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I was watching an interview with Elon Musk the other day, he’s one of my favourite entrepreneurs and an absolute genius in my opinion. He was speaking about artificial intelligence (AI) and how scary it is. As human beings I’m not sure what we’re actually getting ourselves into when it comes to AI. Elon’s stance on this seems to be that reality could look very different in the future and that our intelligence could be augmented by artificial intelligence. He mentioned search engines and Google, particularly how the information is at our fingertips but the way we access it is very slow. We can look up any question on the Internet and find an answer to it. With search AI, for instance Alexa, we can perhaps access it more quickly. But many of my peers believe that as far as input devices go, touch screen and keyword and mouse, are still quicker than voice search. But I believe this trend will change by around 2023.
We’re already started to optimise for search AI but we’re nowhere near there yet. I know that I can order a new battery for my DSLR from Amazon just by speaking a few words to Alexa. But with many ecommerce websites I still cannot do this. This trend will change though, I do believe.
So if you’re seeking a new career, a career change, or just starting up in your career and thinking about going into search engine optimisation (SEO) then consider the above. Consider AI search and realise that SEO is still a very big part of many digital marketing strategies. Many businesses are missing out on organic SEO and just not doing it right or not having it done right by a professional. If you’re thinking of going into SEO as your next career move, then read on.
Here’s my top SEO interview questions and answers in 2021:
It’s a website basically like Google, Yahoo and Bing, which serves search results to searchers.
Google, Yahoo and Bing.
Google’s co-founders are Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
1998 (4 September 1998 to be precise on date).
Menlo Park, California, United States.
World wide web.
It’s more secure than HTTP and for SEO it’s what Google looks for. It affects rankings if a website’s pages aren’t served over HTTPS.
Secure Socket Layer. All websites these days should have a SSL certificate installed.
This is the easier type of SSL certificate to install and takes just a few minutes, it’s also the cheapest apart from Let’s Encrypt which is free of charge.
It’s the part after the (first) dot, for example .com, .oc.uk, .net.
.com, .oc.uk, .net.
.com, .oc.uk, .net.
Another name for web hosting or website hosting essentially.
Very. Slow hosting adversely affects SEO performance. Unsecure hosting that gets hacked could mean downtime which means loss of rankings in SERPs.
Search Engine Results Pages
It’s everything that appears in SERPs below paid ads and the 3 pack.
It’s basically the predictive suggestions that appear in Google when you begin to type in a keyword.
There’s a few possible answer to this question but I’d be looking for a candidate to not only recognise the importance of keyword research but also under competition analysis / competitive analysis. Not only that though – the very first starting point must be finding out about your client. So the discovery stage is absolutely key.
It depends if you’re going for a SEO manager job, SEO analyst, SEO consultant, SEO account manager, etc. The level of experience and also strategy and management experience will determine how much money / what type of salary you can command as a SEO professional. The interviewer will be looking for your experience in seeing small, medium and large, all sizes, of SEO campaign through to the success stage.
Testing in SEO is very important. The interview will be looking for your ability to question the important that is out there on the Internet. To really get to know your field. To test, test and test again. Are you speaking from experience? Have you been there and done that? Have you failed and got back up on your feet? Have you ranked your own websites? Have you ranked clients’ websites? Have you ranked for difficult, high competition keywords which have been profitable?
Many factors make a website search engine friendly, including keywords, search terms, high quality unique content, meta titles, correct semantic heading structure, crawlability and so on. A website needs to adhere to SEO best practice in order to rank highly in search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing and, therefore, be discoverable by people, the target audience, the end user.
Keywords are said to all into two main categories. Those which are informational and commercial keywords. The key here is the intent of the searcher. The reason behind the user actually visiting Google and type in a sequence of words. What are they looking for? Just information, or to buy?
You’ll want to speak about baselines, key performance indicators (KPIs), goal settings, and generally the starting point, milestones and what SEO success looks like. You’ll also need to mention that organic SEO never really ends, the competition may adapt and do more, as they see a website starting to rank. This will affect SEO performance. You’ll want to speak about increasing not only traffic to a website or particular landing page but highly targeted traffic and traffic with a high commercial intent, increasing conversions (speak about conversion rate optimisation and how you understand the importance of CRO).
Talk about lead magnets, email newsletter autoresponder signups, generating leads, closing sales. These are the key metrics that clients care about. Reports are good. Keyword positions are good. Backlinks are good. Inbound links are good. Driving targeted traffic is good. But without conversions, it’s all useful. Demonstrate to the interviewer that you understand that managing clients’ expectations and educating them about the process and what to expect, is key to having happy clients who will stick around. Talk about the importance of keyword research, the SEO tactics that are used, how a SEO strategy is implemented, what success looks like and the value of increasing targeted referral traffic. Also, talk about keeping an eye on competitors and that competitive analysis is iterative, needs to be revisited regularly with alerts. Demonstrate that you understand that SEO performance is relative to the effort put in vs the strength of the competition. This holistic, top-down view point will get you very far as a SEO professional.
You may be self-taught, have done a formal course or courses, been employed in SEO before or a plethora of other paths into SEO. Maybe you’re a SEO junior or consider yourself advanced. In an interview, it’s great to be able to describe at least one SEO campaign that you’ve worked on and how it went, including lessons learned and next steps. However you learned SEO, it’s a constant learning curve and you must keep up-to-date with your chosen field of expertise. Make sure that you get across to the interviewer that continuous professional and personal development is something that you believe strongly about. Afterall, our field is constantly changing and evolving, and we must be able to adapt to change if we’re to continue to be successful SEO professionals.
