Should I create a blog for SEO purposes?

This parrot that I talk to in the pet store told me that I should create a blog for search engine optimization purposes. Can you speak to this?

Blogs have no special powers of high rankings. What they do have (if done correctly) is fresh, unique content. Search engines do tend to like that, regardless of the format. If they know any given site is adding new articles on a frequent basis, they will come around often to index it. Blogs are certainly one way of easily adding new information to your site. Newsletters archived on your site can provide a similar benefit, as can archived press releases, or a popular forum.

The “pinging” done by most blog software these days also seems to help get blog posts spidered and indexed very quickly, which is a plus.  In addition, blog posts will also show up in blog searches such as Google’s Blog search, and Technorati Blog searches.

How Long Does SEO It Take

Many factors determine when you will achieve an improvement in your rankings. It can take as short as several weeks to several months to obtain results. The more aggressive your SEO campaign, the sooner you will achieve results. Some factors that determine the time it takes to improve rankings are:

  • your domain age
  • how good and relevant your content
  • where your competitors rank
  • how many keywords you run SEO campaigns for,
  • your quality score
  • your referring sites domain authority

In fact over 200 factors determine where you rank.

What does SEO cost?

The cost of SEO depends on how many keywords you want to run in your SEO campaign and how much on site SEO work is required. The more keywords you want to rank for, the more work is required on a monthly basis and therefore the greater the cost. View our SEO packages for more details on the cost of SEO.

The Definition of SEO

Search Engine Optimization is regularly performing the correct editing & upkeep of content both on and off your website – to achieve better organic rankings than your competitors. When a person performs a search on a Search Engine such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, ultimately, they should find what they are looking for in their search result. Companies compete for the top spot and use SEO to get there.

What is Anchor Text?

Internal links are an effective way for search engine spiders to get from one page of a website to another. It’s also another way for search engines spiders to identify which pages are most important within the webpage, and it’s also an effective way to diffuse link juice. Also, a not so uncommon situation with internal links is the fact that you may encounter broken links.

Solution: Ensure that the anchor text of your internal are diverse and relevant from the page from one page to another. Make sure that you correct any broken links that you may spot.

Why must I put high quality content on my website?

The complete absence of content within your website or within your internal pages is a mistake that can harm your presence on SERP’s. Definitely images worth 1000 words but you need content for search engines so that they understand what your page is all about.

Another case that seems to appear and could be detrimental for your SEO, is the so called ‘’thin content’’. Many websites have created some sort of content within their website, which means that their organic text is too inadequate in terms of content (and maybe at the same time is also of low quality).

Solution: Create high quality, fresh, content, no less than 300 words for the organic text of your pages and make sure your text is not ‘’copy/paste’’ from another site.

What is a XML Sitemap?

Sitemap.xml is another way of a website to tell search engine bots which of its pages are the most important ones and frequently they should be crawled. Most websites lack of sitemap.xml and those that have sitemap.xml have values, like ‘’Priority’’ and ‘’Frequency’’ which are not relevant to the importance of the website.

Solution: Make sure that you have properly generated sitemap.xml for your site (www.mywebsite.com/sitemap.xml) and also ensure that the URL structure is search engine friendly and descriptive. Finally, it is important to allocate the right priority and frequency for your respective pages.

Keywords – What are they? and why do they matter?

Keywords are the most important words or phrases in a website’s content, and it is these words or phrases that make it possible for people to find a website via a search engine.

A well optimised website is one that in a sense “speaks the same language” as its prospective viewers. This means that you have to know which words or phrases your potential customer will be using when searching for your product and/or service on-line.

To establish and agree on these keywords, our first priority is to understand your business and your marketing goals. The outcome of this exercise is a draft keyword set which is tested in our detailed research. Through the research process, we produce a detailed set of keywords that are currently popular in search and therefore offering traffic to our customer.

Following a further round of discussions, we then incorporate the agreed keywords into your website content, add our SEO techniques into the mix and before long your website will be ranking on those keywords, helping you to garner the existing search traffic on the Internet on that keyword set.

What do search algorithms involve and why do they matter?

In essence, search algorithms are computer processes and formulas that answer the search phrases submitted into search engines. After a search query is submitted, a search engine processes these phrases to deliver a set of answers by presenting a list of websites in order of its relevance to the search.

