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Is it worth getting to the top of the Google results?

Another piece of reader feedback last week prompted me to do some research, and it was this question: “What percentage of people search each page of the Google results?” The subtext here is, presumably, “if I’m on page 2, or 3, or 99 of the Google results, is it pointless?” Good question. We probably all have a good idea of the answer, but has anyone done any research on the numbers? Well, yes they have, so let’s see what it all means.

Before we start, a reminder that what you see in Google isn’t the same as anyone else sees. Google is “personalising” results to an amazing degree now, and it’s likely that you’ll see results which might be different to someone at the next desk, never mind the next town or the other side of the world. Click on results from a particular site a few times, and that site will work its way up the rankings – for you. Many people click on their own company’s results more than they imagine, with the outcome that their own company appears to be doing better than when their customers perform the same search.

So, what are the numbers? Well, according to the research, the top “organic” result (the free ones) gets 36% of the clicks from a Google results page view. This falls away quickly, but the top five results get 72% of all page clicks. If you’re at number 10 (traditionally the bottom of the first page), expect to get around 2%; there’s a slight bump for the result at the top of the second page, then the fall continues. Once you’re on page three you’ll probably be getting under 1% of the clicks out there.

Response from the AdWords results surrounding the “organic” results vary wildly, although those ads on the lower right-hand side might typically get under 1%. However, even great ads at the top of the page rarely pull in 10% or more, so we see that the first place people look is still the slot under the ads. Not that advertisers should care, as they only pay for the clicks anyway.

To answer the question “if I’m on page 2, or 3, or 99 of the Google results, is it pointless?”, I guess that depends on the volume of searches being made. I wouldn’t mind 1% of the worldwide searches being made for many products and services, but 1% of the searches for some of the niche products most of us are involved in will be, I’m afraid, pointless. If you run an AdWords campaign, and spend enough to be always on the first page for a chosen term, you can see how many searches are being made in your target geographical area for that term. If you find there are, for example, 1000 searches a month, then getting halfway up the first page in the organic results might get you 50 visits a month. You could buy that through AdWords for, say, £100, so you can make a decision on whether the effort and expense involved in getting that high in the organic search results is going to be worthwhile.

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