There are no bad search questions (except this one)

As experts in search, we get asked a lot of questions, and while there’s no such thing as a bad search question, there is one that you should never ask.

Without doubt, ranking on Google is something that can make or break a business. Simply put, you’re not anyone unless you have online visibility, and when your products, your services, your work, and your name is a virtual unknown, Google isn’t going to be your friend.

And that’s not Google’s fault, either. There are a lot of websites on this vast interconnected world of computers we call the “internet”. At a count back in 2014, there were over one billion websites all clambering for attention from the best search engine, and they all can’t obviously get up there simply by existing. No, they need to do something to get Google’s attention. Specifically, you need to do something to get Google’s attention, and that starts with questions.

Questions are a great place to start when it comes to an SEO strategy.

  • What’s my product?

  • What’s my audience?

  • What problem does my product solve?

  • What is my audience searching for so that they can find my product?

Technically, these questions all fall under the one question you really need to concern yourself with:

  • What sort of content will I need to get Google’s attention?

And that’s a complicated question best served by visiting experts in the business of making that happen, who can communicate realistic timings to making that happen.

Depending on how a website is made and how often it has been updated, these can vary wildly. Unfortunately, some people have false expectations on how this works, and this can lead to uncomfortable questions.

  • How long will it take for Google to index me?

  • How long until I’m at the top of Google’s index?

  • What will it take for Google to show my product ahead of a competitor?

None of these are bad search questions, merely uncomfortable questions. They can be served with a solid search engine optimisation strategy, and one that caters to solving the problem of both technical and content-related SEO.

But there is one bad search question, and it should never be asked.

  • Can I pay to have my company listed at the top of Google’s organic search?

This is a bad search question, and is fundamentally the only bad search question an SEO expert worth their salt will wince at, almost as if they’d heard the ear-wrenching screech of nails dragged against a chalkboard.

It is a dangerous question too, because search is Google’s sandbox, and we’re just playing in it. Google provides clear signals over what it wants to see in order for your site to push its way through the rankings, and if you follow these, you generally find success.

If you don’t, however, and if you try to pay your way to the top, be it through masking, paid link farming, or anything else nefarious that tries to surge you in the rankings artificially, you can find yourself blacklisted for quite some time.

Simply put, the answer to that question has two answers, and they work like this:

  1. Hire a great SEM strategist to help you get your company on track with AdWords, or,

  2. Hire a great SEO expert to help you get your company on track with organic search.

Do one or do both and you’ll be on the way from bad search to good search to great search, which in this day and age is exactly where you want to be.

About the Author

Leigh Stark

Leigh Stark is M&a's Senior Content Manager and SEO Specialist, responsible for being the company's go-to guy on all things Google, search, and content. A technology journalist before joining M&a, his expertise runs across fields, and his work can be seen across TV, radio, online, and print, and in publications such as Popular Science and The Australian Financial Review, as well as his own website Pickr.com.au.

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