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Should marketers judge the success of SEO on keyword ranking alone?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process that is very simple in principle and theory. On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO, Link building, Meta-Tagging, Robots.txt, etc. The list goes on. If you get that right, Bingo! You should probably be laughing your way to the bank.

However, actual execution is always surprisingly complex. There are so many different kinds of strategies that a wrong move, or a mis-calculated move, may jeopardise your entire campaign. To add to the "confusion", big brother Google is continuously improving (say changing) their search engine algorithms. How do you actually keep yourself at the top of the list? The easy way is of course to engage someone like iClick Media (Qualified Digital Agency) to manage your SEO and SEM campaign. The way to track? Keyword ranking of course you would say.

The thing is, success on SEO is not judged solely on keyword ranking alone.

Different Search Engine Optimisers offer different kind of advice. You can never be quite sure what is working and what isn't. How to measure success, now that is not straightforward as a matter of fact.

Many businesses tend to focus on 1 "high profile keyword" or a few of these keywords. Many advertisers feel that, "Hey, if I can hit top 10 spot for a particular phrase, surely I'm hitting the jackpot right?".

In fact, this is a great ego booster, a great brand booster.

Having said that, iClick Media has always been sure and confident that focusing on position, especially for that 1 phrase or few phrases are actually pretty detrimental to the campaign. It is really, a not so good idea.

Here's why:

  • High risk:
    Search Engine Optimisation is a very competitive industry. You never know when you will achieve that desired position, and when you will be removed from that position. You can never find out your organic click-through rate (CTR), and how well that traffic can convert into paying customers at your shop.

  • Can you get a hole in one on your first month of playing golf?:
    Sure you can if you are lucky. For Search Engine Optimization, it is terribly hard. Many advertisers say, "Yeah ok we'll pay you more for that effort. The catch is we want you to accomplish it in 6 instead of 12 months".
    It is akin to saying you want to beat a professional boxer in the ring with your 6 months worth of training. Yes, its that bad. Maybe its a tad exaggerating but you get my drift? You might invest heavily and yet never get to where you desire.

  • Competitiveness:
    There will always be a competitor who has more advertising budget to work with. He or she might also be tougher, smarter or even sneakier? :) If you can win the top 10 spot, someone else can snatch that away from you. Be prepared to fight for what you desire.

  • It is a process, not the end-result:
    Marketing metrics should be made in terms of bottom line metrics, and not using keyword ranking as a success metrics. Keyword ranking is a technique or a range of techniques, not a result. Advertisers should be educated in that sense.

  • Customers are always #1, or are they?:
    I have had alot of such experiences in my years of doing SEO. I report a 500% increase in search traffic to my clients. They respond "You did a great job! iClick Media has always been trusted in the SEO arena. However, why aren't we ranked #1 for this word ___?"
    Its like telling a chef, he did a great job on the tomato pasta. Can we have it with chili sauce too? In other words, it distract attention away from the important metrics, and most of the time, blinding successes.

  • Is the keyword recommended by the agency? Or chosen by customer?: Generic keywords or generally keywords chosen by clients may not give the best traffic conversion nor be the best quality traffic. By focusing on that few keywords, the advertiser may miss opportunities. Big opportunies.

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