If you’re getting started in your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) journey or looking for some new education around SEO, you’ve probably already run into some jargon you don’t exactly know the meaning of. Maybe you just have some general questions about SEO.
SEO can be a very confusing area of digital marketing. Google changes its algorithms often and staying up to date on SEO can be a task within itself. But hopefully, with some of the most common questions of SEO being answered here, it’ll help your understanding out!
We’re going to go over the most common questions we get from clients, leads, and even our grandmothers. Let’s dive in!
- What is SEO?
- How does SEO work?
- Why is SEO important?
- What are SEO keywords?
- Why doesn’t my website rank on Google?
- What is the difference between SEO and Google Ads?
- How do I find SEO keywords?
- What is the best thing I can do for SEO?
- What are the best SEO tools?
- How much content should be on a page?
- How long does it take to see SEO results?
- Can I do SEO on my own?
- What ranking factors are important for SEO?
- How do I track SEO efforts?
- Where can I learn more about SEO?
General SEO Questions
What is SEO?
SEO is an acronym for “Search Engine Optimization” and is the process of improving positions in organic (non-paid) search results in search engines. As a rule of thumb, the higher your website ranks for a search, the more people will click through to your website.
When you first start learning SEO you have to train your mind to work in a creative but technical and analytical way. A lot of people fail to do this because you’re not only doing SEO for search engines but more importantly, you’re doing it for the visitors of your website.
It’s important to note that not everything is going to work exactly the same for all businesses. What works for a landscaping company may not work for a law firm. It’s about understanding how your target market searches and behaves online.
How does SEO work?
Search Engines have come a long way and continually get smarter and smarter. They use algorithms that include over 200 ranking factors to display the most relevant information for search queries conducted by users.
In order for your SEO efforts to have a positive impact, you need to make sure your content is the most relevant result for a specific search query. You can read our Beginner’s Guide to SEO to learn more about how to optimize your website.
Why is SEO important?
Search engines drive the majority of online traffic to websites with organic searches. More than paid advertising, social media, and anything else you can think of.
Even with the changes to Google Ads layouts, SEO still has organic traffic leading the race at about 70% of traffic coming to websites organically. And SEO is one of the only digital marketing services that, when set up correctly, can continue to pay website traffic dividends long after you put changes into place. If you create a piece of content on your website that search engines take a liking to, it can create a sort of snowball effect over time, gaining additional shares, backlinks, etc. With a service like Paid Ads, as soon as you cut your budget, your ads stop showing.
Search engines want small businesses to succeed! To prove that, Google even created an SEO Starter Guide that has best practices for SEO.
What are SEO keywords?
Your SEO keywords are the keywords and phrases in your website content that make it possible for people to find your site via search engines.
A website that is well optimized for search engines will rank highly for the specific search queries that include the relevant keywords they want to rank for.
Why doesn’t my website rank on Google?
If you can’t find your website when search on Google you should make sure that it is “indexed”. To do this, search for your website on Google like this, “site:socialsurgemarketing.com”
If you can find your website listed here, you know that your website is indexed. So if you can’t find your website by doing other searches, it simply isn’t ranking for those keywords. Some common reasons why your website isn’t ranking could be:
- Your website is too new and doesn’t have enough authority to rank yet.
- The content on your website hasn’t been optimized as well as others for those specific keywords.
If you didn’t see your website’s pages listed, it means that your website hasn’t been indexed yet. Some common reasons why your website isn’t indexed yet could be:
- Your website is blocking search engines from crawling it. Make sure you allow search engines to crawl your website for content you want to rank for!
- Your website simply is too new and just hasn’t been indexed yet. You can request your website be indexed in Google Search Console.
- Your site has received a manual penalty for violating Google’s guidelines. This is pretty rare, but if you conduct any Black-Hat SEO, this is a possibility.
What is the difference between SEO and Google Ads?
SEO is going to help you rank organically, while Google Ads is going to get you the top “Ads” placement on Google. Even though Google Ads are the top placement, most clicks come from organic rankings.
A question we get a lot is if a business should invest in SEO, PPC or both. In a perfect world, a business would diversity marketing efforts across channels to make sure they don’t miss any opportunity and aren’t too reliant on any one marketing effort.
We typically will make recommendations on this question based on a business’ monthly budget. Google Ads can be a very expensive investment initially, which turns off a lot of budget-conscious businesses.
SEO Best Practice Questions
How do I find SEO keywords?
This part of SEO is called keyword research. A lot of the time, keyword research starts with getting a better understanding of who your target market is and how they will search for your content. The goal is to not only end up with users on your web page but then have them convert into leads.
