Rand Fishkin from SEOmoz today posted 10 questions before you charge for SEO services, I thought these questions were excellent to get you thinking so I gave it a go.
1) What four search engines comprise 90%+ of all general (non site-specific) web search traffic?
Google, Yahoo!, Windows Live Search, Ask.com
2) Explain the concept – “the long tail of search.”
Long tail keywords are basically longer/more specific variations of competitive search terms, so for example Search Engine Marketing services in the UK would be a long-tail version of Search Engine Marketing.
3) Name the three most important elements in the head section of an HTML document that are employed by search engines.
- Title tag: That one’s fairly obvious!
- Description meta tag: If you think of the importance of a Google AdWords description in terms of clickthrough rate and enticing relevant users to click your ad it’s clear why it’s important your natural search rankings also contain a good description.
- Stylesheet Link: To make sure all of your style code is referenced from a stylesheet rather than included within each main page. It’s important to remove any unnecessary code, keeping the content to code ratio high, plus it’s far easier to make sitewide style changes.
4) How do search engines treat content inside an IFrame?
The frame URL will be indexed itself rather than as part of the page.
5) What resource and query can you use to determine which pages link to any page on SEOmoz.org and contain the words “monkey” and “turnip”?
linkdomain:seomoz.org inanchor:monkey inanchor:turnip
6) What action does Google threaten against websites that sell links without the use of “nofollow”?
Penalize the domain, possibly applying a -100/350/1000 penalty to largely reduce rankings. A recent example of this would be how johnchow.com is now unable to rank for his own name.
7) What is the difference between local link popularity and global link popularity?
Local link popularity = Only links relevant to the site
Global link popularity = All inbound links
8) Why is Alexa an inaccurate way to estimate the traffic to a given website?
Because it’s based upon users who have the toolbar installed, giving a strong bias to the techie websites. No matter how much traffic you send your granny’s knitting website it’s still unlikely to get a massive jump in Alexa figures.
10) Describe why a flat site architecture is typically more advantageous for search engine rankings than a deep site architecture.
Because there will be fewer pages linked closely to the homepage, internal and external link juice/PageRank will be stronger for these individual pages. As opposed to a large site where some pages could be hidden away, ending up in the supplemental index and others may have multiple (possibly duplicate) pages targeting the same keywords when a single page would be more effective as all incoming links would focus upon the one page rather than being diluted across several pages.
11) BONUS (Answer this one and I’ll be very impressed): Name twelve unique metrics search engines are suspected to consider when weighting links and how each affects rankings positively or negatively.
1) Quality/authority website – Positive, links from high quality websites are likely to pass more weight
2) Nofollow tag – Negative, link will be ignored if this is used
3) Relevant surrounding text – Positive if the text surrounding your text is relevant to your site.
4) Age of link – Positive, a link’s weight can get stronger over time
5) High amount of links on that page – Negative, ideally a page would be more focused around the link to your site.
6) High quality of links on the page – Positive, if the page only links out to quality external websites that’s far better than them linking to anyone.
7) Link from relevant website – Positive, the more relevant the site linking out is to your own site the better.
8) Very high percentage of text links using same anchor text – Negative, if a common trend is found by the search engine’s where the same anchor text is used for the majority of inbound links to that page it may appear more unnatural than if it was mixed up.
9) Poor position on page – Perhaps not negative but not as positive as if the link was located in a prominent area, bad could be in footer area with good in top content section.
10) Paid link – Negative, if the search engine’s find a link has clearly been paid for (maybe sitewide) it could possibly have a negative effect. Probably more likely to have no effect unless you’ve purchased large quantities of paid links.
12) Reciprocal link – Negative/no effect if it’s obvious you’ve reciprocated a link back as part of an exchange, more likely to be negative if you’ve exchanged large quantities of links, especially with unrelated websites. Can be positive if within the right context, e.g. two individual blogs linking to stories from each other.
Rand’s answers should be posted sometime tomorrow so it will be interesting to see where I went wrong!