How to Use KPI Benchmarks to Drive Better Marketing Decisions (And Results)

kpi benchmarks

Data is the cornerstone of digital marketing results and producing great campaigns for the future.

The more traffic you get, the better your tactics worked.

Are you ranking #1 for a keyword? It looks like your efforts have paid off!

But have your efforts literally paid off? Have they actually made money for your business?

You might feel good when you read those kinds of metrics, but they don’t prove that your company has fulfilled its ultimate goal: to make a profit.

We all like to look at this kind of data. But in reality, most of us are doing data wrong.

We are focusing on the wrong key performance indicators (KPIs) and using them to make bad marketing decisions.

Data should always be the first thing you look at when allocating a budget or informing a new campaign.

But what happens when the data you’re looking at isn’t good enough?

If the data doesn’t show you the entire picture, you risk dumping your budget into efforts that simply won’t produce results.

Tracking the wrong metrics is a recipe for disaster, but using those metrics to inform your decisions is even worse.

It could be the make-or-break difference for your business.

I did this countless times when I was a young entrepreneur growing my business.

I was using the wrong data to inform bad decisions and taking my budget to a different platform, only to realize that it was a waste of time and money.

Thankfully, I’ve learned a few things over the years that I can share with you to help you improve your marketing.

Here’s how you should be using KPI benchmarks to drive better marketing decisions.

What are KPI benchmarks and which ones should you focus on?

Key performance indicators are metrics that are designed to tell you how effectively you are achieving your business objectives.

They are meant to quickly tell you if your marketing tactics are working or not.

Tons of businesses use KPIs at multiple levels to measure the success of their efforts.

KPIs can range from high-level to low-level and could be anything from traffic to sales depending on your goals, business, and specific campaign.

A lot of times, marketers get caught up in things like traffic or clicks. We obsess over having the best click-through rate or the number one ranking spot for our goal keywords.

But when it comes to KPIs, you need to focus on real data.

You need data that tells you exactly what impact you had on your business.

For example, is your goal to drive more Facebook Page likes?

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Then your KPI shouldn’t be focused on metrics like traffic or visits or impressions.

Why? Because your end goal doesn’t involve any of that.

Your end goal is page likes, meaning that your key performance indicator should be page likes!

It tells you in one metric how your efforts are performing.

It’s the blanket metric that you should use to inform your decisions.

It would be the same thing if you were running social media campaigns for followers on Twitter or Instagram.

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So, what if you’re running a Google AdWords campaign and your end goal is leads?

In that case, your KPI wouldn’t be anything like traffic or clicks. It would be how many people you actually land for a consultation or convince to become an email subscriber.

Sometimes, we get caught up in metrics that are great on the surface.

But focusing on these metrics can send you down a rabbit hole that you may never escape.

It can sabotage your marketing efforts by making you think that certain tactics are working when in reality they aren’t.

Overall, KPIs should meet the following criteria when compared to other data and metrics:

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KPIs should be meaningful enough to use in your marketing decisions.

They need to concentrate on material gains in terms of contributing cold hard cash to your bank account.

They need to align and even guide the strategic positioning and direction of your brand, too.

So, what falls into KPIs and what doesn’t? Well, this is a good rule of thumb:

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If you want to find out your own KPIs, I have a formula that can help you uncover them in just a few minutes.

Here’s how:

Step 1. Define your objective.

First, you need to figure out what your end goal for a specific campaign or department is. For example, the sales department exists to close prospects on sales.

For marketing, it’s likely to bring in more visitors and drive more lead sign-ups.

Once you’ve outlined the major objective of a campaign or department, head to step 2.

Step 2. Define the measurable success.

If your sales department’s goal is to close prospects to produce sales, measurable success metrics could be:

  • Close rate
  • Total sales
  • Overall business growth in terms of profit

If your marketing department exists to bring in new traffic and leads, your KPIs might be:

  • Traffic
  • Conversion rate from traffic to leads
  • Total leads

Once you’ve done this, you can use your data for the right efforts. Here’s how you’re doing data wrong and how to use your KPIs for better decisions.

A prime example of how data goes wrong and why

People often see A/B testing as the gold standard of benchmark data.

They put stock into these tests, and once they do them, they make massive changes to their marketing game plan.

