An Introduction to This Post

Since we started our company in 2015, we’ve been asked many great questions that have to do with search engine optimization (SEO). Whenever we’re asked a question about digital marketing, we try to add it as a blog post topic in our editorial calendar. We already have over 50 more blog post topics already planned out or being written. There is so much to write about when it comes to digital marketing.

Of all the services we offer, SEO is considered one of our most important core services. As a result, we’ve been asked many questions about SEO, and a lot of related blog posts have been published because of this. We decided to create a comprehensive blog post that hits on every one of the FAQs we’ve been asked. As of the time of this writing, there are 46 questions answered in this master SEO FAQ blog post. This will continue to evolve though, as we are asked more questions and answer them.

Search Engine Optimization Concept

While this blog post answers those 46 questions, it does even more than that. At the end of each FAQ (with one exception) there is a link to a blog post that answers the question more thoroughly. Please keep in mind that some of the blog posts are a little dated and need to be lengthened and improved. If you see something that was written a while ago and needs to be revised, feel free to let us know. But, chances are, we already know about it and have an updated version scheduled in our editorial calendar. It’s likely just a matter of time before we get every post updated.

If you have an SEO question that isn’t discussed below, please let us know so we can review it and see about adding it to our list of topics to write about. We love questions! After all, that’s what fueled most of this FAQ. So, please don’t be shy in asking them.

SEO FAQ Index

  1. What is search engine optimization (SEO) and why does it matter?
  2. What is domain authority (DA)?
  3. What is page authority (PA)?
  4. What does E-A-T mean in search engine optimization?
  5. How to get started with search engine optimization?
  6. What exactly are “keywords” for SEO?
  7. How do you do keyword research for SEO?
  8. What tools are available for doing keyword research?
  9. How much does SEO cost and why invest in it?
  10. How long does it take to show results from SEO?
  11. How do I get my website indexed by Google?
  12. What black hat SEO tactics should I avoid?
  13. How do I measure results for SEO?
  14. What’s the difference between traditional and local search engine optimization?
  15. What’s the difference between on-site and off-site SEO?
  16. What are backlinks and why do they matter?
  17. What is backlink outreach and should I do it?
  18. Where do I get off-site SEO backlinks from?
  19. What free online directories can I add my business to?
  20. What are bad backlinks and how are they removed?
  21. How do you do local SEO?
  22. How do I add a new location to Google My Business?
  23. How do I improve my Google Map Rankings
  24. How to rank beyond my location in Google?
  25. Do you have an off-site SEO guide I could follow?
  26. What should my domain name be?
  27. Should I use a single domain or multiple domains?
  28. How does my website structure impact SEO performance?
  29. How much should I worry about duplicate content?
  30. How do I optimize my anchor text for SEO?
  31. How do I work SEO semantics into my marketing strategy?
  32. What is a pillar post?
  33. Can republishing an old blog post impact my SEO?
  34. Is there an on-site SEO checklist I can follow?
  35. What free tools can I use to help me with search engine optimization?
  36. What SEO tools can I pay for, to help me with my SEO?
  37. Is my SEO agency taking advantage of me?
  38. How do I find the best SEO company to use?
  39. How do I decide between using Google Ads and SEO?
  40. How much does PPC help with SEO?
  41. How much does social media impact SEO efforts?
  42. How do you do SEO for videos?
  43. What should I do if my website just vanished from Google?
  44. Why aren’t I ranking well on Google?
  45. Why are my Google rankings getting worse?
  46. What resources should I follow to stay up-to-date on SEO?
  47. What are core web vitals?

1. What is search engine optimization (SEO) and why does it matter?

Search engine optimization, or SEO for short, is the practice of making a website rank better in search engines. Some common search engines are Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo. If you want to increase the number of people who find your website through search engines, then SEO might be something for you to start doing. There are other marketing channels that will drive traffic to your website. But on average, there is no digital marketing channel that will generate a lower cost per lead than SEO.

To learn more about this topic, check out our blog post titled “What is SEO and Why Does it Matter?

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2. What is domain authority (DA)?

What is domain authority

Every website has a domain authority (DA) score which will range from 1 to 100. It is calculated and run by a company called Moz. There are a number of factors that will impact what your DA score will be. A major contributing factor is the number and quality of other websites that are linking to your website. This is an excellent metric to use if you want to compare how well your website might perform on Google, in contrast to your competitor websites.

We regularly look at the DA score of our website, and also that of our competitors. This helps us identify how effectively our marketing efforts are helping us on Google, in relation to our competition. And while you can go to Moz to check your DA score, we’d recommend using another tool by WebsiteSEOChecker. Moz is much more limited on how many times you can look up a DA score per month, with a free account.

We’ve written a rather comprehensive blog post about domain authority, which goes into much more detail than the paragraph above. If you want to delve in deeper, you can read it here: “Everything You Should Know About Domain Authority (DA).

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3. What is page authority (PA)?

Every website page has a page authority (PA) score. This works in the same way that domain authority scores work, and they range from 1 to 100. This calculation is done by a company called MOZ and the score is largely impacted the quality and quantity of the websites that link to your web page. The better quality the links, the more your PA score will improve. The opposite is true as well. If there are a lot of poor quality links, linking to your website, that can damage your overall PA score. If you haven’t already checked out the previous search engine optimization FAQ, which talks about domain authority, you may want to check that out.

This FAQ answer is a basic overview. However, to learn a lot more about page authority, you can read our blog post titled “Everything You Should Know About Page Authority.

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4. What does E-A-T mean in search engine optimization?

E-A-T is an acronym that stands for “Expert,” “Authoritative” and “Trustworthy.” These are the characteristics Google is looking at when trying to decide how to rank your website. Is your level of expertise clearly able to be seen through your website? If not, you may want to improve that, particularly through blogging or some other form of education. Be sure your website is as authoritative as possible. You can do this is by creating pillar pages/posts, or cornerstone content, to make you appear more authoritative. There’s an FAQ on this page that talks about pillar content, cornerstone content, skyscraper content and 10x content.

