If you’re thinking about engaging me, then you probably have some questions about my services. Below, you can find some common questions I get from potential clients. If you can’t find the information you need on this website, please get in touch.
Where’s the proof that you’ve helped other businesses increase organic traffic and online sales?
I’m happy to provide you with information on my previous projects.
Most of our sales happen in our brick-and-mortar stores. We’ll never make that much money online, so why should we bother with SEO?
No matter what your niche, there is plenty of money to be made online! Avoiding ecommerce because you’re suspicious of technology, or you have a lack of experience, is no excuse.
I hired an SEO consultant before, and it didn’t work. How do I know it’s going to be different this time?
Without seeing the strategy and how it was implemented, I can’t know for sure why your previous attempts at SEO failed. Even if the strategy was sound (which isn’t always the case) there are many variables that can affect the outcome. Common problems include bad content, slow page load time, poor quality back links, and confusing site structure.
When you hire me, the first thing I do is a deep-dive analysis of your site. Then, I tell you exactly what you’re doing wrong, and how to fix it.
I’m sold, but my company/manager/accounting department will never approve the budget for this. How do I get buy in?
Get in touch! We may be able to put together a presentation for your board or management team.
I just need some help with a few tweaks. Can you give me a one-off consultation?
Absolutely. I’m happy to audit your website, and provide a list of recommendations to fix any problems I find.
I work in the marketing department and the rest of the team thinks SEO is a waste of time. How do I change their minds?
Again, I’m happy to put together a presentation to show what kind of results can be achieved. Just drop me a line!
Will SEO help me understand what my customers want from me?
As soon as someone clicks on your website, you have amazing insight into who they are, where they came from, and what they’re looking for. Effective marketing is all about data. The more traffic you get, the better your understanding of your average customer. And that’s invaluable!
Can SEO really increase my online sales?
Absolutely! I’ll create a strategy that’s fine-tuned to target the specific people looking to buy your product. With the wealth of analytics data available to marketers these days, it’s possible to understand your customers like never before—and give them everything they’re looking for!
On average, what kind of increase in traffic/sales do your clients see?
Again, this depends on a lot of factors. If you’d like more information on how I’ve helped specific clients, I’m happy to talk you through previous projects. I can also put you in touch with clients who will discuss their successes with you.
Why should I hire Stephan and not the other SEO consultants I’ve seen online?
I’ve been in the internet game since the 1990s. I’ve not only watched SEO consultants come and go, but I’ve learned through experience what works, and what doesn’t. I’ve even published a book on the topic! When I make a recommendation, I don’t sugar coat it. I’ll tell you how much it will cost, how long it will take, and how much hard work you’ll have to put in to achieve it. In the end, it’s all about results—and my results speak for themselves.
How long until I start to see a return on investment?
The truth is, it often takes several months to start seeing results from SEO strategies. This may seem like a long time—especially when compared to other marketing initiatives—but you’re often dealing with complex variables, and a lot of competition. Beware of consultants who tell you they can achieve fast results. They may deliver, but in the long term you—and your ROI—will suffer.
How much does it cost to hire Stephan?
It’s impossible to give you an accurate estimate without knowing the complexity of the project. That said, I can tell you that my services are not cheap! I’m not here to provide quick fixes. If you’re ready to make a serious investment, you’ll see serious results. If you need proof, I’m happy to put you in touch with my previous clients who have seen what I can do first hand.
I already pay for AdWords, why would I invest in SEO?
If you could magically get traffic to your website for free, that would be great. Unfortunately, there are always going to be costs involved in running a website. Whether that means regularly producing content, paying for advertising, or investing in SEO; time, energy, and money are needed to stay competitive. That said, an effective SEO strategy can increase your sales and reduce your ad spend over time.
SEO means I get organic traffic for free, so why do I need to pay Stephan a monthly retainer?
In one sense—that you don’t have to pay for clicks—SEO is free. But maintaining your Google rankings does take work. If you’re not prepared to set aside a budget and resources for SEO, then you might be better off sticking to paid advertising. In the long term, an investment in SEO will be cheaper. And, my aim is to coach my clients so they can optimize their sites themselves.
