There must be more to your SEO consultant than rankings

There must be more to your SEO consultant than rankings

There must be more to your SEO consultant than rankings

Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions in SEO is that ranking in Google and Yahoo is all that counts in search engine optimization. Potential clients come to me with a single goal: "Get me in the top ten in Google ranking." Some will also mention MSN, and some will rhyme from a list of search engines and want to rank well in the top 200 of them.

It's time to separate fact from fiction.

Yes, your SEO consultant can get you a top ten placement on Google. But...

1. If the location is for "dirty brown shoes", it probably won't help your shoe store one bit, even if I get first place in the rankings. Few people are actually searching for that term.

2. Being number ten might not help much either, depending on the term. People searching for "Essential Nectar liquid vitamins" will likely click on the first result they see, or at least one of the "top half of page" results that don't require scrolling. On the other hand, someone searching for "liquid vitamins" might look through two pages of results to familiarize themselves with the options available.

3. If your title tag reads like a cheap list of search terms, it won't be engaging. For example, if it says, "vitamins, liquid vitamins, multivitamins, multivitamins," you can skip over it in favor of the next result that says "Liquid vitamins from the liquid vitamin supplement store."

4. If your description tag is a mess, people are more likely to skip over your listing, even if it ranks first, in favor of one that sounds like what they're looking for. Google and others use the description tag generally when the search term is found in it, so be sure to include your key search terms in a description tag that really reads well.

I recently responded to a forum question, which went something like this: My site ranks first for this term in this engine. The term is searched for so many times a day and the engine has this percentage of market share. Can I expect that many visitors?

That's not an SEO challenge; that's a math problem: searches x market share = visitors

I responded with a few factors that override the math in the SEO game, including the site's title tag and description tag, as well as whether the term lends itself to scrolling. I also pointed out that it also depends on the competition's title tags and description tags.

Another factor that makes it difficult to predict traffic is the abandonment factor: how many people don't click on any of the results because they get interrupted or confused, or abandon searching for a new one because they're off topic or searching too much.

It also depends on how many sponsored links there are and how they are marked. Often on Yahoo and Lycos, for example, there are so many ads that the average searcher can never scroll a screen or two to see the organic (natural) results.

And of course it also depends on the color of the walls in the room the browser clicks from, the weather outside, and how well you slept last night. But there is little you can do about it.

What you can do is work with your SEO consultant to choose the most effective search terms for your business and make sure you develop a title tag and description tag that will sell to both humans and search engines. Next, make sure you're monitoring not only the rankings for your key search terms, but also the description used by each of the search engines.

A good ranking in Google and Yahoo is only one measure of the success of your SEO consultant. A more complete evaluation is that he is your partner in creating long-term targeted traffic.