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No. 1 Google Ranking — No Such Thing

August 2, 2017

If your SEO goal is to be ranked No. 1 on Google, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. You’re chasing a ghost.

In the distant past, there was such a thing as a numerically reliable, universal ranking on Google SERPs (search engine results pages). Then, it was a legitimate goal of SEO to climb the ladder, from the third page to the second page to the first page, from the 10th spot to the fifth spot to the first spot.

These positions were incredibly important because the number of click-throughs on the first page of SERPs greatly exceeded those from subsequent pages, and click-throughs from the first few ranking positions on the first page greatly exceeded those from lower ones.

All that changed now that personalized search has taken hold on Google and other major search engines. Where you rank for a particular keyword varies from user to user. Factors that influence where your content appears in SERPS include:

  • The user’s browsing history. Google serves results that take your past preferences into account, device by device.

  • The user’s geographic location. A search conducted in Minneapolis is likely to produce Minneapolis-area businesses; the same search conducted in Chicago is likely to feature businesses in that area.

  • Device type. Mobile users are more likely to see results from great mobile webpages ahead of ones that are not so great. On a desktop, results may be more balanced.

  • Type of search. In the old days, there was search. Today, there is All search, News search, Maps search, Images search, Videos search, Shopping search, and more. Your page will be ranked differently for different types of search, making an overall calculation of “ranking” quite murky.

  • Types of organic search results. In the old days, Google SERPs were pages of identical-looking links. Today, SERP formats are far more varied; users see regular results, local results, different types of ad boxes and other featured results that tend to obscure the prominence of those “regular” results.

Bottom line: The key to SEO today is not chasing some ghost of a ranking, but to get your website content visible on the areas of SERPs that matter to your business. What matters is organic visibility that gets the attention of relevant Google users who are interested in buying the products or services you sell. A successful SEO strategy never loses sight of that objective.

Interested in reviewing your SEO strategy and considering options? Please contact us today. We’re eager to learn more about your situation.

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