Only mention the tools that you’re familiar with and have working knowledge of, as the interviewer may ask you for specific examples of SEO projects you’ve worked on and which SEO tools, software and solutions you used to help you. Popular SEO tools include Moz, Ahrefs, Majestic, SEO Profiler, SEM Rush and there’s many more.
Mention that you use Google Keyword Planner to do keyword research, if you have good working knowledge of this. Ahrefs, SEM Rush and other software also have keyword research modules which are capable of helping with this process. then that’s your answer for the tool used. But you must also explain how you go about it. Mention keyword grouping, topic and themes, long-tail keyword phrases, search volume, relevancy, commercial intent, informational searches and the competitiveness of a keyword. Demonstrate that you know how to find low hanging fruit whilst performing keyword research, where the keyword is longer tail, which results in it being more specifically targeted (bring in commercial intent) so it’s highly targeted and has good or decent search volume (at least enough to make the effort and investment put into ranking for it worthwhile in terms of targeted traffic that’s likely to be achieved, but is not highly competitive keywords. Quick wins are great in SEO, whilst we wait for more competitive keywords to be ranked for. I call this the Goldilocks method of keyword research i.e. not too warm, not too cold, but just right.
Link building is a process that SEOs do to build up the credibility of websites. Google needs to get the user the very best search results. This is because Google exists to serve the search engine user or the searcher. Results are rank based on trust, authority, credibility and relevancy. Part of the way that Google determines this is by votes of confidence from other websites which point to the website you’re looking to rank. This is basically telling Google that the content is worthy of being linked to. This in turn, help websites rank up in search engines.
Backlinks or inbound links are links into a website from an external source. Backlinks are one of the main factors that Google uses to determine the credibility of a given website.
If it’s a permanent direct, then a 301 redirect is the preferred option. This results in link juice being passed to the new page.
Link juice or backlink juice is the positive SEO effect of authority and credibility passing from one web page to another, sometimes from one domain to another.
For a start YouTube is Google owned and the second largest search engine, so mention this in your interview. Videos provides a massively popular way to consumer content and serves different learning styles. The issue is that Google uses bots and bots can’t watch videos! So you need to add meta data when uploading videos to YouTube. Creating a transcript is the key to doing this. This allows search engine bots to crawl the text and find out what the video is about. Also, ensure your video title and category is correct and enticing. Make sure they accurately represent what your video is about.
Videos are growing increasingly popular on the web, which can improve SEO if the videos produced get attention and therefore share and backlinks. But to get the video seen can require SEO to get it found, and Google can’t watch a video. Also embed your video in your web pages and don’t forget your keywords, page titles, and descriptions!
The page title (often referred to as the SEO title) and the meta description are the main two meta tags that matter in terms of SEO. The page title is vitally important and the meta description aids click through rates (CTR) from Google SERPS (search engine results pages). Both the page title and meta description show in the SERPS. These are what make it compelling for a user to click through to your website from it. Although meta descriptions don’t directly affect rankings as such, they do play a huge role in encouraging click throughs which will have a knock on affect for rankings. It’s advisable to certainly set a unique page title and meta description for each page. Mention this in your interview! Also, if you don’t explicitly set a meta description, then Google bot will scrape your web pages and determine a bit fit. However, this will likely be truncated with triple dot (three dots) / an ellipsis, which isn’t ideal. So take control of it and manually set a separate meta description for each of your web pages.
50 to 60 characters. It’s impossible to give an exact figure since different characters have different widths. It will impress the interviewer if you mention that a lowercase “l” has less width than a lowercase “g” for example (or use similarly contrasting examples in your interview).
The character length limit of meta descriptions is between 280 to 320 characters including spaces. It’s impossible to give an exact figure since different characters have different widths. It will impress the interviewer if you mention that a lowercase “i” has less width than a lowercase “s” for example (or use similarly contrasting examples in your interview).
In a nutshell, no-follow links don’t allow search engine spiders to follow them to the target website, whereas dofollow links do. They do pretty much what it says on the tin. They provide directives basically to search engines to say follow or don’t follow to the destination web page. It’s worth noting that if you don’t explicitly provide a dofollow or nofollow attribute to a link, the default will be for search engine bots to follow the link. I would mention that dofollow or the default behaviour of links when followed by search engine bots, DOES pass link juice (authority) to the recipient web page. The level of authority of the linking paging used to be called Google PageRank but now we tend to call it DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority).
Well, Google is a 3rd party, so you aren’t in control of this. No-one really knows exactly how Google will rank a website. So it’s worth noting that any SEO who gives cast iron guarantees of number one Google rankings, is lying. They’re a rogue trader basically. A search algorithm is used to rank websites and SEO practitioners believe there are around 200 ranking factors. Google has released various updates over time which have shaken things up with business owners, webmasters and SEOs. The constant is quality, timely, regular, topical, unique and evergreen content. Simply give your target audience what they’re looking for. It’s certainly true that the best SEO professionals have gone far in determining what is known as best practice in our industry i.e. what Google looks for in a website. Ultimately, Google wants to rank the best sites at the top of it’s search engine. It want to give the best results to its users, and rightly so. This is how it should be. One things for sure, new sites don’t rank as well as older sites. This is known as the Google Sandbox effect. So get across in the interview and there’s waiting period whilst Google starts to figure out where a website should rank. Google has become much better at discerning this over the years. Another thing to note is that SEO is a subset of digital marketing. Marketing is key to good SEO. Good content and a good user experience is absolutely essential and the bar of quality is being raised constantly with more than more website owners realising what it takes to rank well.
