Frequently asked questions for SEO
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. This is the actions taken to increase traffic to your websites and improve your rank on Google and other search engines organically.
There are two main types of SEO:
- On-page SEO is optimising websites themselves
- Off-page SEO is improving a website's authority through other websites and social media
A good SEO strategy will include both on-page and off-page optimisation.
How does SEO work?
When someone enters a query into a search engine, a complex algorithm analyses thousands of pages instantaneously to deliver the highest quality and most relevant search results to the user.
SEO strategies are based on a detailed understanding of how this process works to help your target audience find your page. Search engine algorithms are constantly being updated, so it's vital to stay up to date with the latest SEO techniques.
How can I improve my SEO ranking?
SEO has changed a lot since the early years, when stuffing pages with keywords and spamming backlinks was sometimes all it took to be number one on Google. Today, these same actions will get a site blacklisted, so you need to make sure you're following the current playbook.
Google uses a huge number of metrics to rank websites, but among the most important ranking factors are:
- Keywords (still the backbone of SEO in 2020)
- Website structure & architecture
- Page speed
- User experience
- Mobile friendliness
- Social Media Presence (shares & likes)
- Content - This can be in the form of posts, blogs, page updates, infographics, pictures
- Google My Business & Reviews (Local Search)
- Email Marketing & Marketing Automation
- Secure encryption (SSL)
SEO experts know how to optimise a website to check all of these criteria and more.
What are keywords?
Keywords are the words and phrases that people type or speak into search engines to find what they're looking for. That's why it's important to include keywords on your website, so search engines can highlight your page as a relevant result.
Optimising a page with keywords takes skill and experience to master. First, you need to know what keywords to target, which isn't always obvious. Second, you need to make sure you include keywords where they'll have the greatest benefit to SEO, without using them excessively and getting penalised.
How do I know what the right keywords are?
Some keywords may be obvious and occur naturally in your website content, but keyword research is needed for the best SEO success. This will make sure you're targeting the actual phrases that are trending at all times and improve your chance of boosting page traffic and beating competitors.
One important point to keep in mind when researching keywords is user intent. Highly targeted keywords can be much more successful than generic phrases when it comes to attracting the specific audience you want. You should also consider the type of language your audience uses so you can match it accurately.
What are backlinks?
Backlinks or inbound links are links on other websites that point to your site. While the link structure of your own website has an impact on SEO, third-party backlinks are even more valuable as a ranking factor – as long as they're done right.
A link or citation from another site acts like a vote for your page. When this site is judged to be credible and authoritative, these are considered high quality backlinks and will help your organic search ranking.
Is blogging good for SEO?
Publishing a regular blog is one of the best ways to improve SEO for your website. Blog posts grow your website and create more opportunities to capture keywords and answer the questions that people are actively searching for.
When you publish engaging, high quality content, this will get shared on social media and linked from other sites. This helps to grow your audience and establish your authority.
Does social media affect SEO?
A good social media strategy supports SEO in many ways, even if these aren't immediately obvious.
Search engines don't count likes and shares from Facebook and other social platforms when ranking your website, because it's too easy to game the system that way. You want to use Social Media to generate traffic to your site, improve brand recognition and get you noticed by influential bloggers, increasing your authority and producing quality backlinks.
Does SEO really work?
Yes – when it's done correctly. A good SEO strategy is, and always will be, the key to long-term organic traffic, because it's about understanding what search engines and your customers want.
'Long term' is the key phrase to keep in mind. SEO isn't a one-time quick fix that will shoot you to the top of Google results overnight. It's an ongoing process that by its nature takes time to pay off.
With Google giving a boost to local search results, it IS possible to be number one on Google through good SEO, even against established sites.
How long does SEO take to pay off?
With a good SEO strategy, you'll start to see noticeable improvements in website traffic within a few months, or sometimes even sooner. That's because it takes time for search engines to crawl the web and update the rankings.
SEO is a long-term investment in your business that rewards patience and consistency. However good your results are after 6 months, they'll be even better at 12 months.
Which is better: SEO or PPC?
Pay per click (PPC) or paid search is different from organic SEO, as it involves bidding on keywords to present relevant ads to your target audience at certain times, whereas SEO is about improving your organic page rank for the long term.
SEO and PPC work together for the best results, but if you only want to focus on one strategy, your decision should be based on your specific goals. PPC offers greater benefits in the short term, but SEO is the more effective long term solution.
Can I do SEO myself?
Most website creators are familiar with the basics of SEO and how to build an optimised site, so it takes more than strategic keyword placement to get noticed by search engines and customers. There are free tools & plugins to help you generate keyword ideas, which can get you on the road to organic success.
SEO is a skill like any other that takes time and experience to master. It's also an ongoing activity that requires regular content creation and refinement, which is time many website owners don't have to spare. Not to mention that if your SEO knowledge is out of date, you could be doing more harm than good.
That's why successful companies hire an SEO specialist or work with a dedicated agency to take care of these tasks for them, leaving them free to focus on what they do best.
How do I choose an SEO business?
With so many companies offering SEO services, it can be hard to work out which one to trust with your money and your brand.
For starters, you should ignore any agency that promises success overnight. That's just not how SEO works and anyone offering instant results is an immediate red flag.
When you're comparing agencies, check how much experience they have in the industry and examples of work they've done for businesses similar to yours, so you can get a realistic idea of what to expect.
When finding the right SEO partner, they should be able to give you monthly reporting that gives you a road map of what they are doing and also monthly report based on data. This can include conversions, landing page information, goals, geographical information and what channels are creating the most leads / sales / conversions.
It's always an advantage to choose a local SEO agency, as they understand the specifics of marketing in your local area and can help you reach real customers over the competition.