1. What is a search engine?

A search engine is a database full of websites which supplies the user with the ability to find information on products or services they require via the use of keywords or search terms.

2. Why should I want my web site on the search engines?

Having a website is like placing an advert for your business on the Internet. If you do not appear in the search engine results, the only way someone will be able to see your advert is if they already know the website address. Consequently you are not reaching a new audience, and could be missing out on potential business. Having a website which is not listed on the search engines is like paying for a poster on the moon; the chances of anyone finding it are very small.

3. Is my website already on the search engines?

Although a small number of search engines actively seek out new websites to be included in their database, the majority require prompting via a submission of your website’s details in order to add it to their list. The chances are that your website will be on a few search engines, but not all. It might be that your site was submitted to some of the search engines when it was originally designed, however the most important factor is where your site appears on the search engines. If your website does not appear on the first page of the search results, the chances of someone finding your advert are greatly reduced. The higher your site ranks, the better.

4. Why do some web sites rank more highly than others on the search engines?

Search engines organise their results so that the websites which are most relevant to the keyword entered sit at the top of the list. These websites must also conform to various rules or criteria which the search engines set. The websites which sit at the top of the search results are there because they have followed the criteria or rules which the search engine use to determine relevancy. Failure to follow these rules will results in lower rankings or in some cases expulsion from the search engine altogether.

5. What is search engine optimisation?

Search engine optimisation is the process of taking an existing website and ensuring it fulfils current search engine criteria. Ultimately the aim of search engine optimisation is to increase the rankings of the website being optimised.

6. Does search engine optimisation involve changing the design/look of my site?

No, your site design will not change as part of the optimisation process. In some cases recommendations will be made to you with respect to any design or structural issues which may be impacting on the website’s ability to rank well.

7. What web site optimisation techniques do you use?

The optimisation process contains several parts, all of which will prepare your website for the search engines. The first part begins at the point of sign up and is conducted by your sales contact who will provide you with Keyword Research and a Keyword Consultation. This ensures the optimisation work being done is based on the best possible keywords for you.

8. How can you offer a guarantee, I have been told this is not possible?

Through years of experience in search engine optimisation we know we can improve your search engine rankings. We are so confident of this that we have created our services around a “no results, no fee” model. If we do not achieve a minimum number of Top 10 rankings you do not pay your quarterly fee, and we continue to work towards improving your rankings in the meantime. You will not pay us a quarterly fee until we do achieve the results. The details of the service criteria can be found on our services page.

9. How do I know if you achieve the results?

As part of the optimisation service you will receive a report each month detailing exactly where your site appears on each search engine. These reports are run using keywords supplied by you at the beginning of the service.

10. What are keywords/keyphrases?

Keywords or keyphrases are the search terms which are most relevant to your business/website. They usually refer to the services or products offered, or the location in which you are based. Most search engines ask you to supply keywords when submitting a website so that they can list it appropriately. We will use your keywords to monitor the progress of your optimisation service.

11. How do I choose the best keywords for my web site?

Choosing the right keywords is vital not only for ensuring high rankings, but also to increase the number of times a visitor decides to use your service or buy your products. It is pointless to increase your hits through search engines if it doesn’t increase the amount of business you get from it. Here are some basic guidelines for compiling a list of keywords:

12. What are meta-tags?

A meta-tag is the section of a website which is only visible to search engine spiders. This section is designed to provide the search engines with more detail about the site; its content, purpose, and the services offered, so that the engines can correctly categorise it in their database. The term ‘meta-tags’ is sometimes used interchangeably with ‘keywords’ or ‘keyphrases’, although this is not strictly accurate.

13. What is a search engine spider?

Referred to as either a search engine spider or robot, it is a program designed to visit your website collecting information along the way and relaying this back to the search engine. In this way the search engines can stay up to date with any changes to your website.

14. Why do I pay an initial fee?

The initial fee pays for the optimisation work carried out on your website, the consultation and any recommendations made to you regarding the design or structure of the site.

15. Which search engines do you submit to?

There are a range of Search Engines available to report upon. The full list is available in the PDF download.

16. I am only interested in Google listings, can you guarantee this?

Whilst we cannot guarantee listings on a specific search engine, we are mindful of which are the most popular search engines, and as such the majority of our optimisation work is geared towards achieving results on those popular engines, such as Google or Yahoo for example. We have a proven track record in gaining high rankings on all of the search engines we submit to, including Google. It should also be noted that whilst Google may currently be the most widely used search engine, this situation may not be the case forever, and it is still worthwhile to incorporate all engines into your marketing strategy. Why limit the potential for visitors by ignoring some of the search engines?