You can learn more about being seen as “Expert,” “Authoritative” and “Trustworthy” by search engines in our blog post titled “What Does E-A-T Mean for SEO?

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5. How to get started with search engine optimization?

search engine optimization conceptThere are many facets to search engine optimization. But, if you’re just getting started, there are a few key points you should consider. First, make sure to optimize your website for the keyword phrases your target audience is searching. For example, if you help people get over addictions in Pensacola, Florida, then don’t target “addiction recovery pensacola” as the words you think your audience is using. I say that because they’re more likely to be searching “behavioral counseling in pensacola,” “mental health pensacola” or something along those lines. Don’t assume you know what they’re searching in your area. Rather, make sure you know.

Once you’ve identified what your audience is looking for, focus on creating relevant and highly valuable content on your website. The content should answer every question your target audience is asking and should ask. Next, make sure you’re developing great relationships with other websites and making it so those websites create links to your website. When someone links to you, this is called a backlink. You want as many high quality backlinks as you can get. Also, before you start doing SEO, make sure to brush up on black hat SEO tactics to avoid.

For a much more comprehensive overview on this topic, take a look at our blog post titled “How to Get Started with SEO.

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6. What exactly are “keywords” for SEO?

A “keyword” is the individual word, or phrase, someone gives when using a search engine to find a product, service or information. For example, if you’re looking for a roofing company in your area, you might type in “roof.” That’s an example of a keyword. Or you might type in “roofing companies near me.” That’s also considered a keyword; though technically it would be better to call that a “keyword phrase.” When it comes to keywords for search engine optimization, you ultimately want to identify the most important keywords your target audience is using, then make sure you show up on Google [and other search engines] for those keywords.

In our blog post titled “What Exactly Are Keywords for SEO?” we give a good bit more info on keywords and how they work. Feel free to check out that blog post.

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7. How do you do keyword research for SEO?

When it comes to actually doing keyword research there are several things you will want to do.

  • You’ll need to identify your target audience, on a high level. For example, our target audience includes people who need help with digital marketing. All our SEO efforts should be centered around this one audience.
  • Identify your “seed keywords.” These are the really short one to two-word keywords used to find your business. For us, those might include SEO, web design, website development, digital marketing, etc.
  • Find other related keyword phrases that branch off from the seed keyword concept. An example of these keywords would be something like “How to do keyword research for SEO.” That’s a great keyword phrase our audience would be interested in, but it’s not exactly a “seed keyword.”
  • Move on to looking at search volume and competition. Figure out which of those keywords deserve your search engine optimization attention, and how much of your focus they should receive. Two aspects to look at will include the search volume of these keywords and the level of competition. Ideally, you want high search volume and low competition. At Joshua Lyons Marketing, we call this the low-hanging fruit.

Our blog post titled “How to Do Keyword Research for SEO” goes into much more detail on these concepts. Please take a look at this post if you’re interested in delving deeper.

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8. What tools are available for doing keyword research?

Keyword ResearchUsing keyword research tools can make it much easier for you to identify the top keywords to target for SEO. There are a number of excellent tools for you to choose from, and they range in both cost and capability. We primarily use a combination of SEMRush and SEMScoop. SEMRush has a free option, thought it’s a bit limited. SEMScoop doesn’t have a free option. But as an agency that specializes in providing search engine optimization services, we may need more extensive tools than what you need, depending on your situation.

I’d suggest taking a look at our blog post titled “9 Tools to Use for Keyword Research” and see if one of those options will be a good fit for you, based on your marketing objectives and budget.

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9. How much does SEO cost and why invest in it?

This is one of the most important questions you can and should ask. Also, there are multiple answers we can give. If we look at it from on hourly perspective, the average cost will range from around $41 to $150. However, from a monthly on-going SEO perspective, the typical company in the United States that invests in their own SEO will spend around $750 to $1,500 per month. If you’re doing regional SEO, and not just local SEO, the typical SEO budget is from around $2,000 to $5,000 per month. If you’re doing national or local SEO, and you want to compete with other similar websites, you’ll probably want to spend around $2,500 to $10,000+.

While the numbers above are general averages, the exact cost for you can be significantly different. Factors that can impact what you should invest in SEO include [but are not limited to] your specific market, timeline goals and the level of competition within your industry. As an illustration of how competition can impact cost, it’s probably safe to assume an attorney (very competitive industry) will need to invest more into SEO than someone who sells VHS cassette tapes.

To learn more about SEO costs and averages, check out our blog post titled “How Much Does SEO Cost and Why Invest in It?

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10. How long does it take to show results from SEO?

This question is similar to the “How much does SEO cost” question. The amount of time required to rank well for one website versus another can vary significantly. But, the general rule of thumb is to expect to start seeing good results in about three to six months of SEO. Recently we’ve seen some thought leaders in the industry say four to six months. However, this is definitely a general rule of thumb and the exact amount of time needed for you can be different.

Going back to the example shared in the question about SEO costs, if you’re an attorney, it may take a lot longer than six months to rank well on search engines. Then again, if you sell VHS cassette tapes, it may take a lot less than three months to rank well.

Also, consider your budget. If you’re spending significantly more/less than what most companies spend, that can also impact the amount of time required to rank well on Google. We’ve had clients rank amazingly well in as little as one month. We’ve had other clients in competitive industries focus on a small and steady climb, and actually spend years building up their SEO. The amount of time it will take you depends on your unique and specific situation. But, as a general rule, expect to start seeing good results in around three to six months, assuming your situation is “normal.”

Here’s a blog post we wrote that deals specifically with this question: “How Long Does it Take to Show Results from SEO?

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11. How do I get my website indexed by Google?

Get indexed on search engines.Every now and then someone will make their website go live, but it doesn’t show up on Google. This can happen when a website hasn’t been indexed. To explain what indexing is, imagine Google has a massive filing cabinet and each website in the world has its own folder. Then, that folder is placed in the filing cabinet and indexed by specific keywords. Let’s say one of those keywords is your company name. If your website has been indexed, that means Google has a copy of every page in your website and it knows if someone searches your keyword (such as your company name), then your website should show up.

