It would be a lie to say I don't get excited when one of my client sites starts ranking on the first few pages for a major keyword. It feels like months of hard work is finally paying off, and that's awesome! But after a celebratory high-five with the next person I see in the hallway, it's time to settle down and get back to an unfriendly SEO reality: search engine rankings don't actually matter.
If you're looking at your website's success in terms of where you think your link is placing on the search engine results page, it's time to switch your perspective. Here's why:
1. Search Engine Results Are Personalized
Do you feel like Google has been stalking your internet activity? That's not paranoia. Not only is Google paying attention to what you and your friends are doing online, it's gathering that data and using it to decide what information to display to you.
That means search engine results are "personalized" for each user, and that makes results inconsistent. You can search the exact same term as the neighbour who steals your Wi-Fi and there's potential that you'll both come up with entirely different results. Basically, Google is trying to give you the best possible results based on your own web browsing history and social connections. It's this personalization that makes ranking perception inaccurate and a therefore unreliable metric to base success on.
But that's not all...
2. Ranking Doesn't Equal Leads & Vice-Versa
I'm going to propose two entirely different scenarios and let you choose which one you prefer, as a Sarasota real estate agent:
Your site ranks #3 for "Sarasota real estate" and you receive 400 new visits a day
Your site is nowhere to be seen with a search for "Sarasota real estate" and you receive 2400 new visits a day
We're not just talking theoretical scenarios here—this actually happens. Just recently, one of my fellow REW writers was working with Client A, who compared their site's ranking success to Client B's because B's was higher on the results page. The writer repeatedly tried to reassure Client A that everything was going well, but Client A kept insisting the writer find a way to outrank Client B. We always respect our clients privacy and that means the writer couldn't share a game-changing secret: Client A's site was getting significantly more leads. (Client B does not have an SEO project with us...!)
So, let's reflect. At the end of the day, do you want to see your site at the top of the results page or do you want to receive high quality leads you can convert? Our SEO team focuses on traffic and leads as metrics for success because they reflect the end goal of attracting new clients who can make you money. That's what matters.
The next time someone tries to impress you with their search engine rankings, ask them to show you their traffic and leads data instead!