Can you turn on my SEO?
Variation: Can you do my SEO?
These SEO questions stem from a widespread misconception — that SEO is highly technical that can just be “done” in the “code.” However, SEO is actually broken into two parts: technical and content.
Technical SEO includes areas that are part of how your website functions. This includes things like alt text, page load speed, meta descriptions, duplicated content, page headings, backlinks, internal links, etc. This is mostly on-site but, some tasks (like backlinks) are offsite.
The Content-Based SEO includes things like keywords or keyphrases, word count, on-page time, and task completion. Similar to technical SEO, some of this is on-site and some is offsite.
Both of these areas, combine to optimize your website for search. So, you could start with some technical SEO tasks such as:
- Adding title and alt text to all of your images and links
- Ensuring all your pages have meta descriptions
- Testing your site’s performance like page speed and making adjustments
- Soliciting backlinks from reputable websites
You could also look at your website from a content perspective by creating a list of relevant keywords and adding them to your content (appropriately).
What is your process for optimizing my website?
At the very least, I recommend the basic tasks listed above. These are not secret or proprietary. My expert value comes from how experienced I am at researching and optimizing each of these areas… not the tasks themselves.
What is my rank?
Variation: Can you get me to a page 1 rank? Can you get me in the top 3?
Anyone who owns a website has gotten a spam email telling them, “Your website isn’t top-ranked!” This is followed by a pitch for why you should hire their SEO services.
It’s a BS statement. Why?
They haven’t listed any keywords. So, they can’t possibly know how you are ranking for the keywords where you want to rank. You may be ranking well for keywords that don’t matter to you or you may not be showing up for important keywords for your business.
Determining your website’s rank starts with making a list of keywords and key phrases where you’d like to rank on the first page. This is specific to your business. These are based on your products and services, inspired by potential customer queries, and should include local variations.
Then, based on that list of keywords, you can pull your website’s average rank. Then, you know how well your website actually ranks for keywords that matter.
If you haven’t told someone which keywords you want to rank for, they can’t really know if you’re missing the target.
The trick here is that most agencies use a shortcut. They will load your website’s URL into Google Keyword Planner. This will spit out a list of suggested keywords for your website. This is based on the text on your website. Some of these may be relevant and some may be irrelevant.
For example, Google Keyword Planner may suggest “red rose plants” for a shop called The Red Rose — even if the shop sells soap.
Then, the spammer can load those keywords into a ranking tool and pull your average rank.
This format isn’t super smart. Why?
Because your website hasn’t been optimized yet.
The Google Keyword Planner relies on the keywords already in your website to pull suggested keywords for Google Adwords.
You must deliberately add a list of target keywords to your website’s content. Otherwise, the keyword planning tool will struggle to find keywords.
You can try it now at Google Keyword Planner. See what keywords it suggests for your site. In my experience, these lists miss the mark. Some of the suggestions are great. Some are unrelated.
So, your “average rank” based on this method will be inaccurate and unhelpful.
Any reputable group can offer you a site audit to determine your site’s actual rank for relevant keywords and offer suggestions for improvement. For example, I offer a site audit that creates a multi-page report addressing several key areas. I review the following page-by-page and post-by-post.
- Design and Content
- Image display/size
- Mobile Review/ Responsive review
- Link testing
- Proofreading content
- Technical SEO
- Meta description
- Page title
- Internal link alt text
- image alt text
- image title text
- SEO Considerations
- backlinks – top incoming links
- top traffic sources
- top device use
- top referral landing pages
- top incoming keywords
- top landing pages
Additionally, I note the following metrics:
- Page visits
- Pages per visit
- New vs returning visitors
- Bounce rate
- Incoming traffic overview
- Average keyword rank
- Search Engine Visibility (Links, images, Content)
- SEO Metrics – search engine share
- Competitor SEO comparison
I cannot pull this information without access to your website, your Google Analytics, and a list of agreed-upon keywords, and an agreed-upon list of competitors. It’s an involved process that takes several weeks to run after I load all the information into various software. Then, I analyze the data and compile a report.
I guarantee you that those unsolicited SEO sales emails are based on none of these activities. They just checked your rank for the keywords you already have on your site. That’s not particularly insightful or accurate.
Can you make me higher than my competitors?
Most SEO sales pitches promise to make sure you rank higher than your competitors. Like the question above, it’s a slightly misleading concept because there are actually two ways to achieve a higher rank.
First, you could rank higher than your competitors organically — meaning that your website comes up higher in search results without paying for ads.
Second, you could rank higher on paid ads — meaning that you are outbidding your competitors and showing up higher on paid search results.
The second one is easy. You just have to a) spend more and b) pick less competitive keywords.
The first one is harder to promise. Basically, you have to optimize your website better than your competitors have. If your competitors have already started to optimize their websites, you are behind.
If you want to know how your website stands against your competitors, you should ask for an evaluation of your overall organic visibility compared to your competitor’s websites.
Since you are playing catch-up, a higher rank is not a responsible promise. You could surpass your competitors. You might already be ranking higher than your competitors in some areas.
Instead, you can compare your overall organic visibility compared to your competitors.
This includes key areas such as:
- External Backlinks
- Citation flow (by Majestic)
- Trust Flow (by Majestic)
- Domain Authority (by Moz)
- Load Time
- Page Speed (by Google)
- Social Media connections and engagement (by each applicable platform)
By looking at these, you can actually create a task list based on the areas that you’re falling behind. Then, you can improve your rank — strategically!
Will you teach me how to do my own SEO?
Related: I found someone in Ukraine who will do my SEO for $5.
This question is underestimating the level of experience and training it takes to optimize a website and maintain that optimization. It’s not something you can learn in a weekend.
There are areas where I can consult. Then, give you a specific list of tasks to perform. For example, I would be comfortable training someone on best practices for creating backlinks. Then, you could create a schedule to handle those internally as resources allow.
However, search engines constantly change their algorithms. So, professionals are constantly responding to those changes and updating their processes accordingly.
Obviously, you don’t want to throw your money away on a mysterious retainer. That’s why I provide a list of everything I’ll be auditing and updating each month. I can also estimate the hours it will take. Also, I explain my process for tracking and reporting on those activities.
Someone did my SEO 5 years ago, why isn’t my website #1 anymore?
Related: Why would I pay for a monthly optimization package?
Search Engines change their algorithms constantly. Your competitors may update their websites frequently to react to these changes. Your website will “fall behind” if you don’t maintain it.
An audit of your website can help you strategically optimize the areas that will have the most impact. If you haven’t updated your website in a few years, such a report will allow you to assess the situation and make a plan for ongoing site maintenance.