Why Your Google Ranking is only a Partial Measure of Success for your SEO Campaign

The closer to the top a webpage is listed, the more successful the SEO campaign appears. If however you investigate a little more thoroughly, it quickly becomes apparent: the Google ranking is only a qualified factor for judging success. Why? Stated simply: Google’s ways are inscrutable. That means even an ideally optimized website can rank more poorly than another. We’ll tell you the most important factors that influence Google ranking, independent of the quality of your search engine optimization. In addition we’ll share with you which factors allow a more exact measure of success for your SEO campaign.

Google Ranking: Four Influencing Factors

1. Locality

Test it for yourself. Search for “buy VW Polo” and note the hits on the first page. Ask a friend in another city what his search for “buy VW Polo” yielded with Google. You will see that despite the same search terms, the resulting list is different. Google uses your IP address to ascertain your location. Even if you search with a smart phone, the GPS is used. The search engine giant wants to provide you even more tailored results by doing this. It is logical that someone in Berlin searching for a VW Polo certainly wants to find one there. Google establishes this geographical reference with many other search terms. For this reason your internet page can be in the top ten at location X and on the second page of the resulting list at location Y.

Why Your Google Ranking is only a Partial Measure

2. Regional Rankings

Besides locality, regional rankings are also conceivable.

In region X for the search term “tobacco” pages where tobacco can be purchased are mainly clicked on. In region Y for the same term websites that deal with the health aspects of tobacco are often selected. Google can therefore give better placement to tobacco dealers in region X, while in region Y informational pages about tobacco consumption are better placed. And Google is still fulfilling user needs in both regions.

3. Previous Search Terms and Websites Visited

Websites you have visited or searched for previously can also influence what your search results look like. Especially if you are logged into your Google account, the search engine can use this data for a personalized search.

4. Time

Of course time also influences ranking. So today website X can offer the best informational text on the subject of climate change. But the next day website Y publishes an even better text on the topic and gets ranked more prominently. Daily events distort search results, too. After the terror attacks in Stockholm news sites were ranked very highly. A few weeks later it were travel and vacation webpages.

Is a Google Ranking Objectively Verifiable?

The stated reasons illustrate it: You can’t really validate a Google ranking with your own PC. There are simply too many influencing factors.

But what about SERP checkers or ranking checkers? They review ranking based on certain keywords. Are they the solution?

Unfortunately no, because these programs also have to run on computers. So they have an IP as well, which allows Google to perform geolocation. For this reason they are susceptible to regional distortion. Of course there are also SERP checkers, which run on multiple, regionally far apart computers. However they never know what the search history of each user looks like. They can therefore only ever show an approximate picture of which position your website occupies for the many searchers.

Are There More Factors that Influence Google Rankings?

Every search engine uses a multitude of algorithms. They are the basis for every search. So that programmers and webmasters can’t spam the search engines, the exact function of the algorithms is a well-protected secret. In addition they are updated permanently, improved and expanded to shut down spammers and give the search results more relevance.

Due to the constant adjustments to the algorithms alone, websites can slide up or down in the search results. You unfortunately have no influence over this. It lies in the hands of the search engine operators.

You can however constantly optimize your website and populate it with high-quality content. When doing so, always ask yourself what the user wants from your website. That is the best basis for understanding what the search engine wants from you. Its goal of course is to give the searcher the most relevant results. Meet the users’ expectations and the search engine will thank for it.

Measures of Success Outside of Google Rankings

Your placement with Google is an important indicator for the success or failure of your SEO campaign. It must not be the only factor however. Additional aspects are:

1. Number of Visitors

How have the visitor numbers evolved since the SEO campaign? Here only the visitors that came to you from organic search results are important.

2. Frequency

Independent of its position you can ascertain how often your website is displayed in the search. If the frequency has increased, it is a sign of success.

3. Enquiries

If the enquiries via e-mail or telephone increase, that is certainly an indicator for success. You can also measure the number of visitors to a business location. Has that increased since your SEO campaign?

4. Revenue

An SEO campaign has first and foremost one ultimate goal: to increase your revenue. That is easy to determine. Rising sales therefore are one of the best indicators of a successful SEO campaign.

Google Rankings: For and Against

As we have been able to show, there are several ranking factors with Google that lie outside the scope of search engine optimization. For this reason your placement with the search engine giant can’t be the lone factor to decide about the success or failure of an SEO campaign. Consult the number of visitors, revenue increases etc. as well. Then you can quickly ascertain whether your measures were effective or not.

Vito Vishnepolsky
Vito Vishnepolsky
CEO and Founder at Martal Group