Why you shouldn’t focus on ranking #1 for just one search term


6 min read

I’d like to rank number 1 for x’ is a sentence I hear. A lot. And I can totally understand why.

Many business owners believe that hundreds or perhaps thousands of people are searching for ’x’ on Google every month, and if their business could come up in the prized first position for it, they’d be inundated with sales or enquiries. This post will hopefully explain why this is a flawed approach and what you should be doing instead.

First and foremost, the success of your business will come from many different avenues, and subsequently, an array of different Google searches. If you’re  a plumber in London for example, you might think that ranking 1st on Google for ‘plumber london’ is a surefire way to meet your revenue targets.

But the reality is, people are all different, and whilst a small percentage of people might search this way, the remaining chunk of your audience might search for ‘gas safe plumbers near me’ or ‘why is my boiler making a noise?’ Many clients have given me a ‘golden keyword’ they’d like to rank for, which doesn’t even have a high monthly search volume – so trying to optimise their key pages for it without that knowledge would certainly be a waste of time.

It’s also important to know that search engine ranking positions change all the time. Every minute of the day. They also vary by the type of device you use, and the location you’re in. A user’s search history also plays a role in what is shown in the SERPs, so that it can deliver more personalised results. So whilst there are many tools SEO professionals use to monitor your rankings, the reality is that they’re never 100% accurate – you could perform the same search as someone sat next to you and get a totally different result.

What you should be focusing on instead

Instead of focusing on just 1 specific keyword, look collectively at lots of different search terms that could lead a relevant user to your door, and look at increasing your visibility across the board.

If you’re working with an SEO specialist already, ask to see your Google visibility and whether or not that’s increasing (on the whole) each month. If it is, and the volume of people who click through to your site is running at a similar level like this, you’re on the right track.

Screenshot from one of my clients’ Google Search Console profile after 1 year of SEO

SEO is so much more than how you rank for one keyword. There are hundreds of Google ranking factors which determine how much organic traffic you will receive each day, from a wide range of keywords.

Focussing on one organic traffic stream from just one keyword will have you wasting time which could instead by spent on those all important ranking factors – improving your website experience, fixing those annoying bugs that cause visitors to leave your site, improving how quickly your website loads and creating content which will pull in new visitors who search in weird and wonderful ways.

Focus on the bigger picture, as this is what will ultimately will affect your bottom line.