SEO FAQs: Answers To Common Questions
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 content.
Search engine optimization is a wide discipline.
There are many components that influence how Google, for example, evaluates 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 is situational. Within each industry, the level of competition will vary. The ability to rank in Google depends how relevant and authoritative your site is. This is earned over time. For sites with poor topical authority, backlinks, architecture, trying to be found for queries with purchase or transactional intent will take many months. Search algorithms evaluate how relevant a website is to the query but also beyond it. Additionally. they look at the overall experience it will provide to users.
To build an authoritative website requires extensive planning and research.
For sites that are ranking poorly, the size and complexity will also factor in. The severity of issues will determine how quickly the ship can be righted. A website could conceivably start seeing improvement and ranking in Google as early as two to three months. Typically traffic increases over time. Once rankings are achieved, they must be maintained.
Some of the ranking factors are:
- Content Relevancy
- Keyword In The Title
- Page Speed
- Website Architecture
For highly competitive industries, it’s not uncommon to take up to (1) one year to rank for keywords. 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 has historically provided what users are searching on. It’s likely this organization has spent resources to stay there.
What is an authoritative website? It’s one that other sites link to because it offers value but moreover because it provides the best answer for what someone is looking for. 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.
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 sites that best match to what people are searching 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. Although content matters greatly, it goes well beyond this. There are also major Google Core Update changes.
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 “endorsements” 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 feels it’s good for their visitors.
You must have linkable assets.
In other words, a site owner wants to provide quality resources beyond the content they offer. Hence, that’s why it’s called the world wide 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. Often 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. 2,5, 3.0 etc.
- High rankings don’t guarantee sales. You could be targeting the wrong traffic.
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 it use to.
- 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 My Business), 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, cost is subjective. Not all SEO work is expensive.
1. Competitive search queries take time to achieve market share. Higher volume keywords are typically more difficult.
2. You have low domain/page authority. Sites linking to you are votes in the eyes of the search engines. in the event you don’t have link worthy content, that has to be developed. Then one must perform outreach. That takes time.
3. In many cases, websites are poorly designed. They have a confusing navigational structure, have poor internal link structure, or may respond slowly.
It may be necessary to migrate, if the site is simply too old.
4. With the constant shift in technology and changes in consumer behavior, it also takes time and research to understand the audience.
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 SEO traffic dropped.
- 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 visibility. 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. No questions asked. Wait. What?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 from Google. 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 long term.
A great website provides answers and compels action.
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 an SEO audit can range from $2,000 to $20,000. 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 Insights on What to Improve immediately
- How To Improver CTR and Conversions
- Crawl Report to Uncover Indexing Issues
- On Page Issues Affecting Rankings
- Backlink Risk Assessment
- How To Use Link Equity More Efficiently
- Is User Experience Good Or Bad
- 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 SEO Tools Can I Use?
- I recommend installing the Moz Bar chrome extension. You can see your current page and domain authority, links etc.
- I’d recommend SEM Rush to see what the historical market share looks like. It offers a number of tools.
- Google Search Console and BING Webmaster Tools.
This is just to get started and give you a sense.
11. Does SEO Have a Quality Score?
In my opinion and others, Yes. Considering that there are over 200 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 website metric.
Don’t chase algorithms.
Focus on creating a great website. It should have intuitive navigation, helpful content, and above all that which helps the user.
Visitors come to a site for a specific reason. Is your site speaking to them and their needs? That’s the central question to aim for and analyze with site metrics.