Why A Top SERP Rank Means More Than Just Clicks

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Why A Top SERP Rank Means More Than Just Clicks

Getting to the top is hard, especially when you are talking about search results. People spend millions of dollars trying to scam the system and others are tolling away, tweaking and testing in order to reach the No. 1 spot for a search term. If you’ve made it, then you know the time and effort it takes. Being the top-ranked has more responsibilities, over and above your dedication to remaining in first place and taking care of the onslaught of search traffic. It also means that you will be looked to as an industry leader. You need to act like one.

Why The Top Spot Matters

According to a Google user study done by Slingshot SEO, a No. 1 Google organic rank acquires 18.2 percent of clicks and a No. 2 spot receives 10.05 percent of clicks. In addition, most users pass up on the paid search ads. Consumers are becoming increasingly Web savvy. While they understand that paid ads are relevant, being at the top of the results carries an implied Google “endorsement” that makes these results seem more valuable to users.

The second benefit of being at the top of the rankings comes from the business development front. Many potential partners are actively searching for companies who possess that “top-ranked” endorsement. These opportunities can be of significantly higher value than an individual sale. Top rankings come with the benefit of inbound business development leads. You couldn’t imagine the number of deals that have knocked on my door.

Lastly, the most beneficial asset of top rankings comes from increased media attention. I’ve built two product-based companies that have received unsolicited media attention, one of which was in the form of being on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” Journalists and producers do their research, just like consumers. A top listing in SERP’s means you jump to the top of their prospect list, sometimes without even knowing.

The Responsibility of Top SERP Rank

A massively undervalued point of SEO comes from the brand legitimacy that is carried with being at the top of SERP’s. The focus of SEO is typically to get more awareness, traffic, or conversions; it’s rarely meant to position or establish a company as a “segment leader” for a particular product or service. Some companies might accidentally (but luckily) find themselves at the top for certain keyword phrases.

This ranking means that you’re most likely perceived as an industry leader; you must act accordingly. First, you should understand the difference between transactional and holistic SEO. If your view of SEO is transactional (increased awareness, traffic, etc.), then you are missing out on the much larger payoff associated with higher rankings.

In contrast, a holistic view means that you are anticipating increased media attention, business development deals, and conversions. It’s important to understand that there are valuable players who could really benefit your company and you should act like the industry leader when you hook one.

What You Need to Lead

Today’s world of SEO is becoming more and more content-driven. We are seeing Google assign social signals and authorship higher weight in ranking factors, which means that relevant and authoritative content will legitimize your pages for keywords that relate to your niche. In the simplest of terms, an industry-leading site in SERP’s is constantly producing extremely valuable content for its user base, whether it’s via a checklist, a white paper, an infographic, or a webinar.

When potential partners land on your site, they need information in order to understand your company’s model, growth rate, and future plans. Make it easy for them to convince other business leaders and stakeholders of the credibility of your business.

Media outlets will also be looking to you to comment on industry news and trends. Having information specifically directed toward press outlets should be available and find-able. Your “press” section should not be an afterthought; rather, it should be your centerpiece. It should be prominently promoted and serve as a resume of the company’s success. It should also include image assets and logos that the media is welcomed to grab and use.

Think of what indicators you can put on your site to confirm these inclinations that you are the industry leader, based upon your ranking. These can be things like trust marks, customer reviews, videos, and certifications, all of which further Google’s endorsement of your product or service.

Being No. 1 is about more than clickthroughs. SEO’s goal is the same as it always has been: Make great products and content and then make them find-able. Eventually, technology and algorithms will advance to the point where there is no tricking the system, the best information will rise to the top. Don’t let a lack of credibility or a continued focus on Google’s rankings stop you from being seen as the true leader of your industry.

image credit: Shutterstock

Stephen Aarstol

Stephen Aarstol

Stephan Aarstol is the CEO and founder of Tower Paddle Boards, an online, manufacturer-direct brand in stand up paddle boarding. Tower Paddle Boards was invested in by Mark Cuban on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and was named one of the top 10 success stories in the history of the show by Entrepreneur Magazine. Stephan is an entrepreneurial thought leader and online marketing expert, and he welcomes anyone to reach out to him on Google+.
Stephen Aarstol
Stephen Aarstol

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  • http://www.andykuiper.com/seo-company-calgary/index.html Andy Kuiper – Calgary SEO Analyst

    #1 is nice – but Google is always making it hard to maintain the spot .

    • http://www.rankwatch.com Sahil

      Liked the angle of thinking, very informative post. Sometimes even being at the top doesn’t get the fair share of search traffic when compared against the keyword’s monthly search volume and the industry standards for the SERP CTRs. Its important to have a good title and the URL optimized with relevant keywords. The meta description of the page should be well optimized and must entice the users to click on the result. The content on the page must fulfill the user search intent.

  • http://www.spinxdigital.com Stephen Moyers

    I truly like the statement that being on top also means that you will be looked to as an industry leader. You need to act like one which is 100% true. You really need to make continuous efforts in a legitimate manner for sticking on top rank in SERPs . I truly believe that you need to act like true leader of industry and contribute the same way instead of just focusing on reaching on top.


  • http://www.coffy.com Matt Coffy

    Wonderful read to remind us all about the true goal of ranking in the pages. It is beyond clicks which makes it all that more important for content shared to be of quality for the interested consumers to gain value. If you practice good SEO, your efforts will be rewarded when people find, like and share your content.

  • http://www.thesearchagency.com Grant Simmons

    Love this article!

    I spoke last year about how Google is actually defining brands through search results, and you make the case here far more eloquently.

    Not only does Google favor brands, through SERP visibility it also provides the legitimacy that are a component of brands… hence a horse or cart argument of “how is a brand defined online?”

    “A massively undervalued point of SEO comes from the brand legitimacy that is carried with being at the top of SERP’s.”

    I look at this through the lens of “legitimacy by association”, users trust Google, Google recommends through SERP ranking, users trust the sites listed, more so if you’re #1.

    There are caveats here though, that can either attract or detract the click. Part of your “responsibility” is to have optimized your core SEO to reinforce this legitimacy – a simple element such as the title tag (clickable link) offering an attractive message, lack of typos, or connection to the original keyword query are additional positive signals to inspire users to click.

    I’m an SEO guy so I see a lot of this through an SEO lens… the inspire clicks help further reinforce the legitimacy of the result in Google’s algorithm too… so the responsibility of the top ranked companies is also to continue to inspire the clicks that get users to their site, as well as answer the original users query through content on their sites, additionally providing an experience that inspires users to interact, engage and share what they’ve found to create signals that tell search engines and other users that the site is legitimate, answers the user’s intent and is worthy of high rank (brand status)

    Again.. great article