Keyword rankings are an ideal way to check the pulse of your SEO efforts. You just need to keep the data in perspective.
Refer to these tips in mind as you review your rankings – as they shift daily, weekly, monthly, etc.
1. You don’t need to be in the top 1-10 on Google to succeed.
You’ve probably seen or heard about the stats related to how many people click on each result among Google’s top 10.
Advanced Web Ranking tracks millions of keywords and has an excellent set of data worth checking out (many variations including mobile and branded keywords):
July 2020 (US desktop computers)
29.76% No. 1
13.07% No. 2
6.71% No. 3
By the time you get to No. 10, it’s 1.2%. And No. 11 – the top of the second page – it’s 2.62%. I’m not excited about the 2.62% or the fact that it’s higher than No. 10. I just know the data I see for clients. If they’re ranking No. 11, they’re getting traffic. The same goes for No. 12 and more.
2. Watch out for too many keywords competing for the same page.
It’s OK if your product category page ranks for 20 keyword phrases and you’re happy with the page traffic. But keep in mind that the keyword phrase that ranks No. 8 might not go higher because there is something about the content that works against it. Maybe the content is diverse, which helped give rise to so many rankings. Similarly, the keyword phrase that ranks No. 36 may not move up. It’s just too crowded.
You’re better off adjusting the page content header, page title and some of the other content to emphasize a few keywords –like that No. 8.
But will you lose out on traffic? You don’t need to see a drop in overall website traffic. Be careful, but let’s assume most of those keywords weren’t in the top 15. And even if a keyword ranks No. 11 – and brings some traffic – it’s also time to tell it goodbye. In other words, lose a little website traffic to gain much more – like when the No. 8 assumes its new No. 4 identity.
SEO success often depends on your capacity to create new content. If you “kick off” a keyword phrase, find a new home within your website. Or, better yet, create a new home. The land is usually cheap, you don’t need many bedrooms and the property taxes are zero.
3. Keywords can fluctuate – sometimes daily.
I’ve seen keywords move many positions and bounce back over a few days. It happens. Sometimes one page ranks for a keyword phrase and a couple of weeks later it’s a new page. Algorithms change, competitors adjust their content and you make website revisions as well. It’s just that everything is at play or in motion, not that it’s a moving target.
4. You might not have the right keywords.
Keyword selection is everything. Your keywords may rank well, but there could be others you’re missing. It’s always a good idea to assess your strategic keywords.
5. You might be ranking and not know it.
Say what? It’s not that your ranking tool is unreliable (I use SEMrush but there are many available). I routinely run a Domain Overview in SEMrush for each client. Since SEMrush tracks millions of keywords, it always shows me a broader set of keywords and how they’re ranking beyond my high priority set. For some clients, I create separate ranking reports when I’m focusing on a specific product, service or educational offering (i.e. how-to guide, white paper, or infographic).
6. Time is relative.
If you’ve been trying to rank for a keyword for four months and it’s gone up from No. 77 to No. 52, it’s not likely that’s going to crash the Top 10 Party – like ever. Before you trash it, review the website page that it ranks for. Is it a primary part of the page header? If not, see my tip about creating new content.
7. Don’t worry about setbacks for keywords that already don’t rank well.
If a keyword phrase ranks No. 69 and drops to No. 81, I don’t really care. I’m more interested in keywords that are much closer to ranking on the first or second page of Google for that same website page. If a keyword ranks No. 18 and drops to No. 26, that quickly catches my attention.
8. Home pages win some and lose some.
I’ve seen home pages rank extremely well for keywords, especially if the keyword phrase and domain both have some words in common.
In other cases, the home page comes up a little short, only ranking for some branded keyword phrases. Branded keywords, by the way, aren’t bad. They lead to conversions as well.
Home pages simply lack precision. They’re likely to showcase several products or services. If you sell 25 products, can you focus on one for the home page? Would that be the best page anyway to provide the all of the details, including benefits, case studies, testimonials and related resources?
Your home page can deliver – and you’ll be grateful that it does. But don’t fret if it’s not ranking the way you expected. As always, find the right content to match your target keyword phrases.