Anybody who works in website search engine optimization (SEO) has invariably heard the request, “I want to be number one on Google.” It’s an understandable desire. After all, to be at the top spot on Google would assure you of some healthy traffic, no matter what business you are in.
The problem with the request, however, is that looking at arbitrary search results is not the best indicator of the actual SEO health of your website. Furthermore, assessing your SEO from this very narrow field of vision can lead to some very poor decision-making in changes to the website. These statements may seem counterintuitive, since the ultimate goal of SEO is search ranking, but they are critical to a proper understanding of Internet search.
Your SERP is different from my SERP
What is a SERP, you ask? SERP stands for “search engine results page.” It’s the page that comes up when you type a search term or phrase into Google, Bing, or any other search engine. It is also the page that everyone wants to be “number one” on. The problem here lies in the fact that the SERP that comes up for you may be completely different from the SERP that comes up for me. The reason for this is that search results are based on an ever-growing number of variables — the vast majority of which are tied to the user or computer identity performing the search.
For example, let’s say you are searching for an auto repair shop. The search results will take into account where you are searching from. If you move to the other side of town, it is quite likely that the search results will be completely different because you are closer to different repair shops. This is especially true of mobile and tablet searches, where location is an important part of the exchange of data between your device and the world around you.
Mobile search and traditional search part ways on Google
A very big change to mobile search happened in April of this year. Referred to as “Mobilegeddon,” it entailed a change in the Google algorithm docking websites that were not mobile-friendly in search results. Now if you search Google on a mobile device, the results could be considerably different than they would be if you made the same search on a computer.
More change is on the way
Your search results can also vary with time of day, the browser you are using, and your prior search history and habits. And this is still just the tip of the iceberg. Social media connections are beginning to enter into the search matrix, meaning that if a number of your friends “like” a certain auto repair shop on various social media platforms, that shop would display higher in your search results. While you may find it disturbing that personal information from social media is being used to determine search results, you have to remember that the ultimate goal of a search engine is to give you the most useful data possible. If all your friends go to a certain auto repair shop, wouldn’t you want that shop to be at the top of your search results?
So now that we’ve destroyed any illusions you had about how your website ranks in search results, you’re probably wondering, “Just how do I confidently assess my website’s performance in search?” Fortunately there is an easy answer: By monitoring the traffic analytics of your website.
Website analytics programs such as Google Analytics offer you an extremely accurate picture of not only how much traffic is coming from search, but also what pages people are finding, where they came from, and where they went next. Without a doubt the most valuable aspect of analytics, however, is the ability to monitor any and all changes to your site over time. This is truly the only accurate way of assessing how well the SEO on your website is working for you.
At Blink;Tech, SEO monitoring is one of our more popular services. Comparing data from website analytics with social media stats, blog traffic, marketing initiatives, and actual business leads and conversions is the best way to get a handle on what brings traffic to your website and money to your cash register. This method also creates a sort of feedback loop that helps our staff make thoughtful and confident adjustments to website SEO. And this is by far the best way to both assess and improve search ranking.
In future articles we’ll elaborate more on the nuts and bolts of website SEO. In the meantime, please Contact Us if you want to learn more about our SEO services and what we can do for your web presence.