40+ TOP Search Engine Marketing Interview Questions and Answers
1. What is search engine marketing?
Search engine marketing is an umbrella term referring to all activities utilized to generate visibility in search engine results in order to increase revenue. Common strategies and tactics include search engine optimization (SEO), search engine and directory submission, link development, pay-per-click (PPC) management, shopping feeds, affiliate marketing and online public relations (promotion via blogs, ezines, threaded forums, newsgroups, discussion lists and chat).
2. Why should I care about search engine marketing?
Research indicates that a high percentage of the developed world is online, so the odds your potential customers, partners, employees and shareholders are also online is very high. Not only is search engine marketing one of the fastest growing and popular new marketing channels available, it’s also the most cost-effective (as compared with both online and offline channels like email, direct mail and broadcast). Search engine marketing both an excellent avenue for brand-building and cost-effective at generating leads and online sales. If your company doesn’t currently have a search engine marketing strategy, you’re behind the curve.
Do a search for your own company, competitors and industry terms and see for yourself.
3. How do I determine if search engine marketing is right for my company?
Unless your company is headquartered in a cave and your customers are other cavemen, it’s very likely that your company will benefit from some aspect of search engine marketing, whether it be search engine optimization (SEO) or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Regardless of whether you are interested in generating awareness, new recruits, strategic partners, investors, leads or sales, search engine marketing offers an opportunity to improve your bottom line. A quick assessment by professionals (like Anvil) will help clarify the need and fit.
4. How do I get started with search engine marketing activities?
The easiest way to get started with search engine marketing efforts is to contact Anvil. If you prefer the do-it-yourself approach, or would like more information before moving forward, we recommend downloading our free search engine optimization (SEO) white paper and read our SEM blog, which contains a variety of links to search engine marketing industry news and resources.
5. How do we measure the success of search engine marketing efforts?
Search engine marketing efforts are highly measurable. If your objective is to generate awareness, you can track “impressions” and “clicks” on organic and paid search engine listings. If your objective is to measure brand preference or performance of text ad creative, you can measure “click through” and “conversion” rates. If your objective is to generate qualified leads, you can track online registrations (for newsletters, events or white papers), downloads (trials or demos) or email inquiries. If your objective is sales, you can track ecommerce sales or offline sales via printable coupons or phone call tracking.
6. How do we determine if we should manage search engine marketing activities in-house or outsource to an SEM vendor?
Generally speaking, most companies prefer to outsource their search engine marketing efforts to SEM professionals to ensure their programs are properly managed and remain cutting-edge. Larger companies tend to have an in-house resource like a Webmaster or Internet Marketing Manager who is responsible for implementing search engine marketing programs, but often times, this person outsources the day-to-day SEM activities to a trusted vendor to free up their time educate and manage internal resources, develop long-term strategies and to create optimized content. Factors influencing the decision process include objectives, timeline, available marketing budget and internal resources.
7. What criteria should we use to evaluate an SEM vendor?
There are a few key criteria utilized to evaluate search engine marketing vendors. The following are just a few of the most important: length of time in business, collective industry experience, number of employees, number of clients, size of clients, client and employee turnover, depth and breadth of service offering, pricing, proprietary services, industry credibility, client testimonials, success stories, strategic partners, philosophy and process. Look at their client’s visibility versus their own, as “search engine marketing” is a highly competitive term, and those that perform well probably have a little too much time and not enough client work to keep them busy. Be sure to ask for references if they don’t have testimonials and success stories.
8. What is the search engine optimization?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is designing, writing, and coding (in HTML) your entire web site so that there is a good chance that your web pages will appear at the top of search engine queries for your selected keywords and key phrases.
9. What does a search engine optimization campaign involve?
There are 3 essential components of a search engine campaign:
1.Text component. A web site must contain the words that your target audience is typing into search queries.
2.Link component. Placing keywords on a web page is useless if the search engines do not have a means to index that text. Therefore, your site design must be “spider friendly.”
3. Popularity component. All of the major search engines measure popularity. Therefore, before beginning a search engine campaign, we often have a corresponding directory submission and link development campaign as well to assist with popularity.
