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30 Common SEO Questions That You Should Know

By zhiyuan on September 17, 2015


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30 Common SEO questions that you should know

I remember when I was first introduced to SEO, besides knowing that it’s something about getting higher rankings on search engines, I had almost zero knowledge about it and had to learn up everything as quickly as possible.

Problem was, SEO is a wide-ranging subject that you can’t really master from studying a text book. SEO is evolving all the time and books could hardly keep up with it, what works this month could be obsolete the next. There are no definite formula to get your website to the first page of search engines.

The best way to learn SEO is by following and reading the blogs of SEO experts who have done numerous case studies and experiments to figure out how Google scores a website. But even then you could be mislead because there are many self-proclaimed “SEO experts” out there and with some biased opinions.

So to make it easy for beginners to start with SEO, here are 30 commonly asked questions that you should know the answer to:

Q1: What is SEO?

what is seo
A: SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization. It is the systematic process of improving the position that your website appears in the results returned by search engines, such as Bing, Yahoo, and Google to obtain organic search traffic.

Each of the search engines show and rank a variety of media including web pages, videos, whitepapers, articles, blogs, based on what the search engine considers to be most relevant to users’ search. Theoretically, the higher your site appears in the search results, the more traffic you have to your website, which leads to more business.

Q2: How Does SEO Work?

A: SEO can help you or your business by giving your web pages higher ranking in the search engine results. You benefit from a stronger digital presence on the web, which can lead to more traffic, quality leads, and more customers.

Q3: Is SEO legal/ethical?

A: SEO is not illegal, but black hat SEO practices such as filling your web pages with keywords that are visible to search engines but not visible to reader can get your site banned or penalized by search engines.

Black hat SEO practices used to work few years back, but Google is quick in identifying these tactics and have come up with new algorithms to kick these practices out. So even if you can find a new loophole in Google’s algorithm, you can be sure that it won’t work for long before Google counter it.

Q4: Will I be penalized by Google if I do SEO?

google penalty

A: No, this is a common SEO myth that many believed. Search engines like Google have the primary goal to return the most relevant content for any given search query to help searchers find the best websites.

Google and other search engines want website owners to perform SEO and help users find their content, but you must know the rules and follow them. If you break the rules, the search engines reserve the right to remove your website from the index, which can make you difficult to find and decrease your overall rankings.

To put it briefly, Google rewards website that perform good SEO practices and only penalize website that perform black hat SEO tactics.

Q5: What are some of the black hat SEO tactics?

A: Black hat SEO tactics attempt to bypass the time and effort it takes to optimize a website by using tactics designed to boost the website’s search engine results artificially.

black hat seo tactics

Tactics may include the creation of widgets and embedding them in links, stuffing web pages with invisible keywords, or using a Private Blog Network to build external links from these micro sites to the main website.

Read more on black hat SEO tactics here.

Q6: How do I do SEO?

A: SEO is a carefully thought-out systematic strategy that starts all the way from the selection of your domain name to the loading time of your webpage. There are many factors that affect your ranking and doing SEO means optimizing as many of these factors as you can to get the best score possible.

Factors such as keyword density, LSI keywords, placement of keywords, keyword decoration, page load time, user dwell time, freshness score, social signals, click-through rate, number of backlinks, quality of backlinks, mobile-friendliness, and etc are all taken into consideration.

The image below illustrates well the process of SEO:

SEO process

Q7: How often do I need to do SEO?

A: SEO is not a one-time effort, most SEO experts would recommend it as a long-term marketing strategy. Website owners will need to keep track of their websites and it’s ranking all the time.

With so many changing parts, such as link degradation, evolving search engine algorithms, outdated content, and competition from other companies in your industry, SEO requires an ongoing commitment. Despite that, SEO offers a better ROI than most traditional marketing.

SEO Top 40 Jargons:
Explained In Plain English

  • 40 of only the most useful SEO terminologies.
  • Your first guide to the SEO world.
  • Aimed at complete beginners.
  • Compact and super easy to read!

Q8: Should I hire someone to do SEO for me?

A: Not necessary. Although it is the best and fastest way to get visible results, SEO agencies can be quite costly for smaller businesses. When it comes to spending money on services, it all comes down to ROI, if hiring an SEO agency can increase more profit for your business to cover the hiring fees, then go ahead and hire one.

