In this week’s episode, I share some insight into rank tracking in SEO – and why it’s a horrible way to judge SEO success. You don’t hire someone to do SEO to get you to rank, you hire someone to get you more traffic and leads. It’s all about growing your bottom line, and rank trackers don’t mean squat to your bottom line…


Welcome back to another episode of Local Search Tuesdays. This week, I’m probably going to burst a few bubbles, because I’m going to talk about how rank tracking isn’t a good way to judge the success of your SEO efforts.

Yeah, you heard me right – rank tracking shouldn’t be used to judge whether or not your SEO efforts are paying off. I could rant about this for hours, but I’m going to keep it short and sweet.

Most importantly, you don’t hire someone to do SEO to get you to rank. You hire someone to do SEO to get you more traffic and more leads. It’s about your bottom line, and rankings don’t mean squat to your bottom line.

I could get a business ranked #1 for 100 phrases by tomorrow, and if we were just doing rank tracking, that would be a huge win. But they’d be obscure, long-tail phrases that no human would ever possibly search, so even with those new 100 phrases that the business ranks #1 for, there’d be zero increase in site traffic, leads, or sales. So who cares?

Plus, most business owners will concentrate on a handful of “vanity terms” – the short phrases that they think are most important. If they’re not number one for those 4 or 5 phrases, then SEO isn’t working. Even if SEO is absolutely killing it, and organic traffic has tripled and leads have quadrupled and sales are the highest they’ve ever been, nothing matters but those 4 or 5 phrases.

And, all keywords aren’t created equal. Sometimes those high volume keywords don’t actually convert, and the phrases that are gold for conversions appear to be really low volume.

Finally, physical location of the searcher and proximity to search results has a huge impact on local search results. A rank tracker attempts to track search results based on a physical location, but none of them will ever be a fully accurate representation of what real people in that area actually see.

Darren Shaw did a really cool test in downtown London for a conference. He did a search for dry cleaners, then walked a block away, and did the search again, then walked another block, and searched again. Each map pack was different, because his location was different. A rank tracking solution can’t accurately track results like that.

BUT – I’m not saying you shouldn’t use rank trackers. They’re a vital tool for SEO – you just have to know how to use them correctly. You definitely want to know if you’re gaining visibility for terms that you’re trying to show up for, or if you’re losing visibility for terms that are important.

The high level view of the trend is what’s important – not the granularity of how you rank for each specific term. That’s why we love Whitespark’s rank tracker so much. It’s obviously pretty, but that color representation makes it easier to concentrate on the overall trend instead of the performance of individual phrases.

So now you know why rank tracking isn’t a metric of SEO success. Pay attention to metrics that more closely tie in to the business’ bottom line like organic traffic and leads, and use your rank tracking as a way to monitor trends instead.

That’s all the time we’ve got left for today, so you know what that means.
Put your hand on the screen right here:
We totally just high-fived ‘cause you learned something awesome.
Thanks for watching, and we’ll see you again next week for another episode of Local Search Tuesdays.