Here’s the catch; sometimes a website will go live, but Google won’t get a copy of all the website pages. When Google doesn’t get the necessary information, it won’t be indexed (added to the massive filing cabinet in Google headquarters) and if someone searches for you, they won’t be able to find you. As far as Google knows, you don’t exist.

How do you fix that indexing situation? The answer is simple. All you need to do is go to Google Search Console and submit your sitemap. The sitemap is essentially a directory of every page on your website. Then, Google will check out those pages, index them, and know when to show your website, based on the keywords used in a Google search.

Our blog post titled “Is Your Website Indexed by Google? What, Why & How” explains this concept it more detail, in case you want a more comprehensive overview.

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12. What black hat SEO tactics should I avoid?

Here are some common black hat (or blackhat) tactics to avoid:

  • Keyword stuffing: This takes place when you try to rank for a specific keyword and you use that one keyword excessively in the content. We’re targeting the keyword of “search engine optimization” for this FAQ blog post. But, we aren’t stuffing the words “search engine optimization” in every header and every sentence. We vary it up with “SEO” or talk about something else entirely, such as how to get indexed by Google.
  • Getting bad backlinks: Many new website owners hear they need backlinks and will get a lot of really low quality backlinks, thinking it will help. In reality, you don’t want poor quality backlinks. That can hurt you. Go for high quality links.
  • Bad content to link ratios: Sometimes a website owner will create a page full of links to various resources or sponsors, or something else along those lines. However, there won’t be much text to break up the links. That looks very suspicious to search engines and isn’t considered a best practice. Look at this FAQ as an example. We have a lot of backlinks going to other blog posts or related sources. But we dilute the backlinks with descriptive text. This is good. If we took out all these paragraphs and just made a list of links, which some website owners do, that could be harmful.

The three bullets above are a few black hat SEO tactics to avoid. But, you’ll find a lot more in our blog posts titled “Black Hat SEO Tactics to Avoid” and “Buying Links and Other Blackhat SEO Tactics That Will Get You in Trouble.

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13. How do I measure results for SEO?

As with every form of marketing, it’s extremely important to measure results. There are a few ways you can do this. Two of the most effective methods are to track your organic website traffic and to monitor your keyword positions in Google.

Google Analytics, and other programs, can show you how many times someone finds your website through a search engine. Examples of search engines include Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo and Safari. When someone gets to your website because of a search engine, without clicking on a paid advertisement, this is called an organic website visit. When you go into your Google Analytics account you can see how many organic website visitors you received during any given timeframe. This tracking will start once you set Google Analytics up on your website. However, it can’t report on organic visits prior to having Google Analytics set up. So, be sure to get it configured as soon as your website goes live.

Aside from using analytics to look at organic traffic, you can also measure your rankings on Google. For example, if you own a doggy daycare and you wish to rank on Google for “doggy daycares in [your city],” where do you show up? Are you at the top of the first page? Assuming you aren’t ranking well, and you’re targeting that keyword, you should see it move up as you do SEO and time goes by.

For more info on this concept, take a look at our blog post titled “How to Measure Results for SEO.

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14. What’s the difference between traditional and local search engine optimization?

Local search engine optimization conceptThere can be value in doing both traditional SEO and local SEO, though whether or not you do this, and how much you should do, depends on your business and goals. Local search engine optimization is great if you own a local business and provide products or services to a local audience. If you owned an ice cream shop, for example, you would want to focus on local SEO. Naturally, you’d want to do this to drive local traffic to your shop. You could still benefit from traditional SEO, but local would likely be the best route to take. If your were an executive search firm that offers recruiting or headhunting services for companies around the United States, then local SEO wouldn’t necessarily be the better fit for you. Traditional search engine optimization would likely be the best route to take. However, some local SEO certainly wouldn’t hurt.

The tactics and benefits aren’t identical between local and traditional search engine optimization, though there is overlap. You can learn more about the differences and tactics used by reading our blog post titled “Understanding the Difference Between Traditional SEO & Local SEO.

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15. What’s the difference between on-site and off-site SEO?

There are two ways you can improve your rankings on Google and other search engines. First, you can focus on your actual website. As you improve your website itself, this will help you rank better. Examples of on-site SEO include publishing keyword focused content onto your site, making sure your site is mobile friendly, and having an SSL certificate on your website. There’s a lot more you can do for on-site SEO, but the tactics just mentioned can get you started down the right path.

Off-site SEO is anything you do to improve your rankings that isn’t done directly to your website. This is often done in the form of acquiring high quality backlinks. When credible websites link to your website, their credibility essentially rubs off onto you, and it makes you look better to search engines.

In the past, we recall having read an article that said 70 to 80 percent of SEO focus should be centered around off-site SEO and the remaining activity should be put into on-site SEO. To read more on this topic, check out our blog post titled “What’s the Difference Between On-Site & Off-Site SEO?” Also, it should be noted that this is sometimes called on-page and off-page SEO.

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When another website links to your website, you have a backlink. Let’s say you join your local chamber of commerce and they ask what your website URL is. Then, they add your company profile to the chamber website, along with a link going from their website over to yours. This is an example of a backlink. Ideally, you want to have as many high quality and relevant backlinks as possible.

Backlinks are considered as a ranking factor when search engines decide how to place your website in the search results. For general illustration purposes, pretend you have 10 other websites that are linking to your site, but these other websites are really bad. They could be considered inappropriate, or completely new with no history or credibility with search engines. Alternatively, you could have 10 other websites that link to your site and they are similar to your website, in terms of their level of quality and credibility. Finally, you could have 10 other links and they come from very high authority websites, like Harvard Business Review or similarly popular and reputable sites.

In these three examples, the first variation, with the 10 bad websites could hurt your Google rankings. The second version might help a little. And the last version, with the powerful backlinks, could significantly help with your rankings. As you get more high quality backlinks, your rankings and traffic will improve.

