SE Click-through percentages

The position or listing in search engines is very important. Most webmasters and SEO know this, but quantitative numbers havenít been available for a long time. Recent data released by Yahoo has been analysed to give an idea of the number of click-troughs a certain position on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) receives. This article gives insight into the relative percentages, statistics and pitfalls of search engine listings.

SE Click-through percentages

Positional click-through percentage

The following graph shows the percentage of click-troughs the first 10 results of the Search Engine Listings receive:

percentage of click-troughs

As can be clearly seen the first position gets about 42% of the click-throughs. Position 2 receives a staggering 70% less click-throughs and only receives roughly 12% of all traffic. Position 3 receives only 8% and thereby drops about 28% compared to position 2. The rest of the positions show a gradual decrease in click-through percentage, whilst the bottom position generates more traffic than position 9.

What can we learn from this?
First of all, it is extremely important to try and get the top position on the first SERP. Even when you think youíre OK with second position you would still receive 3.5 times more traffic by moving up one more position. For years it was believed that whenever a page makes the first 3 positions it is doing fine. But, pure statistically 4 groups can distinguish:

  • Group 1 - position 1: Receives 3.5 times more traffic than the Position below it.
  • Group 2 - position 2 & 3: Receives 1.4 times more traffic than the Position below it.
  • Group 3 - position 4 - 9: Receives ~1.2 times more traffic than the Position below it.
  • Group 4 - position 10: Receives ~1.05 times more traffic than the Position above it.

Having defined these groups a SEO should keep in mind that a transition from position 4 to 3 or from 2 to 1 relatively generates more traffic that any other step up the ladder. Also, in theory, if a page is stuck on position 9 and nothing seems to work to increase itís listing a SEO might consider removing some keywords, just to move it to position 10 and increase itís click-through percentage. But, this is a very bad idea, as competitors will be able to Googlebowl your webpage to the second SERP more easily.

Whatís so bad about the second SERP?

The following graph shows the percentage of click-troughs the last three results of the first SERP in relation to second (position 11, 12 & 13), third (position 21), fourth (position 31) and fifth (position 41) SERP:

percentage of click-troughs

From this graph we can clearly see a dramatic decrease (78%) in click-through percentage between position 10 and 11, or SERP 1 and 2. Although most search engines provide an option to list more than 10 results on one page, the default is mostly 10 results per page. The extra action, to get to the second SERP, results in only 4.4% of all users reaching the second page. A position on SERP 2 receive less than 0.7 percent of all searches done. Positions on SERP 3, 4 & 5 even get lower click-through percentages.
It is therefore vital to try and make the first page of the Search Engine Result Pages. A switch from page 2 to page 1 will increase traffic by more than 4.5 times. But also moving from page 3 to 2 and from 4 to 3 will result in traffic increases of respectively 2.4 and 1.6 times.

What can I do with this information?

Knowing above numbers will allow for better decisions and SEO strategies to be made. A company or website can balance itís SEO budget with possible profits made by the increase in traffic because of a higher position. For example; A website makes $100,- on sales every month and they get 1000 visitors/month from search engines. The website is on the second position and could easily spend $200,- every month if this would result in first position. This is because this would result in 3.5 more visitors. So a profit of $350,- a month minus $200,- on SEO leaves $150,- instead of $100,- on second position.

Of course this is pure theory and the numbers used here are from 19 million searches done. For certain keywords numbers and percentages could be different. Mainly, because certain keywords are more competitive than others and result in a lot more paid listing on search engines. This and other advertising may result in more users clicking on the paid links, leaving less users for the natural and organic search engine listings. The data provided from Yahoo is based only on organic listings and paid listings may influence these numbers dramatically.

Apart from this the data provided above is very useable, as it represents a large number of searches, Yahooís stands for about 20% of all searches and has a similar layout as Google.

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