We have collected some of the most frequently asked questions about SEO for you. If there is anything else you want to know about SEO, please contact us and we’ll update FAQ about SEO.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
Search Engine Optimization is the practice of ranking a website on the search engines to increase its visibility when users search for relevant keywords and queries.
A search engine is a system where users can search the internet for content by typing in a search term. Then, a search engine looks through its index and shows relevant results in the form of a list.
If you are new to SEO, you are probably wondering what SERP means. SERP stands for ‘search engine results page’.
This is the page that you receive after searching for a query on search engines. On the SERP you will receive both organic results and paid advertisements.
White hat SEO is optimizing your website according to the guidelines of search engines. For example, on Google, you have to follow the webmaster guidelines. Next to the guidelines, it is important to always keep your users in mind because the top goal of search engines is to provide users with the most relevant results. Here are four white hat SEO techniques that you can use:
Keyword research: Searching for relevant keywords for users based on different metrics. The most ideal keywords are the ones with high search volume and low competition. Using these relevant keywords can help you rank higher on the SERP. Check out how to perform keyword research in the keyword research section.
Enhanced website design and navigation: Your website should have a clear design which is easy to navigate through. This will be a better user experience for your site and a lower bounce rate. A lower bounce rate will be more advantageous for your ranking on the SERP.
Create valuable content: Writing relevant content for your users is one of the rules of SEO. Your users will like unique and relevant content. You can look at what kind of content your competitors are producing and try to add some additional information to that.
Link building: Link building is also an important part of SEO. Websites that rank high on the SERPs have a lot of quality backlinks which shows their credibility. Build links by reaching out to people instead of buying them. Make sure that the links are of high quality and from the same industry as you are in.
Black hat SEO is the opposite of white hat SEO, which means that black hat SEO techniques violate the SEO guidelines of search engines. There are different black hat SEO techniques that you should avoid at any cost. Using one of these techniques to rank higher can result in your page being de-indexed and not rank at all.
Cloaking: Cloaking is a technique used to trick both search engines and users about the content of a web page. Search engines will receive made-up content while users get redirected to other web pages with irrelevant content.
Keyword stuffing: Keyword stuffing is an SEO technique where you literally stuff way too many keywords into your content, meta tags, and anchor text because you want to rank high on the SERP. This is what everyone did back in the days before Google’s major algorithms, but now, it is seen as an ineffective method that can cause you to get lower in the rankings and to get penalized by Google.
After having written your content, check your keyword density to avoid keyword stuffing. Keyword density is the number of times a keyword is used divided by the total number of words in an article.
Duplicate content: Copying content from another website and pretending it is your own content is not allowed by search engines. Thus, when search engines find out that you’re using someone else’s content without properly citing the source, your page will be de-indexed. So, make sure to link back to the original author when copying content.
Doorway and gateway pages: These web pages are irrelevant to users, but they include many keywords. While on these pages users get redirected to other websites, the difference with cloaking is that these pages are visible to search engines. There are instances where those web pages get indexed and ranked but eventually, search engines will find them.
Clickbait: Nowadays, websites are using clickbait titles and images to drive more clicks and traffic to their pages. Because of these misleading titles and images users will click on it because they are curious. But when users find out that the content is irrelevant, they will exit the page immediately, which results in an increase of your bounce rate.
Link buying: Sometimes people buy links from other sites to get a higher ranking on the SERP. Next to link buying being against Google’s guidelines which can lead to de-indexing, most of the times the website that links back to you is from a low-quality site and has a lot of spammy content anyway. This will result in lower backlink quality and lower Domain Rating (DR).
On-page SEO refers to all the changes that you can make directly within your website or blog to rank higher on the SERP. Certain factors are affecting On-page SEO which include:
Off-page SEO refers to actions that you can control which are not on your website, which include backlink building, social media, and guest blogging.
A title tag is the blue clickable headline or title that you can see on the SERP. Title tags are important because it helps search engines and users understand the content of your web pages. Furthermore, for users, it is the first thing they see on the SERP and will help them decide if they should click on the website or not.
