Advanced SEO FAQs

Can we answer your advanced SEO questions? It depends.

This is an ongoing pun in the SEO universe. Ask a question, and without fail, you’ll be hit with “it depends” as an answer. In many ways, it’s true. Everything in SEO depends on Google, and sometimes, their choices are arbitrary. Search engines aren’t perfect, and sometimes things don’t add up. That’s why it really does depend. So, while we can’t always give you concrete answers, we can offer actual estimations based on real evidence.

John Mueller is a senior analyst at Google and host of their #AskGoogle video series.

TO PREFACE:

This isn’t an introduction to SEO or a guide to search engine vocabulary. These answers are for people who are somewhat familiar with SEO or are already receiving our help. We recommend brushing up on some basics if it’s been a while.

What Is SEO?
What is an SEO audit?

CONTENT

Blogging can be extremely valuable to your advanced SEO strategy if it’s done right.

It’s a way to keep your content relevant while creating new keyword opportunities. But don’t just look at it as an easy way to add a slew of keywords to your site. Think of it as a resource for your customers. For SEO, it’s better to have a few blogs with helpful content than a bunch of useless content.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with duplicate content, but it must be treated with extra precaution.

According to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, search engines prefer unique content. Otherwise, they can penalize the page (or the entire site) for duplicate text. Essentially, large portions of identical content signal to Google that the page is low quality or spam. Certain content sections can be used throughout the site without issue, but the primary body copy should be different.

If you need widely identical pages on your site, like multiple URLs for the same product in different sizes, we can take specific steps to make sure Google understands we’re not deceptive.

ROI

It can take anywhere between four days to four weeks or more. 

Before officially launching your site, we submit your sitemap to Google Search Console for a priority crawl. This sends a signal to bots that it’s time to sift through the pages, try to understand the content, and organize it according to Google’s algorithm.

Once your website goes live, Google typically takes between four days and four weeks to crawl. We know that’s a big range, but this crawling process helps Google add content to their infinite library of webpages. They have tons of data and information to evaluate, and they’re crawling sites all over the world. Their bots are busy, and we just need to wait our turn.

Indexation takes anywhere between four weeks and six months.

Indexation is what makes your pages available in search results. We generally estimate three to four weeks for indexation, but it truly depends on the size of your site. In most cases, Google will index your website soon after crawling it. However, massive sites with thousands of pages can take six months to index.

It’s important to note that search engines can’t index your site without crawling it first. And just because they crawl your site doesn’t mean each page will be indexed. Sometimes, we manually tell them not to crawl or index certain pages, like shopping carts and customer login portals.

Other times, Google will only index half the pages and will reschedule the second half for a later date. And unfortunately, in some cases, they decide a page doesn’t need to be indexed at all. It’s entirely up to their discretion, and no one can force Google to index anything.

Most people can expect more website traffic in three to six months, but patience is always appreciated.

Advanced SEO is a long-term investment. It’s not a one-time task, so we really can’t put an exact timeline on it. It takes time and patience because it’s an ongoing process.

Some websites will improve in the first three months. In most cases, you will receive results within six months. However, we want to stress that the exact amount of time will vary from one website to another. Traffic increases over time, so it’s typically just a waiting game.

RANKING

There are several possibilities, and you could have more than one at play.

Your website is technically sound and free of errors, but your site isn’t ranking as high as you’d like. Factors that can cause low rankings:

  • Your business is new
  • You recently changed your website’s domain
  • Your industry is incredibly competitive
  • The site is still being indexed
  • We need to adjust your keywords
  • Your site is recovering from a past Google penalty

Search engines prioritize trustworthy websites with high-quality content. Typically, rankings will improve within six months. But sometimes, it takes a little longer than expected to prove your worth to Google. Patience is key here. We recommend sticking it out for nine to twelve months to see your true ranking potential.

There are a few possible conclusions we can draw.

Your website is optimized, but competitors still outrank you. You likely fall into one of these categories:

  • Your competitors are spending more time and money on developing their SEO.
  • The competition started optimizing years ago, so they’re ahead of the game.
  • You’re searching for a keyword that isn’t on your site.
  • Your website competes with directories, like Zillow or Expedia.
  • They’re not actually your competitor because you target different clientele.
  • You’re competing with other locations from your own brand, like fast-food chains.

Most people can expect more website traffic in three to six months, but patience is always appreciated.

Advanced SEO is a long-term investment. It’s not a one-time task, so we really can’t put an exact timeline on it. It takes time and patience because it’s an ongoing process.

Some websites will improve in the first three months. In most cases, you will receive results within six months. However, we want to stress that the exact amount of time will vary from one website to another. Traffic increases over time, so it’s typically just a waiting game.

MEASUREMENT

We measure progress with a monthly SEO report.

Raw SEO data is confusing and intimidating. That’s why 20Twenty sends an SEO report to recap the month. We program data from Google Analytics and Search Console to populate into easy-to-read charts and graphs. These reports include a breakdown of website traffic, keywords, and other important insights with month-to-month comparisons.

Internally, we perform audits every week. Our audits include core web vitals, accessibility, general best practices, and optimization. If there’s an opportunity to improve something, it’s on our radar very quickly. We work on corrections and optimizations with each audit, and we treat SEO as an ongoing project.

Google tracks locations using IP addresses. Unfortunately, IP geolocation is never 100 percent accurate.

Geolocation data comes from more than a dozen providers, and each one relies on different accuracy levels. IP addresses for mobile devices are even less accurate.

Some IP addresses automatically default to Chicago because it’s the largest metropolitan area, especially in suburban areas. An IP address may also default to a nearby town. In some cases, it may default to another state. However, your suburban customers may commute to the city and use your website while at work.

DATA

They’re supposed to.

Numbers will always fluctuate in SEO. It’s natural, and it happens to everyone, regardless of industry. Ebbs and flows are entirely normal. Huge spikes and crashes are not. If we see unusual patterns in your reports, we’ll need to investigate.

There was an update to Google’s algorithm or an error on your site.

A change in Google’s algorithm could negatively impact your results. Unfortunately, Google tends to release updates that cause errors and sloped traffic. The impact is usually temporary and resolves itself within a couple of weeks after the algorithmic update.

If things don’t get back on track in a reasonable timeframe, we may need to troubleshoot. From our experience, it’s likely an external factor that’s causing internal problems:

  • A new security problem
  • Errors caused by the site’s theme
  • Losing external links to your site

One word—seasonality.

Your top-performing keywords will likely vary from month to month. That’s completely normal. Sometimes, we’re able to piece together scenarios with the keywords used. Some searches are related to a specific time of year, holiday, or event.

For example, a restaurant is far more likely to see traffic with “outdoor dining” in September than October due to the weather. Think of the seasonal factors that affect your business, and you’ll likely see patterns within your top-performing keywords.

People want concrete answers, but advanced SEO is a science. There are many factors at play, and the standards are constantly changing. It’s all about experimentation, learning, and adapting.

We wish we could give you a more definitive answer to these questions, but it really depends on your unique situation. We know “it depends” isn’t very satisfying, even if it’s true.

There are unlimited possibilities, and unfortunately, Google Analytics tracking doesn’t tell us this sort of information. At least not yet. As Google’s algorithm advances, the SEO industry will advance too. SEO professionals will likely have better answers, but we’ll see—it depends.