It’s hard to keep up with the world of SEO or Search Engine Optimization. Google’s algorithm is always evolving, and it feels like more of a sprint than a marathon to just keep up with the latest changes. There’s one thing everyone in the SEO world can agree on: we all want to be on page one.
There’s an optimization quote that goes something like “The best place to bury a dead body is the second page of Google.” This couldn’t be truer. Think about the last time you bothered to scroll past the first page of results and look to the next page? That maybe happens once or twice in a blue moon, but we generally trust the top results to be the best.
Google’s algorithm all rides on the fact that the most applicable, relevant websites will rank highest. This all means nothing if the CTR or click-through rates aren’t up to par. How exactly do these click-through rates stack up for different positions on Google? Is it worth striving for the last position on the first page, or would that might as well be the second page according to it’s CTS?
There’s a lot to be learned from the different CTR stats on first page results. Whether your goal is to get on the top of that coveted list or simply to create a more targeted SEO strategy, explore this guide to page click-through stats.
Understanding Click-Through Rates
It’s important to understand the reason why CTRs are so much higher for the top results. Look at your own Google habits. You’re most likely to click on that first or second like, right? Very rarely will you take the time to scroll to the bottom of the page looking for a result.
In the age of the internet, things move fast. We don’t have time to sift through page after page when we have a question that needs to be answered. Mobile search is even briefer, and the limited screen size makes scrolling through pages impractical. The most highly ranked pages in Google are generally the best content for that particular search, and this leads users to believe the lower the scroll, the less value they’ll find.
Google’s new machine learning AI system for ranking is known as Rank Brain, and it’s supposedly powered in part by CTR. That means the websites that get more clicks will continue to get ranked higher on the SERP than those that don’t yield as much interest. Things like meta tags, descriptions, and URL names can go a long way towards improving your CTR, according to Rank Brain.
Ranking By Position
Now that you understand how CTR plays into SEO, it’s time to break down just how many clicks each position gets on the first page of Google results. Ignite Visibility conducted a 2017 study of these rankings and percentages based on 5000 search queries. Their results aren’t all that surprising, based on Rank Brain and other SEO practices.
The largest CTR is for the top position, which is no surprise. It landed one-fifth of clicks at just over 20%. The first result is deemed by Google to be the most relevant and accurate, so it’s no surprise this is trusted by so many users. The second position isn’t too far behind at 13%, and the third position is also at 13%. This seems to suggest that there isn’t a significant difference between being ranked second or third on the SERP.
The CTR goes down from there. Positions four through eight are all between 5% and 8%, and from there it goes down only to pop up to 7.9% at the last spot. Surprisingly, there isn’t a major difference between any of the lower positions. They all have around the same CTR. While there is a clear decent (except for the last spot), there is no significant change in click-through rate.
What Does This Mean?
Now that you know how the positions stack up, it’s time to discuss what this actually means. For one, the differences in CTR weren’t all that drastic after the first three positions. This means vying for the top 3 spots is more important than ever. After those first few, the difference is minor. It’s much more likely to get traffic from the top spots than those lower on the page.
While there’s a lot of hype around landing on the first page of Google, this might be better spent looking for the top spots in general. Sure, the first page is still better than the second page, but as we can see from the stats above, the positions are not equal when it comes to CTR.
Yes, there is value in being on the first page. But there’s more value in being top on that page. What are some ways to actually improve this CTR so you can improve your rank? First, work on your copy. If you have weak, lack-luster copy in your title and description, you can’t count on people to want to know more.
Second, utilize keywords. It’s not enough to throw in keywords you think might work. You need to know your audience. More importantly, you need to know what your audience is searching for. Long-tail keywords are more likely to rank you higher since they have less competition, so that’s a great place to start. Use the language of your ideal user, and don’t stuff your keywords with jargon that won’t be typed into the search bar.
Getting Noticed on Google
It takes time to grow your page ranking organically. This isn’t something that will magically happen overnight, but it is possible with the right strategy. Knowing how your position affects your CTR will help you gain perspective into what matters most when it comes to landing on the first page of Google.
As you know, not all positions are created equal. It’s up to you to create an enticing title and description that accurately reflects your page content. Don’t miss out on the right information. Once you know your customer, you can create a page result that speaks directly to them.