Search Engine Optimization, Binoculars
Sept. 1, 2019 * SEO

SEO Google page rank and web traffic

Have you ever considered what you click on from the Google search page?

Most of us would just end up clicking on the first search result. It may be a sign of laziness to move the mouse, or a trust that Google has found the best information for us. We often glance casually at the text of the search results, and just click on the top search result. Statistically one in three (30%) of Google searches end up with the first result being chosen to be viewed.

We do consider paid advertisements which appear at the very top, or other Google summary contents. Often a little scrolling is required to view the organic search results. However it is very clear that results towards the top attract most attention. This is psychological for us; it is the way we consider to digest information - to start at the top. Maybe this is the way we have learnt to read, and so we serially start at the top of the page and scroll down.

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Top result attracts 30% of search traffic, first page accounts for 78% of total clicks, with rest of all other pages getting about 2% attention.

Does anyone move beyond page one?

Once a search term has been entered into the magical Google search box, a lot of things happen in the background. It happens fast, as we need everything right now - on demand. Google looks through the list of indexed web pages and ranks them by importance. The ranking algorithm is complicated, and depends on a lot of variables. However what all these variables boil down to is to ensure the end user should be happy and satisfied with the top results. The whole idea is to ensure that the end user does not have to browse through the results. Ranking almost guarantees that Google has read our minds and ensured that the very first item on the list is exactly what we are looking for.

One in three web searches end up visiting the top results. It can be that once every three times we search individually, we happily click on the top item, or 30% of people around the world agree that Google knows what they need. Here is an idea. Try to be conscious on what you choose to click on, for the next 10 searches. See if this 1 in 3 rule holds up to scrutiny.

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Traffic volume falls off with position on Google search results. Sharp fall off as search position moves over to page 2 and beyond. (axis are in logarithmic scale)

Beyond that there are about 9 more results on page one in general. If the first result is not exactly what you were looking for, or you were partly satisfied - then it is time to move down the list till the bottom of the page. Again statistically 78% of all searches are restricted to page 1. Just consider that 3 in 4 people do not move to page 2.

This 78% of the people searching, are either satisfied with results on page one, or maybe not. They just modify their search term instead of browsing through the next page or pages. Just 1 in 100 of us would browse down to the bottom on the page and then decide to move over to page 2 and beyond. We will come back to this later.

About 21% of the searches end up without resulting in any clicks - also known as zero click searches. It is not clear what happens here. Maybe 1 in 5 times, we just search and browse through page 1, reading the short summaries and decide that results are not adequate. Users may be discouraged and give up, or they modify their searches, abandoning the results of the current search. It can also be that people click on the Google widgets, summaries and links and do not even bother visiting any web pages. Here Google has taken the content from others, and created their own content to satisfy the user. It is not clear if any copyrights are violated - as the original content did not belong to Google.

Decrease in chance of visits from page two and beyond

Only 1 in 100 searches move beyond page 1, which captures about 3 in 4 of all searches. If we look at the percentage of clicks by result rank, then it decreases from 30% to 16% and 10% by rank 3. So top three accounts for 56% of all our attention. We can plot these with logarithmic axes and the fit is quite linear. This means the probability of visits exponentially decreases as we move down the list on page 1.

The 1% of searches that move over to page 2 show a sharp break. The top result on page 2 garners only 0.1% of the search volume. That is about 1 in 1000 decide that the top result on page 2 is of value. This group of browsers are die-hard people, who desperately need some information and are ready to venture where 99% do not.

The exponential fall-off from page 2 and beyond is steeper. This means people are very discouraged to keep digging into the results already at hand. They may think that it is best to modify the search term.

By page 10, only 1 in a million people survive. It is quite incredible that there are some of us who would take the pains to visit page 10 of Google search to find something! It is possible that Google has statistics on the demographics of this persistent population. Looking at keyword search volume only, it is not possible to analyze this factor.

Web traffic relation with Google page rank

Cumulative search traffic with Google rank (axis is logarithmic)

How was SEO analysis for visit rate done?

Keyword tracking sites provide the total traffic, and how different pages share the part of this traffic compared to the location of appearance in Google search. The results here are an aggregate of about 500 keywords. Surprisingly most keywords follow the same trend. It is possible that some keywords like "Google", "Youtube" are very targeted. Mostly users do not want to type the web-address, and rely on Google to provide the full web link as the top results. This is a clear sign of laziness or a way to ensure our typos are auto-corrected by Google. However often users type "Youtube" and browse down to look at what is most popular on Youtube. It is an indirect search method - like deploying a wide net and looking for what comes up. However all that is mostly restricted to page 1. Just one in hundred would move beyond page 1 to look for information. It is clear that information these people are looking for is very specific and they are genuinely interested in finding it. Considering the volume of total searches - even 1% a few billion may be meaningful to pursue.

In summary, web authors have to ensure to tweak their SEO so that their results appear on page 1 - if not as one of the top 3 to attract a decent share of the search volume.