What is the difference between SEO and Local SEO?
SEO, or more accurately, “organic SEO,” focuses on the more broad and long term, optimizing a website to gain visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs). It aims to provide search engines with signals that show it matches searchers’ intent with accurate information presented through a positive user experience (UX).
Local SEO is the practice of building signals of relevance around your location(s) for geographically specific search queries. It’s the practice of understanding local search terms and updating your Google My Business (GMB) page (that listing that shows up alongside Google’s map visual) with your services, address, contact info and geographic reach, and mapping that to your website. Local SEO often shows more short-term gains (for locally focused businesses), since it provides direct access and information for a searcher trying to engage your company in a certain area.
How long should my blog/site/etc content be?
There are reports stating 1,600+ words for blog posts and 600+ words for site content are ideal. The reasoning behind that is to rank for a lot of different keywords and cast a large net to get as much traffic as possible — but this length of content should also lead to a higher quality, more authoritative post. What’s more important to consider, though, is whether you’re fulfilling Google’s main objectives: answering users’ questions, concerns and queries. If you’re doing that, the length is of less importance. When determining length of content, these two steps are essential:
- Competitive research: What type of content are your competitors (in a general business sense, as well as those ranking higher than you on the SERP) writing? How often are they publishing new content and updating existing pages? How lengthy are their content pieces? At which position does that content fall on the SERP? What level of quality is their content?
- Informed production: Based on this competitive research, consider whether your piece needs to be as long — or if you can answer the question in a more concise, more engaging, more quickly read manner. Also consider whether the high-ranking content goes far enough in depth and you may find opportunity to lengthen your content to include additional valuable information.
How can I rank for Featured Snippets (Position 0)?
First off, you need to understand which keywords trigger the different types of featured snippets, and make sure those are your content’s focus. Keyword, query and competitor research will be useful in narrowing down your target. Then, make sure your content is laid out in digestible chunks, be it paragraphs, lists or tables. Be sure, too, that it answers the query quickly, succinctly and with solid data to back it up. Finally, marking up your page with the correct schema ensures your website serves up to Google the correct, salient information.
Why is keyword research important and what do you use it for?
Keyword research is important because it helps you determine which terms are most searched, drive the most traffic and are easiest to rank for. This research also provides you with clear goals/KPIs to aim for with your content and SEO efforts. Keyword research is used to drive users to specific pages/content depending on strategy. Ideally, you want to get the user to your products and/or services so you can increase revenue. Keyword research can also be used to help create your editorial calendar, language to use in your email marketing and can help with your paid advertising. This is especially true when you conduct keyword research to align with the customer journey — what keywords would a searcher use during the research stage? When they’re ready to convert? Knowing how users search at each stage helps determine what content to create that facilitates their journey to purchase.
What is the difference between a keyword and a search query?
Most people will think they are the same thing, but they aren’t. Search query or search term is the actual word + string of words (think “apple” + “with the sweetest taste”) a user types into the search engine search box. This can be phrases, questions and even misspellings. With the rise of voice search, queries are becoming longer and more specific.
A keyword is a very specific word or words that lead us to variations or queries. The keyword “apple” is a very high-level keyword that can lead to so many queries, such as “apple tree planting” or “apple desserts” or even “apple computer” — and that last one emphasizes the need to go beyond keywords and consider full queries, since a fruit and a MacBook are two very different things.
What are backlinks?
A backlink is a link on another website that points to yours. This means that another website is using your page as a source/citation or resource, or otherwise adding value to their own content by including a link to yours. For the most part, backlinks are good — they help you develop domain authority to be better trusted by search engines. In some cases, a backlink is not good — these are referred to as “toxic.” A thorough backlink audit determines if more links are needed and if any links are toxic, or from an unreputable or low-value source.
What is domain authority?
Domain authority is an indicator of web page relevance. It’s also a determining factor for a URL’s position in the SERPs. Moz developed the branded term Domain Authority (DA) by assigning a specific rank (1 to 100) — the higher the score, the better your chances are of ranking well.
What are canonicals?
Canonical tags (rel canonical) have two functions:
- If you can’t do redirects, they can be used to redirect specific pages to another page.
- They are also used to help indicate which page is the original piece of content to prevent duplicate content issues.
The reason canonicals are important for marketers: It helps content avoid rankings hits or penalties by clearly stating the source article (and preventing duplicate content issues). When done incorrectly (or not at all), it can have a long-lasting, negative impact on your SEO performance.
