The 25 Most Common SEO Questions Store Owners Ask
by Jason / Posted
When we speak to potential and current clients, we tend to receive the same SEO questions over and over. This has indicated to us that it’s about time to conquer these most common queries in one go so we’ve laid out the top 25 SEO questions that clients ask, enjoy!
1. What is Domain Authority and why is it important?
Domain Authority (DA) is an indicator of the strength of a website based on a variety of metrics. The main metrics that increase the DA of a site include: Your social profiles pointing to a site AND the amount of quality links and overall SEO efforts.
A higher Domain Authority increases the chances of you ranking higher in the search engine for keywords. In a competitive industry, it can be the make or break metric if you want to rank high for competitive keywords. That’s why it’s always one of the first things we look at when we apply an SEO audit of your ecommerce store.
2. What is a search algorithm and why does it matter?
There are different types of search algorithms that Google use to judge the worthiness of your website. The main two are:
Penguin – Assesses your off-site SEO
Panda – Assesses your on-site SEO
Two other important ones are:
Hummingbird – Related to conversational search
Pigeon – Understands how good your local SEO is
These algorithms are updated regularly and they form the basis of where you rank in searches for particular pages. It’s always important to follow Google guidelines if you want a healthy site that ranks well in Google.
3. Should I start my marketing campaign with pay-per-click?
Good question. When considering this, you need to think about:
Your monthly planned PPC advertising budget
Each industry is different but on average, you should spend at least £750 per month on Google AdWords advertising if you want to gain enough data to be able to tweak your adverts for a lower cost per click and higher quality score in future.
Where you want to target
Targeting globally may not be the best strategy if you have a limited budget or a culturally sensitive product. You also may be limited in scope on when and where you can advertise depending on your products (adult, e-cigarettes, etc).
The turnover of your products
If you have stock that is seasonally dependent, then going for a long term strategy of organic SEO may not help you sell all those products on time. However, if you have a slower turnover of stock or want to increase brand awareness, then organic SEO strategies such as blogging, social media and acquiring quality links may be a better strategy.
4. Why is my competitor X places above me in the search engine?
I could count on one hand 40 times over the amount of variables that go into judging where a website should rank. Seriously, there are over 200 search ranking factors that Google looks at.
It would take you a long time to make sure you check off every one on the list and even then that’s no guarantee you’ll be ranking up there in first position for all to see. Google and other search engines love to keep things fruity and they update their algorithms several times per day.
The best thing you can do to get up there with your competitors is to give users what they want. Stick to the tri-force of SEO and you’ll be doing well. Blogging, acquiring quality links through your brand and having a defined social media strategy you can follow through with almost every day.
5. I want to rank for this keyword, can you do it?
We can. But it’s all about expectation management. With the type of SEO strategies we apply, we aim for particular keywords you want to rank for and do this effectively. The main thing to note is that ranking for a particular keyword is not done overnight but is instead a prolonged concerted effort to boost your rankings in the search engines. Nor is there a scientific, completely measurable way of doing it. If a search engine updates its algorithm tomorrow, it’s our job to adapt and cater for the best user experience while still increasing your rankings in the search engine. Key tenets are: adaptability and integrity to provide a rich user experience that’s within Google guidelines and which boosts the keyword you want to rank for naturally.
6. Is on-site optimisation really that important?
On-site optimisation is as important as the foundations of a house. Without onsite SEO, other digital marketing strategies may not completely fall into place. We cannot stress enough how fundamental on-site SEO is to digital marketing.
As an example, you want to run PPC advertisements and you set it up with neat campaigns and ad groups linked to products and landing pages, but your cost-per-click is incredibly high and now your advertising budget is dwindling quicker than you can say “I only wanted a sale, get me out of here!”
We take a look at your Google Adwords account and see that your quality score is low for many of the keywords. Why would this be? Partly because the on-site optimisation on your landing pages have no relevance to the adverts you have set up!
There are many things we can do to optimise your website, start with part one of our three part guide on optimising your e-commerce store that will not only help to increase your quality score and provide a greater user experience but also boost your store organically in search.
7. How often should I update my blog?
In an ideal world the answer would be as much as possible, but the world is far from ideal and the same goes for the content that’s posted on most blogs.
Two things to consider:
Set out a content plant that you can comfortably write yourself
If you have little time, consider hiring professional fluent English writers to do it for you. We offer just this service at Shopify Builder, speak to either myself or Emily at the Shopify SEO experts for more information.
Make sure what you’re writing has value to the user
Content writing should be aimed at helping, guiding and entertaining users so they come back for more to your blog as well build up your ‘likes’ and shares.
Don’t forget keywords
What’s the point in writing quality material if users can’t find it through search engines? Aim for a couple of keywords per post and keep it natural.
To directly answer the first question, aim for at least one blog post per week but at three per week should see some strong results as long it’s a prolonged approach over several months.
