Why Professional SEO Agencies Don't Promise Rankings
How to be Number One with Google Rankings?
The subject of “guaranteed” SEO rankings has been discussed since SEO began. Customers love to ask “why is a certain keyword not ranked number one on Google?”
It is an extremely tricky question because the wording “why” suggests that in any way SEO is about positioning a certain keyword on the first page of Google. However, this in itself is never the goal of any SEO campaign, and if an SEO tells you otherwise, run for the hills.
It’s like the judge asking a husband: “Have you been cheating on your wife regularly – simply say yes or no”. If you say “yes”, you will be accused of cheating on your wife. And if you say “no”, you are still admitting that you have been cheating on your wife, just not very regularly. And that’s why this SEO question is one of the most difficult questions to answer if you’re an SEO.
Let’s get down to it:
SEO was and never will be about bringing one keyword or a set of certain keywords to the first position on Google.
It’s Not Your Fault, Client!
Seriously, it’s actually not the client’s fault. The promise is sweet music to a client’s ear because they would love to hear something that an SEO expert will bring them on position one on Google with one or two keywords.
The question is usually caused by the fact that some SEO agencies promise exactly this to their clients — mostly offshore SEO companies specialized in spam and fraudulent deals related to the latest way on “How to be number one on Google”.
The client might also have seen that promise in SEO ad banners, probably during their quest on some shady websites.
Another interesting discovery is that web design companies, which are seldom SEO experts, sometimes make these promises — giving the impression that SEO is about positioning a keyword on top of Google. Basically, the promise of ranking #1 is used as a sales tactic. And the worst offenders: Someone that refers a client to an SEO saying “I know a guy who can do that”.
And the whole SEO campaign starts with the wrong idea and expectation.
Some of the SEO agencies are downright ill-informed of the good practices in this field. Sometimes they use crooked means to help the site rank. But this is what the smart guys in Google are working to nullify every minute of every day, and will never last as Google improves its algorithms and search results.
The fact is no professional SEO company would ever promise you such a thing.
So, what is SEO all about then?
SEO is about driving traffic to your website, increasing your brand awareness by providing visibility on the web, in order to support your conversion efforts such as increasing sales.
If you think that positioning one keyword on top of Google will help you with this, then you might be missing the whole point of SEO.
Why Positioning a Top Keyword is Worth Nothing in the End
Sometimes people or/and clients are obsessed with certain keywords. That happens. They want to see their website with one keyword on top of Google. Clients often don’t know that rankings of one or two keywords are not a metric to measure the success of Search Engine Optimization.
Let me explain.
Let’s say you are a coffee machine manufacturer, and the keyword you have set your heart on is “Best Coffee Maker“.
Sure thing, having this keyword on top of Google associated with your website might burst you with excitement. However, have you ever thought that the first page on Google allows only 10 websites to be listed? It’s something to think about!
The first thought is, what makes you think that you are the one that deserves to be positioned there among hundreds of millions of other websites? Among them, not just the competition worldwide, but also millions of forums, blogs, and social media posts about the best coffee makers.
And let’s not forget about the thousands of well-known top-rated and ranked online magazines, news portals, and TV broadcasters that also try to rank for keywords like these with their posts. Now imagine an SEO would give you a promise like that, how serious can this promise be? Nobody has control over Google like this.
Another thing: the SEO agency cannot predict the constant changes in algorithms that are happening on a daily basis. Google now even tailors results specifically to users and their search history, meaning your website could rank in position #1 for one person, and #4 for another based on their personal preferences and a host of other factors.
This is why it is worth nothing.
So, what do you do now?
The second thought should be, if you really wanted to be ranked with that keyword on the first page, how much budget would you have to spend for SEO? Are you willing to spend tens of millions of dollars in order to have tens of thousands of backlinks, articles, and comments from users on your website?
Because this is what your website has to become in order to have the slightest chance to get listed for one specific defined keyword.
And even then, in theory, if it somehow makes it – how long do you think you can maintain that position? As we know, every keyword positioning is due to changes made every day by Google. Would you spend $10 million to be on top of Google for one week for just one keyword? There is so much that you need to pair with user engagement, authority, and reputation.
Ranking for one or two keywords alone lacks substance.
It happens that sometimes websites rank for one keyword because they wanted to. Admittedly, the nature of ranking is that it inconsistently fluctuates. For instance, the search engine result query may change or reorder a result. That’s why SEO experts stay away from that promise.
I was maintaining SEO campaigns where the focus also was set on one keyword. But we would do all other efforts in parallel and always considered the possibility of having that one keyword on top as a bonus. Eventually, it happened.
However, when I look back, this was one of my longest SEO campaigns that lasted 12 years. The website I was maintaining eventually was the biggest resource for that certain keyword. And on top of it, we were the first ones to populate content around that keyword. What’s more, an SEO campaign that had started more than 12 years ago! That’s why it was ranked that high.
This is the moment where you have to ask yourself: What is it with this keyword obsession?
Why Top Keywords are Not Enough
Now let me explain to you, why even one keyword is sometimes not worth much. For this we have to look at the search volume for this example “Best Coffee Maker”:
As you can see, the monthly search for “Best Coffee Maker” is 49,500. Even you think it’s the most important keyword for this exemplary coffee business, it’s actually not as much as you think.
So, let’s have a look:
Benefit of Long Term Keywords
Real and professional SEOs tend to try to rank for a huge variety of so-called long tail keywords. They usually create a keyword funnel inside your website with hundreds, if not thousands of keywords. The tail of keywords goes on and on.
They don’t try to get ranked for only a few keywords that suffer fierce competition. Less competition means you increase your changes to get ranked higher. Believed it or not, with the right SEO Keyword Strategy, eventually, you will be positioned on the first page of Google over time with different keywords from your space. And that’s where the traffic comes from.
Placing and betting on one keyword is like playing the lottery. Only a few can win. But a professional SEO campaign would rank thousands of keywords which will increase the chance of you being listed on top of Google.
Let’s take our example business “coffee maker” and have a glimpse of long-term keywords.
As you can see, the coffee making business offers more than 4.8 million searches around coffee machines every month. If you captured only 2% of these keywords, you would have way more traffic than “best coffee maker”.
Besides, having a diverse group of keywords ranking will also ensure that losing positions on certain keywords won’t hurt you, as all other keywords will gain positions at the same time.
One other aspect of having more keywords is that you can try to position yourself with keywords that are in 100% alignment with your product. If you have some features and specifics about your service or product, you might want to rank for them.
On one hand, the competition may not be aiming for these kinds of specific keywords which will give you the better leverage on Google. And on the other hand, driving users to your website with specific demands will result in much higher conversions and brand awareness, rather than generic top keywords.
And the most important reasons for this strategy of long tail keywords – it works, whereas the other strategy with one keyword is better left in the bin.
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