As the Internet-age-old saying goes: The best place to hide a dead body is Page 2 of Google Search Results.
This rule of thumb came to mind recently when someone questioned the purpose and value of Search Engine Optimization. Admittedly, SEO is challenging to understand, and even more difficult to do consistently…but as a starting point, here’s an easy definition that we like:
Search Engine Optimization applies various online techniques to increase the number of website visitors through a leading position among the organic or natural search results page of a search engine (SERP), including Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines.
The value of search results page one…
Try this test for yourself. Search for “cardiologist in Irvine CA,” and Google will proudly proclaim that it found “about 333,000 results in (0.97 seconds).” Technically that’s admirable, but as a practical matter, it’s nearly meaningless. The dead body analogy is painfully true because virtually all visitor searches conclude with the first results page. By far, Page one is the power page:
- Page one natural or organic results enjoy about 95 percent of all search traffic. This, by the way, is not lost on Google because they sell ad placement at the top of the first page (and elsewhere)
- About 10 percent of clicks may be drawn to paid advertising
- Researchers tell us that among the remaining visitors, statistically few (almost none) go past the third page
- The memecenter.com site playfully illustrates the dramatic and declining success prospects
- Within Page 1 of list results, the first natural listing gets better than one-third of click-through traffic (32.5 percent)
- The second listing falls by nearly half at only 17.6 percent CTR
- On the same page, the seventh position barely registers at 3.5 percent
- Although few visitors pass the first page, users are likely to click on Page 1 results more than once
Why is SEO a difficult challenge and what does it take?
Experts in Search Engine Optimization are making educated assumptions (or interpreting ranking signals) about Google’s rules, features and search algorithm. Getting to Page 1, and maintaining that spot, is no easy feat.
For one thing, the search engine giant doesn’t reveal all the rules of the game. Plus, absolutely every serious competitor is trying their best—aggressively and continuously—to beat your efforts and win a higher SERP position.
Clearly, SEO is a professional specialty. Success is elusive, but we know that some influences are part of the website text, as one example, using key words and well-structured content (on page). Writing for SEO is one of the important things that we do when creating or updating a healthcare website.
In addition, some of the elements are part of the website programming (off page) that’s not so obvious. These SEO considerations include:
- Backlinks and Link authority
- Fast page loading speed
- Relevant and timely content
- Title tags
- Use of appropriate images
The SEO “bottom line” is that top listings win the business…
It’s difficult to generalize, but most research reports tend to agree that the first page of organic search results—and the first few results listings—command the majority of the click-through traffic. These few listings are on the order of 60 percent or more.
And if your regular and ongoing Search Engine Optimization efforts put you in these top positions (and keep you there), it’s an explosive out-of-the-blocks start ahead of the competition.