What does schema markup do?
Schema markup tells the search engines what your content/data means and how they should digest the information so they can provide the best snapshot to their users. By adding schema markup to your code, it can improve how your page is displayed on the search results pages. For instance, you can specify which image should be featured, provide a SERP-focused page summary (instead of letting the search engine take your first few on-page sentences) and ensure titles display correctly.
What’s the difference between 301 and 302 redirects?
A 301 redirect is telling the search engines this page has permanently moved to this other page.
A 302 redirect is telling the search engines this page is temporarily moved and will come back at a later time.
Why shouldn’t I just bulk redirect old pages to one URL instead of making 1-to-1 redirects?
In the best case scenario, you should do 1-to-1 redirects. A bulk redirect is a poor choice because it assumes every page in the set has the same value. If you’re losing a part of your website and those pages will not exist moving forward, you should analyze the data of those pages to see if those should be redirected or not. For pages that have equity, you should redirect those to a relevant page or category (telling Google this page has been moved and the information is now found elsewhere). For pages that have little to no equity or are carrying a penalty, those pages should not be redirected — those should be 410 (which tells Google something used to be here, but it has been removed). Basically, you’re telling the search engines to deindex those low-value pages.
What types of pages should I block or no-index in my sitemap?
For any pages you do not want indexed (meaning they won’t show up in search engines) or to be seen, you should not put them in your user-facing sitemap or your sitemap.xml. On those specific pages you should add a meta robots tag to no-index the page(s). Examples of pages typically tagged no index include: company or client sensitive data, documents/files, emails (webmail), PDFs and images that aren’t meant for the general public, paid landing pages, etc.
Why do my Google rankings go up and down?
Unfortunately, rankings constantly move up and down. This isn’t anything you need to worry about on a daily basis. There are a lot of factors, more than 200 and counting, of why your rankings move up or down. First thing you‘ll want to do is ask if there have been any recent changes to your website, then check Google’s webmaster forum to see if other people are seeing similar movement. If the movement is a pervasive issue, it could be an algorithm update has occurred and restructured the SERP. If not the two above, then it means your competitors are doing SEO and taking over your market share. You should contact an agency to help you regain your market share and climb back up the SERPs.
There are a lot of terms and definitions in SEO and analytics. What do they all mean?
When a user engages with your website, they initiate a session. They could be viewing and reading content, clicking on a button or making a purchase. Session metrics tell you how many people initiated sessions within the specified date range.
A user is a person who initiates a session. In other words, the user is the person on the other side of the screen who clicks, reads, navigates around, purchases, etc.
Bounce rate, shown as a percentage, is the portion of users who initiated a session by coming to the page, but did not interact (scroll, click, etc.) and who left almost immediately after arriving. Usually, the lower the bounce rate, the better.
Goals, which must be defined through Google Analytics, typically relate to conversions (form fills, purchases, etc.) and therefore “goal completion” is the number of times that action was taken.
When your ad is shown to a user, that’s an impression. Whether they clicked on it or even actually looked at it (that would be analogous to driving past a billboard but not taking your eyes off the road) is not relevant. The number of impressions shows you how many times your ad was presented.
This onomatopoeia means a user clicked on your ad or link. In a mobile environment, there’s no actual mouse “click,” but rather a tap of a finger or stylus, but it’s effectively the same thing.
A conversion must be user-defined, but typically it refers to when a user goes on and completes a revenue-driving action, such as completing and submitting a form, making a purchase, trying a demo or otherwise beginning their path to purchase.
A view-through conversion means a user was served your ad and ended up converting (within a certain span of time after viewing the ad), but they didn’t actually click or otherwise interact with any of your ads directly.
As it sounds, a negative keyword is the opposite of a keyword, meaning it’s what you don’t want to show up for. If you’re selling Granny Smith apples, for instance, you may use the negative keyword “MacBook” so you don’t waste ad spend on people who search “apple” but are looking for a computer, not your fruit.
What’s the difference between paid and organic search?
Paid search allows you to pay per click (PPC) to have your website displayed on the search engine results pages when someone types in their query. These results show up in the results list and on the sides of the page and are marked with an “ad” icon. Often, PPC search ads show up before organic results.
Organic search is based on driving traffic via unpaid and natural rankings through website optimization. These are, in many ways, more trustworthy links, but that doesn’t mean they always convert better than PPC search ads.
