Why Good" SEO is No Longer Just About Rankings"

: By Ryan Clutter, 1SEO.com ::

With the evolving algorithms and changes in the way consumers search and land on your website, SEO has adapted into a field that concerns much more than rankings.

To optimize your website, you have to look at a plethora of factors, with your primary and overall focus on user experience. Thanks to Google's Panda update, gone are the days of stuffing keywords into every facet of your page-from title tags to meta tags, headers and your thin content. You should no longer be structuring your site to get a high ranking from the crawlers, rather structure your website for users and consumers through an aesthetically pleasing design, high-quality content and effortless navigation. Websites, regardless of industry, should be a platform that offers a unique experience to drive traffic, which will result in high rankings.

Ranking factors are ever-changing. You could see your company on the first page, but for the same query in my location your company could be on the fifth page or lower. Google takes your location and gives you the best results based on where you're located. That's why in your ranking report you see the "average position" of a certain keyword or query; it's not set in stone.

So, how do we view "good" SEO in an evolving industry? You just have to look at Google's overview and follow their first guideline, "Focus on the user and all else will follow." Formulate a campaign that implements phrases and long-tail keywords that users are searching. Through Google's Hummingbird algorithm, keywords no longer have to be exact match as long as Google thinks the site offers value to the query. There are tools out there, other than ranking reports, which can help you formulate a successful strategy that will lead to impressions, a high click-through-rate and ultimately conversions.  

Google Analytics 

Through Analytics, you can see the positives and negatives of your site with one tool. In turn, you can make the appropriate changes as problems and concerns arise. Utilizing the Click Path data tool in Analytics will add value to your site, informing you of the best ways to edit for more frequent conversions. You can track your performance through the SEO reporting tool, which guides you through the queries that users searched to land on your site. 

Google Analytics will help you manage and alter your campaign, analyze your traffic sources that led to conversions, and compare segments to get the most of your experience. Utilize the conversion tracking function to see how users are funneling through the site, the length of time they are spending on each page, and how they landed on your contact page. A phone call from the contact page is a win in my book. 

Google Trends

Trends help you determine the most popular and common search terms for your industry. When you organize your campaign with popular queries, you'll know what users are searching for and can formulate your strategy to provide your potential customers with information and content based around their search queries. 

One keyword could be trending upward and another downward. After a few weeks, the trends can shift. It all depends on what users are searching for on any given day. That's why you need multiple keywords in your campaign. When you have one keyword in your campaign and the search queries are trending downwards, your traffic (and rankings) will suffer.

Auto Complete Features on Search Engines

When a user begins to type their query, search engines like Bing and Google will begin to guess what is being searched. The auto complete feature is based on search history and predictions. Users are presented with auto-completions that have a high search volume, so if you don't see your query auto-populating, chances are it's not popular enough. Don't spend your time building a keyword around a term that isn't searched. 

With the emergence of voice search, queries are beginning to change. You have to structure your website in a way that answers questions. When users use the voice search feature, most of the time they're asking questions to Google, and if you have the answer, you'll be seeing an increase in traffic. 

Putting It All Together

When you manage a company's website, the most important thing to you should be conversions. Sure, rankings provide a certain level of exposure, but in order to get there, you must be integrating and executing a stellar strategy that provides a unique user experience. Pair this with the ability for crawlers to understand what your page is about, and you're looking at a successful Internet marketing campaign. Use a quality link-profile without spammy links and construct valuable, unique and original content to be successful online. Rankings will follow suit. 

A website is the furthest reaching extension of your company, and conversions effectively measure the value of your site, rankings do not. The main goal of a website is conversions and increased sales or revenue. The first result for a query doesn't mean users are clicking on that link. If your content-videos, pictures, and text-isn't enticing enough for a conversion or a paying customer, then it won't matter where you rank for a query. 

Ryan Clutter is a Content Writer for 1SEO.com, a digital marketing agency in the Philadelphia region. Ryan spends his days researching the best strategies in content marketing while writing for dozens of clients to enhance their online presence. Twitter: @Ryan1SEO.