But if you can’t afford the fees of an SEO agency, there are many cheaper alternatives that work as well. SEO plugins and tools are aplenty in this saturated market, some are free and some comes with a small fee. Just make sure that you do some research and look for the one that suits your need and budget the most.

Q9: Does URL structure affect SEO?

url structure affect seo

A: The quality of your URL structure does have an effect on page ranking and SEO efforts. URLs must be short, easy to read, and identify at a glance where the user is going. The page title has to be concise and support the contention the page. A Quicksprout study shows that URL that contain 35 to 40 characters dominated the search listings.

Read more about URL structure here.

Q10: How do I track my SEO efforts?

A: Google Analytics is the most popular tool used to obtain basic statistics and monitor traffic to your web site. Best part of it is that it is also free.

Another great tool for tracking your SEO efforts is rank tracking tools. They help you track the rankings of your page and plot them in graph so that you can tell directly whether your SEO efforts are working or not. There are many tools that does this but here at SEOPressor we use RankReveal to do that.


Read our review on RankReveal here.

Q11: What is Google Analytics?

A: Google Analytics is a free analytics service provided by Google that tracks and report statistics for website traffic.

google analytics

Q12: How long does it take to see the results of my SEO efforts?

A: If done correctly, immediately as long as you request Google to recrawl/reindex your webpage.

But as mentioned above, a page rank is affected by many factors, including factors that you can’t control, such as the amount of backlinks, quality of backlinks, freshness score, age of your website, competition for keywords, and etc. These factors can’t really be controlled by you or anyone else but time. So if your webpage hasn’t improved in rankings after all your SEO efforts, have some patience and continue producing more great contents and you’ll see the fruits of your SEO efforts within months.

Q13: How does Google know about my website?

A: Google allows website owners to submit their websites free. The most common way Google employ to find a website is through its Googlebot. Also known as a bot, robot, spider, or web crawler, this program tool constantly crawl the Internet to detect new and updated pages to add to its index. It also notes dead links.


Googlebot will crawl and index your webpages.

Q14: What is robot.txt?

A: When a search engine crawlers and spider visit your website, the first thing the bot seeks out is the robot.txt file. The robot.txt file defines how Googlebot and other crawlers should interact with the pages and files contained in your website. If you have directories and files that you do not want the search engines to index, you simply use a robot.txt file to define where the crawler should not go.

Q15: What are meta tags?

A: Meta tags refer to snippets of text or “metadata,” which provides a description of a webpage’s content. Meta tags include the title tag, meta description, and keywords of a page. Meta tags do not appear on the page itself, but within the HTML code, which is only visible to search engines.

Read our case study on meta description here.

Q16: Do meta tags matter?

A: According to some SEO experts, meta tags do not matter as much since Google discontinue using the tags in its page rankings. However, meta tags continue to provide important information to inform search engines and users about the web page. By providing additional information about your website, it may improve the click-through rate and that has a say in improving a page’s ranking. So, meta tags are still important for SEO, even if it is an indirect factor.

Q17: What is an XML sitemap?

A: In the way you use a robot.txt file to control the directories and files you want the bots to bypass, you also want to have some control over the content and URLs that are indexed by the search engines.

In the past, webmasters relied on an HTML sitemap. Each primary page on the website would contain a link to the sitemap in the footer. An Extensible Markup Language or XML sitemap allow site administrators to direct search engines to information on the pages of a website they want indexed.

XML sitemaps also provide the priority or hierarchy of site content as well as information on the last update for the particular page.

XML sitemap

XML sitemap will tell search engines the hierarchy of your webpages.

Q18: What is a 301 redirect?

A: A 301 redirect is a permanent redirection from one URL to another URL. When you move your website to a new address, you want to ensure that users who click on the link to your old site are forwarded and that all of your inbound links point to you new website.

Q19: What are canonical links?

A: For different reasons, webpages have many different version of URLs that leads to the same page. For example: www.example.com and http://www.example.com/ are different URLs that lead users to the same page.

