Rankings Aren’t a Good Measure of SEO Success

Written by Nick Stamoulis

Clients often come to us and ask how long it will take before they can start to rank for keywords that will get them noticed in the search engines. At face value, the question is an innocent one, and is designed to assess the results of the SEO program.

However, the question also completely misses the point. While rankings are something that we do monitor, we have learned that this isn’t an accurate measurement of whether or not your SEO program is successful.

In order to determine success, this has more to do with your overall business performance than the data.

Success and Performance Aren’t the Same

It is important to understand that keeping track of data points, such as rankings, is only part of the story. Success and performance don’t always go hand in hand! For most companies, the ultimate goal is to increase their business. If SEO is causing in uptick in keyword rankings and an increase in traffic without a noticeable improvement in new business, then something might need to change. For example, if more people are visiting the site because rankings for certain keywords has improved, but conversions haven’t increased, it is time to determine if there are some tweaks to the website that can be made that would improve conversions.

Rankings Don’t Give You the Whole Picture

Rankings are only one measurement of success. Other factors, such as conversions, organic traffic, quality backlinks, and social media engagement are all items that can also help determine if the SEO program is doing well. However, no one thing will measure success when considered by itself. Businesses need to determine what their overall goals are to consider whether or not the SEO program is helping them achieve these goals. For most companies, increasing the amount of new business that occurs is one of the best indicators of success.

Obsessing Over Rank is a Waste of Time

In the earlier days of SEO, keyword ranking was an important measurement of SEO success. However, it hasn’t been a relevant indicator for some time. These days, keywords should be considered in  a big picture perspective. While it’s important to monitor them, it isn’t a good idea to craft content around them. It is much better for your visitors if you craft your content specifically for them! If you write targeted content that people who visit your site care about, you will be rewarded by experiencing an increase in organic traffic. However, when you focus too much on keywords, your content will be stiff and robotic, and you may even get penalized.  Obsessing over keyword rankings is definitely a waste of time.

Determining keyword ranking data does have value when it comes to SEO, but not in the way that most people think. It is something that certainly should be monitored. It is helpful to get a feel for patterns, and an overall uptick in keywords ranking for the business can be a sign that the SEO efforts are paying off.

However, this isn’t the only factor that should be considered. Success should be measured by whether or not the business is achieving its goals and if the SEO program is playing a part in that.

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