Try reading our blog post titled “Everything You Should Know About Backlinks” for more info on this topic.

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Backlinking conceptHaving quality backlinks to your website will boost your rankings on Google. However, it’s nearly impossible to get quality backlinks if nobody knows you exist. That’s where backlink outreach comes in. To generate more backlinks, you want to identify quality websites that are worth receiving backlinks from. Often times these are sites that produce regular and valuable content that’s industry specific. One way to do backlink outreach is to contact the website owners for these websites and see if you can produce a guest blog post that includes a link to your website. This could be in the form of a hyperlink in the copy of your contributed guest blog post. Or it could simply be a link in the author bio, going back to your website.

If you’re interested in search engine optimization, and you aren’t getting the traction you want, then you should definitely consider doing backlink outreach. But make sure if you do this, to go after relevant and high quality backlinks.

We wrote a lot more about this topic in our blog post titled “Backlink Outreach: What It is and Should You Do It?” To learn more about backlink outreach, we suggest you take a look at that post.

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There are many types of websites you can get backlinks from. Here are some of the most popular types of backlinks you can get to support your off-site SEO activity:

  • Education and Government Websites: Websites that end in .edu or .gov are typically more challenging to get backlinks from. Consider offering internships or sponsoring events, which the .edu or .gov can promote on their website, giving you a backlink.
  • Directory Websites: Websites like Yelp, Manta and 411 are examples of directory websites. Check out this FAQ to find some free online directories you can add your website to.
  • Forum Websites: The MOZ Q&A Forum, SEO Forum and Reddit are examples of forums. It’s very common to leave a link in a forum, and as long as it’s appropriately placed, and not spammy, this can be useful to the forum community.
  • Blogging Websites: Blogs are a fantastic way to generate websites. Identify quality blogs in your industry and offer to write guest blog posts to be published to those websites. Be sure to include a backlink to your website through the blog post.

The four types of backlinks mentioned above are just enough to get you started. But there are many other options available to you. Check out our blog post titled “Where to Get Off-Site SEO Backlinks From” for a much more comprehensive list and insights.

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19. What free online directories can I add my business to?

Adding your business to high quality online directories can certainly help with your search engine optimization activity. To learn about other forms of backlinks, take a look at the previous FAQ. But, as far as free online directories to join, here are some common ones:

  1. Google My Business
  2. Bing Places
  3. Yelp
  4. Yellow Pages
  5. Manta
  6. Super Pages
  7. Local.com
  8. Cyclex
  9. Foursquare
  10. Lacartes

For more information on each one, and for a significantly longer list, along with links to them, take a look at this blog post: “Get Found: 32 Free Local Business Listings to Claim Now

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Bad linking conceptIt used to be that you would see SEO benefits from any website that linked to you, regardless of the quality of the linking website. As a result, business owners and marketers would purchase massive amounts of backlinks from all over the internet. There were incredibly large pages on low quality websites that consisted of nothing but backlinks. While these were easy to get added to, and could literally be purchased in bulk, the links really served no purpose other than manipulating search engine rankings. Additionally, the websites providing these links offered no real value.

In 2012 Google released an algorithm update that impacted the entire world over night. Suddenly, the quality of the backlink pointing to a website became a ranking factor. Tons of website that were at the top of Google were knocked down significantly, or even blacklisted by Google, due to the massive number of low quality backlinks that were pointing to them.

A Google search on “backlink audit tool” will give you a list of resources you can use to identify backlinks to your website that look questionable and should be investigated and possibly removed. The tool we use is SEMRush. Once you identify the backlinks worth removing, you can literally ask the website owners to stop linking to you. If that doesn’t work, you can upload a list of the backlinks you don’t want to have associated with your website. You can do this through Google Search Console.

Check out our blog post titled “What Are Bad Backlinks and How Do You Remove Them” to learn more about this topic.

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21. How do you do local SEO?

To rank well on search engines in a local area, you should focus on implementing local SEO tactics. Most people who do a search for a local business will use Google. Though Bing and Apple Maps are also somewhat common. There are factors to consider when focusing on your local SEO. Some of these include properly doing your on-site SEO activity. Make sure your website has quality content and is free of technical SEO-related errors. You’ll also want to acquire quality backlinks to your website from sites like your local chamber, schools and news sources. Be sure you include appropriate keywords on your website and wherever you’re setting up your local listings on third-party websites.

A couple other factors to focus on for local SEO are having a mobile friendly website and geotagging images. You can learn much more about each of these tactics and concepts by reading our blog post titled “How to Do Local SEO.” And if this FAQ is important to you, I’d suggest you take a look at the next few FAQs as well.

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22. How do I add a new location to Google My Business?

Depending on who you ask, you’ll be told that about 30 to 44 percent of all Google users will click on a result from the local search pack. That’s one of the terms for the three local businesses that will often show up at the top of a Google search, with an address, photos, phone number, directions, Google Reviews, etc. Having your business in this section can significantly help with your SEO performance. With that being the case, you’ll want to make sure your business has this type of a Google listing. This is called a “Google My Business” listing.

To add your business to Google My Business, you simply need to go to https://www.google.com/business/ and then let Google know your business exists, and provide basic information about it. In order to finish the setup process, you’ll need to prove you really do exist at the location you say. Google will send you a letter to your address with a verification code. Once you provide that code to Google, your listing will be able to appear in the local search pack area.

Our blog post titled “How to Add a New Location to Google My Business” gives a lot more information on how to set up your listing and best practices to follow. Definitely check out that post.

