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When people talk SEO, they usually can't seem to get off of the subject of search engine rankings. Everybody wants to be at the top of page one on Google, and they view this as the best indicator of success. This is understandable – for a long time, rankings were understood as the quintessential result of effectively executed SEO. Clients and management across all industries in every type of business imaginable have looked at their website rankings on search engines as the KPI through which to measure the success of their SEO efforts. And while rankings are important, this approach is short-sighted.

Why? In simple terms, rankings are a snapshot in time. They indicate the performance of a website at any given moment. But ranking well one day doesn't mean you'll consistently rank well over a prolonged period of time. SEO is part of a much more complex ecosystem than your position on a search page. And if you are looking for sustainable results, search engine rankings aren't the way to achieve this.

So, if you've been looking at rankings as the main KPI for measuring SEO performance at your organization, it may be time to rework your outlook. Here are 7 reasons why.

1. Algorithm Changes And Updates

The reason why most focus on ranking well in Google is because it is by far the most popular search engine. But Google updates, modifies and changes its algorithm an astonishing 550 times per year. This means that the criteria used to establish rankings is always transforming – when algorithms change, site rankings fluctuate, particularly when these updates are major, as in the cases of Penguin or Panda. If you focus only on rankings, you will be constantly struggling to recover every time an algorithmic change or update is rolled out.

2. Personalized Search

Personalization has become more important as Google strives to provide its users with the most relevant and useful search results. User search history, preference and location is taken into account during the search process, and local search in particular is hugely important. Currently, users are more likely to be provided with local listings and companies by Google, which bump out results that would normally rank higher.

3. High Risk

Ranking by any means necessary is an inherently risky strategy. It pigeon-holes companies into focusing on particular head terms in order to attract traffic, which can be a high-risk, high-return strategy. But, it is also very narrow and one-dimensional. A more diverse strategy that incorporates content, public relations, long-tail keywords and social media will not only bolster your online presence, but also safeguard your brand against future fluctuations in rankings. It will also prove more effective in obtaining predictable, long-term results than will focusing solely on website rankings.

In our next post, we will discuss 4 additional reasons why you should not be using search engine rankings as your main KPI for measuring SEO performance. Stay tuned.