In an ideal world, you would want to go after both paid and organic search traffic. Organic SEO will help you rise in SERP rankings and capture traffic of those looking for valuable, trusted sources, while paid search ads will, among other things, attract users looking for a quick solution or a branded product.
How can I use social media to help my website traffic/rankings/conversions?
Social media is useful in so many ways beyond cat videos and FOMO-inducing vacation photos. Social platforms are a great way to promote your content, be it content marketing blogs, product pages, news alerts, job listings or anything else living on your website. Those posts put your content in front of an already interested audience (they’re on your social page, aren’t they?) when they otherwise may have never stumbled across it. Not only will this drive traffic, it can give your content the initial boost it needs to be determined valuable and trustworthy by search engines.
Social media is also great for providing social proof and engagement, which shows users that you’re transparent and open to public social conversations. Content with high social engagement can be better-valued by search engines, and subsequently rise through the SERPs.
All of this can drive conversions. Plus, you can use social media to promote specific products, solutions, sales, demos and other opportunities to gain customers.
Should I do SEO before I build my new website?
Yes! SEO should be baked in to your site development and launch plan. Most new websites take anywhere from 60 to 120 days to build. Most of the SEO work you do on your current website while your new website is being built can be moved over to the new website. If you wait to do SEO after the new website is built, you can be many months behind where you should be and missing out on a lot of traffic and revenue.
How soon will I see results in PPC, SEO, content, etc?
With SEO, it’s important to remember: You may see some quick wins, but you should expect to see steady improvement in keyword rankings and traffic in about 90 days. If you’re in the B2C vertical, you should see positive results within a week of starting your PPC campaign. If you’re in the B2B space, you should see positive results from PPC anywhere from 30 to 60 days. Content marketing is typically a long-term play, meaning your results will be seen in 60 days or beyond, but this varies by content type. And if your content is filling a gaping search hole with valuable information, you could rank much more quickly. Get more detail on how long it will take to produce SEO results here.
My competitors are outranking me for certain keywords. How do I beat them?
With a stick. Just kidding! In all seriousness, the quickest way to create your attack plan is to conduct a competitive analysis. You’ll want to look at your competitors’ content, types of keywords and how the content is written, then point internal links from relevant pages to equally relevant content.
What is the typical conversion rate of a website?
This varies widely, and is often dependant on your industry. Typical analysis pegs about a 2% to 5% conversion rate as decent; however, there’s a lot of room for growth there! Ecommerce has historically low conversion rates (due in large part to competition), while finance industries tend to have a much higher conversion rate (closer to 10%). At the end of the day, it’s important to understand where you’re currently at, develop a solid improvement strategy, map out the specific tactics you want to employ to increase your conversion rate and determine specific, measurable goals — all things an agency can help you with, especially an agency with conversion rate optimization (CRO) capabilities.
What are the best metrics to gauge a website’s performance?
In the SEO industry, a lot of time is spent talking about traffic. Don’t get us wrong, that’s still an incredibly important metric, but you should spend an equal amount of time tracking conversions and conversion rate — these are the numbers that ultimately impact your bottom line (all the traffic in the world means nothing if they don’t convert). Also, pay attention to bounce rate, because it can tell you a lot about the value your site is/isn’t providing based on how long people spend on your site.
Be sure to look at the numbers not just month-over-month, but also year-over-year, to help you understand seasonality. For example, you may see a spike during the holidays, which could make January look like a slump, when in relatility, you could have stronger metrics over last January.
Why do consumers leave a website without making a transaction?
Customers have many reasons for leaving without a purchase. They may be in a non-purchase stage of their buying journey — simply conducting research or even following up to see updates from a company from which they already purchased. Other barriers to transaction include a poor user experience or convoluted path to purchase. Maybe they experienced information overload and bailed or maybe they thought you were asking for too much information for a simple transaction. The answers to this problem are best found through UX and conversion rate optimization (CRO) audits.
How do I get website visitors to return?
First, ensure your site delivers a valuable experience for your target audience — are you giving them a reason to come back? Do you have fresh, relevant content? Is it easy to find and use? Do you come off as a reliable source?
From there, retargeting, email marketing, social media — opportunities abound. This takes deep insight into your customer personas and buyers’ journeys. It also means staying up-to-par on customer service and other follow-up interactions, to ensure a positive reputation.
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