We’ve compiled a list of the most frequent SEO questions that we come across in our day-to-day work. We hope that this rather extensive resource helps answer any questions you may have. If you’d like to talk anything through or have any more questions, feel free to contact us.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization which is a digital marketing technique to improve Organic (Natural) rankings of a website in Search Engines such as Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Yandex, Baido etc.
What are SEO rankings?
Generally, the term “SEO ranking” refers to a position a website occupies within a specific SERP (Search Engine Result Page) for a specific keyword.
What is an SEO service?
SEO services can vary in its focus, from Link Building to Content Creation. However, in most cases “SEO services” will refer to SEO professionals offering help in improving Organic rankings for a website through a full range of digital marketing techniques that are identified during research in order to come up with an optimal SEO strategy. From there, SEO experts will explain to a client what is needed in order to achieve the desired goals.
How does SEO work?
SEO works as a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that takes into consideration specific website metrics (of the website that needs to be improved) and aligns them with essential SEO elements that are required to achieve better SEO rankings in the most desirable Search Engine (for example Google) and/or location (for example google.co.uk). The key SEO elements are dictated by the way Search Engines’s algorithms work in order to decide which websites are more suitable to rank higher. Generally, there are hundreds of “ranking factors” that Search Engines use, and while most of them overlap, some “SEO signals” can vary from search Engine to Search Engine. Therefore, in order to improve SEO rankings, it is crucial to know specific ranking factors for a desired Search Engine and being able to identify the order of their importance for a specific SERP (Search Engine Results page for a particular keyword).
How to SEO your website?
In order to optimise a website for Search Engines, you would need to perform in-depth keyword research and competitor analysis. This will help you understand what is needed in order to rank for desired keywords. Then you would need to ensure that the relevant keywords are present on the website and are aligned with actual on-page content. Depending on the keyword difficulty, you would need then to create supporting content, and improve the overall power of your website in general and each page in particular through external links (techniques here may vary). Keep in mind that none of this might work if the website is technically not up to scratch in terms of its performance and speed. In many cases, it would be highly advisable to hire expert services that would help you achieve results and speed up the whole process.
What is the SEO process?
To put it in a list, each SEO project would go through the following stages:
- Competitor Analysis
- On-Page Optimisation
- Technical Improvements
- Additional Pages
- Additional Content
- Image Optimization
- Link Acquisition
- CTR (Click Through Rate) Improvements
- CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation) Improvements
- Visibility Improvements
- Back to Research etc
However, depending on a specific website, the order or the scope of each stage may vary significantly. Therefore, although the overall approach for successful SEO will remain the same, the most effective strategy for each website will differ.
What to expect from SEO Services Pricing?
SEO prices can vary anywhere from £20 to £200 pounds an hour and more. The price can depend on the scope, level of expertise, size of the SEO company, location of the company or a freelancer etc. Generally, the most cost-efficient yet reliable services would come in at £75-£125. Keep in mind however, that in most cases hourly rate will be internal, and the quote will be given for a full campaign, therefore depending on the project the cost may vary significantly. SEO services pricing isn’t a simple number, it would factor the level of expertise of the professionals involved, average salary for a specific location, expenses for the tools and software a company uses and much more. Therefore, in most cases the price will directly correspond with the level of quality and subsequently the results you can expect.
How much does SEO cost?
SEO costs can vary anywhere from £20 to £200 pounds an hour and more. But, while, generally, the most cost-efficient yet reliable services would come at £75-£125. However, the hourly rate is not what you should be paying attention to. In most cases, you will be quoted for the full project and the hourly price will remain an internal matter. Therefore, when shopping for SEO services, keep in mind that the price will directly correspond with the scope of the project in order to achieve optimal results within shorter time frames. The bigger and more complex your website is, and the higher the competition is, the more expensive it will be. Therefore if you got 3 quotes (let’s say for a £200, £1,000, and £1,500 per month), the most appealing one in terms of price (£200) will certainly be the least effective since the expense for the required tools combined with an hourly rate to stay profitable (even the lowest one) would inevitably exceed the quote itself. This would mean that you will compromise on quality, accuracy, effort, or all of the above. On average, SEO retainers from reliable companies will cost anywhere from £1,000 to £2,500 in most cases. The rest will depend on the size of your website, and the goals you have in mind.
What is SEO marketing?
SEO marketing is a branch of digital marketing that focuses on Organic ranking for a website. This means that SEO marketing aims to improve website rankings in Search Engines (most commonly Google) in order to bring more relevant “organic” users to the website. Although unlike paid marketing, SEO takes time to “kick in”, it remains one of the most sustainable and cost effective marketing channels in the long run due to its nature that enables to build up authority over a longer period of time. This means that with SEO, you can keep your expenses relatively constant for a long period of time, while the results and traffic growth will be speed up.
