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SEO: You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got Answers!

10 Questions All Businesses Have About SEO

When you’re just getting started, figuring out how to make search engine optimization (SEO) work for your business can seem overly complicated. Navigating through the best practices while avoiding the common pitfalls is enough to make your head spin.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

We’ve answered some of the top questions most businesses that are inexperienced with SEO have to help you gain a better understanding of how you can get the most out of your SEO efforts and start seeing results.

1. What Is SEO And Why Is It Important?

animated image of seo on a graph with traffic and hits

Animation created by Ruchira

SEO stands for search engine optimization and refers to the practice of optimizing your website content so that search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Bing will show it as a top result for searches of a certain keyword.

2. What Is the Difference Between Paid and Organic SEO?

Anytime someone searches for a particular keyword, search engines include two main sections: organic and sponsored results.

Companies can pay for their content to appear in the sponsored results section based on the number of people who click on the ad.

Meanwhile, the organic section is filled with results that show up naturally based on the strength of your SEO, without you having to pay a cent.

So while it can take a while for your website rank in the organic section, it does not cost you anything.

3. When Should I Start SEO?

animated images of the FonzThere’s no better time than now.

Some of the most successful websites have been doing SEO since the beginning. So, if you haven’t yet started SEO, now is the best time to take the leap.

Although SEO is a long-term commitment, it is one of the most inexpensive investments that will help you generate leads and reach your conversion goals. And what company doesn’t want more business?

4. How Long Does It Take to See Results from SEO Efforts?

SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.

How quickly you will see results from your SEO efforts is dependent on the following factors:

  • The quantity of content you create and how frequently you post
  • The quality of your content
  • How your content resonates with your audience
  • The size of your website and whether or not you have strong or weak domain authority

While larger websites can see results in a matter of days if search engines are crawling them regularly, smaller sites will typically take longer since they are crawled less frequently. Be patient and wait a week to a month before changing your SEO strategy. If you are brand new to the SEO game, wait a little bit longer.

5. What Role do Keywords Play?

In its simplest form, keywords are the words or phrases people type into a search engine when performing a search.

They can range from single words to longer, more complex phrases, and should be used in your website copy to help attract more organic search traffic.

With the right amount of research and optimization, keywords help to funnel your content directly to your target audience.

Essentially, they are searching for something specific, and you’re helping them land on your page to give them what they’re looking for.

6. What are Some Key SEO Factors?

Content Marketing

Creating quality, engaging content is no longer an option for businesses – it’s a necessity. The websites that are ranking the highest are the ones that are publishing relevant content on a regular basis.

In fact, content is one of the key components of an effective SEO strategy and should have a direct impact on how you market your business online.

That said, it’s not enough to churn out content for the sake of creating it, it has to be relevant, engaging, and have a real purpose for your audience. The golden rule is always quality over quantity.three people pointing at a laptop screen

On-Page Optimization

These are the measures that can be taken directly within your website to improve your position search rankings. Some of these measures include optimizing web content and improving your meta descriptions and title tags.

Local SEO

Also known as local search engine marketing, local SEO refers to optimizing your online presence in order to attract customers and clients from relevant local searches.

Think of when you carry out a search on Google for a restaurant that serves a certain type of cuisine. Google compiles a list of places matching your search criteria located near you, displays them in a boxed area, and shows their locations on a map. This is known as the “snack pack” results.

Read More: Locally Sourced SEO Success

Algorithm Changes

Similar to the recipe for Coca-Cola and KFC’s secret mix of spices, Google holds its search algorithm – the code that determines how search results are displayed – pretty close to the vest.

But unlike the Colonel’s famous fried chicken, Google’s recipe is constantly changing – with hundreds of minor algorithm updates per year – so it’s important to keep up to date with new developments to ensure that your site is constantly optimized.

E-A-T

animated graphic of a ribbon

Animation by Jake Williams

We’re not talking about lunch here. E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness, and refers to a broad core Google algorithm update that determines how search results are returned depending on a user’s search terms – also commonly known as search intent.

The E-A-T update was given its name based on the impact it had on verticals such as healthcare, law, nutrition, real estate, and e-commerce. Essentially, Google wants to ensure that the top results available related to these your money, your life industries are coming from resources that are experts, authorities in their field, and trustworthy.

Think of it this way: You need legal advice and look to Google and discover an article from Mr. John Smith LLC. You would want to know that they are in fact a licensed lawyer, an expert in their domain, an authority on the topic, and trustworthy. You are making decisions based on their advice, after all.

Page Speed

Sites that are user-friendly and load faster rank higher in the search results than those that lag and have technical issues.

Backlinks

Links back to your website are crucial for effective SEO. Here’s how it works.

Google considers another website linking to your content to be a vote in your favour. So the more backlinks you have, the higher your site will be positioned in search results. It’s that simple.

7. What is On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO?

On-page SEO refers to the factors you can control on your own website like your content, while off-page SEO is page ranking factors that take place outside of your website, such as backlinks from another site. Off-page SEO also includes your methods of promotion, such as social media exposure.