On-page SEO is any factors that you can control on web pages such as SEO title, keywords that you use, the actual content, information architectural, heading structure, page structure, internal linking, outbound linking, web page loading times and many other factors. Off-page SEO is less in the control of a SEO and includes backlinks.
If you’re asked this in an interview then it’s a trick question. Note the “some”. You should avoid all black hat SEO techniques as they’re unethical and can get your clients’ websites banned from Google, permanently, to the extent of having to register new domain names. They can be penalised and basically slapped out of Google. Black hat SEO practice include cloaking, keyword stuffing (over-optimisation of keywords by spamming a page with lots of keywords), copying content from other websites (plagiarism), reciprocal link exchanging / trading links, buying backlinks, hiding text (e.g. white text on a white background), and using a link farms. These shady techniques are frowned upon by Google and should not be used in ethical white hat SEO, as they’re designed to fool Google. Trying to pull the wool over Google’s eyes is never a good idea.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation (often referred to as organic SEO) and SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing (which is paid advertising – pay per click (PPC) – think Google Adwords / Google Ads). SEO is free, whilst SEM is paid. SEO generally takes longer but is more sustained and doesn’t instantly stop (but tends to taper off to an extent) if intervention is stopped. SEM, on the other hand, is pretty much instant traffic which stops once you stop paying. Both can be used in tandem. Some use SEM until SEO starts to work, others use both going forward, together. It’s worth mentioning that there’s also local SEO rankings in Google (the 3 pack).
A SEO professional should have good creativity and analytical skills. These are key. We look for trends and compare and contrast data. We love to learn and embrace new challenges. Everyday tends to be different as Google chucks new things at us. We need to be on our toes and watch competitors. If competitors up their efforts, we must react. We need excellent communication skills. Being able to adapt to and embrace change is key to being a successful SEO consultant and great to have if you’re to be great in your digital marketing role.
Speak about metrics and measuring results. Talk about drawing up a baseline to track to. Having goals and discussing how you’ll help a client to achieve these during the kick off meetings. But also, revisiting steps iteratively. Having good project and programme management skills can be great if you’re in a SEO role. Speak about Google Analytics, possibly some click tracking software with heatmapping such as Lucky Orange and Hotjar, Google Tag Manager and Google Search Console (mention how this used to be known as Google Webmaster Tools). Also, down forget to mention Bing Webmaster Tools and how this include Yahoo too since Yahoo and Bing webmaster merged in previous years.
It depends which type of SEO role you’re going for, but particularly if it’s a SEO analyst type role or SEO manager, I’d mention how SEO strategy must be constantly tracked back to when analysing analytics and checking progress against baselines. It’s all about keeping on track and working to a project plan. This is how you manage client expectations and give them what they expect to receive in terms of return on investment (ROI) and SEO results. You need to have the bigger picture in mind and stop yourself from getting bogged down or caught up in detail too much. Having the ability to think with both a strategic and an operational hat on will get you far. Not everyone can do this. It’s important that you realise and get across in your interview, that the whole purpose of analytics is to align with goals, objectives and overall SEO strategy. It might be worth giving an example, such as a time you’ve setup goals in Google Analytics and perhaps in the SEO company you worked at previously this is a new process you brought to your team, which was previously under-utilised for client SEO delivery work.
Keyword stemming means adding to the stem of a keyword. An example of a keyword might web ‘design’, keyword stemming would involve adding ‘-ing’ making the word ‘designing’ or adding ‘-s’ to make it ‘designs’ or ‘-ers’ to make it ‘designers’. Keyword stemming is great for adding different permutations of keywords to your website copy / website content whilst reducing the risk of keyword stuffing and over-optimising your content in the eyes of Google. Keyword stemming can also improve the readability of your content, which improves user experience, return visitors, and engagement.
There are three things: competitiveness, relevancy and search volume.
Think back to when you used multivariate testing or A/B testing to determine which version of a homepage or landing page to use going forward. The content itself on each of the two pages would likely be very similar, since you’ve probably narrowed the end design down to two very similar versions. Perhaps you had a couple of designs and didn’t know what to go with, so you drove half of some PPC traffic to one page to test it and half to the other version of the page. You would have set a canonical page for the winner. This would have told Google to index one of the page and disregard the other page for indexing purposes. This would have removed the risk for being penalised by Google for duplicate content. So bearing this in mind – a canonical issue is when you haven’t provided this type of on page directive to let Google know which page is the canonical page. Give an example like this in your interview and I’m sure the interviewer will be impressed.
The interviewer will be talking about toxic links and how you’ve disavowed them. I’d make it clear to the interviewer that you didn’t cause these links in the first place and perhaps the client had used a black hat SEO company or person in the past or perhaps you suspect there had been a negative SEO attack where bad links had been organised or created by a competitor. Speak about the Disavow Tool is Google Webmaster Tools and how you’d manage these requests for the client. Also, for extra interview points, talk about how you’d communicate with the client to manage their expectations in circumstances like these and provide them with reassurance.
Negative SEO is when a competitor usually hires someone to fire bad links to a site. The results can be devasting and cause a website to drop from search engines and have what is known as a slap from Google. The Disavow Tool in Google Webmaster Tools is your friend if this happens.
