Does Google Page 1 Matter…?
Anyone in the website, SEO or marketing sector will undoubtedly have taken part in a version of the following conversation on more than one occasion:
Agency: What do you want to achieve from your website?
Client: I want to be on page 1 of Google (Full stop)
Since we learned what Google was/is and the importance of page 1 it has become the Holy Grail to grace one of the sought after page 1 positions. We mentally discount AdWords as ‘anyone can pay to be on page 1’ and lust after the prominence of a top spot achieved through organic listing. We feel a sense of satisfaction at having beaten the machine and then we sit back and open the flood gates on the millions of leads we expect to come our way.
But is this actually what happens? Is Page 1 still the Holy Grail and does it mean endless leads?
Let’s demonstrate with a couple of real life examples:
Case Study 1
This site is a subject specific micro site. There is realistically only one key term one would research if looking for the site. It is consistently on page 1 of Google for the primary search term and has been as high as number 1 several times this year. Its competitors are the like of KPMG, HMRC, PWC – some of the big hitters.
So the site is doing everything it should be. BUT traffic trends at just 60 visitors per week, despite its position and the way it challenges its competition. It enjoys a good number of leads, largely because it offers very good content and is so subject specific.
Case Study 2
A destination focused website which has a myriad of possible search terms, none of which rank inside the top two pages. It has some external promotion pushing visitors to it but this is limited to specific periods of the year which would not account for year round traffic.
The site has been optimised, as best it can given the variety of possible search terms it could cater for, but as noted previously it rarely threatens page 1. However, this site is currently delivering an average of 600+ visitors per week, with a recent peak at over 2,500 visitors in a single week, nearly 1,250 on a single day!
Engagement rates on these two sites are similar and both are doing what they were intended to do in the eyes of the client. One is promoting a service, the other (seemingly more popular site) is more information driven and so may simply have a larger base of prospective visitors.
But ultimately we are all interested in traffic and leads and despite the same amount of effort and work, one simply out paces the other tenfold.
The conclusion is that being visible around and above your competition for your primary search terms is important – but that page 1 rankings for those terms is not necessarily a guarantee of traffic.
A generally well optimised site with multiple points of entry can generate good traffic and leads, providing you with a far broader based and widely utilised site. So next time someone asks you what you want to achieve from your site, stop and think; don’t simply quote a potentially arbitrary target which is seemingly now more about vanity than success.