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Why Is Keyword Ranking the Wrong Metric to Focus On?

Posted by Jeshua Zapata on Jul 31, 2014 2:27:00 PM


keyword ranking not the right metric

“Our organization wants to grow 5 percent in revenue in 12 months. We’d like to focus on increasing our keyword ranking as the strategy to reaching this objective.” As leaders in your organization, this is probably a statement you can relate to. In fact, this statement is from a conversation I had with a CEO this summer. She felt that by focusing on keyword ranking, she would get more traffic and leads, and ultimately her firm would acquire more business through its website. Although this could be true, focusing on keyword ranking is not the best option. Why? Let's first review how keyword ranking works and then we'll discuss why it is the wrong metric.

Keyword Ranking Explainedd

As a marketing agency, we can probably get your organization to rank #1 for a keyword within one to two months or even within a week. How? There are several factors that can predict how difficult it will be to rank for a keyword. For the purpose of this blog, we’ll talk about two: the average monthly searches and the difficulty score.

  • The average monthly searches number refers to the average number of times people have searched for the exact keyword, usually over a 12-month period.

  • The difficulty score gives you an idea of how difficult it might be to rank for a keyword based on competition with other sites. The higher the difficulty score, the more difficult it is to rank.

Now that we are on the same page, which of the following keywords do you think would be more difficult to rank for?


Avg. Monthly Searches

Difficulty Score

legal services



legal services ri



You guessed it! It would be more difficult to rank for legal services. It not only has more searches, but it also has a higher difficulty score. On the other hand, legal services ri has fewer searches and a lower difficulty score. When it comes to keyword ranking, one might think that legal services ri could be of less value, but it would probably rank higher faster. The question becomes: Do you want to rank for a keyword because it is more popular, or do you want to capture more qualified traffic, leads, and customers? 

Is Keyword Ranking the Key to Success?

After I chatted more with the CEO mentioned above, she acknowledged that it was not ranking she was really after. She was after more qualified web traffic, leads, and customers. I mentioned that limiting herself to keyword ranking in a brutal and chaotic digital world full of marketing “weapons” is like showing up to a war with a fork. 

Today, CEOs can help their marketing teams not only by leveraging search engine optimization to increase keyword ranking but also by adding email marketing, workflows, paid advertising, remarketing, and social media - to list just a few - to their marketing arsenals. Although it is undeniable that keeping an eye on your keyword ranking is important, understanding how key and supporting marketing metrics influence your web visitors, leads, and customers is the key to success.

Whether you are working with your internal marketing team or a marketing agency, it is important to track your progress based on your overall organizational objectives. For example, what are some of your sales objectives? Marketing objectives? How many leads do you need? How many customers? What is your revenue goal? Once you have these items brainstormed you need to work with your internal or external team to get you from point A to point B, putting daily energy and focus on achieving success for your firm. 

Please share your experiences and opinions in the comments below.


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