What do SEO companies do?
SEO companies specialise in in-depth research that allows them to identify the most effective strategies to improve Search Engine rankings and bring more relevant Organic users to the website. When the research is complete and the strategy is set, a quality SEO company would guide the client and provide detailed recommendations on specific steps that need to be taken in order to achieve optimal results. A quality SEO campaign would include working with developers on website improvements, working with content writers on providing high quality content to bring more users to the website, working with a client directly on CRO (Conversion Rate optimisation) improvements, as well as providing specific recommendations on website optimisation, link acquisition, and more. With our clients, we also share detailed progress reports, work together on setting optimal KPIs, and provide on-going consultancy and support as and when needed.
How much does SEO cost per hour?
SEO costs can vary anywhere from £20 to £200 pounds per hour and more. But, while, generally, the most cost-efficient yet reliable services would come at £75-£125, hourly rate is not what you should be paying attention to. In most cases, you will be quoted for the full project and the hourly price will remain an internal matter. The main reason to work based on the retainer rather than hiring an “SEO per hour” is the nature of Organic marketing itself. Unlike paid channels, SEO is a gradual process of growing the power and expanding the reach over time. This means that a “one-time” SEO fix is unlikely to bring you significant results in the long run. Almost the only case when it would be cost (and result) efficient to work on an hourly basis, is when hiring an SEO service for a technical project, for example during a website development.
How does SEO help your business?
SEO marketing focuses on helping business websites rank higher in Search Engines (such as Google) and bring more relevant organic traffic to the target pages which would translate into making more profit for your business. High organic rankings for relevant terms are a powerful trust signal for users that would help to bring more conversions to the site, directly helping your business and adding to your bottom line. Additionally, many SEO techniques focus on getting your business in front of users even if you don’t or can’t rank for top-level desired keywords (yet). This can have a significant impact on brand awareness and user education, helping you grow the business as a whole and adding additional value to your potential customer base, further increasing your trust and authority. Additionally, SEO is one of the most cost-efficient channels in the long run due to its nature to accumulate more power over time. This means that with relatively the same monthly expenses, you can expect substantial growth over a longer time period without a need to increase your budget (like you would with paid advertising).
How much should you spend on SEO services?
When shopping for SEO services, keep in mind that the price will directly correspond with the scope of the project in order to achieve optimal results within shorter time frames. The bigger and more complex your website is, and the higher the competition is, the more expensive it will be. On average, SEO retainers from reliable companies will cost from £1,000 to £2,500. The rest will depend on the size of your website, and the goals you have in mind. For more detail, please, refer to the question “How much does SEO cost” or visit our article SEO Costs 101.
How to rank on Google?
In order to rank on Google, you would need to adhere to Google's Webmaster Guidelines and ensure that your website and website content is high quality & unique. Unique content and efficient technical website performance are two of the cornerstones of SEO that establish a strong foundation for your SEO success. Once the roots are laid, you would then need to ensure that you have all ranking signals in place to be picked up by Google and to be considered to appear in higher positions. There are hundreds of ranking factors that are analysed by Google's algorithm when indexing and displaying websites in their Search Results. To keep it short, you will need to implement 4 core elements and work on them consistently to progress:
- optimal website performance (site speed and website architecture)
- on-page optimisation and keyword targeting
- high quality additional content
- as well as quality relevant external links to your domain and target pages.
How long does SEO take?
SEO marketing is an on-going effort. This means that in order to achieve the best results you will need to work on it consistently as long as your website is live. By nature, SEO opportunities are virtually endless, therefore you would need to work based on specific KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that would be re-evaluated on a regular basis and then new ones would be set. The speed of how fast you can progress with your KPIs would depend on your niche, competitors, website power, additional resources (for example how much content you can produce on a monthly basis), and the overall amount of efforts you put in. There is no set time frame for all websites and business types, and if someone tells you otherwise, it would be a sales statement, not a reality. However, there are certain “stages” that would work for an average website in a similar manner. You can expect to see some progress within a month from the date the changes were implemented. This doesn’t mean you would reach your goals or see a significant difference in traffic. For example, initial optimisation could take you from position 35 to position 28, which is a progress, but the CTR (click through rate) for the two positions above will be very similar, and therefore it might not translate into traffic. For further detail, please, refer to the question “How long does it take for SEO to work?”.
How long does it take for SEO to work? How fast does SEO work?
