SERPs Become Irrelevant

Google has been moving more and more toward individual search results. This means that website owners who watch their own search engine rank positions are not seeing what they think they are seeing.

Google tracks YOUR preferences. So if you Google your own website, then click on the link, you’ll rise in the search results – but ONLY on YOUR computer.

If you Google your search terms, and click on your competitor’s site, then you’ll drop in the rankings. But again, ONLY on your computer.

This means you CAN’T get an accurate ranking by searching. And it means that SERPs are becoming less relevant as a means of measuring your marketing and SEO efforts. Because the past browser history on that computer will skew the results, and make them almost meaningless.

We have clients that watch these results and obsess over them. If they drop a position, they’ll call in a panic and worry over what they did wrong. If they rise a point, they’ll clasp their hands in glee and celebrate for a week. And while I’m all for celebrating achievements, this is no longer anything worth celebrating – because it doesn’t MEAN anything anymore. It kind of never did – I mean, you can rank high and still not get traffic, get traffic and still not get sales, so it was measuring the wrong thing in the first place.

So we, as webmasters, now get to explain to our clients over and over, why rising and falling in the search results has no value in measuring anything. We get to tell them what we’ve always told them – SERPs are irrelevant, don’t watch search engine positions, watch TRAFFIC and SALES numbers. Because those are the only things that really matter anyway.

But there are people who just don’t get this. So we’ve come up with a solution for them…

We can tell them, “Just don’t ever click your competitor’s links in the search engine results, because that will push them up! Click your link instead!”

Of course, I’m joking – but with some clients, you just know that no matter how you explain it, they aren’t going to get it, so you really FEEL like telling them that, just to get them to take their obsession elsewhere.

The point? Measure sales. Search engine position is totally meaningless, and TRAFFIC is also a meaningless number without sales. Sales numbers are what tell you whether you’ve really got it right or not. And watch TRENDS, not just numbers. If your sales are rising, even slowly, then you’ve got something right, and you’ll eventually get where you want to be. If they’ve plateaued, or never even got started, then something needs to be tweaked. If they are declining, then something needs to be adjusted.

Measure what matters, and don’t obsess about things that are not essential to success.

3 Responses to SERPs Become Irrelevant

  • Deja says:

    Excellent words of website wisdom Laura!

  • How does this affect Google Analytics? Or does it?

  • Laura says:

    Does not affect GA. Does not affect any traffic stats.

    The thing is, search engine position was never a critical thing to measure anyway, except as PART of the whole picture. People treat it like THE picture, when it is only a small part of the equation.

    Even high traffic numbers are useless without corresponding sales.

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