Quora is a great tool, and in my experience is a lot like Ask.com or Yahoo Answers but with more thoughtful answers. When I started using Quora in mid 2014 I went kind of crazy answering a bunch of questions related to industries I’ve worked in. It was exciting to help people I’d never met and see what kinds of things business owners were looking for as it related to their web needs, but over several months I started to see patterns of the wrong SEO question being asked.

I dismissed them for awhile, but after seeing them so many times it seemed worthy of a post.

SEO questions about what plugins are generally helpful, tips for keyword research, or how often to create new material are all valid. I’ve probably answered a bunch of those types of questions. But questions like “What do I need to do to dominate search?” are problematic for several reasons.

  1. It’s too vague. What industry are you in? What keywords are you even trying to rank for? Where did you get your keywords from? What have you already tried? What is the actual goal of your website? Without knowing the answers to those follow up questions, it’s impossible to give meaningful advice.
  2. Simply “dominating” for a bunch of keywords isn’t going to help you. Without the right planning they’re probably not even the right keywords for your business, and even if they’re solid choices all you’ll end up with is a bunch of traffic. Ok, so a reader has landed on your site. Now what? If you don’t have that handled all the traffic in the world isn’t going to help you. This is more complicated to really answer from the business owner’s standpoint than many think, and getting it wrong means traffic that doesn’t convert and is ultimately useless.
  3. There is no one-stop-solve-everything solution to SEO. Anyone that tells you there is is lying or misinformed. What you’re asking is a complicated question that requires time and a pretty lengthy analysis to properly answer. And that fact alone leads us to #4…
  4. It’s overreaching to ask such a huge question. Your mechanic may not mind answering a quick question about checking your oil or brakes, but he’s not going to want to give you a dissertation on the complete tear down and reassembly of an engine and transmission for free. That’s a big ask. Quora is a wealth of information from people generous enough to take the time to provide the benefit of their knowledge for free, but don’t take advantage of that by asking the sort of question that most people in that industry get paid to answer.

If you’re asking such a question, it either means you haven’t done enough planning (see #1) or you don’t realize the weight of what you’re asking (see #4). If you get more organized you’ll know where to begin and can ask specific, easier to answer questions that will solve both those issues.

After all, you wouldn’t ask someone “Why isn’t my business profitable?” without providing any info about your business. How can they know the answer to that without knowing what you sell, how you’ve been selling it, how your internal systems work, etc.? Unearthing all that is going to take time and expertise.

Thanks for reading.

– Brian Watkins