Search engine optimization (SEO)
The metric that lies: Search engine ranking, or as it is sometimes stated, "Ranking No. 1 on Google."
The myth: Higher rankings mean more traffic to the page that ranks. More traffic means more customers. More customers mean more sales.
What it actually measures: What you see is what you get. If you have a page (often a homepage) that ranks No. 1 for a keyword or keywords, congratulations! It means that Google thinks that your page is the best possible result for that keyword. It means that you will likely get significantly more traffic than positions No. 2, No. 3, and so on. This is a great place to be.
How to avoid being fooled:
- What happens after your page shows up as the No. 1 result. Does the user click on it? What happens after that?
- Observe behavior after the click, and see if the user does what you want them to do. And don't forget that the "snippet" (the small paragraph of text that is your page's search result in Google) is just like an ad. So the way that the snippet is written (which is pulled, usually, directly from the page) can have an effect on whether or not people want to click on it.
Tips for next time:
- The simplest advice is to build landing pages. Great rankings on Google can help to get the traffic to your site, but you'll need to help them as soon as they arrive. Good landing pages hold the users' hands and reassure them that they are in the right place.
- What if your pages rank well, but they're just not bringing in the traffic that you had hoped for? It's possible that you're targeting the wrong keywords. After all, ranking No. 1 for "ugly uncomfortable shoes" might impress your friends, but...
- Search intent? (See link below.)