Should Digital Marketers Target Vanity Metrics or Leads and ROI When Developing Paid and Organic Digital Marketing Strategies?

Today while chatting with a client, he expressed some frustration that when he googled a particular keyword, “mechanic near me”, he wasn’t showing up as a top result (but he was still on the first page 🙄). 

I tried to explain that we had done some research prior to developing our SEO and Google Ad strategy and determined that that particular keyword, along with a few other similar keywords, weren’t a good fit for our strategy due to low search volume and high competition. 

Searches for “mechanic near me” and “mechanic companies in [area]” only yielded 10-30 clicks a month. 

It just wasn’t a good fit for his budget and ROI.

Instead we decided to focus on more long tail keywords, which are easier to rank for and provided similar results. 

Getting 10 long tailed keywords with 10 monthly searches is worth more than broad and generic keywords with 10 monthly searches total. 

It makes sense to me, 10 vs 100 clicks. 

We also determined that longer tailed keywords had higher intent.

We’ve been running these campaigns for a few months, and he’s never had more website traffic and web leads than in these last few months of us employing this strategy.

Despite our positive results, he was frustrated that he wasn’t ranking on the top of every organic search he could think of related to keywords he made up. 

As digital marketers and SEO’s where should our focus lie? 

Should we prioritize vanity metrics (top of SERP placements with low intent traffic) even if it means hundreds or thousands of clicks?

Or should we focus on ROI and spending our clients money as effectively as possible?

At the end of the day, I personally stand behind impact and results, and I ignore vanity metrics like clicks and traffic. 

Who cares how much traffic you have if it isn’t leading to ROI?

Certainly clicks and traffic are important and can turn into leads, but with limited time and budget we as digital marketers and SEO’s need to prioritize our clients best interests, regardless of their misconceptions. 

We ended the call fairly upset with each other, him for thinking I wasn’t doing my job and me for his inability to understand where we were utilizing our time and his budget. 

The funny resolution is that he called back a few hours later and wanted to increase his budget by almost $4,000. 

At the end of the day impact is the most important factor, not vanity metrics. 

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