Search Rankings Are Dead

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Stop dwelling on where your company or its keywords appear on a search engine.  The issue is moot, and anyone selling you services to allow “your keywords to rank at the top of Google” is a poseur full of hot air at best and a snake oil salesman regardless of intent.

The issue with search engine rankings is simple.   Google is nicer in its advice to webmasters about hiring a search marketing agency.   “Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings…

That sounds pretty basic, doesn’t it?  Rankings are not only not guaranteed, but here is the dirty little secret.  Rankings (and advertising) wildly fluctuate based on many factors, including:

  • whether someone is logged into a Google (or Yahoo or whatever) account,
  • what IP address they are using to connect to the Internet
  • previous searches — if you just searched for “Rice”, do you mean the food, the university, the medical treatment or one of the 6 towns named Rice in the United States?

Those are just three basic examples, but they are important.     There are dozens more.

The real issue and the single thing we constantly preach is Return on Investment.   You can rank #1 for whatever phrase or word you desire, but if that ranking doesn’t translate into visitors who pay you money or who are advertised to by a display ad company, the traffic (and the ranking) is worthless.

Search engine rankings are dead.   The only thing that matters is how much money you’ve invested in sending signals and cues to search engines and human visitors describing a page’s purpose.  The next thing that must happen is the visitor paying money or otherwise completing an action that generates profit for your 0rganization.

Everything else is irrelevant.

And coming down the pike in about two weeks is a new feature from Google called “interest-based advertising” that could drastically shake up the advertising side as much as “personalized search” has shaken up the natural (also called organic) listings.

Stop telling your agency you want to “rank number one” for a list of terms.  First, they can’t guarantee their results, and if they do, you should fire them.  More importantly, a good marketer interviews you and finds out about your business.  The marketer then researches the topic and begins crafting a way for you to generate more profit.

When I go to my mechanic, I usually say something like “The brakes don’t seem to work well” or “I hear a funny noise when I turn the wheel.”  The same is true for a doctor.   “I cut my hand here,” is what I say, trusting that they can determine whether stitches are necessary and how to avoid infection.  Even in a restaurant, I trust that the chef will prepare a dish I enjoy.   I may ask for ‘dressing on the side’ or some other minor issue, but I don’t tell the chef what cut of meat to select and how the food should be cooked.

Search rankings are dead.  Stop telling your search agency to waste time chasing them.  Insist instead upon results.   The smart search marketer knows the key to a long-term profitable partnership is you earning profit and retaining the agency for a long-time.

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