Thank you for a great article, Dan. SEO is a subject that I think of more as a dark art than anything else. Your FAQ's helped to lift the veil and give me the basic low-down. I recently listened to a speaker talking about web optimization and realized how powerful working with an expert can be. Your comment that SEO can be your best advertising investment reinforces that thought. Finding the right person to do the job is another matter!
SEO Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Commonly asked questions about search engine optimization (SEO)
Q: Why doesn't my Web site rank very well in the search engines?
A: Having your website rank high in the search engines is a science and the rules for search engine optimization (SEO) are always changing. Here are some reasons why you may have poor rankings:
- Incorrect usage of the TITLE tag or no TITLE tag content.
- Too many occurences of the same word in a page (spamming).
- Missing H1 and H2 heading tag content.
- No meaningful content in the first 250 characters on each page or less than 200 words per page.
- Very few pages on your website.
- No links from other "quality" websites to your website. This has become very important in the last couple of years and is absolutely critical if you have a national or global reach and as such are trying to rank for more generic (non-geographical) keywords. Example: "dentist" vs. "seattle dentist".
Also, you should always submit your site to any search directories manually. Please do not use automated submission services.
Q: How long does it take for SEO results to kick in?
A: The amount of time required to see results of search engine optimization work range anywhere from 30 days for existing sites in local or niche markets to 24 months for new websites in a competitive or national/global market.
Q: What is my site ranking dependent on?
A: Site ranking tends to be "cumulative" and is dependent on the following factors:
- The specific keyword phrases (search terms) that have been targeted
- The overall competitiveness of your industry - how many players are there and how agressive are they at beating you in the search engines
- Whether you are targeting a regional, national, or international market
- How well ranking is monitored and the site tweaked over time for SEO improvement
- The progress of your link-building efforts: directories, press releases, reciprocal links, social media sites, online yellow pages
- number of new competitor sites
Q: Does every page of my website really need to be optimized?
A: In a word - yes. Every page of a website can be a potential entry point for visitors. You can't predict which page or pages will be ranked the best for specific keywords. As such, each page must be individually optimized to for optimal ranking. Collectively, all pages of your website reinforce the common "theme" of the site, which also can help boost ranking. Don't assume that your home page is the most important page on your site.
Q: Why are SEO services so expensive?
A: SEO is a specialized craft requiring research, forethought, skill and can be time-consuming to implement correctly. The rules also change constantly. However, compared to offline and print advertising, SEO is quite cheap. The cost of having your website optimized is by far the best advertising dollars spent and the total return on your investment (ROI) can be very great.
Q: Can you guarantee a number #1 position in the search engines?
Nobody can guarantee a number #1 position or specific ranking for your site for a given keyword phrase. There are simply too many factors beyond anyone's control - the search engines changing their ranking algorithms, efforts made by competitors, and new sites being added to the Web. Even if you get a top ranking, there is no guarantee how long it will remain so.
Obtaining a specific ranking is analogous to managing a portfolio. Your financial advisor will do their best to monitor the stock market and other indicators and to make sure your portfolio is managed to the best of their abilities. However, your advisor cannot guarantee that your portfolio will be at a specific dollar value or even that the amount will be up at all by a given date.
Learn more about the author, Dan Sisson.
Comment on this article
Posted by Jasmine Holmes, Gilbert, Arizona |
Mar 11, 2008
Posted by Dan Sisson, Redmond, Washington |
Mar 13, 2008
You are most welcome Jasmine. SEO has developed somewhat of a bad name due to shady companies that cold-call companies and make claims that are simply impossible to meet. This is still a nascent industry with a fledgling professional organization (SEMPO) and so still has a bit of a wild-west element to it. SEO practices also change fast - what used to be true and work even one year ago doesn't any more as the search engines constantly change their ranking algorithms. This is also true on the pay-per-click paid search side of the house.
You bring up an excellent point - look for an article soon on some tips for hiring the right SEO/SEM firm!
Posted by brad swartz, Seattle, Washington |
Feb 05, 2010
I am interested in hearing more about a SEO perposal
Posted by Maximus Kang, Issaquah, Washington |
Apr 02, 2010
Let's not forget the good old mistake of website owners having a Robots.txt file block the crawlers entirely without even realizing. I've had that problem with many of my previous clients.
Quick fix, big change.
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