How Important is Page Rank?



July 1st, 2014 / Martin Sprong

Too often companies focus on Page Rank at the expense of other important and contributing factors to Click-Through-Rate (CTR). Companies want to be number one on page one. This is for good reason. It is a fact that often the top three results receive more than half of the Click-Through-Rates.

But the first click on the SERP isn’t always the best click, as people often check the SERP multiple times. Therefore, writing excellent, informative and relevant Page Titles and Meta Descriptions can give you a better chance of getting a click, even if you’re not in the top three results.

Our Experiments confirm that companies often do not create the optimal Google Ad (search result) to maximize clickability. This is an opportunity missed, and as SEO and PR merge, it is becoming more important.

IMPORTANCE OF PAGE RANK

Even though an informative and relevant search result can help increase your CTR, Page Rank is still the main driver for gaining clicks.

Several studies confirm CTR correlates with ranking, so we’re not repeating that. Though, a recent study by Netbooster showed some interesting results and also stated that searchers are frequently going beyond the top 10 to find the exact result they want.

The reason for this is that search behaviour is fundamentally changing, as users become savvier and increasingly more familiar with search technology. Prominence of paid advertising, shopping ads, and Knowledge Graph may also be pushing users below the fold more often, as users attempt to find better qualified results. The recent 2% decline in world wide Google searches and the uplift in Search traffic to duckduckgo intuitively confirms the Knowledge Graph.

Experts in the field note that the Page Title and Meta Description in advanced areas of search are now more important, as searchers spend more time searching for a relevant result.

PREDIKKTA RANK RESULTS

Our experiments, conducted in the form of surveys show comparable results between the Page Rank and Click-Through-Rate correlation. The key aspect we ask you to note is that we are seeing a substantial range on positional CTR dependent upon the actual search query. Below is a ranking graph that is derived from our experiments:

graph showing clicks depending on position in search result page

More interesting is that the mathematical construct behind the survey technology can extract information to answer the question “Why do people click on search results?”. The following pie chart below is a typical outcome of a client survey result:

chart showing influence of rank headline url description on clicks

This chart is consistent to a point throughout all client surveys, ie Page Rank is a most important factor; however, the actual ranking margin oscillates greatly depending on the search query.

CATEGORIES OF SEARCH

The issue we have with the Page Rank – CTR correlation is that experts in the field sell this correlation to companies, and use them as absolutes rather than a guide. Too many times experts/companies are focused solely on ranking as high as possible. There is a cost of benefit ratio that has to be addressed,. To do so you need to know the value of ranking positions for the key search terms.

Specialized

chart showing influence of rank headline url description on clicks in specialized resullts

Generic

chart showing influence of rank headline url description on clicks in generic resullts

The Page Rank – CTR correlation depends on keyword knowledge. We explain this using the two charts above.

Our experiments reveal that if the search contains a generic keyword (i.e. Car Insurance, Online Shopping, Buy Business Shirts online); the influence of Page Rank is lower and people are more focused on searching for a relevant combination of Headline and Description.

If a search query/topic is more specialized or Brand orientated, then Page Rank is the biggest factor influencing CTR. We see that people click on the top results, scan the Headline quickly and many rarely read the Description.

So for a general term like car insurance our Page Rank studies in developed countries show that circa 19% click on the result in position 1 which is significantly less than on the search results for advanced SEO or rocket fuel in space shuttles, which can be as high as 40% for position 1.

EXCEPTIONS ON THE RULE

The issue we have with the Page Rank – CTR correlation is that experts in the field sell this correlation to companies, and use them as absolutes rather than a guide. Too many times experts/companies are focused solely on ranking as high as possible. There is a cost of benefit ratio that has to be addressed,. To do so you need to know the value of ranking positions for the key search terms.

OPTIMIZE PAGE TITLE & META DESCRIPTION

Therefore on Page Rank, we ask you to put aside the Rule: “the first position gets 33% of clicks”. Focus on what you can control, which is:

  • content
  • improving the clickability of your Headline and Description
  • improving your SEO by having great content and attention to detail on site management.

As users of search engines drop the Headline, the URL and Description will become more important.

For some companies, it is hard to become the top result. But by optimizing you Page Title & Meta Description the chance that people will click on your ad increases.

Meta Descriptions and Titles for your site also increase the possibility of getting many clicks. It is not necessary to be popular to get clicks, if you use your common sense. It’s a fact that a user is not going to click on a link if Titles and Descriptions are not according to his/her interest.

The issue we have with the percentages on the Click-Through Rate on position 1 that are regularly published is that people treat them as absolutes rather than a guide. You may hear as we have SEO “experts” state we read report “x” and it states that the first search result on Organic search gets 33% of the clicks. This statement is made as if it is a fact.

THE INFLUENCE OF PAGE RANK FLUCTUATES

Our experiments confirm that categorical statements on Page Rank and percentages of clicks for positions are meaningless and in fact dangerous.

Firstly, Page Rank is perhaps the most important factor on Click-Through-Rate, with the exception of brands such as McDonalds or Coca Cola. However the importance of Page Rank fluctuates heavily depending on “categories of search”.

As users of search engines like Google become more familiar, the Click-Through-Rate for the highest ranking positions decreases. We can see this in terms like car insurance across the USA, UK and Australia.

As a general statement the more technical or advanced your inquiry the more important Page Rank becomes as a factor. As the data keeps pouring in we will update this post or in the event of any queries please do not hesitate to contact us.




ABOUT THIS ARTICLE

All companies want to be placed highly on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). But sometimes companies are so obsessed with Page Rank that they neglect other factors that contribute to Click-Through-Rate (CTR). Find out what they are here.


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*Predikkta has sourced several external independent global tools to analyze websites.These tools do not reflect on occasion the internal website analytics, but are recognised global tools and provide accurate comparative results for measurement against competitors.

**The views in this article are those of the author