I don’t usually participate in memes, but this SEO FAQ meme interests me… and I hope it will interest you. By way of introduction this SEO FAQ: 30+ SEO questions you always wanted an answer to was started by Berlin-based SEO specialist, Tad Chef. He has challenged at least 10 other SEO specialists to create FAQs that will outrank “fake” SEO FAQs for the search term SEO FAQ.
So without further ado, here are the 31 questions he proposed, with my answers inserted:
- What does SEO stand for? Usually it stands for Search Engine Optimization, but it is often used also for Search Engine Optimizer. This can get somewhat confusing – an SEO who practices SEO – so I prefer to call SEOs “SEO specialists”. (Not “SEO experts”, but that’s another rant for another day.)
- What is SEO? I define SEO as the combination of steps that lead to improved (higher) rankings in the search engines’ organic (non-paid) listings.
- Is SEO spam, bullshit, dead etc.? No, but if you expect it to be science, you will likely think it is all of the above. SEO is much more sport than science – multiple players competing for specific, limited rankings for each keyword. Think about all the goes into a sports champion – drive, training, strength, agility, equipment, discipline, player size, nutrition, coaching, funding, concentration, massage therapy… Neither the team that wins the Stanley Cup nor the athlete who brings home the gold medal for diving is tops for all these factors. The champion is the one that assembles the best combination. No matter how well you and your competitors do SEO, there will always be ten websites in the top ten. No matter how poorly you and your competitors do SEO, there will always be ten websites in the top ten. Somebody will always be tops – in tennis, in boxing, in bowling and in SEO; you just have to be better than each of your opponents.
- Why aren’t we #1 or on page 1 at Google? Because somebody else is. Read the answer to Question #3 above.
- Why am I on #1 all the time but when my wife searches for me she doesn’t find me? Often people searching from different computers are sending different geographic data to the search engines (such as a different location for a person’s home and workplace ISP). Or there are elements of personal search enabled. Or your wife lives in a different time zone.
- When will we see results? You start a new softball team with all rookies, no equipment, no training, no funding, no discipline, no muscles and no massage therapist. Then you hire an experienced coach (an SEO specialist). How long does it take to win the championship? I have found many clients want to know exactly when they will achieve a certain position, and then they will own it. Just as the team that stops playing baseball will fall in the standings, so too the website that stops doing SEO will fall in the rankings.
- Can we rank for iPhones? Yes. You can rank at least 2,112,888 for iphones at most search engines with very little effort. If you want to rank #1 for iphones, you will need:
- Can we rank for everything (huge list of keywords)? Yes, some countries take home Olympic medals in a wide variety of sports. But most countries take home medals in just a few sports where they have chosen to concentrate. In the land of Internet, deciding how big a country you are – or can realistically be – is an important strategic decision. Indeed, if you hire an SEO specialist, he should be able to help you make that call. Just remember, the more searches you want to rank for, and the more competitive those searches are, the deeper pockets you will need.
- How much does SEO cost? How much does a baseball coach cost? The little league team down by the park pays their coach with a big High Five after every game. Rumor has it the New York Mets pay theirs slightly more. It all depends on what you are competing against, how determined or entrenched your competitors are, and how good an SEO specialist you wish to hire.
- Why is SEO so expensive? It’s not. SEO is an investment that earns you money. But if you plan to invest just $200/month in SEO, don’t expect to see any ROI during your lifetime.
- How long does it take to get indexed by Google? Just a few minutes, but really the practical answer is that it doesn’t matter.
- How to submit my new site to Google/Bing/Yahoo etc.? I can’t answer any better than Tad did in the original meme post: “You don’t submit sites to search engines these days. You link to them from already indexed sites, you ping them via blog posts and or you submit an XML sitemap.”
- How do I submit to 1000 search engines? By allowing yourself to get sucked in by a scammer. It’s actually quite easy, and really quite painless because they only fleece you for a small amount and you learn such a valuable lesson.
- Do I need an XML sitemap? Most sites do not. Generally, only sites with thousands of pages spread multiple levels deep really need them.
- Do I need meta tags for SEO? Meta tags have nothing to do with SEO, unless you need to instruct the search engines not to index or to follow a certain page (which is better done via a robots.txt file). Meta tags are still a good idea (to increase click-through rates, to get listed in some directories, etc.), but they are not a requirement for SEO.