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23. How do I improve my Google Map Rankings

Local place pin on a smartphoneIn the previous FAQ we explained how to setup your Google My Business (GMB) listing. However, just being on GMB doesn’t mean you’ll show up at the top of the search results. Here are three factors Google is looking at when deciding how you should rank in Google Maps or in the local search pack:

  1. Relevancy: If you’re a pizza place, and you talk about pizza in your GMB listing, your listing is relevant for someone looking for pizza. Depending on your competition, the likelihood of you showing up is pretty good. However, if someone is looking for burgers, the relevancy isn’t nearly as good and you aren’t as likely to show up to the Google user.
  2. Distance: If you’re business is in Pensacola, Florida and someone in the same city looks for what you offer, there’s a good chance you may show up. However, if someone in Las Vegas searches for what your business offers, you most likely won’t show up… since you aren’t local to the Google user.
  3. Prominence: If you’re a very well established business, and Google can see you are prominent in the area, you will likely rank fairly well. Many businesses don’t do a good job with the relevancy factor, but they are so well established with the prominence piece that they out rank local competitors who are seemingly more relevant.

There’s a lot more to do if you want to improve your Google Map rankings. The three points above are just a sample of what you should know. For more info on this topic, read our blog post titled “How to Improve Your Google Map Rankings.

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24. How to rank beyond my location in Google?

There are various levels of how your business might rank, and specific tactics that should be implemented if you want to broaden the geographic area for which you rank on Google. Here are some of the ways in which you might rank on Google Maps or in the local search pack:

  • Neighborhood: Let’s pretend your business is located in 101 North Main Street in Pensacola, Florida. If that’s the case, and someone does a Google search for your product or services while on Main Street, there’s a very good chance you’ll show up. But, if they’re on the other end of the city and do that same search, you may not show up at the top of the map or local search pack.
  • City: If your Google My Business (GMB) listing is strong enough, you may rank at the top of a search for anyone in your city who looks for what you offer.
  • Regional: Depending on your business, you may even be able to rank across an entire region for a specific search. Try a Google search on “car manufacturers in alabama” and you’ll see an example of this.
  • National: Now, try a Google search on “car manufacturers in the united states.” Many of those manufacturers that showed up in the regional search will not show up in the national search. This is because although they’re strong enough to rank well on a regional level, their GMB listing isn’t powerful enough to make them rank nationally.

The examples above illustrate what it means to rank beyond your location on Google. But the tactics to be implemented if you want to have a greater reach will depend on how you currently rank. To get much more information and broadening your geographic reach in Google Maps, take a look at our blog post titled “How to Rank Beyond Your Location on Google.

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25. Do you have an off-site SEO guide I could follow?

If you’re looking for a relatively short and basic off-site SEO guide, you can check out our blog post titled “A Practical Guide to Off-Page SEO.” That will give you a good starting point. However, for a more comprehensive guide to the entire topic of off-site SEO, it may be best to go through this list of FAQs and identify each topic that has to do with the off-site SEO concept. Anything that talks about local SEO, off-site SEO or backlinking would be a great source of relevant information. Be sure to also follow any of the links to related blog posts at the end of each FAQ.

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26. What should my domain name be?

Domain conceptYour domain is a very important piece of your digital marketing. We’re often asked for advice on how to select a domain name. Here are some of the key points most website owners should consider:

  • Keep the domain name short. For example, JJLyonsMarketing.com is much shorter than JoshuaLyonsMarketingConsultant.com, which was what Josh Lyons originally started his business as, prior to building a full-blown agency.
  • Try to include your most important keyword in the domain name. For example, we include “marketing” in our domain name. This is the most core keyword we could possibly use and “digital marketing” would lengthen the domain too much.
  • Avoid numbers. Numbers can be confusing for people because they don’t know whether the domain should be the numeral or the spelled out version.

There are other points for consideration when deciding on your domain name. Take a look at our blog post titled “What Should My Domain Name Be (And Other Tips)?” to learn more.

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27. Should I use a single domain or multiple domains?

A single domain is where you use one (single) domain for your marketing. For example, all our marketing activity is centered around the domain of “JJLyonsMarketing.com.” Alternatively, a multiple domain strategy would include the use of other domains associated with one brand or company. Technically, we also own the domain “www.CREMarketingGroup.com.” That used to be a completely independent website and we promoted our services to those in the commercial real estate industry through that website, as a DBA. However, due to business and marketing goals, we ultimately created a redirect which sends people from CREMarketingGroup.com over to JJLyonsMarketing.com. We consolidated our marketing activity this way.

If you have multiple services or products and they can warrant their own domains and websites, then you have greater potential to rank well on Google for multiple websites. We could have multiple DBAs and domains for SEOLyonsMarketing.com, WebsiteDesignLyonsMarketing.com, WebDevelopmentLyonsMarketing.com, LyonsMarketingCoaching.com, etc. If we did that, and had websites for each, we would have a much greater chance to show up on Google with a variety of websites. However, each website would be weak by itself. It would take time to build up the SEO for each one. If we have them all merged into one site, like we do right now, we can rank much more quickly and have a stronger SEO presence.

The route you should take depends on your unique situation, goals and resources. For more information and strategy on this topic, read our blog post titled “How to Decide Between a Single Domain and Multiple Domain Strategy.

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28. How does my website structure impact SEO performance?

There are many factors that can impact a website’s performance on Google. Often times a developer who isn’t familiar with search engine optimization will develop a website that isn’t configured to rank well on Google. If you’re hiring a website developer, but sure they either have a solid understanding of SEO which they include in the development of your website, or you hire an SEO professional to work with the developer. Here are some of the main elements which should be addressed during the development of a new website:

  1. Your website should load quickly.
  2. It should have a clean design.
  3. Use good attractive and legally acquired images. Also, make sure they have alt text. This is important for both SEO and ADA website compliance.
  4. Make sure to include good internal linking throughout your website.
  5. Have a mobile friendly website.

Learn about more SEO elements to include in your website by reading our blog post titled “15 SEO Elements to Include While Developing a New Website.

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29. How much should I worry about duplicate content?

Duplicate copyThere is much debate over the topic of duplicate content on a website. One argument is that it’s nothing to really be concerned about. Plenty of websites have the exact same content as other websites and they haven’t been blacklisted by Google. So, why bother writing original content when legally acquired duplicate content can save time? Another argument is that if it looks like you create duplicate content and Google doesn’t like the extent of your duplication, you can be penalized in rankings or even blacklisted for black hat SEO practices. Also, since Google likes fresh and original content, then using duplicate content won’t help you as much.

