Every website marketer has been in a conversation with a potential client where 99% of the discussion revolves around ranking 1st place for a specific keyword cluster. However, focusing on a #1 ranking for a particular keyword as the KPI for your SEO campaign can minimize the return on investment and here are some of the reasons why.
Is page one even page one anymore?
Along the way, Google realized by collecting certain data points about browser activity they were able to implement personalized and therefore more relevant search results for users. This was rolled out as a beta test mode during 2004, and in April 2005 it was launched as a non-beta service but was still separate from normal Google search. As of November 2005 it was integrated into normal organic search but only for users who had Google accounts and were logged in. However, now as of December 2009 personalized search results have been included for all users whether they are logged into their account or not.
So, you see ALL users get personalized results meaning there is no such thing as one “page 1” anymore.
Are you looking at the big traffic drivers?
With deeper understanding of content and user intent Google is able to serve web pages up for more complicated and long tail queries more efficiently. This has extended the variants of searches that sites will show up for, making it complicated to track all of the keywords and queries you are ranking for. Many times you will find your site is getting great traffic from longer tail keyword and query clusters which you’re not likely tracking in your tools. Meaning by focusing on one “hero” keyword cluster ranking you’re disregarding focus areas which can contribute traffic and potential customers to your business. This begs the question, how can you judge the efficacy of your SEO campaign based on a small portion of what drives any traffic to your site? Answer: You can’t.
Rankings don’t outline interest
Keyword search volumes fluctuate month on month and year on year. There will be searches that increase over time and those which diminish. Keyword rankings don’t indicate these changes and it requires more analysis to get these statistics. Not taking this information into account means you could be chasing the top spots for areas which won’t bring you a great return.
You can’t deposit rankings at the bank
Often the focus on rankings can be so strong that business owners will completely disregard how the rest of the campaign is leading to new customer acquisition. Rather, they will drive their investment in SEO towards vanity rankings and away from other areas which are contributing to increased customers, which don’t necessarily provide the value they want or results they need.
Ranking number 1 for particular key terms is kind of a bragging point with a lot of SEO’s and business owners. You will often see SEO’s use this as a selling point “we will rank you number one in 90 days or your money back” or “we will make you move to position one guaranteed or your money back”. Making companies accountable for these kinds of KPIs means that you may be ranking number one for a keyword which drives little or no traffic to your site. This isn’t a tactic likely to lead to an influx of new business.
SEO experts who live and breathe the website marketing tactics of 2017 tend to educate their clients on why this tactic isn’t great and focus on areas which will efficiently increase revenue.
Do rankings still matter at all?
This is a complicated answer. Rankings do matter and can provide insights when they are incorporated into a holistic overview of campaign progress. Every piece of information you have at your hands can be valuable to your campaign. Many forefront thinking SEOs will incorporate strategies focusing more on customer acquisition and while this does involve rankings and visibility, without the handcuffs of targeting #1 ranking for one area, they are able to diversify your traffic streams. For example, keyword rankings don’t take into account and SERP changes, including when additional ads are served than in previous times, thus pushing the first organic result down. If you only focus on one cluster, you may very well be putting your eggs in one basket.
The goal of most SEO campaigns is to drive targeted customers to your website to increase your revenue. It’s important to discuss your thoughts and ideas with your SEO provider and focus on the most effective ways to get to your goal. With an industry that changes at a rapid pace it’s important that we are all forward thinking and adaptable to what is needed to succeed. If you want to discuss a campaign with our Australian SEO experts then contact us here.