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A perspective of SERPs and the future of the (top) 10 blue links

top 10 blue links

A SERP is a Search Engine Results Page. When you type in a search query the results you get back from the search engine is called a SERP. The 10 blue links are the organic search result links that appear on the SERP. An organic link is a link that is not paid for (Pay per click ad), does not appear in an info block, nor a Google+ block.

A typical Google SERP
A typical Google SERP

In terms of the art of SEO (Search Engine Marketing); SEO’s prime endeavor is to get a webpage ranked in the (top) 10 blue links for a specific keyword.

A contentious debate has emerged in the SEO world as to the importance of the 10 blue links in contemporary SEO practice and that this is in fact on the (serious) decline. This post discusses how the landscape of the 10 blue links is changing.

The value of an organic link

Classic SEO expounds the value of an organic link. If we take the following factors into account, we can see why.

  • 93% of online experience starts with a search engine
  • Google owns 72.48% of the search market share (
  • Link click breakdown between paid and organic search
    • Organic 70%
    • Paid search 30%
  • Link click breakdown between organic positions
    • 1 -> 32,5%
    • 2 -> 16,6%
    • 3 -> 11,4%;
  • Searchers have formed a subconscious blindness to sponsored ads, this can be as high as 70 – 80%
  • Users seldom scroll past the first search result page
  • Search is the #1 driver of traffic to content sites, beating social media by 300%
Percentage of click traffic for Google results
Percentage of Google traffic for organic results

So in the presence of a classic or Google of old SERP, ranking in the 10 blue links is big business.

The rigid SERP of the Google of old – organic links are losing out

A search on Google for "10 blue links" results in a SERP reminiscent of the rigid search result of Google of old.

google search result of old
Google search result of old

Today we see a very different SERP. Take a look at the result page for apple, there are only 4 organic listings. Overshadowing the organic results are paid ads, news results, multiple site links, image results, local search and a Google+ box. Other possible results could be video snippets and reviews.

Apple search result
Apple search result

Moving on to local search results.

What about local search results?

If we do a search for bed and breakfast Johannesburg we see another typical search page which has the presence of local search results. Do you rank for organic or do you rank for local results? You will also get different search results searching from different locations. Someone searching for bead and breakfast Johannesburg will see different results to someone searching with in the Johannesburg geo-location.

Local search results for Bead and Breakfast
Local search results for bed and breakfast

How does the 10 blue links relate to 'Above the Fold'?

10 blue links and 'Above the Fold'

Above the fold refers to the content that appears within the viewing window without having to scroll down. Links that are below the fold are a lot less likely to be found than those above the fold. So in the case of apple, all organic links are hidden below the fold.

Throw mobile into the mix

Searches from mobile devices have overtaken searches from desktop and this divide will only increase. For mobile devices, for bed and breakfast Johannesburg, one has to scroll a LOOOOONG way down before seeing any organic links.

What does all this mean?

We can extend this debate into all sorts of directions, however the short is that the SEO landscape is changing dramatically. Text book SEO can no longer guarantee page rankings.  SEO is no longer a clear cut obsession with getting the top ranking. SEO like all online marketing is very much contextual and depends entirely on the objective(s). This can become a very nuanced perspective.

If you need advice on your online marketing strategy, please contact me on the form below. Please also feel free to leave a comment.

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