There is research and great debate on both sides of the fence. But, here’s our stance. We believe original quality content is going to be better in the long run. We don’t want to risk our website getting in trouble now, or at a later time when [if] Google decides to really crack down on duplicate content. Every piece of content we have is original. And, if we decided to duplicate content, we would definitely use a canonical URL to avoid making Google think we’re trying to take credit for having written original content that was first published on another website.

Check out our blog post titled “Duplicate Content: What You Need to Know” to learn more about this topic, what canonical URLs are and how to use them so you don’t get in trouble.

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30. How do I optimize my anchor text for SEO?

There is great deal of strategy that goes into using anchor text for SEO. First though, anchor text is the text you see on a website that has a hyperlink going to another page. For example, here’s anchor text that will take you to our search engine optimization services page. If you need help getting more website traffic, go ahead and click that link. That five-word link in the previous sentence is anchor text. Ultimately you want to have a variety of types of anchors. You might create the anchor so it includes a keyword you care about, which we just did in that example. It’s sometimes smart to target a synonym keyword, as we have done many times in this FAQ post. You might even use a related keyword that isn’t a synonym, and make that the anchor. This entire FAQ links to related blog posts we’ve written and it is loaded with synonyms and semantically related anchors.

The examples you see in this FAQ post might help you understand how to use anchor text, on a basic level. But again, there is a lot more strategy that can go into how to fully optimize your anchor text. Take a look at our blog post titled “How to Optimize Your Anchor Text for SEO” to get significantly more info on this topic.

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31. How do I work SEO semantics into my marketing strategy?

Semantic SEO has to do with creating great content that’s related to a specific keyword phrase, though not identical to it. To work semantics into your marketing strategy, make a list of related topics worth blogging about. As an illustration, let’s pretend you’re a commercial real estate company and your keyword focus is office space. Here’s how you might develop your SEO semantic strategy. Create blog posts will the following topics:

  • What to consider when looking for office space. –> While writing this, you might mention the importance of finding a good office space commercial broker. That leads to the following:
  • How to select an office space broker to work with. –> In the first post, you may have mentioned the different types of office space, which could spin off to the following topic:
  • Know the difference between class A, B, and C office space. –> Your first post may also talk about negotiating a commercial lease, which could lead to this blog post:
  • 7 tips for negotiating your office space lease.

When you write a piece of content, think about the questions your audience will ask, that are related to what you have written.  Then, let those topics become their own blog posts. You’ll likely find there is a lot of content you can write about. That’s the same process we use for our own blogging, and as of writing this FAQ post, we have almost 300 blog posts on digital marketing. That’s a lot!

Want to learn more about semantic SEO? Read our blog post titled “How to Use SEO Semantics in Your Content Strategy.

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32. What is a pillar post?

There are multiple terms associated with this content. It’s sometimes referred to as a skyscraper post, a cornerstone post or something else. You could even swap out the word “post” with the word “page,” making even more variations. In most of our FAQs we link to a blog post we published on the topic. However, in this case, we want to share a video with you. This video explains the topic very well:

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33. Can republishing an old blog post impact my SEO?

Republishing an old blog post can definitely make an impact on your search engine optimization. Here are some key factors to consider when you do this:

  1. If your old content is not relevant or no longer accurate, you should plan to republish it as an updated and more valuable version. We do this regularly. It’s a good strategy for staying relevant and fresh with Google and your target audience.
  2. If you’re running out of topic ideas, an old blog post being republished can help off-set the lack of fresh ideas and can also improve your SEO, assuming you improve the blog post. That leads us to the next consideration:
  3. You may want to republish an old blog post if your post is almost ranking well on search engines, but not quite well enough. If someone searches your product or services, and you’re showing up in the fourth position of Google because of that post, try updating it so it’s longer and has some other SEO best practices added to it. That might be just what you need to climb higher than the fourth position of Google.

Make sure you republish your blog post in a way that will help you, rather than hurting your SEO performance. Learn more about republishing your posts by reading our blog post titled “Republishing Old Blog Posts: Why, When & How.

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34. Is there an on-site SEO checklist I can follow?

Yes. We have a really solid blog post called “Your On-Site SEO Checklist.” If you want to just focus on these types of activities, this blog post will give you all the basic information you should know.

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35. What free tools can I use to help me with search engine optimization?

Search engine optimization is a massive concept with tons of various metrics and factors to consider and review. There’s also a lot of work that can and should be done if you want to do really well with SEO. Having said that, it’s important for you to have as many free and valuable resources available to you as possible, to help you effectively improve your website rankings on search engines.

Here are some of our favorite free SEO tools we use on a regular basis:

We have a lot more free tools you might want to look at in this blog post: “24 Free SEO Tools Worth Checking Out

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36. What SEO tools can I pay for, to help me with my SEO?

SEO engraved on a wrench. SEO tools concept.Free SEO tools are great to use. But sometimes you might want something a little more robust when doing search engine optimization. Here are some paid SEO tools we like to use:

  • SEMRush. This tool will help you with your backlink audit, tracking rankings on Google, comparing yourself against your competitors, auditing your website for technical SEO issues and MUCH more.
  • SEMScoop. This tool is great for keyword research and will help you understand how to rank better on Google for specific keyword phrases.

There are many other popular tools you may want to consider purchasing. In our blog post titled “The Best Paid SEO Tools,” we share information on 11 of these tools.

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37. Is my SEO agency taking advantage of me?

Search engine optimization often seems like a magical thing marketing people do to mysteriously make websites rank better on Google. Like most magical things, there’s actually a science behind it and everything can be explained. However, many individuals or companies who promote themselves as SEO professionals will rely on the mystical nature that’s connected to SEO. They will often give vague answers as to what exactly they’re doing. You may pay them for services, but not know exactly what it is they’re doing to help you. As a result, you could be wasting money on SEO activity that isn’t being done, isn’t helping, or might even be hurting you. Then again, it’s quite possible the SEO agency you’re working with is doing a great job, and you simply don’t know what they’re doing.

