Before starting my initial post here at the Web Analytics World blog, I’d like to take a moment to say hello to all readers, and thanks to Manoj Jasra for inviting me to contribute. I’ll attempt to post as regularly as possible. For those who don’t know me, I’m the CEO of a search analytics firm called Enquisite, which offers a product called PPC Assurance that audits and verifies PPC campaigns; a big step beyond click fraud analysis.
I decided that for this first post I’d shed some light onto a way you can use your analytics information to help you better understand your traffic patterns.
A lot of people like to monitor their rankings. Really, that’s not as important as understanding where in the rankings your customers come from. It doesn’t matter if your site has moved from page 6 to page 3, if it still doesn’t result in visitors. I’ve seen reports which claim that people regularly go 5 pages deep in results to find a web site. The numbers don’t substantiate those claims.
From a search engine optimization perspective, (or PPC), all that matters is customer acquisition. While it’s rewarding to see a site move from page 22 to page 3, and there will doubtless be an increase in traffic, there’s no question victory is only found on page 1. Allow me to explain why.
When giving presentations on website analytics, or when demonstrating Enquisite I like to use a two slides to demonstrate the difference in traffic between first page placement and second and third page placements.
This first chart shows search referrals over a one year period. Visits referred from a listing on the first page of search results are noted in red with blue, yellow and green indicating referrals from second, third and fourth page placements. The audience sees a graph that naturally looks entirely red with a scale running between 0 to 5,000 daily referrals.
I should note, this graphic interface is pulled from the Enquisite update which is soon coming out, so if you are a present Enquisite user, you don’t have this view yet. You will soon. You’ll note that traffic spikes up and down weekly – Monday has the highest traffic, Saturday the lowest. Holidays usually account for the points where traffic really drops off. You can also see the summer swoon which really hits Internet wide.
The second slide that I use shows what happens when I choose to exclude all first-page referrals, leaving a graph whose tone changes dramatically as the scale drops from measuring thousands of referrals per day to measuring traffic in single digits.
On some days, there are no referrals from second or third page placements shown at all. This particular site is a little extreme, most site do get some regular traffic from pages 2+, but it serves to make an important point.
I use the transition to talk about the importance of page 1 placement for search engine optimization experts and for their clients. If your site is not found on page 1 for a key term, then there’s lots of gaps in your traffic. You’ll see a marked increase in traffic on most sites as you climb the rankings and by hitting page 2. But that’s nothing in comparison to being listed on page 1.
This holds true for anyone buying PPC ads as well. In fact, according to our data when searchers venture beyond page 1, the odds that they will click a paid ad drop remarkably.
For anyone running any kind of search marketing campaign you need to use this type of information to explain to a client why they need page 1 placement.
However, as there are only (usually) 10 spots on page 1 in the listings, the numbers show that page 1 is a lot more valuable than you, or your client, might have ever expected.
Finally, this type of information also shows that there’s not a lot of value in “ranking reports” without the context of “do people actually search for that term?” This type of report shows you how often people really visit your web site for particular terms, and from where in the search results.