Keep the following points in mind to create the most optimal title tag.
Title length: First, you need to check your title length. Don’t go over the maximum amount of characters of 60 characters or otherwise, there is a higher chance that search engines will cut text that includes your keywords.
Keywords: In addition to this, don’t use too many keywords in your title tag. It will result in bad user experience and search engines might consider it negatively.
Keyword order: Lastly, put your important keywords at the beginning of your title tag to make it easier for users and search engines to see what your content is about. Next to that, search engines might cut off the end of your title tag so you want to make sure that the important part is visible.
Meta descriptions are the text under the title tag on SERPs. This text needs to clearly explain what your content is about and should include your main keyword. Meta descriptions are especially important for your users to get further information about your content, and to decide whether they want to click on your site or not.
While there might be no optimal length, it is important to make sure that your full titles and meta descriptions are displayed on Google. Therefore, you need to be careful not to go over the character limit. Also, keep in mind whether you’re targeting desktop or mobile users.
As already mentioned, the optimal number of characters for a meta description is between 150 and 160 characters. For the title tag, the optimal number is around 55 to 60 characters.
However, Google has made some recent changes to its SERPs for the title tag and meta description. They changed the space of their SERPs to 600 pixels wide, which is around 100 pixels more than before.
Accordingly, Google can now show more characters than before. We did some research and found this example. As you can see in the picture below, this meta description has a total number of 251 characters displayed.
Originally, the optimal number of characters for a title tag on mobile devices was also between 55 to 60 characters. However, according to Google Blog, Google has increased the length to 78 characters in 2019.
The maximum number of characters for a meta description is usually up to 130 characters, but, if you check the example of Google Blog, they mention that meta descriptions can have up to 172 characters.
While you should keep the maximum amount of characters in mind, research has shown that shorter titles with 15-40 characters have a higher click-through rate than longer ones. Therefore, next to optimizing your titles for search engines you always need to think of your users and what kind of titles and meta descriptions they will find interesting.
Backlink Building: Building backlinks is one of the main techniques used in Off-page SEO. Overall, there are three types of links which are: natural, outreach, and self-created links.
Natural links are links that you received without reaching out to the website owners. This is the best type of link because they’re completely natural and you didn’t have to spend time reaching out to another website to receive the link.
Outreach links are links that you receive from websites after you’ve contacted them and asked for a link. Of course, you will need to explain your reason why they should link to you. You can check out the backlink building section where multiple techniques are explained to help you succeed.
The last type of link is self-created ones. These links are not recommended as they fall under black-hat SEO (which you can find in the SEO definitions section). They are black-hat because you are not given these links by others but because you’re creating them yourself by creating lots of other websites and linking from those websites to your main site.
Other Off-Page SEO Techniques: Next to link building there are other techniques that are used for Off-page SEO. Two of them are social media and guest blogging. Even though social media doesn’t directly help you with your rankings, it still helps you to establish contact with your customers and is a great way to distribute your content. Next to that, guest blogging helps you to advertise your products or services on other websites, brings traffic to your web pages, and is another way to build backlinks to your own site.
Backlinks are a vital part of SEO because they are used as a ranking signal according to Google. With backlinks, it is quality over quantity. So, instead of many low Domain Rating (DR) backlinks, it is better to have a few high DR backlinks.
Next to that, more backlinks will increase your referral traffic and will allow your website to get crawled and indexed faster by Search Engine bots.
The main difference between a dofollow and nofollow link is that a dofollow link will pass its page rank to the other web page, while a nofollow link will not pass its page rank to the other webpage. This means that a dofollow link is helpful for your page rank, while a nofollow link is not.
You can easily find out if a link is dofollow or nofollow by checking if the link has a nofollow tag. This tag looks like this: rel=”nofollow”.The reason why nofollow tags were created was to overcome blog comment spam. Spammy webpages would leave their site link in the comments of other websites, which resulted in them ranking higher on Google. But with the nofollow tag, that is not the case anymore as most blog comments are automatically nofollow.