Why are your services so expensive? Wouldn’t we be better off investing that money in other types of marketing?
SEO is a central part of your marketing mix, like email marketing, PPC, or TV. The important thing is not how much you spend, but that you get the mix right, and achieve a return on your investment. If you’re concerned about the cost of my services, I’m happy to put you in touch with previous clients who can share their experiences.
We only have a small budget. Can you help us rank in Google and increase sales, and we’ll pay you when we start to see results?
If you’re not willing to set aside a serious budget for SEO, perhaps you’re not ready for success with your online business.
Shouldn’t I wait until I’ve sorted out the other problems with my business before I spend money on something like SEO?
There‘s no reason why you can’t do both. In fact, developing an SEO strategy raises some key questions about your core business, who your customers are, and how you go about your marketing. And it can help you solve many problems both offline and online.
I get emails from SEO companies offering to help me rank in Google all the time, and they’re much cheaper than Stephan. Why shouldn’t I go with them?
What does it tell you if an SEO company is cold emailing you to rustle up some business? For one thing, they’re not very good at their job! Otherwise they’d be drowning in leads due to all the referrals they would receive from clients who rank #1 in Google. So, go ahead and hire them. But don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Doesn’t everything happen on social media these days? No one cares about my website. I have a big following on Facebook/Instagram, so why should I invest in SEO?
Social media is vitally important to any marketing strategy. However, the fact is, most transactions still happen outside of social media—usually on a website. If you rely on one social media site for traffic and conversions, you’re putting all your eggs in one basket. A good SEO strategy will help you draw on traffic from a range of sources, minimizing your risk of being left high and dry.
How long is it going to take to get my site ranking in Google for my preferred keyword?
Google is a strange beast, so there are a number of factors to consider when estimating the time it will take to rank. One thing I can say is that results are not often achieved overnight—especially if you want to secure your rankings for the long term. Once I’ve completed an analysis of the opportunities for your site, I’ll provide an honest assessment of how long it will take to achieve your goals.
I just set up my brand new website. How long will it take to rank in Google?
That’s great. Starting from scratch means you have the opportunity to get things right the first time. Without seeing the site, it’s hard to know exactly how long it will take to rank in Google. I’ll work with you to provide a roadmap for your online success.
Once my site is optimized, I don’t need to do anything else, right?
Wrong! When it comes to SEO, this is one of the biggest misconceptions out there. Like any marketing initiative, maintaining your Google rankings means constant tweaking, testing, research, and of course, regular updates with fresh, engaging content. If you’re not prepared to set aside a monthly budget for this work, then your SEO strategy is bound to fail.
How often does Google update its algorithms?
Generally, Google updates its algorithms several times a year. There’s no way to know when or why a Google update will happen, so it’s best to adhere to best practice SEO guidelines at all times.
If a site has no backlinks except internal links, will Google add it to the index?
A site with no links to it from outside websites must not be a useful, link-worthy site. Such sites, not surprisingly, tend not to get indexed by Google. If they do get indexed for some reason, they are unlikely to rank in search results.
Our site is password protected/paywalled. Does this mean the search engines cannot get to the thousands of pages behind the password protection?
That’s correct. If you want those pages in Google’s index, then you’ll need to allow Googlebot access to the pages without requiring log-in or cookies. To do this, you’ll need to use the Schema.org paywalled structured data element to ensure that Google parses your paywalled or subscription content correctly.
Explain what alt tags are and their significance, please.
An image alt tag is the text that appears in a small box when you hover your cursor over an image. Alt tags should convey the key information from the image that the user would not receive if she had image loading turned off or she was visually impaired. Search engines also look at alt tags to a limited degree, so it’s helpful if the alt tag contains relevant keywords. Not all images have or should have alt tags defined. For example, graphical borders should not, as that would make for a very frustrating user experience for a blind person using a screen reader.
What books would you suggest I begin reading to get a better idea of optimizing a site?
I’m glad you asked! Check out my book, The Art of SEO.
What are Featured Snippets?
Featured Snippets are the “answer boxes” that appear at the top of the Google results page. You can attempt to rank for Featured Snippets by providing a concise, useful answer to a common query.