Search algorithms look for certain elements on a website when determining its rank on search results. These elements include the keywords on a page, the number of keywords on a page, the “freshness” of the site’s content, etc. To make things trickier, search engines such as Google are constantly updating their algorithms, which means that SEO professionals need to stay on top of developments and adapt their SEO strategy in reaction to such algorithm updates.

We are constantly researching and adapting to search algorithm changes, which means we will continually be adapting your website’s content and keywords. All of these activities will allow us to keep your website’s ranking as high as possible.

How long will it take to see results from my SEO campaign?

There are a number of different factors that will contribute to how quickly (or how slowly for that matter) you will see results from your SEO campaign. Some of these factors include:

  • The amount of content on your website
  • The quality of the content on your website
  • How well your website’s content resonates with its visitors
  • How big or how small your website is
  • How strong or how weak your domain authority is

The fact is, if your website is large, well established, well optimised and gets “crawled” frequently by search bots, you will see results faster. How quickly you will see results also depends how long you have been in the “SEO game”. Newcomers tend to wait longer to see results than their better established counterparts. On average, it will take anywhere from one to three months to see significant results.

What is the difference between organic and paid search results?

When you perform a search on the Internet via a search engine, you will get an array of results in response. Within these responses, there are two kinds of search results, namely organic search results and paid search results.

Organic search results are the results that come up according to how relevant it is to your search query, in other words, the web page listings that most closely match your search query will be listed from top to bottom, from most relevant to less relevant.

Paid search results basically come down to being advertisements in the sense that the website owners purchase the given space on a pay-per-click basis.

Why shouldn’t I just rely on Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising?

Research has shown that, even though PPC advertisements (paid search results) appear at the very top of a search results page, only around 40% of users routinely click on them. It has also been found that organic search results lead to many more sales (as much as 10 times more) for the websites concerned.

Although a PPC advertising campaign begins instantly the moment you pay for it, it also disappears the moment you stop paying, or when your funds run out. PPC is also very vulnerable to sabotage from competitors who want to undermine your PPC campaigns through so called “click fraud”. Organic search results (backed by SEO), on the other hand takes longer to show results, but when results are achieved they are stable as long as SEO efforts are maintained.

What’s the difference between organic vs. paid results?

Organic results are the results that appear in search engines, for free, based on an algorithm. Paid — or inorganic — search results appear at the top or side of a page. These are the links that advertisers pay to appear on different search engines.

How do I know when I’m using the right number of keywords on a page?

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you an exact number that is the “right” number of keywords on a page, mostly because that’s the wrong way to think about keyword optimization.

There’s no keyword density you should be aiming for — in fact, using a keyword too many times can result in penalization due to “keyword stuffing.” Just keep the reader in mind, and only use keywords when you need to. You’ll find enough natural opportunities to include keywords that you won’t even have to worry about reaching an arbitrary number.

How long does it take to see results from SEO?

There are a few different factors that will determine how quickly (or slowly) results will come. This list includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • How much content you create
  • The quality of the content
  • How the content resonates with your audience
  • If you’re a big or small site with strong or weak domain authority

A large site could possibly see results in a couple of days if a search engines is crawling their site regularly. Smaller sites will most likely take longer because they get crawled less frequently. Wait at least a week, but probably closer to a month, before you consider changing your SEO strategy — a bit longer if you’re brand new to SEO.

What’s a good goal to set for your SEO?

When you think about your goal for SEO, don’t just think about the top of the funnel and how many more visits you’re getting to your website. Think about your full marketing funnel and how much quality traffic you’re getting to your website.

Are the people who are finding your website through SEO actually qualified prospects for your business? If not, does it really matter that the traffic to your website has increased?

As you create your goals, consider what general traffic vs. quality traffic means to you. Set goals not just based on traffic, but based on the entirety of your marketing funnel.

Should I bold and or italicize my keyword phrases in my copy?

I heard from the dogcatcher that I need to place my keyword phrases in: [bold] [italics] [H1s] [alt tags] [Meta tags] [anchor text] [Title tags] [body text] [the first few words on my site] [the first paragraph of my site] [the last paragraph of my site] [my cousin Vinnie’s site]. Is this true?

The most important places to utilize your researched keyword phrases (anywhere from 3-5 of these per page) are 1) your Title tags, 2) in the visible copy that people read, and 3) in onsite and offsite links (aka the “anchor text”).

Whether they’re in the first paragraph, first words, last words, or whatever really doesn’t make all that much difference. I’ve long ago stopped worrying about specific places and coding and simply use them where they make sense from a reader’s perspective. I would definitely avoid using them in “ALL the right places” such as listed in the question above, however. This is because if you pull all the tricks out of your SEO bag, your page will simply reek of SEO.

