If you are still tracking keyword rankings, you may be in the minority, or at least in a dying majority.
Late last year, Dr. Pete posted a blog post highlighting the 25 standalone features of search engine ranking pages. Now, you won’t see all of these features on a single SERP, but you will see them all on some type of SERP. He categorizes these SERP features into 5 major categories:
- Local SERP features
- Advertising and paid results
- Knowledge graph features
- Vertical search results features
- Miscellaneous features
I think these are categorized this way for a reason. It indicates that Google may be placing a higher level of importance on three types of searches – local, knowledge-based, and vertical. Unfortunately, the lines can be blurred between these three. A searcher, for instance, may be searching for information on the Gettysburg Civil War battlefield. That search query could lead to local search results, knowledge-based results about civil war battlefields in general or the Gettysburg Civil War battle in particular, and it could lead to vertical features such as videos being included. You might even see some miscellaneous features like site links and authorship markup.
What’s all this mean? One thing it means is that your search results may not all be strictly keyword-based. Even if they are, you can’t tell what kind of traffic you’re getting from targeting specific keywords because Google isn’t telling you.
What metrics should you look at instead? Here are three metrics I suggest paying closer attention to:
- Total Reach – This includes traffic from all sources and can even be broken down into social media reach for each of your social media accounts.
- Endorsements – Sometimes also called citations, you should track when your brand is mentioned anywhere on the Web even if there are no links associated with those endorsements or citations.
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)– What are your business goals and how are your Internet marketing efforts helping you reach them?
These are all important metrics and you measure them for different reasons. Your reach tells you whether you are penetrating the market deep enough. If not, you should look for opportunities to expand your reach. Endorsements and citations tell you who is talking about you and what they are saying, but it can also tell you if you are getting the buzz you deserve. Besides, Google is probably ranking certain web pages based on these endorsements. Finally, your ROI is directly related to your KPIs. If you don’t have goals, you don’t know if you are reaching them.
Online marketing is changing. You need to develop a strategy and get away from following specific keyword phrases.