Friday, April 28, 2006

SEO & Marketing: First Page or Bust - Why is it so?

SEO & Marketing: You Need to Be Visible for the First 3 Search Pages
This article from eMarketer may not last for too long, but the research from iProspect's "Search Engine User Behavior Study" should last for a while.

Now first page or bust is not really surprising. Every marketer and website business owner knows that first page listings, especially in the top 3 rankings are ideal.

Numerous research like iProscpect, Hitwise, and many others show both surprising and unsurprising search behavior. And almost all research show that users lose interest after the first three pages.

But this study quantifies why search users lose interest past 2 or 3 pages.

Why Do Searchers Lose Interest?
The reason most searchers lost interest after 3 pages is their confidence in the search results.

What I observe when I am searching for something is that results can tend to be "irrelevant". For example, I may start on a search for "teleradiology" and my intentions are to find out more about the business of teleradiology. My results show medical information about teleradiogy which is not what I want. But as I progress from #1 to #10 and from page 1 to page 2, the results are going to be similar.

After 1 or 2 pages, I conclude that the results are not what I want. I lose confidence in the search results and I stop searching deeper.

Of course, I make this conclusion and decision within 5 minutes of reading and scanning the results.

Where Do They Go After 3 Pages?
I think searchers do one of two things:
  1. type a more refined search query
  2. go to another search engine using the same query
This is backed up by the research. According to the research, users who don't find what they are searching for:
  • 41% change either the search query or the search engine after failed 1st page results
  • 88% change either the search query or the search engine after failed 1st, 2nd, or 3rd page results
  • 82% use the same engine but refine search queries with more terms.
Basically, either the searcher will refine the search query more (more words) or the searcher will try Yahoo or MSN.

Going Beyond the Top 3 Page Scare
The ramifications of the study show that it's important to be in the top 3 pages of search results.

But, digging deeper and understanding the searcher further is more important. You must be in the top 3 results for targeted searchers. That is, you must aim to be in the top 3 pages of search results that bring in the type of searchers that want your services or your products.

Sometimes that means highly refined niche searches. And remember, niche searches can generate higher conversions for lower volume.


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