Comparison of Google clickthrough rates by position

Clickthrough research data reveals the importance of 1st, 2nd or 3rd position in Google

You often hear company owners saying “I want to rank top” for their target keywords. Although this may be an unrealistic hope, they’re right to say this since they realise that the proportion of clicks driven by top positions is much higher.

In previous research, summarised by Chris Soames, an analysis of natural search clickthrough rates (CTRs) from Optify showed the importance of Page 1 and, in particular the top 3 positions.

Optify Clickthrough rate ranking data

Chris also showed how you can use this curve to model the search volume you will get for different positions - this can be used to make the case for more investment in SEO.

The Optify data wasn’t across all industries and also limited in that it didn’t isolate the impact of brand terms (which account for a high proportion of search and tend to have a higher percentage of clicks on the top position).

Given these limitations of the Optify data, it was good to see a cross-industry comparison of CTRs recently published by MEC Manchester. Their infographic showing Google clickthrough rates by position certainly makes for interesting reading.

Brand vs non-brand clickthrough rates

You can clearly see the higher clickthrough rates for brand terms here and how they impact the overall rates.

Sector-specific clickthrough rates

The industry reports are interesting too - showing a surprising amount of variation between sectors, but there is a common pattern of the first three positions accounting for over 50% of clicks...

Paid vs natural share of search clicks

Another insight in this research shows that despite Google’s changes to the SERPs over the years, which have been roundly derided by SEOs, the vast majority of clicks are still on the natural listings. This research suggests 94% on the natural listings. A much higher proportion than previous data from the likes of iProspect from several years ago.

Methodology

Although published in Summer 2012, this research dates back to June 2011, so doesn’t reflect the latest changes to the SERPs results. The research is based on 28 million people in the UK, making a total 1.4 billion search queries during June 2011. It’s based on research from GroupM UK carried out with Nielsen.

Here is the full infographic.

Share your thoughts

  • amrit james commented on January 29, 2015

    This is the awesome demonstration of the CTR calculation, My agency http://googleseoland.com will definitely get help from this article. thanks again

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  • Stephin Mathue commented on May 21, 2014

    Brand keyword search having 80% CTR for top positions only and rest are plus. Its really great to target and rank for all of your Brand name combination.
    http://www.searchforceonline.com/

  • Matt commented on March 26, 2014

    In the water damage restoration industry it seems like the 3rd position may even beat out #2 or at least thats what I have observed with http://disasterrestorationaz.com

  • Guest commented on January 10, 2014

    The brand vs. non-brand breakdown, as well as the breakdown-by-industry, was insightful. I have wondered how people might approach a search for, say, a roofer, differently than they would for finding an answer to an informational question. Also, I wonder how local listings play into all of this. My site, http://www.RoofRinseRun.com, has listings in both currently, and I wonder if the local section drives more of the traffic…

  • Luke Kellett commented on December 17, 2013

    Hi Dave,
    Enjoyed this article but just realised that the data was taken from June 2011, things seem to have come along way since then, do you know of any more recent data written in a similar fashion?

  • The PPC vs. natural stat can’t be right. Just the aggregate on the clients we manage where the average paid position is around 2ish, our CTR is about 3.45%. So many campaigns have really high CTR averaging about 6%. Are we just that good?? 😉

  • SemMetric commented on October 2, 2012

    It would have been interesting to see the verticals CTRs segmented by branded and non-branded terms.

  • Is this all based off of users in the UK?

    • Hi Eric,

      Yes, as it says in the Methodology section:

      “The research is based on 28 million people in the UK, making a total 1.4 billion search queries during June 2011”.

      Where were you looking for data from?

  • The paid search vs organic CTR figure is interesting. As you mentioned, iProspect (and Hubspot) had previously reported a significantly higher figure in favour of PPC clicks. I would certainly be keen to see more research in this area to see if there’s any fluctuation in the data.

    • Yes Jonathan, my first thought was “I don’t believe this” given Google has made paid search dominate.

      However, the data will naturally include search terms which have no/few AdWords, so this will bring the figure down. Not sure what that % of queries for which ads aren’t presented is though – you need that data for context.

  • Great stats, really interesting. Will be ramping up the PPC budget if i ever need to target the 60yo Female segment!
    Anyone have any idea what average PPC CTR’s are in relation to ad positions?

    • Hi Tom,

      Good question, but I don’t think any similar research has been published recently.
      The PPC CTR figures I used to use in my books were from year’s back from Atlas – see http://www.seobook.com/archives/000422.shtml.
      Of course Google Analytics has a good way of seeing your own CTR for position in AdWords, but haven’t seen benchmark info.
      Good luck with the 60 YO Female targeting!

      Dave

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