The process of optimizing a web site for search engines can be difficult for many web site owners to grasp. There are a lot of misconceptions about how this is done and what type of results can be expected.
The following are the most commonly asked questions regarding search engine optimization. Click on a question to view the answer.
- Why does my Web site rank so poorly in search engines?
- How will I benefit from search engine optimization?
- Can I optimize my site by changing the Meta tags?
- Can I do this myself or have my web site developer do it for me?
- How does search engine optimization work?
- Will search engine optimization guarantee a top ten position for my site?
- Do I have to optimize my entire Web site?
- How long will I have to wait to see the results from the SEO process?
- How long does optimization last?
- Is there a quick way to drive traffic to my site right now?
- Can’t I just buy a top rank position in Google?
- How can I measure the effects of search engine optimization?
Why does my Web site rank so poorly in search engines?
There are a large number of reasons for poor search engine rankings. Some Web sites lack the focused informational content that search engine spiders seek. Some sites have a poor linking structure or other problems that prevent spiders from indexing a site properly. A large number of Web sites have had penalties applied that reduce their rankings. Many web sites exhibit numerous problems whose cumulative effect almost assures poor ranking performance. The best way to diagnose a range of potential problems is through a thorough site review. Once the problem areas have been identified, solutions can be implemented. This eliminates penalty situations and other barriers to high rankings.
How will I benefit from search engine optimization?
SEO focuses on improving a Web site’s ability to rank much higher in the free listings that search engines provide. Other than the costs associated with the search engine optimization process, there is no additional or incremental cost for the user traffic that free search engine listings drives to your Web site. Search engine optimization is therefore the best long-term and most cost-effective way to drive user traffic to your site. These are customers that you do not have to search for—they are already looking for the products, services or information that you offer.
Can I optimize my site by changing the Meta tags?
No. In the 1990s, a certain degree of success could be obtained by modifying a web page’s Meta tags. Due to widespread abuse, almost all search engines have abandoned the use of Meta tags to determine a Web page’s rank. A few minor search engines may still use the Keywords Meta tag, but the major players, such as Google, MSN and Yahoo, all ignore this tag. The Description Meta tag does not help a site to rank well, but because it frequently shows up in search engine results as the description for a web page, it is a powerful marketing tool that can persuade a user to click on your link rather than any one of nine others on a search results page.
Can I do this myself or have my web site developer do it for me?
Yes. If you or your web developer is very familiar with HTML and other web development scripting languages, such as cascading style sheets (CSS). Complete Web site optimization typically requires hand-coding, which cannot be accomplished with WYSIWYG designer tools such as Dreamweaver or FrontPage. A thorough site review will diagnose the issues and provide detailed instructions that any experienced web developer should be able to follow. The important part is the knowledge required to work with web pages at the code level. Keep in mind the fact that most web designers do not have the skills required to work with Web page code and therefore cannot thoroughly optimize a Web site.
How does search engine optimization work?
SEO focuses individual Web pages in your site on different keyword search phrases that users will use in a search for the products, services or information that you offer. Content plays major role in the ability of site to rank well. A web site is optimized for a multitude of other factors, including optimal web site architecture, optimal Web page architecture, internal linking structure and efficient code that adheres to international coding standards. Other factors, such as your server configuration, inbound link development strategy and dozens of issues that can potentially to create penalty situations need to be evaluated and corrected wherever a problem exists.
Will search engine optimization guarantee a top ten position for my site?
No one can legitimately guarantee top ten positions with search engines. No SEO company has any special partnership or influential relationship with search engines that will affect your rankings. If someone guarantees a top ten ranking or first page listing, make sure that you completely understand what you will receive, get the guarantee in writing and read an article entitled Framastatic Fillrods and SEO Ethics. Success depends on numerous factors, including the level of competition for your targeted search phrases, the number of optimized Web sites in your industry, the amount of focused informational content on your Web site, the overall size of your site, etc. In most industries less than 5% of the web sites are optimized, which gives optimized sites a clear advantage over most of their competitors.
Do I have to optimize my entire Web site?
Not necessarily. If your site has a spider friendly linking structure and few issues that create penalty situations, you can optimize the site incrementally. This means targeting a specific number of pages to be optimized each month. This spreads the cost over several months. For a small web site, five pages per month may be a good number. Larger sites can be incrementally optimized based upon available resources.
How long will I have to wait to see the results from the SEO process?
Results for most sites are usually seen within three to six months. The results for some sites are visible much sooner. A lot depends upon whether or not the site is in a penalty situation. Sometimes a site does not respond well due to changes in search engine ranking algorithms or other factors. Although these cases are typically rare, they nonetheless do occur and further investigation into the cause may be necessary.
How long does optimization last?
Web site speed performance optimization should last as long and you do not do anything detrimental to your web site. Search engine optimization can last a long time, but is subject to changes in search engine ranking algorithms and therefore may require a periodic review and additional web site changes.
Is there a quick way to drive traffic to my site right now?
Yes. Pay per click advertising, such as a Google AdWords campaign, can begin driving targeted traffic to your site within fifteen minutes of setting up an ad. This is not free traffic. While Google does not charge you for displaying your ads, a click charge will be billed to your account every time someone clicks on your ads.
Can’t I just buy a top rank position in Google?
Google and most major search engines do not sell positions in free search engine listings. Most search engines do, however, sell pay per click advertising positions. These positions only last as long as you are willing to pay a click charge every time someone clicks on your advertising link. Pay-per-click ads may sometimes look like free search engine listings, but can usually be identified by the words “Sponsored Links” or “Sponsored Results”. SEO has no effect on pay per click listings. Ranking for pay per click ads is usually driven by bidding for a rank position.
How can I measure the effects of search engine optimization?
Metrics are important for measuring results. Two types of reports are commonly used. A ranking report documents your site’s rank positions for your targeted keywords in a range of search engines and directories. Re-running the reports on a monthly or quarterly basis is a good way to monitor which pages and keywords are working effectively, and which ones need further attention. Log file analysis software and server logs can be used to document the number of visitors (traffic) to your site, which search engines are sending the visitors, which search phrases they use to find your site, and many other relevant factors. Free server log analysis programs are offered by most hosting companies and can track results on a daily or hourly basis. Ultimately, the most effective measurement of success is the amount of new business generated after a Web site optimization.