8. How much should I spend on AdWords?
As mentioned above, we recommend at least £750 on average unless you don’t mind a lot of your adverts dropping out of Google’s search after a few hours. It does depend on the competitiveness of the keywords you want to target which is where good keyword research comes into play and it’s something were more than adept at applying.
9. Which platform has better SEO – Magento or Shopify?
Shopify is overall the better platform but it depends on what you’re looking for. We made this easy to understand infographic that battles it out round to round on the key issues that affect you as a store owner including price, design and of course marketing. Check out the Shopify vs. Magento infographic.
10. Should I start a social media campaign before my website is launched?
If your aim is to boost brand awareness before launch then a big positive, YES! Many stores open up expecting sales from the offset, which although can happen, the chances are increased by building up followers and engaging with them prior to launch. There is something to be said for anticipation.
When we plan social media campaigns for clients prior to launch we recommend two things:
- You have a domain setup with a landing page that people can go to to sign up for updates or to gain further info of the launch date and any products that may be sold.
- Images or sneak previews of some of your products that can be used to show potential customers what you’re all about. Seeing is believing.
11. What’s a good length for a blog post?
It’s more about the quality than the word count but in no way to we condone a measly 250 word blog post. It’s incredibly difficult to go into depth on a subject with such a small word count so we recommend no less than 500 words. Most users need good solid information that helps them get to the bottom of an issue or helps them in a way they have no choice but to share your post, comment or bookmark for reference. So, as a rule of thumb, keep to at least 500 words, but preferably 800 words and make sure it’s quality writing with value.
An 800 word article with a well thought out structure, research and value will always trump a 2000 word blog post that’s written for the sake of being 2000 words! Here are a few tips:
Do your research first
Follow the 4 Ps: Perfect Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Planning helps you focus your mind on the article at hand and provides means you can gather some good links for within your articles. Search engines like quality links and quality writing.
Let your passion run wild
Write about topics you’re interested in and you’ll be surprised how quick the word count goes up AND how helpful your writing will be to users. A win-win for everybody.
Share on social media
After writing your outstanding blog post, share it on your social media platforms. If you don’t have many followers take a read of these 5 tips to increase twitter followers and you’ll be going viral in no time.
If you haven’t set up a blog yet, we can do this for you and you can find more info on the best platforms on: how to create an ecommerce blog.
12. Can I use the manufacturer’s/supplier’s boiler plate product descriptions on my product pages?
If you want to rank well organically in search engines and not get hit by a manual penalty or a Panda algorithm update, then it’s best practice to write your own unique product descriptions. Google mentions that you should minimise scraped content and they state a key example:
“Sites that copy and republish content from other sites without adding any original content or value will not rank”
This ties in with product descriptions. Imagine you sell over 5,000 products on your site and all those pages are filled with scraped content from another site or manufacturer. Your site is a ticking time bomb for an algorithm punishment.
13. Where can I get positive reviews of my company?
There are on-site and off-site reviews you can gain. Let’s begin with the on-site reviews with some good review apps that if needed we can install for you:
- Kudobuzz Testimonials & Reviews (https://apps.shopify.com/product-reviews)
- Product Reviews (https://apps.shopify.com/yotpo-social-reviews)
- Yotpo Product Reviews (https://apps.shopify.com/kudobuzz-testimonials)
These apps can help increase conversions as they add trustworthiness to your products but there is no proof they help with SEO and ranking higher in a search engine. Just make sure you get some legitimate reviews from happy customers.
Secondly, there are off-site reviews. Getting reviews on sites like Yelp and Google Places have the benefit of boosting awareness of your brand. The new Pigeon algorithm update means that sites like Yelp now have stronger ranking power which helps your company page on these local directory sites show up in some search verticals. Just make sure you have good reviews by asking customers who bought from you to head over to some of these directory sites and leave a positive review.
14. Where can I upload my sitemap?
When you create a Shopify store, an XML sitemap is automatically generated for you, saving you the hassle. However, uploading it into Google Webmaster Tools will help your website to get crawled by the Google search engine spider which in turn gets more eyeballs seeing your pages on a continual basis.
15. I want to rank for this really competitive keyword, can I do it?
With the correct strategy it’s definitely achievable. It requires a mix of on-site optimisation and obtaining quality links to your store in addition to maintaining your blog on a regular basis. One thing to consider, is that for new stores it’s very difficult to compete on the most competitive head term keywords. Instead, we recommend a more ‘long tail’ approach whereby you rank for a group of less competitive keywords that when added together can draw in a decent amount of traffic. Over time as your domain authority increases, the strategy can shift to an approach on more competitive keywords that can draw in high amounts of traffic, albeit not always the most targeted.
