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Frequently Asked SEO Questions

They say there is no such thing as a stupid question. When it comes to search engine optimisation we agree. Here are 10 questions we get asked on a regular basis, along with our answers:

  1. What is SEO and why does my website need it?
  2. How do search engines find out what my site is about?
  3. When we add new pages to our website do we need to add meta tags at the time of creation of that page?
  4. Do search engine optimisation tactics work on all the main search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing, or do you need different seo tactics to be successful on different search engines?
  5. How can I find out the best keyphrases to target for my site?
  6. Can search engines index dynamic sites with ? and = (query strings) in the URL?
  7. Should I create a blog for SEO purposes?
  8. How does one get listed on Dmoz? I registered my website over 12 months ago but it's still not listed.
  9. It's suggested I can control the geographical areas where I get search engine enquiries from. How easy is this to do and how specific can you be?
  10. Once I’ve optimised my website for SEO with key phrases and words can I just leave it or do I have to optimise it again and again to rank well on Google?

Do you have other SEO questions? For the answers you're looking for ring us on 0116 275 8456

To find out more about Impact Web Solutions' Guaranteed Search Engine Optimisation services and the 10 Steps to Search Engine Optimisation Success click here.

1. What is SEO and why does my website need it?

Search Engine Optimisation is the practice of improving a website to increase the traffic the site receives from search engines. The majority of web traffic is driven by search engines and if your site cannot be found by them, or the content on your site cannot be indexed by them, you will miss out on the opportunity to get people who want what you have visiting your site. The higher your website ranks in the results for any given search, the greater the chance that your site will be visited by a user. It is common practice for Internet users to not click through pages and pages of search results, so where your site ranks in a search is essential for directing more traffic toward the site.

Although SEO helps to increase the traffic to your site, SEO is not advertising. You can pay to be included in paid search results for given keywords, but basically the idea behind SEO techniques is to get top placement because your site is relevant to a particular search term, not because you pay.

2. How do search engines find out what my site is about?

The first basic thing to know about the way that search engines work is that search engines are not humans. Whilst this might seem obvious, the differences between the way a search engine views a web page, and the way a human views a web page are not. In basic terms, search engines look for particular items on your site, mainly the text, to work out what your site is about. They do actually do more than just this though, they crawl, index, process, calculate relevancy and retrieve information from your site.

First of all a search engine will go out and crawl the web to find out what is there. This task is carried out by a piece of software, often called a spider. Spiders follow the links from one page to another and index everything they find that on their way. There are over 20 billion web pages on the internet and so this cannot happen for every site, every day, the spiders will generally try to visit once a month however, and if you regularly update your site these visits are likely to become more frequent.

Once your site has been crawled the next step a search engine takes is to index the content of your site. The information that gets indexed will obviously only be the information that the spider found whilst crawling your site so content such as images, video, flash movies, frames and password protected pages will not be crawled and won’t be indexed. The content that the spider has found is written into a huge database where it can later be retrieved. Essentially, the process of indexing is identifying the words and expressions that best describe the page and assigning that page to particular keyphrases.

Once your site is indexed, when someone enters a search phrase into the search engine and hits go the search engine will check its database, and if your site is stored against that keyphrase then it will be returned in the search engine results. This is obviously a very simplified way of looking at what happens, the calculations that have to take place to work out which pages are returned at the top of the search engine results are massive, and this calculation of relevancy is one of the big things that varies from one search engine to another. Each search engine will use different algorithms to calculate the relevancy of the site against the search phrase entered, and each uses common factors such as keyword density, meta tags and incoming link in different ways to do this. There are no set rules about what weight each factor holds in each engine, but there are similarities which mean if you do the right thing for one it’ll generally be the right thing for another. Search engines periodically change their algorithms and so a site needs to be regularly adapted in order to get to the top and stay there, but we’ll talk a bit more about that later.

3. When we add new pages to our website do we need to add meta tags at the time of creation of that page?

Creating meta tags after you have added the page to your website could have the benefit of being seen as an update by the search engines, but it would always be best to have the meta tags in to start off with.

