Many business owners assume that simply being on the first page of Google’s search results for a specific keyword is enough to help them gain more visitors to their website. However, the reality is that around 85% all of the traffic for any keyword search in Google (or any search engine for that matter) goes to the websites in the top 3 positions so being at the bottom of page one really isn’t really going to help you gain more visitors.
Equally, research shows that conversion rates for those websites below the top 3 positions in Google are comparatively small as most people clicking on websites that far down the page are either just doing price research to find the cheapest deal or they don’t actually know what they’re looking for so probably aren’t in ‘buying mode’.
Follow Sales, Not Position
In our experience, it is much better to be in the top 3 positions for a search phrase with a lower volume (a long-tail keyword) than it is to be at the bottom of page 1 for a higher volume phrase (a short-tail keyword), after all, it’s about getting sales – not simply getting higher rankings.
The following table shows the amount of traffic you might expect dependent on where your website ranks on Google’s first page. We’ve used an example of a search term that attract 1,000 searches each month and the % FIRST CLICK column refers to the percentage of those 1,000 searches that click the website in any given position. For example, the website that occupies position #1 will receive 53% of the visitors searching for that phrase.[table] POSITION,% CLICK FIRST,ACTUAL VISITORS
Long-tail vs Short-tail Keywords
Lets look at an example of how choosing the correct keyword and gaining a better rank actually works in the real world. For the purposes of this example, let’s assume you own a business that sells ‘widgets’.
Now, let’s examine a two keywords your online widget website might be ranking for:
- WIDGETS (Short-tail keyword) – searched 10,000 times a month.
- CHEAP BLUE WIDGETS (Long-tail keyword) – searched 1,000 times a month.
The website ranks for ‘WIDGETS’ at position #9 so it receives just 30 visitors a month for this phrase. However, the website ranks at position #2 for ‘CHEAP BLUE WIDGETS’ and despite it being a phrase that is searched a lot less, it brings the website 200 visitors a month.
Conclusion: Keywords & Ranking
Short-tail keywords are notoriously difficult to get ranked in the top-3 positions of Google because everyone is chasing them. If, using the example above, our widget website was #1 for the short-tail keyword of ‘WIDGETS’, it would generate 5,300 visitors every month – a very good return if you happen to be selling widgets.
However, what you need to consider is if you have a realistic chance of grabbing one of the top-3 positions for your short-tail keyword or if you would be better off grabbing some of the lower hanging fruit with the long-tail keywords.
Remember, just being on the first page of Google is not a guarantee that you will get more visitors to your site – the top-3 is really where all the action is.