The simplicity of search engine optimization has gone out the window – and this is a problem for emerging SEO professionals. Why? Because just when clients are finally starting to get how important it is to improve their ranking on search engines, Search+ changed the landscape entirely. Now, it’s virtually impossible to get consistent rankings because every searcher’s filters are different. Now, we have to get our clients to think about different metrics entirely.
This is hard because Internet marketing professionals have spent the last few years convincing their clients not to worry about impressions. We’ve been telling them that eyeballs don’t matter. Only action matters. But since it’s virtually impossible to deliver a #1 ranking to a client on a particular search term, we need to know which search terms generate the most traffic – and how much traffic that is – in order to show a client the value of competing for a popular query.
The visitor growth report in Google Analytics can be a great friend to the SEO professional, since part of our job is to show our clients that the work we do is helping them. That used to be easy: their rank would shoot up, land comfortably and consistently in the top 3, and they would be happy. The visitor growth metric shows how much traffic is growing, which can be a direct effect of optimization efforts.
The most important metric to your client is (or should be) how your work translates into visitors doing what he wants them to do on his site. The conversions metric shows how frequently visitors accomplish a predetermined goal (like subscribing to a list or buying a product). Not only does this metric justify your contract, it also feeds needed data into the other business intelligence tools that your client likely uses to manage his business.
Search+ interferes with our ability to assure a client consistent top-3 rankings, but that doesn’t mean that SEO won’t change the ranks. We just have to blur our vision a little to see the benefit, and the way to do that is to look at average rankings. Google’s average rankings report provides a summary of all the impressions your URLs receive, based on the top position achieved in each search.
Exact match refers to the positioning of only one URL, and traditional SEO thinking looks at this as a limiting report. After all, the reason to optimize multiple URLs is to leverage the attractiveness of content on multiple pages and improve the traffic across all the pages a client owns. But the exact match metric can be very important to businesses that are rebranding – and it can be a good way to present a “test case” to a client.