SEO FAQ

As a digital marketing agency that focuses on SEO for clients, we commonly receive questions about SEO and our approach to SEO.

 

seo faq destiny marketing solutions

 

 

For the benefit of our website visitors, we have compiled a list of common questions along with our answers.

 

What is the relationship between content and SEO?

 

Content plays a critical role in the potential of your SEO campaign. These are some of the ways in which content can improve your SEO:

 

  • Map targeted keywords to relevant URLs on your website. After we understand which keywords should be mapped to which pages, we look at improving those pages to be better optimized for their target keywords. This includes competitive analysis, the inclusion of LSI terms, and strategic internal linking to other relevant pages. 

 

  • For competitive keywords, content that helps support our pillar pages allows us to target and rank for relevant long-tail keywords

 

  • Well-written, in-depth content makes manual link outreach and acquisition easier, as you’re providing website owners with something of value to share with their audience.

 

  • Aside from specific SEO benefits, content positions the brand as an expert within their industry/niche provides material to share on branded social platforms, and can also serve as material for micro-conversions as prospects progress through the sales funnel.

 

More on content and SEO

 

 

What are the most common issues for on-page SEO ranking?

 

The most common error I come across with websites are broken links, which can be 4xx, 5xx, internal, or external issues.



While it’s questionable the impact of other on-page factors in the age of Google’s AI-based algorithm, broken links highlight potential trust and usability issues with your website.



Although these are not issues that would not be found with auditing tools, these are still common opportunities for optimization that are not addressed:

 

Internal links

 

Websites usually lack any strategic implementation of link building, or completely. lack internal links between site pages

 

Title Tags

Proper optimization of title tags for keywords and CTR. Using special symbols and keywords in your pages’ title tags can help not only with keyword rankings but SERP CTR as well.

 

Site Architecture

 

Lack of site architecture optimized for SEO. I recommend using the silo structure for optimal results, where either the silo is established with the website’s directory or via internal links.

 

More on On-Page SEO below:

 

 

What are your favorite SEO tools? Why do you use them?

 

Google Search Console

 

A Swiss army knife of tools, including technical diagnostics of the website (crawling errors, site speed issues, mobile usability issues, rich snippets, etc.), search query data to uncover hidden keyword gems, URL indexing capabilities, and data for feedback on URL CTRs and average position.

 

More videos for Google Search Console:

 

How to Set up Google Search Console

 

 

How to Submit URL for Crawling in Google Search Console

 

 

How to View Internal & External Links in Google Search Console

 

 

How to View Crawl Errors in Google Search Console

 

Google Analytics

 

All of the traffic and conversion data I need in one place. Also, when doing content marketing, tells me which topics my website users are engaging with most.

 

How to Track User Engagement in Google Analytics

 

 

SEMRush

 

My go-to tool for keyword research. In many cases, I have uncovered keyword opportunities that I could not find with Google’s tools. In my opinion, the keyword research feature is superior to AHREFs capabilities.


AHREFs

 

My go-to tool for backlink research. In my opinion, the link research feature is superior to SEMRush’s capabilities.

 

These videos detail a couple of ways we use AHREFs:

 

SEO Research

 

 

Keyword Research

 

 

Surfer SEO

 

Great for NLP and sentiment analysis for content. If I have a page that’s a high priority for ranking improvements, I run it through Surfer SEO and modify the content based on Surfer’s competitive analysis.

 

Screaming Frog

 

This tool is great for uncovering any technical on-page optimization opportunities.

 

Is our website search-friendly? What would you do to improve optimization?

 

Note: This is a review of prolendera.com.

 

At this time, the website is not optimized.

 

For optimal visibility on Google or any other search engine.

 

These are the major areas of opportunity:

 

Thin Content

 

Currently, there are 46 pages indexed from this domain. Most of these pages are internal use pages (i.e. Cookie Policy or Terms of Service) or Blog filler pages with Lorem Ipsum text. “Working capital loans” is a fairly competitive keyword, so it’s a must that we build out content as some of the authority sites in the niche. 

 

Lack of Referring Domains

 

According to AHREFs, there are no referring domains pointing to this website. Even with a lack of content, we should start building foundational links via press releases and relevant directory and profile websites.

 

 

Site Speed Improvements

 

Overall, this isn’t a major issue, but the time to first byte could be slightly improved to hit the .5 second benchmark. Also, we should examine how the website is handling browser caching. See below:

 

speed optimization seo webpagetest destiny marketing solutions

 

 


The homepage title tag should incorporate “working capital loans”, or some close variant.

 

What link-building strategies have worked well for you? What didn’t work so well?