No one can deny that meta tags are very important to Search Engine Optimisation and that without them you are going to struggle to succeed in promoting your site.

However, it is also important to understand that having meta tags for the sake of having meta tags is not necessarily a beneficial thing and, in some instances, could even be damaging to your site.

The number one rule is DO NOT – I repeat, DO NOT – use the same content in your meta tags for every single page.

Although this was standard practice a few years ago, today the search engine algorithms are much more advanced and would prefer to have individual meta tags across the site.

The key meta tags you should be using on your site are:

TITLE tag

Think of your title tag as the keywords that describe your services and offerings. Depending on what you are offering on a page of your site, your title should highlight the important words before anything else.

Search engines look at page titles like the sign above a shop, it sees the title on each webpage and then determines whether this would be a good result based on its text. Title tags are best to only contain two or three words if possible, they should also be easy to understand and descriptive for a human.

METAKeywords tag

This is your list of keywords and key phrases. You separate each keyword or key phrase by placing a comma between them. Be careful not to repeat the same thing too many times in your keywords, search engines consider too much use of the same word or phrase as attempting to spam them.

It is also important that your keywords are relevant to the content of your webpage, search engines will recognise it if your meta tags do not match your content.

METADescription Tag

This is your very own description of your web page. The description should be a well written, readable sentence or two about the content of your site. It is not imperative to include your keywords in this description, but it can be beneficial.

Many of the search engines use this text as the description that will appear in their listings to it is important that this text is relevant and appealing to your potential market.

There are numerous other META tags that can be used to describe your page and its contents, but without a doubt these are the three that are most important to search engine optimisation.

In conclusion, it is not necessary to change the meta tags on a web page every time you make a minor amend to your site, but if you are making major changes or targeting a new set of keywords and key phrases then they will need updating.

4. Do search engine optimisation tactics work on all the main search engines like google, yahoo, msn or do you need different seo tactics to be successful on different search engines?

A few years ago when the internet and search engines were young each had its own criteria on which factors they used to evaluate a site’s optimisation.

And as a consequence site optimisation for MSN and Yahoo! used significantly different processes and involved attention to different factors than when optimising for Google.

Nowadays though, as the search engines have become more advanced they are able to deal with how a site is optimised in a more general, unified way. So today, there is no need to optimise your site for each individual search engine.

Rather you want to concentrate your optimisation efforts on Google.

In the UK Google has grown to dominate the UK search engine market to such a degree that it typically accounts for over 75% of all searches made in the UK. Without a shadow of a doubt that this is the primary search engine that you want to rank in.

With our search engine optimisation we have done for our clients we have noticed that if you optimise well for Google you should also do well in the other search engines too.

5. How can I find out the best keyphrases to target for my site?

Finding the best keyword for your site depends on the following main factors:

1)The amount of traffic it will generate
2)The difficulty of attaining a top ranking
3)The profitability of that keyword

I will run through each of these factors in a bit more depth

The Amount of Traffic it Will Generate

When you choose keywords for your site it is important to take into account “real world” factors. Are you using language that other people would use to describe your product or service? Are you using promoting an area that people will genuinely look for online?

When it comes to traffic the best measurement is actual searches. Unfortunately in recent months, Yahoo let their Overture tool perish and this has made this task somewhat more difficult. Overture provided statistics n the number of searches per month for a particular keyphrase which was always a good

indication of how much traffic you could expect to generate if you got your site well ranked for that phrase. There are still tools available, some of which are free and some of which are not, including the Google adwords tool (which will provide you with a rough estimate of searches in a low / medium / high format), and WordTracker which will give you more detailed statistics across more search engines.

The Difficulty of Attaining a Top Ranking

If you simply chose the keywords with highest amount of traffic, you could still lose money. This is because these keywords typically require a lot more work to rank for. A perfect keyword is one that has a lot of searches but little SEO competition and moderate to easy to rank for. For example, the phrase “new house” is likely to get searched for a lot of times every month, but the amount of estate agents, builders, interior designers etc that are going to be looking to get to the top of the pile is going to be massive. Focussing on a search term that is less generic, e.g “new house in Warwick” is likely to bring you better results.

