Frequently Asked Questions about Search Engine Optimisation

Thanks to the users of #SEO @ EFnet for providing the questions.

  1. Is and treated as the same page by search engines?
    • No, search engines view them as two separate sites.
    • Consider this: .com is a domain, is a domain, is a domain, is a domain, etc. Therefore they are treated as separate entities.
    • It is recommended to focus on one domain, see: What’s a preferred domain?
  2. Does CSS effect SEO?
    • No, it doesn’t CSS is purely visual for users, search engines have no interest in your site’s style.
    • However, using CSS generally forces you to use correct markup, which makes the site better for indexing.
    • Remember though, search engines are build to be backwards compatible, from when we used tables for layouts.
    • Common sense tells us that search engines have no interest in style.
    • Although, this does NOT mean you won’t get reported if you use CSS to try and trick the crawler.
  3. When is the next Google PageRank update?
    • The true answer is “We don’t know”.
    • attempts to guess when the next update is.
  4. Do unique visitors in your web stats include things like hits from people on google image search?
    • Of course they do. You should check with the webstat software vendor to be certain.
    • Common sense tells us that if it’s in the logs, it’s in the stats.
  5. How do search engines work out what country my site is in?
    • Where the IP address of your domain hosting is located.
    • The ccTLD (ie: .uk).
    • Backlinks from sites with the above.
  6. When should I use rel=”nofollow” on anchor links?
    • You only really need it when users make unmoderated posts or comments on your site.
    • For more information read the Google Blog Preventing comment spam Post from 2005.
  7. Should I use dashes (-) or underscores (_) in my URLs?
    • The short answer is dashes (-).
    • In most search engines if you type in two words separated by an underscore (_), it treats the whole thing as you see it. (ie: mobile_phone is read as mobile_phone)
    • In most search engines if you type in two words separated by a dash (-), it detects it as one whole word or even two separate words. (ie: mobile-phone could be mobilephone or mobile phone)
    • Common sense tells us that if google sees a dash (-) as a space we should use that.
  8. Do aged domains rank higher on search engines than newer domains?
    • Short answer is no.
    • Search engines do not care how old your domain is.
    • They do however care about the backlinks.
    • Common sense begs us to ask why should they?
    • However, they do care about aged websites.
    • Even Matt Cutts agrees.
  9. How can I find keywords relating to “keyword”?
    • Google Adsense Keyword Tool
    • Overture Keyword Suggestion
  10. Where can I find a list of web directories?
    • Note: Don’t spend too much time on these, try other ways of generating traffic
  11. I have two domains, one is a .com the other is a, which should I use?
    • If you are focusing on a UK market, use the “” domain.
    • If you are focusing on the global market use the “.com” domain.
    • If you are focusing on both, try making geo targetted urls. (eg:
    • This is just classic common sense.
  12. Is PageRank important?
    • Short answer is no.
    • Do not focus on trying to increase your PageRank
    • Focus on marketing and SEO and PageRank should follow
    • Common sense says: it’s just a number, it doesn’t make money.
  13. Is cloaking a good idea?
    • Common sense tells me it’s a bad idea.
    • We KNOW that tricking search engines is a bad idea.
    • Cloaking is EASY to detect and EASY to report.
    • BMW tried cloaking, and it did not work.
    • If you need to do geo-targeting, read how Google defines IP delivery.
  14. How important are the description and keyword meta tags?
    • Search engines do not rely on meta tags
    • Meta descriptions are sometimes displayed in the serps if it is deemed more appropriate than the actual content.
    • The keywords you choose to place in your meta tag should appear in the body text. You shouldn’t need any more than 10, no repeating.
    • Matt Cutts says that the title tag and description meta are important, however Google doesn’t put much weight in its rankings on keywords.
  15. Are static URLs better than dynamic URLs?
    • Static URLs look nicer, and are friendly for your end users.
    • Google suggests that many search engine crawlers do not like dynamic URLs as much as static URLs.
    • In a recent article from Google dynamic URLs vs. static URLs, the conclusion is that it simply doesn’t matter.
  16. Should my URLs have a trailing slash?
    • The short answer is mostly yes, unless it’s a file.
    • Including a trailing slash when creating anchors (links) can reduce load, as it means the web server won’t have to redirect you there.
  17. What is that list of links found on the first result on Google?
    • It’s called “Sitelinks”, at first Google added them automatically.
    • Webmasters can now provide feedback on Sitelinks
    • Lean how Google compiles the list of links shown below some search results
  18. How do I check how many backlinks my site has?
    • SeoBook Backlink Tool
    • Yahoo Site Explorer

Where to get further help: Try #SEO on EFnet (IRC), you can also try the SEO Help Forums.

Note: Answers are provided using via the general consensus and common sense theory, I do not believe in third party articles due to the speculation and Chinese whispers factors, any sources provided are first hand.

1 Comment »

  1. hellknows said,

    July 19, 2008 @ 3:25 pm

    great post :)

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