First and foremost, SEO is a mid to long term strategy. Therefore you should not expect the results to come overnight. You can expect to see some progress within a month from the date the changes were implemented. But, this doesn’t guarantee you would reach your goals or see a significant difference in traffic. On average, it takes 3-6 months to notice a difference and this is when you should expect stable progress to be clear.
This is due to the nature of SEO and the way Search Engine algorithms work. It takes time for Search Engines to index the site and cross-reference it against the competitors to come up with the suitable placement. Since SEO is an on-going process, each step of optimisation and every change will go through the same process over and over again. Additionally, in order to place a website within the competition, Search Engines would need to evaluate other websites as well. Aside from the technical aspect, your results will depend on the competition, website power, and the amount of SEO efforts that go into optimisation. A reliable SEO service provider, would help you build the strategy and visualise the core KPIs they will be working towards. This would create a roadmap for your future results so that you know what and when to expect them.
Although 3-6 months to start seeing initial results might sound like a long time for some, there are many techniques that could help you grow the traffic and online presence before reaching your ultimate “ranking goals”. Additionally, by nature SEO (unlike paid advertising) will continue bringing sustainable results without the necessity to proportionally increase the budget. This makes SEO one of the most efficient and cost-effective marketing strategies in the long run.
What are backlinks in SEO?
Backlinks refer to external links pointing to your domain or a specific page from third party websites. The most effective backlinks from an SEO perspective are “dofollow” contextual links that naturally link to the target website with relevant anchor texts. External links are an important ranking factor in all major Search Engines and can directly impact your results. There are a few strategies to acquire more external backlinks including natural linking and paid efforts. SEO backlinks can be seen as “votes” or “recommendations” that point to your website, and therefore showcase your expertise serving as a trust signal to Search Engines to rank your website higher since other websites/users already rely on your content. High quality external links are a crucial part of a comprehensive SEO strategy. However, low quality backlinks from spammy and irrelevant sites can be devastating to your website health, making quality way more important than quantity.
What is SEO content?
Essentially, any content can be regarded as SEO content as long as it is relevant and accessible to Search Engines. However, in most likelihood, when someone refers to content as “SEO content”, they refer to articles and on-page content that was specifically created and/or optimised for SEO purposes. SEO-friendly content has to be unique, quality, and informative.
Importantly, it should serve the correct user intent in order to be seen as “suitable” for a specific SERP (Search Engine Result page for a particular keyword).
Content is one of the most powerful instruments in achieving better rankings and broadening your audience/reach. Strategic and targeted high quality content can skyrocket your traffic and brand awareness. However, in order to do so, it needs to be deeply researched and created regularly over time. Content opportunities can be virtually endless, and for many websites and businesses over time, content becomes the driving force of successful SEO strategy.
When to start working on your SEO?
The simple answer is “the sooner, the better”. SEO marketing is a mid to long term strategy and it takes time for SEO results to kick in. Therefore, postponing your SEO efforts will automatically delay your results. In most cases, it is highly recommended to start working on SEO and consult with SEO professionals during the website development stage. This is due to the rising importance of website performance for your Search Engine rankings. Once the website is created, SEO is a very gradual process that will happen over a longer period of time. This allows you to be slightly more flexible when it comes to the amount of effort you put into SEO. You can start small and increase your efforts over time, or on the contrary, ensure ultimate optimisation to start with and move onto smaller monthly tasks. Either way, stability and regularity are two most important keys to SEO success.
What is technical SEO?
Generally, technical SEO refers to the optimisation of website code in order to improve website indexation and crawlability for successful SEO growth. Technical SEO covers but not limited to the following: website architecture and hierarchy, URL structure, site-wide internal linking infrastructure, structured data, duplicate content issues, international and multilingual targeting, site speed optimisation and more. Technical SEO is a crucial part of an on-going SEO strategy, but is especially critical during website development, redeveloping and redesigning, domain and cross domain migrations, structural website changes, as well as implementation of additional sections and website variations (for example for a new GEO location).
What are Google ranking signals?
According to Google, they have hundreds of ranking factors, and the list keeps growing as their AI algorithm components evolve. It is important to emphasise that even though some ranking signals might be stronger than others, all of them should work in tandem in order to achieve the best results. To name a few, Google is most likely looking at: meta title, H1, H2s, keywords within the content, content length, keyword density, overall content quality, how often/regular the content is being published, hidden content, page speed, website security, number of external links, quality of external links, linking anchor texts, internal links, outbound links (from your domain to others) URLs, domains history, domain health, mobile speed, mobile usability and more. Some of the ranking signals are powerful on their own, whilst others would be compared to the competition as an “industry standard”. Knowing ranking signals is important, but it is even more important to look at the website as a whole and make improvements across the board.
What is international SEO?
