The Truth About Keyword Rankings

In the digital marketing world, there is often a good amount of talk around “keywords.” So what are they? Why are they important? Do rankings matter?

What are Keywords and Why are They Important?

I will keep this brief because it is pretty straightforward. Keywords are terms that are relevant to your business, and naturally, also to your business’ website. It is what visitors search for on Google, Bing, or other search engines to find what they are looking for. The best keywords for your site are the terms that are actually being searched. Sometimes, what you think is a good keyword for your business may not be, which is why you should always do keyword research.

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Keywords are important because they help people find you in the specific way that they are searching for you. After you conduct keyword research, your site should be optimized so that the content on your site is using keywords that are relevant to your business. I want to be very clear here: You should not be stuffing keywords into your site for the sake of it. The best thing to do is to keep the visitor in mind by asking yourself the following questions and building your site around those answers:

  • What are my customers looking for?

  • How does my product/service help them?

  • Why should they choose my product/service over others?

  • How do they become a customer/client?

So What are Keyword Rankings and Do They Matter?

Keyword rankings are a vanity metric at best and a distraction at worst. They *tell* you where your site ranks for certain keywords in search results. Or do they?

Search engines have come a long way in recent years and have become more intuitive for users. I remember I used to have to go through multiple pages to find the thing I was actually looking for on Google, but now, I almost never leave page one.

Search engines understand the intent of the user more than ever based on the ever-evolving search algorithms, and because of this, all search results are unique to the searcher based on a variety of things, including:

  • Search history

  • Search location

  • User history

Due to this, rankings are not really accurate for one, and more importantly, they don’t actually tell you how your site is performing. Even if that spam-emailer or cold-caller could get you to “rank on page #1,” that doesn’t take into consideration the actions that the visitor is taking when they get to your site.

If I don’t Focus on Keyword Rankings, What Should I Focus On?

Easy! You should focus on the actions that visitors are taking when they get to your site. You should be looking at your site’s analytics on a regular basis. If you are not already doing so or you are unsure of what I am talking about, here is how you set up analytics. Some of the metrics that you should be paying attention to are:

  • Time on Site: How long are visitors checking out your site once they get there?

  • Bounce Rate: Are they leaving immediately?

  • Conversions: Are people filling out forms, signing up, or purchasing? If so, where are they coming from?

  • Conversion Rate: What is the number of visitors compared to the number of conversions?

These metrics will tell you how your site is performing much better than a rankings report will because, at the end of the day, you want the visitors on your site to take action. If you *rank* on the 1st search results page for a keyword and those people leave as soon as they got to your site, what is that ranking really doing for you?

The bottom line is, yes, keywords are important, and no, you shouldn’t be monitoring your keyword rankings. If you have any questions about how to create a better experience for your site visitor, be sure to contact us.