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Is the number one spot a mirage in the desert?

 2:37 pm on Apr 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Been working on a main term for a bit now, got to #2 and held there for a few months. Monday our site moved into the #1 position for the first time (consistently). Traffic went up as expected however sales tanked, bad. Where we had been averaging 1000 orders a day consistently in the #2 spot as soon as we moved into the #1 spot sales dropped to 600 a day, a significant drop.

I fully expected our conversion rate to be lower since we would be getting more lookielou traffic but I would not have ever thought that sales would have dropped.

My first thought is that the extra traffic pushed the server to the point of slowing down the site. I'm looking into increasing server memory as that is the only bottle neck I'm seeing right now server-side.

Yesterday we dropped back down to the #2 spot and sales seem to have recouped somewhat.

Any other thoughts as to why the #1 spot would produce fewer sales (not lower conversion rate) than a lower position?



 5:00 pm on Apr 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

That is a very unusual report - essentially by going to position #1 your traffic went up but sales went down. Are you certain you isolated the data to just that keyword traffic and only from Google organic - no Image Search visits getting mixed into the data, for example?


 5:28 pm on Apr 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

the site is strictly organic (no advertising) and no image search (no images, not even a header image, text and tables only)
using GA and WMT although it's still to soon to get any real data from them.
tracking every visitor internally also for more real time stats.
sales down for all traffic evenly for the most part. today is the second day back in the #2 spot and sales are back to normal.
still leaning towards a bogged down server as the culprit although nothing definitive yet. going to beef it up a bit before the next run at number 1 just to make sure.


 5:42 pm on Apr 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Do your server logs track partial page load errors?


 5:42 pm on Apr 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

was just checking GA and sales for the keyword compared to same week days for the last 5 weeks were down 44% compared to every other week.
google traffic for the keyword was up 65% over every other week.


 5:43 pm on Apr 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Is your product substantially similar to your competitor's product? Serious buyers may believe that they need to do further due diligence by checking more than one search result. When they get to #2 or #3 and notice little difference from what they saw at #1, they might feel they've looked long enough and just pull the trigger there. Or, perhaps the #1 position is in some other way serving as the anchor [en.wikipedia.org...] in the prospect's decision making process.

If dropping sales in position #1 proves to be a robust result (and not due to news events, day-of-the-week effects, etc), you may have to adjust your pitch to overcome the prospect's propensity to search further before buying.


 5:49 pm on Apr 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

no significant changes in 206 errors, in fact this month is down slightly from last month.

are you thinking that means server sluggishness may not be the culprit?


 9:45 pm on Apr 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

IMO you need a much larger sample, and if #2 spot is working better for you then do some SEO work for your competition and keep them in the top spot!


 10:03 pm on Apr 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

IMO you need a much larger sample

Agreed, sample size is low.

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