Why aren't We Ranking for "X"? | Story time Ep 1

Why aren't We Ranking for "X"? | Story time Ep 1

We help our Marketing Managers with the tough questions they get asked at work.  As apart of a new storytime series, we'll be sharing some of these questions, what we told them and, if possible, what happened next....

Okay guys, so yesterday a friend of mine came to me, one of our clients, let’s call him Bob.

Bob calls me up and he’s like, “Oh hey Kim, I just wanna shoot the shit” and he never does this, so I know something’s going on. Turns out he just stepped out of a high-level strategy monthly marketing meeting with the rest of the company and he’d been giving his talk on organic search and SEO and how that’s going. And one of the people there decided to do a search for a term that Bob’s company should have turned up for. Did a search and obviously it was, the result was not the result that they were looking for. And so they will, naturally questioned Bob about this. And Bob he will try to respond, there are a lot of factors that go into why a search comes up, your personal search history of the country, the time of day all this sort of stuff.

Thing is as he’s doing this, everyone else in the room there are like eight other people in the room, start jumping on their laptops and start doing the search. And in his gut is sinking because suddenly he gets peppered with questions. “Oh why aren’t we here for this?” And “Why are we here for that?” He’s going crazy. So after that bit of kind of harrowing experience, he gives me a call to see what we can do.

What’ the real issue?

So I think we should identify the core issue here all right? What is actually going on?

I think when people jump on and they do a search on their own laptops and maybe they’re running Google ads or they’re doing SEO and they do a search on their own laptops. If that’s your only experience with search, you know what to expect, it’s almost a comfort. You go on, you search for running shoes, or sneakers. You expect the popular brands to turn up. It generally does an excellent job of showing you what you want to see, what you expect to see.

The issue is that a business, in terms of an organic search campaign or an SEO campaign, it is not the same thing, all right? When you do a personal search you’re doing one search, two searches, three searches, five searches. When you’re a business and you’re doing an organic search campaign, you are concerned about thousands of searches. So it’s not that the marketing managers are wrong. Definitely, them searching for a term is absolutely a part of the mix.

The issue is context. The issue is that they are only looking at one race if you will, out of four thousand. You know the four thousand being the number of key words that are used to kind of get to Bob’s site, every week or so.

What would we suggest?

So what can Bob do about this? What do we normally do when we run into this situation? There are three things that we can look at. The first is, providing more context. And by that I mean, maybe saying to the team, hey guys, we are a global company. In terms of traffic to the site, New Zealand is actually 16th, in terms of what it drives to our site, actually the U.S, U.K, Canada, Australia, they are way up there, they are the primary traffic of drivers. And there are different search engines used for every country.

Maybe saying that, hey guys we looked at five key words 10 key words. We need to consider that there are actually about four thousand key words driving traffic to our site every week. So we’re only looking at a very small percentage of the total search puzzle.

So often we find that providing that sort of context really helps people that don’t understand search, kind of get their heads around it.

The second thing that you can look to do, is start giving them access or providing reports from tools that do give us a good gage on organic search performance. And that might be things like, AccuRanker or a SEMrush, which can track hundreds of keywords. And their rankings in different countries and so that you can have enough data to see the general trend of where your website is ranking versus your competitors.

Google Analytics is great for determining your level of organic search traffic over time and how well they convert. Those are great tools for deciding on how your organic search strategy is going. And what these tools are really good at, is that they help, they aggregate many many points of data and a format that is understandable. Because it is a very big thing.

And the third thing we generally try to do or always recommend doing is start to work with the rest of the team and helping determine the high level strategy for organic search. Maybe we want to, rank for this topic’s keywords in Australia for the next six months. And taking a much more holistic look at it. So rather than looking at one key word and oh wow, we’re not ranking for this. Look at, pick a topic, a country a region and seeing how we can push that.

And yeah we find that those sort of things generally really help.

Final Thoughts

So did our advice help? Actually I’ve got no idea. I hope it does. Bob is hopeful. He’s going to a meeting and he thinks that explaining to them the wider context of search and how it works, hopefully they’ll be really helpful. But yeah if an update comes along down the line I’ll let you guys know.

But if you have any feedback, if you have any questions. If you have any comments that you want me to pass on, feel free to let me know in the comments.

Thanks for listening guys.

Kim Voon

Kim Voon


With over 15 years of experience in search and online marketing, Kim is the Founder of Insight Online. Kim started Insight as he saw an opportunity to build an agency that focuses on business results and strong working relationships with clients.

As the face of the business, Kim will likely be your first point of contact, chatting with you about your work and what you’d like to get done. The best part of his job is meeting new people, getting to know their businesses, and making a tangible, measurable difference for them.

In his spare time, Kim loves playing disc golf, strumming a little guitar and is an avid bookworm.

His favourite charities are Zeal which supports youth in their development over a number of years and Lifewise, an organisation focussed on getting homeless into homes.