Table Of Contents
  1. SEO Basics
  2. Keys to SEO
  3. Local SEO
  4. On-Page SEO
  5. Off-page SEO
  6. Best Tools For SEO
  7. Schema Markup
  8. LSI Keywords
  9. White-Hat vs Black-Hat SEO
  10. Domain Authority
  11. Advanced SEO 
  12. In Conclusion

Whether you are a digital marketing newbie or you have been doing it for year, you probably know that search engine optimization is ALWAYS changing.  Google is constantly releasing new algorithms that will affect not only your website ranking, but your sales as well.  

Did you know that the first 5 results on the search engine results page, or SERP for short, account for over 67% of the total clicks?  This is why it is so important to be in those top 5 results.  

You could read all day and night about search engine optimization (SEO), or you could just look at this SEO FAQ page and get all your answers!  

So let’s dive into our SEO FAQ page that will help answer all of your questions!

SEO Basics

What does SEO stand for?

To make it simple, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.  We will go into more detail about what SEO is and how it works throughout this page. 

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search engine optimization is the process of helping  your website to organically rank in Google or other search engines.  There are a few different parts of SEO – local SEO, on-page optimizations and off-page optimization which again, we will cover.  

What is Search Engine Optimization

What are the most important ranking factors for Google?

One of the biggest questions that any digital marketer is asked is “how do I rank higher in Google?”.  To be blunt, the answer to this question is ALWAYS changing.  Today, Google might have one algorithm that they use, and then tomorrow they might release a completely different one – and that is why it is so important to let the experts handle SEO.  

However, we WILL go over a few of the ranking factors for Google that have not changed in many years

  • To optimize an image, you have to download the photo as a .JPG photo, name the file using your keywords, upload the photo and add alt text and titles that also include your keyword.  The more unique the photo is, the more likely you are to see that photo help you rank in Google. 
  • Metadata is the information that appears on Google.  There are 3 parts – the slug and breadcrumbs, meta title and meta description.  
Elements of Search Engine Results Page

Google sees each of these parts when they crawl your website, so you need to make 

sure they are optimized with the best available keywords.  

  • Website usability has become a major ranking factor recently and for very good reasons.  Google understands that if a user stays on your site for a longer period of time, it likely means that the user is happy with it.  


When the user is happy, they are more likely to use Google again and again. To optimize for usability, you have to have LOTS of pictures and videos, ensure that your navigation is easy to use, and optimize the load time of your site.  


Amazon did a study that shows that for every one extra second that their site takes to load, they lose $1.6 billion in sales.  While your business, likely, won’t lose $1.6 billion in sales, it shows that website load time is extremely important.  

  • Are you asking “What is a backlink?”?  To make it simple, a backlink is when another website links to your’s.  Backlinks are so important to SEO because they tell Google that your website is trustworthy and helpful.  The best way to get a backlink is to ask other people in your niche for a link in exchange for something.
  • Lastly, keywords are so important, because they are what Google uses to decide which pages are relevant to the user.  There are many different keyword tools out there, but we here at MarketingU, use Ahrefs and Ubersuggest as our keyword tools.   Each of these tools allow us to ensure that our client’s websites rank for the most relevant keywords.

Keys to SEO

What is the best number of characters for the title tag and meta description? 

There is technically no optimal length for your title tag and meta description, but Google does only display a certain number of characters for each.  

On desktop, Google displays between 55 and 60 characters for your title, while it displays between 150 and 160 characters for your meta description.  This is the equivalent to 100 pixels for your title and 600 for your meta description.  

On mobile, Google displays at most, 65 characters for your title and 160 for your meta description.  This does change from time-to-time but it is a general idea.  

My suggestion is that you try to keep your title tag and meta description to this maximum but don’t go too far under because then you likely aren’t optimizing them for your keywords.

Why does SEO take time before you see results?

Your website will take a while before it starts to rank because Google is so smart.  Expect it to take at least 4-6 months before you start to see your website ranking for any keywords.  

Although there used to be ways to game the system, like keyword stuffing, this is now considered black-hat SEO and will hurt your results.  

If you want Google to rank your site in the future, I suggest starting to do keyword research, link building, and ensure that your website is mobile friendly.  

What is an URL?

You can think of your URL as the home address of your website.  It is the way that Google identifies your website.  

URL vs Slug: What’s the Difference?