But the truth is that A/B testing is a waste of time for most small businesses. At least when it comes to certain marketing campaigns.

According to Conversion XL, most A/B tests fail. Why?

It’s because you need a minimum of 1,000 conversions monthly to reach any sort of statistical significance.

But often — and I’m guilty of it, too — we take A/B testing data as foolproof evidence that should always inform our decisions.

It can cause us to put too much money into platforms that really don’t work.

For example, let’s say that you A/B test having a free trial sign-up with a credit card and without one.

You can see this on most SaaS product sites:

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So you test a landing page with a credit card required and one without.

You quickly notice that you’ve got double, or maybe even triple, the conversions on your page without a credit card required.

You quickly think:

Wow! I’ve struck gold.

Eliminate the credit card usage ASAP. Take down the landing page.

Let’s pump all of your budget into this to drive more of these conversions!

But that’s dangerous. It’s the wrong way to look at data.

It’s not how KPIs are meant to be used.

For example, let’s say you check back in 2-4 weeks when the trials are starting to end.

You notice that only 5% of trial users converted to a final service when they signed up without a credit card.

But now you’ve put all of your eggs in one basket,= and it’s too late to go back.

All of those visitors who signed up for free trials didn’t convert.

And when you look back, you notice that the majority of people who sign up when a credit card was required actually converted to the full product.

KPIs are all about quality — not quantity. They are about what really moves the needle for your business.

A/B testing is a common pitfall that small businesses fall into when trying to use data to drive better marketing decisions.

Sure, A/B testing is useful. But only when you use it over and over to generate consistent results.

How to use KPIs to make realistic marketing decisions

Now it’s time to use data for good.

Tip 1. Create a KPI dashboard in Google Analytics.

KPIs are fantastic once you’ve got them outlined.

But how do you make better marketing decisions with them?

By making them the focal point of your data collection and analysis process.

They need to be the center of your focus if you want to make a real impact on your business growth and development.

To start, I recommend creating a custom dashboard in Google Analytics. To do this, head to the “Dashboards” report under “Customization:”

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Next, hit “Create” to start a new custom dashboard:

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Now you can choose between two different options.

You can either create a new custom dashboard from a blank canvas or select a starter custom dashboard.

For this, I recommend creating one from a blank canvas to really customize it to your efforts.

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Click “Create Dashboard” to continue.

Now you’ve got tons of options to choose from when creating a new widget for your dashboard:

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You can add dozens of widgets to your dashboard and customize them with different metrics, graphs, and stats.

Now, obviously, everyone will have a different dashboard depending on their company goals.

Metrics won’t always be the same, so there is no cookie-cutter dashboard you can copy.

Remember: KPIs should be the best of the best metrics and indicators for your success.

No two campaigns should contain all of the same KPIs.

But, I will show you how to set up a few different amazing widgets for your dashboard to get you started.

One of my favorite custom dashboard widgets is meant for marketers who want to analyze their traffic impact on conversions.

It helps you quickly identify which channels, whether it be organic or paid or direct, are driving the most sessions and ultimately the most conversions.

To get started, select the “Table” option as your widget:

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Next, select “Source / Medium” as your first metric:

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This will give you data on how your sources perform relative to these next two metrics:

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In the end, your dashboard should look like this:

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This will generate a table that analyzes how each source (direct, organic, etc.) plays a role in sessions (traffic) and how they impact goals (conversions).

Another of my favorite widgets is to track your content marketing backlinks.

Here’s how to set it up:

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Select the “Table” option and display the following three metrics:

Full Referrer + Unique Pageviews + Bounce Rate.

This will give you an idea of which referral links you are getting and which are performing well for your business.

Setting up a few dashboards like this for your own KPIs is going to be critical in making better marketing decisions.

It allows you to spend less time analyzing vanity metrics and more time focusing on real data that shows the full story.

Tip 2. Take that data and put it to use.

The key to using KPI data is to see the big picture regarding what your tactics are accomplishing.

While a tactic like Pinterest posting might help you generate traffic, what was the real result in relation to your goals?

Sure, it might be awesome to increase your traffic via Pinterest by 67.65% like I did. But what resulted from it?

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Did that traffic get you anything to grow your business?

