Some people are absolutely obsessed about their search engine rankings. And of course they should be, right? Being ranked #1 on Google is better than being ranked in any other position, right?
Well, that’s not exactly true.
Here are the key questions I typically tell my clients to ask themselves: what keyword phrases exactly am I ranked well for? And how do those rankings impact my web traffic? And how does the traffic those rankings drive impact my bottom line?
Getting good rankings is nice… But getting good rankings for keywords that actually MATTER is a whole other story and this point is often lost. Search Engine Optimization lends itself naturally to gamification and appeals to our natural instinct to compete against our peers and show our superiority. And many of the SEO agencies and vendors are more than happy to promote the idea that good rankings — ANY good rankings — are a clear sign of success.
But if you look primarily at rankings as a metric of success in SEO you’re really not seeing the big picture of what’s important.
When you let rankings drive the conversation in SEO, you miss the point of why you engaged in an SEO strategy to begin with. You didn’t hire an SEO firm purely to get to #1, right? You hired people with SEO experience because you wanted to drive more traffic to your website and create more opportunities for lead generation.
One thing we like to look at when we engage with clients is how SEO impacts a site’s overall traffic over time and how many of those visits served to take traffic away from a competitor (i.e., how many search results were for generic or “long tail” terms rather than for terms specific to the firm itself like a search for the company’s name or owner’s name). And how has search traffic impacted lead conversion?
To add another wrinkle, in my experience the most obvious terms that companies try to get ranked for aren’t always the most profitable either. Oftentimes we find strange little gems in clients’ analytics reports: unexpected keyword phrases that generate a LOT of traffic and a LOT of leads. And those keyword phrases can often be exploited for additional traffic through targeted blogging once we identify them.
If we focussed exclusively on rankings as we worked with clients, we’d never find those gems and our clients would not get as much value from their marketing effort.
Don’t obsess over rankings. Remember why SEO is part of your marketing plan in the first place and the job you really hired your SEO guys to do.