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Predicting the search traffic increase from position #4 to position #1
petestein1




msg:4045087
 9:29 pm on Dec 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm hoping the community here can dip into their experience and give me a rough sense of some numbers.

A particular page of my site has settled in as the 4th result for a specific Google search. In return for being #4, I get certain level of traffic (Nothing to get too excited about, about 60 entries a day.)

(By the way, the traffic coming in on this search is pretty great -- the bounce rate is a staggeringly low 11%. That's good, right?)

Here's my question:

What kind of search traffic could I expect if I were able to fight my way up to position #3, #2 or #1?

I ask because I'm trying to turn the site into a viable business. While I was hoping that Google would auto-magically send all sorts of traffic my way, it's now clear to me that I'm going to have target specific terms and work to get well-respected links into those pages using the appropriate anchor text.

I know there's no exact answer -- and I know my mileage may vary dramatically -- but I'm hoping that enough people will weigh in here to give me a sense of what to expect.

Thanks in advance for any guidance you can give me from your past experience and happy holidays.

Peter

 

tedster




msg:4045102
 9:53 pm on Dec 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Welcome to the forums, Peter.

Probably the best aggregate data available came from the now infamous AOL leak back in 2006. It's a bit old, and Universal Search has definitely messed with the accuracy, but at that time the data showed:

#1 - 47% click-through
#2 - 13% click-through
#3 - 9%click-through
#4 - 7% click-through

That is aggregate data across many types of query terms, and it will vary quite a bit by the nature of the query and even the specific SERP competitors, but it's a decent ballpark.

petestein1




msg:4045107
 10:04 pm on Dec 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Tedster-

Thanks for the welcome. I can't believe it's taken me so long to actually register and start asking some questions here.

Thanks for the data -- I've seen that before a number of places and am eternally grateful to my past employer for it's slip-up. ;-)

That said, I suspect there are a number of other semi-obsessive data-tracking types here who know exactly where they ranked on certain terms day to day and exactly how much traffic that brought in. I was hoping some of them would weigh in with observations from their own experience.

-Peter

tedster




msg:4045109
 10:16 pm on Dec 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

I had a site that dropped from #1 to #2, switching spots with Wikipedia for three days in early December. The search volume only fell about 20%, much less than the AOL data would suggest. And the site then went back to #1. Not sure if that quick return was from an algo tweak or the high click-through rate.

dickbaker




msg:4045127
 11:00 pm on Dec 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

I've had my pages bounce around on the first page, and the traffic reflects that.

The other day one of my pages went to the #2 spot for the brand name "Acme." That one keyword brought 580 visits last Sunday. Yesterday the page was at the #4 spot on Google, and "Acme" brought in 74 visitors.

Man, I need to figure out how to get everything to #1 or #2!

tedster




msg:4045136
 11:13 pm on Dec 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Dick, that's a very big drop - does that SERP have a lot of Universal Search clutter at the top? Or is that just the effect of it being a brand name search?

dickbaker




msg:4045251
 3:59 am on Dec 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

Tedster, there's no universal search results.

Maybe I wasn't clear. My Acme page has ranked #4 to #7 or so for the past 5 years for a search on the word "Acme." It jumped to the #2 spot over the weekend, and I got a bump in traffic.

It wasn't just a bump from people doing a search for "Acme," but also the models of widgets made by Acme. I was getting about 1,000-1,200 additional page views each day on Saturday on Sunday for the Acme pages, so I assume my rankings for "Acme model 123" and and other models also rose.

The Google decided for whatever reason that I belonged where I was before, and traffic for the Acme page and Acme models pages is back to normal.

AnkitMaheshwari




msg:4045294
 6:36 am on Dec 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

Dick,

Are you sure that the increase was only on one weekend and not a trend that span over weekendS.

As for one of my client site, the traffic increases only on weekends due to the nature of the product.

gn_wendy




msg:4045376
 9:53 am on Dec 18, 2009 (gmt 0)


#1 - 47% click-through
#2 - 13% click-through
#3 - 9%click-through
#4 - 7% click-through

I find that the numbers are still very accurate. Although the first position is closer to the lower 40%-range rather than the upper (probably the universals, as tedster mentioned)

Doing some end-of-year analytics for one website I'm working on I can see numbers showing that going from #2 to #1 will give me an increase of about 100% to 130% of traffic. The reverse is also true, with a drop of 30%-50% going from #1 to #2.

