We've been hearing a lot about Google's recent changes (known as Panda) that have resulted in better-targeted search engine results pages (SERPs). Overall, web searchers seem to be positive about Google's efforts in improving search results, and marketers have embraced the opportunity to obtain higher rankings by delivering quality content. But if you're not immersed in SEO or SEM on a day-to-day basis, you may not have given thought to how all these changes affect your organic CTR (Click-Through-Rate). That's okay, because the folks at Optify have—in fact, they've given a lot of thought to the many recent changes and how they impact your results based on where you're positioned on the SERPs.
First, what exactly is a Click-Through-Rate?
For assisted living marketers, Click-Through-Rate is comparable to your lead conversion rate. For example, your conversion rate is equal to the number of move-ins divided by the total number of leads you worked in a given time frame. Likewise, Click-Through-Rate is the number of clicks (people who actually visit your site) divided by the number of impressions (how many times your listing appeared on someone's screen).
Why does this matter?
Clearly, we all want more visitors to our site. And we all want to appear on the first page of Google. Better yet, we want to be #1 in Google. Most of us have a basic understanding of Why: Because searchers are more likely to click on the first result, and many don't navigate past page one. But the meat of the matter is much more complex. We'll try to keep it simple.
Optify creates a new Click Through Rate (CTR) Curve
Remember your college statistics course? Yep, it's time to dig that out from the cobwebs of your brain. To give you an idea of how valuable this information is: The last widely-accepted CTR Curve was the AOL CTR Curve—from 2006.
This deceptively simple graph generated by Optify's data demonstrates the average CTR for each position in the SERPs. You can clearly see that there's a big drop in CTR from position one to position two, although Optify points out that 60% of the clicks go to the top three. Also, CTR on page two is fairly level, but you should note the slight jump from position 10 to position 11, which indicates that you're likely to get more clicks if you're first on page two than if you're last on page one.
That said, with the ever-changing algorithm of Google and its competitors, it's nearly impossible to manipulate rankings minutely enough to land precisely in a certain position. It's far easier to predict—and aim for—ranking on a given page than a given position. Optify has that covered, too. They took a look at overall average CTR on a page-by-page basis, finding that the average CTR on page one is 8.9% compared to 1.5% on page two. Read: Get on the first page.
What about keywords?
Still ahead of the game, Optify also examined differences in CTRs for keywords with varying search volumes, categorized into head terms (1,000 + monthly searches) and long-tail terms (less than 100 monthly searches). This is where it gets a little sticky.
If you're talking about head terms (assisted living, nursing homes, etc.), the CTR is higher for the first position (32%, versus 25% for long-tail terms). But, on a page-by-page basis, long-tail terms perform better on page one as a whole (9%, versus 4.6% for head terms).
In simple terms: If you're optimizing for a head term, you'll see the most benefit from the first few positions. If you're optimizing for a long-tail term, you'll get a decent CTR from a position anywhere on page one. (Keep in mind that long-tail terms have less than 100 visitors per month, and we're talking CTR, not actual visitors.)
A few final tips from Optify
We highly recommend that you download Optify's white paper, "The Changing Face of SERPs: Organic Click Through Rate" to read all the details. But here are a few final, simple recommendations from the folks at Optify:
- Get more terms on page one first, then focus on moving to the first position.
- Visits and pageviews don't tell the whole story. They have value, but don't lose sight of the real goal: Targeted leads, assisted living facility tours, move-ins, etc. Whatever your focus, measure it. Thousands of visitors, at the end of the day, mean little if zero called for information. This point emphasizes the importance of driving SEO with quality content. CTR is only the first part of your conversion equation:
- Earning page-one positioning for many long-tail keywords is a strategy that shouldn't be overlooked. If you can identify enough long-tail terms that bring targeted visitors, it's a method worth testing.