Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Difference Between Website Ranking and Website Optimization

The term "website ranking" (or PageRank) has become a very popular way to define website performance. Unfortunately, most people do not know what the term means. Even most SEO professionals, for whom website ranking is crucially important, interpret this term in the wrong way. Additionally, website marketing firms often cite the advantage of website ranking without even explaining exactly what the term means. For website owners, this lack of clarity can lead to bad decisions. By promising a high website ranking, an SEO professional or website marketing firm might make a good impression on a potential customer--but the promise is often an empty promise.

To truly understand website ranking, one should first understand website optimization. For an in-depth analysis, please read "Natural Website Optimization." For now, we might simply say that website optimization is a marketing strategy applied to a website’s content, and partially to technical aspects of the site’s development, that allows the site to be easily “crawled” by Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines

Website ranking and website optimization are two distinctly different classifications. A website can be optimized or not, but optimization will not influence website ranking in any way. When a user performs a Google search, for example, Google delivers different results, and among the first page results not all websites enjoy a high ranking. In fact, most of these websites are not ranked at all! And yet, even without a website ranking, many websites appear on the first page of Google results.

How is this possible? For an in-depth analysis of website ranking, or page ranking, read this Wikipedia article. Numerically speaking, Wikipedia defines page ranking like this:

"The most popular websites have a PageRank of 10. The least have a PageRank of 0. Google has not disclosed the specific method for determining a Toolbar PageRank value, which is to be considered only a rough indication of the value of a website."

That last sentence is the most important: page ranking is only a "rough indication" of a website's value.

For our purposes, let us talk about how the confusion over website ranking effects website owners. Often the problems start about two months after the start of a new SEO campaign. Since website optimization uses an "organic" approach, website visibility often does not occur right away. If you are an SEO customer, you should know this; your SEO professional should have told you this before he/she started your website optimization campaign.

In our experience, however, most customers can only tolerate their unsuccessful website performance for so long. After about two months, most customers ask, "Why is my website not appearing on the first page results?" At this point, a smart customer will try to try to learn more about website optimization. Unfortunately, many customers learn to little to late--and only then do they realize that their SEO professional or website marketing firm has offered empty promises!

Here is a typical scenario: 

After two months, a new SEO customer realizes that his/her website ranking is 0, just like a newly-developed website. So the customer tries a different SEO professional or website marketing firm. Unfortunately, the process repeats itself: two months later the SEO customer discovers again that his/her website is not so successful, and his/her website ranking is still 0!

Here is the problem: website optimization has nothing to do with website ranking! And because most SEO professionals and/or website marketing firms do not understand the difference between website optimization and website ranking, the customer suffers.

Of course, a poor website ranking is not the reason your website is not successful, but because you were promised a high ranking within a short period of time, you feel lost. Whom can you trust, after all, if your SEO professional does not even know what he/she is talking about?

At Stepmans PC, we believe knowledge is power. We believe the best step a website owner can take is to  learning some basic SEO terms before hiring a marketing company. Only knowledge will help you ensure that you hire a real professional to work on your website. The Organic SEO Blog is a good place to start, especially if you're building a new website. Start here now: "Building a Website? Read This First!"