Still unsure about investing in SEO? Still in the dark about what it involves? Or adamant that you won’t see results? In this post we’ve collated 10 frequently asked questions about SEO, and answered them, to help you get your head around SEO and learn why it’s important for your business.
1. How long does it take to see results from SEO?
SEO isn’t a quick, one-time activity. And no SEO professional can predict how quickly or successfully a website will rank in the search engines. The process takes time, trial and error and the speed of improvement depends on several factors. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Your website’s performance (loading speed, keyword optimisation, usability etc.)
- How regularly your website is updated
- The size of your website
- The age of your website
- The competition
- The amount of content posted on and off-site
2. What is on-site SEO?
On-site SEO is the process of making various improvements to your website to help enhance its usability and its authority in the search engines. The primary aim of on-site optimisation is to improve the relevance of your website to help users and search engines more easily understand its content. The process involves a combination of techniques which include:
- Optimising content with relevant keywords
- Optimising page titles and meta tags with keywords
- Checking page load speeds
- Creating sitemaps
- Adding alt tags to images
- Linking between pages
3. What are backlinks and how do they help with SEO?
When other websites and blogs link to your website, these links are called backlinks. They play a very important role in SEO as Google and other search engines regard them as ‘votes’ or signs of approval for your website. And yet, getting more backlinks to your website doesn’t necessarily mean a better ranking. Links from high quality websites carry more SEO juice whereas links from low quality sites can harm your SEO and yet, too many or too few of either could have a negative effect.
Essentially, the search engines hold a diversity of links in high regard and thus, creating and maintaining a strong a varied, healthy backlink profile is key in SEO.
4. What is Page Rank?
Page Rank is the metric that Google’s search engine algorithms use to determine the authority of a website. Nobody knows exactly how PR is measured other than it uses a formula of backlinks, age, content, quality, speed and usability among many other factors. The metric plays an important role in positioning your website in search results for your keywords.
5. Why should I continue with SEO after I’ve achieved good rankings?
Achieving great rankings in the search engines is only half the battle. As competition is constantly on the increase and search engines are changing their algorithms all the time, your rankings are never stable. Therefore, maintaining your website’s visibility is just as important as improving it and this process required continuous monitoring and updating. If you discontinue SEO after achieving a good standing then you could see your rankings drop significantly, fairly quickly.
Essentially, SEO is an ongoing process that needs topping up, just like the petrol in a car.
6. What’s the difference between organic and paid results in search engines?
Organic results are those which are chosen and displayed by the search engines’ algorithms. These take up most of the space in search results. In comparison, paid results are the results which appear above and to the side of organic results. These results are designed on an advertising platform, with advertisers bidding for a good spot. When the links are clicked, the advertisers must pay – hence the name Pay Per Click advertising.
PPC campaigns can work well in combination with organic SEO. And they are especially helpful for targeting keywords that are struggling to rank organically or when there is a need to drive instant traffic to your website.
7. Why are keywords important and how many should be used?
Including relevant keywords on your website is very important for helping the search engines to understand what your website is about. Using too little keywords could limit your success in the search engines but using too many could be seen as spammy and in turn, harm your rankings. There is no optimum density for keyword implementation but the best practice is to write content naturally, including keywords only where they make sense.
8. Why is it important to add alt tags to images?
An alt tag is a snippet of HTML coding attached to an image. Every image on your website should be attributed with an alt tag that includes keywords to describe your image. This is important both for usability and SEO. If a user cannot see an image on your website due to their browser disabling images, a slow connection or because they’re viewing in text-only mode then an alt tag helps them to understand the content of the page.
Additionally, search engines cannot interpret graphic content but can read alt tags. By attributing all your website images with relevant alt tags, you can help the search engines to better understand the content of your website and rank you more appropriately. Importantly, keywords should only be used naturally and where relevant.
9. How has SEO changed over the past 5 years? Do ‘old’ techniques such as link building, blogging and keywords still work?
Answering this question would take an essay – or three. But if we were to pick out the most significant change in SEO over the past 5 years then it would be the increased importance of quality content. SEO is no longer the detached, technical environment that it once was but now a process that works co-operatively with the online audience.
Link building, keywords and blogging are all still very important in SEO but they are no longer techniques carried out for the sole purpose of improving a website’s standing in the search engines:
- Link building has become content marketing – the practice of reaching out to relevant platforms, making relationships, sharing valuable content and gaining traffic.
- Keyword stuffing is a spammy practice – it’s important that content is written to be readable, with keywords appearing in copy naturally.
- Blogging is no longer just a means of keeping your website regularly updated – it’s a platform for inbound marketing; an opportunity to create content for sharing on social media and another way to direct traffic to your website.
Essentially, SEO has become less about writing to the robots and more about writing to humans. The better the quality of your content both on and off your website then the better your chances of it getting seen, being shared and driving relevant traffic to your site.
10. What is the most effective SEO tactic for link building in 2014?
Despite Matt Cutts dropping what many thought was a bombshell about the death of guest blogging earlier this year, what he actually did was reinforce what would guide the future of SEO. Guest blogging is not dead but actually still one of the most important link building tactics in 2014.
And yet, as touched on in the previous answer, guest blogging isn’t what it once was. It’s now less a link building tactic than a content marketing technique. Successful guest blogging is about effort, relevance, relationships and value. It’s about improving your website’s visibility in front of your audiences. In 2014, we would say that the most effective SEO tactic is setting out to please your readers on quality platforms and letting the link love roll in naturally.
Read more about why guest blogging is still effective in our post: Why Guest Blogging is Not Dead.
Thanks for all of your question contributions.