For years, it has been rather difficult to project, with any degree of confidence, the potential value of front page Google listings.
That is until our buddies at AOL allowed some critical information to leak out to the public about search queries back in 2006.
The REAL Value of AOL's Leaked Data
Remember, back in 2006, AOL had an agreement with Google to supply search results for their AOL subscribers and user base.
With Google being the most widely used search engine on the planet, AOL's leaked information paves the way to uncover some fascinating numbers and improve your budgeting process from an Internet marketing perspective.
While the data may not be 100% perfect across the board, it does give us a way to reasonably project potential traffic, revenue, profit, and pay-per-click (PPC) budgets.
Who Clicks What During an Online Search Query?
If you look at the number of total search queries and contrast that with the number of clicks, you'll notice that a little over half (54.505%) of searches actually receive clicks.
Analyzing the data a bit further, you'll discover the following click through rates for front page organic Google placement:
Not All Search Queries Result in Clicks
Keep in mind that the click through rates outlined above are clicks to total number of searches ratios.
Several articles, reports, and documents out there project the click through rates much higher because they don't factor in the nearly 46% of search queries that don't get clicked.
Why So Many Non-Clicks?
There are several reasons someone may not lick on a search result when they perform an online query because they:
1) Elect to type in the URL directly and navigate to the site.
2) Choose to type in the URL of a PPC ad directly to navigate to that site.
3) Are merely doing research of the top results for a particular phrase.
4) Were not satisfied with the results so another search query was ordered up.
5) Chose to do something else.
Something You Already Knew: You Need to Be on Google's First Page
Taking the data a step further, 89.82% click on a result on the first page, and only 10.18 click on a result on the second page or beyond which means you need to be on page one if you want to achieve success with your search engine marketing campaign.
While the leaked AOL data isn't perfect or foolproof, it does give us business owners and marketing executives an opportunity to budget and analyze online marketing campaigns unlike anything before.
A Real World Example
Let's examine a possible search query to dig down a bit deeper.
Let's say you're a Cincinnati dentist, and you want to know how much traffic the term "Cincinnati dentist" may generate for the sites showing up on page one of Google's results.
Start with the Google keyword tool (simply search for that phrase and click the top result). Google's keyword tool shows that the phrase "Cincinnati dentist" gets queried around 8,100 times per month and would cost $4.23/click should you decide to run a PPC campaign for the phrase.
Reflecting back to the click through rates above, you could garner an educated estimate as to how much traffic each position may generate.
Let's assume you're in the pole position. The top organic spot in Google for "Cincinnati dentist" may likely get somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,860 visitors/month for that phrase.
Potential Money Saved
Even though the paid listings don't generate anywhere near the same traffic levels as the organic (i.e. "free") listings for identical keyword phrases, let's imagine you had to pay for that level of traffic to your website.
For 1,860 visitors at $4.23/click, you're looking at a cost of $7,867.80. That's a lot of dough to be shelling out each month for traffic, wouldn't you agree?
Potential Revenue Generated
While it's harder to project the potential revenue of each individual business, let's assume you are successfully converting one out of every 100 (1%) visitors to your website into a paying customer. That would result in 19 new customers for the top organic position.
Based on the lifetime value of a customer, you can now determine whether a paid and/or organic search engine marketing campaign makes sense for your business.
If you have an average lifetime customer value of $2,000 for example, those 19 new customers would be worth $38,000 over time. (Keep in mind, this is only one month's worth of analysis.)
The Bottom Line
Regardless of your thoughts on Internet marketing, you'll likely agree that this simple exercise paves the way for better budgeting and value determination for a search engine marketing campaign.
Throughout this article, you've proven to yourself how top organic search engine positioning can save and make you money over the long haul. Adding to that, it can minimize your risks by helping you avoid "click fraud" (when someone clicks on your PPC ad to drain your budget so the ad no longer appears for a given timeframe).
The next time you're evaluating advertising and marketing strategies for your business, don't overlook organic search results as part of your mix.
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