Question Marks on Laptop Representing FAQs

We hope you find these SEO FAQs useful.

Please get in touch if you wish us to add a question to this list of SEO FAQs.

What is on-site SEO?

On-site or on-page SEO is that part of the overall optimisation of a website that occurs on the actual website (as opposed to external factors such as backlinks and social media). It can only be done once the initial keyword research and analysis process has been completed as it relies on keyword data to be effective.

It involves making changes to individual pages on a website to achieve higher rankings in Google or any other search engine people might be using.

On page SEO involves changes to elements such as:

Text content visible on the page, including the actual words but also the formatting with headings, sub-heading, bullet points etc

The “readability” of the text content on the page. Are sentences, paragraphs and sections all short enough to be visually appealing and easily readable?

Parts of a web page that are not visible on the page but show up in the search listings. These are the page title and the page description (also known as the meta description).

Images on the page: their size (small is better for speed), filename, and alternative text that is used by search engines (but also by accessibility software for visually-impaired people)

The URL of the page, which shouldn’t be too long and should be descriptive about the page content

Internal links – a well-optimised website should encourage a flow around different pages of the site using relevant internal links.

Most of these changes involve improving the content to be more relevant to the search terms that the page is targeting. It includes using factors like synonyms and semantically related words but also mathematical checks such as TF-IDF (term-frequency/inverse document -frequency) that determine what words typically appear with keywords even if not semantically related or synonymous.

What is a Meta Title?

A meta title, also known as a title tag or page title, is an HTML element used to define the title of a web page. It is an essential part of a webpage’s metadata and appears in the head section of the HTML code. The meta title is not visible on the webpage itself but plays a crucial role in basic search engine optimisation (SEO) and user experience.

The primary purposes of a meta title are:

• SEO: The meta title is a critical element for search engine optimisation. Search engines like Google use the title tag to understand the content and context of a webpage. It is a significant ranking factor, meaning that the contents of the title tag influence where the page appears in search engine results for relevant queries. Therefore, it’s important to include relevant keywords and accurately describe the page’s content in the meta title.

• User Experience: The meta title is displayed in the browser’s title bar or tab when a user visits a webpage. It also appears as the clickable link in search engine results pages (SERPs). A well-crafted and descriptive meta title helps users quickly understand what the page is about, which can increase the click-through rate (CTR) as it informs users of the content before they visit the page.

A typical meta title is usually limited to 50-60 characters to ensure it fits within the character limits of search engine results and browser tabs. It should concisely and accurately represent the content of the page while incorporating relevant keywords to improve search engine visibility.



What is a Meta Description?

A meta description, also known as a meta tag or meta element, is a brief HTML attribute that provides a concise summary or description of the content of a web page. These descriptions are typically included in the HTML code of a webpage and are not visible on the actual webpage itself. Instead, they are used by search engines and social media platforms to display information about the page in search listings and when the page is shared on social media.

The main purposes of a meta description are:

• SEO: A well-crafted meta description can help improve a webpage’s click-through rate (CTR) in search results by providing users with a preview of what the page is about. It should be relevant to the page’s content, contain relevant keywords, and be engaging to entice users to click on the link.

• Social Sharing: When a web page is shared on social media platforms, the meta description is often used as the default snippet of information in the post. This can make it more appealing to users and encourage them to click on the shared link.

A typical meta description is usually limited to 150-160 characters to ensure that it fits within the character limits of search engine results and social media snippets. It should accurately represent the content of the page, be concise, and encourage users to click through to the page. While search engines don’t use meta descriptions as a direct ranking factor, they play an important role in attracting organic traffic by influencing user behaviour in search results.

Pro Tip about SEO FAQPRO TIP: On WordPress sites install the free Yoast or RankMath plugin which can help you quickly optimise the basics of your web pages. Just remember that high rankings will require more than just this basic level of optimisation.

What is off-site SEO?

Off-site of off-page SEO is another part of the process that improves where a website ranks on the organic search listings.

It primarily involves link building but also includes using techniques such as social media marketing and brand mentions to a lesser extent.

·        Link-building
·        Content Marketing
·        Social Media
·        Brand Mentions
·        Video Promotion
·        Press Releases

What is keyword research?

Keyword research is the process of finding and using the right keywords within your content (either in blog posts, sales pages or landing pages) to attract more visitors from search engines like Google.

People usually type in a search phrase into Google (or Bing etc.) to find what they are looking for whether that is a product, information or maybe they are just at the browsing stage.

