One of the most challenging concepts to explain to clients is that search rankings don’t matter. More specifically, that they should not get too excited or too disappointed over where their website stands in the search results. It is not an easy concept to grasp because for the past ten years, they have been hearing that top positions on the first page of Google search results is the only way to get more visitors to their site and grow their business. This is far from the truth.

Let’s look at these two examples.

A website has high rankings for common keywords but 70% bounce rate

As an example, take an IT support company website that appears on the second position for their keyword phrase “IT network service” and gets 840 visitors per month. Almost all traffic lands on the home, but 70% of the visitors leave within seconds. The remaining 30% or 252 visitors continue to Services where another 25% – that is 210 dropped off. That leaves 42 people out of 840, which by no means translates to 42 customers!

What does it mean?
It means that the website is heavily optimized for search engines and contains a lot of keyword-rich text. Also, links are pointing to the site and social media buzz about the company. But what good are the rankings for when the website traffic does not convert into customers?

In this case, a lot of attention was put on search engine optimization and little on the website’s quality. The website brings traffic but does not persuade the visitors to do business with that particular company. Our colleague Carl Friesen recently wrote an article “Prospective clients want to know your firm’s why”. In this article, Carl explains that potential customers do not care about what you do and how you do it, but want to know how your values match theirs and whether they can trust you to look after their interests. Rankings, in this case, don’t matter.

A website does not rank high for common keywords but experienced a significant increase in customers

The second example is an interior design company that recently went through a major redesign. This was necessary because the company took a new direction in the business and focused more on its niche services.  Their website does not rank high for common keywords – it appears on page 4 of Google’s search results, but it appears on page two for its niche services keywords. The number of visitors increased from 150 to 1050 per month, which is 620%! People are spending 3:50 minutes on the site, browse the page, come back, contact the company, and use their services. These services bring them customers with more spending power and more lucrative jobs.

Rankings don’t matter when your website ranks for useless keywords or when it doesn’t rank for common keywords yet generates leads for particular keyword phrases.