It’s easy for online marketers to get tripped up when grappling with the uncertain world of ranking analysis.
Impatient, they may mistakenly look at only some of the available data and miss insights gained by investing the time to make discerning choices.
Here are 7 tips to help you size up whether you’ve made an adequate effort to properly evaluate rankings:
1. What’s the Baseline?
You can get off to a bad start by looking only at the Top 30 for your ranking baseline. The reasoning is that no one searches past the first 30 results. It’s true that searcher interest drops way off after the first several rankings. However, if you don’t know something was once No. 88, you’ll never watch the ranking jump to No. 43 during your first round of search engine optimization.
No one should party in the streets over a No. 43, but the headway beyond the baseline should be a strong indicator that other refinement strategies may pay off in the long run.
2. What Do the Rankings Really Mean?
A No. 8 ranking on Google can drive more traffic than a No. 3 ranking on MSN, so don’t get too excited about being in the Top 3 on an inferior search engine that attracts viewer eyeballs.
3. Which Page Is the Better Bet?
The analysis gets trickier when more than one page is the source of high rankings. For example, if a keyword phrase ranks No. 6 on Google and a related page ranks No. 12 on Google, a marketer may direct energies to the page ranking No. 6. Actually, the No. 12 page may be the better option depending on the amount and relevancy of content, inbound links, link association with similar pages on the website and the page age. In other words, it could surpass No. 6, which may not have enough going for it to improve.
4. What Are the Page Caching Trends?
If you’re going to test out some keywords on a page, you need to know whether the page is frequently indexed by the search engines. You don’t want to take a calculated risk and find that your decision displaced some other terms that were ranking well for the page. You can justify the test if you can easily go backward and revert to the previous page (if the page is quickly cached).
5. Don’t Be Fooled By Paid Search Success
Paid search performance doesn’t necessarily translate over to organic pages. An ad could rank No. 2 on paid search and be responsible for excellent conversions. Some zealous marketers may think they can pull off comparable conversions with organic search. It’s worth a shot, of course. But don’t count on a No. 1, 2 or 3 rankings. The paid search landing page could have involved key images, not text. In the organic case, a text-oriented page may or may not rank high. The ranking would depend on the page content (including the header), site age, page title, URL structure, related pages, links within a website, inbound links from other sources and many other factors.
6. What Led To A High Ranking?
A Top 5 ranking on Google may be impressive, but you need to think about what it took to pull off the high position. Did you resort to one keyword phrase in the title? Would the result be more effective if you were to add the company name before or after the search term? Or could the ranking slip? Should the meta description be revised to be more compelling?
7. Keep Your Eyes Open
You may have a portfolio of keywords you’re tracking in the ranking world. Be sure to think of other possibilities. Your optimization efforts that give rise to some strong rankings may actually be driving rankings for keywords and phrases you didn’t initially target. You can validate some of your inadvertent success by combing through your web analytics. Look at the unusual phrases people use; your combination of ranking analysis and optimization tactics may have led to rankings and subsequent traffic. Size up the situation and run additional ranking reports that will reveal what you’ve managed to pull off so far.
Chances are you won’t be able to get all of the high rankings you need. But these and other considerations may help you move much closer toward your marketing goals.