10. Who should read Search Engine Visibility?
Search Engine Visibility is a must have book for people to read before they begin designing or redesigning a web site.
Search engine marketers and web site designers can learn how to design and promote web sites in a non-spam manner, i.e. in a way that the search engines and directories approve.
Advertising agencies, who often outsource search engine marketing, need to have a basic understanding of how search engine marketing works, and what they should and should not promise their clients. All too often, ad agencies confuse search engine optimization with search engine advertising. This book will help them with any confusion they may have.
It will also help firms that hire advertising agencies who provide SEO services. Being well educated about the entire search engine marketing process will help you make a better Marketers and marketing agencies, in particular, will benefit most from Search Engine Visibility since the responsibility of online marketing falls squarely on their shoulders. The submission section will be particularly valuable to them.
11. What information does Search Engine Visibility offer that is not currently available?
No other book explains how to create a search-engine friendly web sites. Shari is famous for understanding how to incorporate search engine optimization in a site from the very beginning.
Search Engine Visibility ties web site design, site usability, and search engine marketing with long term business goals. The book focuses on quality, qualified web site traffic, not a large volume of hits that do not benefit a firm’s bottom line.
Also, Search Engine Visibility is the best practices book on search engine marketing.
12. I would like to schedule you as a speaker. What topics do you currently speak about?
Glad you asked. I like speaking engagements, especially since I used to teach at two major universities. Some of the topics I cover are:
? Understanding search engine marketing
? Search-engine friendly web site design
? Successful site architecture
? Optimizing Flash and non-HTML content
? Search engine visibility and usability
? Web copywriting for search engine visibility
Some of these topics are available as 1-hour seminars, tutorials, and training.
13. Where can I purchase Search Engine Visibility?
Search Engine Visibility can be purchased directly from my publisher, New Riders. You can also go to other well-known book stores such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders.
14. How important is web site traffic vs web design?
No amount of web design will overcome the lack of traffic for a website, or lack of content on pages. With web analytics, we can determine how many visitors you’ve had and what they looked at, and for how long. What you find is, the real challenge is getting relevant visitor traffic to begin with. And then even within the web site, the next challenge is to appear credible
15. Is not SEO just about meta-tags and submissions?
It used to be. Back in the earlier days of search, AltaVista used meta-tags to index a site with keywords in the meta-tags section of a page. Then you would submit it and have a reasonable chance of being listed. However, it was soon evident that this could be abused (with meta-tag stuffing, spamming etc) and also not very useful as users would get to a legitimate site and not find the pages they were looking for. Google and other search engines followed with algorithmic criteria that made the search experience much more relevant.
16. What is the difference between email marketing and search engine marketing?
Email marketing is used much differently than search marketing. Email can be used for demand creation, and as a friendly notification of the products and services you provide. Search marketing is more efficient for acquiring visitors, and is based on the premise that the visitor is looking for what you offer.
17. What is the difference between Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and Pay-For-Inclusion (PFI)?
PPC is much like advertising, and are those links that come up when you enter a keyword in a search field. Also known as sponsored links or recommended links, the advertiser pays a fee to the search engine every time it is clicked on. PFI is more like paying for a web site to immediately be considered for indexing. Using PPC and PFI can significantly increase the number of visitor you get. You can help you with both.
18. What is a natural search?
Also known as an organic search, these are the search results that most people think of when they use a search engine. Unlike a sponsored link or a paid for placement, natural search results get presented as a direct result of the search engine’s indexing and search algorithms. Usually you do not pay for a natural search listing.
19. What is the Return on Investment (ROI) justification?
When using professional consultants, the justification is abundantly clear – without properly executed online marketing, your web site will only be a marketing expense rather than a marketing weapon. With professional online marketing services, we have seen return on investment payback in as little as 3-6 months.
20. Why is search engine optimization and marketing so important?
For return on investment, search engine optimization and marketing is unsurpassed – it will deliver much larger numbers of new, qualified and targeted traffic to your website over the long term than any other marketing strategy. You can expect traffic to grow anywhere from 50% to 1000% after an implementation. One thing is for sure – without it done right, expect little traffic except from spiders attempting to index your pages!
