Richard Zwicky of Enquisite recently posted the results of a study examining data from April 2006 through March 2008 examining the trend for web surfers to click on search engine result page 1 or later pages. The results are fascinating yet also alarming for companies who are comfortable being on page 2 or even page 3.
The trend has been a gradual increase for people to click through on page 1 results instead of progressing to further pages. In April of 2007, 85.5% of search engine users clicked through on page 1 with 7.61% clicking through on page 2. By March of 2008, the percentage of users clicking through on page 1 had risen to 89.71% with 5.93% clicking through on page 2.
That is an incredible variation between page 1 click thru traffic and page 2 click thru traffic–we’re looking at more than 15 times the number of users who clicking through page 2 click through on page 1. Fifteen times. If your business is not ranking on page 1, you’ve just decreased the probability of users finding you by 93%
Aaron Walls of SEO Book plays the game out even further. He refers to a reader’s website whose #5 position in Google (on page 1, of course) draws in 6,000 unique visitors per month. But relying on leaked search data from AOL, he speculates that a #1 spot in Google for that client would potentially draw in 50,000 uniques per month.
Laura A. Granka, Thorsten Joachims and Geri Cay of Cornell University conducted an eye tracking study back in 2004 using a small sample of undergraduate students (the majority of whom relied on Google for their typical searching) and observed that the #1 spot in Google captured 28.43% of the typical searcher’s attention (in terms of time of the eye fixation) and the #2 spot captured 25.08% of their attention; however, even with the top two positions capturing approximately the same attention, in the end, 56.36% of the click thrus went right into the #1 spot while the #2 spot captured only a mere 13.45% of click thrus. Admittedly, the study is dated, didn’t bring into consideration the plethora of Adwords on a typical first page of Google, and was based on a small group size; however, it still strongly points toward the incredible value of prime positioning, and it sharply contrasts the value differential between the top real estate position and the secondary position.
In conclusion, don’t sit back in the lazy chair assuming a page 2 or even page 3 position will turn your company into a success overnight. Page 2 positions have much home (as Zwicky mentions), but the page 1 position is where your target should be. And even when you’ve reached #10 at the bottom of page 1, don’t give up yet. The real traffic is at the top.
We’ve got a client who’s been fighting in position #2 in Google for a strategic market. By gaining position #1, they stand to have their traffic & RFPs possibly even tripled. Press on … that’s why a good search engine strategy doesn’t merely consist of a one time patch job–it’s an ever changing, ever evolving search world. You’ve got to keep pushing forward.