Being first in Google has been the ‘Holy Grail’ for SEO. After all, nearly 42% of all clicks go to the first position in Google search. If it is that important, then we all need to work to get there.
But a recent SEO Moz study indicates that the number one position may in fact have less importance than once believed.
The generally accepted rule of thumb on SEO ranking is that you MUST earn the number one position for your search term to get significant traffic. This is the result of years of research and repeated studies. After all, search engines rank your site and only deliver the top 10 results on the first page. And we all know from experience, that page two and following are hardly ever looked at, much less clicked.
The Change in Search
Search engines have been modifying the way they show results. It started out by adding images and video to the search results. As social media has become more and more important, the search engines are beginning to include social triggers in the algorithm. The conversations on Twitter and Facebook about a particular search term is having an impact on what gets shown on page one.
As technology continues to change and location based information is added to the mix, now search engines are trying to deliver not only the most relevant search result, but also the one that has the most social conversation and the one that may be closest to your location. The logic is that if people are talking about it and it’s close to your location, it is probably more relevant to your search.
The Impact of Local
The trend seems to be including local businesses in the initial search results. And what the Eye-Tracking studies are showing is that people are jumping past the first or second organic result and looking at the local results.
This is great for local area businesses. If you are optimizing your site for local search, you are increasing your chance of click through and relevancy. The local area businesses, although not in the number one position, is actually getting more attention and more clicks.
SEO Moz eye tracking data shows the impact of local. The test used the search term “best pizza in chicago.” The results of the search provided organic global results and local area businesses results. Notice that the hot zones.
Ranking #1 may not be the gold standard for search results. There seems to be a trend toward local results, even if they are further down the results page.
If your business is not listed in Google places, this study implies that you may be missing out on some organic search traffic. Get listed in Google Places and optimize for your location. This could lead to better search traffic.