Published on September 4th, 2011 | by Paul Morris


Google SEO CTR studies

By Paul Morris

By Paul Morris

There have been several studies over the past few years about click through rates (CTR) for natural search/ seo hence it’s about time I summarised them and passed comment!

First the stats…








What strikes me is how different the results are for each survey e.g. 46% CTR for position 1 down to 18% CTR for position 1 and how much we have to speculate due to the lack of official Google stats.  

So why the big difference?

Universal Search – has evolved over the years and plays a different role for different searches hence this fact will skew the data

PPC – Differing quantity, quality, type and CTR of the PPC results for different searches will impact natural CTR to a greater or lesser degree dependent on the data sample

Statistical integrity – not only do the surveys cover differing numbers of searches, keywords, sectors, etc but some of the total number of searches have been worked out with adwords keyword tool e.g. Chiquita whereas the I-Crossing data was worked out with the more accurate Google Webmaster Tools data (according to the I-Crossing study search estimates from Google’s Keyword Tool are circa 34% higher than GWT Impression numbers)

Seasonality – Optify’s results were garnered in December 2010 hence time of year could skew CTR

Subjectivity – Data can be interpreted in all manner of ways.

Branding – The affects of branding on search should not be underestimated and depending on the sectors and the brands involved will lead to differences in CTR. E.g. I bet the I-Crossing study was affected here (such as the 20% CTR for number 1 position in ppc)

Head, torso and long tail – There are differences between the studies for what type of terms were focused on. E.g. Head would probably receive the lowest number of clicks on top positions whilst strong long tail searches on Google would probably result in higher CTR on the top results

Halo effect – The studies do not document how high positions in both SEO and PPC could have swayed the results; again something I think could have played more of a part in the I-Crossing results.

Paul Morris Summary:

Essentially my gut says CTR is somewhere between the Slingshot and the I-Crossing experiments but really there is no magic answer as CTR depends on all the interlinked points above.

All I know is the importance of high positions on page 1 should not be overstated for CTR and I’d rather have 10 X number 1 positions  than 50 X position 5-10 results (ROI, LTV and search volume being the same).


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About the Author

Global Marketing and/or Digital Director. Interests include: my family & friends, Digital & Marketing, Martial Arts & Boxing + loving life!

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