There Are No Stupid Questions …

By Elisa Gabbert March 12, 2010 Posted In: Copywriting Comments: 1

Not All Questions Can Be Answered By Google

In a post called "What's Up, Internet," writer Amelia Gray answers some of the questions that Googlers have found her blog by asking:

how long does it take to get a warrant

I think you can get one in an afternoon, if you are a police officer and you can find a judge to give you one. (It will take more time if you’re just some guy.)

what sort of rocks are there?

All kinds. Some rocks are very hard and others are so soft you can scratch them with your fingernail. Sometimes rocks float. Once I had a dream I was explaining a quartz rock to my child.

Amelia may be doing this for laughs, but she still got a good post out of it, right? I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Your keywords are content idea generators.

If you're already ranking for questions like "What's the worst high five ever," think how much better you'll rank better for those same questions if you a) include the question in the text, or better yet the title, and b) actually answer it.

Here's how to use those search queries to generate content ideas:

  1. Find the keyword referrers in your Web analytics application. In Google Analytics, go to Traffic Sources → Keywords.
  2. You can search specifically for questions by filtering for question words like "what," "why," "how" and so on.
  3. Make a list of any queries that you don't already cover extensively and might make interesting content, ranked in order of popularity.
  4. Group related queries together (for example, in Amelia's case, questions about Rob Lowe).

Now you can consult your list of search query questions whenever you need ideas for Web or blog content.

Filtering for "how to" and "what is" questions alone, our own analytics contain thousands of question keywords representing well over 10,000 visits, such as:

  • how to create meta tags
  • how to do keyword research
  • how to create a landing page
  • what is outbound marketing
  • what is phrase match

Amazingly, even the queries that only drove one visit are generally relevant to our site and the search marketing space.

On my own blog, the questions in my keyword reports tend to be a little more random:

  • how to ask for a happy ending
  • is facebook a cult?
  • how do you say i had a good weekend in French [surprisingly popular]
  • how much does erin from americas next top model weigh
  • how much does heather kuzmich weigh
  • who got kicked off project runway
  • who hates who on project runway
  • "how to read" "tips" [love this one]
  • what can you do with an mfa
  • did i pick the wrong mfa program?
  • are private schools unethical
  • can amber tamblyn really sing?
  • did you bring the money? in french
  • how do u write anything in french
  • how to insult a pseudo intellectual
  • is it difficult to publish poems?
  • what body suits a shaved head
  • what kind of poetry white people like

Who said there are no stupid questions? Not Google.

This Week's Online Marketing Highlights

  • Jordan McCollum at Marketing Pilgrim shares the results of a study that "proves" real-time search isn't useful. The eye-tracking study, done by OneUpWeb, revealed that searchers were slow to turn to real-time results compared to the rest of the SERP. She also quotes Marissa Meyer on real-time search: "We think […] the real-time data that’s coming online can be super-useful in terms of finding out whether – something like, is this conference today any good? Is it warmer in San Francisco than it is in Silicon Valley? You can actually look at tweets and see those types of patterns emerge." However, one of the tasks searchers were asked to complete was "to look for a product they were considering to buy for themselves or for someone else as a gift." This really isn't the kind of situation where one would look to real-time results. This probably means Google shouldn't include real-time results for so many query types – but it doesn't prove that real-time results aren't useful in any situation. (Perhaps those "How much does so and so weigh" and "Who got kicked off Project Runway" questions above could be addressed thusly?) It's also possible that users just aren't aware of them yet. There was a time when Yahoo was more popular than Google, but that didn't mean Google was worthless.
  • The Internet has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. This reminds me of the time my alma mater, Rice University, nominated mitochondria for homecoming queen.
  • Blogoscoped notes that Wikipedia has a page dedicated to criticism of Google.
  • Tamar Weinberg has lots of good advice for beginner Internet marketers and about blog marketing at Techipedia
  • At Search Engine Land, Aaron Bradley offers "A Practical Guide To Information Architecture Changes" including tips on search-friendly content management systems and how to make SEO requirements and migration checklists.

Have a good weekend!

Photo credit: jaygooby

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Sunday March 14, 2010

I bet ghost cats like Vermin too « Amelia Gray (not verified) Said:

[...] Gabbert wrote about my last post in terms of online marketing, Web analytics, and using questions in search queries to [...]

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