When measuring the success of your SEO campaign, or even setting the benchmarks of what will constitute a successful campaign, many people get caught up in what I call “decorative” results. There are a lot of things you can measure that show improvement and growth, but in the end, those are just icing on the cake, not the tasty cake itself. In fact, icing can taste and look pretty darn good while the actual cake can be a great big pile of you know what.
Someone recently wanted me to provide a quote for our services and sent this along:
Currently, our Google pagerank is a “4”. We want to take that to at least “6”. On Alexa.com, we are ranked around 948,000. We want to be in the top 50,000. We also want our daily reach to be 40-50 million, not the 5 or so million it currently is. On our inbound links, we want to be in the thousands, not the hundreds as we currently are (we use linkpopularity.com to check it) So we have lots of room for improvement.
In the grand scheme of things, none of these things above matter. Sure they might provide some bragging rights, but none of them, with the exception of daily reach, is an indicator of true success. Let’s put it this way, if your Google PageRank stayed at a 4, you never got above 500,000 on Alexa (lower is better here), your links never showed a significant growth and, for good measure, were not able to increase your daily reach of 5M, BUT you are able to increase the conversion rate of those 5M daily visitors by 10 to 20% by bringing in more targeted traffic would you be happy? My guess is that you would be.
Now the odds of increasing conversions that much while not seeing improvement in those other areas is pretty slim, but the point is the same. None of those measures really mean anything at all. They don’t equal success. Getting more conversions does.
Increasing exposure is also an important goal of SEO but the kind of exposure is important. Lots of exposure that brings in traffic that doesn’t convert doesn’t do much for the bottom line, but getting any kind of incremental increase in exposure that brings–or increases–conversions is always good.
There is nothing wrong with monitoring decorative growth. In fact, it can be helpful in a sense. Not only can they provide a general sense of improvement, but they can also act as improvement benchmarks. What I mean by that is if you see these decorative results improving but traffic and conversions are not then you know you might have a problem. You might be doing the wrong things, focused on the wrong audience, employing the wrong tactics. This gives you a chance to investigate and correct the problem.
Don’t get caught up, and certainly don’t allow yourself to be fooled by the decorative wrapping in your “SEO” results. These are not real measures any more than measuring how many people walk by your coffee shop every day. What matters is getting them inside and buying coffee.