If it makes sense to have a headline that uses a keyword phrase, then go for it, but don’t feel that you have to create headlines where none were needed. If it makes sense to describe a graphic with a keyword phrase, then you shouldn’t hesitate to do it. The important thing is not to do anything just because you think you have to in order for the search engines to like you. There are very, very few “have to’s” when it comes to SEO. This is because SEO is an art, not a science.

Should I buy numerous keyword rich domains?

The guy who fixed my roof told me to purchase a minimum of 10 keyword-rich domains for various aspects of my business. What’s the best use of these for search engine optimization purposes?

Unfortunately, there’s no good use for those when it comes to the search engines. If you try to gain an unfair advantage in the engines by blanketing them with lots of different sites, you will then be into that “deceptive” territory I’m always talking about.

In my opinion, your best bet is to simply park them all at one domain, and then forward the whole lot via a permanent 301-redirect to your main site, while telling your roofer to stick to roofing. 😉 (See “How To Redirect Multiple Parked Domains.”)

The only other viable option for the domains would be to truly build completely different sites at some of the domains. There’s nothing wrong with having a few sites, but they really should each provide different info in order for them to be effective. Just remember that keeping and maintaining many sites is a lot more work than just having one site that is the best it can be!

Should I optimize for the plural or singular form of my keyword phrases?

Both the plural and singular form of my keyword phrase are searched upon often according to Wordtracker. Which one should I choose?

Both. Keyword phrases such as the singular and plural forms of your words, which are related, are extremely simple to use within the visible copy on your pages. When we naturally write or speak, we use both plural and singular forms of words, so why restrict yourself to one or the other?

Never optimize a page or a site for just one keyword phrase. That is the equivalent of SEO suicide in my opinion. Every site has hundreds if not thousands of phrases that someone might use to find it. Figure out what they are, and then use them to your advantage to bring highly targeted visitors to your site.

Should I add a robots follow meta tag to my pages?

My chiropractor said that I should add a “robots follow” tag on all the pages of our site in order for it to be spidered deeply by the search engines. She also said that I should put the “revisit after” tag on as well, to let the bots know how often they should stop by. What do you think?

The default for all search engine spiders is to automatically follow the links that it finds on any given page, which makes any “robots follow” tag redundant. If you *don’t* want the search engine spider to follow the links, you can try the “no follow” tag, but it may or may not be obeyed by all robots.

The “revisit after” tag is not necessary, nor is it helpful. The search engine spiders work on their own timetable, and couldn’t care less what your revisit tag says. I’ve heard that the tag was actually created for one specific search engine a long time ago, but I’ve never bothered to confirm it. At any rate, there’s no need to clutter up your code with it as today’s engines ignore it.

Why do many top-listed pages have no content?

If you’re so smart and keep telling everyone that content is king, then how come the top pages for the keyword [insert any word here] don’t have lots of visible content?

I do believe that content is king, because that’s what the people who visit your site are looking for. However, content doesn’t necessarily mean 250 words (or whatever) of text. Content means different things for different sites. Content can simply be your product offerings. For instance, sites from well-known brands very often have no visible copy on their home pages, but still rank highly for some very general keywords. This is often due to their strong brand, which brings in tons and tons of natural links to the site.

Natural links are those that people add to their own websites just because they found them relevant to whatever point they were trying to make. Bloggers do this often, and so do people on forum threads. Let’s face it; well-known brands are talked about a lot, both in real life, and online. It makes perfect sense that if you’re searching for something general like “pizza” that Pizza Hut and Domino’s will show up at the top of the results. It’s not necessary for them to say all over their site that they are all about pizza because that’s a given.

For those of you who don’t have a big brand, you can certainly create a home page that doesn’t describe what you offer in clear words, but you’d better be prepared to put all your faith in a link-building campaign.

Always remember that there are tons of ways to obtain targeted search engine traffic, and the methods I espouse are just one way. They happen to work for my clients and me, and I like them because they focus on making the site better overall. However, every site is unique and you have to decide what the best overall strategy is for YOUR site. There’s no sense in compromising your message for search engine rankings, as you’ll be less apt to convert your visitors into taking your desired action. On the other hand, if you have no visitors, it really doesn’t matter what your message is, now does it!

Why do you need SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)?

These days, everybody “Googles it”.  SEO = Search Engine Optimisation lavishes attention on your website by giving it the right emphasis and focus in your marketing arsenal.

