Maybe You Shouldn’t Aim for #1 on Google’s SERPs
The benefit of hitting the number one spot on a SERP varies by industry. It benefits airlines and broadcast media, but anyone in IT will find just as much organic traffic by landing in spots four and five. Not only that but aiming for that first spot without thinking through industry attention could damage your ROI.
Surprised? Let’s break down the unanticipated downsides of landing the first spot on a SERP.
Commitment, Commitment, Commitment
It takes a lot of time and money to make your way into Google’s top-ranking spot. You have to commit to the work that goes into that level of SEO optimization. Not only does that work take a lot of expertise, but it also takes a lot of time. You’re not going to land a top-ranking spot overnight.
Once you’ve sunk all the time, money, and extraneous resources into chasing Google’s number one spot, you have to put in additional work to keep it. That’s a lot of commitment for a bit of extra traffic. You’re likely to find that the costs don’t balance out in the end.
Divergent Audience Attention
Not only that but with Google’s burst of sponsored advertisers taking up the majority of its top-ranking spots, organically grown top spots aren’t getting as much attention as they used to. Some consumers may believe that Google’s top-ranking spot is just additional ad space. Different industry-seekers may also believe that there’s greater value to be found toward the bottom of a Google SERP, as the IT community does.
Either way, if a top-ranking position isn’t generating a significant boost in traffic, why bother chasing it?
Beyond that, maintaining an SEO arrangement that keeps up with the constant changes in the field is next to impossible. Just this year, Google introduced a significant update to its web crawler. While these changes may make it easier for crawlers to read technical SEO, they still indicate a shift in the field. As a result, Google’s SERP rankings shift.
For someone looking to maintain a top Google ranking, updates are a pain. Committing more time, money, and energy to modifying your content for every SEO update can get expensive. It’s just not worth it if you’re not seeing significant ROI.
The Differences in Platform SEO
Finally, we have to acknowledge a painful truth: there’s more than one search engine operating online. Bing, DuckDuckGo, and other search engines use different SEO algorithms and crawlers than Google does. Google’s top-ranking content isn’t going to be the same as Bing’s, and vice-versa.
Why does this matter? Because Bing is the search engine of choice for Alexa, Cortana, and Siri. With the marked rise in voice assistant use in e-commerce, you’ll want to start thinking of different ways to optimize your content for Bing as well as Google. Trying to maintain a top spot on both platforms will be nearly impossible.
In short, hitting and keeping a top-ranking spot on a search engine demands more of most of us than we can afford to give. The returns top-spot seekers see for their efforts don’t balance that effort out, either. So, why not be content with the second, third, or even fifth spot on the page? Depending upon your industry, you may see more traffic there than you would at the top.
Image attribution: tomertu – stock.adobe.com