How Search Engines Affect Your Blog's Traffic

At the last Design Bloggers Conference, Doug Cook gave a fascinating and highly informative presentation on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The bloggers were so interested in what he had to say, that Doug probably could have talked for another hour.

One of the key questions that Doug did not have time to delve into very deeply was how much traffic a blog could drive for a given keyword search. Everyone knows that a higher ranking for a given keyword is better, but exactly how high does your ranking have to be to generate significant traffic for your website? Is it possible to predict how much traffic you can generate for a given search phrase and ranking?

Your ranking in the results has a huge impact on the amount of traffic you can drive to your website. While Google doesn’t publish this type of data, fortunately, there is some actual data available. In 2006, AOL leaked some data on over 36 million queries. The results are as follows:

Source: Predictive Marketing

As you can see, there is a huge advantage to being number one in the search rankings. An improvement in rank from second to first will almost quadruple the number of clicks! The first three ranks garner 63% of the clicks; the top 10, 90%; the top 20, 94.5%. Here are the percentages for ranks 1-21, 31, and 41:

The drop-off in clicks is enormous by the time you get to the second page; a rank off 11 produces only .66% of the clicks; in comparison a rank of 10 produces more than 4 times as many, and the number 1 rank more than 60 times as many! For more information on the effect of search engine ranking on traffic, see this post by Predictive Marketing.

Why are searchers blind to relevant results further down the page? Do researchers tend to simply trust the search engine to point them to the right page? According to studies, 72% of searchers click on the first link of interest, while only 26% read all the listings first and then decide which one to click.

Search engines can help drive a significant amount of traffic to your website. It pays to have a strategy to attain high rankings for keywords that are relevant to your target audience. We’ll delve more deeply into how to develop a keyword strategy in our next post.