Q and A: Will I lose existing rankings if I take over the SEO?

QuestionHello Kalena

As I work my way through your SEO101 class, I am using my husband’s business website as my guinea pig. However, he and I have been wondering what happens to ranking once the Title Element, Description tags, and Keywords are altered?

For example, my husband’s website ranks #5 on one search engine. But he’s been (over) paying some company to do his SEO. So if I make changes, with his permission, am I going to mess up what few results he has gotten from this other company’s efforts?

By looking at it, I’d say that my work is already better. I’m just worried about the other stuff “behind the scenes” that this other company has been doing that may be accounting for rank.

To provide a complete picture, I should say he has had no social marketing done on his behalf, no blogging, no updates to his website or keywords, no YouTube videos. I can’t tell WHAT they’ve been doing for the last year.

Any input would be greatly appreciated!


Hi Paula

First thing you should do is to take a record of the site’s existing title and meta tags, as well as making note of current rankings for target keywords. If you plan on making changes to the visible text on the site pages (recommended) for SEO purposes, you should also make a record of the existing pages prior to your SEO.

That way, if for some reason your SEO experiments don’t result in better rankings, you can revert back to the current versions. But if you are applying what the lessons are teaching you, I am guessing your SEO activity will pay off. No way to know for sure without jumping in and giving it a shot!

Regarding this other company your husband has hired – they should be providing you with a full report of the exact SEO activities they have been undertaking. If they can’t explain or choose not to fully reveal the methods they have been using, there is likely something dodgy going on. Unless their process is completely transparent, I would be very suspicious of any SEO company claiming *behind the scenes* activity.

Hope this helps!



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Q and A: Do search engines index PDF files? Can I optimize my PDFs?

QuestionI’m interested in knowing whether search engines index deep content such as pdf’s. We have several pdf’s available for download across a few of our sites. Roughly speaking, what level of weight/importance is given to deep content vs on-site surface content? And is it worthwhile re-visiting all of our pdf’s and optimising the text content they contain?


Hi Brendan

Yes, most search engines index PDFs. In fact, after HTML files, PDFs are the most popular file format on the web.

In terms of deep content – most search engines only dig down a certain number of folders when indexing a site for the first time. They generally come back to dig deeper, but may not index all the files on your site. For this reason, you should place all your most important content in the top 2 or 3 levels (e.g. not buried too many sub-folders deep).

Provided you have included all your pages and files in your XML sitemap and submitted that to Google and other engines, your most important content should get indexed regularly.

Regarding optimising PDFs, yes, I would recommend you do this. Here’s a terrific article from SEOmoz that should give you some tips for doing this.



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#EQNZ Stole My Blogging Mojo

You may have noticed a distinct lack of blog posts here lately. The truth is, I’ve been finding it very difficult to write. I’ll come in here, login to WordPress and then stare at a blank blog post template for hours. Can you believe, I actually drafted this post over a month ago?

It all started back in February after the second earthquake in Christchurch. We moved away from New Zealand to Darwin, Australia to get away from our munted house and the ongoing trauma of aftershocks. But instead of finding things easier, I found things more difficult. I couldn’t concentrate for long periods. I would find my mind wandering at the slightest distraction.  Until as recently as last week, I found myself checking the Geonet site every few hours, just to see the number of aftershocks Christchurch was experiencing and watching as many YouTube vids of the earthquake coverage as I could.

Basically, I think #EQNZ stole my blogging mojo.

Where I was once pumped about blogging and full of energy every day, I now arrived at my desk feeling burnt out and lethargic. Last year I was writing 3 or more blog posts a day for different sites, whereas lately I can hardly pump out 1 post a month. Before I was excited by changes to the search industry and keen to talk about them, whereas now I’m more annoyed by changes because they mean more work for me.

I’m not sure if I’ve been suffering from some sort of post-traumatic stress or if I am actually just burnt out, but it’s been a really tough few months.

Earlier this year I was offered an opportunity to write for the best-known and respected web site in in my field – my own column in fact – focusing on social media, which I love. But I just couldn’t get my act together. I found the idea too challenging. Too daunting. Too exhausting. And I was scared. Scared that my writing wasn’t good enough and terrified that I’d lost my blogging mojo.

Well enough is enough. Screw the earthquakes and the drama. I’m physically out of the disaster zone and it’s time I mentally removed myself as well. It’s time to lose the attitude and take my seat in the big leather blogging chair again. Time to find my mojo and make the effort to blog EVERY day from here on in. I figure with your encouragement and lots of caffeine, I can do this.

I’m back baby!