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Monday, July 20, 2009

How important is it to be first on Google?

This chart showing the importance of high ranking on Google is published in Distribution of Clicks on Google's SERPs at, October 26, 2006.

How important is it for your architectural, engineering or construction business to be in first place with relevant keywords for organic Google searches?

The answer is "very" if you consider two important elements, the percentage of searches that rely on Google, and the amount of attention given to the top position on the search rank compared with others, even on the first page of organic search listings, at least if you can believe one widely quoted study from Cornell University researchers Laura A. Granka, Thorsten Joachims and Geri Gay.

The Cornell study using student volunteers discovered that 56.26 per cent of people click on the first organic listing, and the number of clicks declined to 13.45 per cent for second place and 9.82 per cent at third place. Near the bottom, the 10th ranked spot attracts 2.55 per cent and the seventh ranked is in a kind of black hole, at 0.36. Nevertheless, if you are in the top three spots, you have an advantage in two ways: First, 79.63 per will click within the first three places, and they will spend 68.23 per cent of their time there.

How important, however, is Google in relationship to other search alternatives? According to comScore, in June 2009, Google had close to two thirds of the search market at 65 per cent, followed by Yahoo at 19.6 per cent and Microsoft's new Bing at 8.4 per cent. (See this story, Microsoft Bing Gamed Market Share in June, says comScore.)

If you extrapolate this data, you can see how important it is to have top spot on Google -- more than 35 per cent of the total search volume from all engines and sources occurs if you are lucky enough to be first there.

My check shows this blog is referenced in the first, third and fourth places on Google when you search "Construction Marketing" (without quotes), suggesting it is capturing almost 45 per cent of all search inquiries from all engines, based on the Google searches alone. The actual numbers are probably better. While this blog doesn't rank as highly on Bing and, it still is in the first three to four places.

If you fear you don't think you have a chance of reaching these glorious heights, I should add a couple of other important considerations: Geographical targeting, and true keyword relevance.
Increasingly, Google is segmenting its search results to achieve greater localization. Certainly, at the highest level, Google results vary by country, but Google Local is creating a new level of relevance if you are strong within your community, and have little market elsewhere.

The second point, true keyword relevance, relates to the actual probability of someone searching for your keyword with the intent of finding you (or your type of business). This is where Google has been so successful -- its search results generally are relevant, and it appears to bias its results so that business manipulation to achieve top ranking doesn't really help very much. In other words, (unless you pay Adwords for the privilege), you can't pay your way to the top.

The consequence of negative publicity for high search engine rankings can be equally devastating.

Consider the story of Christian Kirschner in Denver, who declared personal bankruptcy at the same time as the High Country Club destination club he founded went bankrupt earlier this year, leaving hundreds of people who had prepaid for vacations in the queue of unsecured creditors. This thread on the Destination Club Forums tells the story.

One of the forum's participants noted:
When you do a Google search of Christian Kirschner this website is #1 and #2 in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

Statistically 1st place gets 42.1% of all clicks for the search and 2nd place gets 11.9% or 54% of all mouse clicks are done for #1 and #2.

Job well done.

Now try for #3 which adds an additional 8.5%....
(Full disclosure: Our family participated in this club and we had four successful vacations before the business failed.)

is working to rebuild his Denver-based Kirschner Partners real estate brokerage business. Despite the Destination Clubs Forum reference, his brokerage's own listing has first place on Google searches from our Canadian location. I cannot tell from here how he ranks in Denver, where it matters the most to him.

1 comment:

Construction Marketing Ideas said...

I just received a libelous comment regarding Christian Kirschner and, of course, am not publishing it.
My observations regarding High Country Club and Christian Kirschner will always be factual, accurate, and fair, and based on public record information.