Things like your products, services, or whatever it is that your small business does are a great place to start, but you won’t know for sure what are good terms to rank for until you do some research. You can use a keyword research tool to discover things like average monthly search volume, similar keyword phrases, and a bunch of other things around those keywords.
While you’re using the keyword research tool, you’ll probably find out that the search volume of those keywords is going to vary. Even though one keyword has a higher search volume, it may not be the best option for you. With higher search volume comes more people trying to rank for the same keyword, and these keywords may not be what generates leads for you if they’re too broad.
To learn more about how to conduct keyword research check out the chapter in our Beginner’s Guide to SEO: Keyword Research.
What is the best thing I can do for SEO?
This is a tough question because what’s best for one business isn’t always the best for another. With that being said, the number one thing we will recommend is that to make sure your Google My Business profile is created and fully optimized.
Google My Business is a free tool that allows you to directly communicate with Google what you want to rank for. This isn’t going to be the BEST thing for every business out there, but it’s a great starting point.
Here’s a guide we wrote on How to List and Optimize your Google My Business Page.
What are the best SEO tools?
There are a lot of SEO tools out there and what works best for you might not work best for a different business. At the end of the day, you will need to use some sort of SEO tool to improve your website’s rankings. Thankful, there are plenty of free options out there that help across the board.
How much content should be on a page?
Another question that doesn’t have an easy answer! There is no perfect length that a page should be because it depends on the piece of content. To figure out how long a piece of content should be, you should do a Google search for the keyword you want to rank for, view the top 3 ranking pages, and make a page better than all 3!
If each of these pages has over 1,000 words, you can safely assume that you’ll need to create a page with over 1,000 words in order to rank. The same thing holds true for other components of these pages. If they each have a video, you’ll probably want to add a video to your page.
With that in mind, we typically will not create a new piece of content on a website unless it has at least 500 words. Google values quality over quantity 100% of the time!
Questions About Succeeding with SEO
How long does it take to see results from SEO?
Another incredibly hard question. Ranking for keywords can depend on a lot of factors.
- How many other people are trying to rank for a keyword?
- How well established are the other sites ranking for a keyword?
- Are there search engine widgets taking up real estate on a search engine results page?
But we’ll try and give a couple of potential examples to help understand the complexity of this question.
SEO efforts can take multiple months to rank for less competitive keywords, such as “Small Business SEO Agency in Milwaukee” and can take years to rank for very competitive keywords, such as “SEO Agency”.
Can I do SEO on my own?
Absolutely! There are a lot of free resources out there that can help you learn more about SEO and will give you walkthrough guides on how to do SEO on your own.
Like anything in the world, trusting an expert with a service will typically be more beneficial than doing it on your own, but if you have the time and desire to learn, you certainly can! Here are some resources to help you get started:
What ranking factors are most important for SEO?
Most of these factors are proven, but some are just speculative. Search engines also place a higher weight and importance on some factors more than others, but they keep these algorithms mostly to themself so one person doesn’t have a clear advantage over another. Learning all of the ranking factors by heart isn’t a requirement of SEO, but it’s good to have a basic understanding of them.
- Well-Targeted Content
- Crawlable Website
- Quality Links
- Satisfies User Intent
- Unique Content
- EAT: Expertise, Authority, Trust
- Fresh Content
- Click-Through Rate
- Website Speed
- Mobile Optimized
- HTTPS – Security
- Backlink relevance
- Grammar and spelling
- Social sharing
- Domain age (and length of domain commitment)
- Use of relevant keywords
How do I track SEO efforts?
A very crucial part of a professional SEO’s job is to track KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Keyword rankings, click-through rates, backlink authority, just to name a few.
If you don’t set some type of analytics to track your SEO efforts, you’ll never know not only what is working, and just as importantly, what isn’t working.
There are plenty of tools out there to monitor your keyword rankings and rank the overall SEO of your page. A combination of a couple of tools is going to be your best bet to get started. We recommend using Google Analytics 4 to track things like organic traffic, bounce rate and conversion rate. Another tool we use often is Google Search Console to track specific keyword performance on your website and to make sure no website errors are detected. This is a good place to start!
Where can I learn more about SEO?
SEO is constantly evolving and changing. It is important to stay up to date on algorithm changes and to really have a basic understanding of how SEO works.
We’ve created an entire free guide called the Beginner’s Guide to SEO to help those out who want to learn more about SEO. We always recommend those who want to get serious about SEO start here!
These are just the most frequently asked questions we receive, but we know there are a lot more out there! Feel free to drop us a question about anything SEO-related and we’ll be sure to answer you and add it to this list.