Don’t Focus On Keywords. Focus On This Instead.

January 25, 2017 Dylan Brooks

line graph illustrationHow do you measure SEO success?

If your answer is keyword rankings, you're selling yourself short.

It's true SEO is about improving your agency's search visibility. Ranking on the first page of Google for keywords is important to achieving that success. But, if you only look at keyword rankings to evaluate SEO, you're missing the forest for the trees.

The Problem With A Keyword-Only Focus

Keywords have long been important to SEO. They still are. But, you shouldn't base marketing decisions off keyword rankings alone.

Here are some issues with tracking keywords in a vacuum.

Search results aren't universal.

Different searchers get different results. That means people get results based on their location and search history. Imagine if you visited an Allstate agent's website while on a Google Chrome browser. Then later, you searched for auto insurance while using the same browser. If that Allstate website doesn't normally appear on the first page of results, Google will place it there.

Search results are more varied than ever before.

Google often features paid ads, local business results, and information boxes on result pages. Many times, these features appear above the top organic result. These features draw people away from the link to your website, even if it ranks first in organic results.

Search engines rely on more than just keywords for ranking.

Since the launch of Google Hummingbird in 2013, Google has been able to group search queries by topic. So, say you search for Dallas auto insurance or Dallas TX car insurance. Google will be able to understand you're searching for car insurance in Big D.

Not all keywords are often searched.

Just because you have a top ranking for a keyword doesn't mean people are searching for it. Showing up for Dallas bumper insurance won't do you much good if no one's searching for that topic.

A high-ranking keyword might not get clicked on.

You might think a good keyword ranking is the golden ticket to growing your customer base. But if no one clicks on your listing, that lofty ranking alone won't help you achieve that goal.

As you can see, ranking for a particular keyword variation matters less than it used to. In 2017, fretting about rankings for each keyword is shortsighted.

What To Look At

So, if keyword rankings aren't the main metric you should focus on, what should you look at instead?

You should focus on your ROI, or return on investment.

Look at the revenue taken in from customers who found you through a search engine. Compare that to the time and money spent to increase your agency's search visibility. Use it to see how successful your SEO campaigns have been.

Focusing on your SEO ROI will allow two things.

1. Which topics resonate most with online consumers

By evaluating your SEO from the end of the buying cycle, you can see which search topics led to conversions. Double down on these topics by adding new content on them to your website.

2. Which topics need some help

If certain topics aren't bringing home the bacon, you might need to make some changes. Consider writing more enticing meta descriptions to improve your click through rate (CTR). This can help drive more traffic to your insurance website. Then, make sure the pages on your website encourage them to take the next step in the buying cycle.

Looking at your SEO from an ROI perspective can even influence your business model. For instance, you focus on car insurance, but you're seeing more SEO success with home. Consider shifting your SEO attention to homeowners and then cross-selling them on car insurance.

It's important to remember SEO is part of a holistic business process. An ROI-based approach can help you connect the dots and get the most out of your SEO campaign.

Got questions about SEO? Our team has answers. Contact us to learn more about our managed SEO services.

About the Author

Dylan Brooks

Dylan Brooks helps ITC clients improve the visibility of their agency websites, working directly with them to improve their search engine rankings. Dylan has a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Miami and an MBA from Southern Methodist University. Dylan has extensive experience with writing, strategy and marketing analytics. In his spare time, Dylan enjoys cooking, participating in 5K races, and spending time around Dallas.

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