Indented results and sitelinks also have a major impact on the click-through.

I have not had time to look further than the #1 and #2 keyword shifts... just to much work.

dickbaker




msg:4045526
 3:24 pm on Dec 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

AnkitMaheshwari, it was definitely due to a change in rankings. Those pages began falling from their new higher spots early this week, and are now back to normal.

The percentage breakdown would make sense. If I have a page that's #6 in the results, it's probably getting 4% click-throughs based on that chart. At #2, it's getting 13%, or three times the click-throughs. That's almost identical to what I saw.

fatpeter




msg:4046408
 9:40 am on Dec 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

"What kind of search traffic could I expect if I were able to fight my way up to position #3, #2 or #1?"

From my experience 50 visitors in 4th place would roughly translate to 500 visitors for first place. That experiment was done over a period of a month with 2 sites of mine which seemed to have rock solid positions at the time. The only difference was the first position had sitelinks at the time so your mileage may vary

piatkow




msg:4046444
 2:36 pm on Dec 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

Now that you get maps and similar junk pushing the organic results below the fold the difference between 1 and 4 is becoming serious. When I was monitoring closely a few years back when the top 5 were all above the fold I found that third place was pretty good but then the two sites above were so obviously less appropriate for the searches that I guess people were just discounting them.

signor_john




msg:4046467
 3:20 pm on Dec 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

I ask because I'm trying to turn the site into a viable business. I ask because I'm trying to turn the site into a viable business.

Just be careful not to build your business around a single keyword or keyphrase. You won't need to rank #1 or #2 for "widgets" if you rank #1 or #2 for "pink widgets," "widget science," "widget dimensions," "fuzzy widgets," "widget installation," "chicago widgets," and a host of other keyphrases that searchers use.

petestein1




msg:4046469
 3:27 pm on Dec 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

Just be careful not to build your business around a single keyword or keyphrase. You won't need to rank #1 or #2 for "widgets" if you rank #1 or #2 for "pink widgets," "widget science," "widget dimensions," "fuzzy widgets," "widget installation," "chicago widgets," and a host of other keyphrases that searchers use.

Thanks, good advice. In face the entire business was predicated upon the fact that by covering a very wide array of widgets, in a vertical where I rarely found good results when searching on various aspects of widgets, I got few useful results.

So far though it's been disappointing -- more on that in another post to come later today.

Also, thanks everyone for the feedback so far -- keep it coming!

rj87uk




msg:4046504
 4:46 pm on Dec 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

I would just like to thank you all for this thread too I have been in the SEO business for a long time and its great to be reminded the difference in traffic between the top spots. Anyone with more than 10 websites will know it starts to get tricky to keep on top of everything.

So thanks - This is a good refresher lesson that every old & new player should give a once over.

ZydoSEO




msg:4046546
 6:29 pm on Dec 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

I believe you can often alter the distribution of click-thrus provided by Tedster using a well written, well optmized meta description element.

If your page is well optimized, then your title element should contain the targeted keyword phrase(s) for that URL. And the keyword phrase(s) from the title element (and slight variations) "should" be the phrases most often used to find the page in the SERPs.

By using all of the keywords from the title in the meta description, you should maximize the percentage of times that your meta description is shown as the Google snippet. Google will almost always show your meta description as the search snippet if the meta description contains ALL of the keywords from the user's search phrase... assuming your meta description is not too short. If keywords exist in the search phrase but not in your meta description then Google will typically construct a snippet from fragments of content on the page. Their overall goal is to be able to highlight/bold ALL words from the search phrase in the snippet.

Getting the meta description to show as the snippet is only half the battle. The meta description needs to also contain a call to action to make the user want to click-thru to your site. And the description needs to accurately portay what the user will find should they click through... otherwise, they will bounce back.

