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Google Clarifies Impressions

by Timothy Martell on February 21, 2013

Wikimotive Maile Ohye

Even to us SEO devotees, many of the inner machinations of Google remain a mystery, and this is exactly the way that Google likes it. They don’t want people gaming their system, so it’s necessary for them to obfuscate it to some degree. They are always giving us a little more though, because they DO want things to be optimized and tracked correctly. The trick is to make sure your small business SEO is always adjusting accordingly.

Yesterday, Google released an interesting video about queries and impressions. In the video, Google’s Maile Ohye (pictured above) walks you through ways to use search query information from webmaster tools to improve your site. We recommend everyone watch the video (here’s the link), and we wanted to highlight one particular point she makes that you may not have analyzed yourself.

In the video, Google makes it clear that the top 10 results of a search area always counted as impressions, even if the user doesn’t scroll down past the first five. This may be obvious to some of you, but many people are surprised to learn that they are still credited with an impression even if they are below the fold and not actually seen by the searcher.

The significance of this is that you may be underestimating your click through rate (CTR). If you’re in the bottom few results of the first page, your impressions may be high while your CTR is low. Traditionally, this has been interpreted as a sign of a weak impression or a perceived low value impression. We know now that this may not be the case. When you’re at the bottom of the page, you’ll get those high impression numbers because it’s page one, but not the clicks because you are below the fold.

So when you’re using your webmaster tools, make sure you’re always comparing your CTR with your physical spot on the page, it just may save you from revamping something that was successful all along.

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