Measurements drive behaviors was one of my more favorite Jack Welch "isms" during my General Electric corporate days.
If GE were to measure employees purely on how many refrigerators they made each day, do you think quality would suffer?
Perhaps a bad example. Because as a former quality engineer on the refrigeration line, quality already suffered. A sad reality. And we had the better reputation for quality in the industry.
Measurements Drive Behavior
So how does the discussion of GE Appliances apply to the digital world? Fair question. Let me answer.
As someone who does a bit of SEO related work, one deciding factor in whether to take on a new client or not relates to how they are going to measure performance.
Don't get me wrong performance should be measured. Somehow. I'm not advocating a blank check to do random work, call it SEO and submit an invoice each month. Not at all.
What I am Saying
Is the client needs to have a realistic expectation of what can and cannot be done. And equally important, the time involved. Not the time to tweak some meta tags, keywords and more.
Rather the time for Google to index the site(s) and the fly wheel of organic traffic to begin spinning fast. To learn about search terminology, please read Search Terminology.
To put a measure such as "in six months I expect to see these keywords improve from 48th place to 7th place in search is not realistic."
And if I guarantee such results, then don't even waste your time, money or effort hiring me. Hypothetically speaking of course. Please read Guaranteed Results to understand my warning sign.
So How Do You Measure
Having goals are important. That over a given amount of time you would like to see certain keywords rank higher. But don't make it a black or white statement. An end all if you will. Fail to achieve and that's it.
Because if that is how you are going to measure performance, then I will work towards that short term goal. Possibly to the detriment of your long term success. I'm measured on the former. With no incentive for the latter.
My short term focus on improving SERP (search engine results page) performance may overshadow the longer term user experience, slow page speed or other more "abstract" aspects of your site.
Again, speaking hypothetically. If you ask to hire Up Early we are going to look out for your long term success. Even if that means not taking you on as a client.
Measurements Drive Behaviors
So next time you are ready to hire someone or some agency to perform SEO or other work on your site, be realistic.
Make sure you don't have a one-sided measurement. One that forces your vendor to put short term measurements above long term success.