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Frequently Asked Questions

The most broad definition of SEO is sending the right signals to Google so it perceives your domain as being the most relevant for any given keyword.  Simple enough right? But just shifts the question to,  what are the right signals to send Google?

It’s here we can divide the signals into two camps on-site and off-site. Or put another way on-site involves building a website that is structured with the right content in such a way you convey how authoritative and relevant your services or products are. The second piece is off-site and some would arguably say carries just as much if not more weight than what you might do on your website.

The reason being is Google evaluates your entire businesses presence online when determining where you should rank and for what keyword. So activity that you might take on a forum, content you might create on YouTube or being featured on another website could potentially boost your domains ranking in the search results.

In a nutshell the best SEO involves executing a strategy where keyword and topic research helps outline a strategy for content development that gets implemented on your website and off your website. It involves getting links, but not exclusively a focus on links.

The reason links are utilized is to demonstrate to Google other spaces are willing to send their potential website visitors to you. Which is in some sense the modern-day digital referral and that’s why Google values that link.

This all is a oversimplification of a much more nuanced process but hopefully outlines that SEO involves linkbuilding and so much more.

To find the answer that is specific to your situation contact That Marketing Geek and to get a researched insights why your website might not be ranking as well as your competitors.  The more general answer to this question involves taking an in-depth look at what on-site you should be doing better and perhaps your competitor is doing better. As well as looking off-site to determine how well your competitors have developed a presence online including social media properties industry websites, content platforms, and any other authoritative site through link building.

As one might imagine there is no simple answer that highlights why one site ranks better than another.  It could be a combination of a slow website, not optimized for mobile, thin content, poor site structure or lack of links to name just a handful of potential reasons.

8.7 links.  Ok ok, kidding aside the real answer is how many domains are linking to the websites that rank on page one for the terms you are going after. Asking how many links you need to rank well is like asking how much horsepower a car needs to win a race.  Knowing your car’s power is helpful but knowing what your competition is like is the context you need in order to better predict an outcome.

The simple answer is yes. A more precise answer is yes but with a plan. Adding content to your site  on a consistent basis is a great way to build your site into something more authoritative. The downside that most people aren’t told is if you do this without some structure then you run the risk of having content bloat. Or put another way keyword cannibalization, which is to say you would have multiple pages fighting for the same term.

Key performance indicators or KPI’s are the metrics that you need to use to measure the performance you want to get out of the campaign. Most people instinctively think as KPI’s as the end result desired such as total sales. And while that is at the end of the day the reason why you undertake marketing it’s not the only thing worth knowing. There are series of metrics that would provide insightful and let you know if you’re moving the needle with your advertising efforts. One of them is rank.

Rank is what position your website falls in Google search results in relation to the term searched. If I search for florists in San Diego and I have to scroll back to the fourth page to find your website then your rank is somewhere around the 40th position. During the course of an SEO campaign you should see your ranking improve in move from the 40th position organically to 30, then 22 then 18 etc etc. Knowing you’re making some progression will give you the insight that you’re making progress. the thing most SCO’s don’t want to tell you though is you’re not going to notice any more people coming through your front door when you move from page 4 to 3 or 3 to 2.  It’s not until you reach page 1 where you will feel it.

Determining the exact placement (rank) of your website in Google search results page is what many business owners try to do manually. Meaning they Google themselves and try to find out where they are. While this will give you a ballpark sense of your website’s positioning it can also be wildly inaccurate.

The reason is Google tailors the search results based on your previous history. You might be aware of this and know when you’re logged into your Google account that there’s some level of customization going on. Most people aren’t aware even when you are logged out of your Google account, Google still is aware that the IP address associated with your home or business still has a pattern of behavior connected to it.

There is more going on that affects your ability to know with any precision what your exact position that I won’t go into. One of the most reliable ways is to use a premium service called a rank tracker.

Unfortunately with SEO there is no specific time that can be guaranteed. We are all living in Google’s ecosystem and the reality is Google doesn’t want you to exert control over the search results.  Since we do know most of the important variables Google relies on when the algorithm determines the search results we can exert an influence. And the influence and the ensuing results are loosely correlated with the degree of competition. An analogy I use frequently is that of racing. If you ask me can I win?  I will have to ask what were you racing against?

The most competitive industries have businesses that have been executing SEO plan for years.  This doesn’t mean it’s impossible to rank against them it’s just acknowledging the reality that you’re  not going to be on page one overnight.

On the other side of the spectrum you have low competition or niche industries that can be ranked for much much faster.

For low competition searches you can be on page 1 in anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.  For high competition searches expect to have a plan in place for at least six months.