Google preferred mobile responsive websites where the cascading style sheets (CSS) are responsive for creating a fantastic looking version of the website independent of the screen size that the site is being viewed on. Separate mobile sites are used much less these days but there are still some in existence. All new websites should ideally be designed with mobile first in mind and mobile responsively.
Rich snippets are the featured text that appears at the top of the organic search results, particularly popular in ecommerce website. They appear in a box, and often with an image, star ratings, etc. Rich snippets can be achieved using what is known as structured data. Structured data is used to mark up content, allowing search engines to easily identify the type of content and display it as a rich snippet. Rich snippets can vastly improve a websites entry in the SERPs (search engine results pages) and encourage higher click through rates (CTRs).
Competitive analysis includes auditing the backlinks of competitors’ websites to find out which 3rd party sites are linking to them. Then choosing the best backlinks and replicating them if possible. Many call this stealing backlinks but it isn’t actually stealing. It’s just a practice of emulating backlinks. Newbie SEOs may copy all backlinks and end up with toxic backlinks. Backlink building should be done discerningly to avoid copying bad links.
Backlink audits are great ways of performing an initial audit of the inbound links that point to a client’s website. This will form part of a baseline and show, in part, the reasons why a website isn’t yet ranking as well as it could be. Backlink audits should be performed regularly, to determine loss of inbound links and the existence of new links, especially any new inbound toxic backlinks which may harm a website’s SEO and need to be disavowed. A linkbuilding campaign can be carried out to gain new backlinks for a client. Backlinks should ideally be of high quality and relevant.
Panda and Penguin were the two most significant Google updates, although Google is constantly making minor and major changes to its algorithm. The Panda update (2011) targeted poor quality content. The Penguin update (2012) targeted spammy link building techniques. Both are tweaked by Google on a regular basis. It’s a common misconception that these two major updates were onetime events. When actually they are still in existence and going strong.
In 2013, Hummingbird resulted in more contextual search, this is when Google started to move away from the strict adherence to keywords toward understanding a searcher’s intent. This can be classified as either informational or commercial intent and is massively important to understand in terms of keyword research.
AMP is Google-backed, a project designed to help web pages load more quickly on mobile devices such as smart phones.
This is a good opportunity to speak about how, being a professional SEO, you keep up-to-date with your field of expertise by subscribing to major SEO blog and websites such as Moz, Search Engine Land, SEO Book, etc and how you keep updated with recent trends including search AI,
This is a great question and you should align your personal and professional goals. Speak about what motivates you. This will largely be subjective and specific to you and what you want to achieve. You’re an asset to the organisation and you really need to sell yourself on this question. Speak about how SEO fits in with the bigger picture of digital marketing. This includes aligning with business objectives, hitting targets, reaching milestones and goals, and driving results. Talk about how you aren’t afraid of change and can adapt and grow with the organisation. Get across in your interview that clients are interesting in more enquiries, more leads, not just appearing in search engines.
Targeting and ranking for the wrong keywords is probably the most common mistake I’ve seen. Also, driving traffic to websites that don’t convert but they haven’t been tested with users and are poorly designed.
Think of examples from your own experience including not making design changes, not knowing how to make decisions based on Google Analytics, failing to have SSL/HTTPS, failing to have a mobile responsive website and generally not keeping up with search engine and Google trends.
RankBrain is part of the Google search algorithm and is basically a form of articial intelligence (AI) which is used to determine which search results to rank highest, based on relevancy of a particular search query. RankBrain particularly deals with new keywords or very rarely search keywords, and I believe there’s a fuzzy logic to it where the decisions are made. The best way to optimise for RankBrain is to simply write great, compelling content and your audience needs, and that’s unique, timely and also evergreen.
Google PageRank is no longer used. But it used to be a very popular way of determining the authority, credibility and trust of a web page and domain. PageRank generally was passed between pages. This was known as passing link juice. The term link juice is still in use but it’s now related to PA and DA which stand for Page Authority and Domain Authority. PageRank was used as a factor in determining how to rank pages and the quality and quantity of content, age of the domain and number of backlinks (inbound links) were all contributing factors in determining Google PageRank.
SEO is really all about quality and unique content. This is what is most definitely need to rank well, amongst other important factors. It’s very much an Inbound Marketing technique and content can be effectively used on a website to educate prospective clients and improve trust for you, your business, your products and services. It’s a wonderful thing. Content isn’t just words on a screen either. It includes video, audio (think podcasts you might listen to whilst out walking or driving in your car), infographics, Ebooks (lead magnets for instance) and memes. Online calculators are also really good, often overlooked possibly because they can be difficult to create, types of content which may also encourage 3rd party websites to link back to your web pages, as they provide value to their websites’ visitors too. This is known as creating content that is worthy of being shared and linked to.
Referral traffic can come from social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Tictock and so on. If you’ve heard about social signals mention this in your interview too. There are different schools of thought on this but some believe in not adding social media buttons to websites in the fear of losing traffic, and just to have links from social media profiles to the website. But other believe having social media buttons on websites is a great strategy. One thing’s for sure, social media can certainly help to build up a brand and referral traffic can help to bring analytics metrics such as time on site up and bounce rate down. This helps with SEO. Many social media backlinks are nofollow though so will not pass on link juice. Social media should be part of any digital marketing strategy in my opinion, if only just for brand recognition factors.
