Shane Barker

SEO: How Important is the Number 1 Position?

A recent study completed by online ad network Chitika reports the top-ranked Google position earns 33 percent of online traffic. The findings also reveal exponentially declining values for the top ten and beyond. These findings aren’t shockingly new. Similar analyses have been done with Google’s organic search data. What is proven every time is that SEO is critical for the success of marketing your business online.

Let us take a further look at the study. For each position your website drops in rank, you get an exponential decline in traffic. According to the Chitika study, the Rank 2, 3 and 4 positions receive 18, 11 and 8 percent of traffic, respectively. So while most of us will never achieve Rank 1 in Google, we should always be aiming for a spot somewhere on the first page, where 92 percent of the search traffic lives.

Chitika has also analyzed click through rates for the top positions:

Whether you’re on Page 1 or Page 4, Chitika reports the top position consistently sees more traffic than others on the page. The study reports that on Pages 2, 3 and 4 of search results, traffic dropped by 27 percent, 11.3 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively, from the first position to second position. So even if you’re not at the top of Google, you should aim to get within the top 20 or 30 of search results. Being the first search result on Google’s second page still has its advantages!

Slingshot SEO also undertook a similar study. The results of their research show that Google’s second and third ranking spots are getting more attention these days. That is, the gap between the first, second and third positions is smaller than in previous studies. So the lesson learned is to work on improving your rank, no matter where you currently are at, because the gap is narrowing.

But before you get all worked up over exact rankings, consider that it’s also about the quality of search engine traffic. Are the people who find your site likely to purchase your product or service, or does your website just have a lot of empty hits? What exactly is it that entices people to convert? In order to determine this, you need to study the data in more detail. You’ll need to look at more than search engine ranking.

Chitika’s study, and others like it use monthly search volumes to gather data and metrics. Because the data is aggregated, the data is useful for the big picture, but may not be good for determining micro-scale trends like daily fluctuations in page rank. Having good traffic metrics on your website or blog will give you a chance to analyze page ranking trends more frequently.

What do you think about the latest Chitika findings about ranking? What’s are your SEO goals for the second half of 2013?