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Graeme Benge

How Long Should You Keep Focusing On Just Rankings?

14th Jan 2013 SEO | No Comments


Tunnel visionWouldn’t it be nice to be told how long it will take to see your site sitting pretty at the top of a Google search for your money term…Or even how close you are to being top of the pops? Wouldn’t it be more humane for someone to actually tell you that despite the fact you know that your site is the bee’s knees, it is never going to happen, that www.xyz.com is going to cling on to number one despite your 10 page champion?

This post is going to tell you a little specifically about website optimisation, more about digital marketing becoming the necessary mind-set to adopt when marketing your website and it’s likely to infer (I’ll avoid saying it outright) to “gr**t content” now and again.

The point of this post is to say holistic digital marketing is more than ‘just’ SEO and to try and break down the tunnel vision, the hell bent obsession with ranking number one for ‘blue widgets’; and the belief that organic traffic is the only goal because it isn’t. Tunnel vision is “the loss of peripheral vision with retention of central vision, resulting in a constricted circular tunnel-like field of vision”, or the overwhelming focus on one thing at the expense of all else and sometimes the drive for purely rankings can fall in to that trap.

Red Mist

The greatest source of tunnel vision over the last few years has to be keyword rankings. Keyword rankings are not the most robust metric if indeed it ever was. The multiple variations of search engine results pages now render a lot of positional reporting imperfect, in that to have a useful dataset you would need to report by keyword on the following subsets of data:

  • Rank for users logged into a Google account
  • Rank for users logged out of a Google account
  • Personalised results for people not logged into a Google account
  • Non-personalised results
  • Rank by location – set at County level
  • Rank by location – set at City level
  • Rank by location – set at Post Code level

That’s quite a bit of data to refine in order to glean anything of use. As well as the variations listed above, the rise and rise of (not provided) data stripping out more and more keyword data means the actual sample size is getting less and less meaningful. Add to that, the data is going to be harder to come by with Google’s “request” of tools using their API to report on such metrics to stop. It makes a good line in the sand to focus on what actually is important.

3D Search Rank Crossword cube words

In short, in 2013, keyword position reporting is going to become even more difficult and less reliable. For some ideas on really useful metrics accessible via Google Analytics, see this Bobby Dazzler of a post by our Anna on reports you can use to inform your analysis of your sites performance.

Signs that you’re on the right track

What is the right track? Well the overriding metric that signifies a site is prospering is the traffic levels increasing consistently over a period of time. Couple that with a site that is increasing its conversions and is becoming more and more efficient at doing so, then you can smugly consider yourself to be walking the walk.

But how do you get there? You need to feed the beast. Regardless of what algorithm changes take place and what active link building you carry out, your site needs to be a channel for information if you’re banking on significant traffic coming from search engines organically. Many SEOs are predicting that effective ‘link building’ will become a process of link earning and the only type of content you’re going to earn links with need to be on the money.

The tactics are going to follow similar standards to content marketing. Regular, thoughtful and well written content will attract attention and subsequently engender passive promotion, a welcome and much valued multiplier to your own promotional efforts.

You’ll be in a good position if some of the following are happening on a more regular basis:

  • You’re being approached to provide content for similar industry related sites. Well done, there’s a compliment in there, you’re on topic and becoming an authority. Even better you’re readable
  • People are starting to promote your content for you, sharing your content. It’s good stuff, it’s what ticks their box emotionally and they want their friends and/or peers to see they know you’re talking good stuff about “it”
  • People are really talking about it. Not only is your content being shared but it is being commented on too
  • We also can’t forget the reason we’re doing all of this in the first place: Your sales and / or conversions are going up.

Signs you need to diversify

Traffic dropping regularly, on site content is thin and all of your traffic sources are low or reducing…if this sounds familiar do you know the answer to any of the following questions?

  • Is your audience responding in a different way?
  • Is your content one dimensional? Are you banging the same drum over and over?
  • 80% of your income will likely come from 20% of your product range. Are you making sure that you’re exploiting your cash cows and binning the lame ducks?
  • What is growing your competitor’s audience and do you have a better insight or authority with which to capitalise?

All hope is not lost however…

Diversify

It may seem glib, but everyone investing in a search engine to provide income is unfortunately at the whim of the search engine’s commercial needs. These aims are easily leveraged by changes to its underlying algorithm.

The one thing 2012 has taught me is not to put all your eggs in one basket and that digital marketing is much more than just SEO. Whisper this…there are different  traffic sources….

  • Search engines are algorithmic; that algorithm is never going to be revealed and you will have to adapt to changes that see once favoured things fall from grace. SEO’s are great at doing this but it will never be a quick win one off service
  • Social media channels may have their own algorithm however the trusted serving is “most recent first”. If you can understand the optimum times to post then you’ll reach your people
  • Paid advertising provides you the opportunity to reach who you want, when you want with the message you want them to see…for a price
  • Email marketing never went away; it just wasn’t the new thing. In 2013 I think it is going to be vital to site owners to develop this audience. SEO as well as CRO tactics will play major parts in making this work.  Get them on site and then convert them to an audience you interact with. Scale is important as there will be a tipping point when signups will outweigh unsubscribes.

If you fall foul of a drastic drop in traffic, then you’ll still have three audience streams at your disposal to work with.

Conclusion

It’s very high minded of me but in 2013 I want to banish keyword rankings as a primary objective, my aim is to help build sites that find the right type of audience, one that interacts and ultimately benefits from the products or services on offer.

For a site to be successful you can tap into the huge potential organic search offers you. But don’t be blinded by the alternatives, don’t become obsessed by being number one in the listings, get talked about.

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Graeme Benge About the author

Graeme Benge

With five years background in Travel, Graeme has built up strong commercial experience alongside online and offline marketing skills working with a variety of Travel Agents and Cruise Specialists. A passionate advocate of SEO and Social Media, Graeme has a strong interest in ROI and analytics in order to deliver the best level of returns.

Technical SEO

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