This is where keyword research & analysis plays a vital role to ensure a business or organisation can be found for the products, services or information they provide. With the right keywords potential customers will find your website but with the wrong target keywords your services/products may never be found. Or not found by enough people. That is a critical point – there is no point ranking for keywords that are not commonly used so keyword research will identify which keywords to target based on the average number of searches/month.

Want to get started finding the right keywords? Watch our short 60 second video here. to increase your search traffic and website sales?
 
Pro Tip about SEO FAQPRO TIP:
Use the free Keyword Planner tool from Google to help with keyword research. You can find historical search volumes for keywords plus it will generate new keyword ideas.

What is competitor analysis?

Competitor analysis is essentially an audit of what level of SEO is being performed by a website’s competitors in the top search ranking positions. So it involves first identifying top ranking pages for a website’s target search terms. Then analysing competitor content on those high-ranking pages in order to emulate and exceed what the competitors are doing well.

It also includes a full analysis of competitors’ backlinks in order to exceed what they are doing by crafting a better backlink profile.

Competitor Analysis is often done in conjunction with Gap Analysis.

What is gap analysis?

A Gap Analysis aims to identify valuable search terms (keywords) that you are not targeting and, consequently, relevant content that you are not producing so you can plug these “gaps” in your SEO strategy. In general terms a gap analysis will help define your goals and how you can achieve them.

What is link building?

Link building is the most important factor in off-site SEO. Without backlinks a website will never rank well. Some backlinks will be created naturally (especially when promoting a company on social media or YouTube) but a large proportion will be created as part of an SEO campaign.

Link-building is process of attracting backlinks from other websites to your website. To be effective the websites linking to your website should be relevant to your business and/or be reputable websites themselves. This is because the quality of the backlinks is all-important.  

Link building is crucial for every website that wants to improve their organic search rankings for their target keywords. Just like all aspects of SEO link-building can only be done effectively once the keyword research phase has been completed.

There are several link building strategies that are effective, such as:

·        Content Marketing
·        Guest posting
·        Infographics
·        Citations
·        Editorial links
·        Broken link building
·        2nd tier linking

Google considers backlinks as “votes” and gives higher rankings for the sites with more backlinks. That’s why it’s essential for you to focus on attracting as many quality and relevant backlinks as possible to your sites to generate more traffic and sales.

What is technical SEO?

Technical SEO deals with the data related to optimising a website and, importantly, the analysis of that data in order to improve optimisation.

As with SEO in general it involves on-site and off-site aspects.
The key difference with technical SEO is in the data analysis
 
Many SEO professionals build links: log them and monitor them, check for “nofollow” tags and ensure that there is a relevant variety of anchor text. Technical SEO professional go several steps further and also include the following analyses:

·        Linking Domain quality (authority & traffic)
·        Linking Domain IP addresses
·        Age of linking domains
·        Indexing of linking pages
·        External links on linking pages
·        Categorisation of anchor text groups
·        Link velocity
 
Technical SEO also has an on-site side that mostly deals with how a website is constructed. So it involves checking a website to ensure there are no technical errors (like broken links), that site speed is good for PCs/laptops and also, crucially, for mobile devices. To check and resolve and such issues requires a Technical SEO Audit.

What are backlinks?


A backlink is a regular link from any website to your website. It literally links back to your website and so is a “vote” of the authority and reputation of your website.

The important thing to remember about backlinks is whether they add any SEO value – many don’t. For instance, they should not have the “nofollow” tag and the website and page they come from should have:

·        High domain authority
·        Good web traffic
·        Content relevant to your business
·        Few external links on the same page

What is a sitemap?

A sitemap is simply a list of all the pages on your website. Within the file is the option to tell search engines like Google not to check certain pages. For example if your site has certain pages only used by the webmaster you may not want those appearing in the search engine results pages (SERPS).

Search engines like Google use the sitemap to navigate through your website and index you pages. Whilst it could still find your pages without a sitemap use of the sitemap save Google time and, therefore, it can spend more time indexing your pages rather than looking for them.

What are internal lnks?

Internal links are links on your own website that link to other pages on your own website. They are important for these reasons:

They engage website visitors and encourage them to stay on your website for longer so improving visitor metrics, which are a ranking factor.

They indicate to search engines like Google which are the most important pages on your website – i.e. those with most internal links to them.

What is the difference between dofollow and nofollow links?

