Enlarge Your PageRank!!!
Click to enlarge! Oh, it doesn’t work?
This is not a funny post. Some days ago a client of mine wrote me an angry email threatening to end our cooperation. Not any client, a client who is with me for years now. It came out of nowhere, so I was like: Wow! What the heck!?!
You know, although I am preaching SEO 2.0 here, most of the time I work as SEO 1.0 for clients, doing
- keyword research
- SEO copywriting
- link building
mostly for the German market.
Traffic, rankings are up but…
As I read the email I wondered whether I am in a parallel universe as he claimed that our traffic was down for the last 6 months, whereas Google Analytics clearly showed that it grew continuously over the past half year. When I read on, I realized what the problem is.
Half a year ago the client’s PageRank was at 5, then it fell to 4 some months ago and finally in January it got a 3 in the PageRank lottery.
Remember that the traffic, and the rankings – mostly at #1, 2 and 3 for the most important terms – went up or remained stable all of the time. Only neglected keywords – or where Google tweaked something – performed less good, but still with no traffic problems at large.
Everything’s fine or is it?
Even in December when most people do not need what the client is selling (it’s used for office work and thus is not needed during holidays) the traffic was only 10% down.
In fact, just yesterday the site hit a six months high! A traffic record, mostly due to organic search rankings and thus my work.
Then I checked the bounce rate, meaning how many people are leaving immediately upon seeing your page (between 20 and 30% here) and pages per visit (around 5). I checked the keywords, most of them really really targeted, many long tails keys with an exact match for what the client offers.
Toolbar PageRank is the problem
So what the hell is the problem here? It’s PageRank! The toolbar PageRank they can see with ease. For many clients you have to enlarge your PageRank! This is the only part of SEO they can actually see. They will ignore your thorough reports with analysis of rankings, traffic etc.
Clients will look at the PageRank bar and be either happy or angry. So you basically do not need to optimize the pages. Just start PageRank optimization and people will be satisfied!
On a more professional level: What could this client do? He pays for the lowest possible SEO maintenance plan. A plan that basically only allows you to stay where you are after initial optimization and gaining some rankings.
Metrics to look at
Nonetheless the rankings improved. With only a few hours for stats checking and link building a month you really can’t take a look at more refined metrics though.
Last time he complained about poor sales I proposed to him that he should check his “shopping cart abandonment rate”.
It’s a metric showing how many people try to buy something and fail during the process. What I also suspect, the market he sells to is saturated, so you have to extend your scope to other similar niches.
The less the people pay though, the more they will assume that you, the SEO is responsible for their failure.
Some clients expect you to perform magic tricks for a few bucks.
While in this case the numbers are exactly the opposite of what he claims and only PageRank fell there are at least 7 metrics you should make the client aware of instead of PageRank:
- rankings, are you at the top or not, if yes you should check
- traffic, to determine how many people find you
- bounce rate, to determine if the right people find the right product or service on your site
- conversion rate, how many visitors reach the goal you want them to, here to buy something?
- shopping cart abandonment rate, how many people fail to end a transaction?
- sales, this is obvious
- ROI, for instance this client spends the same amount of money for Google Ads while getting 5 to 10 times more visitors via organic search results, so the Return On Investment is at least a few times as high with SEO than with PPC here, as I can’t ascribe all visitors to my SEO efforts but most. Sadly I don’t how many actually bought something to make this a real monetary metric.
For some clients sadly just one metric counts: PageRank. So enlarge your PageRank and make people happy. Quit SEO and start PageRank optimization. It’s less work and it offers instant gratification!
[Update: Luckily Google has stopped updating public (toolbar) PageRank by now.]
Last updated: July 1st, 2015.