Why you shouldn’t be focussing on Search Engine Rankings as a measurement of success

Right from the beginnings of the SEO movement, the measurement of a successful campaign was the position a site achieved for certain search terms. An SEO campaign was only deemed successful if a site achieved a top 30 listing for a number of selected search terms. SEO companies even offered payment programs where they got paid for each ranking.

These days those that still focus on rankings achieved as an end goal are missing a big trick. Here are the reasons why:

  • A top ranking on the search engines does not guarantee an increase in qualified traffic to the site. The term being ranked for might have a very low number of searches, or may not be focussed enough to the products and services offered on the site.
  • With the number of companies realising the potential of high visibility on the search engines, it is getting harder and harder to achieve rankings in the more competitive industries. If success measurement focuses on rankings for a small number of highly popular and competitive keywords a campaign may be deemed unsuccessful even though a site has achieved a large number of rankings for more niche phrases that are collectively driving increased numbers of qualified visitors to the site.
  • A successful online marketing campaign is not just about increasing visibility on the major search engines (although of course that is a major part). These days there are so many other ways a site can increase its visibility online such as Blogs, Forums, Online PR and Social Networking. Utilising these methods correctly can result in just as much qualified traffic being driven to the site as a few top rankings could achieve.
  • Achieving rankings on the search engines for relevant search terms is only half the battle and certainly shouldn’t be the end goal. What the increased number of visitors then do on your site is just as important. There is no point in driving high numbers of qualified visitors to your site if none of them convert to a sale or enquiry for you. There are too many sites out there receiving wasted visitors through lack of good design. Your site must be optimised for both the search engines and your site users. The two are definitely NOT mutually exclusive. Designing a good site for users will often result in a search engine friendly site.
  • Rankings watching can be a futile and very stressful past time. Search engine indexes are in constant flux and rankings could come and go on a regular basis. Having a heart attack every time this happens is not going to do you any favours. Keep looking at the bigger picture. As long as the numbers of relevant traffic to your site is on the increase and those visitors are converting, whether you are on the 1st or 2nd page on Google for “widgets” is not worth worrying over.

Don’t get me wrong here, of course gaining a range of high rankings for relevant terms will have a large impact on the success of your site as a whole, its just not the only thing you should be measuring and isn’t even the most important. Here is what you should be measuring:

  • Is the number of visitors to your site on the increase?
  • Are those visitors coming from qualified sources (other relevant sites, blogs, relevant search engine results)
  • Is the number of relevant links to your site on the increase?
  • What are your visitors doing once they get to your site?
  • Are the visitors to your site converting?
  • What is your ROI?

You’ll find if you concentrate on all of these areas and leave the rankings watching to your competitors, your sanity will be saved and you will be working on the success of your site for your business as a whole.

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