Towards the end of every month, I start to feel a little uneasy. My palms get sweaty and a nervous little voice in the back of my head tells me to run away and hide in a dark cave for ten days until the new month has begun; only then will it safe to come out again. Nothing fills me with more dread than the arduous task of running through a series of monthly ranking reports.
This all might sound very dramatic, but the truth is I’m sick of clients focusing on rankings. It would be more than an understatement to say that the search landscape has changed considerably in the last 5 or so years. Right now you and I could search for a specific term and based on a myriad of factors we could, and would, get entirely different results. Thanks to major overhauls in algorithms, advances in machine learning and personalization, Google looks at your location, search history, friends behavior, device type, trending news items and many other factors and delivers what it believes to be the most important result to each individual based on its perceived relevance to that user of that machine at that particular time.
Herein we have a problem. As a marketer, you are understandably expected to achieve certain goals. Nearly every business owner with a website, no matter how tech unsavvy they may be, now believes that they should be #1 on Google. It has been drilled into the masses that anything less is a failure, and more often than not, they can see no further. It’s an ugly sort of vanity thats ingrained in many, but it doesn’t really focus on the bigger picture.
In a previous post I looked at the real metrics that measure the success of a website, unsurprisingly ranking reports didn’t get a mention. In a world where there are many routes to customer and visitor acquisition, we should be looking past the old-school ranking report and looking at visitor engagement, conversion rates, and methods of acquisition. A site with 10,000 daily visits and a 5% conversion rate is far healthier than a site ranking #1 on Google for a search term no one uses.
Ranking reports are dead, a terrible hangover from a bygone era of simpler, spammier SEO. Next time you start a marketing campaign try and agree to focus on the metrics that matter, focus on quality visitors that convert. One day in the future, as the month comes to the end listen carefully to the breeze. You may just hear the collective sigh of a thousand marketers relief that the nightmare is over.