Analyzing the Myth of Keyword Ranking Position

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June 3, 2024

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Analyzing the Myth of Keyword Ranking Position

Analyzing the Myth of Keyword Ranking Position

As an SEO consultant, I’ve had countless conversations with clients who are obsessed with their website’s keyword rankings. They want to know where they rank for their target keywords, and they’ll often make decisions based on those positions. But over the years, I’ve come to realize that this singular focus on keyword ranking is largely a myth – a relic of an outdated way of thinking about search engine optimization.

Sure, back in the early days of SEO, when search engines were more simplistic, keyword rank was a vital metric. If you could just get your pages to the top of the search results, you’d be golden, right? But those days are long gone. Today’s search algorithms are infinitely more complex, taking into account hundreds, if not thousands, of different factors when determining which pages to display.

I was reminded of this recently when I started digging into some research on Baidu, the dominant search engine in China. As it turns out, many SEOs have been operating under some serious misconceptions when it comes to Baidu optimization. A comprehensive study by the Searchmetrics team revealed that a lot of the conventional wisdom around Baidu SEO is simply not true.

For example, there’s a widely held belief that having a Chinese-specific top-level domain (TLD) like .cn is a major ranking factor on Baidu. But the data showed that the generic .com TLD is actually the most dominant in the Baidu search results, with Chinese ccTLDs making up just 9% of the top 10 rankings. Similarly, the notion that HTTPS is a critical Baidu ranking signal was also debunked – while over 50% of the top-ranked pages did use HTTPS, a significant portion did not, indicating that it’s not an absolute requirement.

These kinds of findings really drive home the point that search engine optimization is far more nuanced than simply chasing keyword positions. There are so many other elements at play – content quality, site structure, user experience, and technical optimization, to name a few. And the landscape is constantly evolving, with search engines continually refining their algorithms to provide the most relevant and useful results for users.

As the folks at CognitiveSEO have argued, rank tracking is effectively a dead metric these days. Search results are highly personalized and localized, and they can vary dramatically based on factors like the user’s device, location, search history, and more. So trying to maintain a specific ranking position for a keyword is a futile endeavor.

Instead, we need to shift our focus to the bigger picture – creating an outstanding online presence that satisfies the needs and queries of our target audience. As the Backlinko team points out, things like content quality, link building, and technical SEO have a far greater impact on overall search visibility and performance.

And when it comes to keyword research and optimization, we should be thinking beyond just ranking positions. As the SEMrush blog explains, it’s not just about targeting the right keywords – it’s about understanding search intent, crafting compelling content, and ensuring that our pages are serving the needs of our potential customers.

At the end of the day, the myth of keyword ranking position is just that – a myth. It’s a holdover from a simpler time in the world of SEO, and it’s time for us to move on. By focusing on the larger picture of search visibility, user experience, and content relevance, we can create websites and digital marketing strategies that truly resonate with our audiences and deliver tangible results for our clients.

And that’s why, at MCRSEO, we’ve made it our mission to help our clients break free from the shackles of keyword rank obsession and embrace a more holistic, user-centric approach to search engine optimization. It’s not always an easy shift to make, but I can assure you, it’s well worth the effort.

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