SEO Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q. Isn’t SEO another marketing gimmick or a spammy scheme?
A. No, SEO is certainly not a marketing gimmick or a spammy scheme. On the contrary it’s a fundamental block of good web site infrastructure design from users as well as search engines point of view. It ensures that a web application can effectively be presented in an online environment. It increases the web usability and improves the overall experiences of online users.
Wikipedia defines Search engine optimization (SEO) as the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via "natural" ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results. It’s a highly specialized craft requiring lots of research, data analysis, planning and implementation work.
Q. Why does my site not appear in search results?
A. If you are not able to see your web site in the SERPs for your desired keywords, it could be because:
a) Your web site is not yet discovered
b) Your web site appear very deep down the results, say on page 20 or so
c) Your web site does not rank for the given keyword phrase
d) Your web site has been panelized for violating search engine guidelines
If its case (a), either you can wait for some more time so that search engines index your web site, or you can do a manual submission to various search engines. If your web site appears deep down the results in SERPs (case b), it’s time to optimize your web site. Same applies to case (c) as well. In case your web site is been penalized, you need to find the reason for that, resolve the conflict and then you can DROP a reconsideration request.
Q. I’ve just had a web site built, how do I tell search engines about it?
A. You’d find plenty of web sites there on the Internet offering you to manually submit your web site to various search engines for a certain price. While the truth is that search engines are intelligent enough to find new web pages themselves. A manual submission is required in exceptional situations only. For example in case a web site in deleted from the search index of a search engine due to violating quality guidelines, a manual submission/ reconsideration request in needed after fixing the issue causing the problem in the first place.
Q. Can my competitor harm my web site ranking directly?
A. No, at least not directly. Its official attested statement by Google. However it’s quite possible that your competitors outsmart you and push you down the SERPs. That would also be affecting ranking in a way, but that’s totally fair. There could be other indirect unfair ways like using your intellectual property, abusing open redirect URLs, or by using some types of hacking attempts. All search engines have different ways to deal with these issues. You are advised to read webmasters guidelines for more information about it.
Q. How long does it take for SEO results to kick in?
A. SEO is a time consuming task. For a web site it might take anywhere between 2-12 months depending upon the pace of optimization and marketing efforts, plus competition in your niche market. Sometime it can be further delayed due to mistakes done by novice webmasters. Most common mistakes which make the process rather lengthy are targeting wrong keywords and getting punished for violating search engines guidelines and being hyper active. It’s very important to understand here that the optimization results take a certain minimum time to kick in. Also there is limit for search engine marketing efforts pace, you cannot go beyond. If you cross that limit, it makes search engines suspect your web site for being spammy.
Q. My web site has 20 pages; do I need to add more pages?
A. The actual question here is if the web site size matters or not? Yes, it does! The more content your web site has, more useful it will be considered for the visitors. Having more pages on the web site will also allow you to target wider range of keywords including those long tail keywords, which are hard to target otherwise. It would be worth mentioning here that search engines love updated content. Updated content can be provided in form of new web pages addition to the web site, hosting a blog or starting a community forum. The famous SEO quote “Content is King” still holds.
Q. What exactly page rank indicate? Most of the pages of my web site are ranked low, why?
A. PageRank is the term used by Google to indicate its view on relative importance of a web page. As par Google it’s calculated using more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms. Pages are ranked 1-10 based on this matrix. Higher the PageRank, more important a page is considered. The largest factor that contributes in increasing the PageRank of a page is the back links it gets from other related web pages on the web. Links from other web pages are considered like votes in favor of the referred page. Please follow the Wikipedia link for more information on PageRank.
Q. Is a sitemap really worth the effort?
A. Yes, both HTML and XML sitemaps are a must for a web site. The HTML sitemap will facilitate navigation for the users, so they will not feel stuck at some point. Regular Internet users sometimes turn to the sitemap page directly to locate the desired information. If a sitemap is not there and users find it hard to locate some information, they are less likely to spend more time on your web site. They would rather start looking somewhere else. That could mean you lose a potential customer. It justifies the importance of a HTML sitemap. An XML sitemap serves the same purpose for search robots. It’s a way of hinting search engines about relative importance of your web pages and updates on your web site. Although please note that it’s not a command, it’s a hint that most search engines honor.
Q. Any suggestions about choosing a domain name?
A. When you decide to book a domain name there are 2 strategies to go about it. Firstly you can look for a domain name rich with your industry specific terms so that your chances of ranking higher for those terms are higher. It’s well accepted that all search engines give a considerable weightage to the keywords in the URL. For example Tutor.com obviously has a higher probability of ranking better for all tutor phrases or keywords. However the problem with this theory is that you will have a lot of difficulty finding your keywords rich domain names, since most of the commonly used terms are already reserved.
The other approach can be that of booking a unique and altogether different name as your domain name and then you make a brand out of it. It requires more offline/Online marketing efforts. This is more favorable for large businesses starting for new ventures.
Q. What must I know about my web site?
A. Given below is a list of things you must know as a web site owner:
- Does your web site cover its full scope in terms of potential clients and geographical area?
- Does your web site clearly communicate its objective and highlights the benefits it offers?
- Is your web site easily searchable?
- Are all sections of your web site working as intended?
- Which section/sections of your web site are doing better/poor than others?
- How many people visit your web site every month?
- What percentage of visitors is finally converting to paid clients?
- Are you able to deliver what you promise on your web site?
- How much you score for customer service?
- How does your web site stand against your competitors?
Q. Can you guarantee a # 1 position in search engines?
A. No, nobody can guarantee a specific position in SERPs. The reason being there are so many factors involved beyond your control. For example a 5 year old web site will always develop a greater trust from search engines than a new one; it’s something that cannot be changed. How other people refer you, or are linking to you might also be beyond your control. However hard you try, there is a possibility that someone else is trying harder than you, or is simple better than you in the first place. What more is, search engines keep changing their ranking algorithms after some time. However since the root concern for search engines is quality of search results, anything done considering that is likely to help for long.
Q. How can one optimize a website having images only...?
A.Optimization for image only web site involves 2 major parts:
- Ensure images consume minimum possible bandwidth
- Choose image types carefully. Select image type that takes fewest bytes while still retaining good quality. e.g. gif, jpg, png
- There are many online tools available which can help you in this. It’s said that image size can be reduced up to 70% without any noticeable changes in quality.
- Choose Thumbnails to showcase images on the web site. So that a full size is needed only when users demands that
- A very large image can be divided into parts to decrease load time
- Always specify width and height of images in your code. When these are specified browser does not need to wait for the image to load, before rest of the page can be loaded.
- Images accessibility and optimization
- Make sure all the images are accessible
- Image file names – Give self-descriptive names to images, try including keywords if possible.
- Use Alt attribute of image tag however don't overload your alt text. Be descriptive, but don't stuff it with extra keywords.
- Use a caption for images.
- If you have gallery pages which specifies categories, use elaborative page titles and meta descriptions for each
- Create a photo sitemap for visitors on your web site
- If you use thumbnail view, also provide text links underneath with appropriate caption. (The way YouTube does it)
- Submit your images to popular image sharing web sites. e.g. Flickr, Picasa, Atpic etc.
- Include Images With Articles, & Press Releases
- Enable ‘Enhanced image search’ in webmasters Tools to participate in Google image search
- Track Your Images Search Results
- Ensure images consume minimum possible bandwidth
In this section, we post answers for legitimate questions asked by users. If you have a question, please visit out ‘Submit SEO Question’ section and post it there. We will answer your question within 48 hours.