Most people would see these numbers and instantly say, “Let’s cut out Facebook and Twitter and focus on Pinterest.”

But what if Facebook and Twitter are driving most of your real conversions to sales even if they have fewer traffic numbers than Pinterest?

You’ve just essentially cut off two amazing sources of direct sales in exchange for traffic that doesn’t convert.

That’s a big mistake.

This is why key performance indicators are so powerful for marketing decisions.

They help you look past the surface and understand the real impact of your marketing tactics.

A great way to do this is by analyzing the entire customer journey and producing reports that don’t only focus on the last-touch attribution bias that we see in typical conversion data.

Here I’ll show you how to analyze both right inside your own Analytics in minutes.

To get more data on the customer journey and lifecycle and to see how each part of your marketing strategy plays a role, head to Analytics and open the “Behavior Flow” report:

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From here, you can analyze how different traffic sources impact behavior flows on your site:

For example, is referral traffic sticking around? If not, it might not be worth your budget to focus heavily on it.

Is your organic traffic having multiple on-site interactions and converting? This is important data.

It tells you that prospects aren’t just coming to your site and giving you impressions or new sessions.

It shows you that you’re actually driving business growth with it.

The behavior flow is one of the most underutilized tools in Analytics.

It’s essentially a free buyer’s journey or sales cycle model tailored to your site.

It helps you visualize how each source and medium works to bring in visits, where they go, and what they did on-site.

You can also change the starting metric to social networks if your objectives focus on social media marketing:

The options are diverse here and you can select between dozens of them to see how each impacts behavior with your site.

Now, you also need to focus on reporting data that shows you conversions, too.

For example, what if your conversion report says that social media is getting you zero conversions?

It’s not doing a darn thing!

That’s probably 100% false.

Let me explain:

Marketing data suffers from serious bias in the form of last-touch attribution.

Last-touch attribution is defined as conversion data that gives credit to the last “touchpoint” that a user landed on before converting.

For example, if they hit your landing page via organic search and converted, then the conversion data would give credit to the organic search.

Do you see a problem with this?

Take a look at the typical buyer’s journey and tell me if you think it’s that cut and dry:

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Does a user really only need one touchpoint to convert?

Obviously not, or this wouldn’t exist!

Buyers can take weeks or even months to convert, landing on your site or other online channels potentially dozens of times.

They could have found you on social media, clicked a lead magnet remarketing ad, typed your direct link, found your blog via organic search, and then converted finally from a PPC ad.

But in that case, PPC would get the credit, when in reality, all of your channels played a role.

This is potentially dangerous because it can cause you to think that some platforms aren’t driving conversions when, in reality, they were critical factors.

Try running a report on the “Model Comparison Tool” in Analytics to see how different channels helped conversions:

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Next, select the model to analyze:

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You can choose between multiple models to see how your channels were involved in the buying journey:

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You can even create new custom models or import more templates:

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In the table below, look at what percentage your individual platforms play as their roles in the conversion process:

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Do you notice that one is lagging behind in almost every test?

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Then you might really consider eliminating it from your strategy. This would be a prime example of using data for real marketing efforts.

Give it a shot today to use your data to make real, informed marketing decisions.


Data is the fundamental proof that marketers should be using to create campaigns and inform marketing decisions.

Think about it:

When you check Google Analytics and see that your traffic is on the rise, you must be performing well, right?

At first glance, the tactics you’ve put into practice appear to be working.

But it’s not that simple. In reality, most of us are doing data wrong.

And using data in the wrong ways can sabotage any quality marketing campaign.

Putting your budget into the wrong platform could make or break your business.

Trust me. I’ve been there.

It’s easy to get the data wrong and use the wrong KPI benchmarks.

But once you’ve started to hone in on these benchmarks, you can use them to make better marketing decisions.

Start by creating a custom dashboard in Google Analytics to weed out the bad metrics and focus on the real key performance indicators.

Next, take the data that expands beyond the simple metrics and put it to use.

Make sure that you back up any tactic with sound data.

Revolutionizing the way you see and understand data can turn your business from a zero to a hero in no time!

What are the KPIs that you track to inform better marketing decisions?

The post How to Use KPI Benchmarks to Drive Better Marketing Decisions (And Results) appeared first on Neil Patel.

