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Top Google Rankings And No Traffic?

Discover why high Google rankings don't always guarantee high traffic.

My site ranks very well on Google but it doesn't get very much traffic. What am I doing wrong?

If you frequent webmaster forums on a regular basis you have probably seen this question asked numerous times. It is quite perplexing to see your web pages come up in the top-10 for your keywords/phrases yet you receive little or no traffic from those great Google rankings.

But there is a simple reason for this phenomenon - no one is searching for those keywords/phrases!

As an example, let's say you have a gardening site with a page that explains how to grow squash on a balcony. There is a very good chance that your page will come up in the Google top-10 for the phrase grow squash on a balcony. As a matter of fact, it might even be ranked #1!

Can you expect a lot of traffic from that great ranking?
No. Why not?

That phrase is a very specific, non-competitive search term that very few people would ever search on. If no one searches on a page's targeted key phrase no one will find the page, hence no traffic from the top Google ranking.

Now, if you target the phrase grow squash, a top Google ranking will result in considerably more traffic, yet still nothing to write home about. While a bit more competitive than the first phrase, grow squash on a balcony, the shorter phrase is still rather non-competitive.

But if you decide to target the keyword squash, a top Google ranking will net you the most traffic possible for a search dealing with your squash page.

In short, there are a several things that determine how much traffic you can expect to receive from a top Google ranking for any given search term:

  1. How much drawing power does the page title and description have? Do they entice the searchers to click on your listing or are they likely to move on to the next one?
  2. How often is the search term actually searched for? If the answer is rarely, you won't receive much traffic from it even if you're ranked #1 for it.
  3. How competitive is the search term? If you do a Google search on a phrase that returns just a few thousand results (paltry by Google standards), this is a non-competitive search term that is likely to result in very low traffic levels. 
  4. How specific is the phrase you're targeting? As in our squash example, the more specific the phrase the fewer searches there will be for that phrase, resulting in low traffic flow from the ranking.
Does this mean you shouldn't target less competitive, less searched for search terms? Not at all!

While a high ranking for a more specific search term will result in fewer searches (and less traffic) than a more general one, the quality of that traffic will be higher. This usually results in a higher conversion rate and more sales! It also means you don't have to pay for the bandwidth that's wasted by a high level of untargeted traffic (visitors who aren't really interested in your offer).

In a nutshell, we're dealing with a simple trade-off here: specific, non-competitive search terms result in fewer, but better targeted visitors to you web pages. Whether this is good or bad depends on what you hope to accomplish after the visitors hit your landing page.

The bottom line: if you want to get the most traffic possible from a top Google ranking, you have to target a search term that lots of people do searches on! It really is that simple!

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