There are two assumptions people make when they think about search engine optimisation (SEO) – they think it’s all about getting high ranks on Google and that it is all about getting as many backlinks as possible. This may have been true at one point but it is incorrect now. Ranks and backlinks are important but there’s more to an optimisation strategy than those two things.
A page one ranking on Google for a hero search term is likely to drive good traffic to your website. At least 90% of all clicks on Google search results go to sites on page one, and the vast majority of those clicks go to the top three results. If hundreds of thousands of people search each month for the top phrase on your site and you rank in the top three results, you are going to get a considerable amount of traffic. However, not all high ranks have high volume. While it’s important to shoot for the moon by trying to get good ranks for top phrases, a website can be equally successful with a much wider array of long-tail phrases. A long-tail phrase is a more specific, longer search term, such as “How to change the headlamp on a Ford Focus”.
The other assumption about link building is that the more links you have the better. Since Google launched its Penguin filter in April 2012, websites had to think a lot more carefully about their linking strategies. Many SEO companies place high importance on link building, promising to create X backlinks each month when that may be a waste of money. One or two good links to your website each month may be as valuable as hundreds on bad websites.
SEO is about rank and links but what it is really about is optimising for conversions. This point was made strongly by SEO expert Danny Dover in a recent video interview on the Business Frame website. Danny said, “I put all of my focus on conversions as opposed to rankings themselves. What I’m trying to do is optimise for the entire funnel… whatever act it is I want them to perform on my website. It’s really that I care about. I couldn’t care less about rankings. I know I can drive more traffic with higher rankings, but that’s not always true. Sometimes the longtails win out.”
Danny is a former member of the SEO team at SEOMoz and author of Search Engine Optimization Secrets.