Are you a habitual rank checker? Enslaved to your preferred search engine on an endless quest to be number one for your chosen keywords.
In fact, you’ve already checked your search engine results page (SERP) twice today and you’re probably twitching to do it again now that we’re on the topic.
You’ll check again before you head home tonight; you’ve got your colleagues logging in at regional offices to check and report on SERP results and you subscribe to email alerts for any additional rank change notifications.
Stop now! Step away from the smartphone or keyboard and your website won’t be harmed.
This is an intervention.
If your measure of business SEO services success is being number one for your favourite keyword, or handful of keywords, you will be bitterly disappointed (and unsuccessful in the long run).
Brace yourself: There is no one keyword or small group of keywords that will drive a lot of traffic to your website (compared to the long-tail of search – longer and more specific keyword phrases that potential customers use when they are closer to the point of purchase or using voice search. You’ll also need a holistic online marketing strategy, but I digress).
If you’re focussing on the rank of a small group of generic keywords, it’s unlikely you will be found by the people who may be searching for your products or services.
Worse, your habitual rank checking is sending negative signals to search engines about your keyword terms and value of your site to searchers, damaging your marketing and future rank opportunities.
Additionally, you’ve probably got motion sickness from the rankings rollercoaster, as typically average keyword positions change frequently.
The Value of Rank
Before you overreact – rankings do have value, but they’re not the metric you should be focussing on. You need to understand what ranking means. It is just one SEO factor that comprises a holistic strategy to get you results online.
Keywords do serve a purpose and a carefully selected keyword list is essential to your marketing campaign. However, ranking a keyword at number 1 alone is worthless unless it also generates leads or sales for your business.
Rankings are generally only an indicator of potential traffic that can be gained from search as part of your wider online marketing strategy, not the end goal.
How Search Engines Rank Today
Search engines look for the best answer to an online search based initially on relevance and popularity. That is, they will only return results that are relevant to a searcher’s query and the popularity of the website serving the information.
There are hundreds of variables (ranking factors) used to determine the best results, worked out via mathematical equations (algorithms). The search engines also try to determine the intent of a search (what people want, rather than the exact words they used to search) and even rewrite or refine search queries during the search process.
Search engines, such as Google also return personalised search results whether you are logged into a Google account or not. That means every result varies based on factors including:
• Location of computer and IP address
• Past search history
• Demographics (age, gender, etc.)
• User behaviour (click-through-rate, pogo-sticking, time spent on page, etc.)
• Browser preferences (logged in, logged out, incognito view, etc.)
• Device usage (mobile, desktop, tablet, Google app)
• Search index (Google, YouTube, Maps, Voice, etc.)
• Social activity;
• And other factors
Rankings Don’t Matter as Much as You Think They Do
So, what does the result of your compulsive rank checking really mean? In isolation, very little.
It’ not an accurate measure of your website performance, marketing or interest in your offerings. It’s also not a real-time reflection of web position (as your site is not crawled and ranked every day), even average positions are extremely volatile and each result is subject to the factors listed above.
Image: One sensor predicting daily SERP volatility impacting your keyword rank.
Rank is only one part of your online marketing strategy and not a measure of your SEO or overall online marketing success. If you make rankings your primary pursuit you are ignoring what your potential customers REALLY want (solutions or answers to their issues).
Good SEO is not about getting you the highest rank, but seeks to improve the entire searcher experience to present your business as the best solution for searcher needs. Your potential for success is only as high as the quality of your business and your website.
Other metrics you should be considering:
• Overall traffic to your website
• User behaviour on site for conversion rate optimisation
• Quality Content
• Business goals (ie increase in sales/revenue/signups etc)
Focus on Boosting Your Bottom Line
Rather than obsess over keyword rank and whether you’ve moved up down in the SERPs (according to your last search) focus on helping build your website’s (and business’) authority, trust and reputation. These are the activities that will boost your bottom line and garner online marketing success.
Still twitching to check your rankings again? We understand, bad habits are difficult to break. Head over to Semrush. The free version will let you see the top 10 keywords for which your website ranks (as well as other website metrics including competitor data).
Need help with the metrics that matter to your business and your online marketing success? Give us a call.
White Chalk Road are a specialist Search Marketing Agency based in Perth, with over 20 years’ experience in the industry. As a Google Premier Partner, WCR specialise in SEO, Search Marketing, Advertising & Marketing Automation. WCR help Perth businesses, across both B2B and B2C markets, who need help being found online by their customers.