For most people that work at SEO, including us (or THEM), the reason why search rankings matter is clear. We know that for many sites, the traffic from search engines is a key to success. We also know that the first search results in a query are the ones users click on; and most users do not click "Next results" in their search engine.
But explaining this to Average Joe is not nearly as compelling as you would expect (our experience says so!). Many people I know do not understand why SEO is useful for a website. How to prove that SEO is of key importance for a website? Try the "(Google's) Golden Triangle"!
The Golden Triangle (here purple) may not be news for many of you, this aspect of search users experience has been studied many times. Look, the darker areas in the picture were looked at more than the lighter ones and some areas are not even looked at.
Want some stats on users behavior? In tests 100% of the users look at the first 3 results, and only a 20% of the users will look at the 10th search result*. Moreover, after being actually looked at, the result will have a fraction of a second to convince the user that clicking it will satisfy his query. For that the site will need a very good, convincing teaser text (or snippet).
Will you have a chance? Find out now, just try checking your rankings in the right column or go to the "Ranking tool" to see your results!
The Google’s User Experience Research team offers deep information on the Golden Triangle on their blog. I thank them for the useful info!
*Check the Organic Ranking Visibility at Eyetools Google Research.