PPC can be used to drive traffic while waiting for organic SEO to start working. PPC is also fantastic for almost instantly testing out a niche before investing time and effort into organic SEO. It’s a good way to basically get a really quick answer to prove or disprove the feasibility of a project and whether it’s worth further investment of time and money.
To create a winning SEO strategy you need to know the client’s goal, both long and short term. Also knowing the competitive landscape is absolutely vital, in addition to understanding the target audience and what they’re looking for. This is basically just good marketing practice – finding out what your customer base wants, and giving it to them. The key to SEO is that your success will be directly affected by the effort put in vs the strength of the competition. So without knowing the keyword research and competitive landscape, and of course goals of your customers, and wants and wishes of the target market, you won’t be able to determine a way forward.
Using Google Analytics you’ll look at direct visits, referral traffic, numbers of visits, number of unique visits, bounce rate, journey through the site, drop off or exit pages, conversions, time on page, and so on. On analysing this data you’ll know if the SEO campaign is on track and which tweaks or changes will need to be made to increase the success of the SEO strategy.
I would speak about a time, with real hard facts and figures, where I’ve improved not just search engine positions for a client, but how this intervention has actually impacted on the bottom line of the business. Think about how you’ve perhaps doubled revenue or identified profitable keywords in untapped niches for a client and helped them to capitalise on this, increasing market share. Talk about revenue increases, profitability, percentage increases, market share, etc.
Talk about time management, how management style should be determined by the person you’re managing and the situation and what it calls for, talk about how you manage a project plan, resources including budget and people.
Google introduced two indexes, one for desktop/laptop searches and one for mobile searches. Explain mobile-first indexing and how, if a site has separate mobile and desktop versions, it will show the mobile URL in mobile results and the desktop version of the URL in desktop search results.
Internal links are links within your website which link to another page within your website. Internal links help all of the content on your website to get crawled and ranked, and also help end users to find content they’re looking for. Internal links have been shown to encourage users to spend more time on a website, especially when there’s a blog with lots of unique, interesting and engaging content to consume.
Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score from Moz. It basically indicate the authority, trust and credibility of a domain name. It ranks from 0 to 100. 100 being the highest. The higher the score, the higher the website or domain’s ability to rank well in search engines.
Page Authority (PA) is a web page’s ability to rank well in search engines. Developed by Moz. Like Domain Authority the score is out of 100. The higher the number, the better the page’s ability to rank is.
I’d speak about top SEO blogs I’ve read and follow such as Moz and Search Engine Land but also go broader with specific industry publications with aren’t related to SEO.
Local search is important, as it voice search and AI. User experience and content is always important. In 2021 there a lot of emphasis on time on site and a good user journey.
Both are very important. You generally need both to rank well, especially for competitive keywords.
So inbound links are backlinks which are links from other websites to your clients’ websites. But outbound links are actually links from pages on your clients’ websites to other websites. So you’re giving link juice away? Explain in your interview why you’d do this and why it might sound counterintuitive at first but why it really works. Outbounds links are important because it’s showing Google that you don’t mind sharing, you will link to content outside of your domain that will provide a great user experience, that your website cannot offer. It’s in the spirit of Google’s vision to provide a fantastic user experience to its users and is great for SEO. It also shows that you aren’t a rogue and don’t mind being discovered. You never know, whoever you link to might come visit your site too, when they notice you’ve linked to them in their analytics or when they perform a link audit of their website. They might come and visit your website, then you’ll get more traffic. They might even link back! Although remember organised reciprocal linking isn’t the goal here and it isn’t white hat SEO and so might be frowned upon by search engines.
Google doesn’t do a manual review on website all of the time with real human beings. It uses bits of code which crawl the internet. These are called bots, or search engine spiders, or Google bot, or crawlers. They go through websites on the internet, crawl through them and learn about them, determining how they should rank them.
These are a very bad idea and a black hat SEO technique. They involve sites linking in a set sequence to power up a website. They are bad practice and could get a website penalised in Google.
Moz, Search Engine Land, SEO Book.