Your URL is the entire address for your page while your slug is the part of the URL that changes for every page.  It is everything that comes after the first “/”.  You can think of your URL as your street address while your slug is the different rooms inside of your house.  

Domain vs Slug

What is the best URL structure for SEO?

The best URL structure for search engine optimization would depend on your business.  If you are a national or global company then your location does not matter as much so your url might look something like “themarketingu.com/seo/seo-faq.htm”.  You need to make sure that you include your keywords in the URL’s slug and use “-” in between words. 

If you are a local company then you might want to include your location at the end so your URL might look like “themarketingu.com/seo/seo-faq-philadelphia-pa.htm”.  This will help you to rank in your local area.  

Your slug should be as short as possible while still having your URL in it.  This means try to keep it under 7-10 words if possible.  

Does new content help SEO?

The short answer is “yes” new content will help your SEO efforts.  

Having new content helps your SEO efforts because the newer the content the better.  When you search for a word and come across many results, you are much more likely to click on newer articles than older ones because they are more likely up-to-date.  

You don’t want old information!  Google knows this and will rank newer articles higher than old ones.  

Make sure your content is up-to-date!  

Local SEO

What is Local SEO?

Local search engine optimization, is the process of helping your website to rank for local keywords.  This is usually done by targeting very specific keywords, optimizing your Google My Business listing, and ensuring that all local directories have the correct information.  

Local shoppers are more likely to convert into customers which is why local SEO is so important for your small business.  

Here at MarketingU, we love to target “near me” keywords because when a user searches for a local business, they usually include “near me” at the end of every search.  Let’s say John recently moved to town and wants to go out to get a pizza from a local restaurant, he is likely searching “best pizza near me” or “pizza shop near me” on Google.  The “near me” also suggests that he is in the buying stage of the sales process.  

If your pizza shop is located in the town that John is searching for a pizza in, you want your listing to appear as the #1 search result, as that is what he is most likely going to click on.  

Now let’s say that your Google My Business or Yelp listing did appear right at the top of the screen, but your hours were incorrect and you are closed when he wants his pizza.  When John tries to visit your pizza shop, he will be disappointed that your business is closed and will likely not come back due to a bad first impression.  This is why local SEO is so important. 

Google My Business listing shown in Google maps

On-Page SEO

What is on page SEO and why is it important?

On page optimization is the process of optimizing individual pages of your website in order rank higher on Google.  It is so important because it allows you to get traffic to your website without putting money into ads.  While ads are extremely helpful to gain immediate traffic, SEO is helpful in the long-run.  

What is included in on page SEO?

We already talked about a few of the biggest ranking factors for Google, but let’s talk in a little bit more detail about the specific things that you can do on your website to help it rank.  

The most important thing that you can do for SEO, is to do your keyword research before you start writing.  Think about the keywords that you would like to rank for and then use a keyword research tool to see how competitive those keywords are and how much search volume they get every month.  

Once you have done your keyword research, you can optimize the images.  Rename the file to include keywords, add alt text and a title, and make sure that it is an unique photo.  

Next, you can look at your headings.  Make sure that they fall in order of H1, H2, H3, etc.  While you only want 1 H1 tag, you can have as many H2 and H3 tags as you see fit.  These headings help to break up the page and help the user to easily find what they are looking for.  

Your headings would look something like this:

  • H1: SEO FAQ
    • H2: What is Included in on-page SEO?
      • H3: Image optimizations
      • H3: Heading optimizations
    • H2: What is Local SEO? 
      • H3: Google My Business
      • H3: Local Directories

Then you can start looking at where your keywords are included. You want to make sure that your headings include the keyword (and variations of it) that you want to rank for, ensure that your pictures include it, and lastly, make sure that your keyword is within the first 100 words of the page. 

Next, you might want to start looking at your page structure.  Here is an on page SEO checklist of questions for you to review. 

  • Do you have bullets or tables throughout the copy?  
  • Do you have easily scannable content on your site?  
  • Do you include links out to high-authority sites? 
  • Do you have internal links?  
  • Does your website include headings on each page?  
  • Is your website mobile-friendly? 
  • Is anything bolded or highlighted to help it stand out?

Lastly, look at your link profile.  Are you using links that go out to high-authority sites?  To check if a website is high authority, you can use this tool that Moz offers for free. 

In order to rank for keywords, you need to make sure that you are using external links because it shows the major search engines that you are doing your research.  

