SEO FAQs With Answers
If a website doesn’t show up on the first page of Google, Bing, or Yahoo! it won’t receive much traffic. During our consultation phase, many common SEO questions come up. Organic search is a constantly evolving online channel. It’s critically important to have solid fundamentals before a website redesign or build out of your existing website’s content.
First, understand that search engine optimization is a wide discipline. There are many components that influence how Google, for example, sees your site. Second, understand that it will take time to achieve visibility and market share. Before hiring an SEO, I suggest getting an understanding of the basics. I’ve put together some of the more common SEO questions with answers that come up.
1. How long will it take my website to rank in Google?
Every website’s circumstances are different. So is every industry. Competition, market conditions, and consumer behavior are changing all the time. It depends on whether it’s local SEO or traditional. For new sites with no domain authority, trying to be found for competitive buyer keywords, will take many months. On average, it may upwards of 6 months or more to see traffic that’s generating profit. Low competition, aka “low hanging fruit” is possible. Further still, non-buyer keywords are touch-point opportunities for brand awareness.
To build an authoritative website requires extensive planning and research. Once a site is submitted to the search engines, a proper strategy is needed to promote it. For sites that are ranking poorly, it depends on the size and complexity. The severity of issues will determine how quickly the ship can be righted. Results can be seen an early as two to three months. Typically traffic increases over time as each month passes. Once rankings are achieved, they must be maintained. Some of the ranking factors are:
- Competitiveness of Search Queries
- Content Relevancy
- Domain Authority
- How Competitive the Keywords Are
- Proper Website Architecture
- On Page Optimization
- User Experience
For highly competitive industries and search terms, it’s not uncommon to take up to (1) one year. One example would be a site with low authority trying to rank for “New York lawyer”. Think about it. If a competitor’s site is 10 years old and ranking in the top 3, it’s an authoritative site. It’s likely they have resources and strategy to stay there.
What is an authoritative website? It’s one that other sites link to because it’s a “subject matter expert”. A great site provides answers to questions irrespective of the reason for visiting. If you’re trying to rank your business locally, find someone who understands Google’s local algorithm. You also need to think beyond Google. SEO is an investment in market share. It offers one of the best return on investments a business can make.
2. How does a website rank in the search results?
The objective of the search engines is to provide relevant results. Their aim is to show pages that provide expert content relative to what people are looking for. Search engines are not always successful in this regard. They are of course getting smarter now that AI is in the mix. There are well over 200 ranking factors that a website is evaluated against. Much like a bell curve, those that come closest are more optimized for the query.
Although content matters greatly, it goes well beyond this. There are major Google Algorithm changes regularly. At a basic level, a site needs a content structure focused on topics and subtopics.
Although you’ll hear phrases like “you need links”, much more is required. Although links are seen as “votes” in the eyes of the search engines, many misconstrue quality over quantity. Furthermore, no site will feel compelled to link to another site unless it’s good for their visitors. In other words, a site owner wants to provide good resources beyond the content they offer. Hence, that’s why it’s called the web.
3. Should I hire an SEO company that guarantees search engine rankings?
No. This is a scheme to lure uninformed clients. They will say something like “$499 a month on the first page of Google”. Many of these unscrupulous companies have put a black eye on the industry. There are variations on these snake oil pitches. What’s worse is that these companies either violate the search engine guidelines or fail to produce results. Sometimes it’s both.
- No reputable SEO company will guarantee rankings. Google’s Webmaster Guidelines states this.
- Organic rankings fluctuate daily. Check your average position via Google Search Console and you’ll find many terms with avg. position 1.5. etc.
- High rankings don’t guarantee sales. It’s best to focus on improvements to increase targeted traffic than become preoccupied with No.1 rankings.
No. 1 rankings are achievable, however, that’s not what you should be hiring for.
You should hire an SEO Agency to drive qualified traffic and not rankings.
NOTE: Search engines will penalize websites that attempt to game the system by manipulating results.
4. When should I hire an SEO company/agency?
According to Google’s guidelines, they state “the earlier the better.” In fact, Google specifically recommends it when you’re considering a web redesign or new website. Unfortunately, many companies come to this realization much later. Two scenarios unfold that we hear:
- Our site doesn’t rank as well as in the past.
- We migrated to a new website design and lost organic rankings and traffic.
- We’re not sure if our blog is contributing to sales or assisted conversions
The worst part is that improper website migration comes with severe consequences. A company will lose revenue and potential lifetime customers. A double whammy.
5. Can Google My Business Rankings Be Optimized?
Yes. First, see our google places optimization infographic. If you’ve lost visibility in Google Maps (aka Google Places), it may be related to the factors listed. In complex cases, this may take time to resolve. With paid search advertising now an option, it’s more difficult. If you’re stumped, you can hire us. Chances are we’ve encountered it. If we feel additional work is needed, we will communicate our findings and timetable.
NOTE: Previous names include Google Places, Local Business Center, Place Pages for Google Maps, Google 7-pack.
6. Why Are SEO Fees So Expensive?
First, the cost is subjective. Not all SEO work is expensive. It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Should a site lack proper fundamentals, it takes an SEO specialist to correct it. High volume keywords can be expensive. SEO is a time-consuming discipline that constantly changes. It has grown harder to perform at a high level. Fees will differentiate based on the industry, competition, and what needs to be done.
Big internet marketing agencies are too expensive for small business owners. They typically have a big staff and more overhead. It really depends on the state of affairs. Some sites are in good shape while others require extensive work. In many cases, websites built on older technology will require a site migration. Done carefully, traffic loss is very minimal. With the constant shift in technology and changes in consumer behavior, it also takes time and research.
