and its content, as well as its code and current backlinks. From there, we can develop a strategy that might include link-building, content creation, on-page optimization, design optimization, and more.
19. How much does SEO cost?
Because the amount of work varies from business to business, the actual cost of SEO also varies quite a bit. Overall, costs are based on the total work we predict will need to be done in order to help you reach your specific goals.
20. How is search engine rank determined?
Search engines use a program that crawls billions of websites daily. This initial crawl stores basic information about your website based on text, internal and external links, as well as other factors. When a user types a keyword or phrase into Google and clicks search, the algorithm quickly returns all the sites it found to be relevant. At the same time, it ranks these pages based on relevancy for the specific word or phrase that was searched for.
Here’s a great video from Google’s Head of Search, Matthew Cutts, on how search engines and the algorithm works:
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21. Why is my rank different between the different search engines?
Each search engine uses its own unique algorithm, so your search rank will vary depending on where someone is searching, as well as the phrases they use and their location, amongst other factors.
22. Can I pay for a top search position?
You cannot purchase any spot within organic search, since those spots are based on how the algorithm matches websites to users’ search queries. You can however, buy advertising through which you can get ads in the search results or other places like social media.
23. Why does my search rank change from one device to another?
You’re likely signed in to a browser on one of the devices. When you’re signed in to Google services, Google will try to personalize your search experience by tracking your actions. If you visit a site often, such as your own, it will move to the top of search because Google thinks it’s more relevant for you. If you log out of Google and clear your browser data, you should stop seeing these discontinuities between browsers or devices.
24. Do I need to optimize my business listing on Google?
Business listings in Google are mainly for assisting with local searches. If you’re a brick and mortar business or you want to improve your local presence, then a local business listing is certainly something you’ll want to start optimizing. However, just about any business can benefit from completing business listings online and optimizing them with rich data to improve organic visibility and user conversion.
25. What factors impact my search ranking?
Google takes over 200 different factors into consideration when determining the relevancy of your website’s content in relation to search words and phrases used by Google search users. Some of the major factors include:
- Backlinks to your website and the quality of those links
- Quality and quantity of content on your website, and the contextual relation between the category or theme of your site and the content published on it
- Age of your domain
- Freshness of content and how frequently that content is updated
- How quickly your site loads for visitors
- Mobile-friendly designs
26. What does “long tail” mean with keywords?
There are two types of keywords or key phrases: short or “head” keywords and longer phrases or “long tail” keywords. Head keywords are shorter phrases that have a fairly broad search intent. This means they’re used far more often and can return all kinds of results. A search for “tires” is a good example.
Long tail keywords are more specific and have a fairly focused intent, which means they’re used far less, but you understand exactly what the user is looking for. A phrase like “Firestone winter tires” is a more specific long tail keyword.
The terms “head” and “long tail” come from the shape on a chart. The left of a chart would have shorter keywords with high search volumes sitting at the top (like the head). As search queries grow longer and more specific, the volume drops until you have a long tail trailing off on the right side of the chart.
Do you have any SEO questions that we didn’t cover? Let us know about it in the comment section and we’ll get back to you (and add it to our growing list of frequently asked questions on SEO).