Who made rankings such a focal point of success or failure, SEOs or the clients? Prior to joining SEER I was the guy on the other side of the table, talking to SEO agencies, hiring them, reading their reports, etc. They all made a big deal about rankings and links, I didn't really care about that because the people I had to answer to didn't really care about that. Going from spot #8 to spot #3 and getting 30 new LRDs means nothing when your business objectives are growth, revenue, capturing more marketshare, launching new LOBs, etc.
I think rankings are one of the first metrics SEOs report because those are often the first ones to move. Rankings are a leading indicator, thus many firms start with reporting those since they show progress early. Sadly, that's where many stop too : (
Rankings are valuable when combined with other data sources or when used to spot trends, penalties, and updates. By themselves, a single rank data point is pretty worthless.
Because really, clients will ask about rankings until there aren't any rankings.
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