Is Google’s page one really so important?

advice | business | copywriting

There’s an interesting statistic that states 75% of people won’t scroll beyond the first page of Google. From that one statistic, it looks like a clear argument for the importance of Google’s page one, doesn’t it? But let’s dig a little deeper here. Because, while it might be an important piece of real estate, it’s not the be-all and end-all of Google, marketing or getting traffic on to your website.

Google page one facts and figures

Without looking, how many spaces, positions or links do you think are listed on that first page of Google? I asked myself that question so I threw a few search terms into the popular search engine. I was pretty surprised at the results! On average, there were around 40 results, landed on each page one result of each search term I used.

What was interesting was the type of results being given, depending on the type of search term I was entering. For example, if I asked a question, what came back were 40 results to various blog posts and pages all attempting to answer that question. Some links were to forums such as Quora, but the majority were specific blog posts and online articles. 

Yet, if I changed my search to something specific, such as a service like ‘wedding photographer’ plus a location, the results showed a few interesting differences. First are the results that appear at the top of the page in that elusive top spot. Because in very small letters and encircled in a box you’ll see the word ‘Ad’. Those first three or four posts will be paid advertising and not the top results for that enquiry. It’s a nifty trick that skews those page one results to start with.

Below those ads, a Google maps result will be posted. Those results show based on your exact location so won’t necessarily show you the top results for that enquiry, once again. It takes a reasonable scroll down the page to find the start of the organically driven Google search results for your enquiry.

Are you seeing what you want to see?

This is the point of the search engine, after all. To show you appropriate results for your search enquiry, right? Unfortunately, that’s not what always happens.

Taking the ‘wedding photographer’ + location example, out of the 40 results returned, around two-thirds of them were wedding photographer websites near my city. The remaining third showed results for big wedding directories; small unknown directories that use clever keywording to get you to click and show you nothing to do with what you searched for; a generic directory (Yelp); and a few well-written blog posts for weddings that had been photographed in my location (but the photographer was not necessarily from the area). 

If I carry on to the second and third pages, there are more similar results and a few results totally wide from the mark (one for a reputable chocolate supplier in this region with no mention of wedding photography or the location on the page that is shown in the results!). There are some more awesome wedding photographers on these following pages. I know because I checked them out. I’m sad that they’re likely being ignored because they’re not appearing on page one for this common keyword. But I digress…

The fact is, page one of Google is important. But only in the sense that people won’t look beyond what’s shown to them on that first page. We live in an impatient society. A society that wants answers at their fingertips immediately, with minimal scrolling. And that is why page one is important.

computer on table with notebook

Interesting thought

That being said, if all you want is to feature your website for a common keyword and you’re vying for page one with hundreds of other similar businesses… STOP. Because there are other things you can be doing.

It goes back to blogging folks. I know I bang on about this a lot but remember what I said earlier. When I asked Google a question, there were no ads. There were no maps or location results. All I got back were lots of lovely blog posts that aimed to answer the question I had asked. By all means, keyword your website for your chosen profession and location as standard. But don’t ignore the fact that you can drive traffic to your website by other means too. By answering questions relevant to your field. By giving people great content and valuable information free of charge. By being the expert in your field that will draw visitors in. 

So, what am I saying? Don’t get hung up on page one of Google. Yes, it’s great to be on there, if you can manage it. But there are other ways and means. Keep putting content out there, keep sharing information about your field of business. There’s more to life than page one of Google!