In addition to the external links, you should try to include some internal links as well.  These links will take the user to other relevant pages of your website which helps to increase the user engagement metrics.  

Keyboard of a computer

Why is Keyword Research So Important?

Doing keyword research is so important because keywords are one of the main ranking factors for Google.  Tools like Ahrefs, Ubersuggest, and many others will allow you to get a better idea of what the user is looking for.  Trust me, I have learned that just because I would search for something, doesn’t mean many other people do and that is why keyword research is so important.  

Make sure you not only include the exact keyword but also similar ones.  While Google is getting A LOT better at understanding the similarities between words, it is still nice when your title and meta description match what the user is looking for.  

Why is Page Structure Important? 

Page structure is important because it makes your page digestible.  You want the user to be able to skim your content for what they are looking for.  Make sure that you include at least H1 and H2 tags, but also bullets and/or tables.  

Having more skimmable content will help decrease your bounce rate.  When your bounce rate decreases, Google will see that and rank you better.  

What is anchor text?

Anchor text is a word or phrase within your content that links out to either another website or somewhere else in yours.  It tells Google and other search engines what the other page is about so it is important that you only use relevant words as anchor text.  Our rule of thumb is that you want to use 3-5 links for every 500 words.   

Off-page SEO

What is off-page SEO and why is it important?

Off-page SEO is everything that an SEO specialist does while not on your website.  This includes, as I mentioned above, gaining backlinks through outreach, optimizing your Google My Business listing and local directories, and quite simply, doing a competitor analysis to ensure that your website is ranking for the same or better keywords as your competitor.  

I won’t go into detail about these things because I did above, BUT off-page SEO is just as important as on-page SEO.  

Dofollow vs NoFollow: What’s the Difference?

Simply, dofollow links are links that give you link equity while nofollow links do not help you with anything except traffic. 

Dofollow vs NoFollow links

Best Tools For SEO

What tools do you use to track SEO?

In addition to the tools that I have mentioned, such as Ahrefs and Ubersuggest, I highly suggest using Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Google Search Console, Rank Math, and Screaming Frog to help your website rank organically.  All of these tools have different purposes.  

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is known as the king of analytics reporting.  They allow you to track: 

  • Organic traffic both YoY and Mo
  • Conversion rates
  • Top landing pages
  • Cities where users come from
  • Bounce rates
  • Pageviews
  • Site Speed
  • and so much more!

What is Google Tag Manager?

Google Tag Manager allows you to post code on your website without having to get into the backend of it.  Once you link your website to Google Tag Manager, you will be able to see all the tags that are currently active on your website, add code, and much more! 

It is not a super easy tool to use so I suggest hiring somebody to help with this if you are not an SEO expert.  

What is Google Search Console?

Google Search Console is where you can tell Google to look at your website by submitting your XML sitemap.  In Google Search Console, you can see your click-through rate, the words that you are ranking for, and check for any errors that might be occurring on your website.  

If you are going to do SEO for yourself, Google Search Console is a must.   

What is Bounce Rate in Google Analytics?

Your bounce rate is one of the most important metrics in Google Analytics.  It measures the number of people who came to your site and then leave without clicking anything.  

This metric tells Google that your website was either helpful or not helpful for people.  While all different niches have different bounce rates, the standard average is about a 40% bounce rate.  

Google Analytics Screenshot

How Do I Reduce My Bounce Rate in Google Analytics?

If you are looking to reduce your bounce rate in Google Analytics, you need to ensure that there are plenty of links and buttons for a user to click on above the fold.  The user should easily be able to interact with your page.  Having links to similar articles or blog pieces can be helpful in decreasing your bounce rate.  

I suggest looking at what pages have the highest bounce rate and perform a technical audit on those specific pages.  See if you add more pictures, add buttons or links, and just make sure that it is written in a good voice for your audience.  

Users vs Sessions in Google Analytics: What’s the difference?

Understanding the difference between users and sessions in Google Analytics took me FOREVER.  I never understood the difference until I really tried to do a little research.  

To make it simple for you to understand, the users in Google Analytics are the “unique visitors” while the Sessions are the “Visits”.  Sessions should ALWAYS be greater than the users because it takes into account people who came back to your site.  

How do I Increase my Average Session Duration in Google Analytics?

The easiest way to increase your average session duration in Google Analytics is to add videos to your pages. 

