It’s no secret that everyone is aiming to rank number one in Google and Bing for their top keywords. The benefits of ranking in the top spot are well documented, but that doesn’t mean that where your site is ranking should be the only thing you focus on achieving with your SEO. Pigeonholing your focus and using rank position as the end-all-be-all measurement of success could spell disaster for your SEO campaign in the long run.

Here are 3 reasons why solely focusing on where your site ranks can hurt your SEO:

Search results pages are personalized.
The search engines are in the business of pleasing their customer, just like every other company. Their product is information. In order to keep their customers happy and coming back, the search engines need to produce the most relevant and useful information that matches a user’s search query. One of the ways they do this is by personalizing the search results. The search engines look at your past search history, location and social network to determine the most applicable results for you.

This means that no two searches are guaranteed to produce the same results. What ranks in the number one spot on your work computer might only rank in the number four spot on your home computer. You might not even be on the first page when a customer searches for your products!

You’re missing the big picture.
Ranking well does not automatically guarantee results (although it certainly helps). For instance, if you are ranking well for the wrong keywords (keywords that your target audience aren’t using to find your products/services) than it doesn’t really matter if you own the number one spot. If your keywords don’t match your target audience’s search behavior, you’ll never see an increase in your conversion rate or profit margin. Ranking well is important, but it should not be the only benchmark you measure your SEO success by.

No SEO firm can guarantee your ranking position because they can’t control the search engines. There are so many factors that affect how well your site ranks, many of which are out of your control. It’s more important to focus on building your brand and trust factor than just on where you rank.

You might be tempted to try black hat SEO for faster results.
The allure of black hat SEO is that is yields quick and powerful results. If you are only doing SEO to get that number one spot, you might start cutting corners and taking shortcuts to get there. While black hat SEO may produce fast results, the benefits are short-lived. It doesn’t matter if it takes 3 days or 3 months, the search engines almost always catch on to what you are doing. Once they flag your site, you’re back at square one with your SEO. In fact, some penalties can be so severe that your site gets completely removed from the search engines. At that point, you’re much lower than square one!