Higher Search Rankings will Increase Your Conversions

Conversion rates matter! If your website can’t convert visitors into customers then why do you even have a website? I’m primarily a local search marketer helping small businesses get noticed in the search engines to send them local web traffic. But as a web designer too I also like to focus on structuring a site so it’s easy to use, easy to navigate, and most importantly, converts well. I’ve got some tried and true techniques I like to use because I know they work.

I’ve just officially added a new one to my list. Ranking higher in Google search is a sure fire way to increase your conversion rate. Works for Organic and for PPC. Not sure yet about Maps, but I do presume the same.

Why do Rankings Influence Conversions?

Many people in the search marketing biz might assume that by ranking higher in Google you instill more trust to the visitors finding your website through search. “Google thinks these guy’s are number 1, so they must be good”. I think this is probably true but there is another factor I think might be stronger.

Not everyone shops around! The first click that brings a visitor to a site that offers exactly what they were looking for may very well be good enough for them. Ranking higher means more of those “one-clickers” land on your site first. Simple as that.

Now this might be different for e-commerce shopping websites where prices are posted up front, but for many local small businesses, especially service based businesses where a conversion is simply counted as an email lead or phone call, it appears rankings do influence conversions, in a big way.

I noticed this on a quantitative level inside Google Adwords. After lots of testing of ad copy, keywords and tweaking landing pages I had reached a nice conversions rate, and associated cost per conversion my client was very happy with. After some time of seeing some great success from that campaign I was then given the go ahead to up the bids so as to bump the average ad positions up a bit (I was getting tapped out on improving Quality Scores). Simply capturing more traffic was the purpose of increasing bids. Account wide average for our ads had been position #4. Raising bids bumped the average account wide position up to #3. We got that increase in traffic we were looking for by appearing a little higher but more importantly, the conversion rate doubled!

I’ve been seeing this for the past 10 days and then yesterday I had a discussion with earlpearl, aka localoptimizer, a local SEO guy like the rest of these chumps. Anyways, he had been digging deeply into his web stats and found that when his organic rankings were higher, so were his conversion rates. I won’t share any of his specific numbers other than to say they were significant.

As Dave says;

Frigging gotta be #1 where it counts. :D

So make sure your site can convert visitors into customers, then get it to the top of search. To truly dominate, and reap the benefits, go for the trifecta of high rankings in maps, organic and pay per click. And if you’re heavy into PPC you probably should be bidding on those same keywords you already rank well for organically, except in that case you may not want to bid for #1 spot there. Instead aim for #3 or #4 so it compliments your #1 or #2 organic ranking.

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6 Comments to “Higher Search Rankings will Increase Your Conversions”

MiriamEllis (5 comments.) on June 24th, 2009 wrote:

Hey Steve,
Very funny quote from Dave (earlpearl) and an interesting thought put forward by you. I’m betting that the conversion rate is especially increased for certain types of local businesses that provide semi-emergency services, such as plumbers, tow trucks, auto mechanics, and oh, yes, locksmiths!

Thanks for sharing what you’ve noticed.

earlpearl on June 26th, 2009 wrote:


Yesterday one of our businesses had a strong day in web conversions, tieing a record for most contact forms filled out on the web.

Every conversion phrase from a search engine represented a phrase where we were ranked #1 (or in case 1st in Maps/local) and a 2nd in organic.

Just anecdotal/not based on a depth of study…but still…who is gonna argue w/ that.

Luke (3 comments.) on August 20th, 2009 wrote:

Hey Steve, I agree in terms of organic listings that higher converts better, but Google just released research showing Adwords Ad position has no real effect on conversion rates.




Luke (3 comments.) on August 20th, 2009 wrote:

Whoops should’ve proofread. That was meant to read: I agree that high rankings in organic listings result in higher conversion rates.

Stever on August 20th, 2009 wrote:

Thanks for that link Luke. However, it’s not what I saw happen. But that said, and a few months since I observed the phenomenon, PPC conversion rates have settled back down a bit. Not all the way down to where they were before boosting positions, still up a bit.

This was noticed in the account of a client with a seasonal demand product in a localized market. We boosted PPC rankings right at the peak of the season, so there may have been some added effects from that too.

Google is of course looking at the data across millions of advertisers and many industries, from national brands to local mom and pops, which would smooth out such seasonal effects and whatnot. They are also not taking into account the effects of high organic rankings for the same keyword where you have a high ranking PPC ad showing along side the same domain name. I think that has a significant effect on those that notice the organic listing and the PPC ad on same page, building more trust and thus increasing conversion rates. Perhaps the effects of multiple rankings (organic, maps, and PPC) for one key phrase has bigger effects at local level, than it does at national ecommerce levels. Complete conjecture there, but i would not be surprised given peoples general preference to go local, when they can.

Luke (3 comments.) on August 20th, 2009 wrote:

Hey Steve, yeah I agree with you. With any campaign there is always lots of variance or seasonal factors, and with the amount of data Google have they can see through it all.



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