When beginning discussions with so many potential SEO clients the first thing they tend to ask is, “How do I rank number one in Google?” Obviously, they have a narrow focus of what a search engine optimization campaign and results typically look like. Search engine results page (SERP) ranking can never be guaranteed so there is no correct answer to the question of how to rank number one in Google and the other major search engines. SEO involves trial and error and outside influences that are difficult to manage. The search engine ranking algorithms are always changing. Rank is important, but focusing so much on getting to number one instead of focusing on what is really important, which is visitor growth and conversions, can drive you crazy.
Developing an SEO campaign that is focused on rank is the wrong approach for many reasons. First, ranking fluctuates. Just because a website has landed the number one spot for a specific keyword or keyword phrase one day, doesn’t mean that it will be number one the next. Every industry is competitive online and any smart business has invested in SEO to improve their rank, which means that it’s not easy to get to number one or to stay there.
Ranking well is important, but only if you are ranking well for the right keywords or keyword phrases. It’s important to optimize your website for the keywords that will actually generate traffic and visitors, not for the keywords that will get you to number one. SEO companies that promise a number one ranking might be able to get you to number one, but not for the keywords that you want to rank for. It’s easy to rank number one for an obscure or extremely long tail keyword that nobody is actually searching for. But what’s the point of that?
Another reason to avoid concentrating so much on rank is because search is now personalized. Two people searching for the same thing will see different results based on factors like previous search history, location, and social media connections and activity. The search engines want to provide their customers with the best possible search experience and the most relevant results that suit their personal preferences. This means that search results vary slightly from user to user.
Businesses that don’t understand the nature of ranking sometimes think that they can game the system and end up making bad decisions like dabbling in black hat SEO, which involves implementing tactics that are frowned upon by the search engines. It may result in short term gain and ranking improvement but it will be short lived. Once the search engines figure out what is going on any website that practices black hat SEO will be punished and see a severe dip in ranking and traffic.
Sarch engine optimization is certainly about improving rank in the search engines but it’s also about establishing trust amongst target audience members and generating qualified traffic that turns into sales and conversions.