"Why Aren't We Ranking for this Keyword?": SEO Questions Not to Ask

Posted by Synchronicity on Sep 8, 2017 9:27:00 AM

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Keywords are sooo 2016.

Well, that might be a little hyperbolic, but there’s something we want you to know about keywords. Among common SEO questions, “Why isn’t my business ranking for ____ keyword?” is one that feels the most ill-advised.

Individual keyword rankings are no longer a primary measurement of SEO success!

Things have changed. Keywords are still important, of course, as a foundational element of any SEO campaign. Keywords are used to signal search engines about what your content says, and they’re used to inform visitors about the primary purpose of your site. And keywords matter logistically, too, for overall content strategy and for measuring the effectiveness of a campaign.

The right question isn’t, “Why aren’t we ranking for this keyword?” but rather, “What kind of correlation do we see between our keywords and other behavioral metrics?”

Keywords don’t stand alone. They only matter when used as a reference point for website traffic, lead generation, and closed sales. Ranking highly for a specific keyword is great! If people who use that keyword eventually patronize your business.

As a business owner, what you really want to see is movement and conversion.

An uptick in a variety of keywords, particularly long-tail (i.e. super-specific) keywords that actually bring you warm leads is what truly matters. Still not ranking on the first page for that big industry keyword your competitors dominate year-after-year? Don’t worry…ranking high for several lower-volume more specific keywords that bring in more informed, ready-to-purchase visitors is a better trade off.

A few additional things to consider when you’re wondering why your site isn’t “on page one” for a certain keyword:

  • Search results are more personalized than ever. Customer A and Customer B could have entirely different search results served to them thanks to their locations, IP addresses, or even past browsing history. It’s a system too complicated to “win.”

  • You might not even be tracking the keywords that bring in the best visitors. Long-tail keywords – the really obscure ones – potentially aren’t high-volume enough to make it on your tracked keywords list, but they could be responsible for a few of your most valuable visitors.

  • Keyword rankings don’t tell the whole story. They only tell you how your site performs before a customer gets there. Metrics that are more important to measure include bounce rate, conversion rate, and time-on-page – these tell you how well your website is actually converting.


SEO is a complicated, ever-changing discipline. There’s no one right way to go about it, and every client’s needs and goals are different. What defines success for your SEO strategy?

If you don’t know, it might be time you called Synchronicity. Our digital marketing experts are, well, experts; we create holistic digital marketing plans for a wide variety of businesses that include foundational SEO.

Give us a call.

Topics: SEO, Digital Marketing