Thursday, June 3, 2010

So What Is A Ranking ?


A ranking on a search engine is a web page’s listing and relative placement on a results page (known as a SERP) for a certain search query. As an example, if you type “house plans” into the search box at Google, you will get those listings displayed (10 listings per page by default) that Google deems most relevant to the search phrase house plans, sorted in order of relative importance.

The most relevant and most important web pages are listed in descending order. For Google, page relevancy is dependent on how well a web page “matches” a specific word search. Page importance on the other hand is dependent on the quality and quantity of links that point to your web page from other websites. The concept of link quality is important and will be discussed in a later chapter.

If your site does not appear in the top 20 for your most important keywords (search terms), you might as well forget getting much traffic from Google or from any other search engine. Because many people never go past the first page for a search result, you really need to be in the top 10.
It is debatable how much more traffic a #1 ranking gets compared to say, a #3 or a #10 ranking. Those listings “above the fold” on a page (anything higher than #4 or #3 depending on your monitor size and resolution) do get clicked more than those below the fold. Above the fold is anything displayed on the page before you have to start scrolling downward.

A recent study provides some interesting numbers on the subject of ranking vs. percentage of clicks for that position. This study tracked the number of times people clicked on a listing on Google for a given search query:

First Page:
1st position: 30%
2nd position: 15%
3rd position: 7%
4th position: 5%
5th position: 4%
6th position: 4%
7th position: 2%
8th position: 2%
9th position: 3%
10th position: 5%

Second Page:
1stt position: 6%
2nd position: 4%
3rd position: 2%
4th position and beyond <1%

As you can see, if you aren’t on the first two pages, you might as well forget getting clicked. When was the last time you went to the third page of a search query versus just starting a new search query?


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