Why are we so focused on traffic and ranking?

If you take a look at your analytics, you’ll see that the SEO community has been trained like Pavlov’s dogs. We see a traffic graph and start drooling. Google puts out an algorithm update and we all panic, thinking “we’ve lost our rankings, the SERP has changed, Google is unfair”.

But what if we changed the comparison? What if we measured SEO success through trust and decisions instead of traffic and rankings? What if every SEO contract was for 12 months?

If we judged the success of SEO based on a company’s overall revenue, we would get a more accurate picture of its true impact. You see, SEO is really about helping people make decisions that will make them happy with the outcome. This happens on a website level by having great content that loads quickly and is easy to use.

Then, we use search engines to help people find your business. This is where branding comes into play. Creating trust by altering memory architecture within the brain. When you look at SEO through this worldview, the game changes.

“Oh, they did an update. The SERP has changed. This might reduce purchase decision time and help us grow”.

“Oh, we lost rankings and traffic for a lot of pages, but our revenue has increased”.

“Oh, we actually convert better since the update”.

SEO’s may feel like Google is playing a game of Magicians’ choice with them. However, businesses today don’t place SEO in their brand marketing basket. For many, it’s a replacement for direct advertising. There is a danger in measuring SEO performance based on rankings, traffic, and click-based revenue.

Being on the first page of search engine results is important for discovery, but it shouldn’t be the only metric by which SEO success is measured. Just because we can attribute revenue to SEO doesn’t mean that’s the only way to judge its success.

And yet, SEO contracts are canceled daily because of this. How we measure success matters. A billboard or a radio ad rarely gets judged like SEO. SEO is cross-examined and is often sent to marketing budget prison. Perhaps we’re providing the wrong evidence? Food for thought.

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