Professional principles of keywords and optimisation are used as the best practices to make a website more popular and capture more traffic from the search engines. The most popular search engine is Google, followed by Bing, and then Yahoo plus all of the others.
Internet Live Stats reports that there are over 3.5 billion searches on Google made each day and that adds up to over 1.2 trillion searches on Google each year.
Smart Insights notes that Google has a 67.78% market share of all the search engine traffic. Bing gets 13.27%. Baidu, which is in Chinese, gets 8.86%. Yahoo gets 8.14%. All the rest of the search engines combined, which are Ask, AOL, Lycos and others get only 2.3% of the search engine traffic.
Search Engine Optimisation
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a series of steps that can be taken to rank a web page higher on the search engine results page (SERP). Keywords and keyword phrases are selected based on the target market demographics, the industry sector, the location of the company, the type of product or service offered, and what the competition is doing.
The coveted positions on the SERP are the top three places on the first page of the search. Those top three positions account for 46% to 59% of the click-throughs from the SERP to go on to the website link found by the search engine. Having a search result appear on the second web page of the search rarely generates any traffic. The click-through rate (CTR) for any listing on the second page is .0001% or less. This means one click per thousand views and that average only happens if the keywords have more than 10,000 results each month.
The goal of keyword optimisation and SEO is to get the search results to be in the top three positions on the SERP.
Organic Search Results
Organic search results are those found by the search engines and presented on the SERP that are not paid advertisements. Smart Insights notes that organic search results receive a 95% click-through rate (CTR). Paid search results receive only a 5% CTR.
Here are the average CTRs for the top ten positions on the SERP for organic search results as reported by Smart Insights:
56.36% – Top position
13.45% – Second position
9.82% – Third position
4.00% – Fourth position
4.73% – Fifth position
3.27% – Sixth position
0.36% – Seventh position
2.91% – Eight position
1.45% – Ninth position
2.55% – Tenth position
Notice the interesting anomaly. The seventh position has a lower CTR than each of the eight, ninth, and tenth positions. People have a tendency to read the top positions first and then click on one of the top three; If not, they scan down the page and then skip over the middle part to jump down to the bottom of the web page.
Paid Search Results
Paid search results differ from organic results because they are advertisements placed on the SERP mixed in with the organic results. The web pages they appear on are determined by the keywords used by the person who performed a search using the search engine.
The cost of the advertisement is greater for those ads placed higher on the SERP. This is because the CTR for ads increases, the higher the ad is located on the SERP.
Here are the average CTRs for the top nine positions on the SERP for Ads as reported by Smart Insights:
7% – Top position
3% – Second position
2% – Third position
2% – Fourth position
1.5% – Fifth position
1% – Sixth position
1% – Seventh position
0.75% – Eight position
0.5% – Ninth position
There are two popular ways to pay for ads which are Pay-Per-Impression and Pay-Per-Click.
Pay-Per-Impression (PPI) is an advertising scheme that charges the advertisers for the number of unique views that the ads receive. This is less popular than Pay-Per-Click because results may be very small or non-existent. Checking with the Google Display Benchmark Tool shows the CTR for banner ads is about.00014% to .0002% on average for all industries. This means 1,000 impressions will generate only one or two click-throughs.
A Pay-Per-Click (PPC) scheme is more popular because the advertiser is only charged when a web visitor actually clicks on an advertisement.
When paying for a PPC advertising campaign, click fraud is something to look out for and to try to prevent it. Click fraud is when an advertiser is charged for clicks that are not coming from potential customers. One example occurs when a competitor routinely clicks on its competition’s ads just to waste the money spent by its competitor on advertising.
Another thing that happens is when someone is using a click mill, which is where low-paid human workers are clicking on ads to generate revenues falsely. If the CTR is very high for a certain website, this is an indicator that this type of click fraud may be occurring.
The major search engines have strict policies about click fraud. It is the advertiser’s responsibility to watch out for click fraud and report any potential click fraud abuses to the search engine administration upon discovery.
SEO Plan and Strategy
A good SEO strategy as recommended by Entrepreneur includes:
- Using schema.org markup on the website
- Using secure socket layer encryption (SSL) so that the website is https instead of simple http.
