Small business owners tend to gauge their brand’s online SEO progress by putting a strong emphasis on search engine rankings. Almost so much so that some fall into the trap of making this a daily mantra “How well am I ranking today?” And there’s nothing wrong with wanting your brand to appear on the first page of Google. In fact, it’s downright exciting!

But while having your website appear on the first page can translate into more traffic, leads, conversions and revenue, it’s also important to recognize the fact that looking at your keyword rankings to measure SEO performance can be very misleading. Google’s algorithms are getting smarter and more personalized, and looking at organic rankings to determine online success is no longer the end-all be-all of SEO.

That being said, let’s dig into this a little deeper by explaining why rankings aren’t necessarily as important as some online marketing gurus would like you to believe, and what you should look at instead to effectively gauge your online progress and search engine performance.

The Organic Ranking Fallacy

Personalization

The major search engines – Google, Bing and Yahoo – are always collecting data about you and your web surfing activities, including everything from your location to your name and hobbies. They do this because they are constantly moving towards providing their users with a much more personalized search engine experience.

If you change computers or use one in a coffee shop, you may notice a subtle or even a drastic difference. Essentially, what you see on the first page of Google probably isn’t what your prospects see. So, if you’re relying purely on rankings to measure your online strategy’s effectiveness, the actual end results may very well not meet your expectations.

Targeting the Wrong Keywords

It’s entirely possible for you to rank in the number one spot on Google, but if you target the wrong keywords you might still get little to no traffic. Furthermore, you can have all the traffic in the world from a number one ranking, but target the wrong keywords and you might still end up with zero actual conversions.

High Rankings and Low Conversions

Your organic keyword rankings and traffic are a means to an end, and are always evolving. If you invest in digital marketing and SEO, you want the good stuff: conversions, leads and sales. Those metrics are tangible. A good Forbes article titled “What CMO’s Need To Know About SEO” highlights how organic rankings are “old-school.” The search engines just don’t work like they did in years past. The solution is a shift in focus.

You have to approach SEO and internet marketing in general as a means to obtain these assets. If you rank well in the search engines and get thousands of unique visits a day but have little to no conversions or targeted leads to show for it, your efforts will have all been for naught.

Metrics that Matter

Some SEO companies target low-competition keywords that bring almost no real value on purpose just to get their clients on the first page of Google.

As a business owner investing in search engine performance, what would you rather hear from the SEO agency you’re putting your trust in?

“I have some good news! Your company’s website is ranking number one for ‘low-cost construction material in Texas’ but I’m still not sure where your ROI stands. Let’s wait and let these number one rankings play out.”

-or-

“Thanks in large part to the content we put up on your website and various other marketing channels last month, your website generated 24 backlinks. We also managed to get you 12 conversions that accounted for an $9,130 increase in monthly revenue.”

Snazzy looking charts and fancy PDF reports do not indicate whether or not your SEO is working. Conversions, revenue and ROI do.

Here are a few criteria to consider when measuring the effectiveness of your SEO campaigns, in order of importance.

  • Return on investment
  • Sales and leads generated from search engine traffic
  • Sales and leads generated from social media
  • Search engine traffic
  • Sales, leads and traffic generated from other marketing channels
  • Increased organic visibility – higher rankings

If you’re ready to take your SEO performance and online ROI to the next level, focus on leads and sales, and stay away from analyzing your rankings for a little while. Have you been one of the unfortunate business owners who placed a little too much emphasis on specific keywords and their ranking? Could you use some guidance to help you get better actual results? Contact Dialed-In Local today.

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