Posted by Jacob Meyer & filed under Local Search Focus, Search Engine Marketing.

In online marketing, certain reports become a point of fixation for marketers and business owners alike. Keyword Ranking reports are one of those reports that tend to look extremely valuable, but actually tend to leave out a lot information.  If you’re unfamiliar with ranking reports, they are snapshots of how your website is appearing in search engines for a specific set of defined keywords. They tell you your websites position on a results page, which can indicate the amount of visitors that will make it your site. If you’re ranked number one you will get a lot more visitors than if you’re ranked number 11.  Since this is so easy to understand and therefore it becomes a go to report for marketers. However, it’s up to us to explain what’s missing and stop a bad fixation.

Let’s go over a bit of a report from a service Upright likes to use Bright Local:

Local Keyword Ranking Reports


As you can see the website in this report is ranking well in Google for some nice keyword phrases. What you’re not seeing is the reason why Google loves them for “cash out refinance” but Bing doesn’t.  Is it an algorithmic issue with Bing & Yahoo? Is it a reporting issue with BrightLocal? Should you panic?

What we do know is that the most used search engine in the world likes the site for that keyword topic. That’s good! We should certainly make sure Bing has the site indexed properly (which they do). However, you can see even this seemly good ranking report is leaving a lot of information to be desired.

What Ranking Reports Can Tell Us

I don’t want to make it seem like these reports are not valuable, so let me first tell you what they can share with us. Ranking Reports Can Tell Us…

  • Where a website appears in search results page. If you’re ranked 1–10 you’re on page one, 11–20 you’re on page two etc.
  • If you’re ranked number one (or at least on page one) for all the terms in the report your website should be doing well.
  • Information about website growth overtime, if you’re rankings are improving your website’s marketing efforts are positively affecting your search rankings.
  • The health of a website’s search engine optimization efforts.
  • A general idea how your website ranks for a given term.

What Ranking Reports Will Never Tell Us

Since the whole point of my long winded post is to tell you why not to fixate on this, let’s get on with it… Ranking Reports Will Never Tell Us…

  • The actual phrases people are searching.
    • One term like “Loans” could be used in more than 100 different phrases. To track an entire keyword with any ranking tool would require you to explicitly define every phrase. On top of that you would have to practically be a psychic to know those phrases.
  • If your website visitors are actually going up.
    • You could find the keywords selected for the report are not searched often and even though you’re ranked number one for everything selected you barely get a search visitor.
  • What is causing the drop or rise in rankings?
    • Search engines regularly update their algorithm and indexing methods to improve their system. Marketing efforts could pay off or backfire. However, it’s never absolutely clear what caused the change.
    • Also, ranking reports fluctuate constantly!
      • If you go down or up a single ranking it’s not a big deal. You could do a search every day and watch it rise and fall.
      • However you should be concerned if you go from number 1 to 50 in a single month. It’s time to do research but do not jump to conclusions.

What should you focus on? Traffic and conversion rates.

Always pay close attention to the numbers that are actually about real visitors. If you’re ranking well it doesn’t mean visitors are coming to your website or doing anything. It’s much more important to focus on the real people and the real data affecting your business. Always pay close attention to your traffic and use ranking reports as an extra supplement. It just helps to paint a clearer picture.  If your search visits go up and your rankings are staying the same it’s a clear indicator your ranking report is missing keywords not that your website is underperforming. Remember, reports can tell you somethings, but they don’t tell you if your contact forms are converting real people, only that a robotic algorithm likes your page.

You should always improve your website for real people not robots!

I hope I explained everything well enough to ease some stress. If not, take the conversation to social media and tell me what I missed!

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