“Dofollow” links tell search engines to view the page being linked to and include it in their index/list of web pages. Whereas “nofollow” links tell search engines not to view the page being linked to. Search engines like Google still take note of “nofollow” links but they don’t add any SEO value 

It is important to identify which backlinks to a website are dofollow or nofollow as the proportions of each are important. Too many of either type can negatively affect the search engine rankings and traffic to a website. In general, it is best to have the majority of links as dofollow for maximum SEO value i.e. between 60-90%. But as with all SEO tactics it is important to check top-ranking competitors for a comparison.

Nofollow links most often come from social media and well-known media outlets such as national newspapers and news sites such as the BBC. These links don’t have any SEO value but they can still drive traffic to your website.

What is a Google algorithm?

An algorithm is a sophisticated set of rules and calculations in a computer program that checks the 200+ ranking factors for a website and uses that data to decide where the website should rank in the search listings for a particular search term/keyword.

SEO professionals aim to satisfy as many of the 200+ checks as possible for a website. However, it is worth bearing in mind that many, many other websites are all trying to achieve a high ranking and there is only one top spot. That means a website not only has to satisfy the ranking factors but do so better than any of their competitors.

To compound the issue Google never publish exactly what the ranking factors are, although analysing which websites rank best for certain searches helps SEO experts to make good educated guesses as to what they are.

Google regularly update their algorithm to improve the search experience and do not publicise the updates (as they did in the past).
 
It aims to reward websites for certain positive factors such as:

·        Good mobile speed
·        Good mobile user experience (UX)
 
And penalise websites for shady tactics such as:

·        Duplicate content
·        “Thin” content i.e. content with no real value
·        keyword stuffing
·        Low quality or irrelevant links
·        Content full of adverts, especially intrusive popups

How can a website appear higher up in the organic search listings?

The simple answer to that question is to make your website better than the competition and to have a backlink profile better than the competition. That all takes time and effort so SEO is not a quick solution but a long-term strategy to build an authoritative website full of quality content.

The proven techniques to doing this include:

·        Keyword research
·        On-page optimisation
·        Good mobile speed and user experience
·        Gain as many good quality links as possible from a range of relevant websites
·        Produce great content on a regular basis
·        Promote your content to encourage social shares and comments
 
 

What is domain authority (DA)?

Domain authority (DA) is a well-known SEO metric from Moz, a company that produces SEO software tools. It is one metric by which to assess the reputation of your own website, competitor websites and sites linking to your website. It is a value between 1 and 100.

To produce a DA value, Moz analyses the quantity and quality of a website’s backlinks along with an estimate of the traffic to the website. To improve DA the techniques are essentially the same as the standard SEO techniques.

What is trust flow (TF)?

Trust Flow is a metric from Majestic SEO, a company that produces SEO software tools. It is one metric by which to assess the reputation of your own website, competitor websites and sites linking to your website. It is a value between 1 and 100.

To produce a TF value, Majestic SEO analyses the quantity and quality of a website’s backlinks along with an estimate of the traffic to the website. To improve TF the techniques are essentially the same as the standard SEO techniques.
 

Is website speed important for SEO?

Yes, website speed and loading time is an acknowledged ranking factor for every website. It is one of the most important ranking factors in Google search because it affects the user experience, particularly on mobile devices.

Pro Tip about SEO FAQPRO TIP:
Use Google’s free tool PageSpeed Insights to check website speed on both desktop and mobile devices. The tool also makes recommendations specific to a website for improving speed.

What are the Google ranking factors?

There are more than 200 ranking factors that Google takes into account in order to decide where a particular web page should appear in the organic search listings.

Here are just a few of them:

·        Age of website
·        Errors on website
·        Content quality
·        Frequency of changes/additions to website
·        User engagement metrics
·        Backlink quality
·        Anchor text used for backlinks
·        Frequency of gaining new backlinks
·        Website speed
·        Mobile user experience

Is social media important for SEO?

Social media may not be a direct ranking factor in Google’s algorithm but it does indirectly affect SEO. That’s because it can drive visitors to a website (either directly or via brand building) and encourage them to comment on content such as blog posts. Visits and visitor engagement are ranking factors so by influencing them social media is an important factor in organic search success.
 
However, effort on social media needs to be highly focused in order to have an impact on a website’s rankings. That means not simply generally spending time on social media but to have a targeted campaign such as promoting a particular piece of content on your website.

How can I monitor keyword positions on Google?

Monitoring keyword positions for a website on search engines like Google is an essential part of an SEO campaign, in order to understand the affect various optimisation activities are having. This can’t easily be done manually so it’s best to use a keyword tracking tool such as Rank Tracker, SEMrush, Ahrefs or Majestic SEO to easily track all keywords.


