15 Questions about SEO answered

Jodie King

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I am the Content Marketing Manager at SEO Traffic Lab so I am knowledgeable about all things content. When I started this role I knew very little about SEO and I am still navigating my way to a better understanding of it now. This blog is intended to raise many of the questions I have had on my route to greater SEO appreciation and cover all the basics for anyone wanting to arm themselves with enough knowledge to pursue it further.
We meet plenty of people that have been sold unattainable SEO advantages, had their sites crippled by dodgy link buildings attempts and received penalties for being over optimised and applying old school cheats. SEO has moved on leaps and bounds in the past 6 months alone – it is a very fast paced digital marketing strand that needs treating with respect and incorporating into a larger marketing campaign to be successful.
So here are 15 questions answered to help navigate business owners through the world of SEO:

1) What is SEO?

Let’s cover this quickly because in all honestly SEO doesn’t always ring any bells with people. It has to be broken down to Search Engine Optimisation before the penny drops and that is fair enough – we can’t all be SEO whizzes. The term refers to the techniques that are used to make websites become more visible in organic search results. So people looking for your brand, product, or service in search engines like Google and Bing can access that information more easily ahead of that of your competitors.

2) What is the difference between organic and paid search results?

Organic results are free. They appear in search engine results without any cost to you and are determined by how algorithms assess your site. Paid, or inorganic, search results appear at the very top of search results or to one side of the page. These are links that advertisers offer you at a price so you can leapfrog the search results to prominent positions.

3) What are meta descriptions and do they matter?

A meta description is the text snippet that appears below your page title in a search engine result that explains what the page is about. Good meta descriptions can improve conversion rates by compelling readers to click on your link.
Meta descriptions are still as important today as they always have been. The main criteria for writing meta descriptions now is very different to when keywords were the main objective. They are no longer a place to optimise for keywords, emphasis now is on intelligent summaries that readers will find helpful and informative. They must be written by people for people, not bots.

4) Should I optimise my domain name with keywords?

You should not include keywords for the sake of including them. That kind of obvious levering in of a keyword just to increase page rank will end up hurting the site. Google webmaster guidelines are clear that keyword placement has to be natural and not forced. If your company name happens to contain a keyword then that is fine – don’t abuse this though.

5) What is the right number of keywords to use on a page?

Firstly, there is no right number of keywords and that is entirely the wrong way to think about it. There is no gauge for how many keywords you should place on a page because the focus should be on natural content – not keyword stuffing.
Using keywords too much will result in penalisation because the content will not read naturally and the keyword density will red flag search engines. Always keep the reader in mind and use keywords to enhance the search-ability of the page without compromising the integrity of the content.

6) Do I need to know code to do optimise my site for search engines?

There is no requirement to know how to code for ever aspect of search optimisation. Liaising with website developers can give you access to accomplish basic SEO. Optimising meta descriptions, internal links, on page keywords and local SEO are very beneficial and achievable without code expertise. You do need a basic understanding of code for advanced SEO tactics and if you are not entirely sure what you are doing then you should not be doing it.

7) What is the difference between internal and inbound links?

This is simple – once you know of course. Internal links are links on a page on your site that go to another page on your site. Inbound links are other websites that link to content on the pages of your site. They are both necessary for strong SEO.

8) How many internal links should there be on each page of content?

The same rule for keywords applies to internal links as well. Avoid stuffing them onto pages in an attempt to improve your SEO. Links should only be included when they improve/enhance the reader experience.

10) What is robots.txt?

A page that gives search engines direct information about the pages you wish to be indexed or crawled on your website. You find the robots.txt page by going to YOURDOMAIN/robots.txt.

11) What is the sitemap.xml file?

A file that indexes all of the pages on your site. It is a quick reference for search engines of all the content that you want to be indexed in a neat parcel for them to read instantly.

12) What is the difference between indexed and crawling?

It is pretty much how it sounds really. When the search engines are looking through the content on your website they are crawling it. As they crawl it they index content that they will pull out to appear in search results. Not all content will be indexed, search engines pick what they will and won’t index throughout the crawling process.

13) How do I see which of my pages have been indexed?

You can use a simple search operator command to find the pages on your site that have been indexed. Just type:
site: www.YOURDOMAIN.com

14) Why is alt text on images necessary?

Search engines cannot read images. They exclusively read text. The alt text gives search engines a good sense of what that image is. It also gives people a clue as to what the image is if for whatever reason it does not load properly.

15) How long does it take to see results from SEO?

This is the big question in our industry that is increasingly hard to answer. No SEO agency can guarantee you instant results because there’d are so many variables in play. There are several different factors that will determine how quickly (or slowly) results will come. This list includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • The amount of content you create and have on your pages
  • The quality of that content
  • How well that content resonates with it’s intended audience
  • How big or small your site it, your domain authority, and how long the site has been in existence

Larger sites tend to be crawled more regular increasing the chances of quick results whereas smaller sites tend to be crawled less often so results take longer to see.
You should not change your SEO strategy in the first month and ideally you will leave it three months before you write off your efforts to date. Patience is a virtue but good SEO practice will eventually be rewarded and the results can be astounding, particularly if you have been hurt by bad SEO in the past.
Please comment or get in touch with any SEO questions you want answering. We get email/comment straight back and then write another blog when we have enough questions and answers to do so.

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