17. What is the difference between SEO and PPC?

PPC or Pay-Per-Click is a method of search engine placement where the advertiser pays each time a user clicks on their ad. The system is based on choosing one or more keywords and then bidding on how much you are willing to pay each time you receive a hit. The advantages of PPC are that you can guarantee your placement for as long as you are willing to pay. The limitations are that your ad will only appear on the particular search engine you have the PPC service with, and only with the keyword(s) you are paying for. Setting PPC up on multiple search engines and with multiple keywords can become expensive. The cost of a keyword is determined by its popularity, and is subject to change which will also impact on whether or not this is a cost-effective option. SEO provides broader coverage because it concentrates on optimising your website for all search engines, and with a wide range of keywords.

18. Is there anything I will need to do?

No. Once you have chosen your keywords at the beginning of the service we will do the rest. You will receive your monthly reports by email and your sales contact will call you at the end of each quarter to discuss how the service is working and to answer any questions you may have.

19. What is the difference between a search engine and a directory?

Both are a database of websites; however a directory is divided into sections and sub-sections organised by subject categories such as “Arts”, “Business”, “Shopping” etc. The websites are then listed alphabetically in each category, meaning those at the top of the list are not there on merit as with a search engine. A search engine does not have sub-sections and its results are listed according to the most relevant site as opposed to alphabetically.

20. How long will it take to achieve results?

Some search engines take longer than others but in general it will be 4-6 weeks before they index a new submission. In some cases it can take as long as 12 weeks before the optimisation work takes effect and your site appears in the top 10 results. We usually expect to achieve the results within your first quarter, but if we don’t manage this you don’t pay your quarterly fee.

21. How do I know if the Internet will benefit my business?

Whilst it is difficult to say whether or not the Internet will benefit your business we can provide you with statistics relating to how many people are searching for your keywords every day, which will give you an idea of the potential business you are missing out on by not being on the Internet, or by not being seen on search engines. We know from experience that even the most unlikely businesses have prospered thanks to their online presence. Unless you are ranked well on the search engines you won’t know what business your website could be generating for you.

22. I have not been receiving my reports?

Reports are sent every month by email to the address you supply at the start of the service. If you have not changed your email address it could be that you have a spam filter in operation which is delivering the reports to a bulk mail or spam folder. If this is the case you will need to alter your spam settings. However you should call us on 01524 423 135 if you are not receiving your reports.

23. Why should I use you instead of another SEO company?

At SearchFirst we do not use out of date or “black hat” optimisation techniques which ultimately harm your rankings and can often result in your website being removed from the search engines altogether. We have a strong team of experienced optimisers who ensure our work is in line with the most up to date search engine criteria. We also employ a development team which allows us to improve and increase the services we offer our customers. There are many exciting projects being currently developed which will ensure we are able to offer a full solution for your online requirements. We are a friendly company willing to spend time with our customers in order to get the right results and build a productive and long lasting relationship.

24. Why is it that rankings sometimes decrease?

From time to time there may be small fluctuations in your rankings, which can often mean your site drops a few places. This is nothing to worry about as you will move back up again shortly. It is part of the process as new websites are submitted and existing sites are updated. Often fluctuations are caused by algorithm changes made by search engines, but as long as we are still optimising your site we ensure that it remains within the current ranking criteria.

25. Why are some of my keywords not listed?

This can be caused by a number of factors. Some keywords, for instance ‘cheap flights’, are more competitive than others, which emphasises the importance of choosing the right keywords from the beginning. Striking a balance between targeted phrases and those which have a good chance of appearing in the top few pages of results is the best approach. Some engines also limit the number of pages listed per site to keep the size of their indices down and will only include pages optimised for some of your keywords. You might achieve good rankings with a particular keyword on one search engine but not on another, and vice versa. The final and most important factor is that you will only be ranked under keywords which are relevant to your site content. There is little point in trying to get ranked under “adventure holidays” if you do not have any pages relating to them.

26. Why does my web site appear higher on some search engines than others?

As each search engine uses a different set of criteria to assess a website it is unlikely that your rankings will be identical from one engine to the next.

27. How do I avoid overwriting what you have done to the website?

To avoid overwriting any work we have done, it is best to take a copy of the index.html page we have worked on. Once copied save it in your usual website folder and re-name if you wish. If you make any amendments to the site you must always use the version of the index.html page you have saved. Alternatively you can download a current copy of the index.html page each time you wish to make edits. This will ensure that our work will stay in place and your listings will not be adversely affected.

28. I already advertise my site on a directory.

See FAQ number 2 for an explanation of why you should consider search engine marketing.

29. Will my site appear on the global search engines?

Once submitted your site will appear on both the global (.com) search engines and the UK specific search engines (.co.uk). By default the global search engines will include your website, once it has been accepted into their database, no matter whether your web address ends in “.com” or “.co.uk”. If your site has a UK suffix (.co.uk) it will also be accepted into the UK version of each engine. If however you have a non-geographical extension (.com/.org/.biz etc) and are based in the UK the search engines will ascertain the geo-location of your IP address and include your site in the UK engines too based on this information.

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