Pole Position - First Page Search Engine Ranking is Important!

By Vee Tardrew - July 11, 2013

First Page Search Engine RankingsAs a Formula One driver, your goal in qualifying sessions is to secure your starting position for race day. Unsurprisingly, the closer to pole position you qualify, the better! In fact, according to data from the last 10 years collected from Pinnacle Sports, pole position drivers win 49% of races. If we consider the last seven Grand Prix seasons, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso has the highest conversion rate of pole to podium wins at 55% wins from 22 pole position starts.

What the heck has Formula One got to do with Search Engine Marketing?

Thanks for asking! While Alonso, Vettel, Massa, Hamilton, Raikkonen et al. fight it out for their pole position start, inbound marketers spend their time crafting and optimising content in the hopes of taking the checkered flag of search engine results – the prized number 1 position!

Much like the Formula One data, there is a strong correlation between traffic share and results page positioning. A recent study by Chitika revealed the overall traffic share of page 1 results on Google. Here are their findings:

  • 1st result - 33%
  • 2nd result – 18%
  • 3rd result – 11%

The numbers continue to drop proportionally from fourth through tenth place from 8% to 2%.

Google Page Rankings

Individual Drivers of Search Engine Marketing

Knowing that almost half of wins come from pole position drivers, you may be curious about the results from the rest of the pack. This is where the Pinnacle Sports’ report takes an interesting turn. The results indicate that the outcome relies heavily on the individual driver.   When comparing the ‘fab four’, namely Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel and Raikkonen to other regular pole contenders being Button, Webber, Massa and Rosberg the data suggests that the ‘fab four’ will take first place on average 11% of time, irrespective of starting position. The other four have considerably lower win rates:

  • Button – 6%
  • Massa and Webber – 2%
  • Rosberg – 0.8%

While this data doesn’t precisely mirror the results of the Pinnacle Sports’ report, this did get me thinking about the impact of individual / brand awareness via Google authorship on the click through rates for the 2nd to 10th rankings.

This heat map from Justin Briggs offers some food for thought.


Note how the click occurs on the 3rd organic result (after local results) and yup, you guessed it, there is author markup and an image that pulls the users attention down the page.

Pit Stop: While we’re all aiming for the number one spot for our various keywords, ensure that if you aren’t making it to the top, you have set up your Google authorship (or use schema mark up to include an image) to draw attention to your lower ranking results.

What does your analytics tell you about ranking vs traffic? Do you have lower ranking results that produce good traffic due to authorship mark up? Would love to hear your experiences in the comments below.

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