Google Keyword Ranking: Why It Doesn’t Matter Anymore

The original publication date of this article is 2012. This article was originally published in 2012.

The year 2018 saw a shift in search engine optimization and organic traffic.

*Aside Note: In this article, we will use “Google” instead of “search engine.” Bing and Yahoo! While Yahoo!, Bing, and other search engines can be important, Google is the dominant force behind these trends.

But, the question remains: “Where is our website ranked on Google?” It still feels right to ask this question.

Keyword ranking is an important tool.

What’s changed in keyword ranking?

SEO was easy in the 2000s. Based on your rank, you could predict your traffic.

Brett Snyder is our podcast host. He would say that SEO was an advertisement field with a public scoring board. To see your performance, you can use Google to search for the target keyword.

To see how this keyword is performing in your Analytics, you can also check

2016 is a year that has seen many changes. These are the things that have changed.

Google Search Engine Results

Google Search Results Pages (SERPs) look very different from what they used to be 10 years ago when you search.

Knowledge Graph boxes are there. Answer Boxes are also available.

There are so many elements in the SERPs that even search engine optimizers can’t understand what ranking #1 means.

Is your answer box #1? If you have four organic listings but are #1 in organic rankings,

Let’s say your rank in organic traffic is 4th, but you also have rich snippets which lead to traffic similar to traffic #1.

Google cannot even describe the meaning of ranking in the Search Console.

While the concept of ranking keywords for search terms is still relevant, it doesn’t have any meaning if it is used as a measure.

Search Queries

Google reported that 70% of search queries had no exact match for 2012. That means only 30% were made with the “obvious keyword” keywords (aka keywords that you track to try and rank for).

The trend to search for specific terms has increased in the past 4 years.

Does it matter if you rank for San Diego Real Estate in search engines?

Would you be surprised if your ranking was not for keywords like “San Diego Real Estate Near San Diego Beach” and “San Diego Real Estate Agent Reviews”?

Imagine a San Diego Real Estate ranking that was just for a few people. Google has significantly changed how it processes queries since its inception.

Google’s Processing of Questions

Search engines have made significant advancements since the early 2000s. Search engines not only look at the query text (e.g. They also consider implicit signals such as “Atlanta Hotel”) and “Listen to the text of your query” (e.g. The searcher uses Expedia extensively ).

The improvement in search engine results is an indication that not all queries/searches are the same. Google customizes search results based on many factors.

You have many options to see the top SERPs for your search terms. But even that is not enough to tell if your site has been successful. Other important factors could affect its performance.

This point was highlighted by Google using their system to record position data in Search Console.

Google displays the average position for each query. The ranking is dependent on many variables and may vary between people.

Keyword ranking does not indicate performance. Because it’s based on data that you don’t control or have access to, this is why keyword ranking is not a performance indicator.

Analytics Data

Ranking factors can be affected by data access or control issues. This can even impact your Analytics data.

The original publication of this post in 2012 This post was originally published in 2012.

You could know the success of a keyword if it was a real estate firm. This will allow you to prioritize your marketing efforts.

In our initial post, we stressed the importance and relevance of organic traffic.

Google and other search engines do not provide keyword data. They combine it and make that available in their respective Search Engines.

You can view the keywords based on the page. It is not possible to determine the conversion rates for different keywords and how visitors behave on your website.

Without keyword data from Analytics, you can’t tell how valuable a keyword ranking is. Keyword rankings are not a performance indicator.

Keyword Ranking as a Metric and What to Replace

Organic search has changed significantly since the middle of the 2000s. The keyword ranking no longer serves any purpose.

  • Without context it is ineffective
  • You don’t need to do anything
  • Higher Metrics Are Available

Which metrics are best? Here are some analytics metrics.

Organic Traffic

Total organic traffic by the source is taken into consideration.

It is important to see beyond the “total organic traffic” because the most valuable metrics can be found in the details.

Landing Page

Organic traffic by landing page is the best drill-down measurement.

Traffic to landing pages from organic traffic is the closest measure that can be compared to keyword rank.

A page that ranks high for one keyword is considered.

Organic traffic to landing pages is a measure of performance.

By Relevant Segments

It is possible to sort organic traffic in many ways. This allows you to see how landing pages are performing according to the device.

Segments are created based on your organic traffic. They have context and accuracy. These segments also contain data that is useful for making decisions, unlike keyword rankings ).

But this isn’t all. This is not all.

Multi-channel Conversions

A combination of repeated visits from different sources/mediums should be considered conversions.

Visitors may not convert their first time, second or third visit. However, they will come back via different sources other than organic search.

Analytics offers multi-channel reports that allow you to see how organic interrelates with other media.

Keyword Ranking is a Tool

Keyword Rankings can be used for diagnostic purposes and as research tools, but they cannot be used to measure performance.

Ahrefs and Moz provide keyword rankings because they have a purpose. Google Search Console provides ranking data.

Data that is combined with other data can prove very valuable.

All Data Capture

Bing Search Engine, and Google Search Console each provide keywords “positions”, per search query and page.

This post from Search Console explains how you can access the data and how to use it. The Search Performance report can be accessed here. However, year-over-year data is not available in Search Console. It’s safer to save your data in a spreadsheet rather than using Search Console.

If you pay for an SEO tool like Ahrefs, Moz, or Moz to provide keyword ranking data, then the data can be accessed anonymously and only one country will apply.

You can use the tools to find your primary keywords on your top pages.

After you’ve gathered all the data, there are 3 main ways that you can make use of them.

Get Alerts Using Keyword Rankings

The keyword rankings are a sign of a potential drop in organic traffic. It can take many days.

A significant decrease in the ranking of primary keywords can be attributed to other factors (e.g. You can examine secondary keywords and traffic to landing pages to determine whether there are any problems.

Combine the data to resolve problems and make priority changes.

Use Keyword Rankings As Diagnostics

If you see a drop in organic traffic, it is possible to use keyword data to identify the problem.

Use the insight to build new pages.

When you have written content that highlighted a specific keyword theme and saw traffic increase concerning ranking for the keywords, then you can attribute causation and move on with pages.

Rankings of keywords can help you understand the reasons behind your metrics.

Keyword Rankings As a Complement

It is crucial to understand the performance of existing content if you want to make new content or launch an outreach campaign.

Take a look at your page structure, links, and keywords to create an effective strategy.

Assume you are a distributor in your area and wish to drive more traffic to your site by writing the best possible content. Analyze your top 10 pages.

This is evident. These people are more likely to get local links.

You can take that information and decide to roll out more geographically-focused content rather than a how-to or behind-the-scenes content.

Next steps

Keyword rankings have been a contentious topic in digital marketing. These are some of the things that you can do with them.

  1. No more keyword ranking to determine performance.
  2. Start to look at important metrics such as page organic traffic and conversion metrics.
  3. Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools should all be used to capture ranking information.
  4. While you can create automatic ranking alerts, it is best to only react to significant drops following an investigation.
  5. You can use all your keyword data to plan and research.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Enable registration in settings - general