How Much is a #1 Google Ranking Worth?

I just wrote a ~15 page article aimed at helping SEOs estimate how much a top rank in Google is worth.

I would appreciate any feedback you have on making it better. If you like it please hook me up with a or Stumble. Any and all mentions are appreciated. :)

Published: May 1, 2008 by Aaron Wall in google


May 1, 2008 - 1:23pm

Lots of great ideas on how to come up with a number, but no real formula to find it. I would have liked to see some sort of standard example for each solution in which you found the value of a 1-2-3-4-5 position.

May 1, 2008 - 1:30pm

Very Helpful for those of us selling both PPC & SEO to customers. Thanks

May 1, 2008 - 1:33pm

There are so many variables that it is somewhat hard to come up with an exact many variables like # of ads, Google onebox, is the search for a brand, how well do you monetize the traffic, etc.

A few ways to come up with a solid baseline number are...

  • You can multiply Google Traffic Estimator by 4 to 7 to get a range.
  • Microsoft Ad Intelligence provides search volume data. You could normalize that against their marketshare to Google's share, and then take a breakdown based on past SERP CTR studies.
  • You can compare your site to other sites using a competitive research tool like Search Analytics

They are all based on data sampling and estimations though.

Dave Snyder
May 1, 2008 - 2:07pm

Aaron this is a home run.

I love to see articles supported by data rather than speculation.

For those of us working in e-commerce this article makes it very easy to gauge the value of rankings based on present placement and revenue. This article goes hand in hand with my new soap box of superior analytics and analysis. If you do not know what is going on in terms of your site, then your seo and PPC efforts will be almost wasted.

It's great to come up #1 for y term but x may actually be garnering you 5X the revenue at the #6 spot, and if you focused your efforts and got that term in the top three your revenue will grow exponentially.

To be honest this post is a great tool for SEOs trying to sell services to companies sold on PPC.

Great work Aaron.

May 1, 2008 - 2:09pm

Awesome and detailed, but reading this at 6AM is like trying to eat a steak at 6AM...there is so much here, I need to come back when I'm more awake :.)

May 1, 2008 - 2:12pm

Thanks for the kind words Dave & Todd. :)

May 1, 2008 - 4:42pm

Aaron -

This is fantastic research. The highlight for me specifically was this data:

".... if you are ranking 8, 9, or 10 you may be able to increase your traffic for that keyword 1,400% by ranking #1. Even jumping from #8 to #3 can triple your traffic."

The bottom line (for most business models) is more traffic = more revenue. For many businesses this will help qualify more investment in SEO activities.

May 1, 2008 - 5:17pm

Hello Aaron.

"I would appreciate any feedback you have on making it better."

This is a good article. Thank you for posting it. Here are a number of things you may want to consider to better hit the first two of your stated three goals (1. raising awareness and 2. helping to motivate folks to pursue SEO). My comments are mainly suggestions of places to offer brief explanations of things that might slow someone down if they are less familiar with SEO. I think making some of these changes would improve the reading flow for less experienced webmasters. Just my opinion, of course. Again thanks for the post and the information.

(Feel free to pull this out of the displayed comments. I hope you might find something useful here but I am not so sure it adds to the overall conversation by being in the comments.)

Your first chart (image from Search Engine Land) has no explanation of what the different lines/symbols represent. Some might know what CS, NR, HW, and CP means but plenty of folks will not.

The chart a few down from the first chart, under the heading "Google Under-Monetizes to...." may also be unclear to many folks. A one sentence explanation of what is meant by "comprehensive add coverage" might be useful here (something like - "Add coverage is a measure of how many adds are served for keyword search queries, with a lower percentage representing fewer paid adds being served.")

The next point, international market domination - a brief (one sentence?) explanation of "upstream traffic" might help.

Further down under the heading "Sample data from Google Traffic Estimator" - just before the first table you might consider adding "Each line of the table represents a different keyword."