How long should your title tag be?
Google truncates title tags at around 60 characters, so keep them between 50-60 characters.
Are there any rules about the number of characters/words that should be used in the meta description?
Google truncates the meta description at around 160 characters, so optimal length would be 50-160 characters. Include your keyword if you can, but make sure your meta description entices the reader to click on your page.
How many meta keywords should I use?
Don’t bother with meta keywords. They are not a ranking factor and are useless in terms of SEO.
How can I optimize my images for Google Images?
Optimizing for Google Images, the image search engine at http://images.google.com, involves two things. First, make sure the image names have good keywords in them, separated by hyphens. Not too long though. Do keyword research to identify the best keywords to use. Second, make the content around the image and the alt tag for the image have good keywords in them. Before you begin optimizing, an important question to ask yourself is: Am I sure I’ll actually attract high-value customers through Google Images? It could be that you’ll end up getting plenty of traffic, but the conversion rate could be quite poor because they aren’t shopping for your product but instead just for an image of it.
How do you obtain your site’s Google rankings for a list of keywords?
You can view your ranking data in Google Search Console, though it should be noted that there is some debate over how accurate this data is.
How do I submit my XML sitemap to Google?
Submit your XML sitemap to Google via the “Sitemaps” section of Google Search Console. Before you submit your sitemap, make sure it is formatted correctly.
How do you know if your site is search engine friendly?
The quick answer to this is that if all your pages are indexed in Google, you have no penalties, and you receive a substantial amount of organic traffic, you’re probably doing most things right. However, without a detailed audit of your site, it’s not possible to know whether there are any serious issues. Some sites receive large amounts of traffic but still have problems that are holding them back from their true potential.
What is the best way to find out the number of people searching for a specific keyword?
Tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush can give you an accurate indication of the traffic and ranking difficulty of a particular keyword. In my experience, Google Ads Keyword Planner isn’t particularly accurate, so I wouldn’t rely on it when conducting keyword research.
I need backlinks to my website. Should I just buy them?
No! You should never buy backlinks. If Google finds out (and they usually do) you will likely be hit with a penalty.
How many times should I mention my keyword on a web page?
Once upon a time, SEO practitioners were obsessed with finding the perfect “keyword density” (the number of times a keyword was mentioned on a web page) for their content. These days it’s much harder to trick search engines by “keyword stuffing” your pages. Instead, focus on creating great content that your visitors will enjoy. Ultimately, this is a much better strategy for earning rankings.
What are some of the tools to measure the success of SEO?
At a minimum, you’re going to need Google Analytics if you want to see increases or decreases in your traffic. If you want to track more SEO-specific metrics like how many keywords you rank for, number and quality of backlinks, or number of pages indexed, I’d recommend SEMrush, Ahrefs, and LinkResearchTools.
How do we get Googlebot to crawl our site more often?
There’s a simple answer to this question: publish more content. If Google notices that you only publish one post per month, then it’s not going to bother crawling your site every day. If you’re publishing regularly but your posts aren’t being indexed, check your robots.txt and XML sitemap to ensure you’re not blocking Google’s bots. Also make sure your site loads quickly and you don’t have issues with thin or duplicate content chewing up your crawl budget.
Should I use static or dynamic URLs on my site?
Technically Google can crawl and index dynamically generated URLs, though they can result in problems like duplicate content (multiple URLs pointing to the same location) or use up your crawl budget. Dynamic URLs are also harder for humans to read, and thus result in less clicks. Ideally, your URLs should be short and simple and include your target keyword. For example: site.com/best-hamburger-new-york
Does paying for Google Ads affect SEO?
There is a persistent myth that spending money on Google Ads will have benefits for your organic listings. However, this is not the case at all. There is a clear division between Google’s paid and organic departments, and there is no SEO benefit from buying Google Ads.
We are well ranked on Google’s organic search listings, is it worth spending on Google Ads too?
One of the benefits of SEO is that you don’t have to directly pay for traffic. However, even if you are doing well organically, there is no harm in experimenting with Google Ads if you have the budget. You may want to use Google Ads to test out new niches or keywords before you invest in SEO. One thing to avoid would be bidding on keywords you already rank for, since you can wind up paying for traffic that you may have gotten for free.