So IMO a #4 ranking URL with a well optimized title element, meta description, and keyword rich URL might get more click-thrus than #3, #2, and likely in rare cases even #1 positioned URLs.

physics




msg:4046574
 7:58 pm on Dec 20, 2009 (gmt 0)


#1 - 47% click-through
#2 - 13% click-through
#3 - 9%click-through
#4 - 7% click-through

Is anyone keeping track on what effect Google's new custom-search-by-default setting is having on this?
Will be interesting to see if it narrows any of those gaps.

quiet_man




msg:4046895
 12:41 pm on Dec 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

When you add up all the points mentioned in the replies above I wonder whether the idea of a set formula or table correlating rank with CTR has had its day? The landscape in 2006, when the AOL data was leaked, is very different from what we see today. In any given SERP, any one of these points can throw the formula completely:

* Universal Search [webmasterworld.com]

* Blended Search [webmasterworld.com]

* Real Time Search [webmasterworld.com]

To me, its not just the presence of any of these elements in the SERPs, its their prominence. Your site can sit at #1, but if there's a big map or images or a scrolling ticker at #4 then the searcher's eye is immediately drawn down the page. In that case, #1 spot might not even get the highest number of clicks.

In addition to these elements, as mentioned above each of the following can have a major affect on CTR and so may trump actual SERP positions:

* Site Title

* Meta [webmasterworld.com] Description [webmasterworld.com]

* Sitelinks [webmasterworld.com]

And maybe the final nail in the coffin:

* Personalised Search [webmasterworld.com]

Privacy issues aside, the point about personalised search (custom-search-by-default) is that we just don't know what position our site occupies in the SERPs that any one searcher is looking at. So while we search marketers can look at a set of un-personalised SERPs and see our site at #1 (or #2, or #3, etc), we just don't know how many other searchers are seeing this. How can you create a table or formula if you can't be certain about each SERP position?

gn_wendy




msg:4046910
 1:13 pm on Dec 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Privacy issues aside, the point about personalised search (custom-search-by-default) is that we just don't know what position our site occupies in the SERPs that any one searcher is looking at.

What I have always liked about search is that it needs to be handled on a macro scale.

G' has been adjusting results based on user-stats for a while now (at least, I am convinced of this). The fact that individual users are getting their own results customized as opposed to all users sharing the same aggregate data should have a seemingly small impact for the average website. Since, if you take all custom SERPs - and then average them out - you should get data matching the non-personalized SERPs.

I'm trying to figure out a way to test this, but I'm flying kinda blind to be honest.

tedster




msg:4046919
 1:36 pm on Dec 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

There are even longer standing complications to knowing what ranking your URL had when the visitor clicked on it. Geo-targeting, for instance, which can even introduce SERP variations across sectors of the same large city (NYC, for example).

Back in April, Google announced that they would be rolling out a new kind of referer string - one that includes the position of the URL. See [webmasterworld.com...]

I recently went looking through server logs specifically to see what is going on with that roll-out, and I'd say it's nearly invisible right now - well under 1% of visits and nothing to count on. I hope they do get all the compatibility issues worked out soon, because this would be very useful data to have.

JohnRoy




msg:4047209
 8:56 pm on Dec 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

switching spots with Wikipedia for three days in early December.

The lower drop in click through might have been due to the fact that #1 was Wikipedia which many avoid same as paid ads.

gn_wendy




msg:4047442
 8:38 am on Dec 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

The lower drop in click through might have been due to the fact that #1 was Wikipedia which many avoid same as paid ads.

I can confirm that, at least for one of my sites. We run products - and wikipedia will obviously not have those products - so the wikipedia results are skipped.

However, an information site I also have saw very heavy click losses when overtaken by the wiki-monster.

dailypress




msg:4062889
 3:43 pm on Jan 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

I had a site that dropped from #1 to #2, switching spots with Wikipedia for three days in early December. The search volume only fell about 20%, much less than the AOL data would suggest.

That might be because Wikipedia is more reliable than Random Example.com and more people click on it. I know I do.

"What kind of search traffic could I expect if I were able to fight my way up to position #3, #2 or #1?"
Would this question kinda depend on the geographic and basically the domain Extension? Cause you can move from #4 to #1 in a .UK SERP but still be placed in the same position for .com (which can bring higher traffic)

Or is this number negligible?

tedster




msg:4062918
 4:26 pm on Jan 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

That might be because Wikipedia is more reliable than Random Example.com and more people click on it.

I probably wasn't clear enough. The surprise we had was that FEWER people than the AOL data suggested clicked on Wikipedia while it was at #1, more than 50% fewer.

Shaddows




msg:4062967
 6:03 pm on Jan 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

I probably wasn't clear enough. The surprise we had was that FEWER...

I think dailypress was suggesting that Wiki was already sucking more users than average when in position 2, thus its promotion to 1 had an understated impact.

I mean, if you only had 20% to start with, and it dropped to 16%, that would explain your data.

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