More often than not, individuals equate how well their site ranks to how successful their SEO campaign has been. We’ve been trying to get this out of the head of our current clients for months now. Well, not they won’t just have to listen to us saying it, seeing as how longtime SEO Jill Whalen has written a post about why rankings are a poor measure of success. Her five reasons are:
- Rankings are constantly fluctuating
- Search results are sometimes geotargeted
- Personalized search
- Rankings don’t equal targeted traffic
- Rankings don’t equal conversions or sales
I think her fifth reason is a fairly regular misconception for individuals who look at search engine optimization as being only delivering higher rankings for targeted keyword phrases; they think, “Hey, my site now ranks for ‘blue running shoes for women'; that must mean more sales!” when that just isn’t the case. This is only one slice of the optimization puzzle. Along with delivering these better rankings, proper search optimization should help how those interested in your product or service navigate your site. Sure, having a great ranking is extremely helpful, but if a visitor arrives at your site and isn’t guided through the conversion funnel process in a way that they like, then they will bail and go to a competitor’s site.
Search engine optimization should deliver better rankings but the true key performance indicator of success should be whether or not this targeted traffic is hitting a “conversion goal” on your site. Because you can go on and on until the cows come home about how you rank #1 for “salsa dancing shoes for large-toed men”, but if you’re not getting any sales from visitors coming from that search result… then your ranking simply doesn’t amount to anything.