Adding videos will help to increase your session duration by encouraging the user to stay on your site until the end of the video.  Of course, make sure these videos are relevant to the topic that you are talking about, because otherwise they might not be interested.  

How Long Does Google Analytics take to update?

Google Analytics is so great because it updates almost instantly.  When a user is on your site, you usually see where they are from, what page they are on, and how they found your site.  

What is Rank Math?

Rank Math is a plugin for your WordPress site that will help you to rank for all different keywords.  It allows you to connect your Google Search Console and Google Analytics account with your website, add the keywords that you are trying to rank for and keep track of 404 errors.  Many webmasters use Yoast SEO instead, but I prefer Rank Math.  

What is Screaming Frog?

Screaming Frog is a tool that helps you to track your technical SEO work.  It crawls your website and tells you about any 404 errors that you have on your website, tells you if a page is missing a title tag or meta description, and tells you how many characters there are.  

Schema Markup

What is Schema Markup?

Schema Markup is a way to help search engines such as Google, read your pages.  There are many types of Schema Markup such as Q&A, star rating, reviews, and others. 

Why is Schema Markup Important?

It is very helpful to you because it allows you to stand out on the Search Engine Results page.  It also helps Google to understand what your page is about.  

How Do I Add Schema Markup to My Website?

To add schema markup to your site, you need to know a little bit about HTML.  

  1. First you would go to Google’s Structured Data Markup tool
  2. Decide which type of data you are trying to add the markup to
  3. Copy and paste the URL of your page into the tool
  4. Highlight the piece that you want to add Schema Markup to and select name
  5. Add as many markups as you would like
  6. Click “Create HTML” 
  7. Add the Schema Markup to the page

You can find the different types of schema markup on schema.org.

LSI Keywords

What are LSI Keywords?

LSI keywords are words or phrases that are similar to the keyword you want to rank for.  LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing.  Instead of stuffing your page with the same keywords over and over again, I suggest trying to add some LSI keywords.  

Let’s say you are trying to rank for the keyword, “SEO”.  You might want to talk about:

  • SEO Definition
  • Local SEO
  • On-page SEO
  • Off-page SEO

and other phrases like that to help Google and other search engines understand that you are covering every topic.  

How Do I Find LSI Keywords?

You can find LSI keywords by using the “auto suggest” feature on Google.  When you start to search for something on Google, they provide you with “auto suggest” options to help finish your sentence.  These are great LSI keywords.  

A couple other ways to find LSI keywords are by searching on a website like Ahrefs, Ubersuggest, or LSIGraph.com.  All of these tools any many others will help give you an idea of what people are actually searching for.  

White Hat SEO

White-Hat vs Black-Hat SEO

What is White-Hat SEO?

White-hat SEO techniques are the SEO techniques that Google likes to see.  They include all of the techniques that I mentioned such as doing keyword research, using:

  • strong title tags and meta descriptions
  • updating your H1, H2, and H3 tags to include strong keywords
  • and more.  

What is black-hat SEO?

Black hat SEO is a practice that some SEOs use to artificially increase their ranking in Google.  These websites do eventually get caught and will be punished by Google.  Some things that are considered black hat SEO include:

  • keyword stuffing
  • buying links
  • exchanging links
  • cloaking

Keyword stuffing is when you write the same word over and over again throughout your post.  Buying links can hurt your SEO if Google finds out.  I have had many people ask me if I wanted to buy a link from them and I always say no for this reason.  

Exchanging links hurts SEO because Google sees it similar to buying them.  The person who is linking to your website does not necessarily think that your page is good, they just want a link and Google knows this.  

Lastly, cloaking is the act of creating content that is hidden from the user but visible to Google.  This used to be a way to get around the algorithm but it does not work anymore.  

Domain Authority

What is domain authority?

Your domain authority was a metric created by a local directory, called Moz, that shows how likely you are to rank for different keywords.  Moz tried to create the algorithm to follow Google’s but it is not 100% accurate.  Google has never released their algorithm and neither has Moz.  

Your domain authority can be anywhere between 1 and 100, but the higher the score, the more likely you are to rank on Google.  Your DA can change based on your 

  • link profile
  • age of your domain name
  • and more 

What is the average domain authority?

The average domain authority is somewhere between 40 and 50 according to theclickhub.com.  With this being said, if your domain authority is 30, it doesn’t mean it is bad.  It takes time to increase your authority!  