 

Link Building Strategies that Work Well

 

  1. Guest posts always work well, especially when the outreach is done on a personal level.
  2. Link reclamations provide low-hanging fruit opportunities, especially when the brand/company is active with social media and content marketing.
  3. HARO - providing information and insights to journalists who need your expertise. These can be sporadic but uncover some backlink gems when your response is published.
  4. Build relationships with bloggers, journalists, and influencers. Not original by any means, but establishing and nurturing these relationships over time can lead to great opportunities such as guest posts, inclusion in link roundups, and content collaboration opportunities.
  5. Build your own information/educational websites within your niche and use these for foundational links.

 

Link Building Strategies that Have Not Worked So Well

 

  1. Broken Link Building - I have been able to place broken links, however, the typical ROI is not worth the investment, as this tactic can be very difficult to scale.
  2. Scholarship/.EDU link building - This tactic worked wonders years ago, however as it became more spammed, the .edu links generated from scholarship pages are not quite as valuable. This can still be an effective backlink tactic, just special care needs to be placed on relevancy. For instance, if one of your target personas are college students who are looking to start their own companies during their collegiate career, you can try for a resource link from university websites that link back to the ProLendera website.

 

Describe an SEO experiment that you set up. Talk about your process, results, and hypothesis.

 

Situation

 

My team and I work with businesses everywhere in the US. Part of this SEM strategy is building an online targeted presence in targeted cities and towns. As we know, keyword-optimized content is critical for sustainable Google SERP visibility, but how can we build content in a cost-effective way to target hundreds of cities at a time?

 

We know from previous experiments that content only needs to be 51% unique to bypass Google filters. Even with that knowledge, building pages for 500+ locations would still be resource-intensive.

 

Hypothesis

 

If we localized content for each location, then we would be able to bypass Google’s content duplication filter and get the potential for good SERP visibility.


Experiment Setup

 

We bought two domains with relatively equal domain metrics (domain rating, age, historical traffic, etc.). We used the same theme for the websites.



We decided that 20 location pages would be sufficient for results, based on previous research and experiments from the SEO community.

 

For the first website, we created 100% unique content for each location. For the second website, we used the same base content, but changed major components of the page (title tag, heading tags, alt tags,  call to action). The unique content for the second website was ~20%. The content length for all articles was 1000 words.

 

We let the websites sit for 90 days. Other than submitting the URLs to Google Search Console for expedited indexing, there were no other SEO optimizations made.

 

Results and Takeaways

 

From our review after 90 days, the 2nd website with 20% unique content outranked the 1st website with 100% unique content in 16 out of 20 locations.

 

We also found that the localized effort doesn’t work very well when cities are too close together. For example, Sugarland is a large suburb of Houston. The Sugarland page ranked, whereas the Houston page did not. The Dallas page did rank, however.  Additional research and testing is needed to see what is the distance needed for pages to rank well without any issues.

 

What aspect of SEO are you most proficient in?

 

Since there are several moving parts with an effective SEO campaign, such as on-page, technical, local (if it’s applicable to the business), content, CRO, and link building. Of these different moving parts, I am proficient and enjoy developing content strategy through an SEO lens. Content benefits businesses of any size, and it sets the foundation for a successful link building strategy.

 

If you saw a significant drop in weekly rankings, what would you check first?

 

Any major algorithm updates that may affect this website.

 

What would you suggest to make our website more search engine-friendly?

 

For this step, I reviewed gizmorate.com. These are some high-level recommendations:

 

  1. There is no SSL certificate installed. Google uses this as a factor to determine the usability of the website. This should be installed ASAP. It seems the SSL certificate is installed on other pages, so maybe some issues with the certificate installation. See below:

    Gadgets Page (SSL secured)

 

 

Homepage (no SSL certificate)


no ssl certificate seo audit destiny marketing solutions

  1. Improved site architecture. From my review, there are five content categories (Tech News, Gadgets, Phones, Smart Home, and Wearables). The content should be structured in a way so that these are the pillar segments of the URL.

    For example, this page’s URL:

 

(https://gizmorate.com/the-neck-hammock-melt-away-your-neck-pain-from-home/), 

 

should be 

 

(https://gizmorate.com/gadgets/the-neck-hammock-melt-away-your-neck-pain-from-home/

 

  1. Ensure you’re targeting the questions listed in the People also ask featured snippets. These are questions that people are asking regularly, so would help not only with SEO but matching the searcher intent, potentially leading to improved site engagement.

 

 

What would you say is more important: creating quality content or building effective backlinks? 