There are several easy backlink building methods that you can use for your SEO. They are the following:
Backlink Poaching: The backlink poaching technique is used by finding websites that are linking to your competitors and to content that is similar to yours. Since they’re linking to similar content, this means that they could link to your website too. But how to find these websites?
The first thing to check is your competitor’s backlinks. You can do that with handy tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush. You can easily check dofollow backlinks based on any kind of platform and language. Once you’ve found those sites that link to similar content, you’ll need to reach out to them and ask for a backlink.
Broken Backlink replacements: You have probably come across 404 errors on websites before (check the technical SEO part for explanation). These 404 errors are also referred to as broken links and they’re very bad for your SEO.
All you need to do is to check for 404 errors on websites you’d like to receive a backlink from and let the owner of the website know that you found a broken link on their website. At the same time, you can ask them if they would be willing to switch it with a link to your content. To find broken links, you can use many SEO tools but Ahrefs is highly effective in finding 404 errors.
Guest Posting: Guest posting is exactly what the name suggests. You are posting a blog as a guest on other websites. Through guest posting, you can include links that will go to your website,which can generate extra backlinks for you. You can find websites that are accepting guest posts through Google by entering “your keyword + guest posting”, or you can directly contact those websites that you’d like to write a blog post for.
Contact Influencers: It is more difficult to make influencers accept your offer if you don’t have much to offer in return, but it is worth a try because of their reach. Try to find their contact details on either their own or their managers social media accounts and approach them with your product or service. Keep in mind to write short messages and explain your unique selling point to them.
Internal Links: This is the easiest method out of all of them since it is simply linking back from your own content. It’s very easy, just include links in your own content that are related or add value to the topic you are writing about. However, it is also important not to add too many internal links, so be careful with that. You don’t want your blog to look spammy.
Affiliate Program: For people and businesses that have a higher marketing budget, they can choose to start an affiliate program. With this method, affiliates can earn a certain percentage of commission through referrals of other users. The benefit for you is that your affiliates will write about your products or services and will give you backlinks.
Domain Ranking and Domain Authority are both scores that got developed to rank websites and to give an indication of a website’s quality and power. Domain Ranking (DR) is an element created by Ahrefs for ranking websites. The ranking is based on a website’s backlink profile and uses a scale of 0 to 100. Domain Authority (DA) is an element created by Moz for ranking that predicts the ranking of websites on search engines. Overall, both scores are used to rank the quality and authority of websites.
Search volume is the average number of searches by users. This number is not always accurate because every keyword tool has its own algorithms for calculating search volume, and because it is only an average of past searches, but it gives you a good indication on which keywords are more popular.
While high search volume keywords can be great, there are many cases where low search volume keywords are the better choice. This is the case especially for businesses that don’t have a high spending budget. You are probably wondering why because you think that you reach more people than with a lower search volume.
But, take a look at the drawbacks of high search volume keywords:
For high search volume keywords, you will need to pay a high price to rank high. The reason for this is because you have more competition than with low volume keywords. Everyone wants to rank for those keywords because a lot of people are searching with those keywords.
Another problem is that your bounce rate will be probably much higher than before because your website or blog is most likely irrelevant for what the user is looking for. The reason for this is because the keyword is not specific enough for the intent of the user.
Next, check out the benefits of keywords with a low search volume:
The competition of lower search keywords is way lower than with high search volume keywords. Not a lot of users are searching for something specific with high search volume keywords. Mainly, because they don’t know their intent yet and are trying to find out. This is related to the next benefit.
The conversion rate is high because people know their intent. They are looking for something specific and are ready to purchase that product or service. For example, someone that is searching for a satin blue a-line dress is closer to the buying stage than someone searching for dresses.
The cost-per-click (CPC) is cheaper because the search volume is lower. These keywords can result in lower potential traffic than with high search volume ones which is the reason why.
Long-tail/short-tail keywords are somewhat related to high and low search volume keywords.