- Do I need a high PageRank for SEO? The tighter the competition for your searches, the more important every factor is, including a high PageRank and the size of your site (I added site size for the benefit of visitors from Question 27). Please reread the answer to Question #3. PageRank is one factor, probably a fairly important one, but there are many others that are extremely important, too. (Related post on why PR0 links are sometimes worthwhile)
- What is linkbait? It is any content you put on your site in the hopes that some other websites will link to it. Interesting history about this. The proper name for it is “magnetic content”, a name I gave to it before someone more famous than me started calling it link-bait and now I won’t get the movie rights.
- Can’t my niece who is a graphic designer do the SEO? Absolutely. Why just last week I asked my brother-in-law, the plumber, to flush out my arteries.
- Can’t my nephew who is a web developer do the SEO? Absolutely. Why just last week I asked my brother-in-law, the plumber, to flush out my arteries.
- Can my son-in-law who is a Perl, Java and C programmer do my SEO? You really are not getting this, right? SEO is a specialty that requires both planning in advance and judgment calls on the fly. I have seen situations where any of these people have made unfortunate judgment calls that have gotten websites banned from Google or Yahoo because they thought they knew SEO (In fact, they did know SEO, or at least 20% or 30% of it, and a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.).
- Why should I outsource my SEO? It’s pretty much a full-time job to keep up on the changing landscape of the web. Outsourcing or having a dedicated in-house team are your best two options.
- Can’t I just use WordPress plus plugins for SEO? Can’t I just buy good hockey equipment for my team? Please, please reread Question #3..
- Does Google hate SEO? I like Tad’s answer in the original meme post, so this is what he said: “No, Google even offers SEO advice and a plethora of SEO tools itself. It’s an ages old myth that Google fight SEOs. In fact the Google employees and SEO practitioners speak at the same conferences and work together as business partners. Most SEO companies are big clients of Google as they also buy PPC ads from Google.”
- Does SEO mean optimization for search engines spiders not humans? First, what Tad said: “Some people still assume that SEO is used to please search bots only. Most reputable SEO experts advocate search engine optimization for users.” Next, let me add that an important part of SEO these days is drumming up interest in your content so that you get talked about on blogs and in social media (and in offline media). While speaking to the search engines’ algorithms is crucial, you ignore human beings at your peril. You might also want to refer to my SEO thesaurus post.
- Is buying links, hidden text, IP delivery etc. black hat SEO? I consider them all black hat, except buying links. I very rarely recommend purchasing a link, partly because the “purchase” is in fact a rental. And partly because the search engines frown on it, which is a bone I have to pick with the search engines (but that’s another rant for another day).
- Is black hat SEO legal? Yes. So are evil-looking smiles and teensy-weensy fine print. I don’t practice black hat SEO because I value my clients’ long-term welfare, but it’s not illegal.
- Does site size matter? Yes. See the answer to Question 16 for elaboration.
- Do domain extensions (top level domains like .com, co.uk) matter? For the most part, I do not believe TLDs make a difference. But if your business targets the clientele of a certain country, they do. I have a number of Canadian clients, and having a .ca TLD makes a big difference ranking at Google.ca . TLD matters even more for increasing your click-through rate. If you plan to serve Hungarians, you had better have a .hu TLD, or you won’t get anyone to even click on your site. In Latin America, .com often says “impressive and credible International website”; in Europe .com often says ‘Yuck, an American site.”
- Do nofollow links count? Yes, they count less than DoFollow links because they don’t pass on PageRank. PageRank is something, but it is not everything. Please refer to the answer to Question 16 and also to this NoFollow/DoFollow post.
- Do you offer PageRank optimization, search engine submission, meta tag optimization? No. Why not re-read the answer to Question 13?
- Is blog commenting for SEO spam? This has been debated widely and bloggers are all over the map on this. On my blog, I look almost exclusively at the quality of the comment and what it adds to the conversation. Only if the comment is borderline will I consider whether the name makes the comment spammyish or not (So John Block has a better chance of having his comment approved than John the Florida Villas Guy, but if he makes a really great contribution to the discussion, John the Florida Villas Guy is welcome here) .
SEO is a sport. Just like bowling, only less dangerous.
- lots of money
- lots of time
- lots of strategy
Why? Please read the answer to Question #3 again.
One final note…if others in this meme wish to link to this page, please do so and let me know, so I can also link back to your answers and connect the meme participants. SEO is not a science, so there are certainly many items where different specialists will offer different strategies and therefore different answers to a number of these questions.Written by David Leonhardt
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