5 SEO questions you were afraid to ask

Some SEO questions are awkward. You want to know the answer to them, but you feel pretty stupid for just having the thought about it in your mind. If you ask your next door SEO neighbor, you’re afraid he or she will laugh. You’re embarrassed. You’re afraid to ask that specific question. But still, there is this undying desire to know the answer. You tried Google, asked your Amazon Echo, but there is a deafening silence reminding you that this is indeed a strange question. Let me answer 5 SEO questions you were probably just too afraid to ask.

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Can SEO agency X really get me to rank #1?

Yes, SEO agency X can get you to rank #1, to be honest. They can. They will use shady techniques, like adding a gazillion keyword focused pages to your website, and add your website to a blog network for links. Your traffic will rise, your rankings will go up, and if you are lucky, you will obtain that number one spot in Google for a particular keyword.

What they don’t tell you, is that they tricked Google into ranking your website number one. After some time, you will see your traffic drop, slowly or all of a sudden. This is the time Google needed to figure out what was going on with your website. This is the time when Google finds that you(r SEO company) was luring it into liking your website so much. And this is also the time that you lose all your traffic and find your site in the gutter of the internet, after page 2 in Google. Money wasted.

What should I have done?

These kinds of SEO questions all have the same answer. You should have invested in quality content. Write about the things your customers and visitors want to read about. Entertain and inform them via great articles. Build a base of regular visitors, either by writing great content or focusing on that niche product range people like so much. If your website is impressive enough, other sites will start liking you. Your rankings will go up. And by Google’s grace, you’ll reach that top spot in Google the right way. Of course, you can get guidance from any SEO agency that is realistic in this! It’s not a trick; it’s Seriously Effortful Optimization.

Do I have to write a unique product description for all my 10,000 product pages?

I had my share of these type of SEO questions: does every page needs to be unique? I have thousands of pages/products! Actually, yes. If you want to rank with every single page of your website, you need to create unique pages, to prevent duplicate content. You need to optimize every single page in that case. It’ll probably leave you wondering if you have chosen the right approach to optimize your website. You probably did not.

What should I have done?

If your website has this many pages, site structure and taxonomies become very important. I usually use a DIY store as an example. You probably have 100 product pages with screws. How to optimize every single product page!? A screw is a screw, right!? In that case, it will pay off much more to optimize your category page. Make sure that page has sufficient and great content, so that you have a shot at ranking for that more generic keyword.

By optimizing the taxonomy page, and placing that in the right position in your site structure, you help every single product page that fits into that very category. If you optimize your filter options and search options along the way, you are saving you a lot of hassle!

Can I use more than one H1 on a page?

Yes, you can use more than one H1 on a page. If you take the HTML5 guidelines as a rule, every block element could or perhaps should have a semantic structure in headings, starting at H1 and working towards H6 if needed. That means multiple H1’s can indeed be added to a page.

SEO questions: why one H1? One captain on a ship, really.

The question that remains is whether that would be the best SEO practice. If we add an H1 to every single block on a page, which heading would be the most important heading of that page? Does it make sense to make every blog title on your site’s blog archive page an H1? Would a search engine be able to digest it like that? It probably can. But every H1 loses a bit of value with the addition of the next one, in my opinion.

What should I have done?

Establish what (focus) keyword you want to focus on that page, and create one compelling H1 as the main title of that page. If that is an archive page, use the main keyword and create a title around that. Use H2 for all the different article titles that are listed on that page.

One H1 per page isn’t a strict rule, but for SEO it makes all the sense in the world. If you want to read up on headings, please visit this page: Headings and why you should use them.

Do I still need meta keywords?

C’mon, people. No, there are no stupid SEO questions. Really, there are none. But this one is asked so many times, that by now the question should be in an SEO museum. Please understand that there might be variations, like meta news_keywords, but the meta keywords tag isn’t used by Google anymore for rankings – and hasn’t been for a long time.

What should I have done?

Focus on a great title, add a very nice, inviting meta description and write awesome content. And forget about (putting effort into) these meta keywords.

After installing your SEO plugin, can I lean back and wait for traffic to come in?

Ok, let’s finish off with a question related to our SEO plugin. There are still a lot of people that install Yoast SEO and then forget about SEO altogether. In a land of fairytales, there might be such a tool or app that magically get you to the very top of the wizard’s search engine, where long tail strategies refer to Rapunzel’s hair.

In the real world, there are no magic tricks that help you rank better. You should do everything you can to create an attractive website for both users and search engines. Our SEO plugin provides a convenient, easy way to optimize your website. But it needs you to do the optimizing.

What should I have done?

