I recently appeared on Vanessa Fox’s new Webmaster Radio show, “Office Hours” where we discussed some of the simple things business owners can do to increase search traffic to their website, but which are often neglected. During the show, Vanessa answered a bunch of frequently asked questions, and her answers often started out with something like, “People don’t like it when I say this, but there are no specific numbers or formulas for that, because it depends on a variety of factors to determine relevancy.”
I know exactly what she’s talking about and was glad to hear her answer the questions that way, because “it depends” is often the only way you can answer SEO questions. In fact, it’s so common that “it depends” has been said 357 times on various High Rankings Forum threads!
To show you what I mean, here’s a list of SEO questions that I get asked all the time, along with what the answer depends upon, and then a quick answer based on the various factors that might be involved:
Q. How quickly will Google re-index my pages after I’ve SEO’d them?
It depends on: how popular your site is, how often Google’s spiders typically come around, how deep in the site the changes have been made, and more.
The quick answer: Anywhere from 1 day to 6 weeks.
Q. What should I do if my rankings drop by 10 pages in the SERPs?
It depends on: how long you had your previous rankings, how competitive they were, if you’ve done anything to purposely deceive the search engines, how long rankings drop has existed, etc.
The quick answer: Do nothing and give it a few weeks to see if your rankings come back. In most cases, they will.
Q. To what extent is SEO effective?
It depends on: who’s doing it, their knowledge and skill levels, as well as the types of keyword phrases you’re targeting.
The quick answer: SEO done correctly by a knowledgeable and skilled SEO consultant can be highly effective in increasing the targeted traffic to your website. But SEO done by someone who’s just read about it…well…not so much!
Q. Should my Title tag exactly match the main headline on my page?
It depends on: whether your content management system (CMS) does this as the default and it would be difficult to change, or how much time you have to create separate Titles and headlines.
The quick answer: Typically you’d want your Title tag and your main headline to be different because they serve different purposes. But if it’s a major undertaking to ensure this doesn’t happen, it’s not a deal breaker as far as SEO is concerned, assuming you have some control over what they say.
Q. Should I change my URLs to have keywords within them?
It depends on: whether your current URLs are getting indexed and found, whether you’re currently in the midst of a redesign, how awful your URLs currently look, how easy it is to implement within your CMS, and whether you can easily 301-redirect the old versions to the new ones.
The quick answer: If you have to change all URLs anyway because of a website redesign and CMS change, then sure, make clean, keyword-rich URLs that look nice in the search results. But if there’s nothing really wrong with your current ones other than you don’t like the way they look or you think you need to add keywords to them, it’s probably not worth the hassle that goes with such a major change to the structure of your website.
Q. How many keyword phrases should I target?
It depends on: how many keywords phrases people would type into the search engines to seek out what your company provides and how many pages your site has.
The quick answer: If everything else is in place, you can typically target anywhere from 2-5 keyword phrases on any one page of your website. Multiply that by the number of unique, optimizable pages on your site and you should have a rough estimate of how many potential keyword phrases you could target.
Q. Should I put my blog in a sub-directory, a subdomain or on its own domain?
It depends on: whether you want to brand the blog as part of your main website or brand it as a separate entity, and whether you want people to be able to easily remember the URL.
The quick answer: Whether it’s in a sub-directory or subdomain doesn’t make too much difference, although if it’s in a subdomain you may have more chance of it showing up in the search results at the same time that your main domain also shows up, than if it’s in a sub-directory. On the other hand, the average person doesn’t think to type in subdomains if they’re trying to go directly to your site and are more likely to remember something like yourdomain.com/blog than blog.yourdomain.com. For SEO purposes, none of these things really matter, so it’s more of a business/branding decision.
Q. How many words should my pages be?
It depends on: how many words it takes to say what you need to say.
The quick answer: There is no specific number of words a page should be for SEO purposes.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.