With The Growth Of Personalized Search, Should I Still Care About Rankings?

A more common variation of this question would be, ‘do rankings still matter?’

The answer to this would be, of course they still do.  Traditional search rankings are simply no longer the be-all, end-all of a successful Search Engine Optimization (SEO) program.

Ten years ago, search rankings consisted of ten basic website links that were (essentially) the same regardless of where in the world you were searching from.

Rankings nowadays can be affected by everything from:

  • Local, influenced by the geographic location of your IP address
  • Social, influenced by the emergence or disappearance of trending topics
  • Personalization, influenced by your own search history

So if rankings can fluctuate because of so many divergent factors, why do they still matter?

Taken from a more philosophical angle, rankings matter because there are things we can control and things we cannot control.  And while we may never control the size of the waves that rock our boat, or the external factors that rock our ranking, we can absolutely control the sails we run up our mast or the keywords that make up our title tags.

From a more nuts and bolts approach, for every keyword whose ranking fluctuates based on little more than whether a searcher is in Minneapolis or St. Paul, there are potentially ten keywords that experience very little fluctuation.  Think niche B2B technology focused keywords.  Think keywords that only the most seasoned, educated prospect would use.

In the end, it is those who build the sturdiest boat that have the best chance of staying afloat – regardless of whether or not they control the size of the waves.