SEO Sweet Spots: Debunking SERP 1-3 position obsession
By Michael Zittel – Senior Project Manager CorporatePA.com
Copyright 2012 by CorporatePA.com | Phone 877-859-7013 | 675 Third Avenue NY, NY
For years now there has been a growing obsession within the internet marketing community and business owners concerned about SEO to attain the top 1-3 organic positions in Google. Nothing else will satisfy them. This obsession centers around the variance of click-through rates (CTR) of the 1-10 positions in the search engine results pages (SERPS)
"The click through rate of the 1-3 position is 50% higher than 4-10!"
"No, it’s 75% higher!"
"No, no, no! Our report shows it is 90% higher!"
Those are big numbers and mistakenly many people people believe that achieving the number 1-3 position for any given term will garner them 50%-90% of all the available click traffic.
This simply is not true or even close to reality.
To inject reality and temper the debate, at least within our ranks and client base, we conducted a study using Google Analytics and Google Webmaster tools. We examined 1098 keywords and phrase across 6 disparate industries:
Commercial real estate,
Sustainable business consulting
*We removed company “brand” names from results. Terms examined are “generic” in nature.
Here are the most important key points as we see them.
1) Yes, the CTR variances mentioned above are true. We do not refute that. But variances of click rates are somewhat meaningless compared to the ACTUAL click volume. The average combined click through rate for all top ten positions is only 4.23%. When separated into groups, they are as follows.
Position 1-3: CTR 6.04%
Position 4-6: CTR 4.83%
Position 7-10: CTR 3.18%
These number show we are really only dealing with a 2.86 percent point difference. Yes, it’s more exciting to say things like 90% higher rate, but it has little bearing on reality as the rest of our highlights illustrate.
2) The highest CTR of 6.81% came from 4 or more keyword phrases in the number 1-3 position (45 clicks). Sounds good, right? Hold your arguement untill you read number 3.
3) The most clicks came from 4 or more keyword phrase in the 7-10 position with 131 clicks followed by 105 clicks for 3 word phrase in the number 1-3 positions. More traffic came from the 7-10 position than then 1-3 position. Interesting, no?
4) Combined all individual keyword and long tail phrases in the 4-10 positions produced 467 clicks vs 187 clicks from the 1-3 position. That is a 149.73% variance. Talk about shock value!
What this all means is the 4-10 positions should NOT be invalidated. Creating great long tail SEO content can produce significant and meaningful traffic on par with a few one or two word phrases in the top 3 positions, which can take an obscenely long time to achieve. Yes, persistently fighting, and it is a fight, for the top 3 spots is important. But it is not the end game, or entire game. As you can see from item 4, there is much, much more to SEO than 1-3 position. The 4-10 positions can be just as sweet, and, as any SEO will tell you, it’s a helluva a lot easier to get in the top 4-10 positions than the 1-3 slots.
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