Search Engine Referral Rates by Page in SERPs

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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