This may be a very controversial thing to say but NO you shouldn’t only pay attention to your position in the search engine results pages (SERPs)! The SERPs have changed dramatically over the last 10 years and so has how Google decides what to display when you search.
Way back when
When we first started in the digital marketing arena SEO was a lot simpler; you optimised your website for keywords (stuffing them all over the place), it didn’t matter if you were physically located in an area you wanted to target or not, and the more backlinks the better – it didn’t matter if they were completely irrelevant.
Google is cleverer (unsurprisingly!) and getting your website to show in the SERPs is a lot more challenging especially as Google is focusing more and more on the searchers intent and whether your website matches it or not.
Some of our top SEO tips…
- Your website’s content should be of high quality, unique and valuable to the user – it needs to be relevant, stop them from going back to the SERPs, stand out from the competition and include relevant multimedia. Don’t just sell yourself!
- Your whole website should be user-friendly – make it easy for the user to find what they are looking for with great navigation and user experience, page layout should be simple and use headings for easy reading, it should display well on all devices, load quickly and be aesthetically pleasing
- Users are important but so are the search engines, your website should be crawlable – use static URLs, rel=canonicals for duplicate content, redirects for new versions of old pages, don’t block crawlers with your robots.txt file, have a sitemap, and load website content in HTML
- Focus on optimising your website for long-tail keywords that match the users intent – target one long-tail keyword per web page but use other related keywords in the content so it is comprehensive
- A good website is linkable – not only should your website’s content encourage other websites to link back to it, but other websites should also be able to link back without being faced with technical issues. Don’t put your content behind a login or sign up pop-up!
Is SEO still important?
Of course, it is!!! You still want your website to display in the SERPs, we’re just saying don’t go tracking your positions in the SERPs all day every day, don’t get fixated and hung up on them.
There are soo many other factors outside of SEO (and your control) nowadays that will have an impact on whether your website is displayed to the user/searcher so constantly monitoring them may not actually tell you anything. Also, you could be focusing on a position for a keyword with little search volume so what is the benefit of having it so high up in the SERPs?
What causes the SERPs to vary?
Here a just a few ways…
- Previous browsing history – Google will remember what you’ve previously searched for and what websites you have previously visited up until the last time you cleared your cookies and cache which is why you may regularly see your own business’s website in the SERPs
- Previously clicked on websites in the SERPs – if you’ve been searching the same keywords regularly and clicking on the same websites in the SERPs time and time again, Google will continue to display the same websites to you
- Your location – Google uses your physical location, also know as your devices location settings, to determine which businesses are closest to you when you are searching so if you’re looking for an electrician, Google will show those closest to your location in the SERPs
- Your Google account – Google collects data about you via your Google account so if you’re using it to access your emails (Gmail) or your files (Google Drive) for example, Google will display websites relevant to this data when you are searching. If you’re logged into multiple devices with the same Google account you’ll also see similar SERPs on each
- Your device – when searching via a mobile device Google will show websites in the SERPs that are more mobile-friendly but when searching via a desktop you may get websites that are not as mobile-friendly in your SERPs
With the results constantly changing, although you can get a rough estimate of how many people are searching for your chosen keywords through tools telling you the average search volumes and knowing the average click-through rate of the SERPs – Search Engine Journal featured the Sistrix study that showed the first organic result has an average click-through rate of 28.5%, with the second and third positions having a 15% and 11% click-through rate – we ask the question, do you ever really know how many of those potential users will land on your website?
How do you measure your SEO success then?
The best way to measure the success of your SEO is by using a tool such as Google Analytics. If you’re seeing an increase month on month in the percentage of website users coming from organic search, you know your SEO is working how you want it to.
Google Analytics is also a great tool to help you understand how users are interacting with your website and if they are interacting with it in the same way as you expected i.e. it can help you monitor the user experience and tell you whether you need to make changes to improve this or not and thus, help you continually improve your SEO!
Looking for more advice about your SEO? Why not read some of our other blogs:
- Why traditional SEO might not be right for you
- How to increase your website traffic from Pinterest – a search engine not a social channel
You can also contact us by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’ll be happy to help 😀