The best SEO practitioners stay up to date, anticipate, and prepare you for change. The chief responsibility is maintaining market share and building on it. Google is constantly changing the algorithm and new competitors enter the space.
7. What causes a website’s traffic to drop or lose rankings?
There are a number of reasons why organic search traffic drops. Here are some of the common ones.
- Failure to Maintain On-Page Optimization. If a competitor has better on-page or makes a change, they can outrank you. Their content could be more relevant once it’s updated.
- Failure to Build on Domain/Page Authority. Just because you’ve built up a certain amount of link equity does not mean you get to rest. Smart marketers always find ways to attract links naturally. You’ve worked hard to obtain market share. Now you’ve got to protect it.
- Website Redesign Without Proper Planning. Before you hand the keys of the car to a website designer, you should ask for a detailed plan. What’s going to change and why? Unfortunately, I’ve seen many businesses just give access without understanding what they’re doing. Would you let your daughter go a date without knowing who the guy is? We’ve seen terrible things. If you’ve redesigned a site and traffic is dropping more than 3%, you need to take immediate action.
- Violating Search Engine Guidelines. Tactics that may have been ok a few months ago are suddenly not ok. For older sites, failure to stay up to date could result in an algorithmic penalty. Worse a manual one. It depends on the infraction. Mild traffic loss may be around 10 to 20%.
8. Is the cost of SEO worth it for my online or local business?
Yes. One of the great things about search engine optimization is that it compels improvement. We’ve never seen a high traffic website rank well that wasn’t highly relevant. If not, it won’t stay there. A great website provides answers irrespective of the consumer’s decision phase. Rankings can’t be bought; they must be earned. As a site improves, others will feel more compelled to link to it. It also requires outreach and constant monitoring.
Here’s how to make a calculation:
- Determine the search volumes for keywords.
- Examine the market share of competitors by comparing your Domain and Page authority to theirs.
- Determine your average order value.
- Do the math! if you achieve a % of visits and your average order value is X, then you can estimate revenue and ROI.
Although this is basic, it gives you an idea. With pay per click costs rising, the sooner you begin the better.
9. How Do I Hire an SEO agency?
There are numerous answers online. Here’s our BS-free take. it depends on why you wish to hire one. That needs to be clearly defined. For example, are you looking to increase leads? conversions?
- At a basic level, an SEO agency should be able to articulate why your site is not performing well. Here are some of the common reasons.
- Low Domain/Page Authority
- Problematic Internal Linking Structure
- Poor Architecture
- Improper on Page Optimization
- Over Optimization
- Keyword Stuffing
- Broken Links
- Pagination Issues
2. Ask to see a sample of their work. It’s not unreasonable to ask for a case study.
3. A reputable SEO company should be able to explain what strategies they would use to increase traffic.
4. Ask for a rough technical review. Don’t expect a free SEO audit, however, you should have something to obtain context.
5. Do they follow search engine’s webmaster guidelines? Some firms engage in unethical tactics which can result in a penalty.
6. Revenue. If a site is ranking, the calculation is doable. For site’s not ranking, that becomes much more difficult. The bottom line is time-frame and market share. You should have some sense.
10. Should I pay for an SEO website audit/assessment?
It really depends on resources and goals. If you have a small internal team, it can be well worth the time and expense. Small sites are usually done in 25 hours on average and large sites could take two to three weeks or more. The answer depends on the size and complexity. Fees for e-commerce sites with less than 10,000 pages typically start at around $2,500. Bigger firms will certainly charge more as they have bigger overhead although delivery may be sooner.
What are the benefits of an audit? It provides an overview on how to improve your website’s visibility and what to prioritize. One understands what’s holding your site back from acquiring traffic, leads, and sales.
I for one don’t care for the term as most audits don’t provide enough value. Still, I understand it’s the most common association. What you should be looking for is an SEO Assessment.
Here’s a small sampling of what you can learn from an SEO website assessment.
- Actionable Insight on What to Improve immediately
- Current Content That’s Generating Traffic
- Crawl Report to Uncover Indexing Issues
- Understanding Keyword Focus
- Understanding Website Theme
- URL Length and Structure Analysis
- Backlink Risk Assessment
- Internal Linking & Anchor Text
- Code Validation
- Duplicate Content
An SEO website assessment prioritizes what to tackle and saves time. Moreover, it’s an in-depth roadmap rather than just fixing deficiencies. It provides a deep dive into the site as a whole. Competent firms provide a free call to discuss the report. Some will waive the first month’s SEO fee if your purchase the report.
10. What Tools Can I Use To See My Website’s Visibility?
- I recommend installing the Moz Bar chrome extension. You can see your current page and domain authority, links etc. More, importantly, you can this for search queries and how sites compare with one another.
- I’d recommend SEM Rush to see what the historic keyword volume looks like.
- Google Search Console and Webmaster Tools.
This is enough to get started and give you a sense.
11. Does SEO Have a Quality Score?
There’s no way to know for sure if an SEO quality score exists. Considering that there are around 300 parameters in which a website is evaluated against; bet on it. Each has a bell curve, so it only makes sense to have an overall metric. Rather than chase algorithms, one should focus on creating a great website. It should have intuitive navigation, useful content, and above all that which helps the visitor.
Vistors come to a site for a specific reason. Is your site speaking to them and their needs? That’s the central question and aim.