Search Engine Optimization is Not Search Engine Rankorization

Oh, how the winds continue to shift in the world of search engine optimization (SEO). The common metric-bragging-rights comment of “Look where we got you ranked!” is more often than not heard around the SEO world when communicating with clients.

Old-school. At least soon to be old-school. Overit Media being ‘old-school’ since it was just ‘school’ has taught us one of the greatest lessons in SEO: It ain’t static. It’s an ever-morphing beast that constantly needs to be tamed or else it’ll eat you alive.

A new SEO perspective is brewing, along with a quiet, perfect storm. The new perspective is less concerned with rank as a metric and more concerned with traffic, saturation and visibility. The quiet, perfect Google storm is what that translates into an issue for many search engine optimization companies and consultants.

Let’s rewind.

If you’re in the business of SEO and don’t have a propensity for change, sharpen your pencil pilgrim and get that resume re-written. As a field of marketing, SEO demands flexibility, calculated risk-taking and the ability to navigate the flow and ebb, storm or no storm.

That said, the SEO client needs to be willing to change their thought process, misconceptions and all, in order to understand where and why their money is being spent. If an SEO client is praying for dollars but not working for change (how many ways can you see that statement?) than it’s time to cut the proverbial marketing umbilical cord and seek clients who are. Otherwise your destined for headaches and a potential damage to your good reputation as an ethical search marketer.

In this day and age, in general, over-the-counter SEO is too concerned with site rank and needs prescription strength Internet saturation ala social media and other means to drive organic, relevant traffic.

Why Rank is Slipping: The Bitter Pill

Google and its cohorts are changing. In the coming months we may be witness to behavioral search within a subject, topic or discipline determining what search results we each see, individually―all based on our past behavior in the search bars. Saddle up partner because whatever you are searching for in Dodge may determine what kind of results you get based on your behavior, search terminology and use of language.

The terms you search for could easily be harvested for intent. If you lean towards language delineated for purchasing, you may get catalog-type/eCommerce-based-page search results. If you’re more of the propensity to be in the ‘market’ for informational sources, your results will be different―all based on how you search.

Just taking those two trends in algorithmic changes into account, your search results may be different than your neighbor’s, all depending on past and present online behavior and language usage. That said, searching for common terms may not only return completely different results, but the actual rank of similar pages may be different for each user―from house to house, office to office.

It’s Not All Bad

Let’s put some faith in Internet users shall we? Based on today’s search results, rank and algorithms, let’s not discount the ‘comparison shopper’ (and that term isn’t relegated for actual online ‘shoppers’ looking to buy products and services). Just as search engines are changing, so are those who are using them. True, traffic is still dependent on page location of your website, but is being number one always the best position?

In this economy people are becoming more patient with their money. In other words, when many offers are thrust upon them, many are not taking the first offer. It’s like ticket scalpers at a concert. They see someone looking for tickets and they all quickly approach the wannabe concert-goer. One is offering the ‘best’ seats and the other is fiercly competing–prices go up and down, along with perceived quality. Being that this is an illegal activity, grabbing the first tickets no matter what the price or quality offered may stave off the risk of getting in trouble by the law, but lessons are learned the hard way. You might get scammed. The public is aware of this and they have become a little more patient, waiting for the quality deal – perhaps going for the 3rd or 4th scalper. Holding out. Waiting. Scanning. Searching.

Let’s take it back online. Let’s say you are actually shopping online for dress shirts. You might search broadly using the term ‘dress shirts’. Your list of 10 search results pop up on Google. Number one might have dress shirts that you are interested in, but your not sold on the site. Back on the search results you might scan down the list a bit and find number three, four or five has the specific brand and quality you’re looking for in a dress shirt and business to part money with. This is somewhat illustrative as to how being number one isn’t always the icing on the cake.

Google Barfs

There are so many factors that go into ranking. Google might have it all wrong and even moderate users of the Internet know this. For the most part. There are still those who will jump at number one and get to a Google barf-bag site and be instantly sold. Is this the quality visitor you’re looking for? If so, try dumbing down your content below the 16 years of school it takes to understand your text in the event these searchers go to your site. Sold.

When people finally realized the sun didn’t revolve around the earth, rather the earth rotated, those same ‘professional’ folks questioned each other. One famous scientist turned to another and posed the question, “Why did we think the sun revolved around the earth?” His counterpart responded, “Well, because that’s how it looked.” The answer to what I am talking about lies in the response to that statement: “Then, how would it have looked if the sun did revolve around the earth?”

It all lies in your perspective. Trust me, I am not doubting that top spots get great amounts of traffic, but if your reputation is solely based on being number one, it’s time to understand something about reputation, especially Internet reputation: You have to learn your reputation, not just earn it. If your organic traffic is still on the increase and you’re not number one, you just got schooled. Your rep is doing pretty well. In addition, reputation is not about having the most, its about the quality you have. The bonus comes with a steady increase of those same quality accolades, otherwise known as relevant, organic traffic.

Search engine optimization is more about relevant traffic rather than as a metric to measure SEO as a whole. Again, no doubt the first position in the SERPS gets awesome traffic, but as that metric slips away, its better to be proactive than reactive and get on board with an SEO who sees the forest for the trees.