International SEO refers to Search Engine optimisation specifically for websites that target multiple locations, use multiple languages, or operate worldwide. This can refer to a domain with multilingual setup, websites in one language targeting various locations, or multiple websites targeting various languages and/or geographical locations with or without redirects and/or IP restrictions. International SEO campaigns will have to take into consideration the primary location as well as other language/geo variations so that the correct website/language/website version appears in a relevant target location and/or local Search Engine (whether Google or other).
What are SEO keywords?
An “SEO keyword” refers to a specific target term that a website aims to rank for. “SEO keywords” can include specific words, their synonyms, variations, phrases, and even sentences. In order for SEO keywords to work they would need to appear in specific places for each relevant page. Although, specific relevant keywords in many businesses might be obvious and straightforward, oftentimes the best SEO keywords can be identified only through thorough research that would establish user search behaviour, search intent, as well as the level of competition for each potential target term.
How to hire effective SEO services?
There are many details to take into consideration when hiring any service, however the vast majority of them will be internal and specific to each business and each website.
Externally though, the secret to hiring effective SEO services that will bring you real results consists of 2 parts: costs and communication.
Although the cost should be something you can afford, going for a service that costs less than £500 is unlikely to bring you any results. Like in your own business, SEO agencies have many on-going costs, and if the price per hour falls under the threshold of an average hourly salary of an employee, it is a clear indication that there won’t be enough tailored efforts going your way regardless of the claims and promises you get (unless you outsource SEO overseas but then the quality will be questionable), it is a simple time/price calculation.
When it comes to communication, our advice is simple - talk to your potential provider and listen carefully to what they have to say. Are you speaking to a sales representative or an SEO professional? Did anyone look at your website before making promises? Does it sound too good to be true? Without a good conversation, you are risking getting a box with unknown contents that you might discover only a few months in. Proposals and analysis can be impressive, but without knowing the industry, 90% of impressive reports can be downloaded from SEO tools without a second thought. And while there is nothing wrong with tools, what matters is how your service provider uses and interprets that data, not just the fact that they have access to it. Communication and transparency is key for successful cooperation.
What is the difference between SEO and PPC?
SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimisation” and PPC stands for “Pay Per Click”, which is a marketing technique to appear in front of your audience on different platforms with paid efforts, but for the sake of simplicity, we will cover specifically Google's PPC Text Based Ads. These PPC results are Google's Ad results that appear at the top or the bottom of the Search Result page (and have a mark “ad” next to them).
In theory, with PPC, anyone can appear at the top of Google within very short time frames, however, this will involve additional costs. In PPC you literally pay per click, so the more clicks you get, the more you pay, and if you want more, you pay even more. This means that your results have a direct correlation to the amount of money you put in (and don’t forget that a click doesn't equal a conversion). If you stop running ads, you will stop seeing traffic - simple.
SEO on the other hand works with Google algorithms so you compete with all related websites out there, which can sound a bit overwhelming.
However, with a smart SEO strategy you will be targeting very specific terms that are possible to rank for. In SEO you pay for optimisation and strategy that will work over a longer period of time, however, once you start seeing results, the correlation between SEO costs and traffic will not be as strict as with PPC. Essentially it means that for the same (let’s just say) £2,000 every month you can see a 5% increase in month 2, and a 300% increase in month 12. To see the same results with PPC, you would need to increase your spending accordingly as more clicks generally means more money.
Does PPC help SEO?
No, PPC does not have a direct impact on SEO performance as this would be a violation of Google’s own guidelines. However, it is important to understand that marketing efforts do not live in a vacuum. PPC can help with brand awareness and bring additional traffic to the website. Even if users don't convert, but come back later through SEO, they might already feel more familiar with the website which can increase the conversion rate. This would also be relevant in the other way. For example a user comes organically to your website (blog posts or a service) and is interested in a general offer but isn't ready to convert right away. Then, the same user searches for a similar term or a product that you don’t rank for organically, having an ad appear could bring the user back to your site and complete the final conversion. This is called an attribution model that helps to understand cross channel performance.
In simple words, PPC does not help with SEO rankings, but all channels can help each other indirectly.
Who needs SEO?
The simple answer is - anyone who has a website needs SEO.
Around 93% of all online user journeys start with Search Engines, this is how much you can miss out if you don’t have an online presence. Then, SEO is even more important for any business that has a significant amount of their operation or brand awareness through the Internet. This is especially relevant for eCommerce, businesses with online appointments, tools and software companies, international, global, or nation-wide businesses, where users can’t stumble across a product or a service in their day to day life. SEO is one of the most stable marketing channels in terms of the return on investment in the long term, and has an enormous potential for substantial business growth.