Who doesn’t have an SEO question? I still do after 10 years in this field! Today we’re tackling the beginner questions. Let me know if you have additional questions in the comments and we’ll tackle them next!
8 Most Common SEO Questions
How much does SEO cost?
The first question most of us ask when hearing of new services that we may need – how much is this going to set me back? But also, will this put me ahead in the end?
SEO costs are based on how much you do yourself vs. outsource; and which tools you purchase vs. the hours spent researching in free tools. As is the case with nearly everything, it’s a cost of time or money. SEMRush is a great research tool at $99/mo, but you can also find lots of this information for free if you’re willing to put in the hours and keep track in a spreadsheet.
Keyword research starts at $40 on fiverr for 100 or so keywords. I’ve found with fiverr, you need to know what you’re looking for. Some services are simply a report based on a free scan of your site – which means they’re practically useless. Some keywords have useful competition and ease-of-ranking ratings.
To get work completed for you, the price ranges from $500 to $100K. The reasonable approach for most of us is to get some help knowing what to do in the form of a custom report and plan. Those can be closer to the $500 mark. When you start getting done-for-you SEO work, the price increases drastically.
Will SEO work for my site?
If done properly, SEO works. If you’re in a competitive industry SEO is very difficult. For popular verticals it is a better idea to focus on other forms of marketing and focus on SEO after a few years.
In the meantime, specific SEO tactics will always work. For example:
- optimizing pages that are already popular
- watching your 404 errors and correcting them
- using SEO-friendly permalinks
- using Alt tags in all images
- creating cornerstone content
Are keywords the same as my categories?
Keywords and categories can be the same but don’t have to be. When we’re speaking about “keywords” in SEO, we mean the topics that attract the biggest audience from Google. Keywords are carefully chosen because they have a strong following but easy competition.
How long does SEO take?
The time it takes to get your site to the top of Google depends on:
- the strength of your competition
- the effectiveness of your keywords
- the competitiveness of your keywords
- the SEO position of your site at the outset
- the effectiveness of your strategy
- the amount of effort you put in
Do I need to know code?
No! Coding is not necessary. Lots of things like competitor research, keyword research, writing and optimizing your posts have nothing to do with coding.
Some items require more technical knowledge. Items like fixing broken HTML elements; adding secure features and dabbling in your site’s performance issues.
If the ‘algorithm’ isn’t known, how do you know what to do?
For you and I, we follow sites like Moz and SearchEngineLand! And they figure out what is happening with Google by sheer observation. Their accuracy is because of the sheer numbers of their data.
But to be honest, most of the SEO that I’ve been practicing for the last 10 years is all ‘best practices’ stuff. Search engines want to find the best search result. So be the best search result! That is the essence of SEO and that hasn’t changed in 10 years and it never will. As technology changes the definition of ‘best result’ changes. Now the ‘best result’ will be secure (as defined by HTTPS) and fast (around 2 seconds). 10 years ago, there wasn’t any HTTPS!
Why was I at the top of Google last year and not this year?
SEO is a game of constant effort. If you stop optimizing and growing your authority, relevancy and freshness, you will be upset by a competitor.
How do I know what is allowed and what is not?
There are the Google Webmaster Guidelines to help with best practices. But my rule of thumb has always been, “Is this trying to trick Google?”. If it is, steer clear.
For example, if anyone gives you a formula to follow, like “always put 3 keywords in top 3 paragraphs”, be wary.
There are very few things that are formulaic in our language, our writing, our expression and therefore, in user experience. And to Google, user experience is everything.
Google can now ‘read’ images and can ‘hear’ our voice commands… it is always looking for formulas and de-indexing those sites because they’re not ‘natural’.
Keep your keyword use natural. Use consistent, well-loved but not-too-competitive keywords. Write for your audience first. Write well and often. Watch your statistics and write on the topics that are interesting to your audience. Share your material. Get people to link to it. Become the authority in your niche.
Google is looking for content (on that keyword) that is authoritative, relevant and fresh. Be those things!
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