Search Engine Referral Rates by Page in SERPs

May 22nd, 2008 by Richard Zwicky

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I’ve been asked a lot of questions over the last 10 years about how deep in the search results do people actually go before they clicked through on a result. In the past I’ve run a few reports on this information, but using only a month or two worth of data.

I just ran another report, but instead of two months, I used a sampling of our data representing ~300MM search referrals pulled from a much longer time period. What I found was the percentage of traffic from page one is actually increasing over time

I didn’t segregate out PPC or image searches, so this data does represent referrals in the aggregate. When we look at the hard numbers behind the data, the growing gap between page 1 and the rest is stunning.

2007-04 2007-05 2007-06 2007-07 2007-08 2007-09
Page 1
85.50% 86.03% 87.18% 87.79% 88.07% 88.40%
Page 2
7.61% 7.52% 6.90% 6.52% 6.47% 6.44%
Page 3
2.84% 2.71% 2.48% 2.35% 2.28% 2.21%
Page 4
1.30% 1.19% 1.09% 1.04% 1.00% 0.92%
Page 5
0.82% 0.75% 0.69% 0.66% 0.64% 0.58%
2007-10 2007-11 2007-12 2008-01 2008-02 2008-03
Page 1
88.42% 88.47% 88.81% 88.90% 88.78% 89.71%
Page 2
6.47% 6.44% 6.23% 6.19% 6.39% 5.93%
Page 3
2.20% 2.16% 2.05% 2.06% 2.04% 1.85%
Page 4
0.92% 0.91% 0.89% 0.88% 0.87% 0.78%
Page 5
0.57% 0.57% 0.55% 0.55% 0.54% 0.46%

It’s stunningly obvious that Page 1 generates the vast majority of traffic. Everyone knows this intuitively, but this data provides the facts to substantiate it. Page 2 still gets some traffic, but it’s negligible by comparison. While not appearing to hold much value, these placements are not entirely worthless.

Although a Web page which is found on Page 2 or lower on search engine result pages, (SERPs) may not get much traffic, you want to make these pages some of the prime targets in your SEO campaign. Although people aren’t finding these pages as often, they have incredibly high value simply because the search engines are finding and placing them, just a few small steps away from the success of page one.

Consider it from the opposite perspective: 90 percent of search engine users never venture beyond the first page of results. Listings found on page 2 of the SERPs are incredibly valuable, just not quite valuable enough to make it to page 1. These pages are your gems in the rough, and should be thought of as home-runs in waiting. With a little work, they can easily place on the first page, and you can hit it out of the park on an SEO campaign, just by concentrating your efforts in the right places.

Find the pages where you’re achieving page 2 or 3 placements, and focus on optimizing and improving the pages found there. Small adjustments can bump you up onto page 1, and will make your traffic soar. Get more pages moving up in the listings, and the effect on other pages in your Website is cumulative.

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14 Responses to “Search Engine Referral Rates by Page in SERPs”

  1. [...] Richard Zwicky of Enquisite recently posted the results of a study examining data from April 2006 through March 2008 examining the trend for web surfers to click on search engine result page 1 or later pages.  The results are fascinating yet also alarming for companies who are comfortable being on page 2 or even page 3. [...]

  2. This is fabulous information, Zwicky. Your data seems very solid. It coincides with information from the iProspect surveys and the OneUpWeb investigation of their own clients. What was your methodology?

  3. fantizi says:

    It’s wonderful!I have learning a lots from it.

  4. [...] 90% of clicks come from the first page of Google results, up from 80% a few years ago. (Source: Enquisite) And, 76% of French websurfers look only at the first page of Google results. (Source: French [...]

  5. Diamonds in the rough on Page 2? What a fantastic idea, thank you.

    When you’re working on optimizing for hundreds of phrases, instead of working down your list sorted by keyword traffic and relevance - which seems like a reasonable idea - you’ve given a way to pick the low hanging fruit and get big results faster.

  6. Jeremy says:

    do you think the reason for the slight increase of more first page clicks is because of google getting more relevant, or better PPC advertising?

  7. Thanks for this - it was the data i was looking for. Interesting to see how even less people now click through. Front page really is king!

  8. CJ says:

    Very interesting stuff! Do you have any data that breaks it down further into what the traffic is like on a position by position basis?

  9. [...] click distribution has also been confirmed by an independent set of search data analyzed by Enquisite, a firm that specializes in search optimization software. Based on a proprietary data set of 300 [...]

  10. Interestingly enough, sponsored listings on the top of the page don’t get much attention either - in other words and percentage wise it’s like having your results in organic on the 3-4th page…

  11. [...] page of search engines, chances that people will find you through search are reduced significantly. Data confirms that fewer than 10% of people even get to the second page of search engine results. Other [...]

  12. [...] something on the web, they will rarely venture beyond the first three pages of search results, and almost 90 percent will go no further than the first page. PPC offers you the opportunity to display your products to [...]

  13. This is a really awesome entry. I discovered your website from google while browsing a similar subject matter. I really enjoyed what you had to discuss. Keep up the good work!

  14. [...] results are amongst the top results (information from iCrossing (2010, pdf), Accuracast (2008), Eightfold Logic (2008)), and Bizreport [...]

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