Search engine optimization (SEO) is often focused on getting high rankings on search results pages. But this mindset may get us on a wrong path. Lets take a look WHY?
Keyword ranking is one of the most overvalued and misused factor in SEO. It is true, tracking your level is important, but having too much focus on this metric is problematic. For SEO, what you calculate gets managed, which means that focusing on the right metrics will help you generate good results that have a business impact, rather than just having an ego boost.
So, let’s see about the problem with obsessing over rank — and what metrics you’d be better try to focus on.
Problem with rank tracking
Measuring keyword ranking is easy to obsess because it’s so visible. When you type in the all-powerful keyword and see your listing there at the top, it feels good. The problem with putting too much focus on this metric is that the search results aren’t always consistent. Google’s results will vary based on a number of different criteria. Let’s look at the two common most.
Location: Your search results are tailored to the location from where you are searching. Of course, this plays a big role in local search, but it impacts organic rankings as well. Let’s say you are in a new city, and you are looking for a cafe; if you search for “cafe,” it will display results near you. If you were to do the same search in your native-town, the results would be very different.
Personalization: Google and the other search engines are constantly collecting information on how you search personally. They use that information to display you more relevant results. If you have a Google, Yahoo, Bing or other search-connected account, they will look at your browser history and navigational behaviors and change the SERPs to best match your personal preferences.
As you can see, these two simple factors can excessively impact rankings. In order to get a 100% accurate idea of your estimated rank, you would have to, monitor, check and scan all of these inconsistencies across the web. While not an impossible task, it’s certainly difficult and time-consuming and probably not an efficient use of your time.
The other issue is that a majority of searches are long-tail keywords and terms. It’s estimated that 70-80% of the demand is made up of long-tail keywords. These terms aren’t only easier to rank for, but they are also tend to drive much targeted traffic. Here are a few other results from a recent report given by “Ahrefs”:
•One-word keywords account for only 2.8 percent of all the keywords people search for (in the United States).
•96.54 percent of all search queries in the US have fewer than 50 searches per month.
So instead of obsessing about where you rank for the more competitive terms, focus on creating a strategy that comprises a variety of impressive long-tail terms. This will lead to attract more targeted traffic from users who actually want to engage with you.
So, what should you focus on?
The target of any SEO or marketing tactics should be to effect the bottom line. Targeted traffic is the key here, and it starts with “keyword research”. As stated above, there is huge potential in targeting long-tail opportunities. These terms tend to be more specific and focused. Using these terms as your foundation, you can create and execute a strategy to drive more targeted readers to your site. More targeted readers usually get converted into more conversations or transactions.
Today’s analytics tools can reveal powerful data on our users and how our sites are getting ranked in search. Understanding where and how people will find you online, as well as your traffic trend, is much more important than knowing where you rank at present. Google Analytics is free, and you have no excuse for not monitoring your traffic. I recommend doing this at least once in a week so you have a good understanding of where you stand and whether or not your efforts are working.
Sadly, not everyone takes advantage of these tools. While tracking traffic may not be as good as tracking rank, I can surely say, it’s much more fruitful in the long run.
So instead of obsessing over metrics that have not much of significance, give yourself an edge by tracking what actually has an effect on your business. Spend some time in setting up your conversion goals, and pay attention to what is driving more traffic to your site. If you obsess over driving traffic, you will always beat those who obsess over rank.