16. How do you do keyword research?
We apply keyword research for any new clients using a range of keyword tools both free and paid. One of the most popular free tools is the Google Keyword Planner and is a good base to find out the competitiveness of keywords, cost per click and monthly variations in search volume. We also analyse your competitors to see which keywords are effective for them. Sometimes it’s good to reinvent the wheel and sometimes it’s just as healthy to roll along with it. We make these decisions based on the types of keywords used, industry, domain authority and current traffic among other factors.
17. Should I set up a blog?
57% of companies have acquired customers from their blog according to this infographic. A blog is a really important part of your site that shouldn’t be neglected. Here are just three reasons you need a blog as part of your store:
Keep the website fresh
By updating your blog regularly, it provides signals to search engines that your site is a living digital organism that is breathing and hasn’t died. The spider will come back more often to your site to check for updates and this is a great signal for SEO and quickly indexing pages.
Define yourself as a thought leader
Potential customers are more likely to buy from you if you know what you’re talking about. They’re also more likely to buy from you if you’re passionate about your product. The blog is a great platform to showcase this and to increase conversions.
Drive new traffic
Think of every blog post you make as a new door opening to your store that visitors can use to view your online shop. Instead of writing just about your products, instead you can write about interests and hobbies that are related to your products, update industry news and spout your opinions. The blog is a human mouth that speaks the word the rest of your site is unable to do and in the process, attracts new visitors who otherwise may have never found your site.
18. Is link building dead/dying?
In one word, no. The Internet is built on links and we don’t see that finishing anytime soon. A link from one site to another is quite a lot like a vote of confidence. What is dying however, is gaining links from non-relevant sites for the sake of SEO purposes. When we apply our off-site content strategies, we only publish your articles on well regarded industry relevant sites because that’s where your demographics are. Read more about Is Link Building Dead? It’s time to start getting some quality links to your store.
19. Is it against the rules to guest blog?
Following on from the question above, guest blogging falls in the realm of link building. It’s a strategy that is proven to work as long 1) The content written is useful enough that users are happy with it and 2) The posts are on industry relevant websites. With these two acknowledged there is no reason you can’t guest post or have us do it for you.
20. A previous SEO agency created spammy links to my site, how do I remove them?
If you’ve ever hired an agency to apply link building in the past, it’s recommended you apply a link audit to find out if you have any bad links pointing to your site as this can get you penalised or worse, hit by a Penguin algorithm update. We recommend you leave this disavowing of bad links to professionals as it’s easy to remove a good link that can affect you. We offer a link audit and disavow service, just contact us for more information. Better to be safe than sorry.
21. Where can I find some beginner info on SEO?
We really like this section of Moz that gets to grips with the beginner aspects of SEO. We also recommend browsing our own Shopify experts blog with a whole host of info on SEO especially linked to Shopify and ecommerce among other topics. You can always call us if you need info, we’re always happy to help and provide advice.
22. What’s the future of SEO?
Nobody knows for sure. But here a few predictions:
More searches from mobile devices
It’s increasing year on year and only recently did mobile searches outweigh desktop searches for the first time. We don’t expect this to change. So think about how people search on mobile phones and their intent when they’re using a handheld device and how that fits into your industry.
Social will become stronger
We may expect social platforms to send stronger signals to search engines in future. Read how you can increase your Facebook reach and make sure you’re updating and engaging regularly on the main platforms.
Search engines become smarter
Expect them to understand the context of search queries instead of somebody typing or even speaking “web designer Birmingham” and finding a list of Birmingham web designers a user could ask “Where can I find a web designer?” and their results will be based on where they are located, the friends they engage with on social media and aligned with their own views and interests.
23. My traffic dropped by over 70% last week can you tell me why?
Without a thorough investigation we would only be speculating. However, the first thing you should so is find out when you received the drop in traffic and try to correlate it to a particular algorithm update. This may provide the first clues as to what you need to do to recover. You should also check your Google Webmaster Tools to see if you have any manual penalties.
24. I want to sell products aimed at different locations, what’s best practice?
It all depends on your time, resources and budget, you can read all about it here. We usually recommend creating different subpages on your domain that are catered for different countries for example using /eu/ or /us/. This is low maintenance and has a lower cost than buying country level domains such as .co.uk and .com.au. Feel free to speak with our Shopify designers about this as they can integrate this into the design if you are interested.
25. Do search engines understand images on my store?
Only if you provide a description of your image in an ALT attribute tag. Search engines are not advanced enough yet to understand what the actual image is without this piece of information. Every Shopify theme is different and thus you may only be able to optimise some of the images on your homepage. We can optimise images for you as part of our on-site SEO service and it’s highly recommended you do as it helps you rank in image search such as Google’s image search. For most e-commerce stores, this is imperative as most are visually based so increase sales with great product shots. You’ll be pulling in sales in no time.
So there you have it, the top 25 SEO questions potential clients ask us. We hope we’ve cleared up some misconceptions and helped highlight the importance of a clear digital marketing strategy.