Install our plugin and follow the steps in our beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO. We help you configure the plugin, and will show you where the plugin helps you optimize your pages, your content. Monitor your website in Google Analytics and Google Search Console so that you will know a) if your efforts pay off, and b) if anything out-of-the-ordinary happens to your website. If so, rinse and repeat. Go back to the page at hand, use our analysis en see what you can do to improve a specific page.

Any more SEO questions?

Of course, there are more SEO questions that you’d like to ask. We have a packed SEO knowledge base for you to browse, with loads of information about SEO and our plugins. We have an SEO blog that is updated multiple times a week with fresh and updated content. If you want a deep-dive in SEO, feel free to browse our (paid) SEO courses. There is always something to learn!

Read more: Why every website needs Yoast SEO »

Category: SEO basics

Michiel is one of the partners at Yoast and our COO. He's happily married to Esther and proud father of his two daughters Puck and Linde. He was one of the first bloggers in the Netherlands and co-founded one of the first Dutch blogs about web design and blogging. At Yoast, he works as a senior SEO consultant for both customers and colleagues. And obviously is a daily, heavy user of all of our plugins! Read more about Michiel and find all of his posts »


13 Responses to 5 SEO questions you were afraid to ask

  1. propertyconciergeph
    propertyconciergeph  • 10 months ago

    Many thanks – just working through the blogs – there is a lot of learning for someone on their 1st website………… thankful that being put in easy to read manner by you guys/gals at Yoast

  2. Jenny
    Jenny  • 10 months ago

    Well,
    You clear the confusion about H1 tags as many of my friends ask to add only 1 H1 in the whole blog post.

  3. deep
    deep  • 10 months ago

    How to fix “Duplicate meta descriptions” and “Duplicate title tags” for good SEO result?

    I run two site focusing international audiences and Indian audiences (site hosted under sub-folder). Now whatever content i post on international site, I also post same content on indian site (Copy-Paste). I do use . now how do deal with to get rid of this and get better seo.

  4. Anil Agarwal
    Anil Agarwal  • 10 months ago

    There’s always a lot of debate going on when it comes to using H1 tag.

    I personally think (and use) h1 tag only once in a blog post. I don’t want to use it multiple times as it clutters the page.

    Instead, using h2 and h3 tags multiple times when you’re using sub heads can be much better.

    So what do you think?

    Using h1 tags multiple times hurt search rankings?

  5. Abdul
    Abdul  • 10 months ago

    Ah!, thanks for the amazing answers Michiel!

  6. zulfikar wijaya
    zulfikar wijaya  • 10 months ago

    Thanks! I learn SEO so much from you guys! But sometimes it makes me confusing, which step i do first… @,@

  7. Alan
    Alan  • 10 months ago

    Regarding the 10,000 products pages. I have been doing this because it would be impossible for me to optimize the almost 30,000 pages on my site. I love that YOAST helps me optimize my custom taxonomies but I feel that I should be able to make some of them “cornerstone content”. I would also like the images that are uploaded to the taxonomies to have an “attached status” because I sometimes do a housecleaning and remove unattached images.

  8. Antonella Magliocco Vaugh
    Antonella Magliocco Vaugh  • 10 months ago

    Thanks Michiel, Great article. I have been using the free Yoast plugin since we launched our site, and the pro version for the past year. I am still struggling with with my main keyword and recently noticed that our ranking for this keyword fell from top of page two to the third/fourth page. After some testing, rewriting the title and description and going against the grain and adding meta keywords, the site has regained some traction back to mid page two. Would you have any insights on this? I think most of the boxes… but for 3/4 years struggled to get near page one.

  9. Mariana Degraft
    Mariana Degraft  • 10 months ago

    Hello
    Is very interested to know the background of Michael be one of the first blogger more excited. Blogging it’s a good practice for the knowledge of the technology.
    Regards
    Mariana deGraft

  10. Matthew
    Matthew  • 10 months ago

    Great article. Thank you! I’m looking forward to dragging my kids to the SEO Museum you just invented.

  11. Debojit Chowdhury
    Debojit Chowdhury  • 10 months ago

    Hello Michiel,

    Thank you for the informative article, especially the reminder about product descriptions and their uniqueness. Google still ranks a lot of duplicate content, if you look at product reviews, hopefully they will update that too at some point. A detailed article on back links would be awesome from you guys.

    Thanks again.

  12. Pereira
    Pereira  • 10 months ago

    Thank you so much for the clarification! An agency contacted me promising to rank my conversion articles in a maximum of 1 month and I was tempted to accept their proposal. Reading this article I could better understand what can happen.
    I am very grateful for the information!

    • Michiel Heijmans

      No problem! Glad to share some insights!


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