Do Search Engine Rankings Even Matter Anymore?

Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, the Google algorithm is certainly something that doesn’t stay the same for long. And with Google no longer notifying people about changes, the Google dance looks like it’s back in full force.

Industry uncertainty, client expectations; SEO isn’t dead, but it is being battered about. Is it deliberate? Well, in some senses, certainly. Search engines, (and when we say search engines, we mean Google in particular), have never wanted you to game the system.

And let’s be honest…behind all the talk of user experience, user relevance and the perfectly legitimate optimisation of sites in order to increase their chances of ranking in search engine results, lies the potentially uncomfortable truth that SEO is effectively gaming the system.

SEO really involves making changes to your site and online presence to convince Google that your site is a better result than anyone else’s.

The Changing Landscape Of SEO

As well as everything above, it’s important never to lose sight of the fact that Google is a business. A company. A corporation with shareholders and a board and financial projections. And they don’t make any money from Organic results.

It’s not in their best interests to encourage “manual” (as opposed to natural) optimisation. Ranking first in the organic results can be great for your business, but what’s great for Google is your advertising spend. There’s a reason that the top organic result displays under 3 ads.

Is Google deliberately making it harder to optimise to encourage advertising? Well, people have certainly accused them of doing so. Is it surprising? Wrong? Technically, no. They certainly have no obligation to us. They do have an obligation to their shareholders though.

Ranking, Ranking, Ranking

For some time already, respected online marketing voices have been saying that keyword rankings are not the best metric to focus on. And I have to say that it’s making more and more sense.

Some of our clients have lost rankings. But a loss in ranking hasn’t translated into a loss in traffic. They’re still getting the visitors.

When it gets right down to it, there is only one true measure of success for a business online. How many sales are you getting?

If you’re not ranking high organically, but you’re still getting the traffic, and more importantly, you’re still making sales, does it matter?

SEO And Google Ads For Small Business

With all the uncertainty surrounding SEO, all the competition, everybody trying desperately to outrank everybody else, I just don’t think that SEO is worth it for small businesses. It’s not dead, but it’s rapidly becoming the preserve of big companies that can put in the time and effort to optimise the “right” way.

If you’re getting traffic and conversions from Adwords right now, you probably shouldn’t worry about SEO. Where you rank doesn’t matter if you’re making the sales.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t try and optimise if you want to. At the very least, your site should be “search engine friendly” and all those on-site factors like page titles should be in place. But if you want off-site optimisation, just make sure you know what you’re getting into. And don’t trust anybody who offers you any guarantees.

Right now, Google Ads is the place to be. And that’s how Google likes it.