How Many Google Search Results Pages do you use?

My general Googling (that’s a word, right?) workflow goes something like this:

  1. Hit CTRL + T in Chrome
  2. Type my search query
  3. Hit Enter
  4. View first 3-4 results 1. If desired content is found, great!
  5. If desired content is not found, change my query and try again

I have realized that I generally only look at the first few results that Google returns when I search for something. I might scroll down and view the entire first page of results, but never will I click onto the second page. It looks like I’m not alone on this one either:

A sample of over 8 million clicks shows that over 94% of users clicked on a first page result and less than 6% actually clicking to the second page and selecting a result displayed there. One of the biggest drop off’s is between the 10 spot (bottom of the first page) and the 11 spot (top of the second page) from 2.71% down to 1.11%. That’s a 143% dip from one position to the next.

Being on the first page of results has a huge correlation to the number of clicks you get from Google. This is also backed up by the percentage of traffic by result order, provided by Chitika:

The top spot drove 34.35% of all traffic in the sample, almost as much as the numbers 2 through 5 slots combined, and more than the numbers 5 through 20 (the end of page 2) put together.

What this shows is that many users, myself included, have gotten so used to Google returning exactly what you want the first time. When the time comes that you can’t find what you asked for, it’s not Google that’s wrong. It’s you and your query. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you’re wrong and don’t know the correct terms to search for. “If my results aren’t on the first page”, many users ask, “then why would it be on the second. Or third?” My answer to that question is… well… you’re all right. Why would it be? Google’s PageRank algorithm is so good it’s going to be a better use of your time to change your search than click through pages. Sure, you might find your result on page 11, but then you’d have wasted a lot of time clicking Next, reviewing 10 items and clicking Next again. You’ll have reviewed 100 links before seeing what you want, not to mention how many items you’ve clicked into and realized they’re not correct.

Let’s be honest anyway. Is changing your query really any harder than clicking the link to go to the next page? To change you query, all you have to do is scroll up, position your cursor in the search box and type. You might even be an exceptional power user like myself and hit ALT + D to instantly go to the Chrome Omnibox and skip the scrolling part. To change the query, maybe you type in a few extra search terms. Maybe you reword the query and use a synonym. Maybe you reference Google’s Basic Search Help or even review the Search Operators to improve your question. Like I said before, it’s a better use of your time.

And think about it this way: the option of changing your search query is leaps and bounds better than clicking through pages and pages of the content before realizing you used the wrong terms and you’re never going to find what you want anyway.