SEO Questions Answered, Honestly

SEO Questions Answered, Honestly

The world of SEO and Digital Marketing has a bad name, not just because years ago people bought tons of links and spammed forums and email inboxes but because there were (and are) dumbass marketers who are dishonest. I won't call them liars but they just aren't honest, so here are some common questions I get that I feel deserve an honest answer.

1) Is WordPress SEO friendly out of the box?

No. It's simple, No.

There isn't a single CMS that out of the box that is SEO friendly. Some claim to be but not really. There are a few 'hosted' content systems that are pretty good - such as as SquareSpace (which is what I use for this site) but even those depend on which template you use often and can always be improved. So, again the answer remains No.

And as an appendix to this - adding a plugin doesn't mean it's SEO friendly either and it doesn't mean that you won't need the help of an SEO Consultant or some SEO Training. What it does mean is that if you've selected a really good SEO Plugin that you're one step closer to achieving something great, but thats all - now the hard work continues.

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2) Does Hosting Really Matter for SEO?

There are a few aspects of hosting that can really affect your SEO: Security, Location and Speed.

All of them truly make a difference. If your hosting is insecure you are likely to find malware on your site / server, you're also likely to find other sites on your hosting that you wouldn't like and if your server IP gets a ban you too get hit. Your server location is something that you may want to consider particularly if you are wanting to focus on a specific country, if you're global it's not a huge issue - but if you operate in a single country try to host in that country (it doesn't matter for CDN's). The speed on your server is paramount, if your server is slow, your site will be too and then you will find yourself sinking down the rankings - the slower your site the further below your competitors you will find yourself and the worse your user experience.

Looking for a web hosting? If you're in the UK and looking for a top-notch host, you can't do much better than looking at my hosting provider CloudAbove who are ultra-reliable and have simply the best support.

3) Does Google-bot Do What It Wants?

Yes. 

Google-bot is Google's spider and it's very clever. It knows what it's doing and based on what it finds and how your server is reacting it will or won't do something. It generally respects what you tell it but it uses your robots.txt file (for instance) as a indicative direction and not as a "you must follow at all costs" - so for example we know that google ignores the crawl-delay directive because John Mueller from Google admitted so (see below). And from experience of my own sites and what many other SEO's have told me, Google-bot and Bing-bot do what they want, but generally they behave, they respect your server and website.

4) Does Google Hold A Grudge After A Penalty?

In short, No.

If Google applies a "manual penalty", which you will either know about because you are really naughty or you've found in webmaster tools. You clean up your mess, usually with the help of an expert and submit a reconsideration form. Assuming you've cleaned up the penalty is lifted and your site gets reindexed and re-ranked 'as new' - assuming nothing else has changed you will get the appropriate ranking, depending on the nature of the manual penalty you may have lost your rankings to some extent though so don't expect to be where you were. However, do note that Google won't hold a grudge and recall this punishment in the future.

If you are however punished by an algorithm update you have to just live with that, there isn't a reconsideration form for this. Like all websites you just have to fix your mess and mistakes and improve your website.

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