Get Your Assets On First Three Pages Of Search, Or Else

Just 8% of searchers will venture beyond the third page of search results to find the answer to their query. That's down from 10% two years ago, and almost 20% in 2002, according to a new study from iProspect. It's a sign that the digital shelf is shrinking.

"Now more than ever, it is vital for a Web site to be found within the top few search results, or the first page of search results, or at least within the first three pages of search results," wrote analysts in the iProspect Blended Search Results Study. "Whether this is accomplished through the optimization of Web pages, or through paid search ads, the need is unmistakable."

The New York-based search marketing agency (a division of Aegis' Isobar) commissioned JupiterResearch to survey more than 2,400 online consumers, with the goal of understanding how or whether the integration of blended search across the three major engines has impacted searchers' habits. The study reveals that that searchers were more likely to click on a result on the first page than ever before, as almost 70% of respondents said that they were first-page clickers, compared to 62% in 2006 and 60% in 2004.

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Meanwhile, about half of respondents said that they'd re-launch or change their search if they didn't find the results they were looking for on the first page, up from 40% two years ago. And 37% of respondents said that a company's appearance at the top of the search results was indicative of its leadership within that particular industry or category.

"You have to understand what your search shelf space looks like, depending on your category and the keywords you want to go for," said Robert Murray, president of iProspect. "You want to aim for that first page -- or even the second or third page, but you might need to aim for having more news results, more images or video than a competitor or a company in a completely different category."

Murray said that the way for marketers to attack the shrinking digital shelf is to study the way the search results stack up in their keyword or category and build a holistic plan to attack that. "With blended search, it will involve developing new and or different forms of content -- not just text optimization," Murray said.

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