What is the value of a rank position on Google?
by Raymond Santopietro
Most business owners understand that there is a value to being in the first position when a person searches for your products or services. The majority of those business owners are thinking about the position from a “branding” standpoint, that people are going to believe that the number one ranked business is better than the number two ranked business, and therefore patronize the business in the number one position more. However, there is an added discussion in this regard that also addresses why search engine optimization is an ongoing process, and is not finished after you have gained a good position. Statistical click-through rates are of crucial importance to your traffic to your website, and ultimately the amount of business that is gained from the internet.
When a person sees your brand name positioned over another brand name in the organic results that Google has given them, they assume that your business is better than theirs. At that point, they have been given exposure to your brand name, and will probably remember it when they are ready to purchase whatever it is that you sell. This is the same theory in all advertising; you pay for the most prime spots and get the most business as a result. The beginning of the magazine is better than the end of the magazine. The billboards on heavy-traffic streets are better than those in the middle of nowhere. Getting people to see your brand more than your competitors is what advertising is all about. There is the special case of search engines, however, that is that people are actually looking for something right now in order to see the results they are given. This makes positions on search engines even more crucial than traditional advertising, because the group that is seeing your “advertisement” is in the purchasing process at this moment. They have asked for a third party (Google) to tell them who is offering what they want to buy. Being seen as the top result by Google translates to being seen as the top result by the public. This is the branding aspect of the top positions on search engines. However, the rates of click-through to different positions are based on more than just trust. Click-through rates are also based on laziness on the part of the public. Think about it like this, if you were to ask a friend to give you some recommendations of tanning salons in your area, and you provided them with a list of every tanning salon that has a business license, then your next question would be “but which ones are the best ones?” This is because you are looking not only for information on the service and who provides it, but also for someone to do your research for you and make your life easier. You are looking to use their experience as a guide to narrow your choices down to a few that you can compare yourself. This mentality is crucial with regards to search positioning. People have looked to Google as that friend they are asking for advice, and have assumed that Google has provided both the entire list as well as the ordered list of the best, which is presented on the first few pages. They also assume that the first few results are the best, and statistically choose from them. The question for marketers is “how important is the number one position over the number two position,” because getting into the number one position is harder than getting into the number two position. A great seo company is going to need more time, effort, and ultimately money to have your site reach that number one position than simply getting you into the first page, or first few results. The question that clients are asking is “how much more is the top position worth over the lower positions? Should I invest the extra money to get to the top position, and should I keep investing money to stay there?”
Every year, research companies study click-through rates on search engine results. The latest studies have shown some dramatic information being revealed, like the fact that the number one position on Google is clicked on 36.4% of the time. The number two position is clicked on 12.5% of the time. This means that if 100 people search for your product in a day, you can statistically expect 36 of those people to click through the result and land on your website, where the real information about why they should use you over your competition exists. If you are in the number two position, you can expect only about 12 people to click through. From there, the numbers drop dramatically, falling most significantly after the number six position, where is the point when most people have to begin scrolling down to see more results on their computer. Keep in mind, we are dealing with laziness here, and asking them to do something as simple as scrolling down will filter some people out of the equation. Here are the actual click-through statistics below:
Position 1: 36.4% of the click-throughs
Position 2: 12.5% of the click-throughs
Position 3: 9.5% of the click-throughs
Position 4: 7.9% of the click-throughs
Position 5: 6.1% of the click-throughs
Position 6: 4.1% of the click-throughs
Position 7: 3.8% of the click-throughs
Position 8: 3.5% of the click-throughs
Position 9: 3.0% of the click-throughs
Position 10: 2.2% of the click-throughs
Position 11: less than 1% of the click-throughs
As you can see, from position number twelve on, there is no real difference between not being listed at all on Google, and the amount of traffic you will gain from your position. If your conversion rate is 2%, then you can see that in order to get more customers you need to drive more traffic, and the position you have gained on search engines like Google is the determining factor in most cases. Most of our clients show traffic rates coming from Google alone at more than 60% of all traffic to the website. Basically, you can plug your own figures into this math equasion to figure if it is worth it to drive twice as much traffic to the website of not. That is the difference between being number one, number two, or not even being seen when people are looking for your products and want to buy them.
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