Posted by TheMozTeam

We teamed up with our friends at Duda, a website design scaling platform
service, who asked their agency customers to divulge their most
pressing SEO questions, quandaries, and concerns. Our in-house SEO
experts, always down for a challenge, hunkered down to collaborate
on providing them with answers. From to voice search to
local targeting, we’re tackling real-world questions about organic
search. Read on for digestible insights and further resources!

How do you optimize for international markets?

International sites can be multi-regional, multilingual, or
both. The website setup will differ depending on that

  • Multi-regional sites are those that target audiences from
    multiple countries. For example: a site that targets users in the
    U.S. and the U.K.
  • Multilingual sites are those that target speakers of multiple
    languages. For example, a site that targets both English and

To geo-target sections of your site to different countries, you
can use a country-specific domain (ccTLD) such as “.de” for
Germany or subdomains/subdirectories on generic TLDs such as

For different language versions of your content, Google
recommends using different URLs rather than using cookies to change
the language of the content on the page. If you do this, make use
of the hreflang tag to tell Google about alternate language
versions of the page.

For more information on internationalization, visit Google’s
multi-regional and multilingual sites
” or Moz’s guide to
international SEO

How do we communicate to clients that SEO projects need ongoing
maintenance work?

If your client is having difficulty understanding SEO as a
continuous effort, rather than a one-and-done task, it can be
helpful to highlight the changing nature of the web.

Say you created enough quality content and earned enough links
to that content to earn yourself a spot at the top of page one.
Because organic placement is earned and not paid for, you don’t
have to keep paying to maintain that placement on page one.
However, what happens when a competitor comes along with better
content that has more links than your content? Because Google wants
to surface the highest quality content, your page’s rankings will
likely suffer in favor of this better page.

Maybe it’s not a competitor that depreciates your site’s
rankings. Maybe new technology comes along and now your page is
outdated or even broken in some areas.

Or how about pages that are ranking highly in search results,
only to get crowded out by a featured snippet, a Knowledge Panel,
Google Ads, or whatever the latest SERP feature is?

Set-it-and-forget-it is not an option. Your competitors are
always on your heels, technology is always changing, and Google is
constantly changing the search experience.

SEO specialists are here to ensure you stay at the forefront of
all these changes because the cost of inaction is often the loss of
previously earned organic visibility.

How do I see what subpages Google delivers on a search? (Such as
when the main page shows an assortment of subpages below the
result, via an indent.)

Sometimes, as part of a URL’s result snippet, Google will list
additional subpages from that domain beneath the main
title-url-description. These are called organic sitelinks. Site
owners have no control over when and which URLs Google chooses to
show here aside from deleting or NoIndexing the page from the

If you’re tracking keywords in a Moz Pro Campaign, you have
the ability to see which SERP features (including sitelinks) your
pages appear in.

The Moz Keyword Explorer research tool also allows you to view
SERP features by keyword:

What are the best techniques for analyzing competitors?

One of the best ways to begin a competitor analysis is by
identifying the URLs on your competitor’s site that you’re
directly competing with. The idea of analyzing an entire website
against your own can be overwhelming, so start with the areas of
direct competition.

For example, if you’re targeting the keyword “best apple pie
recipes,” identify the top ranking URL(s) for that particular
query and evaluate them against your apple pie recipe page.

You should consider comparing qualities such as:

Moz also created the metrics Domain Authority (DA) and Page
Authority (PA) to help website owners better understand their
ranking ability compared to their competitors. For example, if your
URL has a PA of 35 and your competitor’s URL has a PA of 40,
it’s likely that their URL will rank more favorably in search

Competitor analysis is a great benchmarking tool and can give
you great ideas for your own strategies, but remember, if your only
strategy is emulation, the best you’ll ever be is the second-best
version of your competitors!

As an SEO agency, can you put a backlink to your website on
clients’ pages without getting a Google penalty? (Think the
Google Penguin update.)

Many website design and digital marketing agencies add a link to
their website in the footer of all their clients’ websites
(usually via their logo or brand name). Google says in their
that “creating links that weren’t editorially
placed or vouched for by the site’s owner on a page, otherwise
known as unnatural links, can be considered a violation of our
guidelines” and they use the example of “widely distributed
links in the footers or templates of various sites.” This does
not mean that all such footer links are a violation of Google’s
guidelines. What it does mean is that these links have to be
vouched for by the site’s owner. For example, an agency cannot
require this type of link on their clients’ websites as part of
their terms of service or contract. You must allow your client the
choice of using nofollow or removing the link.

The fourth update of the Google Penguin algorithm was rolled
into Google’s core algorithm in September of 2016. This new
“gentler” algorithm, described in the Google Algorithm Change
, devalues unnatural links, rather than penalizing
sites, but link schemes that violate Google’s quality guidelines
should still be avoided.

We’re working on a new website. How do we communicate the value
of SEO to our customers?

When someone searches a word or phrase related to a business,
good SEO ensures that the business’s website shows up prominently
in the organic (non-ad) search results, that their result is
informative and enticing enough to prompt searchers to click, and
that the visitor has a positive experience with the website. In
other words, good SEO helps a website get found, get chosen, and
convert new business.

