Clients need to understand that the purpose of keywords is not to simply rank in Google. It’s about optimizing their users’ search experience online. Therefore measuring success against keywords ranking is futile.
“I want to be found on page one for this keyword ____.”
“I want my company to rank and be found on the first page for these terms _____.”
We hear this a lot from clients. Maybe you were promised page one rankings by your internet marketing agency.
Yes, it’s wonderful to get top search results but there are so many more important factors to consider, such as site usability, conversions, and brand awareness! (Yes they are part of SEO, too.)
Keyword ranking reports were a meaningful way to measure the effect keywords had on your bottom line, but, post-Hummingbird, that all changed. Google is putting a lot more emphasis on semantics to determine whether a certain page should be shown in the results for a particular search query.
A few reasons why keyword ranking reports are not a good measurement anymore:
- Keyword rankings are no longer accurate because of the Google Hummingbird update.
- Google does not always return results based on the exact keyword that was searched. This makes it an unreliable metric.
- Google Analytics has stopped providing keyword information since implementing the ‘keyword (not provided)‘ action.
- Google is consistently changing its algorithm in the SERPs as part of user behavior testing, affecting your keyword rankings and causing them to be high one day and low the next. This fluctuation in rank causes an inaccurate ranking system.
- Various devices and a user’s location will return various search results for the exact same keyword, making the rankings questionable.
- Ranking #1 for a keyword(s) will get you clicks but that doesn’t mean it will get you more traffic that converts. Site conversions and usability are more important.
- By focusing on topics rather than keywords, your chances of brand awareness, organic reach, and conversions are much greater.
What Should Businesses Be Focusing On?
This is important to track because it shows your website’s authority within your industry. This metric is one that you want to see consistently increase. A strong DA allows you to be found for industry and service-related search queries that will result in more traffic to your web pages.
This metric focuses on how trustworthy your website is as a source within your industry. If your website has been connected with spam or other black hat techniques, this will lower your trust metric and result in fewer external links and decreased web presence.
Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)
As a business what do you care about the most? What is it that you want your site to achieve? That is what you really want to measure, not keywords. These goals and conversions should be set up in Google Analytics to help you see what converts best on your site.
Review the reach of your organic search traffic, referral traffic, direct traffic, and social traffic. How are users finding your site and by what channels? Answers to these questions offer marketers huge insight.
Average Time on Site
This metric and the bounce rate metric work together. This metric measures the time users spend on your website. The more time spent on a website, the more Google values your website, increasing the domain authority and domain trust.
Average Page Views
This metric is important to Google because it takes into account user engagement with your website. The more pages the user views on your site, the more value your website receives, increasing the domain authority and domain trust.
My advice? Move towards the light and focus on what’s really important.
Please don’t get me wrong, keywords are important to search marketing, but it can’t be the basis of your SEO report or be the benchmark to measure the success of your SEO campaigns each month. There are just too many deficiencies. Seriously, keyword ranking reports are dead and gone! Stop measuring your ROI against this void metric. Get your site optimized and deliver targeted traffic that actually converts on your site.
Do you still use keyword rankings to measure success? What other metrics do you use for measuring your site’s growth?
Photo credit: Craig R. Kirkby