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How Different Color Schemes Can Impact Sales on Your Website

While most people may not realize it, marketing and psychology are closely related.

The most successful marketing campaigns apply customer psychology.

On the surface, it’s a simple concept.

If you understand how the customer’s mind works, you can use certain triggers to help you generate a profit.

One of the most important psychological factors you need to consider is color.

Keep it in mind when you’re:

  • branding your company logo
  • designing your website
  • building a mobile application
  • creating a call-to-action button
  • sending an email
  • coming up with a marketing campaign.

The list goes on and on.

Basically, anything visual your company produces needs to have appropriate color schemes.

The right colors can lead to a conversion, while the wrong colors can leave a customer with a negative impression of your company (which you obviously want to avoid).

Let’s take a look at something as simple as gender as it relates to favorite colors:

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Blue is for men and pink is for women, right?

Think again.

According to a recent study (image above), both men and women said blue was their favorite color.

Clearly, just because newborn babies are typically put in either blue or pink doesn’t mean grown adults feel the same way.

Here’s more from that same study that shows the least popular colors based on gender:

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Both men and women dislike brown and orange.

But why?

I’ll explain the psychology behind different colors so you can adjust your marketing tactics accordingly.

Changing a website’s colors can help you increase sales for your business.


Let’s start off by discussing the color blue since we already established it’s the favorite color for both men and women.

It represents security, trust, and dependability.

Blues also signify spirituality and calmness.

With so many different shades of blue out there, which one should you choose for your website?

Light blue shades work best for friendly websites that have a social and calm concept.

Use dark blue hues for corporations and businesses.

Here’s a visual representation of the top 10 most valuable brands in the world:


Do you notice a pattern here?

Half of these businesses have a shade of blue in their logos.

Based on everything we just discussed, this shouldn’t be a surprise.

Depending on your company, blue may be a top choice for your website.


We associate green with the word “go”.

It represents life, nature, wealth, and harmony.

Green colors also symbolize freshness, the environment, and something new.

With that said, these associations are not universal across the globe.

Keep that in mind when you’re designing a website.

Here’s how people in different geographic locations perceive the color green:

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Look at some of the polar opposite representations here.

In Japan, green represents life.

But in South America, it signifies death.

Make sure you understand your primary target audience and what colors mean to their culture.

Here’s a great example of how Animal Planet incorporates greens into their website design:



Like I said before, in our culture, green symbolizes nature and the environment, so it works well with the overall theme of their brand.


Even though pink wasn’t every woman’s favorite color, it still represents femininity.

For those of you running a business primarily geared toward men, I’d recommend staying away from pink tones.

Pink stands for love, sexuality, nurture, sweetness, and warmth.

Look at how a gender specific brand like Victoria’s Secret uses pink on their website:

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The company sells strictly women’s apparel, so they don’t need to worry about turning away men from their brand.

When a woman shops at Victoria’s Secret, the pink tones make her feel welcome.


Stop at a stop sign. Stop at a red light.

These are some of the things we think of when we see the color red.

It’s muscle memory and instinct.

But red represents more than that.

From a marketing perspective, red creates a sense of urgency.

That’s why you’ll often see red sales tags on discounted items.

Red tones appeal to impulse shoppers because the color can increase their heart rates.

Restaurants use this color to fuel a customer’s appetite.

McDonald’s has been using this strategy for years to lure hungry people into their restaurants.


From an emotional and personality viewpoint, red roses are a symbol of love.

Red evokes passion as well as intensity.

You can strategically use this color based on your industry.

If you want to increase conversion rates and deliver an urgent message, use red to draw the viewer’s attention to that area.


If you’re using yellow on your website, it’s important to use it subtly and sparingly.

Don’t use it for text because it’s hard on the eyes and tough for people to read.

Yellow represents happiness, joy, and cheer.

It’s a warm and happy color with an energizing effect.

There’s a difference between different shades of yellow and the way they represent age.

Bright yellow is used to represent children and their youth, while darker yellow designs signify a more mature age.

Here’s how yellow affects personality and emotion:

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Overall, using yellow on your website will create a positive and appealing vibe.

However, it can also stand for caution or act as a warning sign.

Make sure your message is clear whenever you’re using yellow.

It works well to complement logos but doesn’t stand well on its own.


