Last time I posted about how dangerous “sound bite” SEO advice could be. It’s usually because of this I get asked a huge amount of frequent SEO questions which usually stem from this sound bit advice.
So I thought I’d cover some of the most frequent answers I get asked and the real-ish answers to them. I suppose you could also call this the “most frequent SEO misconceptions”. I guess this should be a “working document”, as I get asked more questions I add them to the list.
Also, I’m going to attempt to be humorous, whilst informative in my answers, this is for entertainment purposes. I’m not being blunt or purposefully antagonistic.
Should I Rewrite My Meta Descriptions to Rank Better?
This is not often a question I get asked however, there is no right or wrong answer.
Firstly, it’s important to point out that meta descriptions are not a ranking factor, however, they do play an important part in SEO. For those of you who don’t know, the meta description is the small extract of text which appear under each search results.
The reason they play such an important role, is CTR (Click-Thru-Rate), the percentage of people who click on the result. The meta description is a valuable opportunity to include a short description of what the page is about and for your to “sell” your page.
So, my advice, make sure all of your meta descriptions are completed, which unique and valuable information about your content. It is worth spending quite a bit of time on it. We are all after more traffic after all!
I Need To Get My Site Speed to 100!
I use Google Speed Insights tool to monitor my site speed. From a ranking point of view, if Google think it’s okay with their own tool, then I’m good!
Site speed is one of those odd “ranking metrics”, I think because it’s relatively new, it’s a little bit misunderstood.
I think, many people seem to understandably think that the faster your website is the better it will rank. Which, if you think about it, is a kinda odd move by Google, if it were.
If I wanted my website to be super fast, I would strip everything out of it! No images, no videos, no audio, no interactive elements. I’d tear out all the code which makes it look nice! Ideally, I’d want it to be a white background with some text on it, so it loads in a snap.
Obviously, Google don’t want this to happen. The best content, is that which is enriched with additional information an mediums which a user can engage with a take value from!
Now, we don’t know what the real rules are when it comes to site speed. However, I side with the idea that, if your site loads within a suitable time-frame (below 3 seconds, rule of thumb) then it’s going to rank okay!
I really wouldn’t expect any ranking algorithm to demote a site unless it was in the bottom 10% of the sites within a search. Which I would probably expect, in most cases to be really, really slow! (There are some horrible sites out there)
That being said, if you take ranking out of the picture, it’s good practice to make sure your site is as quick as it can be! Users don’t want to have to wait around for ages while your site to load, certainly not new users who within the first few seconds will decide if your site is even worth their time.
Should I Use A Different Sentence On This Page Because I’ve Got It On Another Page, and I Don’t Want to Have Duplicated Content?
Duplicate content is the enemy! At least, it is to some people. I think falls under “sound bite” SEO advice again.
“Don’t duplicate any content on your website!”
Which is roughly good advice. However, let’s not take this too literally! When we talk about duplicated content, we are generally talking about pages of content which are literally the same as each other but have different URLs. To Google, this will look like your trying to just make you site look bigger than it is.
Most of the time duplicated content issues are caused by technical issues. These can be the most damaging because they can cause EVERY SINGLE page to be duplicated, which can really confuse Google. I mean, which page is it suppose to rank? If it doesn’t know. Then it’s probably going to rank none!
When writing content, my advice is not to focus on if you are duplicating content but just focus on creating the most engaging content for your users.
It is inevitable, that some content will repeat itself. Don’t worry about it.
Which leads me nicely onto the next one…
Do I Write for Google, or do I write for Humans?
Write for humans. They are the people reading your content. If humans like your content, then Google will like your content too.
I believe, this is always a clever way of asking “Should I keyword stuff?”.
Absolutely not! Google is so much more intelligent than most people give it credit for. If you are using words in your content that a related semantically or are in some way commonly connected with your key topic. Google is going to understand that.
Google is smart. Write for humans!
How Do I Find The Best Keywords?
This one is pretty easy, however there is a trap many people fall down.
When people do keyword research they tend to focus on one metric. VOLUME.
Search volume is great, who wants to put loads of work into ranking for search term that has 10 searchers per month. When you can rank for search term that has 10,000 searcher per month. KEEERRRRCHIIINNNGG!
No, it’s about relevance too!
Let’s take “sliding doors” as an example, it’s search volume is “1000” (it’s not, but let’s say it is).
There are loads of eCommerce stores out there which provide those white uPVC sliding doors on the back of houses.
However, if your a company that provides high quality large glass aluminium sliding doors. This isn’t your market.
The term “aluminium glass sliding doors” might have a search volume of 10. But it’s your perfect audience. You have a much better chance of converting that traffic.
In answer the the question, my current absolute favourite tool at the moment is Keyword Surfer. You can get all the volume, competition and suggest keywords all in the the search engine results pages. It’s perfect for quickly checking volumes and checking relevancy all at the same time.
What Should I Write in My Image Alt Tags?
This is another one of those “Sound Bit SEO Advice” that I hear quite a lot. I see people spending our crawling all over their image alt tags to ensure they are right.
The advice usually goes “Make sure you have alt tags on all your images”.
This is both low in value and low in advice. What the hell are you supposed to write?
First, lets deal with the bigger issue. Alt tags have very little influence in the ranking of your site in normal search. However, for Google Image search they can be quite important.
If updating your alt tags for all your images means that you will be using large proportion of your time, then I would advise you to put it lower down in your priority list. If you have more important things to do, then do them first.
Instead, I would just make a habit of adding alt tags from this point moving forwards, as part of your overall process of adding content to your site. This would save time and equal the value you will get from it.
Another thing to consider if you audience; are they very likely to find your content / site through image search? For photographers and the like, this is really important. However, for the majority of us, Google image search will draw a very, very small percentage of traffic.
This brings me onto, what should you write? The catchphrase “say what you see is” is a good rule of thumb.
Remember, Google can’t see / understand your images. The alt tags provide the only method for Google to understand your images.
Ask Me Your SEO Question…
I’m sure there are many of you out there that have SEO questions just like the above, they are nothing to be embarrassed about!
If you’d like to me to answer these question (anonymously, of course) Then drop your question in the box below and I’ll keep updating this post.