Pro Tip about SEO FAQPRO TIP:
Use Google Search Console to identify keywords currently bringing visitors to your website. Include these in your keyword rank tracking to identify new keywords that are driving traffic. For instance to a new, popular blog post. Or to identify long-tail keywords.

What are long tail keywords?

Long tail keywords are actually phrases with 4 or more words that people are using in searches. For many websites a combination of all their successful long-tail keywords can drive more traffic than their SEO target keywords.

Google Search Console can be used to identify long-tail keywords that are already driving traffic to a website.

An example of a long-tail keyword might be: “how to drive more visitors to my website?” or “how can I get more visitors to my website?”

How to identify website issues affecting optimisation?

There are many SEO audit tools available that can identify issues with a website that are negatively affecting optimisation.  These can include broken links, mixing http and https within a website, having duplicate page titles, missing page description or missing images.

Try a Basic SEO Audit to quickly identify the most important issues or for a fuller analysis and recommendations for improvements try a more detailed SEO Health Check.

What is voice search?

Voice search is an increasingly important type of search for some industries. It uses speech recognition technology via tools such as Alexa to find answers to common queries. In order to have your website found via a voice search try and include commonly used phrases in your text content. Think about how people talk rather than what they might type into a search engine.

What is bounce rate?

Bounce rate is the percentage of people who leave the web page they first arrive at on a website without visiting any other pages on the website. It is an indication that the visitor hasn’t found what they were looking for on your page or that the page was loading too slowly so they didn’t wait to look at it. Obviously, this is a sign of poor user engagement so you should be monitoring the bounce rate on your important pages.

For any page with a high bounce rate (80% or more) aim to lower the bounce rate by improving the page to make it more appealing, faster to load and to add prominent calls-to-action including internal linking from within the text.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free tool that every website owner should be using. It shows in-depth data about all visits to your website and visitor demographics. It allows you to monitor SEO metrics such as click-through rate and bounce rate. It allows you to see variations in traffic numbers by day, week, month, compare visits in different periods to check increases or decreases over time. It shows where referrals come from, how many visits via social channels, organic search and numbers of visitors who type your URL directly into a browser.
 
All these data and much more are available and are vital to track and inform an SEO strategy.

What is a featured snippet?

A featured snippet is some additional information that Google chooses to show in the search listings that provide information they believe searchers are seeking. All without having to click on a website. They can be answers to common questions, information about a celebrity, price comparisons for products etc.
 
Featured snippets are important because they have a higher click-through rate than regular listings in organic search. There is no guarantee Google will show a featured snippet for any particular web page but you can increase the chances that they will. Here’s how…

Make sure your content is well-formatted. Use bullet points and tables wherever it make sense to do so.

And add structured data to key web pages – these are bits of code that tell search engines more about your page. Structured data or schema markup can be added manually by a web developer or for those with WordPress sites try the Yoast or RankMath plugins.

What are LSI keywords?

LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords are words which are similar or related semantically to the main keyword that you are targeting. So they are not synonyms – although synonyms should also be included in good-quality content.

In the example of a main keyword being “spa week-end” some LSI keywords might be “hot tub”, “health break”, “skin treatments”

It is important to use LSI keywords because they provide a better user experience for people reading your content but, importantly, they are a strong signal to Google that your content is highly relevant to a particular search.

That means LSI keywords can improve organic rankings and so increase visitor numbers to a website.

What is structured data or schema markup?

Structured data, also known as schema markup or schema.org markup, is a specific type of metadata that webmasters can add to their web pages to provide search engines with structured information about the content on the page. This structured data helps search engines better understand the context and meaning of the content, making it easier to display relevant and rich search results, such as rich snippets, knowledge graphs, and other enhanced search features.

Structured data uses a standardised format and vocabulary to describe various types of content, such as articles, products, recipes, events, organisations, and more. It provides a way to label and organize information, including entities, properties, and relationships. Schema.org is a collaborative project supported by major search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex, which defines the structured data vocabulary that webmasters can use.

Benefits of using structured data include:

• Enhanced Search Results: When you provide structured data, search engines can display more informative and visually appealing search results. For example, you can include review ratings, product prices, publication dates, and other rich information directly in the search results.

• Improved Search Engine Rankings: While structured data itself is not a direct ranking factor, it can indirectly improve a webpage’s visibility by making the content more accessible and attractive to search engines, which may lead to higher click-through rates.

• Voice Search and Digital Assistants: Structured data is crucial for voice search and digital assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa. By structuring your content, you make it easier for these systems to provide accurate answers to user queries.

