11 Frequently Asked SEO Questions (And Answers from the Pros)

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Everyone knows they need search engine optimization for their website. A proper SEO program can bring traffic to your site and be a boon for sales, but only if it’s done correctly. The problem with SEO is many people don’t understand what it is and how it works.

They know it’s a powerful tool for digital marketing, but they have many questions that need to be answered before they’re confident about purchasing the services or doing it themselves. The wrong approach to SEO can lead not only to lower rankings and traffic but manual penalties from Google.

We’ve put together a list of common SEO questions so you can have a better understanding of it.

1. What is SEO?

Search engine optimization is anything a person or business does to improve their standing with Google and other search engines. When a person puts in a search query, the search engine uses an algorithm to determine what pages show up on the first page.

Businesses found on the first page of Google search results earn more traffic and sales than websites further down the list. SEO makes improvements to your site, so search engines improve the overall rank for a variety of keywords.

Google and other search engines want to provide the best results for their customers, so they’re constantly updating their algorithms and standards to bring the most appropriate websites to the top.

SEO keeps abreast of these changes and uses what knowledge is available to put websites into the good graces of websites like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

2. One of the Common SEO Questions is What Types of Traffic Are There?

There are three primary types of traffic coming to your website: paid, organic and referral. SEO works primarily with organic and referral traffic.

Organic traffic is anything that comes from search engines like Google. It’s called organic because there’s nothing you’re doing to bring the traffic to you. People put their information into the search query and if your website pops up near the top, then they click and visit your site.

Paid traffic is any traffic you get from paid advertisements. The main paid advertising platform is Google ads, but Yahoo and Bing have their own platforms as well. They don’t have nearly the share of searches that Google does.

There are several types of paid advertisements. Search ads are small ads at the top and bottom of search results. They look like search results, so they blend in.

Video ads are commonly seen on YouTube videos. Display ads are pictures seen on websites. Shopping ads are items shared at the top of the search results for people looking for a type of product.

Referral traffic comes from other websites. It’s most commonly created when a website places a backlink from your site on their site. For example, if you wrote a very informative blog and the website links to it as a reference, then if anyone clicks that link and goes to your site, it’s a referral.

3. Does SEO Happen Quickly?

Time is money. Businesses want people on their site as soon as possible, so they can start buying their products and services. Paid advertising can begin sending traffic as soon as you complete your first ad, SEO isn’t like that.

SEO changes to your site can happen quickly. SEO specialists can work on content, keyword optimization and more right away, but you’re not going to see a sudden shift in the rankings. SEO isn’t a destination, but a journey.

Once the changes are made, Google must send bots to your site and notice the changes. Once the changes are noted, it will make a ranking change. It could take a few weeks or a month for anything to happen.

Also, depending on the competitiveness of the industry, ranking improvement could be gradual over several months. It’s one thing to improve rank for a search query from 10 to 5, but from 110 to 5 will take longer.

It’s important to not put all your eggs in one basket. Lean into the paid advertising first as you work on SEO and decrease it once the SEO begins to take off. SEO is just one part of a complete digital marketing strategy.

4. I Tried SEO Before Why Didn’t Work

Many businesses will try working on SEO and find that it didn’t do what they wanted. There are many reasons why this could happen.

If you’re working in a very competitive niche, then it might take longer to see results. Your competitors do SEO as well, so they’re trying to compete with what you’re doing. Without SEO, you might see your rankings sink because of the efforts of competitors and with SEO you’ll see a gradual increase over time.

Another reason why it doesn’t work for people is they don’t give it enough time or effort. You can’t write a couple of blog posts and expect a massive rank improvement. It could take dozens of high-quality blogs to eventually lead to better ranking. Many businesses give up after only a few tries.

Google’s algorithm is always changing. The SEO efforts of a few years ago don’t work anymore. If you’re using outdated methods, then you could hurt your website more than help it. For example, keyword stuffing and purchasing backlinks were once a common practice, but now they can lead to rank drops or even a Google penalty.

It’s also possible you’re not doing enough data analysis of your traffic and pages to develop an effective SEO program. With SEO, you need to know where your traffic is coming from and where customers go. Do you visit your main page and leave? Do they spend a long time on your blog pages and then visit product pages?

5. What is Black Hat SEO and Why is It Bad?

In the old cowboy movies, the good guys always wore white and the bad guys always wore black. White Hat SEO is using Google approved efforts to improve a website’s ranking.

Black Hat SEO is using sneaky and underhanded efforts to either improve a website’s ranking or lower another website’s ranking.

Many times, Black Hat SEO is about trying to fool Google into thinking a website is better than it is. As the Google algorithm becomes more complicated, it got harder to do Black Hat SEO. Unfortunately, there’s always someone out there trying to cheat the system.

