Why Search Rank Matters

Your company’s search ranking is a critical factor in your online success. But it must be placed in context. Here’s why.

a one-minute explanation

Why Search Rank Matters

Your company’s search ranking is a critical factor in your online success. But it must be placed in context. Here’s why.

Your company’s search ranking is a critical factor in your online success. Here’s what you need to know.

One of the most talked about metrics in Internet marketing is page rank. Page rank, quite simply, is the order that a given web page appears in a given search result.

Here’s how page rank works:

  1. A person Googles a term like “turntable.”
  2. Google generates and displays a list of web links (10 per page) in the order of their relevance to the search term, as determined by Google’s ranking algorithm.
  3. Where your web page appears in the list determines the likelihood that it will be clicked on and viewed. That’s very important, because being viewed is why we build web pages: more views equal more sales.

Look at the “Little Picture”

When it comes to search rank, it is tempting to look at the abundant aggregate data that are bandied about in the media.

Statistics about the importance of being on page one of Google searches abound: 33% of people click on the first result; only 8.5% of people make it as far as the second page; etc. But these data are far too broad. Most searches in those aggregate data are irrelevant to you. For example, a large percentage of Internet searches people initiate are for things that will send them to first-rank sources like Wikipedia, Amazon, or the New York Times. And, in the aggregate, that behavior overstates the importance of ranking on page one: People search for something general; that topic’s Wikipedia entry shows up as the #1 link; the searcher clicks on it, adding one more data point to the idea that being the #1 entry is imperative, when the real lesson is that a lot of people search for things that Wikipedia covers.

People who are using the Internet to shop for major purchases behave differently than people who are using it for other purposes. Your business needs to focus on what search strings shoppers use to find what you are selling. That means you don’t have to be on page one to reach a broad range of consumers. But you still need to rank as high as you can, because page visits still diminish as rank declines.

When considering your business’ position in various searches, it is important to look closer.

Search rank is much like real estate: Answers to questions like, “What is the average price of a single family house in the US?” are almost trivial; they’re too broad, applying to no one in particular. In order to see the relevant data, you must ask questions that get closer to your market, “What is the average price of a single family house in Manhattan?” or “What is the average price of a single family house in Manhattan, Kansas?” (Two very different data points!)

How Much Does Page Rank Matter?

When you learn about search ranking and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) your temptation might be to gravitate toward those seemingly ubiquitous claims about the importance of being on page one of the search results. And, to a great extent, it is important. But let’s ask a more fundamental question first: For which searches do you want to achieve a high page rank? And, just as as critically, for which searches can you reasonably expect to rank highly?

It’s Difficult to Rank for Broad Terms

Let’s look at a specific example of a broad search term: turntables. If you are a small record shop in Cleveland, OH, you are not going to rank high when people in Los Angeles search for “turntables.” If you are an international retailer like Amazon, a specialty US retailer like Crutchfield, or a large manufacturer like Audio Technica, you can expect to rank on the first page for such searches. The key, then, is to match your strategy to your market: A small vinyl shop in Atlanta should seek to rank for “turntables Atlanta” if they want to sell more turntables, while a manufacturer like Music Hall Audio can reasonably expect to rank high nationally for a search term like “turntables,” if they maximize their SEO.

Case Study: Loudspeakers

Searches for “speakers,” “audio speakers,” “audiophile speakers,” and “planar speakers” will return results which vary greatly. Each of those search strings gets more specific. Here, Magnepan will serve as a great example of what can be accomplished with SEO. Magnepan ranks #1 for the string “planar speakers.” Because this search is so specific, and because Magnepan invented the planar speaker, such a result is almost a given.

But the real question is: What could a company like Magnepan change about their website that would result in them selling more speakers?

The answer lies in moving from very specific search terms to less specific ones. The process is a logical one. Rather few people search for planar speakers (330 searches per month in the US). More people Google “audiophile speakers” (2,170 searches). Where does Magnepan rank for that search? We stopped looking after 20 pages, and so will everyone else who enters that phrase, which means Magnepan has a golden opportunity to reach many more potential customers.

Let’s go up one more level of search generality. Searches looking for “audio speakers” number 34,310 per month in the US. That’s a lot of people looking for a product who will never encounter one of that very product’s legendary producers.

The bottom line?

When a consumer looking for a product you sell searches for that product online, you had best appear on the first few pages for that term or phrase if you want your product to be seen and considered. To do this, you are going to need the assistance of people who know how to create and target a list of search strings that are relevant to your business. And that’s where we come in.

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Contact us today for a no-obligation look at where we can take your business’ sales by increasing your search rank.