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Technology / SEO techniques

Does your search rank really matter?

Are you obsessed about where your website ranks in Google? Do you fret when you move down a spot or two? Stop! When it comes to SEO, ranking isn’t everything.

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We all do it, but it’s not something we like to admit.
We know we should stop, but it’s so addictive.

And now the so-called experts are telling us it’s a complete waste of time!

No, I’m not talking about waxing your back hair. I’m talking about Googling yourself.

You see, the word on the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) street is that a good Google rank isn’t what it used to be. Apparently it’s not where you rank that counts, but what you do with the traffic you generate. So does being number one for a given keyword really mean anything? Or is playing the ranking game totally futile?

How to Google yourself – the right way

Let me guess. You’re typing in ‘Chinchilla wool ear muffs’ and patting yourself on the back because look, there you are. Top of the results. Woohoo.

Sorry, but no.

If you’re logged into your Google account, any form of social media or your WordPress blog, then chances are Google has tailored the results just for you and you’re not seeing the true results.

So for a more realistic picture, log out of every account, empty out your cache, then go into incognito mode on the Chrome browser.

"Becoming fixated on your website’s ranking can stop you from focusing on the metrics that really matter – traffic and conversions."

Location location location

If you haven’t set your location on Google, the clever search engine will work out an approximate location based on your IP address (and the Google Toolbar’s My Location feature, if it’s turned on).

This ‘geotargeting’ means if you search for the single term ‘plumber’ while you’re in Melbourne, you may get a different result than if you were in Wagga Wagga.

Want more articles like this? Check out the SEO techniques section.

This too shall pass

The truth is that rankings change: day-to-day, minute-to-minute, even device-to-device. And variables such as personalisation, localisation and search history also have an impact on search results. Becoming fixated on your website’s ranking can stop you from focusing on the metrics that really matter – traffic and conversions.

Not all traffic is good traffic

Obviously, if you’re ranking for phrases no-one is searching for, you’re not going to get traffic. This is a classic unscrupulous SEO tactic – promising you a first place rank and achieving it, but for a really pointless keyword phrase.

But here’s the thing: even if your keyword phrase is popular, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee more business.

For example, I rank really well for the term ‘copywriter’. And yes, I get a heap of traffic. But many of my visitors don’t want a copywriter, they want to be a copywriter. So while I feel nice and popular, that great rank isn’t helping my bottom line.

Loving the long tail

If people don’t find what they’re looking for on a search engine, they’re more likely to search again with a new keyword than to click to the second page of results.

So if they just typed ‘lederhosen’ the first time without success, they may try again with ‘purple lederhosen with tassels in a size 12’. These longer keyword phrases may well deliver more traffic overall, but they’re almost impossible to optimise for.

Google reports that 15% of the searches they see every day are ones they’ve never seen before, and that 54.5 percent of queries use more than three words. So while you can guess what long tail searches people might be making, you’ll never be 100 percent sure.

What is important?

All your SEO efforts should be about helping Google understand your business and your website. This is the only way to get qualified (they don’t hit your site and leave immediately) and unbranded (they’re not searching for your company name) traffic.

In other words, you want visits from people who want what you do, but don’t know you do it.

Of course, once you’ve driven the traffic to your site (via search, social media, networking, email or whatever), you have to convert them.

And that’s a whole ‘nother story.

Do you care about your Google ranking? 

Kate Toon

is a copywriter, SEO lover and Hula Hooper based in Sydney. She’s the author of Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur | How to succeed in business despite yourself. Connect with her on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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