Neil Patel, Michael Greenwood, Rand Fishkin, Matt Cutts, Loren Baker, Jenny Halasz, Purna Virji, Gary Illyes, Nathan Johns, John Mueller, Danny Sullivan, Frederic Dubut, Gabriel Weinberg, Andy Drinkwater, Heather Lloyd-Martin, Dixon Jones, Carolyn Shelby, Cyrus Shephard, Brian McDowell, Carolyn Lyden, Matt Siltala, JR Oakes, Dave Rohrer, Rob Woods, Kelsey Jones, Ammon Johns, Mindy Weinstein, Marcus Tandler, Topher Kohan, Robbie Richards, Nick Eubanks, Marie Haynes, Mike Ramsey, Tim Soulo, Brian Dean, Matthew Woodward, JP Sherman, Dan Shure, Eric Enge, Kristine Schachinger, Simon Heseltine, Marcus Tober, Hannah Thorpe, Bill Slawski, Fili Wiese, Dave Davies, Will Critchlow, Dan Perovic, Bastian Grimm, Ann Smarty, Bartosz Goralewicz, Jon Henshaw, David Mihm, Keith Goode, Aleyda Solis, Eli Schwartz, Ashley Ward, Jeremy Knauff, Gianluca Fiorelli, Laura Lippay, Ashley Berman Hale, AJ Kohn, Kristopher Jones, Jesse McDonald, Paul Shapiro, Debra Mastaler, Alan Bleiweiss, Aleh Barysevich, Rishi Lakhani, Bill Hartzer, Joe Hall, Bill Hunt, Roger Montti, Greg Gifford, Glen Allsopp, Barry Schwartz, Chris Boggs, Stoney deGeyter, Tom Anthony, Brent Csutoras, Stephen Kenwright, Casie Gillette, Kelvin Newman, Patrick Stox, Tony Wright, John Doherty, Jan-Willem Bobbink, Joel Klettke, Cindy Krum, Ruth Burr Reedy, Jason Mun, Richard Baxter, Duane Forrester, Jenny Halasz, Dr. Pete Meyers, Barry Adams, Motoko Hunt, Julie Joyce, Trond Lyngbø, Dan Taylor, Brian Harnish, Max Prin, Jono Alderson, Stephanie Briggs, Grant Simmons, Andy Betts, Kate Morris, Lisa Myers, Ryan Jones, Jes Scholz, Elmer Boutin, Scott Polk, Alexis Sanders, Ross Tavendale, Dawn Anderson, Damon Gochneaur, Andrew Shotland, Britney Muller, Annie Cushing, Justin Briggs, Jamie Alberico, Andrew Optimisey, Martin MacDonald, Martin MacDonald, Melissa Fach, Tom Capper, Casey Markee, Shelly Fagin, Michael Bonfils, Adam Riemer, Dana DiTomaso, Christoph C. Cemper, Eric Wu, Oliver Mason, Bryson Meunier, Carrie Hill, Kevin Indig, Russ Jones, Glenn Gabe, Glenn Gabe, Rhea Drysdale, Anna Crowe, Kaspar Szymanski, John Shehata, Brett Tabke, Jennifer Slegg, Rob Bucci, Rob Bucci, Ross Hudgens, Ian Lurie, Wil Reynolds, Michael King
Cloaking in terms of black hat SEO is a bad practice in SEO and involves serving different content to users (human visitors) and search engines. Generally keywords and search terms are served to the search engines when certain user agents are detected. This shouldn’t be used and is a way of fooling search engines.
Earning commissions by promoting other peoples’ / companies’ products/services.
No. Not for a long time. They’ve basically ignored by most popular search engines because they were originally spammed and keyword stuffed by SEOs.
Remember watching cowboys and Indians as a kid, where the good cowboy wore the white hat and the bad guy wore the black hat. This is where these terms came from. Black hat SEO involves lots of very bad SEO practices which can result in Google penalties. White hat SEO is what ethical SEO companies use and what you should use. Grey hat is said to be somewhere inbetween. They are either technically in grey areas and might one day become black hat. This may include certain types of automation, purchasing of expired domains and 301 redirecting them to a clients’ website (thus pretending they were your own in effect) to help them to rank better using the link juice, and buying links. Some would argue that grey hat SEO doesn’t exist and these are actually just black hat SEO techniques.
It’s widely believed that Google puts a filter on new sites to prevent them from ranking initially.
No. They are black hat SEO and simply exist, not to serve the end user, but to boost up websites. Google is wise to these and will likely penalise a website that is found to be receiving links from them. They’re generally toxic links and should be disavowed.
PBN stands for private blog networks. These are black or grey hat and used by some SEOs so that they own the web properties and can use them to rank sites at will. These websites are generally registered through different registrars, usually with fake or different names, different IP ranges, different DNS, to remain undetectable. If Google detects they’re being used, they may penalise a website.
Yes. Most definitely. And queen too.
LSI stands for latent semantic indexing and LSI keywords are conceptually related terms within a given web page that help search engines to gather the topic of a page and gain deep insight and meaning into the purpose of a page. If I were to write an article about Bill Gates for example, I’d mention Microsoft, and Microsoft Windows and Microsoft 365, and also mention that Microsoft 365 was formally called Office 365, and includes SharePoint Online, previously 2016, 2013, 2010, etc. Also, OneNote, Teams, Word, Excel and so on. LSI keywords are what Google and other popular search engines would expect to see on page, if you were writing about a certain topic. It’s about the things that go together naturally and is key to determine a page’s topic accurately. Previously Google would only look at keywords but now Google looks to discover what the overall topic is. Explain to the interviewer that it’s no longer effective to simply repeat a keyword on a page. Google needs to make sense of a page by looking at patterns of keywords and how they relate to each other, in order to determine the overall topic of a page. This is done at a deep level. LSI keywords are not synonyms, they’re actually terms that are closely related the target keyword. LSI keywords of focus keyword ‘website design’ for example, are everything that comes after the search phrase when you use autocomplete in Google, for example ‘web design company’, ‘web design cost’, ‘web design ideas’, ‘web design template’, ‘web design software’.
It means getting results for clients. Learning and constantly being challenging. No two days being the same. It’s exciting.
Check our ‘How much does SEO cost?’ article for answers to this.
Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is needed to determine drop off point, pages where prospects are abandoning the website. Lucky Orange or Hotjar comes in handy for this. As does Google Analytics.
Robots.txt is a text file that created and uploaded to a website’s web hosting server by webmasters and/or SEOs to instruct web robots (typically search engine robots) how to crawl pages on their website. They aren’t always followed and are generally seen as soft directives or requests to search engines, rather than orders.
.htaccess (short for ‘hypertext access’) file is a distributed server configuration file. It’s directory specific, which means it configures the server only in the directory the . htaccess file is in. The .htaccess file allows you to set server configurations for a specific directory.
