People tend to over-think it when it comes to measuring the success of their SEO campaign. Most would say that the overall goal of SEO is to rank well in the search engines; it’s really not. The end goal of SEO is to get conversions, convincing site traffic to act. Ranking well in the search engines is just a step (albeit an important one) in driving more targeted traffic to your site.
Here are 4 reasons why rank isn’t a good measurement of SEO success:
Google’s Universal Search
If you were to conduct a search in Google, say for “pizza,” you’ll be able to get a good idea of what universal search looks like. When you search for something, tons of things outside of regular websites will rank: local profiles, videos, images, social searches, news, PPC ads and more. You could be ranked position 4 or 5, but your listing is all the way at the bottom of the page, or even the top of the next page. There is a lot of up-top noise that is pushing the organic listings down.
A good SEO campaign works to help position your company and brand in that top noise. That is why it is so important to take a diversified approach to your online marketing. Just having your website rank well is no guarantee that users will find you. There is a lot of competition for not a lot of space.
Google customizes search results
If a user is logged into Google, based on what they’ve previously searched for, shared and blocked, Google will come up with a personalized list of results. If a user has blocked your site, you’ll never appear in their search results again, regardless of where you rank in general. A user’s IP address will also affect what kind of results they receive, especially in the local listings.
You might search for your targeted keywords and your site will almost always show up in the top spot. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your site is actually ranking that way in front of your potential customers. Based on your search history, Google knows that your site is probably what you are looking for, so they position it well.
Cookies and Devices
Chances are you use more than one device to search. You have your home computer, your work computer, a Smartphone, maybe a net book or tablet. Every time you conduct a search on one of these devices, Google keeps cookies of your activity. This helps them remember certain data (like when a browser stores your login information). Cookies build up a profile of where you go and what you do online. Google then uses this information to present you with search results that are the most fitting for you. Depending on which device you are using to search, you could see an entirely different set of results.
The goal of Google is not to help your site rank well. Their goal is to provide the best possible user-experience to their users. To do so, they have to provide them with the most relevant search results. Cookies help Google do that.
There are more than a few programs that you can use to determine how well your site is ranking for a set of given keywords. If you were to run that program right now, chances are that if you ran it again tomorrow at the same time, you’d have a whole different set of data. There are hundreds if not thousands of factors that affect how well or poorly your site rank. Some of them Google is constantly checking, others only get reworked every few months.
Since some of Google’s algorithm factors aren’t factored in every day, this makes it hard to see if chances to your site are accurately affecting where you rank. You might make the right SEO adjustments, but it takes Google three months to get back around to re-indexing your site. If you don’t give your SEO time, you’ll never have any idea of where you truly rank.
When it comes to measuring your SEO success, the most important factor is your conversion rate. If your conversion rate is going up that indicates more targeted traffic is being delivered to your site. In turn, your site is doing a good job of keeping them engaged and convincing them to act. Other factors like unique visitors, bounce rate, number of page view and average time spent on your site are also good ways to measure the success of your SEO. The most important thing to remember is that you have to look at the big picture. Focusing on one metric of success means missing out on other important website analytics that can give you the whole story.
About the Author
Nick Stamoulis, President and Founder of SEO Services firm Brick Marketing, has been working in the online marketing industry for over 12 years. To share his SEO and Internet marketing knowledge, Nick Stamoulis publishes daily SEO tips in his blog, the Search Engine Optimization Journal, and publishes the Brick Marketing Newsletter, read by over 130,000 opt-in e-mail subscribers.
Contact Nick Stamoulis at 781-350-4365 or firstname.lastname@example.org