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What Matters Most in SEO

SEO success used to be all about getting keywords to rank on page one. “Wait,” you say. “What do you mean used to be?” I may throw you for another loop with this point: We’re not even talking about SEO anymore. We’re talking about the confluence of search, social, and content, and how that confluence is delivering traffic and leads to your site.

Given the challenges today’s environment presents for achieving and tracking your page rank, it’s time to take a step back and look at the metric that matters most: site traffic.

Site traffic comes not only from search, but from social activity, shared content, guest blogging, white papers, press releases, and a host of other content and sharing channels. You’re well-served to build a portfolio of inbound links from a diverse group of authoritative sites. Yes, site traffic will also come from organic search, but would you rather spend your time fighting the rankings battle like Bud Fox, or would you rather get people to your site?

The next thing to consider is what happens when visitors actually get to your site. Look at things like:

  • Time on site
  • Pages visited
  • Conversions
  • Bounce rate

The list above and many other metrics will tell you what’s popular on your site and whether or not your site engages your visitors. Another way of looking at it is this: It won’t matter if you’re on page one if you can’t keep people engaged.

Engagement comes from serving your reader. Make every piece of content you create valuable and helpful. This is how you get the links and social activity that will make search engines take notice of your site and deliver that elusive page-one ranking.

Search engines also know how engaging your site is. So once you’ve done all the work to attract visitors, don’t drop the ball with a crappy site. Put some time and thought into your site’s flow and appearance. Make your site worthy of visitors’ attention so they stick around.

The final analysis: Don’t abdicate ranking altogether because of course it still matters. Conversely, don’t assume a page-three listing is going to kill your business. You’re beholden to Google, and do the best you can, but you have the power to put good content in front of your target market through other means.