 

My vote is quality content for the following reasons:

  1. In-depth, unique content helps with SEO because it has good potential to rank and attract organic traffic.
  2. It’s easier to do white-hat link building with high-quality content. If your content asset provides unique value, then requesting links for it via outreach is much easier.
  3. Superior content can collect unsolicited backlinks. If a content asset ranks in a featured snippet or at the top of organic results, writers will use it as a reference when creating related content.
  4. High-quality content assets, where applicable, can be used as sales collateral.

 

What steps would you take to move all of our content to a new domain?

 

These steps are assuming the old domain will no longer be used and there will be no hosting change.

 

  1. Do a content inventory to identify content that is still relevant, content that is outdated that should be updated or not transferred, content that has not performed well with traffic,  and opportunities to merge thin content pages. For any content that is not needed, remove the files for the website’s database.
  2. Assess whether there will be any changes to site structure (i.e. URL changes). If there are expected site structure changes, we need to set up the necessary 301 redirects to ensure website visitors are properly redirected to the relevant content on the new website. We should not add these 301 statements to the new domain’s .htaccess file until the content is live on that new domain.
  3. Make necessary backups of all necessary files from the old site, using FTP and Adminer.
  4. Migrate any databases and individual files to the new environment. We should follow these steps:
  • Migrate databases via Adminer
  • Update the wpconfig file with the updated credentials
  • Migrate any individual files via FTP (FileZilla is my go to tool)
  1. Add the redirect statements created in step 2 to the new domain’s .htaccess file.
  2. Check for broken links. Google Search Console is an option, however, there can be a delay with these reports. For this reason, I prefer to use Screaming Frog.
  3. Update the website’s sitemap (HTML and XML versions) and resubmit the domain URL for recrawling. From my experience, Google Search Console allows up to 40 URL submissions per day, so I would schedule out these submissions over the necessary number of days.

 

Other Considerations

 

  1. These steps are CMS and hosting platform independent. If the website is on WordPress, plugins can expedite this process. Also, cPanel also provides features that would expedite this content migration process.
  2. It is recommended to review log files after the migration is complete as a second way to check for 4xx errors and any other broken links.

 

What data and reports do you collect from Google Analytics?

 

The reports I review regularly are:

 

  • Traffic by Channel - allows me to identify the traffic channels for the website. For SEO campaigns, I’m most interested in organic and referral data, however good SEO can also have an impact on the direct traffic.
  • Site Pages and Landing Pages (within the Behavior module) - allows me to identify top-performing pages, pages that could use optimization, and pages with user engagement issues (i.e. bounce rate below site average). We can do a pivot on this data to analyze each page by the channel as well.
  • Goals and Assisted Conversions Reports - these reports allow me to identify which channels are most important for conversions. Depending on the sales cycle for the client, multiple touches may be needed to make the sale. The Assisted Conversions report provides insights on where each individual channel fits in that sales cycle.
  • Demographics Report - helps me understand my website user profile. This information can help with creating audience relevant content, help develop our customer/ client personas, and informs any social media or paid advertising strategy.
  • Geo Report - helps identify where my website visitors live or browse. This information can help inform any offline, grassroots marketing strategies.


What are the first things you look for on a website to test if it’s search engine-friendly? I would check for any crawling issues with any URLs that should be indexed. Any optimization on a page is futile if the page cannot be indexed.

 

Describe how you perform keyword research.

 

These are a high-level summary of our keyword research strategy:

 

  1. Collect seed keywords and competitors from the client. Our client’s industry knowledge is invaluable, so it’s important we incorporate this expertise in our research.
  2. Plug the seed keywords into SEMRush, to understand the difficulty, search volume, and SERP features. We want to target keywords that we have a realistic shot to rank for within a reasonable timeline, as this can help properly set expectations but also allow us to see momentum towards our long term campaign goals. We also take note of the SERP features, as this information will help determine what types of content assets we should develop during our content buildout.
  3. Review the keywords the competitor websites are ranking for in Google. Once we identify these keywords, we repeat step 2.
  4. Review the Search Performance data in Google Search Console to see which keywords and phrases the website is getting impressions for on Google SERPs. We filter out anything that is irrelevant, run the remaining keywords to step 2 above, then add to our list. We repeat this step at least once per month, to identify any new keyword opportunities.
  5. Perform manual Google searches for the keywords found in steps 2-4. We are looking for People also ask snippets (see below), and we note down the questions here. These questions are great to incorporate into our content strategy, either as subtopics within content assets or standalone content topics.



people also ask google serp seo audit destiny marketing solutions

More on our keyword strategy below:

 

 

What are the rules of effective link-building?

