About two weeks ago I had an epiphany, we have been tracking a number of search results for some key terms that we optimize for (for those who don’t speak geek – when you type in a certain term in Google, we do some work to make sure that our pages come up on the list, I check the results for a number of terms weekly). I noticed some patterns where results would remain clustered (we would be placed with similar pages) but the locations would be all over the map. i.e. – Let’s say we were result 12, I would note results 13 and 11, and two weeks later we’d be clustered at 35,36 and 37.
It bothered me that sets of links would move as a cluster, and I think I have a reasonable theory: much the way campaign results evolve and go in and out of favor, so do search results. What was once the most popular link for “Paris” will change from week to week depending on whether the city has something big going on, or if the hotel heiress does.
One of the rookie mistakes people make in SEO is thinking that their content is the most important thing in search, this is ignoring the most important factor in search results – clickstream data from the results that users select.Â When Google shows you 10 results that can keep track of what you click on and then compare it to everyone else. If you modify your search phrase that gives them some more data. More important yet, if you click on a link and then come back 3 seconds later to try something else, that says a whole lot. This is a core argument why a lot of people say most of SEO is crap and unless you have content that engages and keeps readers, eventually you are going to lose, no matter how many keywords you stuff, or link farms you set up.
The last thing to remember is my Paris example. No matter what you do, if you are optimizing for the city and this week the celebrity is in vogue, your results are going to slip even if nothing else has changed.
One sure fire solution – be sure to work on the secondary terms so that when someone searches for “city of paris” the second time, you get the hit. Or you could just write good content.