Why ranking below the top 10 SERPs positions is not necessarily so bad

Ranking Blue 3D Realistic Square Isolated ButtonA recent study by NetBooster has revealed that online browsers are increasingly looking beyond Google’s top ten SERPs findings to get to the information they want to know.

The NetBooster research examined millions of daily clicks and impressions for an extensive variety of leading companies and brands using Google UK’s search query data as their source.

The information was compiled into an organic click curve that revealed the percentage of browsers who clicked through to each of the top 30 sites listed on Google’s SERPs.

As expected, the top three SERPs positions in the NetBooster research scored highest with traffic rates of 19%, 15% and 11.45% respectively.

More interestingly, placements 6-10 received significantly more traffic than in previous studies and even placements 11-20 generated 17% of all traffic, with placements 21-30 generating more than 5% of click through interest. This indicates that browsers are more often looking at listings on the second and third search engine results pages too.

The increased interest in websites that list lower down the SERPs may be because Google’s old, text-based SERPs has been replaced with a dynamic screen page featuring ads, images, videos, the Knowledge Graph as well as natural search results for browsers to peruse.

The very multitude of choice may be what is enticing browsers to explore below the fold and look beyond the first page with its top 10 placements.

Or could it be that browsers are becoming aware that Google doesn’t always get it right and that sometimes the smaller players that often feature lower down the listings can more adequately offer the type of goods or services that browsers are looking for?

The NetBooster study also examined organic click-through-rates for mobile, image and video results in order to get better insight into how browsers are finding content using different platforms and devices.

Despite their smaller screen size, mobile search results parallel very closely those of desktop search and as mobile search rates are predicted to rise to more than 50% in 2015 this is an area that will continue to be carefully monitored in the future.

Big brands still come out on top

The NewBooster study also explored how brand recognition affected click through rates. They classified each domain as small, medium and large according to the sum total of brand query impressions registered during the study period.

Not surprisingly larger brands strongly dominated the first three SERPs positions which is a clear signal to smaller brands to pro-actively steer towards alternative keywords and phrases in order to generate increased traffic towards their sites.

What is the point of creating an organic click curve?

Organic click curves are useful mechanisms for forecasting performance and evaluating the possible impact of your marketing campaign by enabling you to measure the potential number of clicks you could expect for any specific placement position on the SERPs.

NetBooster has made their organic click curve available as a baseline which you can use to compare with your own click curve info to get an insight into how well your content is working for you.

To find out more, take a look at the NetBooster website and download their easy to use tool and start creating your own click curve.

The NetBooster methodology

The difference with the NetBooster research is that they refined their data on a daily basis so as to achieve the most accurate possible sample size, to reduce anomalies and to enable the creation of a more reliable click curve that looked beyond the usual top ten placements and examined instead the top 30 SERPs positions.

The daily sifting of results meant that more keywords could be taken into consideration and average ranking positions were calculated across a shorter timespan which meant fewer rounding errors and a more accurate result.

In all, the NetBooster research took into account an impressive amount of data, including:

  • Almost 65.5 million clicks
  • More than 311 million impressions
  • More than 1.25 million original search queries
  • 54 distinctive brands
  • 11 household brands (ie, websites that had more than 1 million branded keyword impressions
  • Data covering multiple verticals including retail, financial and travel.

To conclude…

The NetBoost study revealed that the click through rate of natural search in the UK is changing and evolving beyond the patterns suggested by the previous research of Slingshot, Catalyst and AOL carried out earlier this decade.

The implications of this in terms of SEO are that we have to look beyond focusing on only the top 10 slots and instead look to maximize traffic generated by interest in listings that rank lower down on SERPs.

For this we need to stop trying to compete with the big brands and most popular keywords and instead look to using long-tail keyword phrases and secondary keywords to direct more targeted traffic towards our smaller sites that feature lower down the SERPs rankings.

This is a shortened version of a blog that first appeared on www.moz.com. To read the blog in full, go here.

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