While human don’t see a problem with this, search engines see it differently. First problem with this is that search engine sees this as a case of duplicate content and may penalize your website. Secondly, all your traffic are divided and poured into different versions of URL, and since Google take unique pageviews as a factor in ranking a page, you don’t want that to happen.

Canonical links solves all of these issues. Canonical links function as a soft redirect, but without redirecting the user. It tells browsers to direct the users to the one version of URL that you have assigned.

To know more about canonical links and when to use them, read here.

Q20: Does being mobile-friendly improve my SEO?

A: Yes and no. Ever since Google’s algorithm change, Google has taken into consideration the mobile-friendliness of a webpage in page ranking. But this only applies to search done on mobile-devices and do not affect the search rankings on desktop or laptops.

However, with the increasing number of mobile users, it is only wise to optimize your website for mobile devices.

Learn how to optimize your website with 10 easy ways here.

Q21: What is a Google Knowledge Graph?

A: The Google Knowledge Graph is a system of information that Google provides in order to enhance the queries of users. It is not based on providing users with more quality links. Instead, it’s meant to provide facts and answers to questions that users have searched for. When you do a search, most of the time a list of organic results will show up. Every once in a while, you’ll see a box of information above the list of results.

knowledge graph

Read more on Google Knowledge Graph here.

Q22: How do I get a Google Knowledge Graph?

A: Google get it’s information for Knowledge Graph from sources like CIA World Factbook and other large data websites, so it can be a little challenging to control what information is presented about your company.

While you can’t completely control what Knowledge Graph will present about your company, you can influence it by doing certain things such as using schema on your website, creating a Wikipedia entry for your company, and creating a Google+ page for your company.

Q23: What is the best article length for SEO?

A: Recent research shows that article length does have an impact on SEO. According to SerpIQ, its research on the top 10 results for any keyword revealed that the articles contained a minimum of 2000 words. One reason why longer content fared better is people preferred to link to content that are more in-depth.

content length

Q24: Does social media affect SEO?

A: Yes, social media has become an integral part of SEO. Websites that create high quality shareable content tend to receive more shares and tweets on Social media sites, which leads to backlinks that are more natural. Search engines see this as a sign of quality content and pay close attention to the volume of these social signals.

25: Do I need to know how to code to do SEO?

A: Knowing how to code can be an incredibly useful skill when conducting SEO on your website, but it is not an essential. More importantly, you need to understand the SEO principles behind what makes your website work and how search engines reaction to certain changes.

Q26: How can I see what pages are indexed?

A: Go to “Index Status” in Google Webmaster Tools to find out how many pages have been indexed by Google as well as blocked pages and pages removed.

Another simpler way of doing this is to search your site on Google by typing:– site:yoursite.com. Google will show you the number of results returned.

check how many pages google crawled

Q27: Why does my images need alt text?

A: Alt text provides a description of an image file when a person hovers over the image, or for visitors who cannot see the images on their browsers. Alt text also allows the images to rank in image search results.

Q28: What are backlinks?

A: Backlinks, which refers to links that are directed towards your website and provide the search engines a view of the importance or popularity of your website. Backlinks are one of the primary building blocks of any SEO campaign and can help your website gain traction, attention and natural traffic from the search engines.

Google will give more credit to websites with quality backlinks because they consider such website more relevant than other result pages for a particular query and keyword.

Read more on backlinks here.

Q29: Can I buy backlinks to boost my rankings?

A: You can buy backlinks, which may help to boost your rankings temporarily. However, for the record, Google states that it does not want to count any link that is not editorial – or freely given. Google will eventually ignore these links and reward websites based on the quality of the links pointed at your site.

Q30: What is the difference between internal links and inbound links?

A: Internal links move from one page on a domain to another page and help establish your website’s architecture. Inbound links refer to backlinks that are directed to your website from other websites.

SEO Top 40 Jargons:
Explained In Plain English

  • 40 of only the most useful SEO terminologies.
  • Your first guide to the SEO world.
  • Aimed at complete beginners.
  • Compact and super easy to read!

Updated: 24 June 2019

Zhi Yuan

About Zhi Yuan

Zhi Yuan is an inbound marketer who has expertise in both SEO and content marketing. He is on a never-ending quest to understand the mysteries of the search engine world, and sometimes, on his way to the ice-cream parlor.

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