Searches With Depth vs Shallow Branded Searches

Certain types of searches distribute the bulk of the leads to the top few listed sites, while other types of searches distribute traffic further down the search results.

Brand Searchers Don't Search Deeply:

Branded search queries, for example, will deliver the bulk of the leads to the associated brand, especially if that brand sells directly and/or if focused on SEO. Generic searches and highly commercial searches will also typically deliver the bulk of their traffic to the top few results. If the search is generic in nature people will likely click one of the top few listings if it is relevant or search again. If the search is highly commercial in nature the odds are pretty good that the ads will be more relevant and more appealing than the organic listings.

Even if the brand searcher does search a bit deeper, their intent is usually closely aligned with the core brand they were searching for. It is hard to switch their reptilian mindset to do something else.

Long Tail = Deep Searcher:

Longer search queries and research oriented searches will likely yield a more even traffic distribution to sites listed lower in the search results. In some fields affiliates are all fighting to rank the exact same set of data, but in those same fields if your site has original user generated or editorial content it is easy to match many long tail search queries.

Lower Ranking = More Traffic:

Why is it worth considering this? When you look at keyword tools, a keyword with 10% of the volume may deliver more traffic to a #7 ranked site than how much traffic a keyword 10x as popular would to a #4 listed site.

The Mindset of a Deep Searcher:

Certain classes of search and types of search promote deep searching, while others are very top heavy. For example, a better way to play branded terms is to focus on coupon related searches rather than the core brand. Searches for coupons promoted in checkouts will dig through the results if none of the top ones are relevant because those people are already somewhat committed to a checkout and are committed to doing more to save a little bit.

Look at what you are already ranking for and getting traffic for. It may make sense to go for more long tail variations before going after broader and more competitive terms that you may not be able to rank for and may send less traffic even when you do.

Published: January 23, 2007 by Aaron Wall in marketing


January 23, 2007 - 5:13am

Great post, Aaron. This is stuff I can apply immediately. Very interesting.

January 23, 2007 - 7:09am

I've always gotten a fair amount of traffic from long tail phrases coming past the first page of search results. Some terms have consistently been driving traffic to my site even though I rank 3 or 4 pages deep.

The pages are heavy on content, hopefully useful, and the searches are more along the lines of someone doing research. And as you mention the content alone was all it took to get those pages to rank where they do.

James Dunn
January 23, 2007 - 8:07pm

I don\'t understand the lower rankings = more traffic part. I would understand if you were talking about being ranked higher for a low volume keyword being good (i.e. longtail phrases), but how does being lower in the SERPs for a lower volume get you more traffic?

January 26, 2007 - 6:34am

Makes sense to me.

From my understanding, a totally hypothetical example:
A) Kraft - 100,000 searches - but 95% looking for official Kraft site or news about Kraft and won't click below result #3. Only 5,000 potential clicks for #4.

B) Kraft coupons - 10,000 searches - 75% looking for the best coupons available will click and compare as far as #7. So 7,500 potential clicks for #7.

A has 10x the search traffic, but B yields 1.5x as many clicks. (Again, totally hypothetical here, I have no idea what the real numbers are.)

My question: Aside from gut instinct and reason, is there any way to determine the 'average depth' to which people click for a keyword?

January 27, 2007 - 1:19am

I think gut feel is how I typically go, but other things you can look at is to track your traffic from your server logs and to see where you were ranking. Another option would be to buy some PPC ads for the term. Typically if people are clicking on the side rail PPC ads there is also a decent chance there is good clickthrough on some of the lower organic results is well.

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