It’s a huge challenge to improve your organic ranking and get more traffic from search engines. With the wide variety of listings showing up on Google’s search results page, it’s extremely difficult to determine which ones are more likely to catch the reader’s eye. So you may find yourself asking dozens of questions. Will the first listing get more clicks than the ones at the bottom? What if the user is intending to buy something? What if they’re looking for a particular brand?
All this can be quite overwhelming. However, if you focus on some of the most important ranking factors, you can more easily succeed in boosting your ranking. In the Search Ranking Factors published by Search Metrics in 2015, user experience (UX) was considered to be one of the top factors. According to SEO experts like Neil Patel and Moz’s Rand Fishkin, ranking is also greatly influenced by other factors, including click-through rate (CTR).
Since CTR is so crucial, I’ve devoted this entire post to talking about how click through rate changes for various listing positions on Google’s search results. I’m also going to talk about the differences in click through rate for various industries.
Click Through Rate For All Searches
Advanced Web Ranking performed a study on Google’s organic click through rate (CTR) for February 2016. They found that the first position had the highest organic click-through rate among desktop users at 27.45. The second position had a CTR of 14.76 and the third had 9.1. Even among mobile users, the first position had the highest organic click-through rate at 23.25. The second position had a CTR of 16.02 and the third had 10.29. The results were calculated based on searches coming from over 1,000,000 keywords and 38,310 websites.
You can see that the highest CTR for searches using desktop devices was higher than that of searches conducted through mobile devices. Also, mobile searches performed much better from the 2nd position than desktop. Review the chart below for CTR changes based on device.
Last year, the click through rate (CTR) study for February 2015 showed that the top desktop position had a CTR of 27.04, followed by the second at 13.54 and the third at 9.01. The top mobile position had a CTR of 28.63, the second had 17.39, and the third had 11.28. These results were based on searches coming from 102,433 keywords and 4,718 websites. In 2015, mobile searches outperformed desktop searches in everything. You can see the trend for CTR changes for both desktop and mobile searches often. Below is a chart from last year’s study.
Click Through Rate Changes Based On Type Of Business
The study from Advanced Web Ranking also showed useful data on the click through rate changes according to website categories. To establish the most accurate results, 21,407 websites across an array of industries were analyzed along with data from 523,031 keywords. Let’s take a look at the different click through rate changes according to various websites:
- Among all industries, jobs and education seemed to perform the best with a CTR of 31.21 for the first position. The second and third positions had CTRs of 13.91 and 9.03 respectively.
- Back in 2014, the first position in the jobs and education category had a CTR of 29.59. But the second and third positions performed slightly better with CTRs of 16.28 and 10 respectively.
- Next comes the Internet and telecom industry with the CTR of the first position at 30.75, the second at 15.36, and third at 8.46.
- In 2014, the first position in the Internet and telecom industry performed slightly worse with a CTR of 29.93. The second and third positions, however, fared much better with CTRs of 17.23 and 9.5 respectively. You can see the CTR changes of this category in 2015 in the image below.
- Home and garden was the next best category, but its performance was not too different from the Internet and telecom industry. The first position had a CTR of 30.25, while the second had 13.25 and third had 8.77 CTRs.
- In 2014, it performed far better than the previous category with a CTR of 31.73 for the first position. The CTRs for second and third positions in the home and garden category were 14.65 and 9.72 respectively. Review the performance of websites in this industry in the following chart.
- Another of the top-performing categories was dining and nightlife, which was the best performer in 2014.
- In the latest report, the first position among websites in this category had a CTR of 28.61 and the second had 24.03. The third and fourth positions had CTRs of 16.06 and 10.69 respectively. Here’s a chart to help you get a better idea about how dining and nightlife performed in 2015.
- In the 2015 report, the worst-performing websites were those in the retail and general merchandise industry. The first position in this category only had a CTR of 18.75, while the second and third had CTRs of 13.52 and 8.24 respectively.
- Despite this, there is a slight improvement from the 2014 results where the first position had a CTR of 17.06. The second and third positions had CTRs of 12.69 and 8.77 respectively. Peruse the following chart depiction of the retail and general merchandise category’s performance.
- The beauty and personal care category performed slightly better than retailers with the first position having a CTR of 19.02. Its second and third positions were at a CTR of 13.87 and 9.47 respectively.
- There was a decline in the CTR for websites in this category as compared to 2014. Then the first position had a CTR of 20.28, the second had 15.54, and the third had 10.15. In the image below, you can see how the beauty and personal industry’s click through rate changes have charted.
- Websites related to occasions and gifts had a somewhat better performance than the previous category mentioned. The first position had a CTR of 19.32, the second had 13.18, and the third had 9.44.
- By the 10th position, the CTR for occasions and gifts had sharply declined at just 1.71. Take a look at the following image for a chart depiction of its performance.
According to the data on CTR changes you’ve seen seen, it appears that the top two performing categories experienced an increase in CTR for the first positions from 2014. The CTRs for their second and third positions both declined from the previous year though. Home and garden experienced an overall decrease in click-through rate in comparison to 2014, but it’s still one of the best performers.
Effect Of Ads On Click Through Rate
In the same study, it was found that the presence of ads in the search results greatly impacted the click through rate (CTR) for the first position. Nevertheless, this impact isn’t as positive as you’d like to believe. The results showed that the CTR for the first listing without ads was at 31.9. The CTR dropped to 21.91 when an ad is present on the search results page. In the image below, you can see that the influence of ads on CTR changes and fades away as you scroll down the page.
Branded Or Unbranded Searches?
The February 2015 report found that branded searches were performing much better than unbranded ones. A branded search can be defined as a search that has a keyword that’s also contained in the domain name. Among branded searches, the first position had a CTR of 40.25. Yet the first position for unbranded searches had a CTR of 25.61. Clearly there are striking CTR changes for these two factors.
These figures were much different in the Google CTR Study published by Catalyst Search Marketing in 2013 though. In this study, unbranded searches had significantly higher ranking for CTR than branded positions. The difference was a striking 22% back then. Now you see that there’s an improvement in the performance of branded searches. It might be a good idea to implement them for your website. Review the chart below that shows the CTR changes of both types of searches from the most recent report.
It seems the CTRs for both branded and unbranded searches are nearly the same as you go lower in the search results page. The second position among branded searches had a CTR of 15.6 while the unbranded searches came in at 14.95. For the third position, unbranded searches performed better than branded searches with a CTR of 9.43 instead of 7.75.
CTR Changes Based On Search Intent
The study even discovered that the click through rate changes when users searched with a specific intent. The first position had a CTR of 26.67. The first position among searches with other intent outperformed that of specific intent with a CTR of 29.7. As go further in the search results, however, specific intent searches had higher CTRs than searches with other intent. The following chart demonstrates how these two types of searches differed in terms of click through rate.
Google’s organic CTR changes occasionally. It’s a smart idea to keep a close eye on any updates. This can help you gain a better understanding about how little improvements can be implemented on your website. Then you’ll be able to improve your ranking and click-through rate.
Overall, there are a number of CTR changes for different types of businesses. While it’s not easy to bag the top position in Google search results, studying the changes in CTR trends can help you understand your industry better. This is a great way to come up with an SEO strategy that works for your business and gets you higher rankings in search results.
How have you improved the click-through rate for your site? Share your ideas in the comments below. Also, if you’re struggling on how to increase your website click through rate or need SEO services, then please contact me and book a free SEO consultation.