This, along with htdocs, is where website files are generally uploaded to.
Yes, keyword density on a given web page should be just right. Keyword stuffing is a problem and should be avoided.
Around 1 or 2%, use LSI to avoid keyword stuffing / over optimisation. For ecommerce the figure can be more.
I’ve seen websites with fewer pages and more backlinks rank ok in the past but these days you need more content. So the answer is, you can’t usually so create more content.
If a website has lots of content but isn’t ranking then perform technical and on-page SEO and off-page SEO. Is the content quality content though? Check this first and amend as necessary.
Yes most definitely. There Yoast SEO plugin, WordPress is highly customisable, there’s a plugin for everything, it’s excellent for SEO.
Yes both to check a client’s website’s backlink profile and look at competitors’ backlinks too.
This term is slightly misleading, probably for dramatic effect, but you’re not actually stealing competitors’ backlinks, as in removing them from their website and adding them to yours. You’re actually just really obtaining a backlink from the same place as they are. You should outreach and build backlinks to remain competitive in search engines and rank better. Ideally content would be linked to without outreach or manual effort, but it isn’t always the case.
They like to receive reports, although many don’t read past the first ‘manager dashboard’ type summary page. This is fine. They still like them. But you should make reports as easy to understand as possible for people who aren’t necessarily technical. But allowing the more technical or interested to drill down into greater detail and levels of granularity.
Yes certainly. They should progress, or lack of it, and allow us to make adjustments to SEO campaigns and make sure we’re on track.
SEO title, meta description, headings (H1, H2, H3, etc), prominent positions such as first sentence, last sentence. Remember to use LSI and LSI is not synonyms.
Yes probably, if you get caught. No self-respecting SEO professional uses these techniques and certainly not on client websites.
This term is used in Google Ads (Adwords) but also organic SEO and refers to Google downgrading rankings sometimes outside of the top 100 positions, quite rapidly, because they didn’t like something they saw with your SEO.
It should be part of a digital marketing strategy I think. It’s drives business if done correctly. Whether it’s part of SEO is debatable. Social media management and social media marketing are separate disciplines, separate to SEO I mean. And come under the wider umbrella of digital marketing. I would certainly use social media if you aren’t already and choose two or three social networks to start with. In an interview, I’d emphasise that social media backlinks are generally nofollow and even though links to a website wouldn’t pass link juice, they can be good sources of referral traffic, which can result in positive SEO benefits because of more time on site, more unique visitors, etc.
Yes. They are important. Time on site, good usability, content obviously. All are important still in 2021.
It’s a good indicator that people are or aren’t finding what they want on a website. If most visitors to a website only stay on the website for a few seconds, only visit one page then exit, then the bounce rate would be high. High is generally a negative thing, especially when combined with hardly any significant time at all being spent on the website. It’s usually is an indicator than website visitors aren’t finding what they’re looking for, maybe first impressions aren’t great, maybe the website looks terrible and the solution is a redesign. It all depends on the individual circumstances.
This is usually measured per month but timescale can be tweaked. Unique visitors corresponds to the number of individual people who’ve visited a website.
An Internet Protocol address is a numerical label that gets linked to online activity that people do. It’s useful with websites and SEO because it lets us determine, or is at least one of the factors, in determining a unique visitor. If a website is being spammed too, IP addresses can be blocked to prevent this from happening to an extent.
Local as in if you’re in the UK predominantly with your target audience in the UK, your website will generally be faster (all else being equal) and it’s therefore better for SEO, if the web host is also in the UK.
Sometimes if website changes are made, they may not appear straight away. Refreshing or clearing cache can help you to see the latest changes. If using a content delivery network (CDN) also clearing the cache on this can help.
You can to an extent but you shouldn’t. The website should be redesigned.
Generally yes these days. Usually at least a blog is helpful if you need more content. But remember it’s both quantity and quality that’s required to do really well in search engines.
It’s a great way of clustering together groups or categories or themes of similar keywords. They’re usually semantically related. The benefit of this your site’s content will appear more relevant to Google, it’s helps to enhance copywriting efforts, it also helps to avoid keyword cannibalisation.
Keyword cannibalisation (cannibalization) happens when you have multiple pages on a website that all target the same keyword. When more than one page is designed to rank for one particular keyword on the same website, the web pages end up competing with each other. You’re effectively competing with yourself.
Long-tail keywords are fantastic and you should try to rank for these. They’re usually more targeted and the search intent is more specific and specialised. They’re also more profitable and they’re laser focused. You’ll convert higher because they’re just what the searcher what looking for.
There are two types of search intent – informational and commercial. An example of informational might be ‘drone user manual’ where the user was obviously looking for a user manual for a drone. An example of a keyword search where the user had commercial intent would be ‘buy best drones’. The user in, this instance, is obviously looking to buy a good drone. A less clear keywords would just be ‘drones’. The user might be performing an informational search and just looking to watch videos or look for information about flying drones, such as how to fly drones. But they might also be looking to buy a drone. It’s unclear and quite ambiguous. There will be more competition for this keyword as it’s more general and more pages will be competing for it. So it’s better to use longer-tail keywords and serve content on your web pages that meet the searcher’s expectations. This way you will convert better and give Google what it wants.
It’s important and upcoming because of devices such as Amazon’s Alexa. It involves speaking into the device to place orders on websites, search for content, and so on. It’s still quite in its infancy in terms of adoption levels though.