Here are some red flags to look at for, if you hire someone to help with your SEO:

  1. They promise to make you rank in the first position of Google practically overnight, or at least, very quickly.
  2. Their own website doesn’t rank very well on Google.
  3. They do blogging, but their own blog content is not high in quality.
  4. You’re told they have “friends at Google” who will boost your rankings.
  5. They won’t give you details on how specifically they’re going to improve your rankings.

Learn more about these red flags, and others, by reading our blog post titled “Is My SEO Agency Taking Advantage of Me?

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38. How do I find the best SEO company to use?

When trying to find a good SEO company to work with, here are some key indicators to look for:

  1. Make sure they can show you proven results of how they’ve helped their clients rank well through SEO.
  2. Take a look at their client testimonials.
  3. They should have good customer services. This includes good communication skills, such as being responsive.
  4. They should be realistic with their timeframe. Expect a timeframe of around three to six months before you start ranking well, assuming you’re investing around $750 to $1,500 a month on your SEO, you’re a local company and you aren’t in a super competitive industry.
  5. They will provide you with regular updates.

You can learn more about each of these indicators in our blog post titled “How to Find the Best SEO Company to Use.” And of course, if you need help with your SEO, you can visit our SEO Services page to learn how we can help increase your website traffic.

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39. How do I decide between using Google Ads and SEO?

SEO and AdWords written on a notebookGoogle Ads and search engine optimization are two completely different tactics. With Google Ads you’ll pay Google to be displayed at the top of a Google search. With SEO you aren’t paying Google to rank at the top, but if done well, you’ll eventually rank at the top without having to pay for ads. Ultimately, you’ll most likely get a better return on investment if you do SEO. So, if ROI is the priority, that will probably be the best option for you.

However, it takes time to rank well on Google. If you need quick leads and don’t have time to wait, then Google Ads is likely the better option for you. The ROI might not be as high, but you can theoretically start getting leads almost immediately.

Of course, every business and situation is different. What’s shared here in this FAQ is a general broad answer and might not apply to you specifically, so please keep that in mind. It would be good to speak with someone about your specific goals and budget before deciding between Google Ads and SEO. Also, think about this:

If you just do Google Ads, you’ll only show up on Google for as long as you’re actively paying Google. When you stop the ads, your leads from this channel stop. If you do SEO, you can stop spending money on it and still remain at the top of Google until your competitors pass you. Depending on your industry, that could last a very long time, or not. Again, speak with a pro about this before you make your decision. And to learn more about this topic, read our blog post titled “How to Decide Between Using AdWords and SEO.” [Google Ads used to be called “AdWords.”]

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40. How much does PPC help with SEO?

This is a tricky question. Officially, doing PPC doesn’t help at all with your SEO. While Google Ads (a form of PPC) is handled by Google, and Google search results are also handled by Google, your SEO rankings won’t see a boost just because you also use Google for running paid ads. Having said that, some people still believe Google will reward advertisers with boosted SEO performance. Personally, we don’t necessarily believe this.

However, there can be some indirect SEO value that comes from doing PPC. For example, someone may search for your services, and see you as an ad. Then, while you show up in the ad, they may scroll past that ad because they don’t want to click on something someone had to pay for. Then, they get to the search results and see you in the second or third position. While you aren’t first, you just showed up as a paid ad, and now you show up again near the top. This can increase the odds of them clicking your organic search result, even though it isn’t first.

This is a much broader topic than what can quickly be written about above. To delve deeper, read our blog post titled “How Much Does PPC Help with SEO?

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41. How much does social media impact SEO efforts?

Doing social media can help with your search engine optimization. There is a little debate on this topic, and you’ll get different answers and arguments depending on what you read. But ultimately, we do believe there is SEO benefit if your social media activity is done properly and in a way that will help with your SEO.

One of the biggest challenges with social media marketing though is the amount of time it takes to see any real value. Social media can be very beneficial, but more so in some industries than others. And while this rule certainly doesn’t apply to all industries, it typically takes about 12 months before you start to see any noticeable benefit from actively doing social media. If you’re just starting with social media, I wouldn’t suggest planning on it to be a major source of SEO value in the short-term. However, as you gain notability within the social media world, you’ll see progressively greater SEO benefits from your social media activity.

If you’re in an industry that does particularly well on social media platforms, you may see SEO related results much more quickly than the typical business. Some of these industries include restaurants, dance studios and fashion.

Learn more about social media and how it impacts your SEO efforts by reading our blog post titled “How Much Does Social Media Impact SEO Efforts?

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42. How do you do SEO for videos?

How to do search engine optimization for videosOptimizing your videos for search engines is very similar to how you would do search engine optimization for your website. Here are some key points:

  • Use keywords to optimize your content. Include the high value keywords in your video title and description. This will help the search engines understand what it is you’re talking about.
  • Publish videos worth watching. If you don’t publish interesting videos, people won’t want to watch them. If people aren’t watching them, search engines will not value your video content as highly as you want them to.
  • Get viewers to like and subscribe. If people like your content enough to “like” it and subscribe to it, that’s a clear indicator your content is valuable and worth showing up well in search results.

You can learn more about these three points, and other ways to get the most out of your video marketing, by reading this blog post: “How to Do SEO for Videos

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43. What should I do if my website just vanished from Google?

If you website just vanished from Google, there’s most likely a Google algorithm update or some black hat SEO tactics that were implemented. The black hat tactcis could be done completely by accident by either you, someone wish access to your website, or a third-party search engine optimization practitioner you may have hired. If your website vanished from Google, try the following:

  1. Do a quick Google search and see if there was a recent algorithm update.
  2. Make sure it’s truly gone and not just ranking poorly. If you google your domain and your site doesn’t show up in Google, you’ve probably been blacklisted by Google. If it does show up, then you aren’t blacklisted. Rather, you just have some serious SEO problems that need to be resolved. That’s better than being blacklisted though, so hopefully that’s the case.
  3. If you had off-site SEO done recently, check and see where the backlinks are coming from. Then, get those backlinks removed. You can read the FAQ about “What are bad backlinks and how are they removed” to learn more about this.
  4. If you had your website content updated recently, see if you can reverse what was done. This could involve restoring an older version of your website from a backup. Check with your hosting company on this. Or you could just revert individual pages that were recently update, rather than the whole website.

