Ah, the “number one” spot in Google. The holy grail of marketing.
The idea has wedged itself into the psyche of countless business owners who are willing to pay vague amounts of money to vague organizations for vague strategies with only one result in mind: get your site to that number one spot. And one day, after all the vague expenditures are vaguely calculated, someone makes the announcement: we’re number one! It’s the day you’ve been waiting for, your raison d’être, the final and gratifying end to a long and… dare we say… vague struggle.
Before you get too cozy with the champagne bottle, we have a question for you now that your site is number one. So what?
There are some good reasons not to care that your site has reach this alleged pinnacle (and some good reasons not to bother trying to get there, but that’s a whole other conversation).
So just in case you haven’t wasted your money yet, we’d like to tell you why being number one simply doesn’t matter. And if you’ve already invested in getting there, you might want to read this with something stronger than champagne.
Reason #1: You Don’t Know What Keyword You’re Number One For
It’s hard to care about something if you don’t know what that something is. Being “number one” is a vague and useless designation if you don’t know what you’re number one for.
Unfortunately, most people hand over their $19.95 each month to their SEO “expert” of choice and never bother to wonder whether the results are meaningful. Combine a cheap enough cost with the carrot of the number one spot and suddenly otherwise intelligent business people suspend all disbelief and are willing to accept whatever they’re told.
It’s not good enough to be number one. You need to know why (or if) it’s significant. If you’re one of those people who has the blinders on as long as you get to claim Google supremacy, it’s time to start caring about the important things, starting with what keywords your site is showing up at the top for. Otherwise, you could fall into the next trap, and another very good reason not to care about your site’s achievement…
Reason #2: You Know What Keyword It’s For, But Nobody Is Searching On It
So maybe you’ve taken a little advice and asked your SEO consultant what keywords your site is on top for. Now you know that when anyone searches for “pink two seated faux leather sofa” your site is sure to show up. That would be really awesome… if anyone knew how to spell “faux” in the first place and if they were using it to search for your products.
Even if you sell faux leather pink sofas, it’s much more likely that your customers are looking for “pink sofas”, “modern sofas” or even “unique sofas”.
The top spot can be very lonely if your customers don’t join you there.
Reason #3: You’re Not Getting Any More Business Than You Were At Number 27
Presumably, the reason you’re so hot on the number one spot is because you’ve got the mistaken impression that once that happens, the big bucks will start rolling in. If only your site were at number one, customers would simply be throwing their money at you.
So now that your site is number one, why isn’t that happening?
If your site isn’t generating more leads, sales, signups or whatever, then why do you care what spot it’s in? What you should care about is why your site isn’t performing and what you can do to change that. Your site might be difficult to navigate, sound unprofessionally written or fail to compel customers to take action.
If your site can’t hold its own and convince visitors to become customers, it won’t matter if it shows up on page one or one hundred.
Reason #4: You Haven’t Bothered To Put Your Efforts Into Anything Else
Unfortunately, pursuing that number one spot in search listings often becomes the sole pursuit of an SEO plan. With such a focus on a particular end, many people fail to consider the myriad other marketing avenues available, including advertising, social media or email.
Getting a specific ranking in search listings is not a marketing strategy. It’s simply one possible outcome that may or may not be valuable.
If getting that number one spot is your only goal, you’re wasting time and money. Instead of putting all of your resources into something vague and possibly worthless, make sure your site is as good as it can be, then make sure it’s better. Make sure you’re taking a holistic approach to marketing that includes exploring the potential of social media. Make sure you’re not sacrificing real value for some hollow title.
Reason #5: You Have No Idea How You Got There
This one is a bit of a conundrum, so we saved it for last. If you’ve hired an SEO company to get your site to number one in Google, but don’t know how they’ve done it, you should care and not care at the same time.
Assuming you’ve gotten a rank for a useful keyword and are actively engaged in the marketing of your site, you should still not care because if you don’t know how it was done there’s the possibility that someone either paid for your site to be there (not a true number one unless you’re counting sponsored listings) or they used shady methods to do it.
SEO can have a down side, so unless you know that someone used legitimate, sustainable practices to get your site to the top, it could be a short-lived victory at best.
At worst, you could get to number one for a while but then drop like a rock when shady practices catch up with you. And that’s exactly why you should care how it’s done.
If your SEO consultant is using practices that are discouraged or disallowed, Google will find out. And your site will disappear into the fiery pits of page six hundred. Better to get to number ten legitimately and stay there than number one for a few months and then lose everything.
Getting any particular ranking in any search engine is a futile pursuit that takes time and resources away from the true marketing of your web site. Don’t get tunnel vision and magnify the importance of “being number one”.
Spend time building your brand, improving your site and creating an online community around your business. Then your search listings will improve naturally, and better yet, you’ll start to see the results in your bottom line.
What are you doing to promote your site other than obsessing about a ranking?
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My silly hat reads “I’m responsible” so I don’t need to change it.
Most people think I’m insane to do this, so I know that sanity is not an option.
Well there you go! Sounds like a pretty tall hat 🙂