As data capturing tools advance and web analysts get smarter, the depth and breadth of search engine marketing becomes more complex while the potential for reward becomes greater. Website visits have long been regarded as the primary measure of website success, popularity, and influence. Likewise in the SEO world, keyword rankings have historically been a cornerstone for measuring search marketing success. Here are six reasons I believe this should no longer the case.
1) There's no gold medal for showing in the top organic spots
Despite holding several top positions in search engines, Google or Yahoo or Bing have yet to send me my certificate and fancy gold medal for defeating all lesser sites that sit below me in the rankings. The reward is what happens on your site and it takes more than traffic volume to achieve that.
2) Just because you're ranked in the top positions doesn't mean anybody is searching for it
"AWESOME! I now rank number one in the search engine for 'male Affenpinscher stylist Comstock Nebraska.'" Nicely done. Now tell me how many Affenpinscher dogs there are in Comstock Nebraska.
3) You SEO-stuffed your way to the top so your listing looks terrible and no one wants to click on it
4) The keyphrase you rank for and the relevance to your site are not in line
So you made it to the top of the search engine, but unfortunately, there is little to no overlap between the keyphrase and what you offer on your site.
So while you get the click, it won't accomplish anything for you in the end.
5) Personalization of search means different people see different numbers
Google serves up different results based on the searching habits of the searcher (provided they are logged in to Google). You may be thrilled your business ranks number one until you realize you're on the 5th page when anyone else does the search.
6) Conversion rate isn't necessarily higher the better you rank
It's fitting to put this one at the end as it summarizes the previous points. Conversions are most influenced by the overlap of searcher relevance and website purpose/intent. The site that accomplishes this the best while also getting the traffic the winner. You don't sell more because your ranked one position higher. You sell more because your website better meets the objectives of the searcher than your competitors.
My point is not that search engine visibility isn't important. It's VITALLY important to a successful online strategy. The point is we can not get carried away measuring success by only one variable, especially when it is as volatile and misleading as a search engine position. Rankings are simply a means to an end and another tool in the box. Spend the time meeting the objectives of those searching for your product through testing and data analysis - not trying to go from position 3 to position 1.