Orange isn’t a commonly used color.

Earlier we saw that 33% of women and 22% of men said this was their least favorite color.

However, because companies use it so sparingly, it typically stands out when you see it.

That means it’s a great color for your CTA buttons.

Orange is a comforting color.

It’s got some of the same qualities as both yellow and red.

It’s sociable, energetic, and sunny.

Similar to red, it can often stimulate appetite.

Orange can also stand for affordability, which may be the reason why The Home Depot uses it in their logo:

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Orange is friendly and energetic, but it’s not as overwhelming and hard on the eyes as yellow.


Purple ranked high in terms of women’s favorite color.

It’s a beautiful shade that stands for royalty:

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It’s a noble and romantic color as well.

Purple is luxurious and gives people the feeling of nostalgia, power, and glamour.

This color is also used to stimulate curiosity because it represents a mystery.

If you’re running some sort of surprise promotion in which a website user or email subscriber needs to click to reveal an offer, consider using a purple CTA button.

Purple tones are often associated with a ceremony as well.

They represent creativity and exclusivity.

If you’re trying to target a group of people who see themselves as high-class, you may want to consider incorporating purple somewhere on your website.


People often overlook white, but yes, it’s still an important color to consider in your website design.

Although it may appear plain, white represents simplicity and purity.

It’s a clean design allowing a brand to signal perfection.

White logos are often used in health care industries.

It’s also associated with luxury brands and designs.

That’s why Apple uses a white logo in their website color scheme.

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If you’re using white on your website, you can also use grey tones to compliment it, just like Apple does with the light grey background and dark grey text.

White is used to show high-tech products.

When associated with cuisine, white represents foods that have low fat.

To add sophistication or strength to your website, consider using a simple white and grey design.

Don’t use white for any buttons.

Instead, you can use a darker colored button with white font if you want to go that route.


Black establishes authority.

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Similarly to white, it can represent sophistication, luxury, and elegance.

Products and brands that are black can be viewed as expensive—the opposite of orange.

So if your website is supposed to be for people who want a bargain, I’d recommend staying away from black.

Black is serious and can also be considered very somber.

I wouldn’t recommend using black if your company represents new life or rejuvenation because black is often associated with death.


Brown is commonly used in the following industries:

  • Food
  • Agriculture
  • Environment

It’s an earthy tone that represents durability and simplicity.

Brown is a natural color that stands for dependability.

If you want to add a dark color to your website but don’t want to use black, consider using brown as a warmer alternative.

When a company uses brown in their logo, it shows customers that they are reliable:

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That’s why the slogan for UPS is “What can brown do for you?”

It’s a nice customer service color.

What color should I use for my website?

If you’re torn between a couple of different color choices, you can run an A/B test to determine which one gives you a higher conversion rate.

Keep everything on your website the same, but change the background color, an accent color, or a CTA button color.


But don’t change the content or layout.

Here’s an example of a test for the CTA button color choice:

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Everything on the website remains the same.

The only thing that changed was a green CTA button vs. a red CTA button.

Based on what we talked about earlier, green means go and red means stop.

So a hypothesis would be that the green button would outperform the red button.

However, the results of this test told a different story.

The red button saw a 21% higher conversion rate than green.

It’s surprising, but it’s good to know.

Just because you think you understand how people perceive certain colors doesn’t mean you shouldn’t run any tests.

The difference of 21% is so significant that it can drastically impact how much money your website makes.

Look, I’m not telling you this so you automatically choose red over green each time.

It depends on your brand, industry, and customer base.

I used this example to show why you should never assume anything and always run an A/B test to make sure you’re making the right decision.

Where to find the best color scheme for your website

Like I said before, it’s important to use different tones.

Don’t just pick blue and make your entire website the same shade of blue.

Using a blue color palette is much more appealing.

I like to use to find color schemes that work well with each other.

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If you wanted to use purple tones on your website, this service helps generate a palette of purple colors.

You’ll get all different shades of purple from light to dark.

Pick and choose which ones you want to use for different parts of your website.

Consider using a lighter shade as the background and darker tones for text.


The color choices on your website appeal to the psychology of your customer.

Don’t pick a color at random.

Make sure the colors you choose reflect your brand and company message.

It can impact your sales.

