Does Depth of Referral Affect Quality of Visit?

Yesterday I published data around click through rates from the search results. That data shows that 95% of all search referrals now arrive from page 1 in the search results. The number is higher in paid, and slightly lower in organic search, but 5% for everything not on page 1 doesn’t leave a lot of room for any other positioning.

I thought it would be interesting to start comparing that data against quality of visit, from the perspective of engagement. A longer time on site and / or more pages viewed should give a good indication of engagement. What I found was quite surprising. You would think that a searcher who is going to bother to drill deeper into the search results would be more motivated to find the right information, and thus would stay engaged in a destination site longer. In fact, the opposite is true. As people drill deeper into the results they become less patient.

The information shown demonstrates how there is a relationship between where in the search results people click, and the quality of their visit to your business. In this case longer time on site and more pages viewed would indicate a better quality of visitor. Counter-intuitively, it’s not the people who drill deeper in the search results that are showing the greatest satisfaction when they land on a destination site, it’s the visitors from page one:

Referrals from Page # Pages Viewed Time on Site
(average) mm:ss:
1 3.59 2:27
2 2.16 1:06
3 2.12 1:01
4 2.08 0:57
5 2.05 0:55

What this data demonstrates is that visitors from page one in the SERPs are, on average, spending twice as much time and viewing almost twice as many pages on the web sites they visit as visitors who arrive from clicking deeper within the results pages.

Not only is page one more valuable from the perspective of amount of traffic, but also quality. When viewed graphically, the similarity between pages viewed and time on site is stunning, both in relation to time on site v. the referring page number in the search results:

As well as to pages viewed v. the referring page number in the search results:

This less patient user behavior is also reflected in how people search using longer and longer queries. I published data a few weeks ago around how many words are in a typical referring query. What I found was while people might start searching with one word queries, they quickly move to longer, more specific requests. In the next few weeks I’ll expand on that post with some page view and time on site behavioral metrics as well.

As always, Enquisite collects data from a network of web sites distributed globally. The data used in this reports represents web sites distributed globally, and reflects click-through activity data

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