One of the most important things that needs to be understood about SEO from the onset of a campaign is that it takes time to see results. SEO should be considered an online marketing version of a marathon as opposed to a sprint. Depending on the business and its website goals there are various ways to measure SEO campaign success. Unfortunately many website owners focus on the wrong metrics which can result in bad decisions as the campaign moves along.
If these metrics are the focus of your SEO campaign, you need to change your mindset:
Obviously the site that appears as the #1 result for a specific keyword is going to get the most clicks. However, it’s extremely difficult to get to #1 and most websites will never be able to do it. That’s just the way it is. It takes time to improve your position in the search engines. Those that are impatient about it are tempted to make bad decisions and implement black hat tactics that are frowned upon by the search engines. Even if a quick rank improvement does occur it will probably be short lived once the search engines catch on. Rank isn’t an accurate way to measure SEO campaign success because rank fluctuates due to the fact that it is personalized based on factors like location, search history, and social media connections and involvement.
Number of links
The links pointing to a site are part of the algorithm and the search engines use this information to decipher the quality of a site. At one point link quantity was the focus of an SEO campaign. Get as many links as possible from any source to improve your SEO. Not anymore. The search engines caught on to the manipulation and tweaked the algorithms. Google launched the Penguin update which pretty much changed link building practices forever (credit amber). Sites that have link profiles that appear to be unnatural get penalized. The focus of link building has shifted to quality over quantity. A link shouldn’t just be for a link, it should be placed strategically in a spot that is relevant to your niche and can actually help generate traffic to the site.
Broad keyword success
Website owners that don’t know how SEO works often approach keyword selection the wrong way. They see a potential keyword list and want to go after the terms that generate the most search volume, which usually are the keywords that are the most broad. What’s important to understand is that the broad terms are also the most competitive. It can take years of SEO work to even begin to see any traction for broad keyword terms. At the start of a campaign, it’s important to target a mix of keywords including long tail variations. They might not have the search volume of the broad terms but they also don’t have as much competition which means that you’ll start to see improvements sooner.