Measure Organic Growth With Relevant Metrics
You’re paying good money for your SEO campaign,
Here’s the problem. You’re going about your assessment all wrong.
Like many business owners and managers, you probably test the effectiveness of your campaign by searching for a handful of phrases to see where your website ranks in the results. Or, when you see analytics reports, you gravitate to the chart that shows average rankings for your targeted keywords. In the ambiguous, mysterious, unquantifiable World Wide Web, the ranking chart that shows upward or downward movement feels tangible. Our NJ web design agency manages digital marketing for businesses across the country, and many clients tend to obsess over these rankings.
After all, as an entrepreneur, you are competitive by nature. You want to win; you want to be No. 1. Or, at a minimum, on Page 1. You’ve probably heard the saying, “The best place to bury a dead body is on Page 2 of Google.
The problem is keyword rankings are an irrelevant metric on which to gauge online success. Let’s dig into the reasons and learn what measurements deserve attention.
Why Keyword Rankings Are Irrelevant
Yes, powerful SEO campaigns are built with a set of long-tail keyword phrases as the foundation. Keywords are selected based on research about search volumes in the target market, among other pieces of data. Then they are used to optimize copywriting, metadata and link-building strategies. But those keywords are only one building block in an effective campaign.
Well-chosen keywords help improve your website’s relevancy in searches that matter: They ensure Google includes the right web pages among results for the right people, in the right places.
What doesn’t matter, however, is where you rank for each exact search phrase. That’s because there is wide variety in the words people search and the results Google shows every individual.
There is no Page 1 anymore. Google personalizes search results based on the searcher’s history, location, device and other data. Google uses artificial intelligence known as “machine learning” to power RankBrain, a system that analyzes search queries to provide better answers. The search engine is moving away from using rule-based algorithms that automatically respond to queries. The goal is to serve more useful results, but it can mean less predictability and control over what Google shows. It will customize search results even more.
This means your top 10 results could be completely different than what your friend who is 5 miles away sees. On top of that, there are countless ways visitors might phrase their search terms—depending on their exact needs and preferences, whether they’re using voice search and myriad other factors.
Just refer to Google Search Console for proof: Your campaign might target the phrase “air conditioning san diego,” for example, but people find your website in first position for various other phrases, such as:
- a/c repair near me
- central air service
- a/c repair companies
- residential air conditioner service
- ac company
- best ac company near me
- air conditioner service near me
- home air conditioning
These searches didn’t even use a town name, but all of them generated first-position placement in someone’s search. And there are dozens of examples of other word combinations that yielded similar results. So, why judge success on how one particular four-word phrase ranks, when several others are showing your site in the top spot?
Relevancy Is the Rule
An effective SEO strategy builds your website’s relevancy for related terms and in the desired geographic area. It’s this approach that ensures it will be visible for a variety of search phrases, not just a handful of specific keywords. Focusing on relevancy—not ranking—casts a wider net, increasing the number of opportunities to be seen among results.
Creating high-quality content on and off of the website is a critical component. Using strategic link-building tactics (internal links and backlinks), this body of work builds your site’s authority. It’s a solid long-term strategy that provides protection against Google’s frequent algorithm changes. A well-rounded, content-focused campaign will remain strong despite these shifts in rules and priorities.
Measure Meaningful Metrics
Just because you should ignore keyword rankings doesn’t mean you have no method of assessing the health of your SEO efforts. There are several trackable metrics that show whether your relevancy and visibility are growing.
Ensure the number of new visitors arriving to your website via organic search is growing, month to month and year over year. These folks found you by doing a search for a service or product you offer and clicking on a result outside the paid advertising links. Organic traffic represents effectiveness of SEO because it does not capture people who arrived at your website via these other common traffic channels:
- Direct (people who knew your brand or your URL)
- Social (from networks such as Facebook or Twitter)
- Referral (followed a link from another website)
- Paid (pay-per-click advertising campaign, such as Google AdWords)
Ensure the number of visits and new visitors from within your target market is growing. If you offer a localized service, your SEO campaign will focus on increasing relevancy in your service area only. This will reduce irrelevant traffic from people who find and visit your website from other towns where you don’t do business. When this is done well, people in your target market need not include local modifiers (town names) in their search terms, and they’ll still find you. They might say “near me” or add no reference at all to geography, but you’ll appear at the top of the page.
The ultimate measurement of success should be conversions, and particularly those from visitors who arrived via organic search. A visible website that generates no leads still isn’t doing its job. So once someone finds your site, its design, content and user experience should make it easy to call or submit a form that will facilitate a relationship with your company. You should track the number of unique phone calls to a website call-tracking number and count the number of forms submitted via organic traffic.
Good SEO Gets Results
Ego often drives business owners’ obsession with keyword rankings. It gets under their skin when a smaller competitor appears higher in their own search results. Don’t fall into that trap. Rest assured that your personal search experience does not represent the effectiveness of others’ SEO campaigns or the ability of their websites to convert customers. And the rankings you see are not necessarily what your prospective customers see.
Instead, focus on building a campaign that uses a proven process and branded content, and then monitor the metrics that matter. The ultimate goal is not to rank first for an arbitrary set of keyword phrases. It’s to get your phones ringing, flood your email inbox with contact forms and fill your schedule.
KickCharge Creative, powered by our partnership with 1SEO.com Digital Agency, can help you make it happen. We offer more than web design in NJ; we make your website work. To learn more and request a free audit of your website’s performance, call us at 908.835.9000 or contact us online.