The Profitability of that Keyword

Getting a keyphrase to the top of the search engines is only half the battle, you then need to convert the people visiting your site into leads or sales in order for the work to have been worthwhile. While a lot of this will be to do with the quality of your site and how your product or service is presented to the customer when they arrive at your site, you need to make sure that there is potential for selling what you are promoting online. It’s unlikely that even if you got the phrase “pint of milk” to the top of the Google rankings you would actually then manage to sell a pint of milk through your site, and so your efforts would have been pointless!

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

For the most part search engines no longer have difficulty reading query strings (those question marks and equal signs) in URLs. It is a good idea to make sure that your URL doesn't have more that three parameters in and you should most likely be okay. If your site has long query strings, but it is already indexed in Yahoo and Google and Yahoo there are not any technical issues.

The most important thing to do with a dynamic site is to create links to the important, optimised 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.

7. Should I create a blog for SEO purposes?

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.

8. How does one get listed on Dmoz? I registered my website over 12 months ago but it's still not listed.

DMOZ, sometimes referred to as the Open Directory Project, is the largest general directory on the web, with well over 5million websites in their listings. As such, the search engines (particularly Google) regard it as an authority site which in turn benefits all the websites that are lucky enough to be accepted into its directory.

Because of its popularity and relevance, dmoz, receives an enormous number of submissions, it currently has approximately two million unreviewed submissions, and as a consequence you will be waiting some time for your website to be reviewed.

Once you have submitted your site all you can do is be patient and wait. Whatever you do, do not keep resubmitting your site – you will be regarded as spamming the directory and you will never get listed.

As all the submissions DMOZ receives have to be approved by a human editor it is not unusual for you to be waiting 18 months, 2 years or even longer before your site gets approved and listed in the directory.

And even then it is not certain that your site will get approved… many sites are rejected as they provide no real value and are not of use to the visitors of the directory.

To help your submission pay particular attention to the DMOZ guidelines – if your site does not meet these don’t bother wasting your time submitting it… it will never get listed.

Some useful tips to remember when submitting:

Firstly, identify the single most best category for your site.

Due to its size DMOZ contains an enormous array of categories to choose from. You should submit your site to the its most relevant category.

So taking Impact Web Solutions as an example we could choose a Leicester regional category, in this case we would navigate thru the following DMOZ categories:

Europe:
United Kingdom:
England:
Leicestershire:

where we would select:

Leicester:

Here DMOZ will list a variety of market sectors, where you will need to select the most relevant to your website. For Impact Web Solutions we would select the:

Business and Economy section

Where we would submit our site under the:

Computers and Internet category

If you submit your site to an inappropriate or unrelated category it will most likely be rejected.

Secondly, Write your description carefully.

Read the guidelines - DMOZ wants objective descriptions and not ones full of hype. So don’t stuff your description with a list of keywords, instead give a genuine description of the service you are offering your visitors.

For example, if you were a office stationery supplier then your website description could read something like this:

¨Office equipment supplier and retailer; includes product catalogue, store locations, company profile and contacts.

It’s a good idea to have a look through the listings in the category that you're submitting to, and copy the style of description writing that you find there.

Besides the category and descriptions that you submit the human editors also visit and evaluates your website to see if it is worthy of inclusion into DMOZ.

To help its chances of being accepted, your website should provide:

¨Content that is of value to your visitors

The uniqueness of a website’s content is one of the most important factors editors consider when reviewing a site for inclusion. Your content should also avoid lots of advertising such as wildly flashing banners, pop-ups and marketing hype in general.

¨You should provide a privacy statementon your website giving details of any data your website collects, for instance how you treat any email addresses that are entrusted to you

¨It should also contain valid contact information.

