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The power of a no.1 search ranking

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Wednesday July 28, 2010 )

A no.1 ranking on a popular keyword or phrase in search engine results not only brings a ton of traffic, but instant credibility it seems.

A Northwestern University study found participants trust Google so much, many just click on top ranked sites.

While Google doesn’t rank on credibility per se, the study found that a site’s layout or content had little importance to the students. What was important is that it was the number one result on Google.

The study also makes reference to an earlier report from Pew Internet & American Life Project that found 68% of American Internet users surveyed believe that using search engines provides them with “a fair and unbiased source of information,” and that percentage jumped to 72% for those under the age of 30.

So it would seem that scoring that no.1 spot doesn’t just provide volume, but also possibility help groom users, helping in the online sales conversion process.

The authors of the report note: “How users get to a Web site is often as much a part of their evaluation of the destination site as any particular features of the pages they visit.Accordingly, looking at Web site credibility without the entire search context ignores an important part of the puzzle.”

and:

“Nonetheless, the importance of this factor in assessing a site’s credibility cannot be ignored. Additionally, because the brand effect translates to trust in search engines as well as specific destination Web sites, perhaps new site creators need to focus their energies on achieving good rankings on search results lists in addition to being mindful about their sites’ particular features.”

The full study, Trust Online: Young Adults’ Evaluation of Web Content can be downloaded here (PDF).

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