Natural Search Blog


How much traffic does the top keyword position garner on Google?

Have you ever wondered how much traffic the top keyword position on Google can bring a site, for a hotly-contested term? Or, how much traffic does the top slot get you, compared with the second slot?

Most of the major SEOs and top companies keep such figures as closely-guarded secrets. Even the search engines keep the numbers of searches by various keywords secret, using various techniques to hide actual values.

The much-touted Eye Tracking Study conducted by Enquiro and Did-It show that the first listings on Google SERPs are looked at and clicked upon the most by users. Most pros already concluded this through common sense, but it’s difficult to get actual traffic amounts associated with the rankings of listings on SERPs.

I’m going to change this situation right here, right now, thanks to new data that Google has graciously begun providing to the public, and thanks to a brief reshuffling of rankings on a top keyword for one of the sites that I manage. Read on, and I’ll elaborate.

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Searching for brick-and-mortar retailers?

Data now out from Nielsen//NetRatings shows that the top five most popular shopping search terms for April were all brick-and-mortar retailers:

  1. “home depot”
  2. “walmart”
  3. “target”
  4. “sears”
  5. “best buy”

SearchEngineWatch Blog then arrived at the conclusion that:

These are people who likely have done their research and are now looking for physical/local stores to buy what it is they want.

I disagree. I think most Americans already know where their local Home Depot is. Instead, these searchers are looking to buy online. Some will opt for in-store pickup (which both Sears and Best Buy offer). Some may be on the hunt for product information, buyer’s guides, or the current circular with the week’s in-store specials.

I believe brick-and-mortar brands dominate shopping-related searches because those are the brands that are the most pervasive/popular/trusted in the marketplace. Their online shops offer a safe and familiar place to buy online.

A huge number of Internet users are searching for “home depot” when they could be typing in homedepot.com directly into their browser’s Location bar. Why is this? I imagine that for many people, typing in “home depot” into the Google Toolbar or into the search box on their Start Page is just easier or most comfortable. Perhaps some, like myself, even configured their Google Toolbar to display the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button, to go straight to the first search result. ;-)

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Print Yellow Pages Vs. Online Yellow Pages / Local Search

I was noticing that Paul Haahr, an engineer I met at Google Dance last September, mentioned on his blog in January that he doesn’t like traditional print yellow pages. He consideres them to be something of a dinosaur, and his attitude is clearly communicated by his habit of leaving them to be turned into a pile of gray sludge by the rain on his doorstep when they’re delivered to his neighborhood. (I’m okay with him neglecting his directory in this way, since it’s an AT&T phone book.)

As a longtime employee of Verizon’s yellow pages directory company, I probably should act completely horrified at Paul’s disparagement of the well-established printed books, but I have to agree with his take on the matter. Print yellow pages don’t give me all the info I’m wanting any more, and the book has become something of an annoyance. It takes up space in my house, and it seems like the new replacement is always showing up about the time that I’ve only just gotten around to shelving the previous one. Online yellow pages and internet search sites have given me everything that I need.

Paul’s take on the matter is so amusing to me because it strikes a resonance with my own feelings about the whole thing. It’s a bit ironic to me (and it feels slightly disloyal!), because when I started at SuperPages nine years ago, I couldn’t really conceive of throwing away my phone books. Back then, we almost couldn’t imagine people choosing to use our online YP, because it was faster to look stuff up in the books rather than trying to use our online service!

But, stuff’s changed a whole lot. People have continuous and speedy connections to the internet, and our site responds back to queries a lot faster than in the old days. I can’t even hope to find everything I want in the print directory any more — it can’t tell me what theatre, store, restaurant, etc. is closest to my home or office. Since I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, I’d likely have to page through about 10 small city directories and perform distance interpolation on a map to figure out which businesses were closest to me! Fun (and geeky!) exercise, but I don’t have time for that.

Considering all this, why haven’t print yellow pages disappeared altogether? For that reason, why do merchants still spend significant amounts of their advertising budgets to have presence in the books? Are the printed books still a good business proposition? Surprisingly, they are indeed still worthwhile — read on and I’ll explain.

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The significance of GData

Gdata, short for Google Data APIs, promises to be Google’s new standard protocol for transmitting all sorts of data back and forth to Google and its various services. As Google states on Google Code: “All sorts of services can provide GData feeds, from public services like blog feeds or news syndication feeds to personalized data like email or calendar events or task-list items.” Imagine for instance, starting with a base feed, then adding query parameters like restricting to a particular category and date range and ending up with a customized feed that specifically fits your criteria. Gdata builds on the RSS 2.0 and ATOM 1.0 protocols.

Imagine your desktop machine — armed with your personal profile — communicating with Google (and even with the Web in general) about your email, search history, RSS subscriptions, calendar, bookmarks, blog posts, and the news… and all through the GData protocol. As Reto Meier states, “Google already has a ridiculous amount of my information. Now with an API that promises access to this information to use the way I want to, there’s one less reason to think about storing it anywhere else.” Kinda scary but also exciting at the same time. Google Operating System here we come!

Will we all be speaking GData in years to come? Will the GData protocol become as ubiqitous as the HTTP protocol? Only time will tell, but I certainly think GData is one to watch!

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