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Ranking Reports – Are They Valuable Website Performance Metrics?

Published: Sep 16, 2013

Search engines do not like companies running ranking reports.

During SES 2013, Benu Aggarwal, President and Founder of Milestone Internet Marketing, caught up with Duane Forrester (Webmaster Outreach at Bing) and asked him to explain what happens behind the scenes when a ranking report is generated, why the search engines don’t like them, and why businesses should no longer look at ranking reports as a performance metric.

For every report created there is an automated query generated, and for each query there must be a response from the search bots. This process ends up consuming valuable crawl time for search engines. Instead of focusing on reports that will be outdated as soon as the new algorithms are released, websites should instead focus on the following highly relevant metrics:

  • Revenue
  • Traffic
  • Sales
  • Meta titles and descriptions
  • Schemas
  • User experience

It is still important to have meta titles and descriptions in addition to SEO-rich content like SCHEMAs, but don’t focus on satisfying all of the date on old ranking reports. As per Forrester, throw that report out the window and spend time optimizing revenue, traffic and sales.

Some Advice from Google – Matt Cutts

Bing is not the only search engine that wants people to move away from ranking reports.

As a Distinguished Engineer at Google (in charge of quality and webspam), Matt Cutts explains how to analyze the performance of your site. You should start by using the resources at hand, including the server log and current keyword optimization. Find out which keywords are already driving traffic to your site and work on enhancing them. Don’t just optimize your website for highly competitive keyword phrases. Take the time and do the research to target successful long tail phrases that will guide more complex searches to your site.

Here is what Google Webmaster says about automated queries generated through ranking software.

“Google’s Terms of Service do not allow the sending of automated queries of any sort to our system without express permission in advance from Google. Sending automated queries consumes resources and includes using any software (such as WebPosition Gold) to send automated queries to Google to determine how a website or webpage ranks in Google search results for various queries. In addition to rank checking, other types of automated access to Google without permission are also a violation of our Webmaster Guidelines and Terms of Service.”

There are also so many factors that go into ranking, including site architecture, history, social aspect and personalization. Here is the most up-to-date SEO periodic table from Search Engine Land that you can review.

The Search Engine’s Point of View

Important search engine factors are clearly defined in The Periodic Table of SEO. You should be creating a mix of all of the following elements in order to achieve an optimal ranking:

  • Content (quality, research, words…)
  • HTML (titles, descriptions, headers…)
  • Architecture (crawl, duplicate, speed…)
  • Links (quality, text, numbers…)
  • Trust (authority, history, identity…)
  • Social (reputation and shares)
  • Personal (country, locality, history…)
Search

In conclusion, it is important for businesses to understand all of the elements that contribute to strong on- and off-page presence. The best way to improve your ranking status is to enhance each individual element important to secure high ROI.

Most importantly, fine tune your website to create the optimal user experience. Usability studies are extremely important, and if you aren’t conducting them now then you need to start, he says. The more available and catered your website is to the user, the more you will be rewarded in revenue and traffic. If your website isn’t easy to navigate, takes too long to load and doesn’t engage the consumer, then why would somebody visit your site over one that does? The bottom line, he says, is that you need to stop relying on invaluable ranking reports and start focusing on metrics that matter.

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Contributed by: , Founder and President, Milestone Internet Marketing, Inc.

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