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The importance of being first

A recently conducted study (PDF) examined the links users followed on the search engine results page. They found that 42% of users clicked the top result, and 8% of users clicked the second result. This confirms previous studies that the number one result gets many more clicks than all other results.

In this study, the researchers did a second test, wherein they secretly swapped the order of the top two search hits. The original number two entry in the search engine's prioritization ended up on top, and the top entry was relegated to second place.

Although the search results were different, users still clicked on the top entry 34% of the time and on the second hit 12% of the time.

What does this mean to your web site?

The study confirms the importance of being listed on the first result page. If your web site is not listed on the first result page, changes are that web surfers won't see your site.

A previous study of the Georgia Institute of Technology found that 75% of searchers never look further than page one. Usability expert Jakob Nielsen pointed out: "Users almost never look beyond the second page of search results."

It is important that you get your web site on the first result page. If you're new to search engine optimization: submitting your web site to search engines is not enough. You have to do more to get high search engine rankings.

How do you get your web site to the first result page or even on position 1?

  1. Start by choosing the right keywords. It makes no sense to target general keywords such as "business" because you have no chance of getting the number 1 listing for such a keyword.

    Choose targeted keywords that are related to your business and that attract web surfers who are interested in what your web site has to offer. This keyword generator tool can help you to find the right keywords.
  2. Create a content rich web site that can be optimized for many different keyword combinations. The more different web pages you have the more likely it is that search engines will list your web site on the first position for a keyword and that web surfers will find your web site relevant to their needs.

    Optimize your web pages so that search engines can list them on the first position. Use descriptive and keyword rich summaries in the Meta description tag for search engines that use that tag.
  3. Get incoming links to your web site. High search engine rankings are the result of optimized web page content and good incoming links. If you want to have rankings, your web site must have both.

Read the free SEO book for detailed information and checklists on how to get your web site in the first result page on Google and other major search engines.

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October 2005 search engine articles