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5 Common SEO Questions

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John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown Design & SEO.

One goal for many businesses is to improve their search engine rankings. Sales are driven by leads, which are driven in part by search, so this goal is understandable. However, there is a lot of misinformation regarding SEO out there. Here are five common SEO questions and their answers.

Do Meta Keywords Matter Anymore?

No. Google stopped using meta keywords since at least 2009, and probably several years before that as well. Yahoo also ignores the meta keyword tag. Bing does look at it, but if any keywords in the tag do not appear in your page, your page will be penalized in Bing’s search results.

In the early days of search engines, many people would keyword stuff the keywords meta tag in hopes of boosting their rank. Search engines algorithms became sophisticated to this tactic long ago, and there is absolutely no benefit to using this meta tag anymore.

Do WordPress Tags Help SEO?

Sometimes, but not in the way you might think. Observing how many people use tags, it seems as though they are using them as a substitute for meta keywords. Google does not currently use WordPress tags to determine what a post is about. Tag archive pages and other archive pages can turn up in search results, though it is uncommon for them to rank very high.

Tags and Categories in WordPress are just a way to sort things. Categories should be a generalized subject, tags should be a more finely tuned subset of a category. WordPress uses categories and tags as a means to relate posts to one another. By adding extraneous and unnecessary tags, the relationships between the posts are diluted. Using dozens of tags on a WordPress post will not help that post rank higher in Google for those tag phrases.

Why Did My Site Drop In Google?

That depends on how many spots you dropped. Google readjusts their algorithm several times per year. I have noticed the order of results fluctuates about once a week for most search terms.

If your site has only slipped a few notches, that is not something I would be overly worried about. It is likely that your site will rise again as Google readjusts its algorithm. What I would be concerned about is if your site has dropped several dozen spots or more for a specific keyword search. This could be an indication you are being penalized for a shady SEO practice. Some of the things that Google frown on include selling rel="follow" links , buying links, having overly thin content, keyword stuffing, concealing on page text, having backlinks from questionable websites, or being infected with malware. Sudden drops can also be caused by moving your hosting or robots.txt blocking search bots.

If none of these apply, and you experienced a sizeable, persistent drop in search rank, having your site audited for SEO best practices is a good next step. Here is a video from Google’s Matt Cutts that will also help you diagnose the problem.

Does Google Authorship Help SEO? And What Happened To Google Authorship Avatars?

Yes, and they are still there — in certain cases. Google+ started in 2011, and currently has about 640 million active users, about 2.5 times as large as Twitter. One of the incentives that led businesses to use Google+ was a metric called AuthorRank. Authors would verify their identity and link their Google+ to their published works online. Google would then measure an author’s authority on certain subjects over time and give them a small boost in the search rankings. This would mainly affect high authority authors, and come into play when comparing more in-depth articles. This data has been confirmed as still being used in some fashion.

Part of the appeal of Google Authorship was the author avatars that accompanied a search result. These added visual appeal an increased click-through rate. At the beginning of 2014, the frequency with which these would appear started decreasing. In June of 2014, Google announced that the avatar photos would be abandoned in favor of an author byline. Google says they intend to be a mobile-first company, and the photos took up extra screen space on mobile devices.

But did the photos disappear altogether? It turns out that they didn’t entirely. When you are logged into Google and have personal search results turned on, you will still see author avatar son Google+ results for people in your circles. For now, this is the only place where these still occur. Google is not abandoning the Authorship program, and will still collect data to figure out who authoritative writers are in each category.

Google Authorship Still Shows Up For Google Plus

Update (August 28th, 2014): Google officially confirmed today that articles will no show Authorship avatars, but relevant results from your Google+ network will still be shown when you are logged in.

I Just Did Some SEO Work On My Site — How Long Before Google Ranks My Site On The First Page?

That depends. How competitive is the keyword phrase you’re trying to rank for? Figuring out how to make a page move up in the search rankings depends on several factors, including how many other people are trying to do the same.

Generalized keywords like “cars”, “insurance” or “real estate” are insanely hard to get to the first page of Google. Thee terms are overly broad. A better strategy is to use long-tail keywords which are longer and more specific phrases. Examples of these would be “new car sales in Sacramento–, “life insurance for people over 50” and “Granite Bay real estate over 1 acre”. The more specific the search phrase, the lower the competition, and the hotter the potential lead.

Web pages are usually indexed by Google within a few days. If you have a Google Webmaster Tools account with a sitemap submitted to Google, pages can appear in search results more quickly.

Moving a page up over time relies on off-page SEO. These factors can include what sites link to that page, the link text used to link to the page, the site authority or AuthorRank, how many people click the search result, do people search for that term again after visiting the page. On-page SEO also matters greatly. Improving the speed of the site, optimizing the title tag and meta description, and optimizing the page text and images can all help boost a page.

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown Design & SEO.

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