As the internet evolved and we learned about search engine results pages (SERPS), we’ve been conditioned to think about the importance of rankings. We all wanted to show up on the first page of Google’s search—it’s been the gold standard for years, and we’ve been led to believe that there’s a strong correlation between search results and clickthrough rates. It’s Google, of course, that has manipulated our obsessions, forcing us to scramble as they change their algorithms for gazillionth time, wondering how the changes are going to affect our rankings.
Time to take a breather
Now it appears that ranking isn’t what it used to be. Remember all those people who “guaranteed to get you to “#1 on Google”? I always cringed at these hollow promises–whoever bought into those scams was in for a lot of disappointment. They well may have been on the first page for a day, or maybe two, but this was a fleeting victory and impossible to sustain. There is a number of factors that figures into the rankings.
- Studies of clickthrough rates and user behavior are showing that searchers favor the top search results for the top 3 listings or so. But get this: on subsequent pages, being listed at the top of the pages shows similar good click behavior.
- And there’s another really important factor here. Just because you’re ranking well doesn’t mean you’re getting any clickthroughs or conversion. A high Google ranking doesn’t necessarily put any money in your pocket.
If not rankings, what?
I’ve always maintained that you really have two audiences. You need to be paying attention to the things that help you show up in search engines, but once people get land on your site, there has to be a compelling reason to contact you. Google’s last algorithm change has made it clear that quality content is nonnegotiable.
Tell your audience something that will enlighten and inform, something that will help them do their jobs.
- Provide high-quality content. Well-written landing pages should be 300+ words.
- Optimize your site for mobile.
- Tell stories. Don’t just list your services—these are meaningless. Use case studies. Tell a story to demonstrate how you help your clients solve problems.
- Start blogging. A stagnant website isn’t going anywhere. You need to be adding fresh content on a regular basis. Start blogging and commit to it as part of a content marketing program. Post it to your Linkedin page.
- Share something about yourself. People want to know about the people with whom they’re going to be working. Make this a little bit personal—make people want to work with you!
- Do the little things and do them consistently. Pay attention to keywords, write metadescriptions, use alt tags for images, H1 and H2 tags for headings and subheads and start using social media. Include calls to action and make it easy to find your contact information.
Rather than focusing on rankings, focus on a compelling website that shares quality information. If you’re using good SEO principles and best practices, you will start to show up in search engines—most important, you will start to see conversions.