Is the 1st position in organic results still worth a fortune?

Obtaining 1st position in organic results like Google used to be a perfect way of guaranteeing a large amount of targeted traffic to your web site, well not any more…. With the introduction in the organic results of universal search, which included images, news & videos among the standard results, the chances of being found via a normal organic result has become so much harder.

There is quite a lot of data around the web showing “average click through” rates of users on search listings, like the leaked data from AOL in 2006 which contained 35 million search queries. This data provided the SEO industry with a massive click distribution study highlighting the importance of the top 3 positions. Of course this data was very useful at the time but with the current search results so different now, it’s much harder to estimate how much traffic a top position in Google will bring to your web site.

A report from 2011 by suggest that on average, a 1st place position in Google would receive around 53% of the total clicks from users searching that particular keyword or search phrase. The second position would receive around 15% and the third place around 9%.

Compete stated this about the above data:

“Compete analyzed 10s of millions of search engine results pages generated by actual consumers in our U.S. panel in Q4 2011.”

Percentage search listing clicks in Google

Shopping results

When looking at shopping related searches which are often the most competitive for obvious reasons, the introduction by Google of paid listings (Product listing ads) in the shopping results (previously free through the Shopping link) and the display of some of these results including photos just below the Adwords paid listings, means that companies looking for visibility with these kind of search phrases must consider paying as well.

Google shopping results screenshot

Future strategy

Here are some of my tips on how to get the most out of you SEO campaign:

– Don’t let your ego take over and try to be in first position in the Google organic results for every keyword
– Try to create a niche for your business and obtain positions for keywords and search phrases that have a medium search volume and room for competition
– Use Google’s Keyword Planner Tool to analyse which keywords will drive your traffic
– Try to target keywords and phrases that have about one third to half the search volume of the most competitive keywords in created from the list in the Google’s Keyword Tool. It’s a somewhat quicker way of generating traffic in the short term.
– Take a look at Google trends to see if that keyword is increasing or decreasing over time
– After you have created a search list, take a look at the real results in Google to see how far down the organic results are compared to paid adverts.
– Remember to also check the search suggestions which offer insight into what other key phrases users typed in as well (one example is visitors often make searches with the month or year added on)

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