Do you obsess over your website’s search ranking?
If you answered yes, you’re not alone. So don’t start sweating just yet.
SEO is complicated. And it is often one of the most misunderstood areas of digital marketing. Many website owners think that with SEO their website will appear on the first page of Google. But I hate to tell you: it’s not that simple.
If you want to appear on the first page of Google, that’s great! It means that you are thinking in terms of your audience and how they would find you online. But the problem is that everyone wants to appear on the first page of Google. And more importantly, there are billions of pages that could be considered the first page of Google.
Did I lose you on that one? Let me explain.
When 2 people search for a pizza place, it is unlikely that they will get the same search results. Meaning that they will see two very different “first pages” of Google. And there are many factors that affect this. One of the most obvious factors is that not everyone talks the same way. So not everyone would enter the same string of words to find a pizza shop. Actually, these 2 people might type in slightly different phrases and receive dramatically different results.
Are you still with me?
Keep reading as we will discuss the problem with obsessively tracking your website’s ranking and what you need to focus on instead to ensure SEO success.
External factors that affect your ranking
Can we all agree right now that we cannot control everything in our lives? Once we accept this, our lives get a whole lot easier. And this is the same with your website’s ranking too.
You cannot control all aspects that affect your website’s ranking. Even the best SEO strategist can’t control the entire process to make your website appear as the first result. It’s just not possible.
But there are other areas that we can control. Such as informing Google that your site exists, where you are located, and even how a user can contact you. You can tell Google what your website is about with metadata and other information. But what you cannot control are Google’s ranking factors or the actions of the user on the other end of the search.
The curse of the virgin search
A user can only complete a virgin search once. Meaning that anything they search after that is tainted by past interactions. Now, what does this mean, you ask?
Well, once you complete a search on Google, they start to collect data. Google knows your past searches, the links you’ve clicked, what geographic location you were when you completed a search, the time you spent on a given page, and more! And to some, that might sound crazy. But this is nothing new. If you start your web experience on Google, they know your every move that follows.
With that said, you can only complete one virgin, untainted search. After that, the results are generated based on your past actions.
For people that obsess with their ranking, this adds an interesting twist. Let’s say you want to appear for the keyword: New York Style Pizza. You may sometimes appear well for that keyword, and then not so well other times. And this is because of the individual user completing the search.
Because of this, you will never consistently rank the same for a search. NEVER. And the ranking position trackers that you look at, only give you a general number. They compile all the data on where you rank for each search and average it out. So the number you see is not always reliable.
So are you starting to understand that your SEO success can’t be judged based on the ranking position you personally see?
The death of ranking tracking
Now that you’ve come this far, you are smarter than ever before! You understand that it is not the best option to obsess over your search ranking. And doing this is the biggest waste of your time when it comes to SEO.
Today, the personalization for a search and the actions of a user on the internet, make rank tracking almost obsolete. And one day it might be a thing of the past.
So now that you know what not to focus on, you might be wondering what you need to focus on! And if this is the thought running through your head, then I have to say I like what you’re thinking.
Here are 5 critical metrics that you NEED to focus on to understand if your SEO is a success.
What to focus on to understand the success of your SEO
1. Compliance with Google’s standards
Are you staying up to date with Google’s standards and SEO best practices? This past year alone, Google launched 1,653 search changes The algorithm changes on a regular basis and so does the best practices that your website needs to uphold. To ensure that you will achieve the most out of your SEO strategy, you need to stay up to date with Google’s standards on a regular basis.
2. Pages indexed by Google
Do you have Google Search Console/Webmaster Tools? Without it, you are already setting your website up to fail in the SEO world. Webmaster tools is the bare necessity as it tells Google about your website and what pages to crawl. And within this platform, you need to regularly check how many pages are indexed by Google and the number of search terms that are producing results. This will help you to understand your depth of ranking and what users search to find you on Google.
3. Keywords you appear for in SERP
This goes hand in hand with knowing the number of search terms that produce results. You need to know what keywords you appear for in SERP. First, this helps you to understand what keywords are performing well and what keywords aren’t. Or maybe even what keywords you need to include in your content so you start to appear for them. Second, you need to track this number to see if it is growing. You want to appear for more and more keywords as you continue to develop your website content!
4. Organic search growth
Organic search is critical to SEO. You need to monitor your Google Analytics to see if your organic search traffic grows over time. If there is slim to no organic traffic driven to your website, then you need to improve your SEO. However, if you notice a constant growth in organic search, then you can relax knowing that your website is performing well in terms of SEO. But don’t go to an SEO-free vacation just yet! You need to continue to check how your organic search stats are performing because it could change at any given time.
5. Conversion goals
And finally, you need to pay attention to your conversion goals! Choose pages and areas on your site that are important to your intended conversion. Whether you want users to fill out a contact form or sign-up for your email newsletter, you need to set conversion goals. And then over time, watch to see if you are achieving more of those goals. If conversions on your website continue to increase, then your site and its SEO is working!
And there you go! Now you know (just about) everything there is to know to evaluate if your website’s SEO is working for you.
More importantly, you now have a well-rounded understanding about why obsessing over your search ranking isn’t helping your SEO strategy. So throw away that mindset today, and start focusing on areas that will benefit your website.