- Make sure the website displays properly on any type of mobile device.
- Use content marketing methods with high-quality content to attract website visitors.
- Get backlinks from other respected and high-ranking websites.
- Engage an influencer to help promote your website by hiring them, paying for advertisements within their already popular content or by sponsoring them.
If you do not want to hire an SEO company to help you, Backlinko has a list of 21 things technical things you can do to improve SEO.
Importance of SEO
Search Engine Land notes that up to 60% of web traffic coming to an average website, comes from the search engines. People browsing the web are far more likely to click on a link from an organic search than they are to click on an advertisement.
Example of Placement on the SERP for Generic Terms
It is very difficult to be in the top position for generic search terms. Take the keyword “insurance” as an example. The search on Google UK returns 1.12 billion results.
Here are the results on January 5, 2017, from www.google.co.uk:
Paid ads show at the very top of the web page on the SERP.
- Ad from Compare Car Insurance
- Ad from Confused.com
- Ad from Cheapest Car Insurance
- Ad from Money Advisor
Organic results show below the paid results on the SERP.
- Organic result from Go Compare
- Organic result from Money Supermarket
- Organic result from Compare the Market
- Organic result from Liverpool Insurance
- Organic result from Confused.com
- Organic result from Confused.com
- Organic result from Admiral Insurance
- Organic result from RAC Insurance
- Organic result from Aviva
Notice that Confused.com has three positions on the SERP. The second paid Ad position and the fifth and sixth positions in the organic results.
Based on these results we would expect the following percentages for the CTR:
- 56.36% – Top Position Organic = Go Compare
- 13.45% – Second Position Organic = Money Supermarket
- 11.00% total (3% for Second Position Ad + 4.73% for Fifth Position Organic + 3.27% for Sixth Position Organic) = Confused.com
- 9.82% – Third Position Organic = Compare the Market
- 7.00% – Top Position Ad = Compare Car Insurance
- 4.00% – Fourth Position Organic = Liverpool Insurance
- 2.91% – Eight position Organic = RAC Insurance
- 2.00% – Third position Ad = Cheapest Car Insurance
- 2.00% – Fourth position Ad – Money Advisor
- 1.45% – Ninth position Organic = Aviva
- 0.36% – Seventh position Organic = Admiral Insurance
What can we learn from this example?
- Go Compare is doing the best with its SEO efforts because it captured the number one organic search position. Its CTR is the highest at 56.36%, which means out of 1,000 click-throughs 564 of those people will click on the link to go to the Gocompare.com website.
- Money Supermarket has the next best results from the organic search. Based on its SEO efforts, its CTR is 13.45%, which means about 130 people out of 1,000 click-throughs will click on the link to go to its website.
- Confused.com was able to beat the third place winner of the organic search by buying Ad placement. Its CTR of 11% means about 110 people out of 1,000 click-throughs will click on the link to go to its website.
- Compare the Market was third in the organic results, which resulted in a CTR of 9.82% meaning about 98 people out of 1,000 click-throughs, will click on the link to go to its website. It was beaten by Confused.com because they paid for an ad. The good news for Compare the Market is that they did not have to pay.
- Both Cheapest Car Insurance and Money advisor did not do very well and probably paid a lot for their ads that showed up in third and fourth place. All they got for their money was a measly 2% CTR, which means about 20 people out of 1,000 click-throughs will click on the link to go to each of their websites.
- Liverpool Insurance with 4.00% CTR and RAC Insurance with 2.91% CTR both beat the third and fourth place advertisers in CTR. This means their SEO efforts were more effective and they did not pay for ads.
Overall, this shows the importance of SEO in terms of generating click-throughs. The number one in this category, Go Compare, had 560 people visiting its website without having to pay for ads. Even those that paid for ads only got 20 to 70 people. The SEO efforts of Go Compare are extraordinary, which created results five times larger than its nearest competitor.
Every organization with a website benefits from SEO efforts to improve rankings on the SERP. Improvements are incremental and happen over time if enough attention and efforts are made on SEO. Good SEO is a constant process that continually needs updating. Many companies hire outside resources to help with SEO so that they can focus on their core business operations and leave the SEO efforts to the experts who specialize in this work.