Answers to 7 burning SEO questions

Search engine optimization is hot
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Editor’s note: You can imagine that the SEO guy at a tech company’s a tough person to snag for an interview. And GoDaddy’s Director of Global SEO, Jim Christian, is no different. He’s always analyzing the stuff those guys analyze, and reading up on new trends in search engine optimization, and fielding requests from throughout the company — but he graciously took a few minutes to answer some burning questions about SEO. Here’s what he had to say…

Q: What are keywords and why are they important to SEO?

A: Keywords are nothing more than words that people search for in a search engine like Google®, Bing® or Yahoo!®. A keyword can be a single word or entire sentences, depending on what the searcher is looking for.

Q: What are some keyword mistakes?

A: The most common mistake that people make when putting keywords into content is “stuffing” or adding too many keywords. A long time ago, Google and the other search engines relied on spidering content in order to determine what a page was about. These days the search engines use hundreds of ranking factors to determine rank. Generally speaking, a page should target five to 10 keywords; the rule of thumb is one keyword per 100 words of content.

The rule of thumb is one keyword per 100 words of content.

Other mistakes include not using heading tags inside your content. Heading tags function as titles and subtitles of content, so make sure your keywords are in those tags.

Q: What are backlinks and why do they matter?

A: Backlinks are links that people from other sites point to yours. To Google and other search engines, backlinks are used as a vote. These votes are added up with other ranking factors to determine how or where your website should rank for keywords.

Q: How would you define ‘relevant content?’

A: Relevant content has a bunch of different meanings, depending on who you talk to. I would consider relevant content to be content that is crafted by hand for another human being and is topically relevant, well-written, and direct. Content that is generated or “spun” with the specific task of tricking the search engines or making money is not relevant.

Q: How do images play into SEO?

A: Images play an important role, and for many different reasons. First, you have image searches, which can bring in a ton of traffic, believe it or not. Many people don’t realize that having engaging images can bring a lot of visitors to their website. Images can also hold tags — called image ALT tags — that can be used for SEO. Search engines use the text in image attributes to categorize the images on your site, so make the image (ALT) tag very descriptive and if you can work a keyword or two in there, do it.

Q: What tools would you recommend to help with SEO?

A: A couple tools that are fairly inexpensive are SERPS and Yslow. If you haven’t signed up for SERPs, I’d suggest starting a free 14-day trial. Their tool will track keyword rankings and help answer some of those hard SEO effectiveness questions … and their customer service is awesome.

Another tool that I love is the Chrome™ extension Yslow. It’s a little technical for the average website user, but it is free and it can do some pretty important magic for your website. Download the extension, visit your home page, and activate the program. In a matter of seconds Yslow will load your page up and tell you everything that’s wrong with it from a speed perspective.

This is important when you have one other piece of information handy. Download this InfoGraphic from KissMetrics. Now you can see how speed and performance affects the bottom line. In some cases, speeding up your website can improve conversions by 20 to 50 percent! Amazing.

Q: How can we learn more about SEO?

A: Please feel free to follow me on Twitter®. I promised myself that I would be more active this year. You can also read the SearchMetrics Blog for lots of fantastic insight on SEO ranking factors. Another good resource would be the MOZ Blog, which has lots of general information on SEO and a great whiteboard Friday video every week.

Want to hear more from Jim? Check out SEO 101.

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Jim Christian
Jim Christian believes in making things better. He accomplishes this through tireless hours of research, perfecting his gift for Search Engine Marketing. Jim is grateful for the opportunity to pursue his passion while helping people and businesses succeed online.