Regardless of how many answers you get, fresh SEO questions will always crop up again and again.
It happens. What works for SEO today might not be as useful tomorrow, and what’s good today may be overcome by something else we’ve got to adapt to next year. That’s how we’ve been rolling for the past 20 years.
We didn’t see mobile-first and voice search optimisation coming in, say, 2014. Bit by bit, Google announced algorithm updates throughout the years, and we waited on the edge of our seats. Tons of questions stacked up. We got answers. We adjusted. And here we are.
However, there are those “root” questions that never go away. I’ve compiled the ones I see most often, and answered each one for you.
How does SEO help your business?
SEO helps your business gain online visibility by increasing the chances of your website appearing in higher search engine positions.
Competition is fierce out there, so keep in mind that an SEO strategy, however well-developed, won’t guarantee #1, #2, or even #3 rankings for a website. And that’s okay. Positioning among the top 10 websites for your focus keyword is what you should be aiming for.
(Searchers won’t always click on the first result that comes up!)
Which is better for ecommerce: Pay-Per-Click (PPC) or SEO?
It depends on your goals. If you’d like immediate visibility and instant traffic, go ahead and set a budget for ad spend. But remember that PPC is no good without a solid campaign in place.
Now, if you’d like to generate organic traffic to your website while getting lasting return on investment, SEO is the way to go.
Bear in mind that the ROI of paid ads won’t last as long as that of SEO. Though ranking organically is a longer process, it increases brand awareness by placing your web pages higher on search engines without spending a penny on ads.
Is SEO dead?
No, SEO is not dead. Far from it.
It’s easy to fall prey to this type of news. But ask any seasoned SEO expert out there and they’ll assure you they’ve been hearing this kind of horror story for the past 20 years.
For as long as Google is willing to create a better user experience for searchers, and marketers have access to algorithm and best practices updates, SEO will be very much alive. Not only that, but it will continue to be the most reliable process to create online visibility for your business.
So, yes, SEO is still relevant in 2021 and beyond.
Is keyword research still important?
Yes. Arguably, keyword research is the most essential part of your SEO strategy, especially if you’re in eCommerce.
It’s true that Google is getting exponentially smarter at recognising a searcher’s intent. Yet, although Google is smart, it’s not human smart.
Keyword research with the help of platforms like SEMrush and Moz is still the most effective way to get your strategy right. By conducting keyword research, you’ll know the exact terms people are using to find products like yours, as well as those that aren’t as relevant.
It’ll lay the foundation for your strategy. You’ll use both long-tail and “head” keywords to create SEO optimised content that connects with prospects at every stage of the funnel.
Skip keyword research at your peril.
Can SEO keywords be phrases?
Yes, SEO keywords can be phrases, as well as individual words.
“Cashmere sweater” is a keyword, but so are “how to wash cashmere sweaters” and “cashmere sweater price”.
In essence, a keyword is any term you type into the search box. That’s why some marketers may refer to them as “keyphrases” or “keyword phrases”.
Which SEO tool is best?
There’s no “best” SEO tool.
Every SEO software will have its pros and cons, as well as pricing variations and feature availability according to the goals you have in mind.
Filtering your SEO tool choices will be easier if you consider:
- The number of clients you’ll be working with. It doesn’t make sense to pay for a subscription if you’re not going to use it consistently, seeing that the average platform starts at $99 a month. In this case, opting for free SEO alternatives would be better for your pocket.
- Your company’s size. Pricing and features will vary depending on company size and business goals. Starting prices will also vary from one solution to another, so dive into comparisons before making a decision.
Now, if instead of “best”, we were to talk about the most popular tools out there, start your research by comparing the following:
What applies as duplicate content in SEO?
In simple terms, duplicate content is any type of content that shows up on more than one page.
Regardless if the content is exactly the same or almost identical, it would be considered duplicate content. Google won’t penalize websites for it, but it could hurt rankings. So be careful.
In eCommerce, creating duplicate pages without realising is fairly easy, so pay extra attention to your product pages. Make sure to create original content for each page whenever possible, and avoid copying and pasting pre-written content to new pages.
What does Technical SEO mean?
There are three types of SEO: on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO.
Technical SEO refers to the optimisation processes that help web crawlers scan and index your site easily, thus increasing your website’s chances of higher rankings.
Technical SEO optimisation makes crawling smoother by removing the “bumps” from your site. Best practices include:
- Optimising your website for mobile-friendliness.
- Installing an SSL certificate for secure communication.
- Enabling AMP for quick loading of mobile pages.
- Speeding up your website’s loading speed.
What is considered “bad” SEO?
“Bad” SEO, also known as black hat SEO, involves practices that are frowned upon by the Google Webmaster Guidelines. While black hat SEO isn’t illegal, it could have your website banned from search engines.
From Google Search Central, website owners should “avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings.” Such tricks include:
- Keyword stuffing.
- Paid links and link manipulation.
- Hidden text or hidden links on the page.
Are these quick ways to rank higher? Possibly. But the results won’t last long.
Can SEO be automated?
SEO can be automated in parts. However, it cannot be fully automated (and that’s a good thing).
Certain SEO activities like generating related terms for a certain keyword, analysing a competitor’s rankings, and managing your backlinks can save you hours of work when automated. That’s the job most SEO tools out there do very well.
Still, human brainwork is encouraged when coming up with a seed keyword list, analysing a searcher’s intent, and earning high-quality backlinks through great content creation.
Does SEO require coding skills?
SEO doesn’t require any particularly advanced coding skills.
Basic HTML knowledge comes in handy for SEO experts, but no additional skills are needed to develop a solid SEO strategy.
Is SEO free?
SEO can be done for free, although there are paid SEO tools with automated features available. Those can save you a lot of time and give you more accurate analytics to work with.
Online tools like AnswerThePublic and even Google itself can bring free insights for keyword research, because you’ll have access to exact matches of terms people search for when looking for your product. When using Google’s ‘Search Engine Results Page’ (SERP), don’t forget to look at the ‘People Also Ask’ and ‘Related Searches’ sections of the SERP.
Keep in mind that doing SEO for free won’t provide data like keyword density, search volume, or allow you to analyse multiple competitor websites at once. Unless, of course, you’re working with a free trial version of a subscription-based SEO tool.
Can all SEO questions be answered? That’s impossible. SEO is ever-changing, meaning new questions will always come to light every single year. Not to worry – we’ve adapted so far, and we can do it again for as long as it’s necessary. Meanwhile, we’ll stick to the answers we know.
Have any questions I haven’t mentioned?
Let’s hear them in the comments below!
Author: Matt Janaway
Matt Janaway is a successful Digital Marketer and Entrepreneur based in Nottingham, UK. He started his digital career journey during the mid 2000’s internet retailing boom by developing 10+ eCommerce stores which enjoyed great success using a successful and evolving SEO formula. Matt is now CEO of Marketing Labs, one… View full profile ›