In the search engine optimization world, there’s nothing more valuable and sough-after than achieving high keyword rankings, with the main goal of gettingthe top spot in search results organically. This is because the top 3 positions in any search results enjoy extremely high traffic and lucrative lead opportunities compared to other positions.
But with major search engines like Google and Bing drastically changing their paid advertising approach, better algorithms that determine relevance, and their continued campaign of providing only the most relevant links on the front page, traditional keyword rankings and keyword optimization is starting to lose its luster.
In the modern digital world, digital marketers need to ask themselves a difficult question: is the time and effort we put in to achieve top organic rankings still worth it, considering the diminishing CTR organic rankings receive when they’re placed under local results and PLA’s? It’s a daunting task, re-examining how you go about your business, especially if it means overhauling a process it’s taken years to perfect.
But here are some reasons why you should re-think organic search results, and why being hesitant is not necessarily a bad thing:
Keyword Rankings Aren’t the End-All-Be-All of Connectivity
Ten or so years ago, the world was still trying to figure what exactly this “social media” thing was all about: Friendster had started ringing its death knell, Myspace was losing to Facebook, bloggers started popping out everywhere, and this thing called YouTube was getting popular.But even then, companies already saw the value of this next-gen internet, which is why they started investing in the creation of various at-the-time niche content like top 10 lists, or how-to articles (what we now call listicles).
This was the peak of Web 2.0, a true network of socially connected people, brands, and businesses with access to (mostly) free channels of communication that can be monetized at will. Soon, e-commerce websites became a thing, online shopping reached an all-time peak, and an internet economy soon started booming.
In the span of a decade, the internet gave birth to thousands of social media platforms, thousands of forums with millions of threads and sub-threads chock-full of user-generated content, not to mention the approximately 320 million blogs from all corners of the world.
What this means is: keyword rankings are a great way to get a brand noticed, but it’s no longer the only way to get noticed. Nowadays, most brands would rather piggy-back on the credibility of online directories like TripAdvisor or Yelp than spend time, effort, and money boosting their own page rankings.
Niche Sites Means Brands Can Focus on Conversion Rather than Traffic
Back then, the only way that brands can connect with customers is by achieving a high organic keyword rank. Because of this, it was of vital importance for brands to invest a significant portion of their time, energy, and money into their SEO efforts, mainly by building thousands upon thousands of back links and creating websites with as many keywords as possible.
However, with the growth of the internet, there are now thousands of free platforms that cater to niche interests and specific demographics. This means that brands now have a one-stop shop for identifying which websites to target for conversions. This also means that brands and businesses can instead focus their efforts in conversion rather than in gaining traffic for a website in the hopes of converting a small portion of that traffic into sales.
The problem with relying on keyword rankings and measuring site traffic is that any user can go to a website and leave as soon as they realize that the content isn’t for them, although a lot of users would leave for less: landing pages with confusing graphics, wrong fonts, unappealing pictures, etc. etc. This means that, while ranking first on Google does get you better-than-average traffic, it doesn’t necessarily mean that those visitors will become paying customers. Relying solely on keyword rankings without understanding the minute details of a brand’s target demographics can even be detrimental to a brand.
These niche online communities, as well as the prevalence of social media, have effectively diminished the value of organic search results and keyword rankings in general because they act like natural enclosures for like-minded people with similar or the same interests. This is where they hang out, exchange ideas, provide each other with information, and basically be inundated with extremely focused content that encourages them to constantly engage with the site. Leaving it for another site, despite the other site being #1 in the rankings, just wouldn’t make sense anymore.
With even the smallest amounts of effort, brands can create strong social media presence that would garner them a large amount of engagement, brand awareness, traffic, and even revenue. Keyword rankings just don’t have the same community-building and proactive engagement powers that social media has, which means it also isn’t the most effective way to connect brands with qualified traffic.
But Don’t Count it Out Just Yet
While it’s true that the value of keyword rankings has diminished, it’s not completely gone: keyword rankings are still a very important aspect of a brand’s digital presence, and businesses still need to try and get premier organic search rankings.
Yes, visibility and CTR are diminished for some types of search listings, but organic rankings are still one of the most effective ways to connect with a new customer, especially if a brand gets their content marketing just right.
At the end of the day, creating a digital marketing strategy that relies solely on getting a site to page one simply won’t cut it: it has to incorporate so many different digital marketing efforts, such as paid ads, social media, SEO, high-quality content marketing, online reputation management, and many more. So if you find your brand or business slipping down the Google rankings, don’t panic too much, there are other remedies you can do!