A prospective client contacted me recently asking for a list of competitive keywords I’d ranked for — that is, terms for which I’d gotten a client to the first page of Google.
That sort of thing gives you bragging rights in the SEO community, but is it really best metric for your site’s success? And if not, then what is?
Here are some possibilities:
- Ranking well for your keywords “Your keywords” being the terms your customers and prospective customers type in at Google when they look for you. You should always rank well for the name of your company, and for your specialty in your geographic area. You may or may not be able to rank well for your most general keywords. That is, I rank well for “quality copywriting” and for “SEO” in my area, but I don’t expect to be #1 at Google for “SEO” any time soon. You might not get top placement for “books” but be right up there for “parenting books” or “independent bookstores in Yourtown.”
- Looking good on the SERPs. A lot of decisions are made now before visitors even get to your site. If someone types in your company name at Google and sees your site with a strange description, several other similarly named competitors (possibly with better descriptions) and some negative reviews of your company, they may go elsewhere. If they type in one of your top keywords and see your site with a poor title and description and your competitors with multiple listings, video and image results, and enticing descriptions, they’ll very likely choose someone else, no matter where you rank. These days, you have to look good on the search engine results page as well as on your own site.
- Steadily increasing traffic If your traffic is increasing fairly steadily, you probably have a healthy website. You have to pay attention to the sources of the traffic and whether they’re likely to be your customers, though. If you have a hair salon in Teaneck, you don’t need large amounts of traffic from Germany, and it isn’t a sign of success. Equally, if you own Big Fish Plumbing, getting traffic from people searching for a fishmonger isn’t a sign of success. Well targeted trafffic, however, is.
- A healthy bottom line If your business is going well, whether that means plenty of online sales, lots of phone calls, or increasing walk in traffic at your brick and mortar shop, that’s probably a good sign that your website is doing a good job for you. Nearly all consumers do at least some of their shopping and reconnaissance work online before they buy or visit you. The days when you could judge by whether or not people mentioned that they found you online are gone; now, it’s a foregone conclusion.
You might want all these things, actually, but choose at least one to inform your online marketing strategy.