Think back to the example we used for A/B testing a CTA button.

A simple color change boosted conversions by over 20%.

Don’t miss out on an opportunity like that by not taking the time to carefully select the right colors for your website.

Look at your target audience.

If you’re trying to appeal to a certain gender, use colors like blue or pink.

For those of you who want to create a sense of urgency or an alert, red would work well.

Black and white colors symbolize authority, simplicity, and cleanliness.

Purple is a color of royalty, social status, and curiosity.

Follow the tips I outlined above to come up with a killer color scheme for your website to boost sales.

What feeling are you trying to evoke from your customers with your website colors?

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Why Ranking #1 on Google Is Bad for Your ROI (And What to Focus on Instead)

seo roi tips

Ranking first on Google has become a lifelong pursuit for many marketers.

It’s become the gold standard of search engine optimization. It’s the marketing dream.

If only you could show your buddies or boss that you’re ranking first, you’d feel like a success.

You want to rank #1 for your most desired, high-volume keyword.

You want to capture thousands upon thousands of visitors from a single search every month.

Ranking first for a new term that’s popular in your industry could take your business to new heights.

But it could also destroy your return on investment in the process.

Getting the first spot on a given Google SERP isn’t an overnight event.

In fact, it takes copious hours, weeks, months, and often years of time and money to get.

That’s especially true when you’re competing for highly desired keywords with sites that have been around for decades.

With growing competition and more blog posts than ever, it’s nearly impossible.

Most people end up chasing this pipe dream, driving their business into the ground in the process.

Getting top-ranking spots on Google is great, but it’s often not worth the cost.

Here’s why ranking #1 on Google is bad for your ROI and what you should be focusing on instead.

Impossible-to-reach ranking factors

To understand why ranking #1 on Google is bad for your ROI, you first need to understand what it takes to rank #1.

In 2016, Google released a Q&A video featuring a search quality senior strategist who shared with us a major revelation for SEO:

Links and content are the two most important ranking factors when it comes to getting a #1 position on Google.

Why? It’s because you need amazing content that users want to read and you need links that show how authoritative your site is.

Multiple studies that we’ve seen in recent years have backed up this tip from Google.

For example, HubSpot’s blogging benchmark data found that the more you blog, the more traffic you get:

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On top of that, the more you blog, the more leads you get:

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Why? More blog posts give you more chances to rank higher on Google.

They give you more indexed pages and more ways to acquire new users.

But that’s not often doable for most companies. Writing dozens of blog posts a month isn’t an option when you’ve got clients breathing down your neck.

Similarly, Backlinko has found impressive data on which ranking factors are correlated.

When it comes to links, you need hundreds of referring domains linking to your post. That means that you have to get hundreds of unique websites to give you links.

On top of that, you need links from high-quality sites with high domain authority.

Those are industry-level sites like HubSpot, Kissmetrics, and hundreds more.

But that’s not all. The top-ranking sites have unbelievable amounts of total external backlinks:

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To sum it up, you need all of this to rank #1:

  • Thousands of total external backlinks,
  • All from high-quality websites with high domain authority,
  • And from hundreds of diverse sites.

The odds are stacked against us, unfortunately.

But that’s not all that goes into rankings.

Search Engine Land has created an entire periodic table of SEO success factors for ranking high:

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Just looking at the number of factors that go into ranking your content gives you an idea of how unprofitable it is.

The effort that it takes to rank #1 is discouraging, to say the least.

I’ve been uploading tons of blog posts to try and compete, but it’s still tough.

Top-ranking content takes time and money to get

Compounding on that last section, this all takes up a diminishing factor that we can’t manufacture more of:


And guess what? Time equals money.

When it comes to labor, even if you run your own business, your time is your money.

You’re on the clock.

You don’t have the money to spend five years ranking for “content marketing.”

You can’t afford it when the difficulty is this high:

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It has a difficulty of 96. That’s simply not going to happen.

You can’t compete when these big players are crowding the search engine results:

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Do you have a domain authority higher than 70? If not, you’ve already narrowed your chances down to almost zero.

Do you have thousands of links pointing to that post that you want to rank for this term? If not, you have no chance.

It’s the tough reality that most of us face.

Even with a high domain authority site like mine, I still struggle to rank for big terms like this.