That’s done through activities that fall into three main

  • Content: Website content should be written to
    address your audience’s needs at all stages of their purchase
    journey: from top-of-funnel, informational content to
    bottom-of-funnel, I-want-to-buy content. Search engine optimized
    content is really just content that is written around the topics
    your audience wants and in the formats they want it, with the
    purpose of converting or assisting conversions.
  • Links: Earning links to your web content from
    high-quality, relevant websites not only helps Google find your
    content, it signals that your site is trustworthy.
  • Accessibility: Ensuring that your website and
    its content can be found and understood by both search engines and
    people. A strong technical foundation also increases the likelihood
    that visitors to the website have a positive experience on any

Why is SEO valuable? Simply put, it’s one more place to get in
front of people who need the products or services you offer. With
Google searches in the US every month, and more than
41% / 62% (mobile / desktop) of clicks going to organic, it’s an
investment you can’t afford to ignore.

How do you optimize for voice search? Where do you find phrases
used via tools like Google Analytics?

doesn’t yet separate out
voice query data from text query
data, but many queries don’t change drastically with the medium
(speaking vs. typing the question), so the current keyword data we
have can still be a valuable way to target voice searchers. It’s
important here to draw the distinction between voice search (“Hey
Google, where is the Space Needle?”) and voice commands (ex:
“Hey Google, tell me about my day”) — the latter are not
queries, but rather spoken tasks that certain voice assistant
devices will respond to. These voice commands differ from what
we’d type, but they are not the same as a search query.

Voice assistant devices typically pull their answers to
informational queries from their Knowledge Graph or from the top of
organic search results, which is often a featured snippet. That’s
why one of the best ways to go after voice queries is to capture
featured snippets

If you’re a local business, it’s also important to have your
GMB data completely and accurately filled out, as this can
influence the results Google surfaces for voice assistance like,
“Hey Google, find me a pizza place near me that’s open

Should my clients use a service such as Yext? Do they work? Is it
worth it?

Automated listings management can be hugely helpful, but there
are some genuine pain points with Yext, in particular. These
include pricing (very expensive) and the fact that Yext charges
customers to push their data to many directories that see little,
if any, human use. Most importantly, local business owners need to
understand that Yext is basically putting a paid layer of good data
over the top of bad data — sweeping dirt under the carpet, you
might say. Once you stop paying Yext, they pull up the carpet and
there’s all your dirt again. By contrast, services like Moz Local
(automated citation management) and Whitespark (manual citation
management) correct your bad data at the source, rather than just
putting a temporary paid Band-Aid over it. So, investigate all
options and choose wisely.

How do I best target specific towns and cities my clients want to
be found in outside of their physical location?

If you market a service area business (like a plumber), create a
great website landing page with consumer-centric, helpful, unique
content for each of your major service cities. Also very
interesting for service area businesses is the fact that Google
just changed
its handling of setting the service radius
in your Google My
Business dashboard so that it reflects your true service area
instead of your physical address. If you market a brick-and-mortar
business that customers come to from other areas, it’s typically
not useful to create content saying, “People drive to us from
X!” Rather, build relationships with neighboring communities in
the real world, reflect them on your social outreach, and, if
they’re really of interest, reflect them on your website. Both
service area businesses and bricks-and-mortar models may need to
invest in PPC to increase visibility in all desired locations.

How often should I change page titles and meta descriptions to help
local SEO?

While it’s good to experiment, don’t change your major tags
just for the sake of busy work. Rather, if some societal trend
changes the way people talk about something you offer, consider
editing your titles and descriptions. For example, an auto
dealership could realize that its consumers have started searching
for “EVs” more than electric vehicles because society has
become comfortable enough with these products to refer to them in
shorthand. If keyword research and trend analysis indicate a shift
like this, then it may be time to re-optimize elements of your
website. Changing any part of your optimization is only going to
help you rank better if it reflects how customers are

Read more about title tags and metas:

Should you service clients within the same niche, since there can
only be one #1?

If your keywords have no local intent, then taking on two
clients competing for the same terms nationally could certainly be
unethical. But this is a great question, because it presents the
opportunity to absorb the fact that for any keyword for which
Google perceives a local intent, there is no longer only one #1.
For these search terms, both local and many organic results are
personalized to the location of the searcher.

Your Mexican restaurant client in downtown isn’t really
competing with your Mexican restaurant client uptown when a user
searches for “best tacos.”
Searchers’ results will change
depending on where they are in
the city when they search. So unless you’ve got two identical
businesses within the same couple of blocks in a city, you can
serve them both, working hard to find the USP of each client to
help them shine bright in their particular setting for searchers in
close proximity.

Is it better to have a one-page format or break it into 3–5 pages
for a local service company that does not have lengthy content?

This question is looking for an easy way out of publishing when
you’ve become a publisher. Every business with a website is a
publisher, and there’s no good excuse for not having adequate
content to create a landing page for each of your services, and a
landing page for each of the cities you serve. I believe this
question (and it’s a common one!) arises from businesses not
being sure what to write about to differentiate their services in
one location from their services in another. The services are the
same, but what’s different is the location!

Publish text and video reviews from customers there, showcase
your best projects there, offer tips specific to the geography and
regulations there, interview service people, interview experts,
sponsor teams and events in those service locations, etc. These
things require an investment of time, but you’re in the
publishing business now, so invest the time and get publishing! All
a one-page website shows is a lack of commitment to customer
service. For more on this, read Overcoming
Your Fear of Local Landing Pages

How much content do you need for SEO?

Intent, intent, intent! Google’s ranking signals are going to
vary depending on the intent behind the query, and thank goodness
for that! This is why you don’t need a 3,000-word article for
your product page to rank, for example.

The answer to “how much content does my page need?” is
“enough content for it to be complete and comprehensive,” which
is a subjective factor that is going to differ from query to

Whether you write 300 words or 3,000 words isn’t the issue.
It’s whether you completely and thoroughly addressed the page

Check out these Whiteboard Fridays around content for SEO:

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