Do you have any suggestions for increasing the number of links to your site?
If you want people to link to your site, you need to give them a reason to link to you. That means creating amazing content (linkbait), mentioning their name or brand (egobait), or giving them something useful, like an infographic. Once you have something noteworthy, start an outreach campaign to tell people about it.
Why is SEO important?
If you want to get traffic to your website, and customers to buy your products online, then SEO is vitally important. Without it, you either won’t get found, or you’ll get found by the wrong people.
Can’t I just teach myself SEO?
Sure. There are plenty of resources online to learn the basics. I’ve been in the business for several decades; so if you want advice on what really works, get in touch! I also offer SEO coaching services. However, there are some minimum skill requirements, so contact me before you sign up.
I see that you’ve done some work for my competitor. Would it be a conflict of interest to work with me if I want to rank for the same keywords?
While you may be directly competing with a company I’ve worked with to rank in Google, no two businesses are exactly the same. In fact, the keywords you need to target may be completely different.
Stephan is just one person, but I need a full service agency. How will I manage the implementation?
Sometimes, my clients can easily manage the implementation themselves, with a little guidance. Other times, they need help. While I am just one person, I also have a crack team of writers, developers, and designers at my disposal whom you can count on to get the job done.
I’m not a technical person. How can I be sure it’s not all smoke and mirrors?
I’ll explain everything I recommend in layman’s terms, or, I’m happy to work with a developer or marketing person who is technically minded. When it comes down to it, even the most technical aspects of SEO can be explained in simple terms.
What are the most common SEO problems? Can Stephan just tell me what’s wrong with my website so I can fix it myself?
Absolutely! The first thing I do is a technical analysis of your site. Then, I’ll provide you with a list of recommendations, and we can chat about the implementation. If you feel that you and your team can handle the work internally, that’s great. I’ll be there to provide guidance and further recommendations where needed
We’re working with an SEO company who promises we can rank on page 1 for term “X”. Can you make the same guarantee?
The best keywords aren’t always the most obvious. For example, if you’re a donut shop, you might think that you want to rank for the term “chocolate donut.” Good keyword research can reveal what your customers might really be searching for, for example “where can I buy donut holes right now.”Sometimes, trying to rank for the most popular or obvious term can be a waste of time and money. I can help you scour the web for keyword opportunities that your competitors may be missing. I’ve helped many clients uncover an untapped keyword niche that’s ripe for the mining.
Can I talk to Stephan’s previous clients to make sure he did what you claim?
Sure! Just drop me a line.
There’s something wrong with my website, but I don’t know what it is. Can you help me fix it?
Absolutely! The first thing I do when taking on a new client is a deep-dive audit on their website. I then provide you with a list of actionable recommendations to fix any issues.
We have a pretty good marketing strategy already. What would SEO add to that?
If you’re a cookie company and you don’t show up in Google for cookie-related terms, then you are missing out on A LOT of customers. If you think your other marketing efforts make up for that, then that’s great. But for most companies, they don’t. SEO can always add something to the mix.
Why can’t I just leave SEO to my web developer/IT department?
While your developer or IT department might understand the basics of SEO, it’s not all technical. A large part of a successful SEO strategy is creating fresh, engaging content. An SEO professional ideally will have a grasp on both the technical aspects of web development and the more creative aspects of marketing. Needless to say, this skill set is rare!
We’re a non-profit. Do you do pro-bono work for charities?
I try and give back the community in many ways. Get in touch, and we can talk about your needs.
We’re a huge brand with massive brand awareness. Google will give us the number 1 spot automatically, so why should we care about SEO?
Even if you’re a huge brand making a ton of money online, there are always opportunities to make more! Why rest on your laurels when you could be dominating your competitors?
My WordPress plugin/CMS does SEO automatically. Why would I pay someone to do it?
WordPress plugins can be great for automating tasks, and making website maintenance more efficient. However, if you rely on plugins alone, your SEO strategy will ultimately fail. SEO takes an investment of time, money, and resources to maintain your rankings.