Number one in Google is NOT necessary

As SEO (search engine optimization) inches closer to “household-term” status, more and more business owners are beginning to idealize the impact of a good SEO campaign on their bottom line, for instance:

Better, more targeted traffic to their websitesStronger position against bigger competitors- Higher ROI on advertising and promotional campaigns

However, there are a lot of reasons to take these with a grain of salt. According to Jill Whalen’s post entitled “5 Reasons Why Rankings Are A Poor Measure Of Success” there are at least five good ones:

When you boil it all down, a #1 ranking in Google is likely to be most valuable as a branding achievement: saying “we are #1 in Google” connotes instant credibility.

But #1 rankings are hard to come by. So what should you, the business owner, be looking at in addition to search engine rankings?

Traffic from all keywords. A good analytics program can aggregate all keywords in all search engines, and track the amount of traffic they bring in. For added context, keep an eye on ratios when comparing to direct traffic (people who type the URL right into their browser) and referral traffic (linked from other sites).

Conversions. If you’re investing in promotions, search engine marketing, pay-per-click advertising, and the like, chances are you can quantify that investment. If you can confidently isolate the revenue streams associated strictly with those efforts, you can calculate your conversion rate, which is much closer to your bottom line.

Make no mistake — SEO is still a crucial bedrock of the digital marketing agenda. It’s virtually impossible to crack the upper echelon in your industry without paying attention to SEO. But in appreciation for the marketing discipline as a long-term driver of business success, do yourself a favor: please don’t put too much emphasis on day-to-day search engine rankings.