For more on what to do if your website just vanished, try reading our blog post titled “What to Do if Your Website Just Vanished from Google?” Also, if that blog post doesn’t help you resolve the issue, let us know so we can help. Here’s a link to our contact page: Contact Us

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44. Why aren’t I ranking well on Google?

If you’re not ranking well on Google, it’s probably because one of four things are happening:

  1. You haven’t done search engine optimization (SEO) to your website. Just having a website, and having a website that ranks well on Google, are two very different things. If you have a website, then chances are strong that you’ll need to do SEO in order to be in one of the top 10 positions that are displayed on the first page of Google.
  2. If you are doing SEO, but still not ranking well on Google, it may be because you haven’t done it for long enough. The general rule of thumb is that it takes about three to six months of doing SEO before you start seeing good results. If you just started a month or two ago, you probably need to just keep working on your SEO. Give it some more time.
  3. If you’ve done SEO for six months, but you still aren’t ranking well, it could be because you’re in a highly competitive marketing. If you’re in real estate, banking or your an attorney, it’ll likely take longer than six months to rank well.
  4. Your budget might be too low. Most companies that invest in local SEO are spending around $750 to $1,500 per month. If you want to out-do your competition, but you aren’t investing an average amount, it could take longer to see good results.

There are a lot of reasons you may not be ranking well on Google. Here are a couple blog posts you can read to learn more about this:

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45. Why are my Google rankings getting worse?

Search engine optimization concept on a napkinSometimes rankings will “get worse” simply because of algorithm updates or competition within the industry and market. Or, they could be getting worse if improper search engine optimization tactics are being implemented. Let’s elaborate on this:

  • Algorithm Updates: Google is constantly updating their algorithm in an attempt to provide greater value to those who use it. It’s possible a tweak in the algorithm has negatively impacted your results. This will often resolve itself as Google continues to enhance it’s algorithm. If the issue isn’t resolved in a few weeks, you may need to adjust your SEO activity a little.
  • Competition: It’s possible your competitors have decided they don’t want you to outrank them on Google, and they’ve decided to put more focus in their own SEO activity. If this is the case, they will push you down in search results, because they’re pushing themselves up. This is more likely to happen if you’re in a highly competitive industry or market and haven’t maintained your own SEO activity.
  • Improper SEO Implementation: If you recently hired someone to do your SEO, or you recently started doing it yourself, and you suddenly started seeing a drop in rankings, that may be hurting your performance. You might want to hire a professional to review the activity strategy and see whether or not that’s the cause.

Read more about this topic in our blog post titled “Why Are My Google Rankings Getting Worse?

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46. What resources should I follow to stay up-to-date on SEO?

Search engine optimization is a field that’s constantly evolving. If you want to rank well and drive massive amounts of traffic to your website, you should make a point to stay on top of best practices and updates within the industry.

In our blog post titled “The Top 20 Resources to Follow, to Stay Updated on SEO in 2021” we listed many great resources worth following. They’re also broken up based on how you like to digest information. You’ll find blogs, podcasts, videos and social media accounts to follow. We hope you find this useful.

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47. What are Core Web Vitals?

There are many ranking factors Google takes into consideration when deciding how to rank a website in the search engine results. Some of these factors have to do with the technical performance of your website. Some of these factors have been lumped together and given the label of “Core Web Vitals” or CWV for short. Some factors that impact you website include the time required to load a page, whether or not your website has an SSL certificate, and whether or not elements of your website shift around as the page loads.

While not all the technical website factors are considered CWV, it’s believe that Google will end up focusing on many of them. At the moment, there are only three website factors that are part of the official CWV. They include Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID) and Cumulative Layout Shift.

In our blog post titled “What Are Core Web Vitals And How Do They Impact You?” we provide much more detail on each of these three CWF factors, along with basic details on how to improve in each area

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Closing Thoughts

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, this FAQ was fueled by questions we have been asked about search engine optimization. We highly value questions and make a point to answer them as thoroughly and accurately as possible. If you have any questions that weren’t answered above, please let us know. Also, if you see any content that’s outdated, please know we already have plans to update it. Although you’re certainly welcome to contact us and let us know about it, just to make sure we have it on our radar.

Lastly, if you need help with your own search engine optimization, we would love the opportunity to assist you. We can either help with one small piece of your SEO strategy, or we can handle the whole SEO marketing initiative for you. Here are some of the ways in which we could potentially help:

Search engine optimization serviceSEO Services

  • SEO Audit: We can identify factors that are limiting your SEO effectiveness and can make recommendations on how to resolve the issues.
  • Keyword Research: We can identify the keywords worth focusing on, in an attempt to help you get the best SEO results possible.
  • Content Creation: We can write content for your website, whether it’s services pages, blog posts or something else.
  • Off-Site SEO: We can work on having quality backlinks generated for your website, to improve your overall rankings with Google.
  • On-Site SEO: We can help with the technical aspects of your website, that impact your performance on search engines. Content creation is part of this, but there are other aspects which should be considered as well.

If you would like assistance with your search engine optimization, please let us know. Otherwise, we hope you’re able to use this FAQ as a guide to help drive a massive amount of traffic to your website, and as a result, get tons of quality leads and business.

Good luck and let us know if you need anything!

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About

Joshua Lyons Marketing, LLC was established in 2015. Since that time we have provided digital marketing services to business and professionals. We help our clients increase their online exposure as a means to increase sales and revenue. Our core services include search engine optimization (SEO), website development and content creation. We also provide other online marketing services, such as email marketing, marketing consultations and various types of advertising. Our team is based in the Milton, Pace and Pensacola, Florida area. However, we work with clients throughout the United States. Read More

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