Say Bye-bye to Rankings
and Hello to SEO Success
In this issue we've included
an article by Jill Whalen of High Rankings®
from her SEO newsletter.
Like us, Jill has found
that web analytics tools such as Click Tracks
and Google Analytics are the most important
tools we have to measure the results of a
search marketing campaign - See
Improving Conversion Rates, Usability &
Web Analytics for more information.
Remember that time after
optimizing your first website when you checked
your search engine rankings and actually saw
your site show up in the top of the results?
Was that not the coolest feeling in the world?
Part of what makes SEO so much fun is getting
to tangibly see the fruits of your labor --
right there in the search results pages (SERPs).
Whether you run automated ranking reports (responsibly
through the search engines' APIs of course!)
or just do some spot checks by hand, achieving
the goals you set for your campaign totally
Before you get lost in that lovely memory,
do you also remember that time soon after you
spotted your high rankings when you realized
that your overall traffic to your site barely
went up -- and worse than that, you didn't make
even one more dime than you had made before
you got the rankings?
How can that be?
Welcome to the real world of SEO. It's time
you learn that ranking reports are not your
friend. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that
they are closer to being meaningless drivel
to everyone other than your boss's over-inflated
Yeah, I know, measuring success through ranking
reports was EASY and FUN, and made for some
great Saturday night entertainment. But things
change, and life moves on. Sometimes you just
have to forget about how you "always did
things before" and start fresh with a new
outlook on things. Rankings only matter if they
bring traffic, which only matters if it converts
for you. Therefore, rankings are just not worth
measuring. Say bye-bye to them and cut them
Instead, say hello to SEO success!
No need to mourn the loss of your ranking reports.
There's a new kid on the block and she's just
as much fun to play with as ranking reports.
In fact, she's a whole lot more fun, and not
only that, she pays for herself over and over
again. Her name is web analytics and she's going
to be your new best friend!
Measuring the success of your SEO campaigns
has never been easier, due to all the great
web analytic tools available today. All you
need is the right software (I use ClickTracks
and Google Analytics), your log files, and some
time to set it up correctly. Start by running
a baseline report before you actually optimize
your site, and then run reports on a monthly
basis so that you can spot the trends. After
you've optimized for your hundreds of well-researched
keyword phrases, if you've done your job properly,
you'll see them showing up in your log files
For instance, we just ran a ClickTracks report
for a client of ours whose newly redesigned
and SEO'd site went live sometime in February.
They sell a specialized product that the average
person probably isn't searching for, so of course
they don't get tons of traffic. However, it's
really cool to see how clickthroughs from our
optimized keyword phrases go up each month.
One particular 4-word keyword phrase went from
16 organic clickthroughs in February to 54 organic
clickthroughs in April. Many other phrases have
doubled, tripled, and more than quadrupled since
So you see, I don't really care where they're
ranking for all these phrases
-- it doesn't matter. I only care that they're
getting traffic from them, and that the traffic
is going up. That's SEO success that is meaningful
Not only can you see if the words you've optimized
for are bringing traffic, you can also see if
they convert for you. Looking at which phrases
tend to be used by people who will fill out
your contact form, sign up for your newsletter,
or purchase your product is way more exciting
than boring old-fashioned rankings!
Using Google Analytics for my own High Rankings
site, I'm always gaining some amazing
insight. For instance, one would think that
being ranked very highly for the coveted "search
engine optimization" phrase would bring
me tons of clients and make me rich! Nope. Not
at all. Sure, it brings tons of traffic, but
it actually has only a 0.82% conversion rate
in terms of people filling out my request form,
and even lower conversions for such things as
signing up for my free newsletter, registering
on my forum, or purchasing my Nitty-gritty guide.
Yet a phrase such as "search engine consultant"
has a 6.67% conversion rate in terms of filling
out my request form. Now, granted, I get a whole
lot less traffic for that phrase than I get
for the big kahuna. But when you add together
the traffic from those "minor" phrases,
the conversions are much, much higher than for
the major phrases.
There are a zillion other things that you can
learn when measuring your true SEO success through
web analytics. If you're not already using a
good program (and learning from it), I can't
stress enough how important it is to start doing
it. Get out of your comfort zone and tell your
clients that rankings are dead. Maybe then we
can stop receiving all the RFPs from companies
whose only goal for their campaign is "top
5 rankings for 10 one-word keywords." Blech!
Whalen of High Rankings® is an
internationally recognized search engine optimization consultant and host of the free weekly High Rankings® Advisor
search engine marketing newsletter. Jill's
handbook, "The Nitty-gritty of Writing for
the Search Engines" teaches business owners
how and where to place relevant keyword phrases
on their Web sites so that they make sense
to users and gain high rankings in the major
Jill specializes in search
engine optimization, SEO consultations, site
analysis reports, SEM seminars and is the
co-founder of the Cambridge, MA search marketing and website design
company, Search Creative, LLC.