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Is There a Big difference Between #1 or #2 in Google?

by Miguel Salcido

in Organic SEO

Yes, there is! A 2006 study from Cornell University studaied the distribution of clicks on a SERP. How many more clicks does a #2 spot get over a #3 spot, etc.? They used eye-tracking to conduct the experiments, as well as a sample of undergraduate students performing 397 queries on various topics like music, movies, travel, local, politics, and trivia. Here are those results:

Google Distribution of Clicks in SERP

The results are staggering. But this organic SEO consultant already knew that the difference between #1 and #2 was gigagntic. I had a client that commanded the #1 spot for his main keyword for a very long time. Well he dropped to #2 and called me up freaking out, he said that he had lost about 40% of his business! Of course I got him back up there right away and he has been back at #1 since. I have many other stories from clients of just how much their business is affected. This study just solidifies, scientifically, what I have been preaching to clients all along. You can view the full story from SEO Researcher.

There are some valuable lessons to learn from this research and its results. When running an SEO campaign it is important to have focus. If the site you are working on has some existing rankings on pages1, 2, or even 3 and some of those terms carry some trafic with them then you need to work hard to get those terms to the top 3. Those terms are just on the cusp of seeing huge traffic gains. And it is much more reasonable to expect to move those terms to page 1 from 2 or 3 than it is to rank a term that the site is not even in the top 100 for. Focus on the terms that will bring good traffic that you can rank in the sortest amount of time. Then, once you have proven your self and provided the client with some gains and ROI, you can start to focus on the other terms.

About the Author: Having held Director and VP level positions at large search agencies over the past 8 years I have gained a wealth of experience and knowledge. I now offer agency quality SEO consulting services without the big agency overhead so that more of your dollars will go into your campaign.Follow me on Google+, and Twitter for regular updates.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rent Brandon May 7, 2009 at 6:37 am

Anyone find a more recent study? There is one from AOL as well, but something like a Nielson rankings would be really useful.


2 Miguel Salcido January 6, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Yes the data is old but. I would never take it for face value, you have to take any data from tools with a grain of salt. But it does offer us some great insights at a higher level, which is extremely useful. I mean really all we SEOs use this stuff for is to help us in convincing clients and prospects about things we already know but that they are skeptical about. I have personally seen the results of different ranking positions on hundreds of sites on millions of keywords over time so I understand the dramatic effects of one position move. This data just back me up. 🙂


3 Ardin January 6, 2010 at 9:16 am

It really amazing the percentage different between position #1 and #2.

Given that these data go back to 2004, Do we still browse the web the same way as back in 2004, now that most people are using bigger monitors, higher screen resolution, and more computer friendly?

So is this data still valid?


4 Cindy T. February 24, 2011 at 6:19 am

Here is a similar report published by Chitika May 2010.


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