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Since SEO revolves around search engines and search engines depend on algorithms, it might appear that taking a technical approach for SEO might work well. This belief has led to black hat SEO practices that try to fool the system by using techniques and tools aimed at avoiding Google guidelines with total disregard to human needs. Although SEO uses technology, the ultimate goal is to serve the human cause of marketing. This is why user experience matters so much and forms the foundation of white hat SEO that follows Google guidelines. SEO has to respect humans, and you have to build it with their needs in mind but not for search engines. When humans endorse good SEO, search engines will follow suit.

Building a business is hard work, and for safeguarding online reputation, it is essential to implement SEO with the commitment to play the game by the rule.  Ensuring online visibility becomes easy, and the reputation you earn for following fair practices goes a long way in SEO success. The process is gradual, and success takes time but as you know slow and steady wins the race.

How people rate SEO success varies according to the business objectives but earning high ranks used to be the universal measure of SEO success. Naturally, placing websites on the top slots of search results is the top goal for businesses. Since top ranks equate to SEO success, though partially, every SEO professional work towards fetching top ranks for its clients. The SEO landscape is fast changing, and the concept of determining success is set to change too. How far it is relevant to stick to the goal of earning top rank is currently undergoing scrutiny in various SEO circles.


What SEO Success Means

There is no denying that websites that occupy the top spots in search results enjoy more traffic, spread awareness, and generates authority, and data available from studies carried out in 2013 confirms this fact. The study showed that 33% of the total traffic made its way to the top ranking website and the second rank received 17.6% traffic while only 6.1% traffic reached the site that earned the fifth spot. Considering that Google handles 3.5 billion searches every day you can well imagine the impact of rank on traffic.

At that time it seemed quite logical to give efforts to earn the top rank first by finding a place in the first page of SERP and then gradually working the way to the top. Although it is not as simple as it sounds because the authority of websites has a vital role to play but still, earning top rank was the ultimate goal.

Since 2013, SEO has undergone several changes, and consequently, the approach to ranking has changed as well as the SEO strategies for driving the campaign towards success. It has now become evident that earning the top spot in organic search ranking should no longer be a priority.


SEO is Undergoing Changes

The change in outlook towards SEO ranking has happened because as SEO has evolved, search engines have also changed a lot. Search engines have become smarter in keeping up with the changes in search patterns, with searches acquiring a more conversational tone.  Search engines are now keen to discover user intent behind searches so that they can present the most desired information to users. The change in approach has diluted the importance of the top position to some extent because when users look for the most appropriate answers, it could be available at some lower position too. If you observe the search results, you would see Google providing additional information in the form of snippets and knowledge graph besides the results which offer new ways of finding answers instead of sticking to the topmost website only for the best information.

With more options of seeking the right answers, like PPC ads, news, social information and local maps and local information freely available, the dependence on the top rank only approach is reducing. It is now possible to succeed in SEO by optimizing content for engaging users, improving clicks and enhancing authority.

Let us now focus on the new path towards SEO success and discuss what to consider when aiming for SEO success.


Good But Not Top Ranking Should Be the Goal

With the changed perception about SEO success, it has become clear that it does not pay any more to put all your efforts into earning the top spot. Instead, gaining a place on the first page of SERP, preferably towards the upper half is good enough to experience more clicks and engagement. Stay aware of the Google updates and with total commitment to fair SEO practices drive your efforts towards improving your ranking gradually.


Optimization is Important

Give utmost importance to content which is the lifeblood of SEO. Create high-quality content and keep it well optimized for SEO not only for performing well on the site but also for having the desired impact in search rankings. Google loves good content adequately optimized and uses it for improving ranking prospects.  Your efforts should pay back in the form of your website finding a place on the first page of search results. How much high you can move up the search ladder depends on the quality of optimization.


Think Outside the Box

As the competition for earning high ranks becomes tough, it needs lots of hard work to make your website appear in the top ranks of search results. However, this should not discourage you because knowing the ways of doing it correctly can make things easy. You have to be creative in your approach and avoid the beaten track that others tread. Start looking beyond organic search results to drive traffic to your website. Look into the opportunities of using advertisements to drive traffic or optimize for figuring prominently in answer boxes and featured snippets.


Pay Attention to Click Through Rates (CTR)

CTR impacts search rankings, and you have to be very attentive to maintain high CTR. Google looks upon CTR as an endorsement from users about the good quality of the page that has attracted them and makes the page eligible for better ranks. Google’s RankBrain has the ability to identify pseudo ranking (sites earning higher ranks than it actually deserves) of websites and place them at correct positions by considering CTRs which are a more realistic parameter of evaluation.


Content Quality is Paramount

The quality of content not only conveys value to readers but it also impresses Google and affects the website quality that pushes up its rank. Focus on content quality because its importance is growing day by day. Keep the content relevant and exciting for the audience because it is the best way to pass on value to readers. Although keyword optimization is essential, content quality reigns supreme. Link building is still as relevant as before, and you must do it diligently.

After tasting initial success with new visitors, take steps to ensure that they keep coming back to your website. Create engagement because your ultimate goal is to drive visitors towards the bottom of the sales funnel so that the conversions bring in revenue. Motivate them to click on CTAs as they progress through the funnel to take the coveted action that spells true SEO success.