Writing by Nick Stamoulis in SEO
While I make no guarantees of results (nor should any white hat SEO company), I am confident in the potential success of the campaigns I create for my clients. When I work with a new SEO client, one of the things we talk about when creating their SEO campaign is how we are going to measure the success of their campaign; what metrics are we going to use, what benchmarks are we working against, what are the long term goals of the website (keep in mind that these may be different for every website). Almost every client I have ever worked with immediately lists getting on page one of Google as their top SEO priority. To me, rank should NOT be the primary goal of an SEO campaign; I believe visitor growth is more important. Secondly, I believe that rank is not a good SEO metric to begin with, as it is too inconsistent to be used as a measure of success.
Here are a few reasons why search results rankings shouldn’t be your top SEO metric:
1. The search results are getting more personalized based on your search history
2. Social signals change the search results based on your friends search behavior
3. Your computer’s location affects local search results
4. Videos, images, news and products can reorganize the search results.
The bottom line is that the search results (and where your site ranks) can look completely different for every member of your target audience, due to various factors that you have no way of controlling. For example, Google remembers your search history and behavior when you’re logged into your Gmail account and tempers the results to reflect that. When you aren’t logged into your Gmail account the search results can be very different. And now Google is incorporating Google+ profiles and page into the search results (influential thought leaders can rank for keywords like SEO), adding more things to the SERP for a searcher to click on.
For Bing, the search results are influenced by the “friend effect,” which came out of their partnership with Facebook. If you are logged into your Facebook account and search for something on Bing, pages/websites that your Facebook friends have liked/shared on Facebook may be catapulted to the top of the search results, even though they may normally rank on page 2 or 3.
You also have to consider if any of your keywords are going to bring product images, videos, news stories and so forth into the search results. Those results appear before the regular web listings, so your site could be ranking #2 and actually sit at the bottom of the page! Is that #2 spot still as valuable if there are a dozen things ahead of it to distract your target audience from clicking over to your site?
I can understand a site owner’s desire to rank well in the search engines. There are plenty of studies documenting the percentage of clicks a site is likely to receive depending on where it ranks. But ranking well is not enough to convince someone to click over! Searchers are getting smarter and they know that just because a site is ranked number one that doesn’t automatically mean it’s the best website for them.