Keyword density is probably one of the oldest SEO tricks in the book.  Thinking about your site in terms of keyword density is an outdated approach.

Perhaps a little history here would help. For those of us old enough to remember the early days of Google search results you might recall seeing quite a bit of spam. This was partly because some people figured out that just plain old links regardless of the quality of the site they came from were able to help sites commandeer better placement than they actually deserved. the same was true for the use of keywords business owners and marketers would use the same keyword over and over and over on a page in an attempt to influence Google’s placement of that page. This of course does no good to a user looking for something relevant.

As Google began to crack down and update the algorithm to compensate for peoples tricks people just shifted tactics and would still put quite a few keywords on a page but sometimes try to hide them from people by making them the same color as the background. Needless to say this was just part of the beginning of a cat and mouse game between Google and spammers.

The point of highlighting this little bit of history is to draw attention to the fact that as some tactics become widely known they inevitably get overused. People end up executing these little tricks they might learn in a very heavy-handed manner and it’s just a matter of time before it becomes widespread enough that you get Google’s attention.

Keyword density has fallen into this bucket.  Should you be aware of keywords, yes. Do the placement of keywords matter, yes. But if you are asking yourself should I use a keyword five more times on a page in order to get better ranking than you have been led astray by bad SEO advice.

Pay per click or Adwords as many people know it is basically a blind auctioning system that allows businesses to pick a specific geographic area and keyword(s) they want to get visibility for and bid for that visibility.  one of the benefits of running a pay per performance campaign like Adwords is you only pay Google when somebody takes an action and clicks on your ad that takes them to your site.  The impressions you get when somebody sees your ad and your presence on page one of Google all takes place for free.

The downside to this is quite often keywords that represent strong buyers intent are highly sought after and can be quite expensive.

SEO by contrast is about building your website and overall online presence so that your brand has some equity to it that Google recognizes. In my opinion this does more to build value for your business online.  But much like exercising this is a process and takes time. Depending what the immediate needs of your business are you might want to drive sales tomorrow. With SEO being a long term strategy it is not best suited for quick sales. As many people would agree though having a long-term plan in place is a better place to be than thinking about your next quick sale.

That being said when a budget permits it is ideal to have multiple traffic sources delivering potential customers to your website.

At times clients have other resources they can rely on for help with their online presence.  Working with a graphic artist you have a long history with or a social media professional can be a great asset to helping build your business.  Even if you have somebody within your business who has some experience with search engine optimization I can create a plan that would integrate their ability to help.

All of this of course is contingent on how much experience that person has and if it creates a scenario with conflicting strategies it can be counterproductive.  Sometimes a little knowledge can be dangerous since it is possible to do things online that could damage your websites ranking. In the past Google has penalized sites for link building to aggressively or in very spamming ways. If your website ever gets a manual or algorithm penalty recovering is a very long and arduous process.

Yes. Having a long-term strategy in place like search engine optimization requires a commitment. Depending on how much competition the keywords that you seek to gain visibility for are, a typical agreement can vary somewhere between six months to year.

When you partner with an experienced marketer that understands search engine optimization it’s best to stick to the plan.

Yes.  Part of my on boarding process with all new clients is to not only make sure that I have access to the key spaces I need but also to double check the access anybody else has.

Some of the spaces that you want to be aware of that people are typically given access to are: hosting account profile,  Cpanel, FTP, WordPress login,  e-mail privileges, and Google analytics/search console.

The analogy I use most often and thinking about how you approach a website project is that of having a house built.  If you are going to have a house made for you from scratch and walk-in ready you would have an architect to draft the plans a contractor to actually build it and an interior designer to fill the space to make it livable.

Now this analogy isn’t perfect and has its own shortcomings, hopefully thinking about a website build in this way will help you begin to wrap your mind around how you would approach it.

So using this analogy I can be an architect and create the look you want to achieve for your business unless you already have a brand aesthetic established already. In which case I could continue that design aesthetic in the new website or given a facelift to update its look.

Much like an interior designer would fill the spaces within your house to make it more livable, writing content for your website fills the pages I create with information your potential customer is seeking.  I can help write the content if you don’t want this on your plate. At the very least I at least consult my clients to get them in the right mindset to create content that speaks to their customers. Quite often I find having my customers help write this content themselves will enable their business to have the best voice possible.

Once we have a conversation about how the website will look and in some cases if I create mockups of what it might look like then we have some clear direction around what will be built. And if the content is written then you know what you’re going to say to your customer. At this point it’s just a matter of the general contractor ie Web developer to step in and build the site.

After the first draft of the website is built typically on a server that you can then view but is hidden to the public we can discuss any changes or revisions required before the website is made live.

Here is what is SEO is and what you should know directly from Google.