About Kalena Jordan

In my day job, I'm Director of Studies and tutor at the online training institution Search Engine College. In my spare time, I'm a search engine agony aunt and SEO to global clients. I've been marketing websites online since 1996 and blogging about search since 2002. To learn more, visit

Common Questions Asked at SEO Job Interviews

hiring-staff2Based on conversations I’ve had recently, many of my students and blog readers are either seeking a new job in the SEO field or looking to switch existing SEO gigs this year.

Inevitably, the subject of potential interview questions will arise. How exactly should you prepare for a SEO interview? What type of questions can you expect to be asked? Will they be highly technical? Scenario-based? Or will they be all about your past experience? In a nutshell, how will you know the type of SEO knowledge benchmark a new employer is expecting you to meet?

Well, wonder no more, because online training provider EDU Pristine has collated a series of the 13 most common SEO interview questions (and answers!) to help you brush up before you walk into that nerve-wracking interview panel.

The questions are pretty solid, apart from Q9 — most SEO pundits agree that the Google Sandbox has failed to be a thing since the advent of Everflux indexing — and Q10 which is ambiguous, depending on your personal interpretation of the term Search Engine Marketing.

So study up and go get that new SEO gig.

2015 Digital Marketing Workshops Announced

IITP-logoAs most of you know, I run a series of face-to-face training workshops in conjunction with the Institute of IT Professionals (IITP) across various locations in New Zealand.

The current topics include:

  • Introduction to Search Engine Optimization (full day)
  • Social Media Marketing for Business (full day)
  • Using Google Analytics to Increase Website Traffic and Conversions (half day)

The IITP have recently published their 2015 Workshop Schedule, so if you are based in New Zealand and want to book a place at one of these events, now’s your chance. I’ve got 14 workshops scheduled so far, but more are in the pipeline, so it’s going to be a busy year!

I’m aware that a number of you missed out on a workshop last year due to logistical reasons. Keep in mind that if your location or preferred date isn’t listed, you can contact the IITP directly via the “Available other times On Demand or In House” link listed under each workshop and request an event to suit you.

If you would prefer a tailored training session and/or have a large group of staff wanting to take the same course, the IITP can also arrange in-house workshops to suit your particular requirements.  These training sessions allow staff to focus on specific internal web site issues without revealing intellectual property or commercially-sensitive information to other attendees.

We are also testing demand for running a Gaining More Conversions from Google AdWords style workshop. If this is something of interest to you, please let me know in the comments so we can add it to this year’s line-up.

I’m looking forward to seeing some of you at one or more of these workshops in 2015.

How to Earn a Full Time Income as a Part Time SEO Consultant

course-image-smlThe last couple of months have been super busy for me. I’ve been working on my first online course for the Udemy platform and it’s finally published.

My first Udemy course is called How to Earn a Full Time Income as a Part Time SEO Consultant and it teaches you how to create your own portable business by taking advantage of the huge global demand for search engine optimization skills. In the lessons, I show you how to harness automation and passive income to reduce your working day to 5 hours or under, without sacrificing a full-time income.

The course builds on the principles explained in the Bonus Lesson of our SEO 201 course at Search Engine College and comes with a full range of downloadable tools, templates and resources to ensure you can hit the ground running.

If you have ever wanted to earn a full time income, working part time, then this course is for you.

See you in class!

Mobile Friendliness Now a Google Ranking Signal

phone-cross-eyedThey’ve been warning us for a while, but Google have finally announced that mobile-friendliness will be added as a ranking signal next month:

“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results”

The fact they use the word *significant* is, well, significant. You don’t often see them give algorithm tweak announcements this kind of adjective emphasis. Normally, they’ll use vague phrases like “potential impact” or “quality improvements” or “Matt Cutts suggests”. So you can be sure that the forthcoming changes are going to be the source of panic attacks in webmasters the world over and late night Skypes for SEOs everywhere (yeah, thanks a lot Google).

Meanwhile, responsive WordPress theme designers will be rubbing their beards with glee at the prospect and adding more Threadless t-shirts to their wishlist.

So let’s assume for a moment that you have spent the last two years watching LOL cat videos on Facebook instead of making your website mobile friendly. Let’s also assume that your site has a scarlet letter displayed across it in the SERPs instead of the wanky desirable mobile-friendly banner issued by Google.

