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Just How Important Is the No. 1 Search Result?

  |  October 17, 2012   |  Comments

Being ranked number one in the SERPs is the ultimate influence among your audience and should consistently be the goal of all SEO campaigns.

Showing up on the first page of search engine results is crucial to a website's traffic and conversions. Showing up as the number one result on that first page is even more crucial - 53 percent more crucial, actually, according to Compete.com.

Among the "10s of millions" of consumer-generated search engine results pages (SERPs) analyzed by Compete, 85 percent were organic results (the other 15 percent were paid listings). This exemplifies just how competitive organic search is.

More so, of those organic results, an overwhelming 53 percent of the clicks belonged to the No. 1-ranked result. The remaining 47 percent of organic clicks are spread out among the rest of the results, staggering downward relatively abruptly. No. 2-ranked pages saw 15 percent of the clicks; No. 3s represented 9 percent; No. 4s were 6 percent; No. 5s were 4 percent.

That's right: 87 percent of all organic clicks analyzed were in the top five results.

So, while being ranked on the first page - or in the top five results on that page, more specifically - is still a clear advantage over other rankings, being ranked number one is the ultimate influence and should consistently be the goal of all SEO campaigns.

"Since the vast majority of listings on a SERP are organic, and the majority of clicks are on the first listing, it's imperative that brands [have a] strategy including constantly monitoring results due to the ongoing evolution of search engine algorithms," says the report titled "Seeing Between the Lines…of the Search and the Click" published by Compete.

Furthermore, to gain SEM/PPC traction, Compete's report also recommends using paid search as a complement to organic to ensure coverage on SERPs and "improve opportunities for clicks." It also recommends regular on-page SEO practices, an up-to-date blog to increase inbound links and page crawls, and utilization of site links and microsites to win more real estate on SERPs.

Much of the same ideas stand true for paid search campaigns, too. Of the paid listings, 59 percent of the clicks are generated from the first listing at the top of the page. Only 15 percent of paid clicks come from the second paid position. But the paid model is two-dimensional considering ads are placed at the top, bottom, and right rail of the SERP, and each of those can contain several sites at each location.

And, while a vast majority of paid listings are displayed on the right side of the page, "it is the top of the page that wins on clicks," the report says. Eighty-five percent of paid clicks come from the top of the page (including the top-right of the page). There are five times as many clicks generated from links at the top of the page than both the right and the bottom of the page combined.

Being ranked high in regards to search results is important, but being number one is and should always be top priority.

Crispin Sheridan

Number 1 image on home page via Shutterstock.

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Crispin Sheridan

Crispin Sheridan is the Senior Director, Global Search at SAP. As part of the digital team, he established and leads the search and testing practices at SAP. Crispin is responsible for paid, natural, and mobile search and all online testing. Search and testing at SAP are fully centralized and globally funded and run under a hybrid in-house and agency model.

Crispin has proven that search learnings and keyword insights work hand in hand with social media marketing and together can effectively drive B2B lead generation. Furthermore, the development of the SAP.com Test Lab has contributed significant success to SAP's digital marketing efforts.

A frequent guest speaker at conferences, including SES New York, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Delhi, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, Crispin was appointed to the SES Advisory Board in December 2009. He has also been a guest speaker at the e-Metrics Summit and ad:Tech, and is a member of Google's B2B Technology Council. You can follow him on Twitter at @crispinsheridan and read his monthly SEO column on ClickZ.

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