For many people, SEO is geared towards one thing and one thing only: ranking for keywords. Some professionals believe the whole point of digital marketing is to get a web page on the front page of Google for relevant keywords, so people searching for them will find that site.
Obviously, there is still a point to this. It is an extremely valuable aspect of SEO, and it has become the main element of it for good reason. However, focusing on it too much could be a huge mistake, and could easily lead to a website falling in search engine rankings. This might sound strange, so here's an explanation:
User experience is more important than Google
Dan Smith, SEO specialist at Leighton, writes in a blog for SEMrush:
Google wants to deliver a first-class search experience. They always have done and they always will do.
For Google, this means so much more than simply providing articles that match the relevant keyword. A large part of it is to do with user experience.
Google wants to prioritize the best content, not just the most relevant to the search term. This means it needs to be engaging, entertaining or informative. This is unlikely to happen if, rather than considering the user, you create content tailored to ranking. This will often lead to misleading headlines, body text stuffed with keywords and other unfavorable elements.
Other metrics are more important
Again, it is important not to forget about keywords, as they are still important for SEO and are a very useful tool for getting eyes on your content and website. However, there are plenty of other things that are useful, many of which are more important to search engine algorithms.
A Moz infographic has found that less than 15 per cent of search engine ranking equations is to do with keyword targeting. For comparison, link authority features - such as the quantity and quality of links back to the web page - are responsible for almost 21 per cent. There are so many different elements to SEO, and focusing on one could end up excluding others.
Focus on the process, not the result
When talking about rankings, a lot of companies will look to achieve goals such as 10,000 unique pageviews. The problem with this is that it focuses on the result rather than what to do to achieve this. Once again, this tends to lead to marketers not focusing on the actual quality of the content.
Unsettle.org's Sarah Peterson summed this up in the Huffington Post:
Buzzfeed could say 'Let’s get 1,000,000 page views'. Instead, they executed on their process: creating entertaining content that ranks.
This had much better results for them, as they saw results as an indicator of success rather than something to aim for.