How Important is it to Rank First in Google?

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Owen Whitcombe

Senior SEO Specialist

There’s an undeniable allure to ranking first in Google. In fact, if you’re an ambitious brand looking to outsource your search engine marketing, you’ll be inundated with offers from agencies, some of whom will be promising a #1 spot on specific search terms.
Is it important to get to that hallowed position? I take a look at why it’s important – and why it’s not the most important thing in the world.

Why it’s important to rank first in Google

It generates metrics

It’s clear that a first-place position in Google, if you can get it, is very valuable. Last year, a study by the online advertising network Chikita found that Google’s top spot enjoyed 32.5% of all organic clicks. After that, numbers decrease rapidly – 2nd enjoys 17%, 3rd 11% and 4th just 8.1%.

Conveying authenticity

Many prospective clients that we speak to aren’t after top spot in Google for the clicks and the metrics. They’re in it for the bravado – for knowing that their brand is top of the pops in their chosen field.
A #1 position conveys authority and authenticity and its subconscious effect is more likely to lead to conversions further down the line.

Organic visibility is diminishing

In terms of visibility, the ever-growing sophistication of Google also makes ranking first more important than ever. A quick cursory look at the ever-competitive search term ‘car insurance’ shows only three organic results are allowed above the fold amid the myriad paid ads and Google-promoted alternative services.

Why it’s not so important to rank first in Google

Chikita’s research is overtly simplistic

For a start, the data above from Chikita may have shown that click-through rates are immensely valuable, but it’s important to remember that it’s variable data. Even if you manage to make it to #1 you might not be able to enjoy the click-through rates that Chikita has promised. You might (you could well enjoy a better percentage), but you’re not guaranteed to.

There are still many other factors at play

For instance, if your meta title has been written to manipulate the rankings with keywords crammed into unnatural syntax (and Google Panda hasn’t already got you first), you might not see as many human clicks as the second-place result. Likewise, if you don’t have a meta description, or if it’s not telling the reader what they want to know, they might click elsewhere.
The percentage of people that click on a top-position result is also probably skewed by brand searches. According to research on Econsultancy 2 years earlier, 80% of branded searches result in the top result being clicked.

As a result, these branded searches will overstate the effectiveness, from a click perspective, of appearing in top spot on Google.

Brand building is better

One of the most frustrating, and in my opinion enjoyable, things about search engine marketing is that it’s not set in stone. It’s variable and sometimes just a little bit unexplainable.
Therefore, you could spend thousands a week on SEO focusing on specific search terms that you’re obsessed with conquering. And despite all your best efforts, you still fall short. Perhaps you’re competing against other sites with better domain authority. Maybe your competitors simply have bigger budgets.
That’s what can happen when you put all your eggs in one basket. It’s far better to cast your net wider and seek to build your brand on a wider scale. Be aware of customers’ buying journeys, and funnel them along the process with well-written blogs and engaging videos. Create content that works. Build communities online. Grow your social reach.
After all, this is the way that Google is heading – away from single individual keywords and into a ‘knowledge-based’ semantic search.

And if you do end up ranking first for a relevant search term, then that’s a bonus.

You want to chase the revenues

There’s more to life than sitting first in Google. And although ranking well for keywords is important, there’s no point aiming for search terms if they’re not going to result, eventually, in conversions.
Consider how your landing pages relate to the terms you’re competing for. Sure, it’s an ego trip, but business is about profit. And that’s what’s important to remember. See what our Cardiff SEO service agency can do for you by getting in touch with our SEO team today.

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Owen Whitcombe

Senior SEO Specialist

Owen has worked in primarily Ecommerce since leaving University. Many years spent in the online sports retail arena before gaining experience in the online catering business then becoming digital marketing manager for national toy company before finding his feet in SEO. As a results driven individual Owen loves nothing more than when we can give…

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