Google and Click Potential

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Earlier this week in WebProWorld, Rich made a post concerning research recently released by AtlasDMT. The goal of the study was to provide some metrics on the actual impact and value of paid placement listings by their rank or position. While most would rightly expect that a higher positioned placement would outperform a lower position, the results of the AtlasDMT research yielded some fairly surprising results as to the slope of the drop-off from the number one spots.

Discuss “Click Potential” Here.

Potential: Making Inspirational Posters Possible Since 1876...
Potential: Making Inspirational Posters Possible Since 1876…

According to their results, there is nearly a 40% drop off in the ‘click potential’ of a paid placement from number first position to second position in Google. The difference between first and second in Overture wasn’t quite as pronounced but still significant at about 23%. Once this was pointed out in the WebProWorld forums it was met with no small amount of skepticism. Dave Hawley observed that his own experience told him otherwise citing that he had “often had pages switch between number 1,2 and 3 on page of one of the Google SERPs. The traffic decrease/increase for the top 3 is hardly noticeable.” While a distinction must be made that Dave seemed to be referring to ‘natural’ results as opposed to the paid placements in the AtlasDMT study, 40% is still an awfully big number.

For the purpose of their research, AtlasDMT looked at relative impressions; relative click-through rate and what they termed ‘click potential’. The researchers define the ‘click potential’ as the following: “the product of relative impressions and relative CTR… click potential’ shows the expected percentage drop in click volume by rank”. AtlasDMT doesn’t cite any specific numbers insofar as the scope of their research set, save to say that it encompassed “hundreds of millions of impressions and click for tens of thousands of keywords across a diverse set of industries and categories”. You can see their full report here.

If you can look past the 40% drop-off between first and second positions in the Google placement, and focus on the more general implications for their click potential’ formula it seems to make good sense. Basically, if properly applied, their formulas should be useful in gauging the sweet spot for your paid placement campaigns. You may not always find the best value to be the top spot; alternatively you could find that spending a few extra dollars could translate into a significant number of extra clicks to your site. Do I necessarily believe that you can plug in your numbers and take the results directly to the bank? No, but I do think it could be a useful guideline when/if you plan to try a paid placement campaign.

As far as the 40% drop between first and second in Google, I know full well that there are plenty of you, whose initial reaction to this was just outright disbelief (I know it was for me). Start talking about a 40% change in anything in Google and the collective ears of the entire SEO community are going to go straight up – with good reason. But could there be some other explanation for this number? As was suggested by another WebProWorld member, could the source of the anomaly be the placement on the page – i.e. the sponsored links in the colored bar. As you know, sometimes they’re there, sometimes they’re not. In other words is number 2 sometimes number 1 (when the bar listings are gone)? I’d be extremely interested in any thoughts/comments any of you may have on the 40% phenomenon with number one. We’ll turn the lights down and whistle the X-Files theme as we read them by flashlight

Compare the AtlasDMT findings with your own experiences and see how they measure up. Check your results with paid placement (maybe even non paid) and be sure to let me know how accurate it was for you.

Mike is a manager at iEntry. He has been with iEntry since 2000.

Google and Click Potential
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