1) It was my understanding that Google rankings would be affected if a business's site was not "mobile friendly" by the end of April 2015. It is now June, and while I spent a considerable amount of money making my site mobile friendly, I'm noticing that nothing has changed. All of my competitors without mobile friendly sites are still in the exact same positions on Google, as am I. What happened? Why has there been no change?
There was a lot of hype around Google's mobile friendly update before it happened, on April 21st, with it being widely expected to significantly shake up the search results in the same way that their Panda and Penguin updates did previously. It was expected that any sites that weren't mobile friendly would slip off the 1st page and be replaced by sites that were mobile friendly. However, whilst the update happened, and was confirmed by Google, the effects of it turned out to be negligible. A lot of search results for many keywords didn't change at all and sites that aren't mobile friendly still commonly outrank sites that are mobile friendly. See http://searchengineland.com/googles-mobile-friendly-algorithm-a-week-later-was-it-really-mobilegeddon-219893 for some research into how small the effect was. There are 2 potential reasons for this. 1 is that there are over 200 different ranking factors in Google's algorithm, and whether a site is mobile friendly or not is just 1 of them, and has not been treated as being significantly more or less important than many of the other factors. That means that whilst you might get a slight boost for having a mobile friendly site, that boost isn't significant enough to offset being behind a site on other ranking factors, like keyword usage and backlinks. The other potential reason is, and it's kind of related to the first, is that Google had planned to make whether or not a site was mobile friendly a significant ranking factor, but backed off or dialled down the effect at the last minute, because not enough otherwise good quality sites are mobile friendly, and to demote all of them in their rankings at the same time would have been detrimental to the overall quality of the search results. Either way, it's definitely annoying for site owners that invested in making their site mobile friendly on the basis that there would be negative consequences if they didn't. Don't see that investment as wasted yet though because the significance of a site being mobile friendly or not might continue to be dialled up in importance by Google over the coming months. Also, now your site is mobile friendly, it provides a better experience for visitors to your site, which should improve your user engagement stats (time on site, pages viewed, etc.).It's something that you needed to do at some point anyway and in the long run is a worthwhile investment.
2) How long is too long to carry on with an SEO company, when you have only mediocre results? After a total of 7 months, I have spent £2000 on fees and I've only had 3 or 4 enquires and only 1 sale (worth £120). I still think SEO is the right approach but would like to know what is a reasonable timeframe to look for results.
You should be able to start seeing improvements in rankings and traffic in the 1st month. How long it takes it to make it on to the 1st page depends on what position your site started from and the strength of the competition. It could take 1 month, it could take 1 year, it could take longer. I'd say stick with a company until you stop seeing progress in terms of rankings and traffic, though if there's 1 month where no progress is made or your site slips back a bit, you could maybe give them a pass once, as SEO can be unpredictable at times. Keep in mind that you can't necessarily blame them for you not getting many enquiries and sales though. If the right keywords were chosen at the outset, and they're getting visitors to your site for those keywords, but those visitors aren't then converting for you, it's more likely to be down to what you're presenting to those visitors. Maybe they don't like your website. Maybe they don't like your product / service. Maybe they don't think your product / service offers value for money. An SEO company is responsible for getting interested, targeted customers to your site. Once they're on your site, it's then largely your responsible to get them to buy from you.
3) I've been told to create citations for my site. I'm not sure what that means and whether that means I have to list my physical address. The problem is I don't have a business address and I don't want to provide my home address. What can I do?
A citation is an online reference to your business's name, address and phone number (NAP). Like links to your website, Google uses them when evaluating the online authority of your business. Unlike links though, citations don't need to be linked to your business's website in order for you to be credited for them. Google primarily uses citations in the ranking algorithm for their local business A-G listings / map, not for their normal 1-10 search results. If you want your site to rank well in the local business A-G listings / map, then you'll need to build citations. If you don't have a business address, your home address is the only option, as PO boxes / virtual addresses aren't permitted to be used. You can hide your address from showing up in the local business A-G listings / map, however, it's not possible to do that on 3rd party citation sites, like Yell and Yelp. You can still rank well in the normal 1-10 search results without any citations at all though, so if you can accept only ranking there, which will often be below local business A-G listings / map, then you can do so without needing to publish your address anywhere.
4) I have just bought a new Wordpress theme for my site, uploaded it and it works fine. But, when I ran an automated tool (WooRank) to review the optimisation of the site, it shows a lot of errors with the site. Does this mean Google won't like my site and won't rank it well?
I wouldn't place much trust in the data provided by free, automated website review tools, as it's in their favour to find errors, as they typically offer a free review but then charge you a fee to help you fix the "errors", which may or may not exist, and if they do, may be insignificant. If you need to use an automated optimisation review tool, then a paid, trustworthy one, like https://moz.com/tools/onpage-grader is preferable. A lot of Wordpress themes are pretty well optimised by default, especially if it they have lot of reviews and/or come from a reputable, well known theme provider like WooThemes or iThemes, so generally there shouldn't be any errors that would stop your site ranking well, regardless of what any tool tells you. The cheaper the theme, and the more unknown the theme developer is, the more chance there is of there being critical errors, though even free themes can be perfectly optimised out of the box.
