Tuesday, September 1, 2015

When a Top Google Ranking is Not Helpful

We've written before about the value of a top Google ranking. In a way, this blog is devoted to exploring this value--and how you can benefit from it. But how do you determine the value of a top ranking for your website, specifically?

It's no big secret that the top Google result for any given query receives most of Google's traffic. According to a 2013 study from Chitika, a top ranking receives 33% of all traffic. After that, the drop-off is steep. The second result receives about 18% of all traffic. The third result receives 11%. If you're not on the first page, you're missing 92% of all traffic.

Even then, for certain businesses, a top ranking for might not be all that helpful.

You might be thinking, "WHAT?!"

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Well, in the SEO world we talk so much about the value of a top ranking, we often neglect to explore the value of a specific ranking.

Do you have a top ranking? If so, it's value may be variable. And it is certainly not so simple as stating, "A top ranking receives 33% of all traffic."

The key, of course, is the profitability of any specific top ranking. Unfortunately, many websites achieve top rankings for keywords that do not necessarily attract business.

Is your website the top result for a certain keyword? If so, what is the value of that top result to your business? To estimate the value, ask yourself, "Is my website driving profits?" If not, you might want to think about ranking for other, potentially more profitable keywords.

For example, we recently spoke to a local purveyor of handmade vegan products. He had been in business for seven years, and he was happy to report that his site ranked first for a Philadelphia-specific search.

However, he lamented, he did not believe his website had increased his profitability at all. He was performing well in the Philadelphia-area, yet he wanted to expand his reach, to other metro areas in the Mid-Atlantic region. He also wanted his customers to order directly from his website online.

Upon reviewing the website, we learned that the interface was outdated, the content weak, and the functionality serviceable at best. We tried a variety of other searches, yet the website did not even appear on the first page for any other search.

In reality, his top ranking for the Philadelphia-specific search was mostly due to his physical presence in the area--he's the only local purveyor of his unique vegan food. To truly expand his business, we told him, he needed to rank for more general searches--beyond the Philly area.

Before then, however, we stressed the importance of a clean website experience. As currently constructed, the website of this local purveyor of handmade vegan products was terrible. In fact, we wondered whether the current traffic he received might actually be hurting his business.

In last week's post, we wrote about the importance of high quality products and customer service:

"If you sell a high-quality product at the right price, you deserve customers. If you perform excellent customer service, you deserve repeat customers. However, you, the business owner, must honestly asses your business before choosing to optimize your website. Ask yourself these two key questions: Do you really sell a high quality product at the right price? Do you excel in customer service?"

Now let us hasten to add: Is your website an actual asset to your business? 

The value of a good SEO specialist is his/her knowledge. A good SEO specialist should be able to assess the value of your website quickly (without charging you). A good SEO specialist should also be able to tell you--and not the other way around--the most profitable keywords for your industry.

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