Why Measuring Success By Keyword Ranking Is Wrong

Why Measuring Success By Keyword Ranking Is WrongLet’s take a trip back in time when keyword data was only provided by Google Analytics. Those days were easy:

  • When keywords used to rule the websites. Keyword stuffing was the way to optimize.
  • It was the time when you get thousands of links no matter how good or bad they were.
  • That was the time when Google used to return search results on the basis of keywords.

Amazing, wasn’t it? All you need was to beat your competitors for links and keywords, that’s it.

Moreover, we could track the rankings for specific keywords and review the success rate based on the visits to the page. Analyzing and reporting was way easier than today. 

Today, things are a lot more complicated. It’s quite hard to survive among animals like bears and birds. Then you have to deal with not provided data. Don’t know what we’re talking about? Read the following details.

1. Panda

Ask a Toronto SEO expert and he’ll tell you what Panda really is.  It’s an algorithm launched in 2011 by Google. Experts believe Google Panda has affected more than 12% results on search engines (about 10 million searches per day). When it was launched, the idea was to devalue those websites that had the following issues:

  • High ratio of link-to-content
  • Low quality content
  • Other onsite issues

The algorithm has gone through many changes and is now completely focused on website quality. You cannot raise a finger on Google, because it has already shared quality guidelines for website owners and webmasters. These guidelines include information regarding keyword stuffing, onsite quality, and link schemes etc.

2. Penguin

Here’s another algorithm named after a bird (if bear wasn’t enough already). Google rolled out Penguin in 2012 and it was supposed to target those websites that were involved in low quality practices off site.

Penguin was launched in order to target and decrease rankings of those sites that did not follow Link Scheme from Google. Some of these strategies include:

  • Link exchanges
  • Buying/selling links for page rank
  • Creating links to low authority sites or directories
  • Creating links that exactly match the anchor text

3. Hummingbird

Next year, in 2013 Google came up with core algorithm named Hummingbird (but it isn’t exactly like that innocent bird). Experts believe that the update was the best in Google’s history, until the launch of local search algorithm in 2014. It changed the way Google used to return search results.

The idea was not to give results on the basis of keyword, but to understand the whole query and return the results accordingly. It is what Google called, “Conversational Search”. Hummingbird helped in making search results a lot more relevant than before.

These three algorithms go hand in hand with Hummingbird being the core language.

4. Secured Data

Moving on to another update, 2011 brought bad news for SEO gurus. Google declared it would no longer display keyword data due to privacy concerns. In simple terms, no matter you’re using an account, Google will not display the search string used by the visitor to access your page.

Coming to the Point

Breaking things into pieces:

  • It’s impossible to target search terms for keywords while building links and optimizing your website. That’s because of Panda and Penguin.
  • The launch of Hummingbird enabled Google to throw search results based on entire query rather than the keywords.
  • You no longer have the ability to monitor success of a certain keyword as Google has secured the data.

It all comes to this – measuring success with respect to keywords is not going to help.

Alternatively, you can use these things:

  • Long tail keywords vs. head terms
  • Analyzing failures and improve
  • Comparing Analytics data and Webmaster Tool
  • Direct value reporting

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