• Better User Experience: Structured data can improve the user experience by helping search engines deliver more relevant and informative results, which can lead to increased user satisfaction.

To implement structured data, webmasters can use a variety of markup formats, including JSON-LD (JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data), Microdata, and RDFa (Resource Description Framework in Attributes). Adding structured data to a website typically involves including the appropriate markup in the HTML code of web pages, specifying the type of content and providing relevant details. You can use online tools and documentation to generate and validate structured data for your website.

Using structured data is a powerful technique to make your web content more visible and informative to both search engines and users, ultimately improving the discoverability and relevance of your web pages in search results.

What is site structure?

Site structure, also known as website structure or information architecture, refers to the way a website’s content is organized, categorized, and interconnected. It encompasses the hierarchical arrangement of web pages, menus, navigation systems, and the relationships between different sections of a website. The site structure determines how users can navigate through the website to access and discover its content.

Site structure is important for user experience for several reasons:

1. Navigation: A well-organized site structure provides clear and intuitive navigation paths for users. When visitors can easily find what they’re looking for, they are more likely to stay on the site, explore further, and achieve their goals, whether it’s finding information, making a purchase, or consuming content.

2. Content Discoverability: A logical and hierarchical structure helps users discover related and relevant content. When content is categorized and linked appropriately, users can seamlessly move from one topic to another, leading to a more engaging and informative experience.

3. Efficiency: An efficient site structure reduces the time and effort required for users to locate information or complete tasks. Users should not have to go through unnecessary steps or backtrack to find what they need. A well-structured site minimizes frustration and maximizes user productivity.

4. User Engagement: A user-friendly site structure encourages users to explore more pages and engage with the website’s content. This increased engagement can lead to longer sessions and higher conversion rates, whether it’s signing up for a newsletter, making a purchase, or sharing content.

5. Mobile-Friendly Design: With the growing number of users accessing websites on mobile devices, a well-structured site is critical for responsive design. A clear and organized structure ensures that your website functions well on various screen sizes and orientations.

6. SEO (Search Engine Optimization): Search engines use a website’s structure to crawl and index its content. A well-structured site makes it easier for search engines to understand the hierarchy and relevance of pages, potentially improving search engine rankings.

7. Accessibility: An organized site structure supports accessibility by making it easier for users with disabilities to navigate and understand the content. Proper headings, labels, and links contribute to a more inclusive experience.

To create an effective site structure, consider the following best practices:

• Start with a clear homepage that provides an overview of the site’s main sections.

• Organize content hierarchically, with broad categories and subcategories.

• Use descriptive and consistent labels for menus and navigation elements.

• Ensure a logical flow from one page to another, with relevant interlinking.

• Implement a responsive design to accommodate various devices and screen sizes.

• Test your site structure with real users to gather feedback and make improvements.

Overall, a well-planned and user-centric site structure is fundamental to providing a positive user experience, driving user engagement, and achieving your website’s objectives. It helps users easily access the information they seek and encourages them to interact with your content, products, or services.

What is TF-IDF?

TF-IDF stands for Term-Frequency/Inverse Document Frequency and is a mathematical calculation that determines which words commonly appear with other words in any given document. Using this calculation to improve web content provides a strong signal to Google that your content is good-quality.
 
It’s an additional technique similar to LSI keywords but it actually checks which words the top-rankings pages are using and shows the related words that are missing from your content and those words that are over-used. All in comparison to top-ranking sites so you can leverage what the best of the best are doing.

There are various tools that will do this automatically for you like Ryte or Website Auditor.

What is Natural Language Processing (NLP)?

Natural Language Processing (NLP) is a field of artificial intelligence (AI) and computational linguistics that focuses on the interaction between computers and human language. We discuss this topic in depth in our expert article: NLP and how Google uses it in their algorithm.
  
 

2 thoughts on “SEO FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions – Search Engine Optimisation

  1. We’ve spent a long time ensuring all the Yoast settings are right on our WordPress website, but have not seen any difference in our positions in search. Competitors with worse looking websites are still outranking us.

    We have also spent time creating lots of blog posts- again to no avail.

    Where are we going wrong and what should we do next?

    1. Hi Gill,
      None of what you are doing is wrong so do keep it up, especially the blog posts which will show Google you are regularly updating the website as well as attracting readers.

      The Yoast settings, again, are important, but they are only a basic form of optimisation. You really need to see what your competitors are doing – do they, for example have much more content on their main SEO target pages? Do they have structured (schema) markup data? But most crucially, what does their backlink profile look like? Do they have more, better quality backlinks than you do?

      To find this out you really need to have an SEO audit…

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