Why is it bad? Black Hat SEO might provide a temporary boost in rankings and traffic, but if you get caught your site could be removed from the index completely or have a manual penalty placed against it.

A manual penalty means Google noticed you do something bad and punished your site for it. It could take a long time to gain Google’s trust after a manual penalty and there is no guarantee ranking or traffic will improve to earlier standards.

It really comes down to risk versus reward. The risk of having your website dropped from rankings for a short-term improvement isn’t worth it. Google could not find out for six months or they could figure it out after six hours.

6. How is Local SEO Different?

With standard SEO, you want qualified traffic from anywhere. It doesn’t matter if the person if from two streets down or across the country, you just need them to purchase your product or service.

Businesses that have a brick and mortar location or service an area need to narrow that down. That’s what local SEO does. It tries to narrow down the people who visit your site to just those people within your area.

It’s a mix of making sure Google knows where you’re located through schema markup, location-based keywords, location-based content and more. It involves everything from business listing websites to making sure you have a fully claimed and filled out Google My Business page.

For example, if your business does heating and cooling repair in Kansas, you don’t need people from California to visit your site. They’re not going to buy your services.

Instead, use city- and county-based keywords along with the standard keyword such as Wichita heating and cooling repair.

Local SEO is very important for small businesses because they face fierce local competition. Odds are the competitors are doing local SEO and so should you.

7. How do Backlinks Help My Site?

We mentioned backlinks earlier when talking about referral traffic, but they serve a more important purpose in SEO. Google wants the most trustworthy and authoritative sites in the top-ranking spots.

Google can’t personally examine each site and determine its authority, but it can take certain queues and make a guess. For example, if the bots see your site have an in-depth blog post about the search query and you have lots of other blogs, then it might consider you more of an authority than a site that doesn’t have that.

If other websites within your niche or who Google consider trustworthy such as news sites link back to your website, then Google’s understanding is since you’re linked by these authoritative sites, then you must also be an authority.

There are three types of backlinks: backlinks that help your ranking, backlinks that are neutral and bad backlinks. Neutral backlinks don’t help your site or hurt them. It would be something like a backlink from a business listing.

Bad backlinks can hurt your site ranking. We mentioned earlier how people used to purchase backlinks.

They were low-quality links, but lots of them. Google changed the algorithm, so now low-quality links can lower your rankings.

8. What’s the Difference Between On-page, Off-Page and Technical SEO?

When an SEO expert does research and creates a blog that helps improve your ranking, it’s on-page SEO. It’s anything that someone does on the face of your website to improve rankings. It’s the product descriptions and category description, etc.

If someone does backlink work, then that’s considered off-site. It’s anything done to help your rankings that aren’t done from your site. It could be content marketing, guest posting, etc.

Technical SEO is anything someone does to the backend of your site to help improve your SEO. Google takes many factors into consideration when creating page rank including page load speed, mobile-friendliness, secure https and other factors that often require a programmer.

9. Are Keywords Still Important for SEO?

For years, SEO experts have gone back and forth on the importance of creating specific keyword lists. There was a time when keywords were the most important aspect of SEO. You could stuff the site with keywords and Google would rank you high.

As the algorithm changed, so did the importance of keywords. They’re still very important, but only sparingly. Google bots can look at a page and see keywords even then they’re not right next to each other.

Why make Google work for it. By creating keyword lists that mimic search queries, you make the job easier for Google. Keywords need to be placed in your content, but it must be natural and not forced.

If Google senses you trying to force a keyword, then they may not rank you for it.

10. Is SEO Still Important for Marketing?

Google handles billions of search queries every day. A portion of those relate to your business and you need to rank well for them. When people want information, the first thing they do is Google it. If you examine the traffic of most sites, you’ll see the bulk comes from organic traffic.

Paid advertising requires an upfront cost to you, so every person that comes to your site from pay per click advertising costs you money.

Traffic from organic doesn’t cost you’re a cent. SEO is still the most vital part of your digital marketing plan.

11. What is Mobile-First Indexing?

For a couple of decades, desktop searches ruled the Internet. SEO experts optimized pages for the desktop because that’s what Google used for ranking, but that all changed thanks to smartphones.

When people need information, they head to their phones, not their desktop. In order to keep up with changes, mobile-friendliness became more important. The ability to easily be seen on cell phone screens, fast load times and more became ranking factors.

Mobile-first indexing means when considering rank for websites, they look t your mobile site and not the desktop site. For SEO, this means it’s important your mobile site is fully optimized for the best ranking potential.

Learn All You Can About SEO

We hope this answered your SEO questions and you have a better understanding of how it works. Businesses need to make SEO a priority whether they’re looking for a local business or nationwide.

If you want to learn more about SEO and digital marketing, then please explore our site.