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Microsoft recently published a study that has the Web world rocking. Essentially, the study says that being in the top 5 of a search results page (SERP) is the optimum place to be. This is considered, in the WWW publishing world, “above the fold,” to borrow an old newspaper publishing term. To be above the fold means to appear on a page so that no scrolling is necessary in order to be viewed. On a SERP, that’s in the top 5 listings.

It has been said over and over again that being in the top 10, on the first page of a SERP, is where you want to be. Due to increasing competitiveness, that’s no longer true. However, because of the way searchers view SERP listings, being in the top 8 makes you visible even if the searcher clicks on one of the top 6 sites. That’s because searchers tend to scan two places beyond where they click, so Microsoft says.

So does that mean searchers don’t go beyond the first page any more? It could be. Perhaps that is because search marketers are getting better at getting themselves ranked highly for their specific keywords. Still, not everyone can be in the top 5. So if searchers are going to find the “best” listing for their query they may still do themselves a favor and go beyond page 1. But not always.

If my search is for “Chicago Zoo,” for example, I’d expect that the Chicago Zoo would be the No. 1 ranked website for my query. Even if I look at other listings, that’s the one I want. But if my search query is a bit more obscure, say, “Amazon jungle wildlife,” then I could be interested in several websites for that query. The top 1 or 2 may not necessarily suit my purposes, nor may any of the first 10. Remember, it’s a jungle out there and search engines sometimes don’t see the jungle for the trees.

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