Achieving a great search ranking organically is something to which all webmasters aspire. Organic SEO is also something that the best agencies or consultants will look to deliver for their clients. What are some of the ways in which you can achieve organic SEO success?
- Focus on keyword optimization in page titles, descriptions, and general content. Note you’re doing this only to make it clear what each one relates to, rather than a blatant attempt to rank highly by repeating the same word dozens of times.
- Ensure you have a clean, easy to understand sitemap. You might think that few browsers will use it, but search engine spiders definitely will when they’re trying to index your site.
- Follow the most up to date and relevant principles when it comes to your websites’ design, and tweak it for improved user experience when necessary.
- Connect with other websites or bloggers that are similar to your website or have an interest in your product or service. This will help you to build relevant, organic links at a pace that won’t look suspicious to Google.
- Dedicate yourself to creating high quality content on a regular basis. Not only will this rank highly with Google on its own, you’ll also feel the benefit of social media shares and other backlinks pointing to your site.
Those are five simple points that can set you up well for organic search success. However, the way in which we measure this success has the search industry talking, not the method of carrying out the task.
Reading Ranking Reports
This is a relatively simple debate, to which there are two sides. One that believes using organic ranking reports is a must do for measuring the success of SEO activity, and another that believes you don’t need to constantly refer to them.
What are the main issues, often controversial, that surround these reports?
- Concerns related to accuracy, relevance, and reliability of data
- ‘Scraping’ information is a violation of the Google terms of service
- Using the reports may be necessary for giving feedback to clients
- Are there other ways to monitor SEO performance?
Thinking back to the earlier ‘two camps,’ we would always err on the side that you don’t constantly need to refer to organic search rankings, for two reasons.
- It is quicker, and easier, to monitor other performance related factors such as organic site traffic and conversions
- Small business owners who are managing their website, webmasters, and SEO professionals will be better served spending their time working on their activities, rather than always poring over reports and data
If you still want to analyse your search ranking, then do so in relation to the points above. For example, are you seeing an increase in traffic because your ranking has increased, or because you have acquired an organic link from another busy website?
How Valuable is a Search Ranking?
Your search ranking position is obviously something that is important to you, whether a national website or local seo specialist. However, if it was all you ever thought about, you’d spend all-day, every day in front of your computer deciding the best course of action.
Rankings fluctuate throughout the day, and can even change as often as minute-by-minute.
What causes this?
- Search results are personalized, based on website browsing history in some cases
- Results are location based, so if you live in town A you will see something different if you move to town B
- Previous search history is used to predict the most relevant links
- People using different devices to search, although as people increasingly sync their smartphones, laptops, and tablets with each other, this may become less of a factor in the future
This tells us that your ‘ranking’ for a certain keyword or phrase is never consistent, in terms of a solid number. Therefore, you could rank well on your own device, or in your own town, but not even be on page one ten miles down the road.
In any other part of business, you wouldn’t spend time obsessing over a metric that you couldn’t measure consistently with confidence. Why do it with your search ranking?
In Pursuit of Top Spot
We’re telling you not to obsess over your search ranking, but you know that the ranking will be the biggest factor in sending organic traffic to your site. Most on-site SEO efforts are driven by the keywords you have chosen for optimizing page titles, descriptions, and content.
You already know, however, that keywords themselves are not an exact science. Ultimately, search queries are a diverse mix of one-word searches, phrases containing your keyword, or your keyword and a brand name, as well as other derivatives.
Ranking reports could come in useful at this stage, as long as you are targeting the most relevant keywords and phrases on your website. If you’re finding anomalies with what you target against how visitors are finding your site, which is a sign you need to review your strategy.
You’re doing all of this with one objective in mind: improving the quality and relevance of visitors to your site.
Dealing With Problems Proactively
If you’re not using organic ranking reports as a performance measure for your website, how will you know when problems occur? You understandably aren’t prepared simply to wait until your traffic volumes fall off a cliff before taking action.
You can identify any issues with your website in many ways without looking at a ranking report. These would be our suggestions for doing so:
- Google Webmaster Tools are a powerful helper and an SEO essential. This platform will also flag any major traffic variances, and even gives you keyword data if you still can’t keep away from those ranking reports!
- Analytics is another tool to consider using, especially if you don’t want to use the whole Webmaster Tools suite, as you can set alerts for the areas you’re concerned with and let the program work in the background.
- Manual checks are always worth carrying out, both for an overview of where you’re ranking in your local area as well as checking out what those around you in the rankings are doing: can you pick up any quick tips?
We touched on this right at the top, and it is something you should look to be increasingly wary of. Google make no secret of the fact that they will penalize you for ‘scraping’ their tools for data. It is unlikely that Google is able to notice every single webmaster that is doing it, but is it something that you really want to take the risk with?
Forget Ranking Reports
Yes, forget about them, as ultimately they have little impact on how well your website performs.
It is far better to focus on the areas you can influence and can see clear results with, such as traffic and conversions. You wouldn’t allow any other area of your business to be judged by an always moving target, and you should take the same attitude towards ranking and SEO.
Robert is an online content writer with a specific interest in online marketing, and finding the best SEO tools for webmasters and SEO companies to use in order to improve their own rankings and those of their clients.