How to answer the question – Why don’t we rank number one on Google?


We have all received the random email from an executive or shareholder asking the age old question, why don’t we rank number one on Google? It is a fair question. We invest in SEO and want to see the impact of our efforts. The trouble is that rankings have become an almost irrelevant metric in search due to the changes by Google, in particular personalization. We as marketers may know this, but the executive trying to find your website on Google does not. So the challenge for us is to educate them on the goal of our SEO efforts and the KPIs that will be used in measuring success.


Step 1 | Listen

Listen to the person inquiring and make every effort to genuinely understand their concern. It doesn’t matter if they are an executive, a client, a shareholder, or another team member. We should always strive to listen first.


Specifically, seek to answer the following questions from the inquiring party.


  • What term were they searching for?
  • Were they logged in to their Google account?
  • What location was their search set to in Google?


Step 2 | Research

Don’t be afraid to tell the inquiring party that you will research the issue and provide them an answer shortly. Our initial response is to come up with an answer on the spot because then it relieves the pressure and stress of the moment. By taking the time to research the issue, you validate the concerns of the person. By rushing a response it can be interpreted as though you don’t know or don’t care. In taking the time to research the issue, it shows that you care and instills confidence in the answer provided.


Based on the information collected by listening, you can research potential causes of the issue.


Question: What term were they searching for?
Potential Issue: Is it the right term? Is the term too broad? Are you currently targeting it?


Question: Were they logged in to their Google account?
Potential Issue: By default, everyone is logged into their Google account when searching. As a result, results can be skewed based on their search history.


Question: What location is Google set to?
Potential Issue: Google, by default, uses your IP address or personalized settings to set your location. As a result, the search results can be influenced by local factors, such as store locations.


Step 3 | Respond

Summarize your analysis into a concise email. Understand that your audience may not have loads of time, or knowledge, to understand an in-depth explanation. True brilliance is making the complex simple.


Be sure to address their concerns first because that is what they will be looking for. Then explain why.


Once you have addressed their concerns, take the opportunity to provide a little insight and education on what you are trying to accomplish with SEO and how you measure it. Are you progressing towards your goal? Whats is the outcome of your efforts? Remember that SEO is a method for driving traffic, so show how much traffic you are getting and business value from it (leads/revenue). This will help shift future conversations away from rankings and more towards the end result of your SEO efforts.


It’s a simple process for responding, but an effective one. If you are willing, please try this out and share the outcome in the comments below.

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