Search engine rankings are incredibly important for your website, and have a big effect on how much traffic you get. Generally, there is a direct correlation between traffic and sales. The conversion rate is the percent of your visitors who complete your site’s goal – whether that is to buy a product, sign up for a service, become a member, or click on an ad. The more visitors you get, the more conversions you get. For most websites, more conversions means higher revenue.
Search engine rankings dramatically affect how many visitors you get. Generally a user of a search engine will look through the results until they find what they are looking for, and then stop. Sometimes the sites ranked above yours won’t be that good and you’ll still get lots of visitors. However, most people don’t automatically go to the best result on the page. They go to the fist result that is good enough to fulfill their needs. Search engine results are pretty good, and so users don’t usually go very far down the results. Ideally, you want to be ranked 1st – that gets the most traffic. Being within the first few spots still gets you a decent amount of traffic. It’s not uncommon for users to scan the first few results, so you may still get a decent amount of traffic. However very few users go to the second page. Usually the either find what they are looking for or they refine their search phrase to get different results.
Being ranked as high as you can is very important. When possible, you want to be the first result for your chosen keywords. There is a concept called the “page fold” which also applies to search results and can affect how many visitors you get, although not all design experts believe it occurs in the web world. With newspapers, big headlines would always be placed above the fold – they would be visible without having to move or unfold the paper. In websites, the fold is the bottom of the screen – being above the fold means being visible without having to scroll. When a user navigates to a search results page, they will see several results at once, but some they will have to scroll to see. You want to be ranked well so users don’t have to scroll to see your site. If you are visible immediately, you are more likely to get more traffic.
So why should you be ranked well? Being ranked well means you get more visitors, which means more conversions and more revenue. Good search result ranking is essential to a successful website.