For example, look at how many links the first post has for the search term “content marketing”:

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There are over 13,000 links to that single post.

That’s more than most sites will earn in their entire time on the Internet.

Even second-ranking posts tend to have high links:

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More than likely, the site with the top-ranking content for a given search term published it years ago and is constantly updating it.

They’ve had years upon years to build up their backlinks and are still refreshing it with new data to keep it relevant.

It’s virtually impossible to catch up with them at this point.

It’s futile. It will cost you so much money and time that it will, in fact, destroy your bottom line.

The main question you have to ask yourself is, “Will this impact my ROI?”

Is getting 5,000 more visits a month going to make you more money than it costs to get the #1 spot?

It most likely won’t. You might have to spend years of work to get that traffic, potentially costing you thousands of dollars in labor and outreach.

Fewer people are clicking on search results

Top-ranking content requires time, effort, and money.

It also requires marketers to hit nearly unachievable goals in a saturated market.

But that’s not all. There’s more bad news for us.

Fewer and fewer people are clicking on search results now.

Don’t believe me? Check out the keyword information for this popular search term:

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It has 24% organic CTR. What does this mean?

Essentially, this number is an estimate of the percentage of clicks available to traditional, organic links on a given SERP.

It takes into account other SERP features like ads, verticals, and more.

Put simply, only 24% of the people searching for this term will click an organic result.

That’s terrible. That means that if, by some miracle, you ranked #1 for this keyword and got 100% of the organic click traffic, you’d only land 2,232 extra visits per month to your site.

In reality, you wouldn’t come close to getting 100% of the organic search clicks, meaning your real traffic levels are going to be much lower.

Even long-tail keyword searches are starting to show a trend of lower click-through rates:

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That keyword has almost no searches per month, and big sites still dominate the SERP analysis.

Plus, the organic CTR is still low.

To corroborate this data, Moz recently found that, on average, only 66% of searches result in a click.

That leaves 34% of searches ending in no clicks. This number is on the rise, and that’s not good for SEOs.

So, why is this happening? It’s easy to understand when you conduct a basic Google search.

For example, look at the SERP when you search for “content marketing:”

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The first section of the results has four PPC search network ads and Google’s rich answer box.

But that’s not all. When you scroll down, here’s what else you see before any organic results:

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You see Google News and social integrations. Scroll down even further, and you finally land on some organic listings.

But at the end, you see more PPC ads:

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The moral of the story is:

Google’s SERPs are crowded, providing fewer opportunities for organic clicks and a heavier focus on diverse elements like news, social, answer boxes, and PPC.

It’s no wonder that this term has a mere 24% organic CTR!

Fewer and fewer people are clicking on typical organic results simply because Google is providing them with instant answers, removing the need to click.

Google changes constantly

Every year, Google updates their algorithm 500-600 times. That’s more than once a day.

Some sources even say that they update it 2-3 times per day.

In just the past few years, we’ve already seen major changes on Google, including things like RankBrain and the Knowledge Graph.

One of my favorite posts showing this rapidly-changing history comes from Search Engine Watch:

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This infographic shows how significantly Google has changed in the last decade.

And if history tells us anything, Google will only continue to change their algorithm and increase their update frequency to meet the needs of a changing market.

So, what on earth does this have to do with ranking #1?

It shows us that spending years to rank for a top keyword is futile.

What happens when you dump $100,000 into link building and promotion when Google decides to change how ranking factors work?

What if links become obsolete in the next five years?

That’s potentially business-ending money that you’ve spent on a tactic that could fade away.

With an algorithm that’s constantly changing and a marketplace that’s growing rapidly, no marketer can risk spending money to expect returns in five or ten years.

With that in mind, what can you do other than striving to rank first? Here’s what you should focus on instead.

Focus on leads

When I sign in to my Google Analytics account to check up on my latest marketing KPIs, I often navigate directly to traffic:

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It’s a pitfall that I often fall into. Traffic is great if you’re running a business based on ads.

In that case, the more traffic you can get, the better.

But that’s not always the case when it comes to B2B marketing.

Traffic doesn’t always correlate to leads.

For example, what if you drove 10,000 visits from a fake news post on Reddit?

That traffic would probably bounce fast, right?