What should I do about competitors who spam the search engines?

My competitors are spamming the engines with multiple sites for the same company. [Can I have them killed? 😉 ] What can I do about this?

You can try reporting them to the search engines either via their spam report email address, or through the “dissatisfied with these results” link that most engines have on their results pages. If you decide to do this (and I generally don’t bother) be sure not to complain that “it’s not fair,” and that your site is better or that you’re losing money, etc. Simply mention that the search results for the particular search query you tried is bringing up multiple domains for essentially the same product, service or company, and that you thought that the engine might want to know about this.

The results may or may not change over time, but at least you can feel good that you tried to help them to improve the quality of their results. They really do want that info, but it’s unclear as to whether they will agree with you and also act upon your report.

(For the record, I don’t recommend having the competitor killed!)

What are keywords?

Say you wanted to find out how fast a cheetah can run. On Google, you type in, “Cheetah running speed”. Google’s software would then search their index of the web to find every page that includes the search terms.

These search terms are known as keywords and are crucial in highlighting your online presence.

What are some of the SEO issues you’ll address during my campaign?

We’ll focus on some of these and other areas:

  • Search Engine Navigation – Make recommendations to allowing search engines to easily navigate through the website.
  • Key Phrase Best Practice – Aligning a keyword or phrase to each page on the site.
  • Search Engine Accessibility – Make recommendations for creating accessible content.
  • Canonical Issues & Duplicate Content – Identification of common duplicate content errors.
  • Robot Traps – Remove common issues that stop search engines from navigating the site.
  • Universal Content – Make recommendations for the inclusion of images and videos in the search results.

How does Google rank pages?

During the search process, Google in essence asks more than 200 questions, including some of the following:

  • How many times does this page contain the keywords?
  • Do the words appear in the title or in the URL, or both?
  • Does the page include synonyms for those words?
  • How fast does the page load compared to a similar page?
  • Is this page from a high or low quality level site?

Google combines all of these factors into a score for each page. It is this score which ultimately results in a page’s ranking within the results.

How can I find out how much traffic my competitor’s site receives?

Our minister told me that I can find out how much traffic my competitors get. Do you know how to do this?

It’s impossible to find out exactly how much traffic your competitors get unless they somehow have their log file statistics out in the open. Sites such as Alexa.com can give you some comparative data, but they will never give you the exact amount of traffic that your competitors receive. The only sites you can get that info from are those to which you have log file access, or those on which you have installed some tracking code. Nobody can just install this sort of thing on their competitors’ sites, as they’d need server access to do so.

That said, there are some tools that can provide you with some competitive analysis such as Comscore, KeywordDiscovery competitive Intelligence, and Hitwise.

How can we minimize traffic loss after a domain name change?

We are changing the name of our company and therefore must change our domain name to reflect our new brand. Our Website has been around for many years and has hundreds of links pointing to it. How can we minimize any loss of traffic or search engine rankings once we go live with the new domain?

Normally, this would not be a major problem with the search engines as you could simply park the new domain name at the same DNS and people could use either domain to get to your Website. However, there are some issues that you may want to try to avoid or minimize.

For instance, if you simply park your new domain, there’s really no way to tell the search engines to start using that one instead of the old one. Most likely, the engines will simply keep indexing the old domain. That’s not a problem in and of itself as people will still end up where you want them to be, but it can be a branding nightmare.

Eventually if you get more links pointing to the new domain than the old, your new one may start to be preferred by the engines, but this could take years, and it’s not a given that it will actually work that way. You could also send emails to all your old linking partners requesting that they point their links to your new domain, but that could be a ton of work, and most likely only a certain percentage of them will bother to do it. Even trying to get a large directory such as Yahoo or DMOZ to change the URLs can be “iffy” at best.

Because of these minor headaches, I’d suggest that you set up a permanent 301-redirect at the server level from the old domain to the new. This is the preferred method of search engines, and it directly tells them (through the http headers) that the old domain has permanently moved to the new one. On Apache servers, these 301s can be easily set up through an .htaccess file. On Windows servers, it may be slightly more complicated, but your server/host should be able to help you do this correctly.

Be aware, however, that it most likely will take a good 2 or 3 months for the search engines to fully understand that all your files have moved. For a while you may find the old domain is still indexed, or some of both domains, or even neither of them. Don’t panic when this happens. Just ride it out, and eventually all will be well. Google is especially good at understanding what to do with the 301s. Yahoo has traditionally been slower to come around, but may be doing a better job with it these days.