What can you do now to ward off the Google ranking oblivion heading your way? In the words of Douglas Adams: DON’T PANIC.

Here’s a check list to start with:

  • Log out of Facebook. I mean it.
  • View your site on various mobile devices and try not to cry.
  • Don’t have multiple devices? That’s ok, QuirkTools have just the tool for you.
  • Check your site against Google’s mobile friendly test tool.
  • Pull yourself out of the foetal position and take a deep breath. You can fix this!
  • If your site is built on a popular CMS, Google will likely have a technical guide on their Developers site that can help guide you and/or your designer make your site more mobile friendly. For example, check out Google’s Technical Guide for WordPress users.
  • Browse the theme library of your CMS for a recent responsive design / mobile friendly theme that doesn’t make your wallet flinch or make you want to gouge your eyes out. This is a lot trickier than it sounds.
  • Log out of Facebook dammit!
  • Back up your current site and related database/s.
  • Make sure you choose a theme that uses largish font that can be viewed easily on the smallest of iPhones. You know, for those of us who can’t afford a iPhone 6.
  • Check all your favorite plugins to make sure they are mobile-friendly. You’d be surprised how many of them look great in IE 10 but entirely screw up how your site appears in Safari. Uninstall or replace those with plugins that don’t impact your site’s appearance.
  • Set your mobile viewport. Yeah, I’ve got no idea what this means either.
  • Make sure that your text links are separated by at least one line of text between each. Being too close together make them difficult to click on with a mobile device.
  • Underline your links and highlight them using a different color to your main text. But please don’t use hipster grey. That’s just the color of sadness.
  • If you’ve verified your site in Google Webmaster Tools (of course you have!), you can check your site’s Page Speed using the Page Speed Insights tool. Or you can use Google’s stand-alone version.
  • Make any page speed tweaks suggested by Google.
  • In my experience, your site should now look mostly normal across various devices, apart from a glitch that shoves your header 5cm to the right on Google Chrome for Android no matter what the heck you try. Thankfully no-one uses that browser.
  • Check your site against Google’s mobile friendly test tool again.
  • Repeat, Rinse, Repeat until you can live with the outcome of the test.
  • Log back into Facebook. Cute cat videos await!

 

Q and A: Is it ok to target very specific keywords for SEO purposes?

QuestionHello Kalena

Just doing keyword research on a site [URL removed] and I have two questions:

1.  There is no option to add any text on the homepage.  The site is built on bigcommerce platform, which I can imagine quite a few sites are on this type of platform now.  To optimise it, do I just use the product pages that do allow text?

2.  The keywords I chose are all searched less than 10 times per month, but I cannot see how I can use any other keyword.  The product is obviously not a very highly searched for product, but is so specific, that I cannot use general keywords like “baby changing table”.   What do you suggest here?

thanks
Steph

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Hi Steph

You don’t make it clear whether this is a client site of yours or your own site.

1) I’m not familiar with the ecommerce platform you mention, but if this was my client, I’d be encouraging them to ditch it and start again with a more SEO-friendly ecommerce platform, or even a WordPress site with an ecommerce plugin.

Any CMS (Content Management System) that doesn’t allow you to add or edit text to pages, especially the home page, is going to restrict the ROI of a business.

If your client is unwilling to embrace recommendations to start over, you can only work with what you’ve got. So use our free SEO lessons and the advice in this blog to optimise what you can (product pages, meta tags, title tags, alt img tags, filenames etc.)

2) When it comes to keyword research, having a niche market is actually a positive thing. You’re generally not competing with a huge number of other sites, so when you target more specific keyword phrases, you have less competition from other websites trying to optimise for the same keywords. Don’t be afraid of targeting very specific keywords and phrases, provided they accurately describe the product. Sure, you may get less traffic by optimising for specific keywords, but the traffic you DO get will be highly qualified and more likely to convert.

Also think about whether you can optimise for location-based qualifying keywords. For example, does the company export their products outside New Zealand? If not, then it might make sense to target phrases like “baby change tables New Zealand”. Is their product of higher quality than other products? Then use *high quality* in your target phrases and web site text.

Ask your colleagues, family and friends how they would search for the products and add these phrases to your keyword seed list for targeting purposes. Run a short term AdWords campaign and look closely at the number of impressions each keyword you bid on receives. This will give you a more accurate estimate of how many times the keyword is searched in your target market and help you narrow down your selection.

Hope this helps!

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