If there’s one thing that gets me frustrated, it’s a client that looks at aggregate organic search traffic data and thinks that its an indicator of SEO.
If you’re one of those people, I’ve got news for you; it’s not!
Let me explain.
When someone hands you an analytics dashboard that shows aggregate organic (aka “natural”) search engine traffic data, said data includes two basic kinds of keywords:
Brand and non-brand.
A “brand” keyword or phrase includes your brand name(s) or some variation thereof, like a misspelling or domain name. A “non-brand” keyword does not include your brand name (or any variation thereof).
So for example, brand keywords for this site would include things like:
More or less any other keyword that doesn’t reference the brand name would be considered “non-brand.”
This is a critical distinction, particularly for enterprise-level brands. Why? Because for large brands, brand keywords can make up the lion’s share of organic search engine traffic, and equally as importantly, these keywords are not a function of SEO. The reason why they are not a function of SEO is two-fold:
- First and foremost, 99.9% of the time said brand’s site has always and will always rank No. 1 for any and all brand keywords, so there is no “optimizing” going on. Any referred traffic (or conversion or revenue) is not a function of “search engine optimization” because you can’t do any better than first place.
- Secondly, brand terms are a literally a function of brand recognition or affinity. In other words, those types of searches are navigational in nature. They imply that a searcher is specifically looking for said brand (which means that they’ve been exposed to said brand already and are simply typing in the brand name to navigate to the site). It’s virtually the same as someone that types the brand’s domain name right into their internet browser (does anybody still do that?)
Therefore, if a client (or boss) is interested in gauging the health of their SEO efforts, they must drill down a bit deeper into the analytics data and focus on just the traffic that is referred via keywords of the non-brand variety. Otherwise, they’ll be led on a wild goose chase filled with trends and fluctuations that could have little to do with actual SEO (and the higher the percentage of brand keywords, the wilder the chase).
P.S. If you have clients (or bosses) that are stuck in this misleading train of thought, remember that:
a) It’s your fault for failing to educate them properly.
b) You must come up with a lucid presentation that explains that aforementioned concept in a simple and straightforward way, because more often than not, SEO success is more about client education than technical expertise.