With the Olympics in full swing, it’s easy to become obsessed with medal counts and write off anything below Gold as a bitter disappointment for our most heralded athletes. Even after a strong opening performance it’s apparent that Ryan Lochte isn’t going to be the Phelps of four years past, and that Phelps, who has been relegated to underdog status in events he crushed at Beijing, may or may not have enough left in the tank to become the most decorated Olympian in history (UPDATE: Phelps wins record 19th Olympic medal)… Irregardless, I say…
Hey, isn’t it enough just to be there, to be recognized as one of the ten, give or take, best athletes—in the World—in your sport?
And I pose a similar question to website owners:
Hey, isn’t it enough just to be there—page one of Google—to be recognized as one of the ten best results for all types of searches related to your industry?
Yeah, sure, easy for you to say
Frankly, I don’t know if even their own mothers could convince these athletes that merely getting there—after so many years of training—is enough, but maybe, just maybe, this tiny dose of humility will be a little easier to swallow for businesses who have been putting their site through the rigors of SEO for a just few months, or even a year. Listen: it’s NOT all about rankings.
Then what is it about? Money and traffic, obviously, but we’ll get there in a minute…
We’re not off the hook
We, and other SEO companies, give our clients month-to-month ranking charts to scrutinize; we only perpetuate the obsession with Gold. We brag, LOOK: 5 of your Keywords are #1 on Google. Go Us! And when rankings for one keyword slip out of medal contention, perhaps fall off the first page entirely, we find ourselves scrambling to offer an explanation—even though this type of fluctuation in rankings is common and normal. In other words, it is typically no big deal.
That’s because there is only one stat that accurately reflects the job an SEO company is doing. It’s month-to-month +/- in Search Engine Traffic—which we do highlight above our rankings chart. But this statistic alone doesn’t tell the whole story, of course, because no single piece of data does. You still need to make sure the increased traffic is resulting in new income for your business. Money.
Return on Investment
Perhaps the most convincing argument for targeting lower tier keyword rankings is expense versus profit, or Return on Investment. Allocating too many of your SEO resources towards obtaining first or second position for a few keywords may not be the most economical use of your budget.
We stress keyword diversity during the selection process because of the high potential for auxiliary keyword rankings, which translates as the likelihood of achieving rankings for nearly endless variations on your core group of keywords.
More diversity = more auxiliary rankings = more targeted traffic. More targeted traffic = more money.
Targeting Long Tail Keywords
One example of auxiliary keywords would be what the Search Engine Marketing industry refers to as ‘long tail’ keywords. The chart below illustrates how you can mitigate risk by capturing traffic from less common search phrases:
Which is another good reason not to over-SEO a few keywords: it can be very risky.
Put all your marketing dollars in one basket…
…and Google might burn your basket. Under the influence of a more active and frequent search engine update cycle—we’ve seen Google cranking out more major updates to their search engine in the last year than throughout the previous ten—it may not be wise to hinge your search marketing success on a small number of keywords—or strategies, for that matter. Because, if all of your site traffic is coming from a few highly-searched key terms, you may find traffic being slashed after a new Google update smacks down your rankings.
Decentralizing your keyword focus and incorporating new SEO strategies can significantly reduce your risk of suffering a debilitating blow to search engine traffic after any update to the Google algorithm.
Final Piece of Advice…
After a bit more thought, followed by a sudden wave of patriotism, I have one final piece of advice for each side:
Team USA: Go ahead, go for the Gold! Bring home the Glory!
Team SEO: Be patient; employ the strategy that will result in the most glory (or traffic) overall, and in time, that will result in more Gold and longevity for your business.