There’s been lots of buzz about the worth of search engine rankings recently. First, Google go public about banning rankings checkers like web position gold, then the SEO blogosphere joins in to collectively slam the merit of monitoring search engine rankings.
There have been some excellent and compelling arguments for and against becoming fixated on rankings. Even in the last few days I’ve read a great post from Eduard Blacquière on Yoast.com (congrats, by the way Joost!) which covers the subject very nicely, particulary mentioning skewed search results thanks to personalisation (if you’re logged in to a Google account, though, yes?). The article finishes with metrics that are far more useful to an SEO – check it out if you have time.
Problem is, rankings checkers (or at least the process of collecting rankings data on a regular basis) are not useless.
Rankings checkers skew Google’s keyword data
There’s nothing new about the subject of automated rankings checkers and Google’s dislike of them, and every now and again, the faithful old captcha screen in Google search goes up just to confirm they’re on the lookout for people generating “automated queries”. The whole office always looks at the SEO team. Gulp..
In house SEO can be different to agency SEO
My second thought. What if you’re an in house SEO? Let’s say you’re running more than one, enterprise level site. Let’s say that most of your company turnover is coming from organic search and your teams are constantly working on organic search positioning. What do you do then? Rankings are revenue generators, and enterprise SEO’s are measuring revenue by organic keyword. You probably have 200+ top level, high competition keywords that require constant attention to keep them alive.
We’ve known for years what it’s worth to rank in Google, and the difference between position 1 and 2.
Everyone’s doing it, right?
My third thought. The “Analytics Every SEO Needs To Know” session at SMX in June 2008 was excellent. Moderated by Rand Fiskin, I found it to be the most inspiring session there (yes, better than “Give it up”, because the ideas were actually usable!) Particulary, Laura Lippay’s deck. She demonstrated her “SEO Grid” – an Excel spreadsheet that shows current rankings for a keyword, number of searches, visitors who clicked and revenue potential. With that information and the above click-though percentages by position, you can tell what keywords are worth chasing in the natural search engine listings on Google, Yahoo! and MSN. The whole concept was entirely based on the idea that a ranking position equals a certain amount of revenue – and gives a framework in which to stay focused on the benefit of improvement. Ok I admit, Laura’s teams are probably using Yahoo data, but even so, the ethos of this presentation was based on checking rankings. It was very good advice, too.
If you’re planning and organising an in house, revenue driven SEO operation, the fact is that you have to stay focused on rankings. More and more the “it’s ok as long as your traffic is going up” strapline just isn’t enough, because rankings are here to stay. I hope..