1. What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization or SEO refers to the process of optimizing a
website by increasing it's relevance and trustworthiness. The goal is to rank high in search engine results for the targeted keywords.
2. What is the difference between SEO and SEM?
Please refer to our SEM article for more details.
3. Is SEO for everyone?
Typically, everyone should have their website optimized so that they can participate in the massive traffic that the search engines receive. However, it is the success rate that differs, depending on the competition. In such situations, a pay-per-click program like Google Adwords
will be recommended to complement the SEO campaign.
4. Does SEO work for all search engines?
The 3 major search engines, Google, Yahoo and Bing (previously MSN), receive more than 90% of the 1 billion searches a day - these 3 search engines use their own algorithm to rank search results. Most SEO consultants would optimize for Google because it is the most understood and the most popular search engine, with an average 60-70% share of the global search market - even as high as 90% in Australia. According to Hitwise (SG), Google's share of the search volume in Singapore is 80.67% (6th Feb 2010). Fortunately, a website that ranks well on Google, typically also ranks well on the other search engines most of the time.
5. What is on-page SEO?
On-page SEO refers to optimization done to the website itself, usually to improve its relevance to the targeted keywords. This includes changes to the meta tags, title tag, image ALT TXT, title markups, filename, content, anchor text, etc. It also includes checking the internal link structure, sitemap, robots.txt file, redirects, and search engine checks like pop-ups, page speed, and presence of About Us, Contact Us, 404 and TOS pages.
6. Will repeating keywords on my website work?
While it used to work in the old days, today this method would be discounted as keyword spamming. The search engines are smart enough to understand the theme of a webpage through the use of LSI. For example, a page about Search Engine Optimization
would most likely also contain keywords like SEO, search engine, organic search, search results, search engine marketing, sem, google, etc.
7. Can Google read dynamic webpages and flash animation?
Search engines may or may not recognize dynamic webpages, usually recognized by the "?" and "&" symbols in the URL, e.g. forum webpages. The use of mod_rewrites, i.e. rewriting dynamic URLs to look like static URLs,
and linking to these pages in a Sitemap are typical solutions to the problem. Infact, most established Content Management System have built-in mod_rewrite features that allow you to create beautiful URLs. Regarding flash files, Google announced in June 2008 that they have partial ability to index them. Please refer to the following article on Google's Blog for more details.
To check if your webpages are indexed in Google's search results, simply enter the following into the search box on google.com - site.yourdomain.com
8. What is off-page SEO?
Off-page SEO is used to describe the optimization efforts that take place beyond the website, and usually refers to building inbound links for the purpose of increasing the website's trustworthiness.
9. What is PageRank?
PageRank was developed by Google's co-founder, Larry Page, to measure the importance of a particular webpage on a scale of 1 to 10. It is one of over 200 factors used by Google to rank their search results and arguably the most important one, in addition to the webpage's relevance to the searched keyword. Theoretically, given two similar webpages, the one with the higher PageRank would rank higher in the search results.
10. Why does my website have a low PageRank and how do I increase it?
There are several factors that affect PageRank, the primary of which is the number and quality of inbound links to your website. Typically, a relatively new website has a PageRank of 1-3, established ones between 4-5 and the big ones 6-7. You rarely see websites with PageRank of 8 and above except on mega sites like Wikipedia, Yahoo, Microsoft and Google.
To increase your website's PageRank, you usually require inbound links from websites with a higher PageRank than your own, i.e. more established sites. However, the importance of the PageRank number has been downplayed by Google in recent times. A good example would be our SEO website which
ranks #1 in Singapore despite having only a PageRank of 2. Besides, the PageRank you see in your Google toolbar is updated only every 3-6 months while Google uses a fresher one with a smaller scale, internally.
11. Can I just buy links to my website?
Google is aware of the link buying activites going on and have taken harsh actions because it impacts the quality of their search results, which if not contained, would affect their search traffic and eventually, their US$6 billion quarterly revenues. These actions, included banning link marketplaces like text-link-ads.com from their search results and devaluing links from online directories. The evaluation of inbound links has also become more complex, where factors like the theme of the linking website, content
surrounding the link, number of outbound links on the page, link placement (i.e. top or bottom of the page), link velocity (i.e. rate of new link acquisition) and link diversity (i.e. from pages of different PageRanks) are considered. The search engines have also introduced the nofollow attribute for webmasters to reference external websites without "voting" for them.
12. Are links in blog comments worth anything?
Some webmasters have resorted to spamming blog comments for the purpose of obtaining inbound links. But like Wikipedia, almost all blogs attach a nofollow attribute to links in comments - it is a default feature in Wordpress.
13. How do I check for inbound links to my website?
There are online tools that allow you to analyze inbound links, such as Yahoo's Site Explorer. Bing doesn't disclose this information, while Google only offers partial results using link:yourdomain.com. For detailed link information, Google Webmaster Central is highly recommended.
14. Is it necessary to submit my website URL to the search engines?
Although the search engines accept URL submissions, e.g. Google Add URL, and there are companies charging for such services, I feel it is unnecessary based on my own experience. A quicker way to get indexed is to obtain inbound links from established websites. Do note that
there is a time lag between the time search engine spiders crawl your website and your site appearing in the search results.
15. Can blogs be optimized?
Yes. I have previously written an article on SEO tips for Wordpress blogs.
16. What is Google Webmaster Central?
Webmaster Central has a collection of tools, including sitemap submission and crawl error information. Arguably, the most important feature is the ability to inform Google the geographic target of your website.
17. What is Black Hat SEO?
Black Hat SEO is used to describe optimization methods that are deemed "unethical" by the search engines. While it may give you a temporary boost in rankings, the long-term effect would most likely be permanent removal from search engine results. Typical Black Hat methods include linkfarms (cross-linking websites), cloaking (showing different pages to search spiders and human visitors), use of invisible text and doorway pages.
18. How long does it take before SEO kicks in?
It takes anywhere between a couple of weeks for established sites to 12 months or more for new websites, for SEO to start showing results.
19. Is SEO a one-time job?
Unfortunately, no. While you may be able to maintain your website's rankings for a while (longer if competitors aren't doing much) the addition of fresh content and new links do play a factor.
20. Many Singapore SEO companies provide guarantees. What gives?
Logically, no one can provide ranking guarantees other than the search engine owners themselves. However, barring any drastic algorithim changes or all your competitors jumping onto the SEO bandwagon overnight, an SEO consultant is able to predict the probability of getting your website into the top 5 or first page for example.
Personally, I disagree with providing SEO guarantees and strongly feel that we should be compensated based on work done - just as you would still pay a surgeon for an unsuccessful operation or the lawyer even if you lose your case. However, the practice of money-back-guarantee in Singapore is driven by market demands and competition, and the downside is the unwillingness of SEOs to take on certain projects that are deemed "risky".
Note: the answers to the SEO FAQs above are based on my years of experience and personal views as
an SEO Consultant. For definitions to industry jargon used above, kindly refer to the Glossary. For further reading, refer to the Resource page for references to more information.
Or if you more questions about SEO, feel free to ask me by sending an email to email [at] larrylim.net