That means that your conversion rate is going to be almost nothing. That traffic wasn’t worth it.

The same is true for trying to rank high on Google.

Your focus shouldn’t be on rankings and traffic. Rather, it should be on leads, conversions, and sales.

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Focus on your bottom line and nurture your current customers.

It’s much easier to drive sales with existing customers than to acquire new ones.

Try upselling current customers to create higher lifetime values rather than looking to achieve new rankings for more traffic.

On top of that, you can even try running Facebook Lead Ads that are often cheap.

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This is one of my favorite strategies for getting new, highly-targeted leads.

Facebook has diverse custom audience options that allow you to target your ideal customers.

If your customer value is high, running Facebook Lead Ads will be much more profitable to gain new leads than investing $50,000 in link-building efforts.

To get started with Lead Ads, head to your Facebook Ads Manager and create a new ad.

Select “Lead generation” from the marketing objective list:

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You can start to create awesome lead magnet ads right on the Facebook news feed:

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Try offering lead magnets like e-books, whitepapers, and checklists to collect more leads for your sales funnel, even on a low budget.

Remember: Leads should be your top priority — not traffic from a #1 ranking spot.

Focus on improving your organic CTR

If you’re already ranking high on Google, you still don’t need to focus as much on linking efforts.

Instead, try focusing on your organic click-through rate.

Google uses artificial intelligence technology and machine learning to understand how search behavior works.

Think about it this way:

If someone searches Google for “seo guide” and clicks the second result, Google notices:

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If this starts to happen often, Google will likely move that second post up to the first.

Why? Google knows that it’s becoming more popular.

It’s getting more clicks, which shows Google that the content is better at solving the user’s problem.

Focusing on optimizing for CTR can give big benefits for your leads and rankings without spending any money on links.

So, how do you do it? Start with your title tag and meta description:

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These don’t have any direct power for SEO rankings anymore, but they have the power to form a better first impression.

They can drive someone to click on your post over your competitor’s.

When it comes to dominating the SERPs without ranking first, you need to bait people into clicking on your content.

To do this, be sure to use some of the most popular headlines from content sites that dominate the headline game.

As embarrassing as it is to admit, I love to get ideas from BuzzFeed. They are the masters of getting people to click by using a simple, short headline:

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That headline uses a couple of tactics that work well:

  1. It uses a listicle (“XX tips”).
  2. It creates intrigue by referring to “Weirdly Useful” products.

Headlines should grab the user’s attention in a sea of content. They need to stand out if you have any hope of increasing your CTR.

To get more ideas, try exploring top content from popular sites on BuzzSumo:

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Type in your website URL or a competitor’s URL to see what content is the most shared on their site.

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Next, look for trends. Do you notice anything about the top results on my site?

Here’s what I noticed:

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Four of my five most popular posts were “how-to” style posts, along with one listicle.

This tells me that people love my “how-to” posts more than other content.

That means I should continually pump out this content to get better shares and higher click-through rates.

Use BuzzSumo to analyze your top content and start using those strategies more often.


Ranking on Google is a dream for most marketers.

Everyone wants to rank on Google and get thousands more visitors to their site every month.

Ranking number one could take your business to new heights when it comes to getting traffic and leads.

But it’s not that simple.

With millions of blog posts published every single day and thousands of new sites popping up, it’s nearly impossible to rank for high-volume keywords.

Spending time and money on this strategy might only bankrupt you.

When thousands of sites are competing for the same position, it can quickly become a drain on your resources.

Current ranking factors for Google focus on content and links as the top two. But the problem is that most established sites have more links than you can acquire in a lifetime.

The odds are stacked against you.

To achieve the top spot, you’d need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on link-building campaigns and content production.

On top of that, fewer and fewer people are clicking on organic results.

With new additions to the SERPs, people have less incentive to click on traditional organic listings.

Google is always updating their algorithm and the way that their search engine functions.

Putting an investment into links now could be worthless in five years if they make major algorithm changes.

Instead, focus on getting leads.

Focus on improving your click-through rate and trying to capture the most relevant traffic you can get.

What are you currently focusing on to improve the ROI for your business?

The post Why Ranking #1 on Google Is Bad for Your ROI (And What to Focus on Instead) appeared first on Neil Patel.

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