Head of Strategy Insight: 4 reasons why ranking on page 2 is okay
There is a common saying that ‘the best place to hide a dead body is page two of Google’. However ranking on page two is not the end of the world. In fact, there are plenty of benefits to ranking on the second page. This might sound odd, so let’s look at why you shouldn’t worry too much if you can’t manage to get to page one.
Getting SOME traffic
Some traffic is always better than none. This doesn’t mean you should settle for less, but there are definite scenarios where some traffic is perfectly fine.
A commonly disregarded scenario is on highly competitive phrases that have a high volume of traffic. In these scenarios, many potential competitors stay away and focus their efforts on longer-tail phrases.
What this means is that page one might be packed, but page two is relatively clear, in terms of how hard it would be to get content appearing there. While only a small percentage of users navigate to page two and beyond, these phrases have such high volume that a decent number still do so.
Approximately five per cent of users end up on page two of a search result. Five per cent of 100,000 monthly searches is still 5,000 potential clicks that ‘may’ be uncontested.
Another scenario is where the top rankings are taken up by sites like Wikipedia, or Government and education sites.
While these sites are commonly the best resource for specific queries, they can be difficult to understand and users want basic explanations or information. These sites are generally favoured by search algorithms by default, so the quality of these sites may be quite low.
There are plenty of other scenarios, and the best way to take advantage is to flood these search results with your content. You just need to make sure your content is high quality because it will be important to retain these visitors given the smaller available numbers.
Showcasing your site and content
In many cases, your site will be much better than the competition, and your content is much higher quality. You may be weak in other ranking factors (links for example), so the inferior sites are outranking you with ease.
This can be disheartening, but you will have an important card up your sleeve – engagement.
Website engagement is one of the strongest ranking factors, and is generally disregarded by SEOs. Engagement as a ranking factor looks at metrics such as bounce rate and time on page. It makes perfect sense – when visitors don’t immediately leave the site and spend some time on it, it’s a clear indicator that they found what they were looking for. You need to be this site.
Rand Fishkin famously conducted an experiment where he asked his Twitter followers to search for and click on a result making sure to engage in the site. Sure enough, the page shot up the rankings very quickly when the algorithm ‘realised’ that result was highly regarded by people searching that phrase.
Google has since implemented fixes to ensure you can’t abuse it, but if visitors are actively engaging your website you will move up the rankings.
When you’re on page two, fewer visitors will initially see your page, but if this tactic works, you will be on page one in no time.
Testing the waters
It’s practically impossible to determine where you’re going to rank prior to actually posting your content.
Many website content creators are scared to ‘waste’ time on creating content they aren’t sure will rank well. This is a really bad mindset to have because creating content for SEO is a trial and error process. A LOT of your content will not go anywhere, and that’s fine!
Once you have posted content and found it ranking on page two or beyond, it’s time to make your move. When this happens, many people would just move onto the next topic and apply what they have learned. This can be a mistake.
You now have a great opportunity to improve this piece of content and leapfrog the competition.
You can simply follow these steps to assess and crush the competition:
- Ensure your word count is above the average of sites outranking you
- Ensure your content is relevant to the search query
- Ensure the structure of your content is more user-friendly than your competition’s
- Ensure you are covering every topic the competition is covering
After your assessment, make changes to the content to be more competitive. Make sure your content is AT LEAST as good as the competitors you want to jump ahead of. In many cases you need to be better, but getting to their level is a good start.
One final tip here is to revisit after a few months in case you need to make further tweaks. For instance you may notice some movement from the competition or even new sites entering the race and want to adjust your article to ensure it continues to rank well. This is particularly important if your content is a solid percentage of your traffic.
Set up for future algorithm updates
These days, SEO is too focused on the ‘now’ instead of future-proofing. This makes sense since people want to see immediate results. This can be damaging long-term however,
There aren’t many certainties when it comes to Google’s algorithm, but you know that quality content will always be favoured. How Google determines what is quality content will always change, so covering all bases is the way to go.
Future-proofing your content can be as simple as:
- Having a high word count
- Staying relevant to the topic
- Avoiding filler text
- Having a user-friendly structure
- Embedding rich media (tweets, videos etc.)
- Writing to the correct personas
- Setting a reading difficulty level applicable to your audience
In the short-term, page two might be where your content will sit, but changes in the algorithm focusing on quality content will mean you don’t need to go back and update your content – it will be ready to go.
Don’t be deflated if you are ranking on page two. It really isn’t as bad as the SEO world makes it out to be.
Long-term you don’t want to be ranking on page two for all of your content, but as you can see from this article, there are plenty of ways to take advantage of your situation.
If done right, the traffic will come in no time and your efforts will be worth it.