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Top 4 Insights from the new Google Webmaster Tools Top Search Queries Feature

Apr 15, 2010 / by Nelson James

google-webmaster-central-logoFor those of you who aren't aware yet, Google just announced some new features in Google Webmaster Tools. The most incredible is the top search queries enhancement which shows clickthrough rates, percentages and impressions along with some useful and pretty charts. This additional long-awaited data will provide webmasters with some incredible insights. Here are the top 4:

  1. Ranking Report - Google is now providing webmasters with an accurate and up to date (at least up to 48 hours) idea of where they are ranking for their top search queries, along with historical data. By setting a date range to different time frames, you can see what position you are most often showing up in by finding the position with the highest number of impressions for that time period. You can do with this data what you normally do with ranking data (find low hanging fruit on page 2 and 3 and optimize to get to page 1, watch trends of broad and new trending keywords, etc.)

  2. Enhance your clickthrough rate through Title and Snippet optimization - This new feature set gives us the unique opportunity to test making changes to our title not just for SEO purposes, but for marketability. Does having a call to action in your title or description increase your clickthrough percentage? Does putting your company name first vs last vs at all? What about non-alpha-numeric characters? Is a pipe better than a dash? Does an exclamation mark or a question mark change things? or does it even matter? Does mention of your keyword more times in either your title or description increase clickthrough because they are bolded? These are all very good questions that, with some smart testing, each of us can have answers to.

  3. Model out position share for a particular niche - We've all wondered what the clickthrough rate difference is between the top 10 rankings. Does the number one ranking really get ~50% of all SERP clicks? Obviously there are multiple variables that go into the SERP clickthrough percentage (title, description, relevancy, etc), but I believe that there is a possibility to model out a general position share based on particular niches and keywords. Do broad informational keywords have a higher clickthrough rate on the #1 position? If I search for the keyword "Angioplasty", for example, I'm most likely just looking for information and or a definition of the word, so the fact that wikipedia shows up #1 for that search is probably best and I bet the clickthrough percentage for that keyword for wikipedia is in the 60-70% range (anyone with access to wikipedia GWT care to verify?). Whereas, a search for "Best laptop Deals" most likely has a more even spread of clickthrough because of the type of search. Also, what about industries? Does the SEO industry have a general clickthrough position share that is different than the real estate industry? We now have access to find out.

  4. PPC and SEO Co-Optimization - This is a big one in my eyes. So far it has proven somewhat difficult to co-optimize PPC and SEO together. Testing is tedious, difficult and results vary greatly on whether the different mediums cannibalize or compliment each other. Now we have some incredibly helpful information to assist in testing. Here's an example: Say you're showing up number 1 for a keyword organically. You also show up #1 in the PPC listings. Is your PPC listing cannibalizing your organic listing? (are you paying for traffic that would otherwise be free?). Test it with credible data! Now you know your clickthrough rate for your #1 organic listing AND you know your clickthrough rate for your #1 PPC listing. Put your PPC listing into position 2. What happens with your organic clickthrough rate? What about position 3? 4? 5? Now you can test to see where you get maximum value from both campaigns.

I think there is much more that could be written here so I promise to have a follow up post down the road, but I also expect to see a lot of other posts with testing and proving coming up in the future.

Bottom line, this is very exciting data to have. Get in, get dirty. And let's all thank Google for giving us what we want!

Topics: SEO Webmaster Tools

Nelson James

Written by Nelson James

Nelson James is one of the co-founders of SEO.com. Nelson has a beautiful wife, a darling little girl named Madeline, and a tough little boy named Sam all of whom help him to work and play hard.

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