Short-tail keywords are more general and shorter terms that consequently have a higher search volume. Examples would be keywords like ‘running shoes’. They will not contribute a lot to your conversion rate but you gain more exposure. More traffic can have a positive effect on your organic ranking.
Long-tail keywords are specific search terms, such as ‘yellow running shoes for women’. They usually contain three or more words and you can identify what people’s intent is. While these keywords have lower search volume, they can lead to higher conversions
LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing. LSI keywords are words and phrases that are related to your main keyword. This method is used by search engines like Google to analyze and understand the context of your webpage. LSI keywords are not synonyms, but keywords that are correlated to your main keyword.
For example, you use the main keyword apple on your page. So, how does Google know if you are writing about the fruit or the company? By analyzing the LSI keywords.
If you use the keywords ‘red apples’, ‘green apples’, and ‘apples calories’ in your content, then Google assumes that you are talking about the fruit. While if you use ‘Apple iPhone 11’, ‘apple store’, ‘apple MacBook air’, then Google assumes that you are writing about the company Apple.
Local SEO is the optimization of your website for the promotion of selling products and services to local customers. One way to optimize for local SEO is using a certain element which is called Google My Business (GMB). GMB is a listing of your business profile that customers can find on Google.
This GMB business profile can display different information depending on what you provide. For example, your products, business description, contact info, location, and opening hours. The GMB element is part of Local SEO ‘citations’.
Local SEO citations is a place where any of your NAP information (Name, Address, Phone Number) is visible. NAPW stands for Name, Address, Phone number, and Website URL. This is mostly available on business directories. Google’s latest update for local search results meant that Google is now using neural matching for local search results globally.
According to Google, the ideal page speed for your website should be under three seconds. Longer than three seconds can lead to a loss of 53% of visits to your website. You can check out your page speed through Google’s PageSpeed Insights. The tool analyzes your website and gives you suggestions on how to improve the speed.
A robots.txt file is a file where you can specify to search engine crawlers which pages can be crawled and indexed, and which not. There are two reasons why you should have a robots.txt file.
First, you want to keep a certain media or resource files from showing up on Google.
Second, you want to manage the amount of traffic from crawlers to your website.
Remember that you should not rely on robots.txt to hide your web pages from Google search results, because that webpage can still end up being displayed on the SERP if there is another page that links back to it. You should either use the noindex tag or create passwords for your files/pages to make sure that certain content isn’t displayed on SERPs.
Crawling and indexing are related to each other. But search engines can’t index without having crawled first. Basically, Google sends its spider crawlers to crawl and analyze your website. After this step, Google can index your web pages into their system which means it will add your web pages to Google search. When a user is typing a search term, Google will show relevant web pages from their index based on the keywords in the search term.
An XML sitemap is written for search engines and is a file with which crawlers can find and crawl your webpages. It is an easy and fast method to let search engines know about the new content you’ve added or the old content you’ve updated.
If you are using WordPress, you can use the Yoast SEO plugin. This plugin can generate an XML sitemap. If not, you can use many other tools like this one to create a sitemap. With this tool, you can create a sitemap with up to 500 pages for free.
A sitemap is a file which lists the webpages of a domain. With this file, you make sure that Google finds all your webpages so that they can index them properly. An HTML sitemap is written for humans to read. When someone is lost on your website, they can check the sitemap to find the page that they were looking for.
A canonical URL is supposed to prevent the problem with duplicate content. Duplicate content can happen quite easily when you write a blog that falls under multiple categories and the page has multiple URL’s. To prevent this duplicate content issue, you should use a canonical URL to decide on one URL that best represents the content. That canonical page then gets shown by Google on the SERP.
With a canonical URL you can also indicate which content is the original one. This can be important if you’re distributing your content on several platforms, such as your own blog and maybe a different website. In that case, you need to use a canonical URL to tell Google which content is the original source.
How do you know when a URL is a canonical URL? To find that out, you’ll need to look at the source code and find the “rel=canonical” tag.