21. How soon will some one see results?
It depends on your current status with the search engines and email lists. If your site is fundamentally search friendly, you could see results within a matter of weeks. And if your email marketing lists are current and in place, we can set you up in a few days. You can speed this up with a number of strategies.
22. What does Index mean for a single page of your site?
(1) Google has found a link to your page from another page and has predicted the contents of your page based on the text in the link and the context in which the link appeared. You may see your pages in the SERPs with no text description or title.
(2) Google’s spider Googlebot has visited the page. You can track this by looking for the presence of Googlebot in your web logs. Just because the Googlebot has visited your page, don’t expect to see your page in the SERPs.
(3) Google has indexed the contents of your page and has pulled data about the page into its database. Google is aware of the page and may show the page in search results when you search for all pages from your site using the “site:www.yoursite.com” search querry. In this case, you should expect to see your new title in the SERPs and a snippet pulled from the actual text or meta description tag of your page.
(4) Google is showing the page in the SERPs for general searches – i.e. Google has fully evaluated the page and it’s relationship to all other pages on the Web.
(5) Google has assigned a PageRank value to your page.
23. What does index mean for your full site?
It can take several months for Google to fully index your new site. In the process, Google will find pages that are new and will discover pages that were part of the old version of your site that are no longer there. As Google maps out your site, you will see the PageRank of individual pages changing over time. It depends on the extent to which your footprint has changed. If the change is dramatic, you can expect to see dramatic changes in your rankings until the new footprint is fully appreciated. Install the Google Toolbar and look at the PageRank of your individual pages. Your new pages are likely to have no or zero PageRank. Over time, as Google comes to more fully understand your site, PageRank will start to appear on all pages.
24. What exactly is search engine optimization?
Search engine optimization is the practice of guiding the development or redevelopment of a website so that it will naturally attract visitors by winning top ranking on the major search engines for selected search terms and phrases.
25. What is search engine spam, or SEO spam?
In the search engine world, spam is defined as the manipulation of a web page to give it an artificial boost in the search engine rankings. Generally, spam is what the search engines say it is. I.e., it is defined by the search engines themselves. Each of the major search engines provide specific guidelines describing what webmasters should and should not do to their web pages in order to achieve a better search engine ranking, though that has not always been the case.
26. What is hidden text?
Hidden text is textual content which your visitors cannot see, but which is still readable by the search engines. The idea is to load a Web page with keywords and keyword phrases that would be unsightly to visitors but that would improve the page’s rankings in the search engine results, and to do so without letting your visitors see the text. Hidden text is identified as search spam by each of the major search engines.
27. Can I hide text in HTML to get a top ranking?
The simple and direct answer to the second part of the question is that you should not use hidden text. You may be able to trick the search engines for a brief period of time by hiding keyword stuffed sentences on your page, but you will risk having your site permanently banned from the search engines. As we state on our SEO Services page, search engine optimization is not a process of manipulating or tricking the search engines.
28. What are meta tags?
Meta tags are HTML codes that are inserted into the header on a web page, after the title tag. They take a variety of forms and serve a variety of purposes, but in the context of search engine optimization when people refer to meta tags, they are usually referring to the meta description tag and the meta keywords tag.
29. What are meta keywords? What is the meta keywords tag?
Though meta keywords tags are not a major factor search engines consider when ranking sites, they should not be left off the page. Both the meta keywords tag and the meta description tag contribute to your search engine ranking. A meta keywords tag is supposed to be a brief and concise list of the most important themes of your page. The meta keywords tag takes the following form:
<meta name=”keywords” content=”keywords,keyword,keyword phrase,etc.”>
30. Does the length of time that a site or domain name has existed play in search engine placement?
If you spend enough time looking at search engine results, eventually it will occur to you that sites seem to be ranked in part based upon the length of time they have existed. It can appear that older sites tend to rank higher than newer sites, and one can be tempted to conclude that age is a factor in the search engine algorithms.
