If you've got a website, the chances are you'll have heard the term 'search engine optimisation' before. With online competition fiercer than ever, search engine optimisation is absolutely vital. But do you know exactly what it means and what is involved? If not, don't worry; you're not alone! People across the globe are constantly asking a variety of questions about SEO and what it all means for them. We're here to answer all of the most commonly asked SEO questions, so fear not!
What are the most commonly asked SEO questions?
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimisation. In a nutshell, it's the most effective way of helping your website become more visible in organic search results on Google and the other search engines. There are a variety of search engine optimisation techniques (some legitimate, some less so) and these need to be utilised correctly when any website is set live. For example, ensuring that relevant keywords are frequently (but not excessively) used throughout a website will mean a greater potential for high search engine results. Similarly, making sure that the website doesn't come across as spammy or uses dodgy link-building techniques will again please Google and the other search engines.
There is far more to search engine optimisation than this of course, but this gives you some idea about what is involved.
What is the difference between paid and organic results and which is better?
Paid search results are the adverts that you see at the top or bottom of each page of search results. Advertisers pay Google, or any of the other search engines, to appear on these pages but have to pay keyword-specific amounts of money to appear there. The amount they pay is also dependent upon how frequently people click on the related links. Therefore, there isn't a guarantee that your advert will appear on the very first page. But for some, paid results (otherwise known as Pay-Per-Click) are a possible option if their keywords aren't competitive.
Organic results are those results that appear in search engine results after being put through an algorithm. These free results are solely based on how relevant the website is and how well the keywords have been optimised. Gaining Page 1 results in the organic listings is generally preferable over paying for paid results. However, some small and medium businesses find that Pay-Per-Click works well for them, so it is somewhat a matter of preference.
Read all about the differences between paid and organic results in our recent article, 'SEO or PPC; Which One Should You Use?'.
What are meta descriptions?
Meta descriptions are the pieces of text that appear below the link to your page in a search engine result. In a nutshell, it will tell people exactly what the page is about. It should be used as a way of encouraging people to click on the link and visit the website.
If utilised correctly, meta descriptions can be very effective. When writing a meta description, it's best to treat it like an advert. Not only do you need to include important keywords and write engaging copy; you also need to make it short but relevant.
Should my domain name include keywords?
This is a tricky one. Google has shown that it will at times prioritise domain names with relevant keywords in them. If your company name features that keyword, that's fine. But don't go buying a domain name that includes a keyword just for the sake of optimisation. This can often hurt your SEO, rather than help it. It's also worth trying to keep the domain name at a reasonable length. There is no point shoving tons of keywords into your domain name, as this will put Google off!
How many times should keywords be mentioned on a page?
Unfortunately, this isn't an easy answer. There is no definitive answer to this question; quite simply because that's the wrong way to look at SEO. Keywords should be placed naturally throughout the text content, not stuffed. When writing text content, you need to consider the reader and make it engaging, interesting and relevant. When doing so, keywords will often fall into place naturally, which is the best strategy you can undertake.
In essence, there is no specific 'keyword density' you should be aiming for. In fact, you should avoid using a keyword too many times, because it can result in penalisation due to 'keyword stuffing'. As long as the keyword(s) appears naturally, you'll be fine.
What is the difference between inbound and internal links?
Before we explain the difference, it's important to note that both types of link are valuable for your site's SEO. Inbound links are links that come to your website from others. With these, try and make sure that the website linking to yours is deemed a 'quality' site.
Internal links are links on a particular page of your website that link to another page on your site. These types of links are a very effective way of giving users easy navigation throughout your website. Not only do they increase the likelihood of users staying on the site, they also show Google your site is easy to use.
How many internal links should I have on each page of content?
Like keywords, there is no definitive answer to this question. Similar to your keywords though, it's vital that you avoid 'stuffing' too many links into your text content. Ideally, you should only really include internal links naturally and when they improve the user's experience.
What is robots.txt?
Robots.txt is something that isn't always utilised by web design and search engine optimisation companies; but really should be. The robots.txt page is a page that tells the search engines, including Google, what pages on the website need to be crawled and indexed.
You can find this page by entering your domain name and then adding'/robots.txt' at the end of it.
What is the sitemap.xml file?
The sitemap.xml file is an index of each and every page on your website. Essentially, it's a quick reference for Google and the other search engines of all the content that you want indexed. Therefore, it's worth making sure that any new pages that are added to your website are also added to your sitemap.xml file.
Indexed and crawled; what is the difference?
Quite simply, when search engines look through the content on any website, this method is known as 'crawling'. As Google and the other search engines crawl your website, they 'index' any content that will appear in the search engine result pages (SERP).
One important thing to remember though, is that not all website content is indexed. Google and the other search engines will pick what content they will and won't index as they go through the site.
Is there any way of seeing which pages are indexed?
Yes, you can. Just go to Google, or any of the other search engines, and type in 'site:www.yourdomainhere.co.uk'. This will show you every single page on your website that is currently being indexed by the search engine.
What are alt tags and are they needed?
Alt tags are tags that are added to any images on a website to tell the search engines what the images are about. After all, the search engines cannot read images, but they can read text! Plus, if a page doesn't load for any reason, users can still find out what the image is about by reading the alt tag.
Also, visually impaired visitors that use screen readers are therefore able to find out what an image is about by having the alt tag read out to them.
How long does it take to see results from SEO?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to search engine optimisation. With competition online increasing exponentially, website owners are more keen than ever to see instant results from their SEO.
However, it must be stated that these things don't happen overnight. If you've got a small website that has only just gone live, it could take weeks, if not a month, for you to start seeing any results. While a large site could see results more quickly, especially if search engines are crawling the site regularly, results could also take time if the site, or domain name, is brand new.
To give you some perspective, there are various factors that could determine how quickly you will start seeing results. These include:
- The quality of the content
- How much content is created
- How the content resonates with your audience
- Whether your domain has a strong or weak authority
Should I carry out SEO myself?
While you don't need to know how to code for every element of search engine optimisation, there's far more to it than you'd think. Unless you have experience with SEO, or have carried it out before, it's not advisable to carry it out yourself. With Google's algorithms changing all the time, it would be too difficult, and time consuming, for a small or medium business owner to carry out their own SEO.
If I don't do it myself, who should I hire to carry out SEO for me?
Hiring someone to carry out your SEO for you can be very helpful, but you need to make sure that you hire the right company. There are so many companies out there that promise instant results but can't actually guarantee them. There are also other companies that use dodgy or 'black-hat' SEO techniques. These will generate decent results, to begin with, but once Google cottons on to what they're doing, they will then be punished.
The best thing you can do is carry out some research on the potential SEO companies you're considering. Find out about their successes. Do they have any testimonials from happy clients? Are they honest? How long have they been specialising in search engine optimisation? You could even carry out searches to find out if what they say is true!
Also, if they promise the earth instantly, leave them well alone!
All the most commonly asked SEO questions answered!
The above are the most commonly asked SEO questions internet users need to know the answers to. Now you know more about search engine optimisation, you have everything you need to make a more informed decision about whether to have SEO carried out on your website.
At the end of the day, your website is one of the most vital forms of marketing your business. So, it is essential that you hire the right SEO professional that knows how to correctly and effectively optimise your website. At the Smart Domain Group, we specialise in comprehensive search engine optimisation techniques that are proven to get results. We never guarantee instant Page 1 results (no genuine SEO company can), but unlike some others, we only ever use white-hat, or Google approved, techniques to generate good results for our clients.
- Search Engine Optimisation,