Ranking Reports – Ranking Information & Articles

Ranking Reports. It used to be that ranking reports were the ONLY tangible item I could hand my clients – period. Boy have we come a LONG way. Not only is a ranking report not NEAR as helpful as it used to be but it’s inaccurate and inconsistent data at best. There’s much more information, information that I deem highly important, I can show a client now days about their site. I just wish they’d be as excited as I am about their data instead of filtering out everything but “I want to rank on purple fuzzy widgets” … but alas, people want their ranking reports and I’ll create them, no problem, but as long as I can explain the data to my clients (data is pretty much useless without knowing how it was collected). I pretty much have my 5-sentence schpeal memorized about ranking reports [insert ongoing client education and managing expectations side note] should someone ask me specifics regarding the validity and importance of one. I’m not completely knocking them, a ranking report is certainly a signal, but a weak at best amongst a sea of louder, heavier signals.

Since Google Localized search, GUS, user history, Google instant, being signed in when searching, ones computer configuration and SO many other factors… rankings just aren’t consistent. I can’t reproduce the same SERP with the office right next to mine! [True story, Michele brings up different search results that I do ~20 feet away]. If I can’t have consistent data why bother? This is where you throw in the towel.

If rankings vary within 20 feet, imagine how they’d vary three states away?

If a client’s rankings were to tank [which IS natural and WILL happen as all rankings fluctuate. The index is a DYNAMIC beast, not a STATIC one, that has a set of “rules” that also change over time], it would prompt me to perform some checks on the site, run some test, anyything but a knee jerk “WE GOTTA CHANGE SOMETHING RIGHT NOW” reaction. Rankings certainly aren’t the end-all be-all when it comes to assessing the success of a site like they once were. Yearrrrrrrrrrs ago it was the only tangible thing you could show a client. Now we have all kinds of goodies to give them. Stats! Joy! When you analyze ALL of your site information (metrics, stats, signals, data) you’ll have a much better understanding regarding the overall “heath” of a site; something you can’t get from looking at a ranking report. SEO isn’t about ranking on that ONE VERY IMPORTANT PHRASE THAT “I KNOW EVERYONE IS SEARCHING ON”. Our jobs #1 is to EDUCATE THE CLIENT. Explain why it isn’t good to rank on *fuzzy yellow widgets* [their pet phrase] and instead rank on a phrase that has a good search volume, one that will bring TARGETED TRAFFIC and hopefully a new client/customer! Teach them about personas/scenarios – everyone does NOT search the same way. When you’re in that box you’re going to miss a lot of possible clients outside of the box that search COMPLETELY different than you and I. And trust me, they do. When you’re on the front line of keyword research, you realize just HOW differently a collection of people search for the SAME THING.

Here we go!

Ranking Reports
the Good, the Bad and the Useless

Why Rank Checking Is Not Critical 10/11/2011
[Graywolf]

Am I KW Crazy? A Guide To Tackling An Ubercompetitive Keyword Strategy 9/21/2011
[SEL]

Sphinn Discussion: Should SEOs Provide Ranking Reports To Clients? 7/6/2011
[Sphinn] – the comments here are priceless

4 Reasons Why Rank Isn’t the Best Measurement of SEO Success 6/16/2011
[DST]

SERP Obsession and the Google Sandbox 3/15/2011
[USM]

An Alternative To Ranking Reports 3/9/2011
[SEL]

Say Bye-bye to Rankings and Hello to SEO Success! 5/17/2006
[Whalen]

Why Running Ranking Reports Is a Fool’s Errand! 12/19/2012
[Whalen]

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