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My Favorite Search Marketing Questions

WRITTEN by: David Kragel |
categories: SEO

Apr 2014


A New Question to Consider

"Do websites even need SEO anymore?"

The question struck me as odd. In my six years working within search marketing, this was the first time somebody had posed the question to me in a serious manner.

The phrase "SEO is dead" is mostly a punch line within the search marketing community, as marketing professionals of all stripes have pronounced the death of SEO as far back as when Google rolled out its "I’m Feeling Lucky" button.

But, as the lines between search marketing, content marketing and social media blur even further, it’s harder to know when one web marketing strategy starts and another ends. After all, with the changes Google has made to its algorithm over the past two years, don’t websites merely need good content nowadays to succeed?

In a word…no.

As long as people use search engines to find good content, there will be search marketing. Search marketing teaches us which keywords and questions our target audience is commonly searching; it informs what technical site changes must be made in order to become more “Google friendly;” perhaps most importantly, it’s search marketing that enables people to find that beautiful content you’ve spent so much time and effort crafting. Experience teaches us that building good content is simply not enough.

How Your Answer is Just as Significant as the Answer Itself

The question was perfectly valid, and in thinking through my answer to that question, I was reminded (as everyone in the marketing world is) that not only is it important what your answer to the question is, but also, just as important is how you answer it.

For the sake of making my point (and to pass along some funny), here are some other questions that folks in the search marketing world will quickly identify with, along with some answers that may (or may not) be helpful:

Question 1: “I’ve been doing organic search for almost a whole month. Why don’t I see any results?”

  1. Did you try hitting refresh on your search results? Sometimes you have to hit “enter” four or five times before a search engine will take your search seriously.
  2. Did you personally notify Google that you’ve made changes to your site? Oh, you haven’t? Don’t worry. Just type, “Dear Google, I’ve made changes to my site” in the search bar and once you achieve the results, remember to search the phrase “thank you.”
  3. Organic search activities can commonly take three to eight months to see the full effects, because search engines take their time in making sure they deliver the best quality results. That said, the benefit of organic search is that the results tend to be long-lasting and is the best way to improve a site’s natural growth.

Question 2: “I just did a Google search and don’t see my ad anywhere. What are you doing to fix this?”

  1. Unfortunately there’s nothing we can do because if Google has stopped showing your ad, it’s most likely the result of a personal vendetta. Have you privately or publicly said anything negative about Google lately? Be honest.
  2. I bet one of your competitors stealthily kept clicking on your ad and has used up the budget. Oh well. Better luck tomorrow.
  3. If you’re not seeing your ad at any given time, it most likely means that you either caught the ad out of Google’s normal ad rotation, or that your daily budget has already been met for the day and the ad will no longer keep showing for today. This ensures that we hit our target budget accordingly.

Question 3: “Why aren’t I number one in Google search results?”

  1. To keep things fresh, search engines are now doing what’s known as ‘reverse results,’ so technically if you appear last, you’re actually number one.
  2. We think AltaVista is primed to make a comeback and are more focused on getting you to rank in that one instead. (To help with this, please tell your friends to use AltaVista so we can double its use.)
  3. Being shown at the top of natural search results is exciting to see, but we believe rankings serve as evidence of activity and should not be confused with results. There are hundreds of factors at play when it comes to organic search results, many of which are outside of a website’s control, so our goal as a search partner is to maximize the volume and quality of organic search traffic from a variety of possible searches, rather than focus on a single keyword.

More Search Questions We Like


Kidding aside, we really do love it when our clients ask questions. It means they’re engaged with the campaign and, as part of that relationship, we take it upon ourselves to inform the client as much as possible about our search philosophy and how that will impact their results. That can lead to some great questions on the part of the client. Here are three of our favorite:

“How much should I be spending on search marketing?”

What the person is really asking is, “What can search really do for me?” It’s an indication that the client is focused on what matters most in marketing: leads. As we prove that the program is working, the budget question shifts from “How much do I need to spend?” to “How much can I spend?” It’s a question of opportunity.

 “What am I doing wrong?”

We love this question, because it’s an honest admission that things could be better. The best search marketing campaigns are the result of a healthy relationship between client and search partner, and as the campaign progresses, we’ll naturally find more opportunity for change and growth.

“What are you doing for my budget?”

Any search company worth their salt should be happy to answer this question because it opens the door to a conversation about activity and where we’d like to go next. Activity matters, and the focus should always come back to leads and how that specific activity will drive more value over time, because we feel that search marketing should be viewed the same way as any other marketing effort - by ROI. In the end, every marketing initiative is measured by the simplest of questions: “What did we get in return from that investment?”

And that, in my opinion, is the most important search question everyone should be asking.

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