Woocommerce is a WordPress plugin for ecommerce. It’s fantastic. I recommend it. A complete shopping cart solution.
I prefer Woocommerce these days. Magento is more bloated, requires more expensive development, basically requires a dedicated service which makes it very resource hungry. There’s a higher learning curve in terms of staff training too. Does it delivery anything that’s better than Woocommerce? I don’t think so.
Keywords are important in SEO. Keyword research in usually literally one of the first steps whilst creating a SEO strategy. Keywords are the important terms that people type into Google and other popular search engines, in order to find what they’re looking for. Keywords must be included in websites that you’re looking to rank. As a SEO professional, it’s your job to help this along by including these keywords in the correct quantities and using the appropriate markup.
Pretty much similar to keywords really, but perhaps used more to describe a collection of individual keywords that are grouped together into a particular key phrase.
A key phrase could be described as a number of keywords. Although a keyword is often thought of as one, two or perhaps three words together. This is what a searcher will type into a search engine to try to find a search result they are looking for or an answer to a question that they’re seeking the answer to.
Heading 1, heading 2, heading 3, heading 4, heading 5, etc. Each page should have just one heading 1 and no two heading 1s should be the same in a particular website. Proper heading structure, often known as correct semantic heading structure, involves not skipping headings. i.e. you wouldn’t go straight from heading 1 to heading 3, you wouldn’t have a heading 4 at the top of a page before the heading 1 – just because it’s using the font size you’re looking to use in that particular element. An example of google page heading structure is below:
<h1>Main Heading</h1> <h2>Sub Heading</h2> <h3>Sub Sub Heading</h3> <h3>Sub Sub Heading</h3> <h2>Sub Heading</h2> <h3>Sub Sub Heading</h3> <h3>Sub Sub Heading</h3> <h4>Sub Sub Sub Heading</h4>
More questions that will be answered soon…
What does canonical URL mean?
What’s a page title?
What’s a URL?
What’s a permalink or SEO friendly URL?
What are incoming or inbound links?
What is reciprocal linking and is it a good idea?
What are the most important Google ranking factors?
How many Google ranking factors are there?
What’s a HTML sitemap?
What’s a XML sitemap?
How can you see which pages are indexed in Google?
What’s a 404 page?
What’s broken link building?
What’s a broken link?
What are doorway pages?
What is link text?
What is anchor text?
What’s a bookmark?
What’s image alt text?
What’s an image alt attribute?
What’s an alt tag?
What’s Google Webmaster Tools?
What’s Bing Webmaster Tools?
What is Google PageRank?
What is Domain Authority?
What is Page Authority?
What is pinging?
What’s search engine submission?
What’s web directory submission?
What’s the importance of Google Reviews?
Are Facebook Reviews important?
What’s social proof?
What’s guest blog posting?
What’s article submission?
What’s article marketing?
Are press releases important for SEO?
What are classified ads?
What’s press release submission?
What’s blog post commenting?
What’s forum posting?
What’s a business directory?
What are citations?
What is social bookmarking?
What are web 2.0 properties?
What is social networking?
What’s a RSS feed?
Is Yoast SEO any good?
What’s a WordPress plugin?
What’s WordPress core?
What’s a WordPress theme?
What’s are the different types of website builders?
A client has built their website in a website builder? Is this any good for SEO?
What’s a Google algorithm?
What’s a Google penalty?
What is Google Hummingbird?
What’s the HTTPS/SSL update?
What’s mobile response web design?
What’s mobile first?
What’s a PWA?
What’s Google Pigeon?
What are Google Sitelinks?
What’s Google Knowledge Graph?
What’s Google My Business?
What’s international search engine optimisation?
What’s local SEO?
What’s national SEO?
What’s multilingual SEO?
Which WordPress plugin is best for multilingual SEO?
Define what is meant by SEO audit?
What’s a manual Google review?
What’s the Disavow Tool?
What’s Google Fetch?
What’s Google Trends?
What’s the best way to separate words in a URL?
What’s Google Dance?
What’s Google’s Rich Answer Box?
What’s competitor or competitive analysis?
What’s a contextual backlink?
What does “repeat the search with the omitted results included” mean?
What is a paid result?
What’s the Google 3-pack?
What’s Google Maps?
What’s Google Q and A’s?
What’s opening a link in a new blank tab?
What’s keyword proximity?
Should you use <strong> or <b>?
Should you use <em> or <i>?
What’s keyword stuffing?
What’s keyword prominence?
How do you know if you’re using the right number of keywords on a page?
What’s referral traffic?
Does directory submission work?
What’s an exact match domain?
What are rich snippets?
What are doorway pages?
What does click bait mean?
What’s the best way to speed up a website?
What’s click tracking?
What are heat maps?
What’s user journey?
What’s web accessibility?
What are social signals?
What is cross linking?
What’s a bad backlink?
What’s technical SEO?
What’s Google’s Rich Answer Box?
What’s Schema Markup?
How can we increase the frequency of crawling by search engines?
What is “(Not Provided)” data in Keyword Reports?
What do you do if a website has been penalised?
Do you inform a client if a website you’ve been doing work on as been penalised?
Is YouTube good for SEO?
How important is video for SEO?
What’s repurposing content?
What’s a landing page?
What’s a contact form?
What’s a lead magnet?
What’s a popup?
What’s event tracking?
What’s a model comparison tool?