8. What are Black Hat vs. White Hat SEO Practices?

Black hat SEO practices are ethically questionable practices that violate search engine guidelines and provide a poor user experience. So instead of earning high rankings on search engine results, black hat SEO uses shady tactics to reach the same outcome.

Some examples include adding so many keywords onto a page that it doesn’t make sense to the reader, sneaky redirects, paid links, and link farms.

It’s best to avoid these types of tactics, as it is likely to cause more damage to your web presence in the long run, rather than improve it.

Following white hat SEO practices, on the other hand, is encouraged, as it means following search engine guidelines and implementing best practices to optimize your website and improve the user experience.

9. What are the Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid?

Even the most experienced digital marketers make mistakes sometimes. But the advantage of being new to the game is that you can learn from other’s mistakes and avoid making them yourself. Here are some of the top SEO mistakes you should avoid.

Poor User Experience

The strength of your user experience (UX) is has a direct impact on your SEO ranking. Think of it this way: While SEO aims to please search engines, the goal of UX is to make your web visitors happy. But both work together to give users the best possible experience.

Ask yourself the following questions to help determine how strong your UX is:

  • Is your site easy to navigate?
  • Are you regularly publishing quality content that engages site visitors?
  • Is your site secure, mobile-friendly, and load quickly?

Creating Content for Content’s Sake

Creating out quality content is crucial to effective SEO and is something you can’t afford to skip out on in this increasingly competitive digital space.

graphic of a computer on fire

Graphic by Liz Zvereva

Even still, many businesses make the mistake of publishing weak content just for the sake of putting out content.

So what exactly makes for bad content? Here are some of the core elements of low-quality web content:

  • No value to the reader
  • Misleading titles
  • Too long or too short
  • Stuffed with keywords
  • Repetitive
  • Overtly self-promotional
  • Boring
  • Inaccurate information
  • Mistakes in spelling, grammar, vocabulary

Read More: Forget Sticks And Stones – Words CAN Hurt You

Keyword Stuffing

Despite being considered a black-hat SEO tactic, keyword stuffing – adding as many keywords onto a page as physically possible to trick Google – is still being used in many business’s SEO strategies.

But does this actually work? While keyword stuffing can initially have some short-term benefits, it only ends up hurting you in the long run.

If Google catches you stuffing keywords in your content, they will penalize you by demoting you in rankings or removing you from search results altogether. So, ask yourself: Is it really worth the risk?

It’s still critical to include keywords in your content, but like anything in life, they need to be used in moderation.

Focus more on people rather than bots, and create valuable content that uses keywords modestly, and appropriately.

  • Failing to Focus on Local SEO

When optimizing their websites for search rankings, a lot of businesses tend to focus on conventional SEO.

However, this can be difficult for smaller local businesses who are competing with large, established corporations who have mastered their SEO strategies.

For this reason, it’s incredibly important for smaller businesses to direct their efforts towards local SEO.

There is a lot of value in being listed in the Google Snack Pack results as it gives your business a greater sense of authority. And, it doesn’t hurt that businesses in the Snack Pack Section generate more clicks and web traffic.

  • Ignoring Paid Search

While organic traffic is the most relevant and rewarding, that doesn’t mean you should avoid paid search altogether.

Paid ads can be incredibly valuable, as it allows you to target more keywords and test out different campaigns. Plus, when your paid ad appears above the search rankings, it helps to strengthen your brand identity.

  • Putting Off Audits of Your Own Website

Arranging for an audit on your website is important, as it reviews your site’s performance from the point of view of both the client and search engines, and reveals ways you can improve your website.

An audit will also look at SEO, loading speed, the checkout process, and the quality of content.

  • Not Creating Unique Meta Descriptions for Pages

A meta description is a short blurb – around 155 characters – that summarizes your page content.

Optimizing your meta descriptions is a critical component of on-page SEO because search engines will display your meta description in search results mostly when the phrase being searched for is in your meta description.

  • Placing Important Messaging on Graphics Rather Than on The Page

While graphics can be a great tool for audience engagement, when it comes to SEO, any information included in the graphic will be ignored by search engines.

Since the Google crawler doesn’t recognize text contained in images or graphics, it’s crucial that you avoid putting important information like names and links in your graphics and use text instead.

10. Can I Do SEO Myself?

While a professional marketing agency will generate better results quickly, you can still do your own SEO if it’s something you want to try. But you will only be successful at it if you have the proper knowledge and resources.

Here’s a guide from Google: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide

If you decide to do your own SEO, here are some tools you can use to help you with optimization:

Benefits of Hiring an Agency

While some businesses can find success doing their own SEO, it doesn’t always work let alone yield the best results.

Don’t leave the success of your SEO efforts up to experiments and guesswork. Without the proper knowledge and experience with SEO, you could end up doing your business more harm than good.

For this reason, businesses that are about to dip their toes into the SEO pool should consider finding an experienced marketing agency specializing in these services to help map out a tailored SEO strategy for optimal results. A marketing agency will also track your progress and make adjustments to make sure you are on the right path and will achieve the best possible results.

Read More: Finding The Right SEO Company

An agency will work with you to evaluate your website, your goals, and your competitors in order to develop a comprehensive plan that will help increase your visibility in search results and ultimate boost your conversions.