You might also want to read up on Google’s Aging Delay as that can also put a crimp in thing.

 

How do I get my files indexed by the search engines after a redesign where file names have changed?

I’ve finally redesigned my circa-1997 Web site, and all the file names have changed. What should I do to ensure that the search engines index my new pages?

You should redirect all the old URLs to the new ones, via a 301-permanent redirect. If you’re on an apache server, this can be done via the .htaccess file.  There’s more information in our 301-redirect forum.

You may also want to submit a sitemap to Google with the new URLs.  Or, you could try Greg Boser’s method of redirecting the old files to the new ones via a 301, and then actually submitting a sitemap to Google with the old URLs.  This apparently causes Google to try to reindex them, and the 301 immediately tells them their new location.

How do search engines work?

When you perform a search, you are not actually searching the web. Instead you are searching an index of the web (e.g. Google or Bing) via software programs called ‘spiders’.

These spiders start by fetching a few web pages and then follow the links on those pages. This process is repeated until you are presented with search results from the billions of pages stored all over the world.

Do I need to make sure my files are not buried deeply in multiple directories on my server?

I read an article from 1997 that said all my files should be in the “root” directory on my server so that they are not buried deep within the site. Is this still true?

It actually was never true, although I may have been one of those spreading that myth back then! This is one of those things that many people confuse because it’s sort of half true.

It doesn’t actually matter where a page physically resides on your server, but it does matter how difficult it is for a search engine to find it. So when we talk about not “burying” pages on your site, we don’t mean that you shouldn’t have it 10 directories/folders deep on the server; we simply mean that it shouldn’t be 10 clicks away from the home page. The fewer clicks it takes to get to any given page, the more important a search engine (and your user) will deem it to be. And of course, the more important they deem it to be, the more apt they are to find and index it.

Beyond just having a link to it from the home page, pages that are in the main navigation will be naturally given more weight by the engines, as you are essentially telling them that those pages are the most important in the site.

If I submitted my site and it’s not showing up, does this mean it’s been banned?

I submitted my site [manually] [automatically] [last week] [last month] [3 days ago] and it’s not showing up in any of the search engines. Have I been penalized/banned?

If the site you submitted doesn’t have any deceptive qualities, then no, you’re not banned or penalized. However, all the submissions in the world won’t get your site listed or bring search engine traffic if there aren’t links pointing to it from other sites — and if it’s not optimized for specific keyword phrases. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere submitting to search engines is not necessary nor even helpful. The search engines automatically find new pages on their own.

As with everything SEO related, the keys here are patience and time. If you don’t have both of those, you might as well get out of the SEO game right now and simply buy your way into the search engines through PPC ads.

Will switching server hosts affect my search engine rankings?

I get no respect from my current Web host so I’m switching providers. Will this affect my search engine rankings?

No, it won’t affect your rankings, but it wouldn’t hurt to leave your site up on the old host for about a month to ensure that the DNS propagates across the Web and that the search spiders are indexing the pages at the new host. Once you see the spiders in your log files at the new host, it should be safe to take down the site at the old server.

Can search engines index dynamic sites with ? and = (query strings) in the URL?

I have a dynamically generated site which places question marks and equal signs in the URL. My mother’s hairdresser told me that I need to create static HTML pages in order to show up in the search engines. What do you think?

For the most part, the search engines no longer choke on query strings (those question marks and equal signs) in URLs. Just try to make sure that your content management system (CMS) doesn’t put more than 3 parameters in, and you should most likely be okay. Whenever I’m asked this question, I check the person’s site in Google and Yahoo — and 99% of the time just about all of their pages are indexed already. In those cases, there are not any technical issues; they simply have to do a better job of optimizing their pages for their appropriate keyword phrases.

The most important thing to do with a dynamic site is to create links to the important, optimized pages of the site. Sometimes the only way to find certain information on one of these sites is to fill out a form which then conducts a search of the site. A page that has what you’re looking for is then created for you and displayed in your browser. Unfortunately, that type of page will not be accessible by the search engines because it doesn’t actually exist on the server. If there are specific pages that are created through specific search criteria that many people would be looking for on your site, those are the ones you should create links to in your site navigation and your site map.

You’ll also want to make sure that your CMS is capable of generating unique Title tags for every page of the site. If not, you’ll have to fix this in the system because this is actually one of those things that will be critical to your search engine success.

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