The heading "Understanding match types" maybe should be "Understanding match types in Google Traffic Estimator."

In the paragraph just before the "Pay per click ad CTR research" heading there is a grammatical error - accustom should be accustomed.

Hopefully there is something useful to you in my nitpickiness (I'm making up my own words these days).

Be well,

May 1, 2008 - 10:37pm

Thanks for the (always) great work. I have an off topic question and apologize if I'm out of line.

I have a client with a Coldfusion site. Besides creating a static site map, are there any better ways to get this site indexed? He's found on Yahoo somewhat, Google nothing.

Again, sorry for the intrusion but I want to do the best I can for this guy. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank You.

May 2, 2008 - 12:47am

I try to answer specific SEO queries in our community forums. P...
May 2, 2008 - 12:22am

Here's what achieving #1 Rankings on Google have been worth--to us.

Dramatic growth came just about six months from the day I started working at SP. NO, I do not for one second believe that our newly found SEO success on Google--at that time--was the only contributing factor for the strong sales increase (having a good product/service to sell was/is obviously critical), but it did play a very significant factor in our quick growth.

- Eric Itzkowitz

p.s. As a side benefit from reading Aaron's post, I stumbled upon a potentially killer viral marketing campaign that we should be able to use to grow traffic and sales even further. SEE... it definitely pays to read SEOBOOK. (:

May 2, 2008 - 12:48am

Glad you liked the article and found good ideas in it Eric. :)

May 2, 2008 - 5:43am

Hey Aaron, great post man! Thanks for sharing. One quick tool to remind you of as it relates to this

Most people who search are looking to research information rather than buying an item, and yet most pay per click ads aim to sell items.

I use this tool to aid in the process of understanding intent

Far from foolproof, but something to help.

May 2, 2008 - 10:05am

Thanks Will. I will add a link to that tool in the morning :)

Cavan Moon
May 2, 2008 - 8:30pm

I agree with incrediblehelp that I read this expecting to see a formula of some kind. What I found instead was a great piece of content that should find its way into every reader's bookmarks. We actually used a majority of this content in 07' to develop a tool for predicting traffic by engine, breaking it down by organic and paid position. Google Traffic Estimator, search engine market share, AOL's data, Enquiro's eye tracking paper, and even the post with the Atlas data that I bookmarked nearly four years's all there. Kind of made my stomach sink when I saw it. ;) Congrats for putting it all together so cleanly, I'm sure it took quite a bit of work!

Local SEO Guide
May 2, 2008 - 8:48pm

Aaron, thanks for taking the time to put all of this data together. This post should become required reading for all capitalists and their children.

May 2, 2008 - 11:35pm

Thanks :)

Vikram Singh
May 3, 2008 - 5:34pm

Thanks for the excellent post Aaron! You have given me some excellent talking points for the search marketing seminar I am delivering in San Francisco next week.


May 21, 2008 - 8:14pm

I have a question regarding recent changes in Google search results algorithm. I noticed that before if you searched for a specific keyword, Google could come up showing the same site up to 6 times (among top 30 search results). Started from March 08 if you search the same keyword - Google shows maximum twice the same site (among top 30 search results). I checked different keywords, different websites and noticed this change. It looks like that Google put a limit to show the same site more than twice on top 30 search results.
Are you aware of any announced changes made by Google and where I can read about it?


May 22, 2008 - 2:55am

That change was to minimized duplicated result crowding. Matt Cutts mentioned it, though some companies are still getting around it based on domain authority and/or the use of subdomains.

June 11, 2008 - 8:21pm

Hi, all ,
My self Amit Patekar, working as project manager for web development team. In our team we always have discussion on how important it is to have ranking. But one should also keep in mind that only ranking will not help. One should be able to deliver the service to such a large volume of traffic, I mean its of no use if the user is not getting what he is searching for.

Finaly what matters is, what the user is getting out of it.

thanks and regards
Amit Patekar

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