Have You Made it to Page One of Google? Big Deal.

Sorry for the flippant tone, but I’m a little bit discouraged.  It used to be I could brag about getting a client’s website onto page one of the Google search results for a particular keyword.  That was then, this is, well a different ballgame (just wanted to try mixing both aphorisms and analogies at the same time).

Let’s say you make the world’s best peanut butter, and you really want people search for peanut butter on Google to find you.  So you apply all the principles of search engine optimization (SEO) that you learned at the latest SEO workshop that I conducted.  You work long and hard making sure your page title is correct, your keyword is placed well in your text, you have great inbound links pointing at your page using just the right link text.

After months of effort you make it up to result number 9 on Google for peanut butter.  So now you prepare for traffic to come rolling in to your digital store.  Right?  Wait a minute, here’s what your search engine results page (SERP) for “peanut butter” looks like on my computer today:

Screen capture of search results for peanut butter

Yeah, that’s right.  Listings number one and two show “above the fold” (in other words in the part of the page that you can see without scrolling down).  The advertisement that appears at the top of the page is pushing the real results farther down the page.  So is Google’s little “related searches” snippet.  And then Google has decided we might be interested in images for “Peanut Butter” (why is that, anyway?), so the real results are pushed even farther down.

No wonder a recent study by data analytics company Chitika showed that the percentage of searchers who click on the top 3 listings dwarfs the percentage of people who click on the listings farther down the page.

Your hypothetical number 9 listing on this page will get you less than 3 visitors out of 100 searchers.  This now raises the bar for search engine optimization.  It’s no longer satisfactory to be on page one for your important search terms.  If you really need to be found on Google (and we presume on other search engines as well), you need to be in the top 3.  Together the top 3 positions take about 63% of all the searchers who land on a page.

Traffic percentages according to rank on serp

The graph tells the story. Traffic to your website drops off sharply if you're not in the first few results on a Google search results page.

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