A few years ago at the Search Engine Strategies conference (SES) in London an expert panel speaker suggested that top positions in organic search don’t always equate to top results for the website. I thought at the time that this was a very strange thing to say.

Like most web designers and SEO experts in the industry, the strategy is always to get clients websites in the top 3-5 results for their key search terms. The higher your website appears the more traffic you will receive and in turn the higher your revenue potential.

Appearing higher up on the first page of search results does indeed lead to huge increases in traffic levels but can this can come at a cost?

Well the answer is possibly. Websites which appear 9th or 10th generally receive much less traffic, although the traffic is usually of a higher quality. By the time users reach those websites lower in the results they have already completed a large amount of research and are clearer about what they are looking for.

This was my theory anyway and so I decided to put this to the test on a personal eCommerce website which I was working on at the time. After a number of weeks of optimization I had managed to get my website onto the 1st page in Google for two of my three main keyword search terms. Traffic grew steadily and website conversion was very good.

4 weeks later I was now hitting the top spot for one search term and the 2nd spot for the other two. Traffic spiralled and as you can imagine I was very pleased with my efforts. Orders we’re up, but not as much as I’d expected. I hadn’t changed anything on site, including the products and pricing, yet site conversion had almost halved and I just couldn’t work out the reasons for this.

For a month or so, I moved on to another project which mean’t that I had to let the SEO strategy for my eCommerce website slip for a while. As i expected, traffic dropped because of this and I returned to the bottom half of Google result page but looking at my analytics, conversion had shot up again, back to where it was.

How true this speaker at SES was in this example. Now I am not suggesting for one minute that the top spot is no longer as important, not by a long way, but depending on your website, there may be times where it pays to be a little lower down on the page.

Has anyone else experienced this with their websites? Please share your story below.

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