In the past, search marketing and search engine optimization have focused heavily on boosting search rankings so that your website is as visible as possible to people using sites like Google. However, over the last few years, search engines have significantly changed the way they operate. While search rankings still have some value, they are certainly far less important than they once were.
Moreover, as the entire SEO field has grown, so has the number of search marketing specialists who are trying to make a quick buck from unsuspecting clients who have limited knowledge in this area. Here, we take a more detailed look at exactly why search rankings no longer hold the same importance, so that you can make sure you are getting the right kind of assistance from the search marketing agency you are working with.
One of the biggest problems with placing too great an emphasis on search rankings is that it encourages search engine consultants to boost the rankings by any means necessary, without giving much thought to the kind of traffic they are generating to your website. For instance, they may target uncompetitive keywords or low value phrases, which will result in a rankings boost, but those keywords and phrases may produce irrelevant traffic to your site and high bounce rates.
“Unscrupulous SEO ‘consultants’ will promote the site for worthless keywords that are not at all competitive, because they know they can make the site rank for those keyword phrases,” explains Jim Hodson, a respected search marketing strategist and the founder of Digital Prospector, LLC. “This is meaningless if those keyword phrases are not driving targeted traffic that result in conversions.”
In almost all cases, these consultants will be able to demonstrate a boost in rankings that is a direct result of their work, making it seem as though they are doing a fantastic job. They may even believe it themselves, but it will be offering no tangible benefit to your business. A reputable SEO agency will instead focus on generating high-quality traffic to your website, targeting useful keywords and attempting to increase conversion rates.
Another issue with focusing on search rankings stems from Google’s recent shift towards personalized search results. In simple terms, this means that search result pages are less standardized and the websites shown may vary depending on who is actually performing the search. Some of the factors that are taken into account include things like physical location, interests and personal browsing habits.
This means that your business’s search rankings could vary from one region to another, or based on the interests or social media activity of the person carrying out the search. Therefore, rankings alone are not necessarily a good indicator of who gets to see your website in their search results, or of how well your current search engine optimization strategy is working when it comes to reaching the people you want to attract.
With that said, it is important to remember that while search rankings may be less important now than they were a few years ago, they do still have some value. This is especially true when looking at local search rankings if your business is targeting people in a relatively small area, or if you are simply looking for extra exposure, where organic traffic is fine. Even then, however, your search agency should be paying attention to other metrics as well.
Author: Christelle Macri is the founder of ebizpromotion, a specialist search marketing consultancy, with a no-nonsense and ethical approach to digital marketing. She is a search engine consultant with over 17 years experience in the internet advertising industry. Having worked for a major search engine and pioneering pay for performance advertising networks, she is an expert at turning her clients’ websites into consistent revenue streams, using a variety of digital channels.