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The usual suspects: Predictable Google results


Visibility is everything

A recent study has revealed that internet encyclopedia Wikipedia appears on the first page of results for 99 per cent of Google searches. While this is an extreme case, it is not the only website to be a familiar sight on search engine results pages (SERPs). Facebook, LinkedIn, 192.com, FreeIndex and Google's own products could all be considered part of this category, to some extent.

Does this mean that the availability of high rankings is limited? For every spot nabbed by a dominant 'all-encompassing' website, that means one less place available for specific brands to battle over.

In the infinite tangle of information that is the online world, visibility is everything. It represents both practical success and perceived success – which are equally important in the world of business.

For example, websites which have achieved a high-ranking position in search results are statistically far more likely to be visited by internet users. Whether or not these sites manage to retain visitors, encourage repeat visits and convert page views to sales is another matter – but stumbling on to a website in the first place is indisputably the key to the entire process.

Meanwhile, in perception terms, people remember the brands they see the most – just as in traditional advertising – and often grow to trust them. This alone can result in more direct searches, visits and transactions.

Not all Wiki pages are truly useful

The revelation about Wikipedia came from analytics agency Intelligent Positioning, which used a random noun generator to search for a thousand different keywords via Google. A Wikipedia page appeared in 99 per cent of all page one results; 96 per cent of top five results; and 56 per cent of number one results.

Intelligent Positioning's ensuing analysis raises some important questions about this level of dominance, with particular reference to Google's high esteem for fresh and unique content.

"We know that Wikipedia is a vast site with millions of pages and thousands of editors offering unique vital content on multitudes of subject matters," it states. "But should Wikipedia be the de-facto resource for pretty much all subjects? Surely some pages are riding on the back of other quality pages or perhaps lazy references to the site from businesses and bloggers across the internet."

As noted here, Wikipedia can often be very useful, producing the answers that a searcher is seeking. However, the SEO authority it has gained for its great pages is no doubt bumping up the rankings of its poor ones, thereby pushing down more specific websites which may be more relevant or informative.

Liane Baddeley

[Screen capture: Intelligent Positioning.]
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