 

There are a few things I consider as I build out and implement a link building strategy:

 

Relevancy

 

Is the referral domain we are considering in some way relevant to our target website? Relevancy can get somewhat vague, as if we have a B2B brand, any business-related website can be a relevant referring domain. But, we should stay away from obviously irrelevant websites. For example, if I have a financial services product, I should not receive links from an adult, XXX website.

 

More on link building relevancy below:

 

 

Authority

 

Since my preferred link research tool is AHREFs, I use Domain Rating (DR) to assess a website’s authority. Typically, I filter out any backlink opportunity that has a lower DR than my target website. Only in specific cases would getting a link from a lower DR website have any benefit, such as in cases where you’re looking to diversify your anchor text profile. We should have a balance of backlinks across different DR buckets. A review of our top organic competitors will reveal what is realistic for our industry/niche.

 

More on authority in the video below:

 

 

Anchor Text

 

Since link building itself is at best a grey hat activity, we must be very mindful of our anchor text profile to ensure we are not over-optimizing for any type of anchor text. I identify these categories of anchor text: branded, naked URLs, generic, partial keyword match, and exact keyword match. In my experience, the best approach is to analyze the anchor text profiles for our top 3-5 organic competitors on the SERPs and to mirror our anchor text profile to match those websites.

 

More on anchor text below:

 

 

Link Velocity

 

We know that links are an important part of any comprehensive SEO campaign. However, we should build links tactfully. The velocity, or rate in which we acquire links, is very important to understand. For example, if our top ranking competitors average 10 new backlinks per month, but we are acquiring an average of 30 new backlinks per month for our site, can be spammy, and can open the door for ranking adjustments to the detriment of our website.

 

Traffic

 

Simply, does the backlink target’s website get organic traffic? Referral traffic is another benefit of link building, and if the link is from a real website that gets traffic, the link has a better chance of passing any Google quality tests. 

 

Lastly, the metrics I look forward to when building out a list of backlink targets include Domain Rating (AHREFs), Trust and Citation Flow (Majestic), and Monthly Traffic (AHREFs).

 

What does it mean when a site has authority? Can you name one to two examples of such sites relevant to our industry?

 

Authority for a website reflects its position as an authoritative source for content within its industry/niche. Typically, these websites are going to rank very well for a large number of keywords, have a large backlink profile as other influencers use these sites as references, and have tremendous weight in terms of overall visibility.

 

For ProLendera, authority websites within this industry would include NerdWallet and Kabbage.

 

How do you learn about new tools that could help your work? 

 

I leverage my go-to mastermind and Facebook groups to learn about new tools. Some of my go-to groups include SEO Fight Club, SEO Signals, Digitaleer, The Blueprint (Ryan Stewart), and the Gotch SEO Academy. Typically, new tools are shared in these private groups before major publications such as the Search Engine Journal are aware of them.

 

Describe a time when you recommended a new strategy/approach that improved a company’s online content.

 

We worked with a client in the student debt consultation space.

 

The client was very talented with writing, however, there was no strategy behind topic selection.

 

I suggested the following:

 

  1. Creating content targeted to his ideal clients, specifically attorneys, physicians, dentists, and other skilled healthcare professionals. This helps the website 1) improve SERP visibility for targeted clients 2) made it easier to improve visibility due to the long-tail nature of our target key phrases and 3) help with conversions, as the content was targeted to his ideal clients.
  2. Targeting content around questions posed in the People Also Ask section. We worked with this client around the time when Google began rolling out its People Also Ask section in the SERPs. By doing this, we were able to rank for more key phrases and even capture some featured snippets.

 

Describe a SEO/SEM marketing campaign you worked on. What was your role and what were the results?

 

For the majority of our SEO/SEM campaigns, I serve as the head strategist, helping develop the strategy to achieve results for the client and working with my team to get those strategies implemented. 

 

For a recent client in the behavioral health space, we were able to help them rank well and receive increased organic traffic (and patients) to their practice’s website.

 

Because of these results, the practice owner was able to bring on new team members and open one new practice in the MetroWest area (outside of Boston).

 

Have you ever implemented a SEO strategy that failed? If yes, what was it, why did it fail and what would you do differently?

 

Yes, as I mentioned above, scholarships were a great way to get .edu links years ago. However, they are not as effective as before, and universities now understand that these are an SEO tactic. We tried employing this strategy for a client in the student debt space, and it did not work well. We were able to acquire .edu links, but not nearly the number as planned. Many of the universities added additional guidelines, where the scholarship could only be allocated for their students, would be listed in an internal portal (which is not indexed and therefore provided no SEO value), or rejected the request altogether.

 

Even though we did not hit the backlink goal, we were able to build relationships with university administrators, which helped my client in the long-run get in front of more of his target clients (college students with debt, or recently graduated students with debt).

 

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