There’s an old joke in SEO circles. It goes like this:
Q: Where is the best place to bury a body so that nobody will ever find it?
A: Page two on Google because nobody will ever find it there!
It’s not that people are lazy and don’t want to look beyond the first page of results. It’s that Google is pretty good at delivering relevant search results that match user intent. After all, that’s the crux of their business. If you didn’t think you were getting good results from your Google search, you’d probably move on to another search engine.
They must be doing something right. Google has an 87.35% share worldwide when it comes to search engines as of 2020.
That’s why you need to be ranked on the first page of the world’s most popular search engine. On average, 75% of Google users never click past the first page.
Pay Per Click and the Map Pack
Google’s advertising revenue also plays a big part in search rankings. All of the organic search results fall below the paid listings. In some cases, there may also be the Google map pack which shows results based on location. So, some organic searches even in the #1 position will fall 6 to 7 places down the page. That can push the top organic result below the fold.
These paid and map pack positions get a fair number of clicks, too. Paid ads on Google rack up 11.38% of clicks. Since advertisers are paying for keyword matches, the paid listings are usually relevant. In retail, the advantages can be even larger. For high commercial intent searches (i.e. people searching for products to buy), paid ads attract 65% of available clicks.
Then There’s the Snippet
Google added snippets to its search results a few years ago. Snippets show up underneath paid ads but above organic results. Featured snippets try to answer user questions without the need for a click.
Snippets are actually organic search results although you might call them a premium organic search position. Companies vie to be in the featured snippet as it increases the odds someone will click through when your company is positioned as having the best answer to a user’s query. It appears to searchers as an implied endorsement that this website has the best content for what the user is searching for.
Does Being #1 in Organic Search Matter?
And here finally comes #1 positions at probably 20% scroll for some queries. It most definitely does make a difference if you can achieve the top position. The top result in Google’s organic search gets nearly a third (30.7%) of all clicks if no paid listings appear above it. If there are paid ads at the top of the page, it dramatically affects the organic search results and can diminish performance by almost half. CTRs for the first organic search on a page with paid ads drop to 17.9%.
Snippets have an impact, too. When there’s a featured snippet on the page, CTR for the first organic search results dips to 19.6.
Still, the first page of search results is where you have to be if you expect to see traffic and conversions. People rarely make it to page two. Beyond that, it’s going to be a real struggle to see any traffic.
Position on Page One Makes a Big Difference
Even if you’re on the first page, the position makes a huge difference. The #1 spot gets nearly 10 times the number of clicks that the 10th position on the page gets.
The Rich Get Richer
Follow this logic:
- The higher up you are on page one, the more clicks you will get.
- The more clicks you get, the more Google will score your content as relevant
- Which, in turn, helps your SERP rankings.
So, the higher you rank on the page, the more clicks you get, which helps you maintain that high ranking. If you’re not on the first page, it’s no wonder you aren’t seeing many clicks.
What It Takes to Get to Page One on Google
If you’re not on the first page already, it’s going to take some serious work to get you there. Your best bet is to work with a digital company that understands what it takes. Few have been successful in getting their content to the top spots without getting help from pros that live search engine optimization every day.
If you’re wondering why it can be so difficult, it’s that Google uses more than 200 ranking signals in its algorithm to determine search position.
Here are just some of the important ranking signals that search engines use to assess content:
You must have great content that matches searcher intent. Content needs to include the keywords people are searching for and provide unique value. This means relaying an authentic value that answers questions. Even casual visitors would say there’s value to what they read and it goes beyond simply self-promotion.
A Great User Experience
Delivering a great user experience means easy-to-use navigation that is intuitive. Your website should also be:
Since mobile searches make up more than half of all searches, Google puts a premium on mobile-optimized sites. If your site is not set to automatically format for mobile, consider 80% of your traffic will bounce off. According to Google, mobile-friendly sites show up higher in search results.
Speed is crucial as well. If your mobile site doesn’t load within three seconds, half of the visitors will abandon it before it loads. It helps with conversions as well. Publisher sites that loaded within five seconds earned as much as double the ad revenue as sites that took longer to load.
Keywords should be strategically used in content to signal relevance in a natural way. Primary keywords should be used in titles, URLs, and early in page elements. Related terms, synonyms, and secondary keywords should also be used frequently while avoiding “keyword stuffing” or using phrases in unnatural ways.
Using so-called “longtail keywords” can also pay dividends when it comes to ranking on search. These are search phrases with longer word counts that can be relevant to searcher intent. A keyword might be “bicycle.” A longtail keyword might be “red bicycle with leather seats.” If you’re selling red bikes with leather seats, this result is more relevant to searchers and search engines will reward you for it. If people need your specific product or service, they’re more likely to find it. There’s also a lot less competition for these longtail keywords.
Search engines will crawl the internet looking for specific information. Even in 2020, many web developers haven’t mastered this art of the right tech format for web crawlers. It can make a big difference. This includes technical items such as:
- Static URLs that include keywords
- Unique content that doesn’t appear elsewhere online
- Robot.txt files that allow crawler access
- Appropriate length Title, URLs, and Meta Descriptions
- Schema markup language
- Image alt tags
Search engines use links as an indicator of quality. It makes sense. The more people that find value in your website, the more likely they are to link to that content. These inbound links become a currency indicating quality as long as they come from high-quality websites. Links from low-quality sites can hurt your SEO.
With increased attention on user privacy, Google added security to its ranking signals in 2014 and has reportedly increased its importance over time. Sites using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) protocol for an encrypted website connection rank higher.
Google Changes its Algorithm Frequently
It would be nearly impossible to list all of Google’s ranking signals. Even if you could, things are constantly shifting in the search engine’s algorithm. Google made a dozen major changes in its algorithm in 2019. However, they are constantly tweaking the ranking signals. Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google John Mueller says the company makes some changes almost every day.
- Create great content.
- Optimize it for the user
- Deliver a great user experience that is fast, mobile-optimized, and secure.
- Use targeted and longtail keywords
Google keeps its methods and algorithms secret. Although some information leaks out, nobody outside the company’s top people knows everything that goes into the secret sauce. Yet, figuring out the algorithm puzzle is key to landing on the first page. Work with an experienced SEO freelancer who knows its job to increase your odds of success.