31. Do search engines index ALT text descriptions for JPEG and other image files?
Yes, most search engines, including Google, look at your ALT tags when indexing your Web page. For many sites, particularly image-heavy sites, ALT text is one of the few elements available for the search engines to index. If your page has no text at all on it, it can still get a high search engine placement by using ALT text.
32. What are doorway pages, and should I use doorway pages?
Doorway pages are Web pages designed and built specifically to draw search engine visitors to your website. They are standalone pages designed only to act as doorways to your site. Doorway pages are a very bad idea for several reasons, though many SEO firms use them routinely.
As a rule of thumb, if you can’t reach the page by following the site navigation, then it is a doorway page. You are not supposed to “visit” the page. Instead, you are just supposed to find it in the search results and then click through to get to the site in question. In essence, a doorway page is no more than a one-page click-through advertisement for a website. However, when you are searching, you don’t want to visit one-page click-through advertisements for a website. You want to visit websites. Think of doorway pages as giant banner ads, only worse. You’re searching for “widgets” and instead of getting a widget site, you get a page that says, “click here for widgets.” You just did that! Now they’re asking you to do it again. Are you going to click?
33. What are meta descriptions? What is the meta description tag?
Though meta description tags are not a major factor search engines consider when ranking sites, they should not be left off the page. Both the meta keywords tag and the meta description tag contribute to your search engine ranking, and the meta description tag influences the likelihood that a person will actually click on the search engine results page and visit your site.
The meta description tag is intended to be a brief and concise summary of your page’s content. Think of the Yahoo! directory. You see your site title followed by a brief description of your site or business. The meta description tag is designed to provide a brief description of your site which can be used by search engines or directories. The meta description tag takes the following form:
<meta name=”description” content=”Brief description of the contents of your page.”>
34. What are meta re-redirect tags or meta refresh tags?
The meta redirect (meta refresh) tag is a meta http-equiv tag which, when inserted into the header of an HTML document, will cause the visitor’s browser to load a new web page after a specified number of seconds have passed after the initial document has loaded, basically redirecting the visitor to the new page. The webmaster specifies the new page to be loaded and the number of seconds that must pass before the new page is loaded. The meta redirect or refresh tag takes the following form:
<meta http-equiv=”Refresh” content=”4;url=http://www.yourdomain.com/yourlink.html”>
35. How important are meta tags now?
Though meta keywords tag and meta description tags are not the main factor search engines consider when ranking sites, they should not be left off the page. A meta description tag is supposed to be a brief and concise summary of your page’s content. A meta keyword tag is supposed to be a summary list of the most important words on your page. They were both proposed in order to make using the web easier. Unfortunately, webmasters over the years have abused meta tags so much that search engine creators have had to de-emphasize their importance in their algorithms.
36. What exactly is a spider?
A spider is a piece of software that follows links throughout the Internet, grabbing content from sites and adding it to search engine databases.
Spiders follow links from one page to another and from one site to another. That is the primary reason why links to your site are so critical. Getting links to your website from other websites will give the search engine spiders more opportunities to find and re-index your site. The more times they find links to your site, the more times they will stop by and visit. This has been true since spiders began. Recently there has been an incredible amount of attention paid to links. That’s because Google came clean and said in public that the number and quality of links to your site will directly impact its rankings in the search results.
37. Does the spider program run through all links on a Web page?
No spider ever has indexed every link on the Internet. The Internet is growing so fast that it is difficult for any to keep up. There is a strong chance that every page on YOUR website will be indexed, and that every link on each of your Web pages will be followed.
Generally, when a new site is launched, a search engine spider will index the home page only. On subsequent visits, the spider will go deeper and deeper into your site, over a period of time that is determined by the number and quality of links from other websites that point to your website. Getting your site listed in the major directories will accelerate the time it takes to have your site fully spidered. Remember, links from directories are links to your website. Google specifically recommends submitting your site to Yahoo and to The Open Directory if you’re having trouble getting indexed by the Google spider.
