This Search Engine Watch article by Rob D. Young is important in helping business owners and marketers understand why search engine rankings are so important. As you can see by the graph, studies show that 18.2% of all people who enter a search into Google will click the top organic result. 9.66% of Bing users will click the top result on Bing.com.
Here’s the breakdown of visits to each of the top ten search results in Google:
Why is this significant? Google offers a keyword research tool popularly called the Google Adwords External Keyword Tool. This tool will estimate how many searches are performed for each phrase you may optimize a page for on your site.
In other words, if you sold racing bikes, you would perform a search that looks something like this. I entered in two phrases: racing bikes, and racing bicycles. Google offers an estimate of global monthly and national searches for those and related keywords.
Now it’s time to do the math. Keeping in mind that Google’s only offering estimates, we can at least get a picture of what kind of traffic we could expect should we achieve Page 1 rankings for these terms.
Take a Deeper Look
If 12,100 people around the world are monthly searching for road racing bicycles, then I know approximately how many visitors I would get if my website ranks #1 for that term. 18.2% of 12,100 is 2,202. So if a page of my site ranks #1 on Google for that term, I will expect somewhere in the ballpark of 2,202 visits per month.
If I am doing my due diligence, I can now go through all the many keyword phrases and subsets of phrases to see what kind of traffic each will drive. This gives me a preliminary summary model of my marketing efforts. If I get 2,202 monthly Google-referred visitors and 3% convert into paying customers, then I have approximately 66 monthly sales for my efforts. Depending on how much it cost me to arrive at the #1 position on Google, I may or may not have just made a ton of money.
The conversion rate on-site will of course vary for each website and fluctuate based on successful A/B testing. The smallest design or content changes can dramatically improve your conversion rate, but you’ll never know until you experiment.
Putting It All Together
Now that you have that information, you can at least make an informed judgment call on which terms to target and how much to spend.
Obviously, all of the numbers gathered through research are estimates and could be wildly off. But if you’re hesitant to spend money on SEO because you’re not sure why it’s so important, this should give you some insight into the possibilities.
The importance of SEO is to have established goals. Did I mention reasonable goals? While we don’t have time to go into it today, you can’t get #1 rankings for a few hundred dollars (or maybe even a few thousand dollars) per month. Your competition may have hundreds or thousands more links than you. It will take hard work and considerable resources to accomplish your goals.
A seasoned SEO Specialist should be able to tell you when your expectations are completely unreasonable. There’s no hard and fast rule on how much it will take to reach the #1 spot. There are a thousand modified approaches to improving your rankings, and each one will have differing levels of success at different rates of time.
The Moral of the Story
If nothing else, the purpose of this post is to make it clear that there is SOLID traffic and potential business out there that you’re letting someone else have when you don’t pursue SEO with gusto.