For instance have a CONTACT page, on your site, that clearly lists your business name, address, telephone number, FAX number and email address. If you have a Company Registration Number then make sure it is displayed too.

In fact these general tips are good guidelines to follow for all directory submissions you make, not just to DMOZ.

9. In your invitation you suggested I can control the geographical areas where I get search engine enquiries from. How easy is this to do and how specific can you be?

This is known as geo-targeting in the trade.

As the popularity for the internet continues to grow, more and more online users are searching for local services and products to buy and therefore it is becoming very important to keep geo-targeting in mind when optimising for the search engines.

As part of our search engine optimisation strategy, here at Impact Web Solutions, we try where possible to include the geographic location in which you do business into your SEO campaign… particularly if you provide a regional rather than national service.

For instance, although we do provide a national service, we also like to concentrate on markets that are local to use and target these within our search engine optimisation.

And you can be quite specific in your geo-targeting; if you go and search Goggle for “web design Leicester” or “search engine optimisation Leicester”, for example, you’ll find Impact Web Solutions listed in Google’s results page.

Or you can broaden out the geographical regions. For one of our clients not only do we target all their local areas; Leicester, Loughborough, Coalville etc we also include the surrounding regions too; Leicestershire, East Midlands

It’s quite easy if you want to incorporate geo-targeting into your website optimisation and you should consider the following strategies:

¨Insertthe regional areas in your title tags and Meta tags.

¨Insertthe regional areas where you do business throughout your website copy.

¨Displaythe full company address on your web pages.

¨Registerfor local search with the major search engines, for instance, the local

¨business centre at Google maps.

¨Submityour site to local business directories like thisisleicester.co.uk for instance.

To summarise, geo-targeting has two main advantages:

  1. The regional keyphrases will be easier to rank for as there will be less competition than for the same keyphrase without the geo-targeting, think “web design Leicester” against “web design”.

You will be targeting searchers within your local area and, therefore, the visitors who found your website using geo-targeted keyphrases should be better prospects for converting into leads or customers.

10. Once I’ve optimised my website for SEO with key phrases and words can I just leave it or do I have to optimise it again and again to rank well on Google?

Initial site setup is vital in order to succeed in getting your site ranked in Google, however, it is not the end of the process and work will need to continue in order to see sustained results.

After a while a site that has reached the top of Google is likely to gradually decline in the rankings if no effort is made to continue updating the content and building links.

One of the main reasons you are likely to see a decline in rankings is that, in a competitive market, not all your competitors are going to stop promoting their sites just because you have.

Search engine spiders visit your site more if it is updated regularly. If the spiders have been visiting every week and find that your site hasn’t been updated for quite a while, they are likely to decrease the frequency of their visits to once a fortnight or once a month instead..

At Impact Web Solutions all of our search engine promotion packages include a setup fee (for the initial optimisation of your site) and then a monthly ongoing fee as we continue to work on your site month after month.

The amount of time we spend on your site each month varies according to the package you have, but the important thing is that we will work on your site every month – which continually attracts the attention of the search engine spiders.

This does not necessarily mean that we would be changing the content of your site every month. It is however important to remember that changing content is not the single most important or only reason why search engine rankings may improve or suffer.

For example a well linked page on the works of Shakespeare would not necessarily lose ranking quickly if updates were stopped, a site offering “latest world news” that was not updated probably would fall in the rankings.

At Impact Web Solutions we will analyse your site month by month and decide what factors we need to change to make your site rank better. Some of this may be on-site optimisation but it will also include off site optimisation too.

This constant updating does help your site to maintain and improve it’s rankings within all the search engines, not just Google, but you do not need to optimise your site again and again to rank well on Google.

However, remember, search engine optimisation is an ongoing process and when you ease up on the promotion of your site, your competition will not necessarily do the same!

Do you have other SEO questions? For the answers you're looking for ring us on 0116 275 8456

Impact Web Solutions is the first agency in the UK to achieve the SEMPO Platinum Agency seal. You can find out more about SEMPO and the agency seal scheme by clicking here