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June 18, 2007

Search Engine Optimization Is NOT About Useless Rankings

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Let’s be honest here; I’m pretty talented, huh?

I’ve got Susan wrapped around my finger, I make older men swoon, I’m good at getting a chuckle and I’m seriously awesome at getting this blog to rank for terms Bruce is 100 percent not interested in. Have you searched for "weekend update", "Friday recap", or "the lisa" lately? Bruce is starting to think I was sent from a competitor looking to undermine all of his search engine optimization rankings. (I wasn’t; I promise.) [Look, I can’t fire you this week. I’m sorry. We have work to do. Maybe next week. Now quit baiting me. –Susan] — What if I kick you? In the face.

As fun as these little Easter eggs are for my ego, they’re not exactly useful to the site’s search engine optimization goals. I’m pretty sure Bruce is not jumping up and down over our number one Google ranking for Friday Recap. Just a hunch.

As a blogger, I like to think I’m pretty valuable to this company; however, as a search marketer, I’m first to admit that I kinda suck. You should NOT try to be like me. As Matt Webb intelligently discussed over at SEO Honolulu, you don’t want pointless number one keyword rankings. Your rankings should be somewhat deliberate.

Your protection against useless rankings is keyword research and focused content. Before you launch that site, that pay per click campaign or even your corporate blog, you should know which terms are important to your business. What are users searching for when researching similar services? Where would they naturally put your business? Whatever terms they’re using are the ones you want to be targeting as well. And don’t just assume you know your audience is typing into their search box, you don’t. It takes keyword research to find out.

Once you know what your site’s important terms are, you have to actually start using them. Your site content should be written to reinforce the theme of your site and to describe your services to users. Typically, this makes it really easy to work your keywords in to tell the engines and users what you’re all about, so take advantage of it. If your site is about soccer apparel, don’t start talking about puppies and ponies. Only we’re allowed to do that. We think it makes us "cute".
The left-field rankings may be good for a chuckle, but they’re not helping you to bring qualified traffic into your site. I’m willing to bet searchers querying [weekend update] are looking for Saturday Night Live footage. They’re not waiting with bated breath to hear what Google did this weekend. As Bruce oh-so-cleverly jokes, they probably can’t even spell SEO. *cue rimshot* Those are wasted clicks. [If you’re here because you were looking for SNL, we’re sorry. How about a free SEO newsletter subscription to make up for it? –Susan] - Hee!

There’s sometimes a belief in the search engine optimization community that he who gets the most visitors to his site wins. These people are retarded. Optimization isn’t about duping people into visiting your site; it’s about increasing visibility, qualified traffic, and conversions. It’s not about seeing how many oddball terms you can rank for.

Over at his blog, Matt states:

"You can chase whatever keywords and phrases you like, but at the end of the day it’s all about those conversions".

He couldn’t be more right.

The fact that we rank for Friday Recap may be amusing to me on a personal level, but it doesn’t help Bruce Clay come any closer to reaching our goals. And it doesn’t help those looking for service in search engine optimization find us any better. It’s our other rankings, the ones our Search Engine Optimization Analysts work for and keep track of, that help potential clients find us and prevents Bruce from nailing my tangent-inclined self to the wall.

It’s simple, really. If you’re not targeting the right keywords your audience is never going to find you. If you want to know what terms your Web site should be targeting, take a look at your logs and see what terms converting users typed in to find you. Examining your company from their eyes will give you a better insight into their conversion path and highlight the terms most important to your site. (But don’t just stop there–if you’re not ranking for something relevant that people are searching for that won’t show up in your logs. Spy on your competitors too.) Once you know what terms you should be ranking for, you can work towards achieving them.

A side note: We like ponies.

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One response to “Search Engine Optimization Is NOT About Useless Rankings”

  1. SEO Honolulu writes:

    Hey “The Lisa”,

    Thanks for the mention and a great post. I’ll see what I can do about the ponies. Does Susan want one too?



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