5) My product and service is the same as it has been for the last 20 years. Do I need to constantly change / update / add to the content on my site?
Sites can and do rank well, 1st even, without a blog or adding new pages to their site or editing their existing content, so it's not essential. I'd say whether or not to do it depends on how your current content, in terms of quantity and quality, compares to your competitors. If they already have more / better content than you, then you should look to bolster your content to at least match theirs. If they're regularly publishing new, interesting content, then you should look to do the same, otherwise in the long run they're going to have a better site than yours, which gets linked to more and has better user engagement stats. If your site's content is already at least on a par with your competitors, and they're not publishing new, interesting content, then you can get away with not publishing new content yourself, if you've really got nothing new to say.
6) I am wondering what is the best practice for follow / no follow links on pages with a lot of external links? For example, a portfolio page that links to 10 (or more) client websites.
Having 10 or so external links on a page isn't really that many, so there's no need to add the no-follow tag to the links based on that. It's not uncommon for a page to legitimately have a reason for linking out to 50 or more sites, like on a resources type page. Again, there's no need to no-follow the links. The main reasons to use the no-follow tag are if you can't vouch for the trustworthiness of the site being linked to or if you're being paid to link to the site. What you might want to consider with a page with a lot of external links though, if you want to conserve the link equity in your site acquired through inbound links, is to block the page via robots.txt. This will stop Google crawling the page, and if they don't crawl it, then link equity won't leak out of your site via the external links on the page. Just adding no-follow tags won't achieve the same effect, as link equity is still lost through external no followed links, it just doesn't get passed on to the site being linked to.
7) Is it worthwhile doing away with social sharing buttons, which load scripts and send off-site requests, to improve the speed of a website? Clearly the answer depends on the client – social is more important in some niches than others – but wouldn't higher rankings be more valuable than a few page shares on Facebook? Or is it the case that cutting out social buttons and functionality wouldn't significantly improve site speed?
I don't think site speed is a big a deal as many people think it is. I think so long as your site isn't noticeably slow, then Google isn't going to hold it against you. My thinking is that you're not going to get boosted for having a really fast site, only demoted if you have a really slow site. If a site is taking 10 seconds to load, and people are clicking through to it from the search results, getting bored of waiting and clicking the back button, then that's the type of thing where I could see Google specifically demoting a site for being slow. However, if your site loads half a second quicker than a competitors, Google isn't going to rank your site higher than theirs on that basis, as site speed is just 1 of a myriad of ranking factors. The only reason I'd take social sharing functionality off a site is if it's in a niche where social sharing isn't the norm and having it on the site is unnecessary. Don't make the decision based on site speed.
8) Is there an SEO checklist to follow to ensure that my website is completely SEO-friendly and within Google's Guidelines?
As Google themselves don't provide such a checklist, only their Webmaster Guidelines (https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en), any checklist you find will be subjective and based on conjecture. Whilst there will be crossover between the different checklists online, there will also be differences. Some are more technical than others, and it depends how in-depth a checklist you're looking for. There's a checklist (http://www.seomark.co.uk/small-business-seo-checklist/) and a list of 100 tips (http://www.seomark.co.uk/small-business-seo-tips/), which kind of works as a checklist on my site, and I can also recommend https://moz.com/blog/technical-site-audit-for-2015, http://www.clickminded.com/seo-checklist/ and http://www.bruceclay.com/blog/seo-checklist/.
9) I'm using the Yoast SEO plugin on my website to tick all the SEO boxes. Is there a way to find out my positions on Google for particular search terms so I can see how well it's working?
You can find out which keywords your website is ranking for and in which positions using Google Webmaster Tools (recently rebranded as Google Search Console). See http://www.seomark.co.uk/website-ranking-google/ for the exact steps for doing that. Keep in mind though that whilst the Yoast SEO plugin, or indeed any SEO plugin, is a useful tool, using that alone won't help your site rank well. The main point of an SEO plugin is to help you use keywords in the right places on your website, and whilst that is an important factor in ranking well, you also need to take further steps, like having a nice looking, user friendly website, creating content that meets the intent of people searching for the keywords you're targeting, and getting linked to from relevant, trustworthy 3rd party sites. Without taking those additional steps, your site won't rank well for even low competition keywords.
10) I can get my site on the 1st pages of Yahoo and Bing, but show up nowhere worthwhile on Google, not even the first 10 pages. What's the problem?
Yahoo and Bing are partnered and so typically show exactly the same search results, so if you rank well on one of those, then you'll also rank well on the other. Google uses a completely different algorithm though and ranking well on Yahoo / Bing is no guarantee of ranking well on Google, and vice versa. It's probably down to the type and quality of links more than anything else. What Yahoo / Bing count as a good link, Google may class a bad one and either discount it or even penalise you for it. As Google has 75+% of the search market in English speaking countries, they should be your main concern, and you should optimise for them and see any traffic from Yahoo and Bing as a bonus. For your site, I'd recommend essentially forgetting about Yahoo and Bing and solely focusing on what Google wants, as explained in various articles at http://www.seomark.co.uk/seo-help-and-advice/.