38. Is there any way to prevent a spider from grabbing URLs that you want to keep off search engines?
Absolutely – there are many ways, and you should use them all. For a quick overview, search for robots or spiders on Google, visit The Web Robots Page, or visit B.4 Notes on helping search engines index your website from the World Wide Web Consortium. The most fool-proof method to block spidders is to password protect any files that you don’t want indexed by the search engines. See Can a search engine index pages that are password protected?
In general, you should create a robots.txt file for the root folder on your site, use the robots meta tag on pages you don’t want indexed, and password protect any files you’re serious about protecting.
Here is a robots meta tag:
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, nofollow”>
39. How do I get my site listed in the Google Directory?
To get your site listed in the Google Directory, you need to get your site listed in the Open Directory. The Google Directory is created from the data included in the Open Directory.
40. How do I submit my site to The Open Directory (ODP or DMOZ)?
How to submit step-by-step:
1) Go to http://dmoz.org.
2) Use (a) the search engine or (b) the directory links to find the perfect category for your site.
3) Look in the upper right-hand corner of the directory page for a text link that says, “add URL” and click on it.
4) Carefully read the page. If you’ve used all of your wits, and you are truly at the most appropriate category for your site, then fill out the form. Just put your URL in the text field labeled “Site URL” which already includes “http://.” Then put the title of your site in the text field labeled “Title of Site.” Put a description of your website in the field marked “Site Description.” Put your e-mail address in the field marked “Your E-mail Address,” and hit the button at the bottom of the page marked “Submit.”
That’s the whole process. Following are tips for ensuring that you get each step right, which is harder for some people than many would guess.
41. Explain link popularity and how it helps exactly.
In a general sense, link popularity is determined by the number and quality of websites that have linked to your website (often referred to as “backlinks”). The effects of link popularity are threefold: (1) links to your site give Web users ways to find your site while visiting other sites; (2) links to your site give search engine spiders (robots) trails to follow to find and index or re-index your site; (3) links to your site are essentially votes for your site in search engine ranking algorithms, but not all votes are counted equally.
When two sites are equally well optimized for search engine performance on any given keyword phrase, the search engine will generally rank the one with more link popularity above the other.
42. Which is the most used search engine?
Google is by far the most used search engine today. In addition to providing Web search at its home page, Google.com, Google also provides web search results to several of the most popular Internet destinations, including Yahoo! [Note: As of 02/18/2004, Yahoo! no longer uses Google as its default search engine.] and AOL. Google does far more than 200 million (>200,000,000) searches every day through Google.com. That number was reported by Google all the way back in 2001, and they have consistently refused to update it, but you can be assured that Google does substantially more than 200,000,000 searches every day through Google.com.
43. How many web sites are there in the World Wide Web?
There were 2,970,000,000 web pages indexed by Netcraft as of February 2007, and 70,392,567 websites were indexed by Yahoo! as of August 2005. These are the most recent figures:the longer or later on in the year it goes there will be more websites so you could check it one day and then the next day check and 1000 more sites could be up
Google announced on 7/25/2008 that it had indexed over 1 trillion unique URL’s.
Every day, more sites get created. That means this answer will change fairly rapidly over short periods of time.
44. Once you begin using SEO, how long until you see improvement in your search engine placement?
The amount of time you will have to wait will depend on which techniques are employed in your efforts to optimize your website. Assuming you’ve rebuilt your site and loaded it onto your server, replacing the old files, you need to be prepared to wait anywhere from a few days (if you use a pay-for-inclusion service) to a few months.
If your site has already been on the Web for some time, and is already listed in all of the major directories, then you will probably begin to see improvements in your search engine rankings within 4-6 weeks.
45. If I do business in Europe, do I need to get listed on local search engines and directories?
The majority of people worldwide rely on a small number of US-based search companies. Yahoo and the Open Directory each have international branches of their directories, and Google has versions of its search engine for many different countries.
If you can get listed on a smaller regional or local website directory, it will help your search engine placement on all of the major search engines by increasing your “popularity” (the number and quality of links to your site). Some local directories provide direct links to websites listed, while others use scripts to track clicks on the sites listed. If the directory is using a script, your listing in that directory will have little impact on your ranking in search engines that factor in popularity. Still, that link may drive a few visitors.