Neil Patel, says that one of the best ways to raise your domain authority is to conduct a link audit!  This just means, use your SEO tool to see where your links are coming from.  If you are being linked to from spammy websites, request that your link is removed.  

What is page authority?

Your page authority is similar to the domain authority, but it is only for a particular page.  It measures the age of the page, how many links that particular page has, and much more.  This score is also measured on a scale of 1 to 100 with 100 being the highest score. 

Advanced SEO 

What is User Intent?

User intent is the phrase used to describe exactly what a user is looking for with any search.  For example, if a user searches the word “apple”, Google likely knows whether they are looking for the fruit or the company and will show results that the user is looking for.  

User intent is not quite that simple though.  When you are performing keyword research, you need to understand what the user is looking for if they search for a specific topic.  

If you searched the term SEO, you are likely looking for the definition of SEO, and how to do SEO.  The creator of the content needs to cover both of these topics and more in order to rank for the keyword.  

How do I Make My Website Mobile Friendly?

Google moved to a mobile-first ranking system which basically says that they look at the mobile version of your site before the desktop one. 

Before, I mentioned that adding bullets and tables to your page can help increase your organic ranking.  Now I am going to tell you that it is also super important for mobile ranking.  The easier your content is to read, the better.  

Another thing that you can do to make your website more mobile friendly is adding buttons instead of links.  Buttons are easier to click on! 

What is a Technical SEO Audit?

A technical audit is when an SEO professional identifies potential SEO issues on your website.  They might look for performance issues, keyword ranking issues, or even broken links.  These are all things that can decrease your ranking.  

What is a 404 error?

A 404 error occurs when a page that you link to does not work.  This could happen because an entire website was taken down or because a certain page was just deleted without the webmaster setting up a redirect.  

What is a 404 error in SEO?

Do 404 errors affect SEO?

404 errors are not something that Google looks at directly but it can affect the user experience.  When the user clicks on a link that is broken, they might not come back to your site…this will tell Google that your website is not very user-friendly and will eventually affect your organic ranking. 

Is SEO better than PPC?

If you are asking if SEO is better than PPC then the short answer is that it depends.  

  • Simply put: seo=long-term and ppc=short-term
  • Search Engine optimization is great in the long-run but it takes a while to get there.  It can take a year or more to see really good traffic to any page. 
  • Pay-per-click campaigns on the other-hand can help you immediately!  As soon as somebody creates a PPC campaign, it can help to increase the traffic to the website.  The downside is that you have to pay for the ads.  

What are breadcrumbs?

Breadcrumbs are the little words that appear at the top of most website’s blog posts.  They help users and search engines see the path to the page that you are currently on.  They help SEO because they usually include keywords, but they also make it easier for Google to crawl your website.  

What is robots.txt?

To put it simply robots.txt is a file that is stored on your website that tells Google how to crawl your pages.  

What is an XML Sitemap?

An XML sitemap is a list of your website’s pages.  It tells search engines what pages are on your website and how they should reach them.  If you are using WordPress.org then plugins such as Yoast SEO and Rank Math can create your XML sitemap for you.  

They are extremely important for SEO because, again, it tells search engines how to get to certain pages of your website!

What is an HTML Sitemap?

An HTML sitemap is similar to an XML sitemap but it is created for your readers to see.  When somebody is looking for a specific topic on your website, they should be able to go to the HTML sitemap and find the page that talks about that topic.  

Does HTTPS Affect SEO?

HTTPS recently took over as the more secure version of HTTP.  It stands for “Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure” but you will never need to know that again.  

Google sees these pages as more trustworthy than HTTP sites.  Therefore, yes HTTPS does affect SEO drastically.  

In Conclusion

If you are trying to get your website to start ranking in Google or other search engines, doing your research is extremely important.  Search Engine Optimization is ALWAYS changing so staying up-to-date on the latest algorithm changes is key to driving users to the your website.  

Hire the experts here at MarketingU to help you with your SEO and PPC today!  Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments or email us at [email protected]


Matt Reif

Matt Reif is a digital marketing expert that specializes in search engine optimization.He graduated from Millersville University in 2018 and has been working in the digital marketing space ever since. He went from working for a large multinational company, to working for a small but industry leading marketing agency where he did search engine optimization for car dealerships.